Word Spy featured; Don't Ask Jeeves; MoU; Chinese Roll; Cream House

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Thu Feb 27 11:48:16 UTC 2003

   I'm back in New York City.
   It was exactly ten years ago that I ran for "public advocate" of this
city.  The position was made powerless by the new city charter and was going
to be eliminated, but political hacks kept it as something they could run
for.  The public advocate breaks non-existent tie votes in the City Council.
A local newspaper wrote that if you really loved New York, you'd run for
public advocate on the platform that you'd dismantle it and return the money.
 (10 years=fifty million dollars)
   I'm an administrative law judge for the city, so I copied the article, and
asked (as a matter of law) for an opinion from the city's Conflict of
Interest Board. They wouldn't give me one.  Then a Board attorney kindly told
me that I would be ignored, because I'm worthless.
   So I wasn't killed by Tamils and my plane didn't crash into any buildings,
and I'm back in New York.  Oy.

"WORDSPY" FEATURED--I read the February 2003 LAPTOP on the plane.  It's a
magazine full of DELL ads, but you can play "hangman" and watch the Eddie
Murphy bomb I SPY only so long.  An article mentions several interesting
sites on the web, and one of them is Paul McFedries' Word Spy.
Congratulations!  Other sites mentioned include The Onion and Snopes and
other very familiar names.

DIYA REDDA--This is from the free THE LEISURE TIMES (Colombo), February 2003,
"The LT Interviews Rita Fernandez," pg. 68:
RF:  The essence is in the colour.  Why should we not wear eastern clothes?
I wear redda-hetta.  If it's very hot, I wear diya-redda...stylized, it looks
very good.
LT:  It is true you introduced the diya-redda to the Italians?
RF:  I did, I took the diya-redda to Italy, and it swept through the whole
country.  I introduced a little bit of the Orient.  The cut (of the clothes)
was western, but I enhanced them with beads or gold stitching.

paperback, $14.95, New York: Hippocrene Books, 2003.
   Becky Mercuri pointed out the recent NEW YORK TIMES  blurb about this
book.  At the end is a very short five-language glossary of a few basic
translations from English, and then very brief Spanish, Italian, German, and
French terms (to English).
   This book has 6,500 terms, but other books I have contain at least twice
that amount.  There are no dates for the terms, and almost no etymologies.  I
just came from Sri Lanka, and the national dish is "hoppers." It's not here.
What about an important slang word such as "frankenfood"?  Nope.  "Bloody
Mary"?  Nope--no drinks.  "A la king"?  No etymology.  "Sundae"?  No
etymology.  "Hot dog"?  "Perhaps so called from the fancied resemblance of a
frankfurter to a dachshund."
   Hey, it's less than twenty bucks.  It isn't perfect, but it's another tool
to check.

DON'T ASK JEEVES--Ask.Jeeves brags about its well-researched answers.  A few
years ago, an advertising campaign featured "AskJeeves" stickers on
supermarket apples.  Why not Ask Jeeves a real puzzler, like why is New York
called the Big Apple?
   The answer took you straight to the New York City mayor's web page and the
legislation creating "Big Apple Corner."  AskJeeves used my work without pay
or credit; the mayor, as you all know, also used my work without pay and
without credit.
   I re-checked the AskJeeves web site recently, and this answer is no longer
available.  The first answer, the "real answer," takes you straight to the
   I e-mailed AskJeeves and told them that this "answer" was a hoax and must
be removed immediately.
   No one replied.

The following was sent from my Juno.com address (when AOL wasn't working),
but never made it to ADS-L:

>From    :   bapopik at juno.com

To  :   jester at panix.com

Subject :   MoU; Chinese Roll; Cream House

Date    :   Mon, 24 Feb 2003 17:33:59 GMT

       Greetings from the Taj hotel in Bentota, Sri Lanka.  I go to the
airport to fly home just before midnight on Wednesday.  If my United Airlines
flight doesn't crash, I'll be back in the country where I'm lower than a
100-years-dead cow or a gerbil performing a stupid pet trick.
   The NEW YORK TIMES has been informed of its error on "Lady Baltimore Cake"
and, as usual, there's been no correction and no one's even contacted me.  My
plane's gotta crash, please...

MoU--Memorandum of Understanding.  The Sri Lankan peace agreement signed a
yearago.  Is this abbreviation in the revised OED?

CHINESE ROLL--a Sri Lankan dish of minced meat roll, but now also containing
fish.  The "Chinese" here usually has local cooks.

CREAM HOUSE--this would be called a "milk bar" in other places.

LAMPRAIS--"A typical Sri Lankan preparation with suduru samba rice,
fishcutlets, fried brinjal and spicy meat.  Accompanied with papadam

GRAHAM CRACKER--a quick check shows that this goes back (at least) to the
beginning of the BROOKLYN DAILY EAGLE, in 1841.

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