Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Words I'm Looking Up (One in an occasional cleverly named series on words I'm looking up) (plus late addendum)


This is by no means a new one for me. Strangely, it figured prominently in one of the philosophy texts I read in college. But I'm just so flabbergasted by an AOL news headline that I simply must bat it around a bit. The headline:
Cruise passengers describe "cheeky" pirate attack

From the story:

"We didn't think they would be cheeky enough to attack a cruise ship," Wendy Armitage, of Wellington, New Zealand, told The Associated Press.

cheeky: impertinently bold; impudent and saucy American Heritage Dictionary

Well done, Ms. Armitage. Weird, but well done. Ah, pirates. Cheeky, spunky, frisky, sassy, saucy, Disney-approved theiving raping murderers!

* * *

Late addendum we'll call "Words I'm Looking Up for Words I'm Looking Up."

In one of my trademark bouts of after-the-fact insecurity, I decided to look up "flabbergasted" to make sure I used it okay above. I saw this at
as if struck dumb with astonishment and surprise; "a circle of policement stood dumbfounded by her denial of having seen the accident"; "the flabbergasted aldermen were speechless"; "was thunderstruck by the news of his promotion"-- WordNet® 3.0, © 2006 by Princeton University
I love seeing "policement" in a dictionary entry affiliated with Princeton. Now I'm truly in a state of flabbergastment. (Yes, I looked up "policement." No entry.)

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Joel said...

This is lovely. I can't help thinking of Mike Myers and monkeys and 'drawerings' and by extension, "Sprockets" (back via monkeys again).

I just spent Thanksgiving with my kid and one of her housemates is from New Zealand and was commenting on the fact that she gets away with so much because of her accent. And it's true; I could swim in that thing. Sometimes I listen to the BBC just because I love the way they sound--those folks who speak languages so deceptively similar to but not quite ours.

There's something so un-American (in a good way; let's try to forget the politics for now) about "cheeky."

The whole pirate thing is a trip, eh? Kinda just like you said. What's weird is the fact that so many are poor fisherman and fairly simple in their tactics and aspirations so that they are almost likable (no, I'm not condoning piracy), and, likable or not, it is quite close to absurd in an almost humorous way (again, not meaning to trivialize the actual danger and damage). But, yeah, it goes from Johnny Depp to true, ugly nastiness and somehow comes right back again in a truly Disneyesque (why do the parents all die in their movies? we have to ask and it makes you think again about the innocence of their preoccupation with violence) surreality.

And I can't help--speaking of surreality--but to think of Monty Python. I also can't help thinking about those damned, irritating ads the MPAA puts on DVDs these days that actually make me want to say, "No, you're right: I wouldn't steal a car or a purse or a TV or just about anything else. But, for you, I'd make an exception." No, I don't steal movies. But they make me want to.

"policement": a fortification of, for or around officers of the law; a line of anti-riot policemen; a police station; a donut shop; a pretentious mental or cultural barrier of moral or legalistic delusion erected by moneyed interests to protect same [yeah, that was totally MPAA inspired]. Usage notes: take care not to confuse with policemint . . .

I'm sure better could be done. And, indeed, I'd say it's worth exploring. What's funny is that when I typed policemen in my second definition above I inadvertently added the "t". I don't think it was just the recent consciousness; there's something that makes the finger travel back up toward the "e" from the "n". Or maybe that's just me. Me and the brilliant minds at Princeton. Take that, Ivy league.

June Casagrande said...

Those "You wouldn't steal a car" ads aren't just limited to DVDs. I've seen that in theaters. Quite a few times. And I'm SO offended when I do.

I cough up $10 to see Seth Rogen's riveting portrayal of Seth Rogen and those schmucks are going to lecture me about stealing?!? That's beyond offensive. I really resent being spoken to that way.

Re pirates: I assume you've been on Pirates of the Carribean ride at either of the Disney parks, right? I still can't believe that the ride -- on both coasts -- has animatronic portrayals of drunken pirates chasing women in circles, set to the lighthearted tune, "Yo-ho, yo-ho, a pirate's life for me!"

And, of course, every Halloween for as long as I can remember, little ones have paid homage to these lighthearted displays of affection by dressing up as these playful ("swashbuckling") heroes. And, lest I forget my Tampa Bay upbringing, I recall that someone in that area saw fit to demonstrate similar sentiments by naming the local team the Buccaneers.

It's all so weird.

Adrian Morgan said...

My parents and some friends once went on a houseboat holiday with two boats, and engaged in a little pirate acting of their own.

A few months later they had a reunion party (on dry land) in which the pirates were placed on trial. The charge? "Failing to deliver on promises of rape and pillage."

They were all found guilty.

June Casagrande said...

Now THAT'S cheeky!


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