Sunday, January 5, 2014
Re-Run Sunday: My word quest for a true "Zeitgust!"
Had a great conversation with a convivial friend at a party last night, and by “great” I mean she said lots of flattering things about me, my book and my blog. She gushed and gushed and gushed.
Like I said, great!
Like me, she enjoys the playful aspects of our language. I told her I’m intending to make another push to get my book proposal “Zeitgust: How Words Become Words & A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Dash at Dictionary Recognition” accepted and published. So I thought, thanks to Jenn (and Susan!) I’d re-run a ’10 story that touches on the topic and includes at the end 60 of the words I’ve coined.
I have a lot of fun with these, hope you’ll enjoy them, and share a few of your own.
A heady gush of teastosterone was pulsing through my veins, but my Mamish wife accused me of shamorous behavior. I hadn’t seen her this angry since painful birthquakes had made her stork . . . raving . . . mad! It was the kind of reaction that can make happily married men understand why some guys are slomosexual.
The whole situation made me wish I’d married a mousewife instead of a sassy woman’s fiberator.
She left me no choice but to go down stairs and make goodbye glibberish with my budding slimitator and her sister, the santaclaustrophobic. I was impatient because I had an error-plane and knew at some point I was bound to suffer from comatoes.
I’m watching my garbohydrates so I grabbed a crapple and headed down for a wretched cup of coffee from the failing shop where I volunteer bizzospice care. I climbed back into the car, switched on the radio and decided against listening to any of the blowhard boracles and instead punched in channel that played standards sung by women with unconvincing leyebrows. I knew I’d be seeing scores of mallbergs at the airport and wished for a moment I was going someplace warm, even if that meant I might have to dodge hungry canniblers.
They wouldn’t scare me because I fancy myself a mooscular empathlete. I may spend my days decrapitating silly little stories on my laptop, but in my mind I’m tougher than Ernie Borgten.
Didn’t understand any of that? Did the spellchecker in your head just explode?
Don’t blame me.
Blame the culture and the dictionaries it relies upon for not letting me in.
See, the words that baffled you above are just a sampling of the 30 I’ve coined and am trying to wedge into usage so widespread that they’ll be recognized as significant contributions to the vernacular. I’ve spent the better part of the last four years coining words with the hopes that just one of the little dandies will earn a relatively microscopic spot on a whisper thin page in dense books with more than 1,600 pages and 180,000 entries.
I don’t think that’s asking too much.
See, I’m on a word quest to land one of my neologisms -- self-coined words -- in a major dictionary. Any major dictionary. Once there, it will endure with barnacle-like tenacity through the ages. Once one gains acceptance, dislodging dictionary words becomes as impossible as removing dogged and ill-conceived traffic lights: no one ever thinks of removing them no matter how little traffic they actually stop.
As goals go, it’s not like leading my team to Super Bowl victory, brokering a tricky peace deal between historic hostiles or curing something itchy. It’s not even like writing a 75,000-word bestseller, something even marginally literate athletes, drug-abusing rock degenerates and self-degrading reality TV stars have achieved, so how big a deal is that?
When you think of it in those writerly terms, how worthy a goal is writing any book, even a really good one? They come and they go.
In fact, the only books with perennial staying power to transcend cultural fashions are dictionaries and holy books like the Bible. And I’ve already authored the only book published in the last 2,000 years that can arguably be called holier than even the Bible.
It’s “Hole in One! The Complete Book of Fact, Legend and Lore of Golf’s Luckiest Shot,” (Andrews McMeel, 2003; current Amazon ranking, no. 1,071,643). As the only book ever written dedicated exclusively to the most amazing shot in golf, it documents the story of hundreds of aces. In “Game’s Holy Grail is Far From Elusive,” a August 17, 2009, New York Times story, author Bill Pennington cited me and my book in his story about the art of aces.
If The New York Times cites my book, and only my book, in its story about aces, then I humbly submit my book is the Bible on the subject. And saying a book about aces is downright holy isn’t much of a stretch. And, yes, I’m aware, the dictionary spells it “holey,” but as I’ve already pointed out, the book is not without its flaws.
So, even though it may be a just bit of stretch, I’ve already checked “Write a Really Holy Book,” from my life’s to-do list.
That leaves “Plant One Word in the Big Boring Book Full of Them” next on the list (just below ‘Call Buddies about Happy Hour Plans,’ and about five notches above things like ‘Fix Car Brakes,’ and ‘Find a Job’).
My inspiration is the late Bill Cardoso. I still have the fading yellow newspaper clip announcing his February 26, 2006, death. The Associated Press obituary reads: “Bill Cardoso, the writer who coined the term ‘gonzo’ to describe the frenetic participatory journalism practiced by contemporary Hunter S. Thompson, has died. He was 68.”
The 350-word story goes on to detail how Cardoso and Thompson became friends while sharing long rides and chats together on the national press bus assigned to cover the 1968 re-presidential campaign of Richard M. Nixon. When Thompson wrote his colorful drug-riddled story, “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved for Scanlan’s Monthly magazine, Cardoso wrote a flattering letter describing the piece as “pure gonzo.”
“The term stuck,” reads the Cardoso obit. “Thompson embraced it and so did Webster’s, including it in the New World Dictionary in 1979 as meaning ‘bizarre, unrestrained, extravagant specifically designating a style of personal journalism so characterized.”
The brief story mentioned that Cardoso’d written for Esquire, Rolling Stone and other top magazines.
I began to feel a kinship. I’ve written for Esquire, Playboy, Sports Illustrated and a bunch of others. I like to brag that I’ve written for many of the finest publications in America and been rejected by all the rest.
But doing any of that won’t ensure a snazzy obit in newspapers across the country. There’s thousands of underemployed guys like me who scratch out a living contributing 400 word stories to top magazines. I realized I needed to follow in Cardoso’s footsteps. I began to coin words, hundreds of them. Some weren’t worthy of keeping. “Slanguage” is too obvious. “Rimbicile,” a description of dim-bulb copy editors misplacing commas at daily newspapers, was too narrow. And as proud as I am of “vagitarian,” I was fearful my mother might read it and scold me so it had to go.
That left me with the 30 you’ll find below. Those are the core creations I’m beginning to promote. I’ll welcome your comments about the potential of your favorites. I urge you to be hasty because it took 12 years for “gonzo” to be accepted into a dictionary and I intend to do it in 12 months.
I think it can be done. Really, Cardoso didn’t have the benefit of the viral internet or even the self- motivation that’s driving me. He just came up with the word, it sounds perfectly serendipitous, and went about his life. Not me. I’m going to apply all my skills, my genius, my contacts, my promotional savvy to in one year achieve mass exposure for at least one of my 30 (and counting) words. I’m going to do it because I believe I need to secure a legacy that’ll impress my descendants, and because I believe I have something to contribute to humanity.
And, really, I’ve got nothing better to do.
Here’s the list of my offerings. Feel free to use them liberally in speech and in print.
Appallitic: A contemporary effort to make current governance so nasty and shrill that none of the rational mainstream voters will want to participate.
Ambisextrous: Any creature or being with sex organs of both genders; i.e. the Greek god Hermaphrodite or the red wiggler worm.
Ashhole: An otherwise harmless volcano that kills no one, but disrupts the travel plans of millions.
Birthquakes: The intense contractions that convulse a pregnant woman as she’s about to deliver a child; labor pains.
Bizzospice (bi-ZOS-pis) Care Volunteers: Loyal if misguided customers of failing businesses determined to patronize an ill-conceived establishment right up until it dies a merciful death.
Boreacles: Opinionated radio talk show hosts paid to, but incapable of saying anything of interest or insight.
Bornograher: An amateur cinematographer, usually a male who was involved in the act of conception, who in a hospital delivery room spends his time recording all the intimate details of a child’s birth; resulting film is bornography.
Bulldozin’: The non-constructive act of any spouse who pretends to sleep to get out of things like household chores or late-night love.
Cannibler: A picky eater of human flesh; a cannibal with an eating disorder.
Carmpit Stains: The unsightly engine excretions defacing every delineated parking space in every American parking lot.
Carmudgeon: A grouchy motorist, regardless of age or gender, who views a typical commute as a form of nasty combat.
Comatoes: The act of one’s foot falling asleep, uncommonly known as the medical condition, parasthesia.
Commanist: A writer, editor, or essayist who believes, with his or her full heart, in the dogmatic, perhaps, liberal application, or use, of often needless, or, at least, questionable, and, excessive, punctuation.
Confanity: The boring, inoffensive over-dubbed words actors like James Gandolfini must mouth to make shows like “The Sopranos” acceptable for networks like A&E.
Corrral: An rocky ocean enclosure used to house seahorses. Derived from coral, a rocky ocean formation; and corral, an enclosure used to pen ponies.
Crapple: A flavorless apple lacking in texture or taste.
Decrapitate: An editorial elimination of all the bullshit from a specified piece of writing.
eDiot: Hapless sidewalk ambler who stumbles into strangers or the path of a moving bus due to the hypnotizing pull of any portable electronic device.
Empathlete -- Sports fans who pretend they know the game so well they can tell exactly what a professional athlete is thinking and how they should react in any high pressure situation.
Ernie Borgten: What we’ll all be looking for after the great actor Ernie Borgnine, 92, finally succumbs to mortal absolutes.
Error-plane: Typical commercial flight that leaves late, is overbooked, and loses luggage after landing at the wrong airport.
Fauxksiness: The contrived characteristic displayed by a man or woman, usually one with a political bent, determined to appear in synch with the popular feelings common folk.
Fictionary: A dictionary or glossary composed entirely of made-up words with the pretentious hope that each of the words will one day resonate. See “zeitgust.”
Furrious: The unstable state of mind hunters get in whenever they hear about the latest attention grabbing stunt by animal rights group PETA.
Garbohydrates: Dangerous calories so reclusive that even doctors cannot detect them until they make you so sick you vant to be alone.
Glibberish: Pointless party chatter between two people who'd rather be talking to anyone else.
Global Warming SCOPEtics: People who are not only skeptics of climate change, but also believe we can still consume fossil fuels at an alarming rate and things will still turn out all green and minty fresh.
Hollerdays: The chaotic time of the year that used to be revered for peaceful silent nights.
Influenca: A Washington, D.C.,-contained virus transmitted between lobbyists and elected officials. Symptoms include spinelessness, preferential treatment and pivotal memory lapses when summoned before investigating authorities.
Leyebrows: Tattooed or penciled on eyebrows meant to mimic the real thing. Related: Heyebrows (HIGH-brows).
Lollylagger: A high handicap golfer who’d rather aimlessly knock balls around on the practice green than engage in meaningful putting practice.
Mallbergs: Massive ice mounds created by snow plows that push heavy snowfalls into remote areas of mall or shopping center parking lots where they persist until the temperatures finally diminish their masses by mid-June.
Mamish: Any group of mother figures who refuse to let their children play with electronic devices until they’ve done all their homework.
Mephoria: A selfish state of joy characterized by the realization that an individual is having a good time while everyone else is miserable.
Mintometer: Any device built to measure mint flavor on a scale that ranges from spicy peppermint to roadkill varmint.
Moistard: The shaded, bun-soiling liquid that dribbles out the top of any condiment bottle before the spicy substance oozes out.
Mooscular: Adjective describing someone who uses so many performance enhancing drugs they begin to resemble large, hoofed, woods-roaming mammals.
Montehall: A structural feature in any house or building that features a passage way that allows for doors no. 1, 2 or 3.
Motorvator: A highly skilled mechanic capable of encouraging any poorly performing engine to get out there and get really running so it can be the best engine it can possibly be.
Mousewife: Any female spouse who lets an oafish husband do whatever he wants without even a squeak of matrimonial dissent.
Park Splug: A drowsy child who reaches a point of playground exhaustion and succumbs to an involuntary nap.
Pompomposity: The act of being exuberantly aggressive and cheerleading others to say they think you’re great, too!!!
Poperazzi: A Vatican City-based news reporter devoted to coverage of all papal doings.
Raptile: A person otherwise gifted in the art of urban rhyme who behaves like a snake or other scaled creature.
Refoodiate: What a uniformed snack food delivery man or women does on a near weekly basis when the vending machines need re-stocking.
Santaclaustrophobia: The irrational and childish fear of any jolly ol’ elf.
Shamorous: A person, male or female, whose ugly nature is concealed under makeup or plastic surgery or fake, sweet smiles.
Sizemologist: Any man or woman engaged in the clothing trade for purposes of measuring customers to ensure proper fits.
Slimitators: Impressionable teenage boys and girls intent on looking like fashionable Hollywood anorexics.
Slomosexual: A person who devotes his or her life to the self-proclaimed virtues of public heterosexuality before finally coming to grips with their true sexual identity.
Smockturnal: A painter or other creative person who only works at night.
Sniveling rivalry: A childish fit between two unrelated grown adults determined to act like crybabies.
Sprawlidays: An irrational spread of a once-tidy holiday season that used to take about four weeks and now takes four months.
Splashock: The terrifying realization that the person who’d showered previously forgot to restore the faucet to necessary tub dispensing.
Stork . . . Raving . . . Mad! A better, more emotionally emphatic phrase to describe the condition known as “post-partum depression; the mental unbalance that afflicts many women after giving birth.
Teastosterone: The surplus hormones that are released when men view so much pornography that they become consumed with ambitious lust, thus making them universally repulsive to otherwise willing females.
Tumpire: A designated fitness referee who sets the rules for any individual’s battle of the bulge.
Woman’s Fiberator: A woman who is adamant in her demands for full social equality for her herself and her sisters, yet sees no contraction in her expectation that men hold all the doors for the gals.
Zeitgust: The contrived and deliberate act of trying to mass manipulate the popular culture to an individual whim. One lone man’s attempt to zip zeitgust into the dictionary.