What is the expression 'beyond the pale' on about? How do you express the absence of feeling? Does 'testify' have anything to do with testicles? Do avocados have anything to do with testicles? How does the phrase "It's all Greek to me" relate to food styling? Can you have a caper with capers? Are sharks misunderstood, etymologically and morally? And finally: where do allusions come from?Read More
CONTENT WARNING: there is swearing in this episode. But the happy news is: swearing is good for you!Read More
You've encountered technobabble when Doc Brown is shouting about flux capacitors in Back To The Future, or when Isaac Asimov writes about positronic brains. Astrophysicist Katie Mack and NASA JPL technologist Manan Arya discuss how science fact relates to science fiction.Read More
Each of the 50 states in the USA has its own motto. The motto might be found on the state seal, or the state flag; more often than not, it might be in Latin, or Spanish, or Chinook; it might be a phrase or a single word. And if you think you know what yours is, check that it is not in fact an advertising slogan.Read More
Throughout the year, I've been stockpiling your requests for etymologies, and for the last episode of 2015, here are some answers! Ever wondered about the correct plural of 'octopus', who was the original nemesis, or whether 'picnic' is racist?
There's also a sprinkling of anecdotes there wasn't room for in the show earlier this year. Prepare for Klingon, acid trips, Cliff Richard, and Michael Palin's cock.Read More
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La la la, dum di di dum, a wop bop a loo bop a wop bom bom - why are songs riddled with non-words masquerading as words?
Hrishikesh Hirway from Radiotopisibling Song Exploder and songwriter Tony Hazzard explain.
WOAH WOAH WAH-OH, DO BE DOO DOO, HERE'S SOME READING MATTER:
- How to write the perfect pop song. (TL;DR: just get Carly Rae Jepsen to do it.)
- Indie singers become pop songwriters. Are we supposed to feel sorry for them? Because I do not.
- This is an old but good long profile of songwriter Ester 'Wrote Nicki Minaj's Superbass and Rihanna's What's My Name, also stars in Pitch Perfect' Dean, whose writing process seems intriguingly vocable-led.
- Here's a little history of the BBC's The Old Grey Whistle Test, and here's a documentary about it, which contains all the fashion inspiration you need for the next six months.
- Here's the transcript of this episode, though not including the relevant lyrics of 'Agadoo', because there are limits.
- Listener Timothy requested a downloadable MP3 of the special version of the theme tune in this episode. Who am I to deprive you?
Still haven't donated to Radiotopia yet? Here's that link again for you. Slack have offered a further $25,000 provided we get 5,000 donors by Monday 26th October, so don't dawdle.
GAVIN'S RANDOMLY SELECTED WORD FROM THE DICTIONARY:
You wanna be a cool guy like Gavin and have the next randomly selected word from the dictionary dedicated to you? Then you'd better become a Radiotopia supporter at Radiotopia.fm. Don't make me tell you again.
Email your donation receipts to firstname.lastname@example.org for the chance to be the randomly selected Radiotopia donor.
- Hrishikesh Hirway makes the excellent podcast Song Exploder, which you'll find at songexploder.net. Here's that Tune-Yards episode I mentioned. He tweets as @songexploder and @hrishihirway.
- Tony Hazzard's extensive career and discography can be found at tonyhazzard.com. His new album The Hallicombe Sessions will arrive in the next few weeks. He tweets as @tonyhazzard.
- This episode was produced by me, Helen Zaltzman. Communicate with me at facebook.com/allusionistshow, twitter.com/allusionistshow and twitter.com/helenzaltzman.
- Thanks to Martin Austwick for providing the Allusionist theme, and the special vocable version thereof. The other music from the show was, in chronological order:
Ella Fitzgerald - ‘One Note Samba’
The Spice Girls - ‘Spice Up Your Life’
Theme from The Old Grey Whistle Test - ‘Stone Fox Chase’
Little Richard - 'Tutti Frutti'
The Crystals - ‘Da Do Ron Ron’
Black Lace - ‘Agadoo’
JLS - 'She Make Me Wanna'
Betty Wright - ‘Shoorah Shoorah’
Brokeback - ‘In the Reeds’
Come back in a week's time for the next Radiotopial special edition of the Allusionist. I promise not to sing.
The Allusionist is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX, which is supported by Mailchimp, the Knight Foundation, and listeners like you.
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Words are all over the place. So how do you turn them into fun games? Here to show the way is Leslie Scott, founder of Oxford Games and inventor of more than forty games - including word games such as Ex Libris, Anagram and Flummoxed, and the non-word game Jenga.
- Leslie describes how she invented and marketed Jenga.
- Here's a YouTube tutorial for making a Rainbow Jenga drink. Um, I might pass.
- Cheer up, Scrabble fans: Grammar Girl has found some lovely Scrabble tchotchkes for you.
- It never made it to the mass market - YET - but a while ago I made a giant inflatable Boggle set. Possibly the world's first/only?
- Have you heard this episode of 99% Invisible about companies which you can hire to name your products? If not, do.
- I'm really enjoying this thread on the Allusionist Facebook page about the games you lot play to enliven boring journeys. There are several variants on The Numberplate Game.
- The transcript of this episode is here.
SWEET DEALS FROM TODAY'S SPONSORS:
HelloFresh create fresh, healthy meal kits and send them to your door. Allusionist listeners in the USA can get three free meals in their first delivery: visit hellofresh.com/allusion.
If you're in the market for some new web domains, or want to transfer ones you already possess, sort yourself out at Hover.com, where you can get 10% off your first purchase by using the code ‘allusionist’ at checkout.
MAILCHIMP'S RANDOMLY SELECTED WORD FROM THE DICTIONARY:
- Leslie Scott is the founder of Oxford Games, which you can find at oxfordgames.co.uk and twitter.com/oxfordgames, and she herself tweets as @AboutJenga. She is an absolute delight, and I'm curious to read her book.
- If you noticed cup-noises and sneezing in the background of the episode, it's because Leslie and I met at Kipferl cafe in Islington, London. What you lose in acoustic perfection, you gain in Austrian espresso cake perfection.
- This episode was produced by me, Helen Zaltzman. All the music is by Martin Austwick. Hear and/or download more - WITH LYRICS! - at thesoundoftheladies.bandcamp.com.
- Say hello to me at facebook.com/allusionistshow, twitter.com/allusionistshow and twitter.com/helenzaltzman.