In your Xmas Man episode, you introduced the Christmas card topic by struggling through which valediction to use. I especially appreciated your comment regarding 'xoxo': "They'll know it's a forgery!"
I am constantly struggling with this in personal writing, and haven't found a go-to way to sign off emails.
Do you have any good suggestions for valedictions? "Sincerely" is so overused it doesn't seem sincere at all. And "Regards" is what my dad uses, so it seems wrong for me. Don't even get my started on "Blessings". Is it possible to avoid being hackneyed while also avoiding sounding like you're deliberately bucking standard form?
Readers, what would you suggest? I often opt for 'Cheers', in the casual goodbye sense (rather than the drink salutation or sitcom), but outside of Britain this might not wash. So, please advise.
Listener Abigail is participating in Inktober, where she draws one ink illustration per day throughout the month. Imagine my delight when she drew this werewolf and wifwolf, inspired by the Architecting About Dance episode!
Click here to see Abigail's other Inktober illustrations, and visit abigailmccoy.com to see the rest of her beautiful work.
Beloved listeners, would you be willing to contribute your thoughts to an upcoming Allusionist episode?
I want to know if you have Feelings, positive or negative, about the term 'step' regarding your step-parents or -children; or if there are epithets you prefer to use to avoid any step-terms.
If so, please divulge them in a voice memo and send to me at email@example.com; you don't need to use your name if you'd rather not.
Much obliged to you,
In the Brunch episode of the Allusionist, we got into portmanteau words, good (spork) and bad (you're on The List, cronut).
I asked the good people at facebook.com/allusionistshow to supply their most loathed portmanteau words, and, as my Animoto challenge for this week, I have compiled them into the following video, PortmantNO.
In response to the puns episode, Seth in Hong Kong writes:
I just wondered if you were familiar with a recent pun in Hong Kong that was at the center of the largest protest in Hong Kong’s history: Lufsig.
SEE HOW EVIL PUNS ARE! No wonder China banned them.
The IKEA toy wolf named Lufsig is an impressively complex pun, combining crudity, political satire and linguistic dissent. Read more about it from the Guardian, or below (click on the images to enlarge):
Regarding trap streets, as glancingly referenced towards the end of the Mountweazel episode, listener Glenn writes:
These are also known as "Paper Towns" and author John Green featured such a town: Aglo New York in his book Paper Towns. The story is that in the 1930s, Agloe, New York was placed on maps by (if I recall) the Esso Oil Company as a copyright trap. Then years later, they sued Rand McNally for having Agloe on their maps. But Rand McNally said ,"Look again, since you put that locale on the map at the intersection of two country roads, people have put up several buildings at that site and a sign that says Algo NY" So the copyright trap inspired people to actually create a real town.
That's a real fake place in fiction*, but in the factual realm of real fake places, has listener Jonathan found a paper school? He writes:
Talking of map traps, I believe I found one in Google, the gloriously named Upper Bottom School.
If I had a daughter, I would not send her there.
Can any of you confirm whether there really is an Upper Bottom School in Missouri? The links I can find to it all seem to be online maps, suggesting that if it is a copyright trap, it is doing its work.
*If you've an appetite for mountweazel-related fiction, listener Erin says: "The Borges story 'Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius' takes it to its imaginative extreme."
UPPER BOTTOM UPDATE:
Listeners, you make good detectives. I tweeted this out: Rotational Symmetry found a 1918 newspaper report about the finances of the Upper Bottom School district. Furthermore, Rotund Baker discovered the place's origins in Eugenia L. Harrison's M.A. thesis from the University of Missouri-Columbia, 1943: 'Place Names Of Four River Counties In Eastern Missouri.' About Upper Bottom School she writes:
In the northwest part of Boeuf Township. Originally there was but one school, known as Bottom School, established about 1868 to serve the entire Missouri River bottom along the northern edge of Boeuf Township. Later, because the territroy included was too large, the Bottom district was divided into two parts, Upper Bottom School to serve the upper northwest part, and Lower Bottom School for the lower or northeast part. (83RD REPORT; Supt's. Records; Miss Johnson: S.A. Hall)
Therefore, though satellite images of the location of Upper Bottom School show only the bare corner of a field, should we assume that Upper Bottom School was a real place at some point? Unless Eugenia L. Harrison herself is a mountweazel, in which case she was a mountweazel with a very substantial backstory regarding the history of Missouri place names.
It's a bit bigger than I expected.
Fun fact: the word 'muskellunge' derived from the indigenous Algonquin term for 'ugly pike'.
Listeners, could you do me and Radiotopia a favour? We're keen to find out more about you* - how you listen to podcasts, which are your favourite shows, what you like and dislike about podcasts - so we can try to make our shows more delightful to your ears. So if you have a few minutes to spare, please fill in the survey at surveynerds.com/allusionist; you'd not only be helping us out, but you also stand to win a sweet pair of Tivoli headphones. They're made from wood! Look!
*Nothing sinister: be assured we're not harvesting your data for Evildoing, and we're not spying on you to find out all your improper thoughts about vicars, or how infrequently you remember to change your bedsheets.
In response to Allusionist 4: Latin Lives, Eush writes:
My Classics nerd self leapt with joy when I saw that your latest episode was about Nuntii Latini. But because I am a Hellenist at heart, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that there's also Ancient Greek news out there, though it's written instead of spoken.
Also, should you want to listen to Latin doo-wop, here is 'De Brevitate Vitae/Gaudeamus Igitur' sung in such a way:
There was lots of interesting stuff about Nuntii Latini that I couldn't fit into the Latin Lives! episode, but to learn more about the bulletins and the people who lovingly make them, here's a good article.
My interest was particularly piqued by the mention of Dr Jukka Ammondt, whose painful divorce compelled him to start singing Latin covers of Elvis songs.
Thank goodness there is video of this. Here's Dr Ammondt singing 'Don't Be Cruel':
Here's a whole album of Dr Ammondt's Latin versions of Elvis songs. 'Love Me Tender' is sounding pretty good.
Listener Ella wrote to say:
Listening to the c-bomb episode and thought you might enjoy my "as offensive as possible" inner lip tattoo (if you can even decipher it). Contrary to this photo, I'm actually a rather upstanding citizen with a professional job.
Bold! And the clever thing is, if you ever grow weary of having a Category A swear word inside your mouth, it's only a few prods of the pen to turn it into 'Aunt'. A touching tribute to a beloved female relative. (Though if it had been my own aunt, the transformation would have been the other way round.)
In response to the C-Bomb episode, Paul writes:
I thought the attached might be of interest. They are pages from a 1980 edition of a book called Practical English Usage designed to help learners of English as a foreign language navigate the usage of our language. These pages cover the topic of taboo words.
Thanks Paul! Now nobody has an excuse for not swearing as the Queen intended.