Holding on to my pants

Happy International Pants Day! Okay, well, I guess that holiday is not so widely celebrated, outside of this blog. Today is the 16th anniversary of the start of my blog. It’s a complicated anniversary for me, tied up as it is with a sad anniversary as well. But both of these anniversaries remind me to hold on to my pants. For you see, it was my dear friend who introduced me to the power of pants. Or at least, the power of the word pants. All these years later, the word pants still holds a special place in my heart.

As you may have figured out, I love to play with words. And I love word games of all sorts. So it shouldn’t surprise you that I enjoy playing Wordle. But it turns out I’m not great at it. And the main reason for that is that I am stubbornly holding onto my pants.

When I started playing Wordle, I would vary my starting word, usually with some combination of frequent letters. (“STARE” or “TEARS.”) But at some point in the Spring (likely in April, when I also think about my pants-loving friend), I decided to try “PANTS” as my opening word. I decided that I would keep playing PANTS every day, and sooner or later I’d hit the Wordle in one try. Many months passed, and I’d faithfully start my day with PANTS. At some point in the Summer, it came up in a group chat that I always start with PANTS. And then some time after that, one of my friends shared with me the heartbreaking discovery that the Wordle would never be a plural ending in -s. For whatever reason, the Wordle powers that be decided not to include this one particular word structure. Incredibly aggravating and arbitrary, given that they include other morphologically complex words (repay, coyly, beady, finer, lying, parer, unfit, to name a few). But whatever.

I’ve ended up continuing to start my Wordle with PANTS, even knowing that I’ll never score the coveted single guess success. And I’m (mostly) okay with that. PANTS makes for a decent starting word, Wordle-wise. At this point, it would feel like a betrayal to switch. (Or maybe I’ll just drop my PANTS one of these days.)

On an aside, in deciding to write about this topic, I felt like I should have a photo. And I remembered (or half remembered) just the photo I wanted to share. (The one now at the top of this post.) Except that I couldn’t quite remember when I’d taken it. So I spent quite a bit of time filtering through my rather dauntingly large photo library. And struggling to remember when it was that I’d take it. Memories came back to me that it was from the Boston MFA (Museum of Fine Arts). But I couldn’t remember the year. So I kept poking through. And then I remembered that it was from an exhibit on Gender-bending fashion. And so Google came to my aid with at least a date range (March-August 2019, in case you wondered.). It was quite the trip down memory lane, flipping through my photos, and racking by brain trying to remember when I’d gone to the exhibit. In the end, I found my pants. But what started out as a quick post turned into a rather bigger time sink than planned. (Such is the story of my life.) But since I tracked down the pants, and their source, I figured I’d share a couple more photos from that exhibit. (Or at least photos of signs from that exhibit.)

Monday’s efforts to amuse

    Another Monday Mission’s come-
    Can’t think of what to write.
    Realizing this may seem dumb,
    Or maybe somewhat trite.
    Should I just post some tripe and run?
    Type nonsense (that’s the gist).
    In just a moment I’ll be done…
    Cross this one off the list.


Today’s Monday Mission, in case you hadn’t guessed, was to write a post in the form of an acrostic. I decided to go all meta on you.

I seem to have come down with a case of crankiness. (I’m not sure where I caught it. Since I know how contagious it is, though, I’ll try to keep my distance.)

In my crankiness, though, I kept thinking about the acrostic message that “accidentally” came through in a veto memo from Arnold Schwarzenegger, also known as the Governator of California.

For more (less cranky) acrostics, stop by Painted Maypole.

weaving out of control

overwhelmed and under pressure
buckling under, in over my head
fruitflies overtake an underripe banana

overeducated and underdressed
chronic overachiever feeling snowed under
underestimated tasks, schedule overloaded
commitments overlapping and under the gun
time to shave underarms when hell freezes over

overwrought and under attack
hot under the collar I overreact
overeasy eggs have undercooked yolks

overextended and underfunded
tree branches overhang, basement floor under water
the undergrowth is overgrown
overdue bills crackle under foot
in under the roof, squirrels overrun the attic

overprivileged and underproductive
an overstuffed sofa cushion under my butt
get over yourself and get underway
the monkey’s overboard and the undertow pulls

overtired and under the weather
overconfidence getting undermined
soft underbelly feels overexposed
overanxious thoughts swept under the carpet
laundry overflowing and no clean underwear

overwritten and underwhelming
an overzealous undertaking
overblown metaphors from under my hat
overcooked pasta with underseasoned sauce

The Evil Spell Check: A Cautionary Tail

Once upon a time, in the kingdom of a Giant Bookstore, an events Calendar would grace the cash registers and bulletin boards of the store each month, listing book signings and readings and happy occasions.

One day, a hapless customer stumbled across something startling in the upcoming events: a signing scheduled with one of the authors who contributed to an anthology of Inspirational Writings for the Children of the Kingdom. The book was lauded in the Calendar Scroll as a “copulation of stories for children…”

For it so happened that the writer of this Events Calendar had been caught unawares by the perils of the Spell Check. Under this evil Spell, an innocent Typo was turned into something much more sinister and inappropriate. Having likely typed copilation in place of compilation, the Spell was recast, transforming the innocent word into copulation.

This caused great embarrassment in the land, and caused many a tree to be felled for the Improprer Calendars to be re-scribed.


The difference of a character or two in the title of story can mightily change the character of the story. In that spirit, I offer you this copulation of children’s stories and rhymes. Many of which may not be suitable for children.

A Copulation of Children’s Stories and Rhymes

Table of Contents

    I. Poplar Stories:

  1. Goodnight Moron
  2. The Very Hung Caterpillar
  3. Bicurious George
  4. The Runway Bunny
  5. Frog and Toad are Fiends
  6. Charlotte’s Weed
  7. Hairy, the Dirty Dong
  8. Mike Mulligan and his Steamy Shover
  9. The Cat in the Heat
  10. Mary’s Poppin’
  11. Clifford the Big Rude Dog
  12. The Wine in the Willows
  13. Lite Women
  14. Where the Reefer Grows
  15. Harpy Pooter
  16. The Wonderful Wizard of Ooze
  17. II. Nunnery Rhymes:

  18. Marty Had a Little Lamp
  19. Hickory Dickory Dick
  20. Humpy Dumpy
  21. Little Ho Peep
  22. Little Miss Muff
  23. Poop Goes the Weasel
  24. The Farmer in the Deli
  25. Do You Know the Muff Man?
  26. Wee Willy’s Winkie
  27. Little Jack Horny
  28. Peter Peter Pumpin’ Beater
  29. III. Classic Fairy Tails:

  30. Snot White and Roe Red
  31. The Little Math Girl
  32. Goldilocks on the Three Bears
  33. The Princess and the Pee
  34. Jack and the Beatstalk
  35. Puss in Boobs
  36. The Twelve Panting Princesses
  37. Little Red Riding Ho
  38. Snow White and the Shaven Dwarfs
  39. Beauty and the Breast
  40. The Three Little Prigs


This week’s Monday Mission was to write a post in the form of a children’s story or poem. (Yes, I realize it’s Tuesday today. This is hardly the only thing I’m running late for.)

This typo really did happen back when I worked in the bookstore, and it still makes me giggle these many years later. (I can do that, because I wasn’t among those who wrote or proofread the calendar in question.) I’d been wanting to share this list and story for a while, so this seemed a good occasion to do so.


City Girl (of Country Girl / City Girl) tagged me for the one word meme last week.

I actually had done a version of this a while back. Some people had been calling it “monosyllablic,” and I was shocked (deeply, deeply shocked) that many people used words that were disyllablic or even polysyllabic. So I made sure that none of my own answers exceeded one syllable.

Anyhow, all my answers are still single words, according to the instructions. But I decided to spice things up additionally in my own way.

  1. Where is your mobile phone? attaché
  2. Where is your significant other? abed
  3. Your hair colour? auburn
  4. Your mother? adventurous
  5. Your father? absent
  6. Your favourite thing? acoustics
  7. Your dream last night? amusing
  8. Your dream goal? achievement
  9. The room you’re in? alcove
  10. Your hobby? anagrams
  11. Your fear? aggression
  12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? academia
  13. Where were you last night? abode
  14. What you’re not? aardvark
  15. One of your wish-list items? Avengers
  16. Where you grew up? around
  17. The last thing you did? ate
  18. What are you wearing? argyle
  19. Your TV? adequate
  20. Your pets? ants
  21. Your computer? Apple
  22. Your mood? appeased
  23. Missing someone? ancestors
  24. Your car? adorable
  25. Something you’re not wearing? anorak
  26. Favourite shop? Amazon
  27. Your summer? active
  28. Love someone? absolutely
  29. Your favourite colour? azure
  30. When is the last time you laughed? antics
  31. When is the last time you cried? announcement

Most of the answers aren’t altogether apocryphal, although a few approach.¹ (Can you guess which I just made up?)

Oh, yeah. Today’s word of the day is alliteration.

¹ They say a little alliteration goes a long way. I’m assuming a lot of alliteration is an assault.²
² I apologize. Kinda.


I had a marginally eventful day today, with various unrelated things happening that gave me some pause.

  • The first event was being met with this message:

    Scrabulous is disabled for US and Canadian users until further notice. If you would like to stay informed about developments in this matter, please click here.

    I was just saying last night that I needed to buckle down and get stuff done. And mentioned my “other methods of procrastination.” Well, as it turns out, this was one of them: I’ve been playing a few games of Scrabulous (the Scrabble rip-off) on Facebook with a few friends.¹ It’s not a huge time sink, since a whole day usually passes between turns. But I was usually playing 2 or 3 games. (Okay, and I’ve tried a couple of other word games as well. What can I say? I love to play with words.) But now the makers of Scrabble are suing for intellectual property/copyright infringement (and I can’t say I blame them). So no more Scrabulous for me. And seing as I was just hinting at needing to cut down on my procrastination, this seemed to be a sign. Or perhaps a S₁I₁G₂N₁.

  • This evening I also experienced some more signs that my pregnancy is progressing. I’ve had quite a few (painless) contractions and various other sensations that remind me how little time may be left before the little guy makes his appearance. I’m almost 37 weeks along, and as such, I could go any day now. I’ve sort of been counting on having a few more weeks to get stuff done.
  • The final sign of the day was more unambiguously welcome. A box of brownie mix that has been sitting around for weeks (or months) caught my eye. In particular, the directions calling for 2 eggs. We had eggs for dinner last night, in part to try to finish them up before their expiration date. After last night, we had 2 eggs left. Exactly 2 eggs. Eerie, don’t you think? Add to that a craving for chocolate, a mixing bowl out of the dishwasher and not yet put away, and evening temperatures cool enough to consider turning on the oven, and I ask you: could the universe be sending me a clearer message than that?

  • —-

    Okay, there was one more event that happened today that got me riled up, but I can’t say I took it as any sort of a sign. I got into a bit of an altercation with a truck driver in Boston. He was trying to “help” me out of my parking space (which he, or perhaps another truck driver, had half-blocked me into) by yelling out somewhat useless and conflicting instructions. Which were then supplemented by rather patronizing and sexist comments. I was about ready to engage in fisticuffs. Perhaps I’ll have time to share the full rant later, now that I’ll have gained all that time from abstaining from addictive word games…


    Oh, and there was some other good news. A good sign, even, one might say. Phoebe used the toilet at daycare for the first time today. (And second and third.) After my rant just last night. Further, she wore the same diaper home that she left home in. (And no, not due to neglect. Nor due to her stubbornly holding back all day, which did cross my mind.)

    ¹ So, az, it looks like I can’t play for a bit. How does this affect Canadians living in Spain, by the way?

    The Call of the Pants

    pants.pngBecause the world needs more things with pants, and because I promised to write more posts with pants, I bring you pants. Following the success of the great moments of pants cinema, and in the tradition of the legendary Star Wars pants list, I bring to you a list of literary pants classics.

    Great Works of Classic Pants Literature.

  • All the King’s Pants, Robert Penn Warren
    A story of politics, pants, and politicians’ pants.
  • A Farewell to Pants, Ernest Hemingway
    Even pants don’t last forever.
  • The Return of the Pants, Thomas Hardy
    Laundry lost, laundry found.
  • The Pants and the Fury, William Faulkner
    A tale told by an idiot. Signifying pants.
  • A Tale of Two Pants, Charles Dickens
    They were worn, they were washed. It’s a short tale.
  • Around the World in Eighty Pants, Jules Verne
    About a man who did not know how to travel light.
  • Peter Pants, J. M. Barrie
    A whimsical, magical pants tale
  • The Canterbury Pants, Geoffrey Chaucer
    Tales of pilgrimages and pants.
  • The Pants of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
    Justice. Vengence. Pants.
  • Little Pants, Louisa May Alcott
    The heartwarming saga of sisters and pants.
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Pants, L. Frank Baum
    A young girl and her companions embark on a quest for pants.
  • The Strange Pants of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson
    Two men share a pair of pants. It’s not pretty.
  • The Man in the Iron Pants, Alexandre Dumas
    That just can’t be comfortable.
  • Journey to the Center of the Pants, Jules Verne
    Discover the mysteries that lie deep within the pants.
  • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Pants, by Mark Twain
    This story may not be suitable for children under age 13.
  • how to talk like a pirate

    jolly_roger.jpgWell, it’s finally arrrived. Today, September 19th, is Talk Like a Pirate Day. You’ve gotten yourself a pirate name, and brushed up on your pirate job skills. But are you still unclear on how best to talk like a pirate? Have no fearrrr.

    There arrre many avenues to explore in learrrning how to talk like a pirate. An important resource is the “how to” page of the official Talk Like a Pirate Day website. There you can learrrn the basics (the 5 “A”s), more advanced pirate terminology (don’t confuse your hornpipe with your bunghole), and even advance all the way up to pick-up lines like this one:

    How’d you like to scrape the barnacles off of me rudder?

    In case you don’t have time for such intensive language study, you may find one of several translators handy, like this one or this other one. This one acts as more of a phrase book, and allows you to produce such eloquent discourses as this:

    Ahoy, me proud beauty! Be that th’ market? I’ve a fierce fire in m belly t’ have a bit of a lie-down’

    Of course, it’s also important to work on your arrr, long considered to be one of the hallmarrrks of pirate speech. (If you’d like to learn the history of this phenomenon, The Language Log discussed this a couple of yearrrs ago.)

    Here’s what you do to say “arr”:

    1. Step one: Say “ah”. (Your vowel may vary by dialect; [ɒ], [a] and [ɑ] are probably all legitimate.) You’ll probably want to put in a glottal stop at the start [ʔ].
    2. Step two: Quickly lower your third formant to produce the [ɹ] sound. This can be accomplished by curling the tongue back (retroflex “r”) or by bunching your tongue up (bunched-tongue “r”)

    Now, if you want to say “arrr” like a pirate, the instructions above are just a starting point. To produce the piratical “arrr” tha we’ve come to expect. (Cf. Geoffrey Rush saying “arrr” in Pirates of the Caribbean), you really need to growl it. And for me, at least, this seems to possibly involve some pharyngeal frication, and possibly also some additional voice quality modifications. I’m not sure what I’m doing (not really just creakiness or breathiness), but it sure as hell isn’t modal phonation. A really effective arrr will also be quite loud: push the air strongly through those vocal folds, dammit. On top of all of this, you’ve got to really drag it out, especially the [ɹ] part. (Keep that 3rd formant down.) Arrrrr!!!!!

    In an experimental study, subjects (N=2) produced both “normal” and piratical arrrs. Piratical arrrs were between 2 and 3 times the duration of “normal” arrrrs. See figures 1 and 2, below.

    Figure 1: Arrrr! vs. ar, speaker A (male)

    Figure 2: Arrrr! vs. ar, speaker B (female)

    And in case you don’t have occasion to speak out loud today, you might try some pirate-style typing.


    You want the pants? You can’t handle the pants.

    Well, maybe you can handle the pants. In fact, I’ve promised pants. And I’ve given pants. And I think that you deserve more pants.

    In the great tradition of the pants game, I offer to you the following great movie pants movie moments:

    • “Go ahead, make my pants.” — Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood), Sudden Impact (1983)
    • “You can’t handle the pants!” — Col. Nathan Jessep (Jack Nicholson), A Few Good Men (1992)
    • “May the Pants be with you.” — Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Star Wars (1977)
    • “Fasten your pants. It’s going to be a bumpy night.” — Margo Channing (Bette Davis), All About Eve (1950)
    • “The stuff that pants are made of.” — Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart), The Maltese Falcon (1941)
    • “Show me the pants!” — Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr.) and Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise), Jerry Maguire (1996)
    • “I have always depended on the pants of strangers.” — Blanche Dubois (Vivien Leigh), A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
    • “Round up the usual pants.” — Capt. Louis Renault (Claude Rains), Casablanca (1942)
    • “Pants? We ain’t got no pants! We don’t need no pants! I don’t have to show you any stinking pants!” — “Gold Hat” (Alfonso Bedoya), The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
    • “Oh, Jerry, don’t let’s ask for the moon. We have the pants.” — Charlotte Vale (Bette Davis), Now, Voyager (1942)
    • “Keep your friends close, but your pants closer.” — Michael Corleone (Al Pacino), The Godfather: Part II (1974)
    • “Get your stinking pants off me, you damned dirty ape.” — George Taylor (Charlton Heston), Planet of the Apes (1968)
    • “We’ll always have pants.” — Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), Casablanca (1942)