Thursday, November 26, 2015
In a discussion today someone used the expression “not worth a brass razoo.” This then led to a further discussion as to how the phrase may have originated.
According to Wikipedia:
Brass razoo is an Australian phrase that was first recorded in soldiers' slang in World War I. It is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as "a non-existent coin of trivial value". It is commonly used in the expression I haven't got a brass razoo, meaning the speaker is out of money.
That tells us what it means but not how it originated. That’s where it gets murky.
There are a number of opinions and explanations on the possible origin:
- That Australian troops serving in France used the smallest denomination in French currency, a sou, to denote having nothing eg “I haven’t got a sou.” Over time this became corrupted to “razoo” with the word brass, meaning money in England, being added later.
- The Yanks use the term raspberry to denote a derogatory farting sound . It was also known as a razoo. Interchanges between Australian and American infantry serving in France jokingly included razoos, later known as “arse razoos”, which then became “brass razoo” and applied to having nothing.
So there you have it, the jury is still out on this one.
Which leads to another strange one, a favourite expression of someone in the first office I worked in: that something written out that was untidy looked like a pakapoo ticket. (This is also written as a pak ah pu ticket).
Pak ah pu was a gambling game commonly called the Chinese Lottery that was brought to Australia in the 19th century by Asian immigrants. Its name came from the Cantonese word for pigeon in that a trained pigeon picked the winning characters. The game utilised books with characters and players bet on which characters might be picked. It is said that the modern gambling game Keno is an adaption of pah ah pu. The indecipherable sheets, at least to non-Asian observers, resulted in untidy writing being compared to such tickets.
Dorothy Dixer is the term applied in Australian Parliaments to staged questions asked of the leaders and Ministers that enable those persons to then deliver a very favourable prepared reply or report.
Dorothy Dix was the pen name of US writer Elizabeth Gilmer who found fame as an advice columnist. Gilmer was reputed to write not only her responses to the questions sent to her but also the questions themselves.
As a result, from the 1950’s the questions of government leaders and ministers that were a set up to enable a prepared reply to be given came to be known as Dorothy Dixers, later shortened to just Dixers.
From The Australian, 28 May 2003:
Like everyone else, Kevin Rudd was spellbound when diminutive Liberal MP Sophie Panopolous rose to ask a dorothy dixer. And it was not her husky voice or hair or makeup that stopped traffic, but the rows and rows of pearls .. dangling beneath her neck. 'Condolence motion to the oysters', barked Rudd.
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
“They might have guns but we have flowers.”
“But flowers don’t do anything.”
“Of course they do, look, everyone is putting flowers. It’s to fight against the guns”
“It’s to protect?”
Angel Le, Vietnamese born and now living in Paris, speaking with his son Brandon outside a memorial near Paris' Bataclan concert venue, where 89 people were killed by ISIS gunmen. Brandon expressed concern at the bad men who could hurt people and that they would need to move to be safe.
See the video by clicking on:
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
From the news in the last week . . .
Australia’s saddest Christmas tree:
Remember the scene in Groundhog Day where an embittered Phil, tired of repeating the day over and over, rants “This is pitiful. A thousand people freezing their butts off waiting to worship a rat. What a hype. Groundhog Day used to mean something in this town. They used to pull the hog out, and they used to eat it. You're hypocrites, all of you!”
Well that’s how I feel about Christmas decorations in the town centres by local Councils, especially Ashfield Council where my office is and Marrickville Council where I live. It even inspired friend and colleague Robert B to write a letter of complaint to the Council and send pics. Following is a pic of one of the under awning decorations near Robert's office. They are tired looking garlands each 4 shops or so, that is all the Council has done . . .
This is pitiful. What a hype. Christmas used to mean something in this town. They used to put up lights, decorations, have displays and a manger, a public Christmas tree. You're slackers, Council, all of you!
Even a Christmas tree in Hobart, dubbed Australia’s saddest Christmas tree, looks better than the above.
Apparently it’s a modern take on a Christmas tree but most comments have been negative. One person said that the Councillors should have gone to Spec Savers.
Oxford Word of the Year:
Knowledge is expanding, the English language is daily growing as words are developed to apply to new technology, yet we communicate less. We sit at computer screens and look at smartphones. Observe gatherings of young people and you will immediately notice that they are all using mobile telephones, playing games, texting . . . We don’t even speak anymore, we use symbols to communicate, just as the Egyptians used hieroglyphics.
Last week The Oxford Dictionaries announced their 2015 Word of the Year, the word or expression which best captured the ethos, mood and preoccupations of 2015. Only the Word of the Year is not a word . . .
Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year is the icon of a yellow smiling face with two tears welling up in its eyes - known as "face with tears of joy".
According to Casper Grathwohl, president of Oxford Dictionaries:
"You can see how traditional alphabet scripts have been struggling to meet the rapid-fire, visually focused demands of 21st century communication. It's not surprising that a pictographic script like emoji has stepped in to fill those gaps - it's flexible, immediate, and infuses tone beautifully. As a result emoji are becoming an increasingly rich form of communication, one that transcends linguistic borders."
The face with tears of joy icon was the most widely used emoji in the world this year, research by Oxford University Press and mobile business technology firm SwiftKey found.
All I have to say to that is . . .
Council seeks plain English expert
Does the above logo remind anyone else of Jessica Rabbit? . . .
Monash Council in Victoria has copped a public shellacking over plans to hire a linguistics expert proficient in “plain English”. It wants the “leading-edge and innovative communications expert” to help the Council explain proposed new planning zones to ratepayers. The Mayor explained that it comes after Council had confused residents with complex jargon in earlier communications. The successful applicant must be a communications expert rather than possessing a town planning background.
There is no truth in the rumour that once the language expert has been found, the Council will seek an expert to instruct Councillors on how to take the lids off their water bottles.
Carly Simon re You’re so Vain
Carly Simon finally revealed last week that:
- 1972 hit You’re So Vain is about ex Warren Beatty, but ionly the second verse
The second verse is:
You had me several years ago when I was still quite naive
Well you said that we made such a pretty pair
And that you would never leave
But you gave away the things you loved and one of them was me
I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee
Clouds in my coffee, and…
- The whole song is about 3 men in her life at the time. She has not revealed who the other two are. (She has dated several high-profile stars including Mick Jagger, Cat Stevens and Jack Nicholson)
- Warren Beatty thought the entire song was about him - ‘You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you’
Btw, Simon has previously said that the line "clouds in my coffee" came "from an airplane flight that I took with Billy Mernit, who was my friend and piano player at the time. As I got my coffee, there were clouds outside the window of the airplane and you could see the reflection in the cup of coffee. Billy said to me, 'Look at the clouds in your coffee'."
Monday, November 23, 2015
Bronze plaque on wedge shaped wood block with raised lettering that reads 'Oh God thy sea is so great and my boat is so small'. This Old Breton prayer was given to new submarine captains by Admiral Hyman Rickover who gave this plaque to the President. President Kennedy favored this quote and used it in his remarks at the dedication of the East Coast Memorial to the Missing at Sea, May 23, 1963. He kept the plaque on his desk in the Oval Office.
Seen at the end of a menu at a Chinese restaurant last week:
Kerrie B sent me an email in response to last week’s quote “If a woman asks you a question, it's better to tell her the truth because chances are that she's asking you because she already knows the answer."
Exactly right. Everyone knows you should not ask a question unless you know the answer.
Needless to say, Kerrie is a woman.
From Nadia H:
A few funnies to choose from for your Bytes...just in case.
New senior citizens’ cell phone, by LG.
It prompted one senior cit to ask ‘How on Earth are you supposed to get your coins in that tiny slot at the top?’
I love this next one . . .
Leo sent me a pic of Hillary and Bill Clinton with some speech balloons coming from their mouths. I haven’t been able to locate the same one but here is a similar themed alternative version: