Windbreaking News: White-collar crimes


My imagination has been investigating the case of Maureen O’Connor, the felonious former first female mayor of San Diego, who “donated” two million dollars from a philanthropic foundation to a number of casinos she frequented. Apparently, she misunderstood what the casinos meant when they told her they “worked with” people who have gambling addictions.



Ms. O’Connor’s attorney, Eugene Iredale, had this to say:

 This was not, we think, a psychiatric problem or a characterological defect because there is substantial evidence that during this same time, there was a tumor growing in her brain, in the centers of the brain that affect and control, logic, reasoning and, most importantly, judgment.



Due to these extenuating circumstances, Ms. O’Connor will undoubtedly receive a lighter sentence. However, word has leaked out (snuck out by my imagination from the unexplored part of my brain) that her lawyer, Mr. Iredale, is facing charges of his own.



Like his client, Mr. Iredale is being accused of misappropriation. In her case, it involves money and affects a limited number of people; in his case, it involves suffixes and affects all of us.




As an attorney, Mr. Iredale has long lived in a lavish environment of polysyllabic diction (lots of big words) and now feels compelled to include at least one seven-syllable word every time he talks, even if it means stealing suffixes from legitimate, hardworking words. In the article on the CNN website, Mr. Iredale (now incurring ire over dale and hill) sticks a stolen “-ological” onto “character” and comes up with “characterological defect.” His crime may affect millions. Now that he has put that so-called word on the internet, people may start using “characterological,” which will cause other people to want to poke their ears with sharp sticks; and those poked-out ear people will need otolaryngological help, which will only be available if that particular suffix isn’t stolen. Clearly, this man must be punished.



Several local groups have laid claim to the suffix that Mr. Iredale so wantonly pilfered. The local San Diego Archea-……. Center insists he stole it from them. However, the Gastroenterology Department of the San Diego Mercy Hospital contends that the suffix belongs to them. Dr. Gutzman, head of the department and the man leading the probe into what happened to the tail end of their medical word, says he has been unable to treat any gastroenter-…….. problems since Iredale’s “appropriation.” In addition, Morton Liebig, has brought suit against Iredale. “I’ve been a path-……. liar all of my life, and since that article appeared on the CNN website, I have been diagnosed with WCTS (Washington’s Cherry Tree Syndrome) and can no longer tell a lie. I’m a lawyer, too, and now I’m out of work.”



The court, of course, will have to sort through these claims and make the final decision as to whose suffix Mr. Iredale stole.



According to sources in my own living room, Mr. Iredale plans to have an MRI to check the part of his brain that affects and controls “logic, reasoning, and most importantly, judgment.”



Ironic, no? Or as Mr. Iredale might say, “Ironicological, isn’t it?”



Photo: DN-0080053, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum.


Have you thanked your word surgeon today?


I just found out from my imagination that today is national Thank a Word Surgeon Day! So I am very excited because as you know, or will know after you finish this sentence, I am a word surgeon. So, thank you, me.

Without word surgeons, no lips would whisper melodies out of flutes, no hand would wield the wild épée, slicing and dicing the villains of the world, and machines would never have the chance to learn to hum. Every flute deserves a kiss from lips, every épée needs to slash out now and then, and all machines deserve to experience the electric thrill of on-ness.


Ever vigilant word surgeons roam the earth searching for nouns, rummaging through old dictionaries, discovering new inventions, reading people’s e-mails, and writing blogs. They are ordinary people who look just like you and me, although I’m pretty sure your mom could tell the difference.


Most of them are kind-hearted people, working late into the night, affixing words that will benefit humankind. One of their favorite suffixes is “-ist.” On discovering the flute, one of them delicately removed the “e,” added the “-ist,” and voilà, the flutist was born. Flutist should not  be confused with flautist, which came later, and was formed by an amateur flaunting his knowledge of Italian. This is where we get the word “flauntist,” which means one who flaunts. Still another professional took the time to add “-ist” to an épée  and Errol Flynn was born, one of the greatest pretend épéeists in the world, who swashbuckled his way into the hearts of millions of moviegoers in the 1930s and 1940s. And finally, I must mention the word surgeon who set the gears of the Industrial Revolution in motion, creating millions of jobs, by having the foresight to drop the “e” and attach “-ist” to a machine.


Word surgeons have taken simple nouns and given the world pianists, chemists, and typists. You should be thankful they are not afraid of big words or words that are hard to pronounce. We have them to thank for the otorhinolaryngologist, the feuilletonist, the chutist, and the vexillologist.

However, word surgery is not all fun and games, friends. Bad bananas happen. Sexists, agists, and racists came from somewhere. Don’t blame word surgeons. They don’t take responsibility for bad words, only good words. And if you judge them, they will make bad words about you. It’s what they do: make words.


Because of those bad bananas, “-ist” has been called The Intolerant Suffix by at least one word surgeon I know intimately. And although I fully recognize the dangers, I am going to illustrate how this works. The intolerant part, not the intimate part.  Please understand that the following words are for illustration only and should not be seen as an endorsement or encouragement toward intolerance.

  • Plaid makes you cry – you are a plaidist.
  • Being asked to play another game of Monopoly makes you gag – you are a monopolist.
  • Big hair makes you scream – you are a bouffantist.
  • People who act like donkeys or fools sicken you – you are an assist.
  • Hearing a woman called a “Ho” in a song makes you break things – you are a hoist.
  • Wearing strings instead of panties makes you uncomfortable – you are a thongist.
  • Hearing the f-word all day long makes you want to hit someone – you are a fist.
  • Irons and ironing boards are not allowed in your home – you are an ironist.

Some of you may be tempted to try this at home. I urge you to use caution. Remember, if anything bad comes of it, don’t blame me. However, if anything good comes from it, you can thank me because today is Thank a Word Surgeon Day!

Make words with Dog and a Half


Yesterday I promised to share the secret of affixation. If you are not yet familiar with the vocabulary (base word, prefix, and suffix), please see here.

First, let’s think of the base word as the front of a dog. He says something by barking. In this case, he is saying the word “attain” because he wants to gain something.



Think of the back of the dog as the suffix “-able.” Now the dog has the ability to gain what he wants.



But we still need a prefix, so let’s use “un-” to liven things up. Try as he might, the dog cannot attain what he has set out to get.


And here it is all put together.


Some of you are nodding your heads because you understand quickly. The rest of you need  another example.


In this case, the front of the dog is the base word “describe” because he wants to tell us what he has found.



We will use the same suffix as above in order not to introduce too many new terms and confuse the ones who sit in the back.


This makes our little dog happy.


But (yes, we will throw in another but) let’s go ahead and add the prefix “in-,” which again makes everything impossible. And voila, our mutt can no longer describe what he has found, but in this instance, he can still enjoy it.


Before I can show you how this word looks, the “e” in “describe” must be surgically removed. It requires a great deal of skill. Watch and learn.



Now friends, I hope you are sitting down because I would like to make an offer to you that I believe will revolutionize your life. Why should I keep this all to myself? Why not share it with the world? I want you to be able to make words using Dog and a Half. Yes, it’s true, if you will share your money with me, I will share my secret with you!


Think of it. While your friends are sitting around twiddling their thumbs on cellphones texting so-called sentences composed of just three or four letters, you can be making multisyllabic words with Dog and a Half! Perhaps up until now the idea of flummoxing your friends was only a dream. You wanted to do it, but you didn’t know how. Now you can!


Today for just $9.99, I will send you a template of Dog, a big piece of paper, and a fancy art eraser. AND because I’m feeling especially generous, I will include a recycled pencil. And not just any pencil, but a pre-sharpened pencil with a pink eraser. See below.


But wait, there’s more!! If you act now, for just an additional $5, I’ll include this pair of scissors.

If you use them as instructed you can double the paper and the art eraser!!! Think of it: you can DOUBLE your supplies for a mere $5!! You would be a fool not to buy the scissors, too.  (NOTE: In the picture, you see that the pencil has also been doubled. Do not use your scissors. Instructions are included in your kit to show you  how to double it.)

People call me crazy for making offers like this. Well, I call myself twice as crazy for offering you double the supplies for a total of just $14.99. But I promised I would be generous today, and I didn’t want to disappoint you.


Hurry! Supplies won’t last.


(Offer valid until WordPress shuts me down.)