Archive | August, 2011


17 Aug

The New York Times’ excellent grammar-nerd blog, ‘After Deadline’, recently spilled the beans on the words most frequently looked up on These words included ‘president’, ‘America’, and ‘religion’.

JUST KIDDING! Of course the list featured some real head-scratchers.

So how many do you know – and I mean properly know, not just ‘I kind of think I know what that might kind of mean, maybe’?

NYT word list - a boggle board come to life

By the way, the word at the top of the list, ‘panegyric’, was only used in one article but had a total of 582 look-ups. So what the hell is a ‘panegyric’? According to the dictionary built into the NYT site, it means:

  1. A formal eulogistic composition intended as a public compliment
  2. Elaborate praise or laudation; an encomium

So basically it’s a formal expression of approval.

Interestingly, when I searched the NYTimes site for the word, I could only find one use – and it was in a letter penned by a Stu Freeman of Brooklyn, regarding an article on Miranda July:

“The most honest, uninhibited filmmaker of our time”? For heaven’s sake, she has made two features, one of which hasn’t been released yet, and she’s the subject of a Times Magazine cover story cum panegyric. Have you guys seen my nephew’s bar mitzvah video? Talk about genius!’

Well, too bad, Stu. I like her.


Awkward Gully and questionable town mottos

8 Aug

I recently drove over Awkward Gully, then Purgatory Creek. A while later came Skeleton Creek. The names made me laugh (what can I say, there wasn’t much else around to keep me amused). Once upon a time, they must have been called those for a reason. But why? For the former, I’d like to think that it wasn’t the gully itself that was awkward, but that it was named after an embarrassing event that occurred there. “Let’s sit down, Astrid, I have something to tell you. I… I love you. Passionately. I want you to deflower you right here in this gully.” “Well actually, Arthur, I asked you here today to let you know that I’m your biological mother. Good day.”

Tidy Towns: Another amazing tourism drawcard.

While I’m on the topic of ‘Things I Saw While Driving Between Tamworth and Byron Bay’, I would like to say to the tourism committees of small towns everywhere: Look, we know you have a tough job coming up with a motto that encapsulates what you’re about while also attracting tourists. But really, WHAT THE HELL? To wit:

“Find yourself in… Uralla”

So I get that they’re alluding to the spiritual sense of “finding yourself”. But as this is emblazoned across a sign not so far out of this small town, it comes across as more of a geographical help than anything. “Keep going along this road and you’ll find yourself in… Uralla”.  Was it a statement of fact… or a warning?

“First town of the North Coast: Grafton”

Well, it’s technically correct, I suppose, so full marks for geographical relevance. The excitement factor, however, is nil. Minus nil, if possible.

“Byron Bay Arts & Industrial Estate – a uniquely Byron experience”

As my passenger at the time mentioned: “Yes, sheds are a uniquely Byron experience”. Well put, passenger, well put.

“Worth a visit: Mayfield”

Okay, this wasn’t on my trip, but damn if it doesn’t make me smile every time I see it. WHY is it worth a visit? Well, it’s really not, as any Novocastrian will tell you; there is literally NOTHING of interest there (apart from a fish and chip shop oh-so-humorously called ‘Happy Hookers’, and you can only find that interesting for a VERY brief period of time).

The encouragement award goes to the Guyra caravan park, by the way – a sign proudly proclaims that it’s the caravan park at the highest altitude in Australia. I guess in the crowded tourism park market, you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do to get those travellers in…