Author Archives: Kathy

Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis*

Ustekinumab? Ixabepilone? RimabotulinumtoxinB? Weird words, indeed, but (even more weirdly) you can probably guess that these are medications. We’ve become accustomed to the unpronounceable alphabetic mishmashes that name our pills. Who concocts these words, and how do they do it? … Continue reading

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Spoiler Alert

Working on Thursday’s New York Times Connections puzzle, I stared at the word suede long and hard, wondering what it had to do with broil, watch, blur, timer, hourglass, or any of the ten other words it supposedly might connect … Continue reading

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Lots of Good Fun That Is Funny

Amid my interesting reading lately, I enjoyed revisiting a classic yesterday. Twice. The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house All that cold, cold, wet day. The opening pages of Dr. … Continue reading

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More Nonsense Words

Writing last week about YouTuber Dana K. White’s dololly and other weird words, I intended to move on to whomper-jawed, Dana’s adjective for a rickety bookshelf she was getting rid of. But I forgot and moved on instead to thingamajigs … Continue reading

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Prose and Poetry

I let a few weeks pass after finishing Mozart: The Reign of Love before tackling American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, another massive tome. Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin’s 2006 biography served as a source … Continue reading

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Gizmos and Thingamabobs

When my book group was leaving my house the other night, I offered, with a smile, to get them their wraps. When they noted that quaint locution, I recalled my fourth-grade teacher Mrs. Bender suggesting we put on our wraps … Continue reading

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An Absolute Pleasure

The Latin verb solvere, like English’s to put or to take lends itself to multitudinous idioms. It can mean “to untie,” “to release,” “to unbind,” “to loosen what restricts,” “to throw off,” “to pay,” and on and on. The word’s … Continue reading

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No Trouble in Bubbleland

Here’s a writer you’ll not only probably enjoy but who will make you feel a little bit better. I learned of R. Eric Thomas through our mutual friend (just kidding) Ann Patchett, the novelist, who featured his new book in … Continue reading

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A Scottish Play on Words

As the credits rolled, I leaned toward my companion. “Is the Maltese falcon a MacGuffin?” I asked. “Um,” he replied, “I always sort of forget what a MacGuffin is.” That evening, referring the question to Mr. Wikipedia, we learned that … Continue reading

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A Christmas Carol in January

It’s no longer the holiday season, but, because I’d been thinking for a while about rereading Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, I finally did it today. Like (I imagine) many people, I supposed I knew the story. I recalled the … Continue reading

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