Hardly a Word to Say: Mise en Abym

mise en abym n. An artistic technique in which an image contains a smaller image of itself. Also, the visual effect of standing between two mirrors so that the image recurs infinitely. Literally, “placed in the abyss.”

Bambi trots through the abyss to make sure the Duck boys have their lunch.

My first experience of mise en abym was carrying this lunchbox to school in 1978.

My first experience of the term was yesterday reading Marc Tracy’s article, “The Most Radical Art in America Has Been Cut,” which laments the loss of the Miami Dolphins’ helmet dolphin’s Miami Dolphin helmet.

(That’s the sort of sentence thinking too much about mise en abym makes you want to write!)

Really, Dolphin? Swapping a brain-wrinklingly artful helmet for naturalism and traumatic blowhole injuries?

Hardly a Word to Say

knolling n. the process of arranging like objects in parallel or 90 degree angles as a method of organization.


(Graphic found at Things Organized Neatly.)

Hardly a Word To Say

pookawn n. a small fishing boat with one mast, equipped with oars as well as sails

An Exceptional Heist

Sometimes, it seems like we’re just pretending that there are rules about the use of ‘i’ and ‘e’ together.

We scored a eight steins of caffeine, a gneiss dreidel, a surfeit of codeine, and a beignet from that fraulein, all before reveille!

(Found at Grammarly.)

6 Facts About the U.S. National Spelling Bee

You know those words I post…the ones you never actually use?

I don’t pull them out of my keister. They’re among the funner words I come across studying with my daughter for the–we hope–national spelling bee next June. She’s been to the Minnesota state bee three years running, placing 17th, 9th, and 4th. Maybe this’ll be her year.

So when palisadespete rattled off 10 Facts About Spelling Bees a few days ago, I was delighted. Here are a few of them…

2.  1925 is when the U.S. National Spelling Bee first began.  It was originally sponsored by Louisville’s Courier-Journal newspaper; Scripps Howard News Service started sponsoring it in 1941.

3.  First winner of the U.S. National Spelling Bee?  Frank Neuhauser, age 11, who won on the word “gladiolus.” He died in 2011 at the age of 97.  (See? Good spelling is the secret to a long life.) Here are the rest of the winning kids.

6.  The U.S. National Spelling Bee features a minimum of four rounds of competition, with the first round a written test; rounds two and up are oral and are televised live.  (Thank you, ESPN!)

7.  Contestants may ask for a word’s definition; what part of speech the word belongs to; for the word to be used in a sentence; for  the word’s language of origin; for any alternate pronunciations; and for clarification of the word’s root.  (Sure, they can ask, but will they get an answer?  Oh…yeah, they do.)

8.  The winner of the U.S. National Spelling Bee is awarded $30,000, a $2,500 savings bond, a reference library from Merriam-Webster, $2,600 in reference works, a lifetime membership to Britannica Online Premium from Encyclopædia Britannica, $5,000 cash prize from the Sigma Phi Epsilon Educational Foundation, and an online course and a Nook eReader.

10.  Among the winning words down through the years are “elucubrate” (1980) (to solve, write or compose by working studiously at night), “autochthonous”  (2004) (native to the place where found) and “eudaemonic” (1960) (producing happiness or well-being). And here are the rest of the winning words.

See for yourself: Ladies and Gentlemen, the 2012 national finals. (It’s 100 minutes of video, so I won’t embed it here, but seriously, click through and check out the preparation, intelligence, competitive drama. It’s everything you want in a sporting event without the sweat or concussions.)

(Found at palisadespete).