Thursday, August 07, 2008


I've become a nervous flier. I've mentioned this here almost as often as I've mentioned airplanes. This nervousness is some awesome brand of irony considering how much I travel. Putting armchair labels on things is shorthand I know, but my primary nervousness seemed to begin on my first flight after September eleventh, 2001. Perhaps that's arbitrary. That terrible aviation violence took place during a five-year dry spell between my flights to Port-Au-Prince in 2000 and México City in 2005. Obviously, many other things happened to me during that half-decade (and frankly, the events of nine-eleven even didn't happen to me, except in some collective entitlement sense). But that short Mexican flight was terrifying in a way I'd never felt before. At a quick count, I've taken forty-three flights since that scary day. Over that time the sheer terror has mostly worn off. Also, I've adopted routines to help me cope. Before nine-eleven, I occasionally got a little nervous while landing. Since, I'm continuously nervous; but take-off is the worst. So I work a crossword puzzle during the beginning and end of each flight. It's just something to focus on, less passive than merely reading. Returning from Dalat on Tuesday, a thirty-minute hop nevertheless comprising both a takeoff and a landing, I worked a NYT crossword puzzle written by Nick Grivas (and originally published on a Wednesday). The theme was "Southern-style". Hoot Southernisms frequently irritate me, particularly NYT-style, but I actually had to blog about this one. For the clue "More than tipsy, Southern-style" I was expected to write the answer "drunkasacooter".* Is this some Ma and Pa Kettle-type Hollywood Hee-Haw dialog I'm unfamiliar with? Do readers of the New York Times really think we talk this way? I’m as puzzled as a polecat. As revolted as a revenuer. [Cavin]

Then, a 3 sided conversation ensued...

To which Blogger Mr. Cavin added:

* Isn't a cooter a turtle? Or a character on Dukes of Hazzard? Or head lice? When I was in high school, it was slang for female genitalia. Why on earth would any of these things be used in an analogy epitomizing drunkenness? And for the record: constructing this post I ignored the other two "theme" clues in the same puzzle; and--full disclosure--they were not quite as ridiculous. For the clue "Of exceptional quality, Southern-style" the answer was "goodasgrits", which strikes me as having been wholly invented by people who can only think of one or two Andy Griffith Show-isms for labelling southern culture; but at least it alliterates. And for the clue "Answer to 'How are you?', Southern-style", the answer was "fineasfroghair". It's yet another phrase I've never heard before, but one striking me as at least being somewhat witty: frogs' hair being so fine as to be kind of imaginary, you see.

Sunday, August 10, 2008 10:17:00 PM  
To which Anonymous 'ell joy added:

I've not heard any of those sayings either. I remembered Cooter being a character in one of those northern-style "southern shows" wherein none of the good ol' boys know that "y'all" is plural. I have heard "drunk as a skunk" which doesn't make much sense, until you consider ol' Cooter forgetting his deodorant - and bath and cleanest dirty clothes.
As a footnote, I believe that head lice are more akin to cooties than cooters (unless it's a gender thing).
Although growing up, I never heard turtles called anything but turtles or terrapins, I have since learned that some turtles are indeed cooters.
Ha, I thought some of the clues I've had recently were odd.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008 10:41:00 AM  
To which Anonymous 'ell joy added:

Oh, and revenoors are revoltin' while 'shiners are revolted.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008 10:51:00 AM  

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