July 28, 2010

Word of the Week: Objurgate

Posted in Word Fun tagged , at 8:42 am by The Word Jar

Nightmare-inducing image courtesy of SXC

Summer is here, and it seems that more often than not, the creepy crawlies prefer my air conditioned abode over the heat and humidity of their native outdoors. This can be a problem if you hate creepy crawlies, as I do. It becomes all-out war, with any and all weapons allowed. One of the most vile creatures to come across (indoors or outdoors) is the house centipede (pictured at left). Not only do they look like they are from another planet, they are natural sprinters. Fast. Very fast.

It’s not easy to get rid of these things…insecticides (oh no, I’m not above chemical warfare) only seem to make them run faster, and if you try to squish them with a pile of paper towels (you need a pile, otherwise you feel the squish), you better be fast and have good aim, because they will gladly lose a limb (or two or three) in an escape attempt. And then they will still sprint off at Olympic speed.

But I digress…I believe the purpose of this post was to highlight objurgate.

In an effort to bolster my battle-weary spirits, my neighbor recently sent me the following poem by Ogden Nash:

The Centipede

I objurgate the centipede,
A bug we do not really need.
At sleepy-time he beats a path
Straight to the bedroom or the bath.
You always wallop where he’s not,
Or, if he is, he makes a spot.

Right when I begin to feel all smug and literate, up pops a word I’ve never seen before, much like a creepy crawlie you suddenly notice racing across your kitchen floor. So, I had to grab the dictionary (which would be an awesome weapon against the vermin, if only I were willing to soil its precious and pristine cover). Objurgate means to rebuke harshly. That’s nice and all, but it takes a stronger word than objurgate to convey my true feelings about these alien beasts. Plus, it doesn’ t mean “destroy.” The poem at least gave me a good chuckle, and I felt a momentary camaraderie with Mr. Nash.

So, if you come across any unwanted creepy crawlies in your house this summer, feel free to objurgate the heck out of them. Then destroy them.

(If the image above isn’t enough to freak you out, maybe this video of House Centipede vs. House Spider is. Watch at your own risk. You’ve been warned.)


July 27, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: July 27

Posted in Book Talk tagged , , , , at 10:01 am by The Word Jar

Teaser Tuesdays asks you to:

* Grab your current read.
* Let the book fall open to a random page.
* Share with us two “teaser” sentences from that page.

You also need to share the title and author of the book that you’re getting your teaser from…that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

As always, please avoid spoilers!

*   *   *   *   *

This week, my teaser is from There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya.

You can recognize them, but only if you yourself are one of them. There are signs, and each sign happens twice.

There Once Lived a Woman is a book of short stories, billed as “scary fairy tales” on the cover. The quote above comes from the story “A New Soul.” While the stories so far have been subtle in their “scariness,” there is an otherworldliness about them, and the writing of Petrushevskaya has a way of seeping into your brain and sticking with you. I can’t wait to get through the rest of the stories.

A Few Words With…Irene Zutell

Posted in Interviews tagged , , at 8:28 am by The Word Jar

Irene Zutell is quickly becoming the star of this blog. It all started when I featured oeuvre, a word I found in her latest book, Pieces of Happily Ever After, as a Word of the Week. She was nice enough to leave a comment, so I of course hounded her to answer a few questions. She kindly obliged. Now that I’ve finally posted my review of Pieces of Happily Ever After, it’s time to share her responses to my hard-hitting questions.
Without further ado, here is the inaugural installment of “A Few Words With…”
The Word Jar: What’s your favorite word?
Irene Zutell: I can’t really figure out what my favorite word is. I like so many. I really like the word, blue. I love the color and all its shades (except for cop car blue or that plastic blue on so many toys), but I also like how this one word can conjure emotion, sight and sound.
I like the word serendipity because it’s fun to say and it’s playful.
I’ve recently enjoyed using the word behoove on my husband, because it’s so obnoxious. It sounds like something a prissy school teacher would say to a troublemaking student. I do it just to bug him, of course.
TWJ: One of the books I’m currently reading is Righting the Mother Tongue by David Wolman. This book focuses on the wacky history of English spelling. Are you a good speller, or do you rely on spell-check?
IZ: As far as spelling, I think I’m actually pretty good–probably because I went to school before everyone wrote papers on computers and relied on spellcheck.
TWJ: What’s your current writing project?
IZ: I’m thinking of taking on some ghostwriting assignments (when you write a book for a famous or semi-famous person and then they tell the world that they wrote it!) Also, here’s the latest link to my Huffington Post blog–it’s a poem about getting older and shopping. I’d like to publish a collection of funny poems.
Be sure to check out Irene’s other pieces on The Huffington Post, as well as her other books, They’re Not Your Friends and I’ll Never Have Sex With You Again! Tales From The Delivery Room. More information about Irene can be found on her website.

July 26, 2010

Book Review: Pieces of Happily Ever After by Irene Zutell

Posted in Book Reviews tagged , , , , , at 9:07 am by The Word Jar

Pieces of Happily Ever After, Irene Zutell’s latest novel, isn’t a fairy tale. It’s about real life, where you can be banished to the far-off land of Suburbia to occasionally play the role of wicked (step)mother to your own daughter, while the evil (and beautiful) Queen of Hollywood steals your husband instead of simply sending you a poisoned apple.

Alice Hirsh is the newest star of this anti–fairy tale. Alice’s husband, Alex, shatters their simple but lovely life together when he’s swept off his feet by Hollywood’s latest “It” girl. Once Alice realizes that it is now just her and Gabby, her daughter who is obsessed with all things princesses and happy endings, she finds herself in relationships she never would have dreamed of before her husband left her in Suburbia for another woman.

Zutell creates a compelling supporting cast of characters who feel like they could be found in any woman’s circle of acquaintances, friends, and relatives. An uptight neighborhood chairwoman obsesses over the neighborhood’s annual Christmas lighting display. A former adult film star tries to literally erase her past. The domineering head of an adult care home evicts Alice’s mother, who recently started cursing like a sailor. Round it out with an ogre of a paparazzo, a charming ex-boyfriend who reconnects with Alice via email, and a group of mothers who look like they have it all together on the surface and Pieces of Happily Ever After easily balances out Alice’s heavy loss with these eccentric characters who help Alice take care of herself as she struggles to take care of everyone else.

Pieces of Happily Ever After is about more than just the husband/wife relationship. It’s a charming read about the relationships women form—as mothers, daughters, friends, spouses—that help get them through both good times and bad. More importantly, it’s about the relationship women have with themselves. It’s about what they expect for and from themselves in relationships, what they’ll put up with and what’s worth leaving behind. Because when you finally determine what you are worth to yourself, you can appreciate the random moments in life—being your daughter’s knight in shining armor, spending one final moment with a loved one, learning to take a chance on yourself—that are the true pieces of happily ever after.

(Be sure to check out A Few Words With…Irene Zutell!)

(Review copy source: St. Martin’s Griffin via LibraryThing)