Cher’s real name is Cherilyn la Pierre.

Sophia Loren’s sister was once married to the jazz piano playing son of Benito Mussolini.

Life in the Ivy League:  Tommy Lee Jones and Al Gore were roommates at Harvard, and George W. Bush and Oliver Stone were in the same class at Yale.

Spuere is Latin for “spit.” Spew and sputum come from this word. Conspuere is to spit with a lot of other people and this is the origin of the word “cuspidor.”

Jack Nicholson appeared on The Andy Griffith Show… twice.

Two of the Beatles were left-handed, Paul and Ringo. Easier to tell with Paul.

Carnegie-Mellon University offers a major in bagpiping.  Bagpipes were once made from the skin of a sheep, presumably after the haggis had been taken out.

When Mozart was born, they wrote Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart in the church record. Theophilus means “love god” and so does Amadeus. One is Greek, the other Latin. Gottlieb is the German way of saying Theophilus.

At age fifty-three, Rolling Stones’ bassist Bill Wyman married Mandy Smith, nineteen, but the marriage only lasted a year. A little later Bill’s thirty year old son Stephen married Mandy’s mother, age forty-six. That made Stephen a step father to his former step mother. If Bill and Mandy had remained married, Stephen would have been his father’s father-in-law and his own grandfather.   Mick Jagger should have written a song about THAT. They could have done the tune on the Grand Ole Opry.

Real band name:      A Life-Threatening Buttocks Condition

One in every four Americans has appeared on television.  I first appeared on television in Japan when I was sixteen with my band The Cool Notes.

Kermit the Frog has eleven points on the collar around his neck, and he is left-handed.

Yasser Arafat was addicted to watching television cartoons.

Matt Groening, creator of  The Simpsons, put his intials into his drawing of Homer. M is Homer’s hair, and G is Homer’s ear.

Tweety used to be a baby bird without feathers until the censors decided he looked naked.  Can’t have Tweety corrupting the morals of America, now can we?

Walt Disney named Mickey Mouse for Mickey Rooney, whose mother he had dated for some time. Mickey Mouse’s original voice was Walt’s.

Mickey Mouse won an Oscar. In Italia Mickey si chiama “Topolino.”  In Italy Mickey is called “Topolino.”

Can’t have Donald corrupting the morals of Finland, now can we?  Donald Duck comics were banned in Finland because he doesn’t wear pants.

One day Margaret Herrick, librarian for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, remarked that the statue looked like her uncle Oscar, and the name stuck.

Alfred Hitchcock never won an Academy Award for directing.

King Kong was Adolf Hitler’s favorite movie.

Debra Winger was the voice of E.T.

In Italy, James Bond is known as Mr. Kiss-Kiss-Bang-Bang.

There was not a single Civil War battle scene in Gone With The Wind.

There is not a single mention of the mafia in the Godfather.

When The Wizard of Oz came out, critics said it was stupid and uncreative.

Real title of a how-to book:   Keeping Warm With an Axe

Mary Shelley was nineteen when she wrote Frankenstein.

Virginia Woolf wrote all of her books standing up.  Smart woman.

Ernest Vincent Wright wrote the fifty-thousand word novel Gatsby without any word containing ‘e.’  This is vEry difficult for mE to bEliEvE.

Chicken or Egg?  In Genesis 1:20-22, the chicken came before the egg.

Papaphobia is the fear of popes.


The sixth sick Sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick.     Easy for you to say.

Tonsurphobia is the fear of haircuts.

Mattresses used to be set upon ropes woven through the bed frame. To keep the ropes taut, one would use a bed key to take up the slack. This is the origin of the phrase “sleep tight.”

Before 1776, Americans used all kinds of coins and demoninations. The British pound, the German Thaler, and the Spanish real were a few. The real could actually be cut into eight pieces and they were called pieces of eight, as in the old pirate chantey. Two of these pieces equaled one quarter dollar and this is the origin of the phrase “two bits.”

In the 1940s, the Bich pen, originating in France, was changed to Bic for fear that Americans would pronounce it “bitch.”  Biche means a creature or a deer in French, and “bitch” does indeed come from this same word root.

When the first regular phone service was established in 1878, people picked up the phone and said “Ahoy.”  In Italian, they say “pronto,” ready.

“Hocus pocus,” the magician’s phrase, is a corruption of “Hoc est enim corpus meum,” a sentence in the Roman mass, This is my body. Once, when I was learning to serve mass in the third grade, I said this phrase in imitation of the priest, and was reproved by a nun for getting above myself.

The Boogey people live in an area of Indonesia and they are pirates,  Watch out, “the boogeyman will get you” refers to these reprobates.

It can get very cold in the Australian outback, and when it is so chilly that three dogs are needed to keep an aborigine warm, then it’s called a “three dog night.”

Assassination and bump were invented by Shakespeare. He coined many, many other words as well

The U in U-boat stands for unterwasser, underwater.

The word constipation comes from a Latin word that means “to crowd together.” Diarrhea is Greek for “flowing through.”

Accordion comes from the German word Akkord, which can mean agreement, harmony, but if you say Akkord to a German musician, it will always mean “chord.”  My grandfather, Albert Mann, who came from Alsatian people, played the accordion so well. He did all those tunes from the old country and it was an extreme pleasure to hear him.

These guys know about Mexican, German, Czech and Polish musicians in Texas. I see Sir Doug, Martin Fierro, and, is that Dr. John?

Disease was the evil influence of the stars, believed many people, and perhaps many people even believe it now. Influence in Italian is “influenza.”

Truth and Falsehood went swimming. Falsehood came out of the water first and dressed herself in Truth’s garments.  Truth, unwilling to assume those of Falsehood, went naked. The women here above, Betz and Linda, are truthful to a fault.  It is an honor to know both of them, and that’s the Truth.

A deltiologist collects postcards.  I would have thought records by Bukka White, Howlin’ Wolf, Kid Bailey, Muddy Waters, Junior Parker.

She so fine. She so fine. Linda LaFlamme.

I’m a klazomaniac.  Hey, that sounds like a line from I’m A Caterpillar by Peter Albin.   Klazomania is an urge to shout.  Yes, hallelujah!

And talking of Peter, he made this Christmas tree ornament, which looks more like a Horus tree ornament.

libricubicularist is someone who reads in bed.

Anthropophagist, cannibal, they are pretty much the same thing.

German is called a sister language of English. Other sisters are Frisian, Flemish, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian.

A fox’s tail is called a brush.

The ball on top of a flagpole is called a truck.  If you devoted yourself to the study of vexillology, this would be one of the first things you would learn.

Diastima is a gap between your teeth.

Oh, god, do I love this woman.  Lisa Mills, folks, from Birmingham, Alabama.  She paints, she sings, she raises a family and hell at the same time.

Lethologica is the state of not remembering the word you want to say. Retrieval becomes so much harder as we get older. I used to say all the answers (or questions, rather) on Jeopardy before Alex had even finished formulating them.   Not any more.

Nictitating is winking. Cats have a nictitating membrane that we don’t. A woman who winks at men is called a nictitating woman. Interesting that there is no mention of the male in this, because I wink at women all the time. It’s a deplorable nervous tic.

A poem composed for a wedding is called an epithalamium. I have written some epithalamia and maybe you have too?

Says here, alma mater means “bountiful mother.” I always thought alma mater meant “soul mother.”  I’m sure both meanings are good. (The meaning is closer to “nourishing” mother.)

Dégringoler is French for “rouler précipitamment du haut en bas.”  The figurative meaning is “déchoir rapidement,” to fall, fail rapidly.”  Degringolade in English means to fall and disintegrate.

Dibble means to “drink like a duck.”  When I was fourteen I sang a song with the line “if the ocean were whisky, and I was a diving duck, I would dive to the bottom, and never come up.” An old blues tune. I think I learned it from Joe Turner.

Groaking is watching people eat in the hope that they will offer you some.

Hara kiri is the vulgar term. It means “belly cut.”  Americans often say “harry carry.”  Seppuku is the correct and more elegant term.

Karaoke means empty orchestra, just as karate means empty hand. I seem to remember on my Scholastic Apptitude Test such questions as if karaoke means empty orchestra, and karate means empty hand, which part of the word means “empty.”  Even then I thought these were really stupid questions.

Marcia Ball, oh, my god of music, what a wonderful woman she is

Kemosabe means “soggy shrub” in Navajo.

Koala is Aboriginal for “no drink.”  I have to remember this the next time I sidle up to the bar.

Scatologists are scientists who study feces, and presumably coproliths, or maybe not.

The “You Are Here” indicator on a map is called the IDEO locator.

Uh, oh, the third year of marriage is called the Leather Anniversary.

Japanese for switch is suitchi and for sex is sekkusu. Japanese are like Italians in that they want a vowel in between every consonant.

The Sanskrit word for war means “desire for more cows.”

A coward was originally a boy who took care of cows.  A ward of the cows.

This symbol # is called the pound key, yes, but the two dollar word for it is anoctothorpe.

The word set has more definitions in the dictionary than any other English word.

Rhythm and syzygy are the longest English words without vowels.  They are both good words too.

Skepticisms is the longest typed word that alternates hands.

The letter J does not appear anywhere on the periodic table of elements, probably because J did not exist in Latin or Greek. Julius Caesar was Iulius Caesar in his langauge.

A left-handed guy kissing his wife.

I loved this band, the Sons of Champlin.  Still do.

Lynn Asher and her very beautiful feet.

The letter W in our alphabet is the only one that doesn’t have one syllable; it has three.  (It’s really just a “double U.”)

The longest one syllable word in English is screeched. In Middle English, Chaucer would have pronounced this word screech ed (screetch Ed), because they pronounced the past participle ending in those days.

Is there Hope for Lynn?  Oh, yes, definitely.

Most used letter in English, E.  Least, Q.

Oldest word in English, town. Youngest, Samified. Means you have undergone the Sam experience.

Lachanophobia is the fear of vegetables.

Hey, how did Kurt Huget get in here?  Good looks? Charm? Positive attitude? Plays well with others?  Being with Terry Haggerty?

Fifteen letter word that can be written without repeating a letter:  uncopyrightable.

Racecar and kayak are palindromes.

Muumuu, vacuum, continuum, duumvirate, duumvir, and residuum.  That’s it. The six words in English that use uu.

Eye, ear, leg, arm, jaw, gum, toe, lip, rib, hip.   Three letter words.

There was no punctuation until the fifteenth century. Reading Latin in inscriptions is a nightmare because it’s all caps and it’s all run together. It’s like reading Russian.

A portmanteau word is one combined of two formerly separate words, such as, motel or brunch.

Just exactly what are you boys planning here?  Well, madam, we are preparing to, er, ambulate across this ‘ere Abbey Road, that’s if it’s awl right with you, of course.

Bookkeeper is the only English word with three consecutive double letters.

Cleveland spelled backward is DNA level C.

Facetious and abstemious contain all the vowels in the correct order, as does arsenious, meaning “containing arsenic.”  So, does Arsenio Hall mean a corridor with white powder in it?

There are only twelve letters in the Hawaiian alphabet, and, as in Japanese and Italian, every consonant must have a vowel before and after it,  so Kahlúa is not a Hawaiian word, but Kahului is.

In England in the 1880s, pants was a dirty word. Of course in the 1880s, everything was dirty. Pianos didn’t have legs. They had limbs.

Four is the only English number that has the same amount of letters as its value.

Stewardesses is the longest English word that is typed with one hand.

Words that are very difficult to use in a rhyming song:  month, orange, silver, purple. You can rhyme them, but only if you are a sloppy rhymer.

Quisling is the only English word that starts with quis. It’s not really an English word, that’s why. It’s a Scandinavian person’s name. Quis means who in Latin.

Maine is the only state whose name is just one syllable.

1961 is the same right side up and upside down. The next number that will be that talented is 6009.

There are five thousand (and probably more) languages spoken on this planet.  I can read about ten of them, but some days I wake up and can’t speak even one. The Mexicans in the kitchen at Aroma Café all routinely speak three or four languages. Spanish is not their first tongue. Mayan is.  There are something like twenty-six completely different languages in the area of Oaxaca alone. The tragedy is that these languages are disappearing rapidly. Knowing this can make a linguist slightly crazy. It’s like watching a beautiful painting slowly disappear before your eyes.

Maybe the plot comes at the end… in the cemetery.

Sam Andrew      Vinnie Martel         Tom Doyle   (I’m telling you, this Manny’s Car Wash green room is like a coffin. Maybe that’s the plot.)

Big Brother and the Holding Company