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New Wordslers periodically ask the meaning of Jim Farrell's signoff. His explanation: "It's an old Morse telegraphy signoff, meaning "regards, so long, good luck" etc. -- an adios of generalized goodwill among people who communicated intensely but hardly ever saw one another. Many Morse operators retrained themselves and became teletype operators in the 20s and 30 and the sig became traditional on the AP inter-bureau wires. Editorial types picked it up from the tt operators."

Ahn, Philip.
(1905-1978). Korean American character actor who is a special passion of Michael E. Macmillan ("mem"), who's on a mission to collect a copy of every Ahn movie and TV episode. Ahn is said to have appeared in more than 270 character roles in a long career in films (including "Love is a Many-Splendored Thing" and "Thoroughly Modern Millie") and television. He became well known to TV viewers as Master Kan, David Carradine's mentor in the "Kung Fu" series. Although often remembered for his portrayals of Japanese officers in films about World War II, he was more often cast as a Chinese and occasionally as a Korean. He was also called upon to play a Vietnamese, a Burmese, a Hawaiian, and an Eskimo. A web site, The Philip Ahn Admiration Society, exists at

"BDSM is a 'Net-coined portmanteau of B&D (bondage & discipline), D&S (dominance & submission), and S&M (sadism & masochism)." (Definition courtesy of Verdant.)

Center of the Universe. By popular acclaim this is deemed to be New York City, except by Natalie Maynor, who considers the COTU to be Paris, and by Karen Kay, who thinks it's the Bay Area, or by anyone else who thinks that where they live is the coolest possible place to live.

Bonniev's original name for herself, reflecting her twin interests in rowing sculls and the menopause. See also "Little Feet."

Embellished; said of a story or anecdote that's been enhanced for dramatic effect. The word has a specific meaning in film criticism, and this is explained every year or two by -ggs (Gilbert G. Smith). The explanation is always brilliant, and we all forget what he said.

Drivel, Phatic.
See "Phatic Drivel."

A post intended for a private individual, accidentally sent to the list. Freud said there are no accidents. When it comes to e-oopses, he's right.

In full, Fenry the Honda, Ken Miller's 1980 Honda Accord. In the summer of 1997 it performed like a champ when Ken (Bookrat) devoted his summer vacation to a record-breaking cross-country tour of visits to wordslers./p>

Fluffy Sam.
BWP's black cat, who hasn't been very nice ever since the operation.

For several years, Akio Tanaka would sent words-l a list of words from the previous week's postings; either he or one of his students didn't understand what the word meant; the word could be anything from popular culture to an old friend that one of the wordslers had mentioned. The list was called "Gleanings."

Goofy Fund.
Informal Words-L version of the Beardstown Ladies investing club, administered out of the great financial center of Spirit Lake, Iowa, by Jim Farrell, Commandante of Camp Jiggleview.  The Goofy Fund was dissolved 3Q 1997.

You could easily look it up in a dictionary or on the web, but you're feeling lazy and want to engage in chatter (see "Phatic Drivel.") That's when you say, in mock apology, IMFTATL-- "It's More Fun to Ask the List."

Little Feet.
Several female members of the list came to us from another list devoted to discussion of menopause. Somehow "menopause" became "mini-paws," which became "Little Feet." Don't ask.

Distinctive and pricey porcelain figurines made in Spain. You got your Hummel buffs, your Dresden collectors, your Limoges lovers. Some people prefer the gracefully stylized lines of a Lladro, which look like no other porcelains. The Lladro has a special meaning to Clyde Voigtlander, who searched throughout Scotland for just the right figurine of a father anddaughter. It would be a gift to his daughter Lisa, with whom he had been reunited after 24 years. He finally found one in a catalog, ordered it, and presented it to Lisa in a scene guaranteed to melt the hardest heart. Well, almost. Not everyone loves Lladros, as witness this scornful descriptionfrom a JMW encounter: "Lladros. A whole rack of the damn things. Pink and ugly as a litter of new-born rats. Something no self-respecting Hummel collector would spit on. Something even *I* wouldn't give shelf space to. Something no self-respecting thief would even consider. But, I smiled. Broadly."

"Most Americans Have Been to Europe."
A famous misstatement of fact by the world-traveling Natalie [see Mutant] Maynor, who actually believed it. Most Americans have not been to Europe, of course, but Natalie may have assumed that if an underpaid English professor at Mississippi State University could afford to go to Europe every few years, why, anyone could do it! What may not have occurred to her is that most Americans would not necessarily WANT to go to Europe. The phrase still crops up occasionally in satiric reference to this WCUA (world-class unwarranted assumption).

Affectionate insider's term for a member of the list. A bizarre word with an equally bizarre history. It started as an anecdote from Janet Hardy ("Verdant") about a classroom mispronunciation of amoeba as "meeber." That led to a series of mocking notes by The Impresario Formerly Known as Nipper (Marty Rosen). The cry was taken up by other wordslers, and, through the alchemy of list dynamics, "meeber" turned into a nonsense word that could mean anything. Someone then used the word "meeber" for "member," as in member of the list, and that's the current meaning. Except when someone uses it to mean something else.

To be inexplicably clueless or uninformed about a word or phrase that everyone else seems to know. First applied to Natalie Maynor, the former longtime list owner, by Tushar Samant, in the form of the nickname "Mutant City."

Jerry Silverman's warm and loving acronym for his former spousal unit. It stands for My No-Good Bitch Ex-Wife.

An alias of Claude M. Rosen, aka Marty Rosen, aka Sheik. The Impresario Formerly Known as Nipper is a formidable list personality. He has an acerbic wit, prefers rigorous discourse, perpetrates pungent, mocking prose and has been known to denigrate Mother Teresa as a "reactionary biddy." Chessplayer, librarian, musician, lover of folk music, debater, baseball buff, fan of horse racing, superb chef, published music critic--his list of dubious activities is endless. Approach with caution: this man is armed with numerous weapons, including a coruscating intelligence and a large vocabulary, and is considered dangerous.

GGS's phoneticization of, the home of Words-L's listserv.

"O Rear End of the Universe." Karen Kay's undoubtedly affectionate nickname for Tushar Samant.

Oyster Bar, The.
Legendary restaurant in New York's Grand Central Terminal, the site of several wordsler meetings. Closed on weekends, as we discovered when we tried to meet Espen Ore there one Sunday night.

Phatic Drivel.
Unending stream of banal chitchat that constitutes 90 percent of what's posted to the list. The term was coined by one Paul Stone, who hasn't been seen since the day he stopped by, looked around and summed up Words-L notes with this marvelous phrase. His legacy lives on.

Think of it this way: I'm a cabbage and you're mayonnaise and we're climbing into a metaphysical Cuisinart together. Swoosh. Processing.
Voila, spiritual coleslaw. See also Talking.

Project H.
Rule Number One: when Wordslers try to evangelize the rest of Cyberspace about how great their list is, terrible things happen. In Spring of 1992, Natalie Maynor got several members of the CMC List all exercised about Words-L. Next thing we know, a detachment of scholars collectively known as "Project H" were studying list dymanics and it looked like Words-L might become one of their study subjects. It was a glorious battle, and was the moment Words-L became self-aware. The good guys won, BTW. See also "Little Feet."

In computer jargon Words-L is a list, not a Usenet newsgroup or a "service," a fact often misunderstood by newbies who use these inaccurate terms to describe the group. The words are often adopted and used in supremely arch tones by gleeful wordslers.

Sucky Mouse.
Natalie Maynor's ever-so-respectful term for a computer pointing device. The same meaning and attitude apply to her term Sucky Mac, also known as Macinshit.

Expression of sublime indifference, adapted from the work of Richard Ford.

What people used to do to communicate with each other, meaning determined by context. Partially upgraded in early 1998 to Processing.

Verdant's legendary tattoo. A description straight from the source: "The tittoo lives on the arm side of my left breast and extends upward toward my left shoulder. It is a shaded black-ink rendering of a crescent moon with the face of a woman and long wavy hair that flies upwards like flames, with stars tangled in it. It is actually a ten-year project: I had the original piece done for my 40th birthday, with the intention of adding a bit every year going up and over the shoulder and doing a matching sun at the center of my upper back for my 50th birthday."

Uh Huh.
In normal conversation, this interjection is used to indicate agreement, confirmation or general satisfaction. On the list, it is used almost exclusively in an ironic sense, dripping with sarcasm, as "I'm sure," or "Yeah, right." The copyright on this usage is held by Karen Kay.

Unreal Maine.
A mocking term with various levels of meaning, depending on who says it. It is "where Bonniev lives" (Mount Desert Island, Maine), as opposed to Real Maine, where Paul Kuritz lives (Lewiston area). Paul is a longtime Maine resident, Bonnie (and Clyde) are relative newcomers. Mount Desert Island is beautiful, coastal, a popular tourist resort in summer. Those factsare irrelevant to Paul, who says that Unreal Maine has nothing to do with geography. It is a state of mind, he says, a condition of being. To be specific, it's "wherever Bonniev lives." Confused? Think of it as a flubungian Weltanschauung; that'll clear it right up.

The name under which Tushar Samant wrote a series of hilarious notes and essays in the early days of the list. His voice and persona during these notes were those of an over- eager Indian person speaking "English," more or less.

Whispering Corners.
Corners of the arched areaway outside the Oyster Bar. You can whisper into a corner at one end and be heard by someone listening across the courtyard 30 or 40 feet away. If you go to the Oyster Bar and forget to do the Whispering Corners, you are an unmitigated doofus and will have bad luck for seven minutes.

"What Happened to Me..." Acronym coined by Gilbert G. Smith. It has since been adopted as the official subject-line designation for any wordsler report on a trip, unusual experience or face-to-face meeting with other wordslers. Telling the list where you've been, what you did, who you saw, where you ate and what was said by whom, to whom and about whom is mandatory at all times. Unless you don't feel like it. Starkville. City in Mississippi that is home to Mississippi State University and former list-owner Natalie Maynor, who is a Full Professor of English and a highly regarded scholar in the field of sociolinguistics. Starkville is the Words-L equivalent of Lourdes or Mecca. You can't consider yourself a True Devout if you haven't made The Pilgrimage to Starkville, where you may light a devotional candle and help squnch the fleas. (See Bernard.)

A "Words-L Moment," meaning a moment or experience with an extra dimension of meaning for you because <whatever it was> had been discussed on the list. Since pretty much everything gets discussed on the list sooner or later, your life will eventually become a succession of WLMs. This is as it should be.

A member of the Words-L list.

A popular BBQ restaurant on W. 44th Street just off Times Square in New York City, and the site of several Wordsler dinners. The food is good, okay or so-so in the opinion of various Wordslers; others like the pulled pork a lot. Don't <even> get the shrimp; they don't know how to do it. The service and ambiance are good, and they have a wide selection of beers. Oh, and don't forget to render your verdict on the cornbread--"yankee cornbread," sniffs a certain Wordsler from a Deep-South state. Virgil's Real BBQ is at 152 W. 44th between Broadway & 6th; the phone is (212) 921-9494.




Words-L: Where words collide

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Last updated January 06, 1998 09:58:11 PM -0600