Gaining something in translation
B. DAZZLED of South St. Paul: “I’ve been brushing up a bit on my German vocabulary. They don’t have as many influences from lots of other languages, as English does. So, their nouns are often hilariously literal, and sometimes delightfully metaphoric, composite words. For example, a ‘bra’ is Büstenhalter (‘bust-holder’) or even Euterschnalle (‘udder buckle’).
“Here are some of my favorites:
“Gloves = Handschuhe (‘hand-shoes’)
“Drums = Schlagzeuge (‘hit-things’)
“Vacuum = Staubsauger (‘dust-sucker’)
“Gums = Zahnfleisch (‘tooth-meat’)
“Tortoise = Schildkröte (‘shield-toad’)
“Rhino = Nashorn (‘nose-horn’)
“Mule = Maultier (‘mouth-animal’)
“Sloth = Faultier (‘lazy-animal’)
“Raccoon = Waschbär (‘washing-bear’)
“Bat = Fledermaus (‘flutter-mouse’)
“Porcupine = Stachelschwein (‘thorn-pig’)
“Hippo = Flusspferd (‘river-horse’)
“Diarrhea = Durchfall (‘fall-through’)
“Queue/Line = Warteschlange (‘waiting-snake’)
“Faucet/Spigot = Wasserhahn (‘water-rooster’)
“Wimp = Unterhosenbügler (‘underpants-ironer’)
“Nipples = Brustwartzen (‘breast-warts’)
“Lightbulb = Glühbirne (‘glow-pear’)
“Hovercraft = Luftkissenfahrzeug (‘air-pillow-driving-thing’)
“Subway Station = Untergrundbahnhaltestelle (‘underground-train-stopping-place’)
“Tramp-Stamp (lower back tattoo) = Arschgeweih (‘ass-antlers’)”
Dept. of Neat Stuff
JOHN IN HIGHLAND: “Since the late 1950s, we have had a set of tongs that has been in the silverware drawer of our summer cabin up north.
“Recently I took note of the printing on either side of the utensil. I tried to Google the ‘Rustic Lodge Motor Inn,’ but could find no mention of it. There is a Rustic Lodge Avenue in south Minneapolis, but nothing close by that resembles a motel or motor inn. (Did you Google the address: 4737 Nicollet Avenue? It’s one block north of Rustic Lodge Avenue — and is now the address of New Central Auto Body.)
“On the other side is an advertisement for the Globe Oil company. Globe was the oil company started by Ignatius Aloysius (I.A.) O’Shaughnessy, who, along with his family, was a prominent benefactor for the colleges of St. Thomas and Notre Dame, among others.
“My mother worked for over 20 years as Archives Librarian at St. Thomas. As such, she was responsible for setting up all of I.A.’s ceremonial uniforms when he would receive a new award or donate another significant grant to the college. If she ever recognized the link between her tongs and the man who was responsible for building the beautiful library she worked in, she never made note of it.”
Our State Fair is the best state fair!
GREGORY J. of Dayton’s Bluff: “Every year, shortly after Labor Day, the State Fair posts the total attendance on a sign on the side of the Grandstand. I doubt if that happened this year, so I’ll do my part. Here are the attendance numbers from the past two years and my estimate of this year’s attendance.”
Everyone’s a critic!
Classic Television Division — leading to: Life as we know it
ZOO LOU of St. Paul: “Subject: ‘On Thursday, We Leave for Home.’
“While doing a late-night run through the endless TV channels a few weeks ago, I was elated to come across ‘On Thursday, We Leave for Home’, my all-time favorite episode of ‘The Twilight Zone.’
“This classic story is about a group of late-20th-century colonists who venture into space in search of a paradise far from the wars and pestilence on Earth. What they find, however, is a barren, hellish asteroid, where they are tormented by twin suns, meteor showers, and having to live in dank caves. The sense of hopelessness is overwhelming, and every day is a fight for survival.
“But it’s a man named William Benteen (James Whitmore) who keeps this forlorn flock together, serving as guide, mentor and doctor, comforting them with stories about the beauty of Earth and how they will return there one day.
“Then everyone’s prayers are answered when a rescue ship does arrive. Determined to stay in control, Benteen tells his group they must stay together in a community on earth. But the people disagree, calling out places they’d like to live. One lady is set on going to Wisconsin, ‘so you better tell us about frostbite.’
“The ship’s captain tells Benteen to relax and berates him for not allowing the people to make their own decisions. Benteen suddenly gets hostile and shouts that Earth is an ugly, dangerous place and no one will survive unless we stick together.
“With his authority undermined, Benteen tries to sabotage the ship, then declares he is staying and urges his group to stay with him, which leaves them in shock.
“On departure day, Benteen can’t be found and the captain makes one final plea: There will never be another rescue ship, and you will trapped here for the rest of your life.
“As the ship begins to ascend, Benteen emerges from the caves and acts like the colonists are still there, waiting for a story about Earth. Realizing the crushing gravitas of his stubborn pride and foolishness, he raises his arms and sobs: ‘Don’t leave me here. Please, I want to go home.’
“I sat in silence for a moment and then walked out on my deck. Breathing in the cool night air, I looked up at the starry sky and imagined William Benteen, the fallen god, utterly, hopelessly alone on that barren asteroid, where no one can hear you scream.
“It was then that I realized the importance of family and friends, having someone to talk with, and the simple joys of taking a walk, listening to a band concert, or biting into a chili dog, with onions.
“As German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz once said: Despite its inherent evils and problems, this is the best of all possible worlds.”
Now & Then
THE HAPPY MEDIUM: “Subject: Eating Bad Apples All Winter.
“This is the apple season throughout the countryside. With that, I’m reminded of growing up on the Wisconsin farm, enjoying our home-grown apples in one form or another: apple pie, apple strudel, baked apples with ice cream and Mom’s special apple dumplings. Those dumplings were the best ever.
“Each fall, we siblings helped pick the apples before any fell from the trees, causing bruises. Even then, some apples were bruised. Once the apples were picked, we carefully wrapped them in newspaper and stored them in the cool basement. As time passed, some started to go bad. When we wanted an apple for a snack, Mom would tell us: ‘Eat the bruised apples first.’
“Today, we joke: ‘When we were young, we ate bad apples all winter.’”
This ’n’ that ’n’ the other ’n’ the other ’n’ the other
All from AL B of Hartland: (1) “My wife was in a grocery store. She wanted to buy a seedless watermelon. The store kept their watermelons in a huge box at the end of an aisle. There was only one melon left in that container, and she couldn’t reach it. She said there were no big people around to help her.
“I have been asked often to grab an item from the top shelf for someone. I’m vertically enhanced, and the one asking wasn’t. One day, I’m going to ask a short person to get something from the bottom shelf for me. That would be good. I could use the help.”
(2) “I heard a cardinal sing. Both male and female cardinals sing.
“I’ve been a lifelong fan of the St. Louis Cardinals. It began when I was a dear boy in a dairy barn and the Philco wooden radio stationed there, one with 19 knobs and dials, only two of which made any difference (on/off/volume and station select), was able to receive the signal of KMOX, a clear-channel station with 50,000 watts of power from St. Louis. I was enthralled by word pictures painted by announcers like Jack Buck, Joe Garagiola and Harry Caray. (Bulletin Board interjects: The KMOX signal, at 1120 AM, comes in as clear as day on our car radio, when we are out driving at night and skipping from AM station to AM station — one of our simple pleasures.)
“The images of the birds on the team uniforms aren’t a true replica of northern cardinals. They have yellow bills and light eyes. The real bird has a reddish-orange bill (juveniles have gray to black bills) and dark eyes.”
(3) “I’ve learned: Uncomfortable chairs become antiques because no one sat on
(4) “Back there in grade school, we drew things in pencil on construction paper. I usually drew a cow. I’d been around cows all my life. I knew what they looked like, but my drawings all looked like unfit amoeba. That required me to write ‘cow’ on the paper and have an arrow pointing from that word to the drawing.”
(5) “I had three Aunt Helens. I loved them all. One day, my mother, sister, girl cousins and one Aunt Helen found a way to be shed of me by raising enough money for me to buy myself an ice cream cone. It wasn’t a far hike to the ice cream place. I walked along, trying not to think of anything and having good luck in that regard, when I happened upon a house with an old guy sitting on a front-porch glider while he smoked a cigar and read a newspaper. ‘Hey, kid!’ he yelled at me through a cloud of smoke. ‘You want a cigar band?’
‘I didn’t, but I was taught never to diminish any gift by refusing to accept it. I walked up the few steps to his glider and he handed me a cigar band. I don’t remember the brand. He smiled as if he’d done a great deed and went back to reading his paper. I thanked him politely and left the scene.”
What’s in a NAME?
THE RETIRED PEDAGOGUE of Arden Hills: “Subject: And that spells . . .
“This appeared on Page B5 (‘AROUND THE STATE’) in the Sunday edition of the Minneapolis paper:
“‘Mayors draw ire for endorsing Trump’
“Third paragraph: ‘A group called Concerned Rangers for Accountability in Politics said it has also asked . . .’
“The basis for an interesting acronym, to say the least.”
The sign on the road to the cemetery said “Dead End”
Electronic Board of the Church on Lexington in Shoreview Division
Our Official Electronic Board of the Church on Lexington in Shoreview Monitor — RED’S OFFSPRING, north of St. Paul — reports: “Subject: Good advice.
“The most recent message on the electronic board of the church on Lexington in Shoreview reads:
“‘SMILE . . . HAPPINESS LOOKS
“‘GORGEOUS ON YOU’”
The sign . . . on the road . . . to the cemetery . . . said . . . “Burma-Shave”
THE DORYMAN of Prescott, Wis.: “Subject: Burma-Shave 2020.
“Sign #1: Wash your hands
“Sign #2: Don’t touch your face
“Sign #3: You might avoid
“Sign #4: A better place
KATHY S. of St. Paul: “Subject: A great quote for Now.
“On September 10, Whoopi Goldberg ended the show ‘The View’ with: ‘Don’t forget to wash your hands, kiss your kids, and do a little dance.’”
Life as we know it
GRANDMA PAT, “formerly of rural Roberts, Wisconsin”: “Subject: On being 90.
“Being 90 is great, but there are a few glitches now and then. For instance, I recently noticed the name Peacock in the obituaries, and I thought of my water-aerobics friend, and how she perhaps could be related to the deceased. Luckily, just before I called her, it dawned on me that indeed her last name wasn’t Peacock at all. It was Partridge.
“Also: For my 90th birthday, my little sister (who is only 85) bought us an Alexa. We have used it several times, checking on the Nile river floods, the fires near our California and Oregon family members, etc. Just yesterday I called out to the device several times, but it would not answer. I was getting a bit impatient, and then I realized that I was calling Agatha instead of Alexa.
“Wish me luck. I need it.”
Band Name of the Day: The Bad Apples — or: Al B and His Cigar Band