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Noticing Newbies: October 28, 2015 Issue [#7292]

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Noticing Newbies

 This week: Filling the Knowledge Box
  Edited by: I like big books #2233315
                             More Newsletters By This Editor  

Table of Contents

1. About this Newsletter
2. A Word from our Sponsor
3. Letter from the Editor
4. Editor's Picks
5. A Word from Writing.Com
6. Ask & Answer
7. Removal instructions

About This Newsletter

The Noticing Newbies Newsletter's goal is to make the newer members feel welcome and encourage them with useful information and/or links to make navigating Writing.com easier. Writing.com members of all ages and even veteran members can find useful information here. If you have specific questions, try visiting "Writing.Com 101 and/or "Noticing Newbies.

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Word from our sponsor

Letter from the editor

People will kill you over time, and how they'll kill you is with tiny, harmless phrases, like 'be realistic.' - Dylan Moran

Have you ever said something and then wondered where that phrase actually came from? Some phrases don't even make sense because they've been twisted so badly. When writing and your character uses one of these colloquialisms it could be important to look up its origin and make sure it really means what they're trying to say and fits within the time frame and location that your story takes place.

These phrases can be simple or complex depending on the user. Because I live technically in the south, I hear and read the expression Ya'll quite often. While that may be common here in Arkansas, someone from another state may not have ever heard it before. Keep that in mind when using dialects and vernacular from your area. This is not to say don't use it. There are plenty of respected authors from Mark Twain to John Steinbeck that use expressions of this nature in their writing. However, as I said above, make sure it fits your story and character.

There are plenty of phrases that you can easily guess the meanings, but which ones can you think of that may require a little more explanation?

Some common American phrases and their history are below for your enjoyment.

*AsteriskG*Cutting a check” is a far more common phrase than “tearing off a check,” because for years checks weren’t perforated, so bankers had to actually use a metal device to cut them.

*AsteriskO* "Pass the buck" originated in the last half of the 19th century. Poker players were suspicious of cheating or any form of bias and what some referred to as 'dirty dealing'. In order to avoid any cheating the dealer was changed every new hand. The person who was next to deal would be given something to mark them as that round's dealer. This was often a knife, and in that time knives often had handles carved from buck's horn - which was often referred to as a buck. Therefore, when their turn was over they 'passed the buck'.

*AsteriskV* "Bunny boiler" is one of my favorite phrases. It's heritage is rooted in the 1987 film Fatal Attraction, written by James Dearden and Nicholas Meyer. This colorful phrase is the modern equivalent of the woman mentioned in the expression 'Hell has no fury like a woman scorned".

*AsteriskP* "Get down to brass tacks" has an interesting and much debated history. Most of the known early citations originate in, or refer to, Texas. It is reasonable to assume that the phrase was coined there, in or about the 1860s. The most logical historical reference for this phrase relies on actual tacks used in the haberdashery trade. It is said that, in order to be more accurate than the measuring of a yard of material by holding it out along an arm's length, (which was actually done believe it or not) cloth was changed to be measured between brass tacks which were set into each shop's counter. This simple yet accurate measuring devices was reported to be in use in the late 19th century, which is repeated in Ernest Ingersoll's story "The Metropolis of the Rocky Mountains":

"I hurried over to Seabright’s. There was a little square counter, heaped with calicoes and other gear, except a small space clear for measuring, with the yards tacked off with brass tacks."

*AsteriskB*Close but no cigar” actually originated around a carnival game where cigars were given out as prizes. It's often attributed closely to the game where a person swings a sledgehammer hard enough to make a bell ring. The winner of this game, popular around 1900, was said to win a cigar.

I hope you found these as interesting as I did. *Smile*

Write and Review on! ~ Brooke

*Down*"Fun and informative, Ostler uncovers the origins of common American expressions and gives fascinating historical details about the people and times behind the way we talk."
Amazon's Price: $ 10.49

[Related Links] *Thumbsup*
This month's links are outside links for reference regarding the topic discussed today.

*StarR* A Way with Words   is a public radio program about language examined through history, culture, and family.

*StarP* The Phrase Finder   1,800 English phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions, with their meanings and origins explained.

*StarV* D.A.R.E.   The Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) is a multi-volume reference work that documents words, phrases, and pronunciations that vary from one place to another place across the United States.

*StarO* NPR:Words of the United States   Do We Talk Funny? 51 American Colloquialisms

Editor's Picks

 Invalid Item  []

by A Guest Visitor

This was the beginning of the third act unfortunately you had been absent for the first two. You listened to her invention of paranoia and suspicion complete with her implausible plot twists and fictions. You were wrestling with the fact that so many of the actors were missing names and faces in her little fantasy drama. This woman seemed like the rotten apple as quixotic as she was fetching. She held mad court over you, you give her your full consideration no matter how derisory her story got; you were prisoner to her charms.


This is a brief description of the common human condition at which all eventually arrive.
by Crow

I have read of a man who described his condition as “neither ill nor well”. I can hardly begin to explain how completely I related to and understood that man. But even more amazing to me than the fact that I related to him on that particular level, was the fact that he lived in the time of Christ. There is indeed a common strain of human nature that connects all men. Please allow me to share my thoughts on this two thousand year connection.


The Terrible Disease  [E]
300 word flash fiction challenge: A zombie with a terrible disease. Extended to 500 words.
by Nix

"What's wrong with her? Is it, is it, you know permanent?" He looked up nervously at the witch doctor. "She's been a zombie for one year now, this behaviour just isn't normal."

The witch doctor really felt for the father. The stigma attached to this type of illness was horrifying. She knew that many would blame the family; she knew that they weren't to be blamed. There was no way around it, she had to tell him the terrible news.

"I'm sorry Mr. Slain. There's no easy way to say this. Your daughter is a ..... a..... a vegetarian."


 Invalid Item  []

by A Guest Visitor

Cathy had dreamed of this her whole life. She got the lead in the community theatre production of "Wicked."

"If I didn't get the part, I'm glad it was you," said Michelle, her understudy, one night after rehearsal. "You know costume fittings are next week, right? I can't wait to see how you look in the dress for the closing number!"

The next week after they had run through several scenes, the cast took a break for the costume fittings. Cathy tried on the "dress". It fit like a glove like it was tailored for her.

Liz, the seamstress, said, "Well, that is a perfect fit! I'm glad, this one is a rental, I can't do any alterations to it. So, you better not gain an ounce!"

"I won't," Cathy said.


 Invalid Item  []

by A Guest Visitor

Some days, everything goes alright, but others, it's like the world has a vendetta against me. Some days, I want to smile, because I'll be alright. Some days I want to jam a knife in someone's eye. The world has a penchant for beating down any difference, any spirit, anything that makes someone smile.

And then there's me.


 Invalid Item  []

by A Guest Visitor

A winding road I’ve traveled,
Through the valley to the peaks
Wondering if I ever did succeed,
That which man forever seeks.

I’ve felt no real importance,
As I traveled this long road,
Never have convinced myself
I picked to bear the proper load.


 Invalid Item  []

by A Guest Visitor

Fast falling footsteps were coming closer to my room and I heard the screams of my pleading mother. The floorboards of our mansion creaked heavily under the men's boots as they ran towards my room. They were coming for me, I knew it. Strangely I wasn't scared at all, but nevertheless I hid in a dark dusty corner in my chamber. I didn't want to go, not yet at least. I heard a high pitched scream from my mother and I knew what had befallen her. A quick stab in the chest from one of the men and she was lying on our polished wooden floor.

My father had died four years ago and we were to fend for ourselves; my mother, our maids, butlers and myself.


 Invalid Item  []

by A Guest Visitor

These two worlds collide
on All Hallow's Eve;
each world holds on tight
to what it believes.

The dwellers of darkness,
forced to live in the light,
for that terrible, long
and hair-raising night.


 Real-Life American Pie   [13+]
Flash fiction about a group of teenagers.
by Jules A

I have always believed that gas stations are the pinnacle of American innovation. Well, I don't know if the first gas station was in America, but even so. A million little stops along the highway of life to refuel, re-try. I feel like there's no judgment in gas stations. You can come in wearing your pajamas and buy a pack of hostess cupcakes and no one will look at you twice.

So, there we are: Five of us, in the back of a truck, whooping in the wind like kids should do in the summer. Some of us still sport chocolate on our lips and we hold empty wrappers in our hands.


 What Was Watching Me  [ASR]
ever feel like your being watched when no one is around?
by Mr.Sideburns

I never believed in the supernatural. I was always skeptical of ghost stories. I chalked them up to just pure imagination. People can make their own monsters after all. In fact there are countless studies on the subject which only further serves to validate my beliefs. My skeptical point of view was met with open criticism from my friends who were very superstitious. They would tell scary stories at sleep overs and would succeed in terrifying each other. When they became flustered they would look like a flock of pigeons all riled up and afraid of their own shadows. To the best of their ability they would try to frighten me, but being the skeptic that I was it took a lot to scare me. So after what felt like agonizing hours I would finally relent and play along with them. Years past and my skepticism managed to stick with me.


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Ask & Answer

I received some wonderful feedback to my last newsletter [#7190] "Whoa there! Take Time to Enjoy Yourself and I'm proud to share it with you.

From Nixie

Lovely Newsletter, Brooke. Without meditating daily, I would be *Crazy*

I think my kids listened to me read every single Berenstain Bear book published. Posting the Amazon link for the books struck me as, I don't know what. It was an unusual choice, and I liked it.

Thanks! I thought it was kind of a cute idea (the book). Also I read today that coloring has been found to have many of the same benefits as meditation. So you can always use that for a change if needed. *Smile*

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