Column: 'Dictionary duos' offer entertainment opportunities

Was browsing around the Old Sage Bookshop in the complex beneath Hotel St. Michael a while back with wife Pat and daughter Shannon when Shannon spotted and latched onto a hefty like-new American Heritage Dictionary that she proceeded to purchase for a bargain $4.95. Included in the voluminous volume's regular listings are names and faces of well-known people. (For example, from "A" through "Z" are photos and informational snippets ranging from American basketballer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Swiss religious reformer Ulrich Zwingli). And such things as city names are included in the alphabetical listings. Yep, the old hometown of Lubbock is described as "a city of northwest Texas south of Amarillo." I took the description as sort of a subtle put-down until I looked up Amarillo, which is "a city in northern Texas in the Panhandle north of Lubbock." Turnabout, you might say, is fair play.

Just for fun, though, I'd like to embark on a silly little exercise that I once pursued with my less hefty (read: abridged) Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. It has to do with those "headers" at the top of each page that alert readers to the first and last words therein. "Dictionary duos" is the term provided by the headline writer in my earlier odyssey, and following are my own parenthetical takes on the alphabetical American Heritage headings:

• ABC/abhorrent: Well, if THAT'S how you feel, maybe CBS, NBC or PBS might be more to your liking.

• Berkley/berserk: That particular Berkley is in Michigan - a Detroit suburb - and not to be confused with Berkeley, California. But the late San Francisco Chronicle humor columnist Herb Caen used to refer to that Bay Area city as "Berserkeley." Herb, I suspect, may have been a Stanford man.

• chugalug/churro: Impossible. After all, chugalugging is a liquid-only indulgence, whereas churro is defined as a "thick, coiled fritter of fried dough" that is unchugaluggable.

• doubtful/Dow: One never knows, of course, but investors have been enjoying a good ride as Wall Street keeps flirting with all-time highs.

• euphoria/euthanasia: My advice: Wake up, or you might end up dead!

• fallacious/Falstaffian: Well, yeah, Sir John Falstaff wasn't really a real live person but instead was a character that Shakespeare dreamed up for his "Henry IV" and "The Merry Wives of Windsor" plays.

• gizzard/glamourize: I could TRY, I suppose, but would no doubt be doomed to failure.

• Helen of Troy/hellcat: Hey, let's give Helen the benefit of doubt, since it was Prince Paris who abducted her and triggered the Trojan War. Don't trust me on this, but read up on your Greek mythology for updating if you'd like the full, unadulterated (or maybe adulterated) story.

• incoherent/inconsistent: That's probably what you're thinking of ME after that Helen of Troy business.

• Jewish/jingle: "Chutzpah! Chutzpah! Rah! Rah! Rah! Cockamamie! Cockamamie! Ha! Ha! Ha!" This nonsense is from a Shagetz (male non-Jewish Gentile) who's a schmoe (stupid person) who will never become a mensch (an important person).

• kiddo/kill shot: Hail to thee, you little old racquetballer you!

• loss/Louisiana Purchase: Yes, it was France's loss and Uncle Sam's big-time gain.

• madhouse/magazine: In the immortal words of Alfred E. Neuman: "What? Me worry?"

But enough of these downright duplicitous doings for now, as space - or rather lack thereof - dictates that I must back off from my exposé expounding. So I'll plan to cap it off next Tuesday by leading in with the letter "N" and stumbling through to the letter "Z." Until then, please try to throttle your, uh, anticipatory excitement. I know ... that's an easy assignment!

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