Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Because of Half-Baked Thoughts Like These

I like to learn new words. It is a strange thing for a guy to admit maybe, but it's true. My Mom turned me on to Anu Garg’s A.Word.A.Day web service when we moved back to my new hometown in the summer of 2005.

Mom knows I love to read, and she loves to play the board game SCRABBLE. Heck, all of her kids love to play that game! We used to have tournaments in an attempt to beat her at this wonderfully simple, yet stimulating word game. And don’t let her Southern demeanor fool you: she is one tough competitor and doesn’t like to get beaten.

Figuring that having moved within 15 minutes of her I might have to face her in a SCRABBLE contest, I signed up for Anu Garg’s service. Naturally, I had no problem doing this because it was free (read no cost) and painless to do so. I get sent words and definitions of neat and obscure words and phrases. And sometimes I get sent something weird like the word that landed in my inbox this morning. It wasn’t the word that was weird, but everything around it. Here she is:

Amour-propre or amour propre. Ahhh . . . one of those wacky French “phrase words” that make you feel smart (if you aren’t French). And it has a very interesting meaning: Noun: Self-esteem; self-respect. Cool! How do you use it in a sentence, I wonder? This is what I like best about Wordsmith.org. Anu shares a real-life example. Even cooler! So here we go—

"Diaghilev was always happy to trample on the feelings of his colleagues if he thought that the outcome merited it, and at different times we see Fokine, Benois, Bakst, and Nijinsky all desolated by jealousy and injured amour-propre."—Luke Jennings, "A Tyrannical Genius," The Observer (London, UK), Oct 25, 2009.

What is that all about? Who knows? But one thing is for sure. This Diaghilev is one way cool dude or dudette (can’t say, so let's pretend both). Right? Trampling on the feelings of not their workers, not their bosses, but wait for it . . . their peers! I love working with people like that, don’t you?

Sheesh! Talk about disordered amour-propre! The Diaghilev Twins are wreaking all kinds of havoc! I’d call them thieves because they are stealing the joy right outta my workplace. That’s bad for “unit cohesion,” any way you slice it.

Then I look at the article citation: Luke Jennings, "A Tyrannical Genius" . . . A genius and a tyrant, huh? Looks like another happy-go-lucky tyrannical genius is on the loose. Better consult my CIA fact book and see how many divisions he controls in his army. . . . Hmmm, no armies because “Luke Jennings has written several novels and reviews dance for The Observer.” Whew! That is my kind of tyrant!

This new word-phrase of mine isn’t keeping very good company. But it is showing what disordered self-esteem and self-respect look like! It doesn’t get any clearer than this. Maybe Anu’s A Thought of the Day will salvage this mess and make it all right.

Strike One: The Diaghilev Twins
Strike Two: The Tyrannical Genius

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY: "Man can be the most affectionate and altruistic of creatures, yet he's potentially more vicious than any other. He is the only one who can be persuaded to hate millions of his own kind whom he has never seen and to kill as many as he can lay his hands on in the name of his tribe or his God."—Benjamin Spock, pediatrician and author (1903-1998)

I’m gonna have to call Strike Three on this one because, although the first third of Dr. Spock's quote makes sense (Man can be the most affectionate and altruistic of creatures), the rest of it just defines disordered amour-propre.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: "Love your neighbor as yourself." There is nothing “half-baked” about this command.

Semper Fidelis