Tales from a Misinformed Dictionary – Falciform

Falciform: A falciform was briefly in vogue during the 1420’s in Europe during an unexpected shortage of falcons used for hunting. Any captive bird, from hummingbird to great auk was a candidate for the falciform, a cast-iron contraption designed to convert them into fierce hunting falcons. Falcon masters in on the secret process boasted that the scientific discovery was a miracle of avian alchemy. Kings, Queens, Jacks and Knaves, all vied for the finest in falciformic creations, only to find that the newly created falcons lacked something essential, namely, feathers. We know that a bald eagle proudly, vehemently accepts its baldness as a badge of honor. Not so a bald falcon. The poor monstrosities shivered in the cold and burrowed under tapestries and chain mail and cautiously inched into the depths of seemingly available holes. Burrowing owls resented the intrusion and cast the falcons out. Eventually lone and lorn bald falcons flapped away to tropical climes and disappeared, never seen again except as figments of their own imaginations.

On April 1st 1421, the European stock of usable hunting falcons suddenly plummeted, victim to an unexpected plague which sent the birds into dreamlike euphoria. The happy birds were completely useless as hunters and only good for breeding euphoric offspring. Hunters everywhere cried into their mugs of ale and then turned to priests and monks, sages and philosophers (basically, any old coot wearing a robe) for solutions. None of them had the slightest idea what to do about the dilemma aside from a Franciscan named Don Pedro Cinco de Mayo, who agreed to present his answer by May 5th. What he came up with, however, failed to satisfy the hunters, who angrily swung heavy maces and beat on the feathered effigies the dotty monk created, spilling their contents, which proved to be a lot of hard sweets wrapped in waxed paper – thus the piñata, but not a viable falcon.

Finally, in despair, King Rufous Sided Towhee of Tarragon (a tiny speck of a kingdom located somewhere or other in Central Europe), turned (in desperation) desperately to the resident mad scientist, who lived in a remote mountainous district covered in haunted woods and topped by a perpetually mist-wreathed castle. King Towhee had great faith in this particular wizardly scientist, Hawkston Falcone, a renowned specialist in the enigmatic thaumaturgy of name changing. For decades King Towhee had suffered under the unpronounceable weight of his given name, Pipilo Erythrophthalmus, and then one day Falcone concocted the feathery light and mellifluous “Rufous Sided Towhee,” and all was well. Falcone was of mixed Transylvanian and Persian heritage but preferred himself not to go by his original name, Count Lazlo Daavoooodi-Zaaadeeeh, because of constant run-ins with the vowel constabulary.

Hawkston took to Towhee’s falciformic challenge immediately, as hawks and falcons were his favorite birds, although naturally he hoarded a stock of the requisite midnight black ravens and wise-looking owls about the castle as a matter of course. He set to work in his combination laboratory and smithy, welding this piece of rare metal to that piece of even rarer metal, steeping them in various experimental chemical concoctions, one of which turned the metal into plastic which he immediately threw out, not recognizing its value. Finally, after many tries, he succeeded in transforming a sparrow into a crow and a crow into something not even a pterodactyl would eat.

He tried again.

At once he succeeded in turning a crow into a sea gull, which consequently pooped all over the laboratory and on Hawkston Falcone’s head. He kept trying, anyway – he was mad after all. At last he succeeded in creating a falcon, but like so many before him, could not see his way around the lack of feathers. Since he had a lot of gold as well as his mad scientist reputation riding on this, he raided the storage bin in his third sub-basement for his stash of thousands of feathers (useful in all kinds of deranged experiments), climbed up the dank stairwell to his seventh floor lab and artfully glued the feathers onto a flock of bald falcons. In the dead of night he stole to King Towhee’s palace, crossed the moat, and left them at the barred gateway, where the poor creatures clustered together for warmth.

Alas, King Towhee also needed to maintain his reputation as a double-dealer. He peddled the falciformed birds throughout Europe at outrageous prices. Monarchs and falconers alike pretended that everything was hunky-dory since they too needed to prop up their prestige, even in the Middle Ages, just a few years before Gallup Polls.

Meanwhile, Hawkston Falcone, high in his mist-wreathed castle, continued his diabolical experiments, wreaking havoc while cultivating an even madder expression on his face, later transferred to one of his most famous and monstrous creations…..

Actual meaning: curved, sickle-shaped

Tales from a Misinformed Dictionary – Desoxy

Desoxy: The state (or art) of being desoxed [see also desoxcombobulated]

Giorgio had a problem with sox. His sock drawer was not only full of sox (among them, Bostonian Redsox and Chicagoan Whitesox, but alas, no Philadelphian Pucesox) they constantly seemed to multiply and spill out onto the floor. Every day he’d cart armloads of sox down to the Salvation Army Store, but by the time he came home they were back again, multiplying to the point that they entirely filled his bedroom and he had to sleep on the living room couch. After a week of soxiness, his entire house was bursting with sox. He was desperate to desoxify his house. He called in exterminators, but they knew nothing about desoxing. He put an ad in the paper and all sorts of crackpots called or wrote or showed up at the door with absolutely ridiculous ideas.

“Feed them bubblegum toothpaste,” said one old crone. The idea!

“Read plumbing manuals to them. They hate that,” said a man who kept tripping over his beard.

Finally, one sunny day, just as a gang of sweat-stained athletic sox forced him out of his front door, a tiny voice spoke in his ear. He rummaged around with a finger but there didn’t seem to be anyone hiding there. However, the voice was quite clear. “To desoxify your house you, yourself, must be desoxy.”

“Dagnabbit, how in tarnation does a feller do that?” Giorgio asked – lately he’d been reading Western novels as an escape from sox – “They say you can lead a horse to water, but there ain’t a cactus in hell can make these here newfangled hosiery drink.”

“Trust me,” the voice said. “Take one bicarbonate of desoxycorticosterone and mix it with two teaspoons of desoxyriboncucleic acid, mix it in some prune juice and pour it in your sock drawer – that is, if you can fight your way into the bedroom.”

Giorgio sighed, plunged through a drift of ever-clamoring argyles and managed to clear a path into the kitchen where naturally he had the ingredients on hand – he always kept desoxycorticosterone and desoxyriboncucleic acid handy for an emergency and prune juice because it reminded him of his birthplace in Sicily.

By the time he reached his bedroom, Giorgio looked more sock than human and the formerly bubbling vibrant green liquid had thickened with sock lint. He found the sock drawer writhing with formal dress sox, poured in the gunk, and then fainted. When he woke up there wasn’t a sock in the place, not even on his feet. His girlfriend Pandora arrived for the first time in days, gazed at the curiously empty house and said, “Giorgio my dear, you may not be very sexy, but you sure are desoxy.”

Actual meaning: earlier form of “deoxy” which means something that has less oxygen than its original compound, also used as a chemical prefix.

Tales from a Misinformed Dictionary – Retrolingual

Retrolingual: Retrolingual was a short lived academic fad of the mid 21st century. Students, tiring of traditional modern language studies (i.e.: French, Spanish, Chinese and Gezhundian) and traditional ancient language studies (i.e.: Latin, Greek, Olde English and Really Really Olde Gezhundian), took up faintly obscure, mostly forgotten extinct languages, such as “Modern Gutnish,” “Russenorsk,” “Kw’adza,” “Yugh,” and the easy to pronounce, “Ngarinyeric-Yithayithic.” The fad, although extremely popular for a few weeks, went the way of “pet rocks” since no one understood what anyone else was saying, and so, “Nixtifalacchio ifiniccionali Phaxtomiswopp,” which clearly meant “I would like a rutabaga to go, please,” became misinterpreted by many scholars as, “Your nostril drips like the ever flowing fountain of Phaxtom’s Mountain.”

Theodore Saurus took a lot of guff for his odd name. When shortened to Theo Saurus and said quickly with marbles in mouth, it sounded like the word “dictionary.” As it turned out, Theodore adored words, not just words you could look up in an ordinary dictionary or even in one of those massive, multi-volume lexicons, but words found in all corners of the world and a few dusty closets, too. As a child he passionately studied foreign language dictionaries, eventually opening them up to see what was inside. In his teens he progressed to ancient languages such as Vulgar Latin, Sanskrit, Sumerian, and Egyptian, and became conversant in all of them, although none of his schoolmates understood his jokes and his would-be girlfriends slammed the door on his amorous proclamations in exotic foreign tongues because they preferred red blooded American tongues. By the time he entered college he’d memorized Dale Carnegie’s, How to Win Friends and Influence People, in forty-two languages and thought it might be working when a cat befriended him because he seemed able to interpret its desire for a bowl of milk. However, he felt determined to win friends and influence his college class as well as his professors.

It took time, but then all at once he succeeded. On November 28, 2051, he invented the term “retrolingual” and immediately began speaking in languages no one else on campus knew a single word of, including fragments of Thracian, Etruscan and his personal favorite, Philistine. Envious of his multilingual facility, other would-be language artists took note and began their own campaigns of linguistic obscurity. Soon dorm rooms were abuzz with words like, “oophrizrastic” and “quixxicoxxinixxitwat.” One wise pundit commented that the fad spread from campus to campus like “vrinoslippicoth,” a cliché in Vrinthlon, the language of an obscure European sect known as the Vrinthligoths. Actual translation: “like wildfire,” but naturally no one knew that. The fad lasted just over three weeks when students left for the winter holidays and forgot all about it. Theodore Saurus abandoned languages for the study of dinosaurs and at long last achieved popularity – suddenly his name was cool.

Actual meaning: situated behind or near the base of the tongue (salivary glands)

Tales from a Misinformed Dictionary – Lithomarge

Lithomarge: [see also, lithobutter] a print produced by lithomargraphy, a process in which one renders an image or word via rendered margarine on non-absorbent pastry which repels the ink, allowing it to rappel onto an appropriate surface or external locus, ostensibly providing a subcutaneous veneer, although a few (jealous – or zealous? I can’t read my own handwriting) scientists in Monaco doubt its plausibility.

You’ve heard of butter sculpture? This is similar. Read on:

Long, long ago an itinerant Italian artist and printer named Graphias Litho sat down at the breakfast table with a hefty chunk of Tuscan flatbread and a pot of well-congealed butter. He was an absent minded fellow, given to flights of fancy and flights of forgetfulness. That day, knife in hand, he was about to slice into the flat, smooth crust, when without thinking a thought, he carved a word in his native language, “buffone” or “buffoon” as we call it today. He then pressed the bread against the creamy butter, while simultaneously spilling a quantity of ink which he’d mistaken for wine. When he lifted the bread, he cried, “Voila!” Or, rather, “Ecco!” There was “buffone” spelled out in lovely burgundy-colored letters. Sadly, the newly invented “lithobutter” had a very short life span once the Tuscan sun – and Graphias’s wife Petra – heated up. Petra was quite upset to find ink mixed into her butter and threatened to use Graphias’s printing press as kindling. But the germ of an idea grasped Graphias and spun him around. Once he stopped spinning, he began the art of lithography in earnest.

Flash forward two centuries and an Armenian avant-garde scholar/artiste named Plebiscite Philagorean spent two hundred days in the Litho room of the Benedetto Archives of Siena, Italy, pouring over Graphias Litho’s papers, which included original lithographs, baffling treatises on befuddled subjects (unless it was the other way around), and mysterious ink-stained notes, as well as assorted crumbs from long ago meals. One day he stumbled upon a still slightly greasy jotting about Litho’s initial discovery of the lithobutter process. A light bulb lit above Philagorean’s head, although that was not unusual. Lights were always flickering on and off at the Benedetto Archives, which along with its fabulous collections, featured faulty electrical wiring.

Plebiscite Philagorean raced back to his hotel room on the Rue de la Champagne (for some reason he was commuting daily from Lac Dumas aux Flambeau, France, 750 miles away), not forgetting to pick up the flattest, hardest, three-day old bread he could find. He rummaged in the refrigerator for a plastic tub of margarine and then set to work. To honor the Italian Graphias Litho, Philagorean carved the word “vermicelli,” a type of pasta also known as “little worms.” He pressed the bread word into the margarine and stared in disbelief at the faint, spectacularly unspectacular imprint. He’d forgotten the ink! Hurriedly he pulled apart a BIC pen and squirted it all over himself. Fortunately, enough ink dripped onto the bread that he was able to try again and this time the word stood out a vibrant blue. The art of the lithomarge, created by way of lithomargraphy, was born and the world was never the same, although the world didn’t know it.

Actual definition: smooth, compact kaolin, a type of clay used to manufacture porcelain.

Tales from a Misinformed Dictionary – Prestidigitator and Croquette

Prestidigitator: An instant finger-making machine, not to be confused with a prestoagitator, which is an instant annoying person, not to be confused with a depressedagitator which is an unhappy annoying person. The prestidigitator is useful for creating fingers for things that don’t have them such as televisions and glasses of orange juice.

Juan cried, “¡Ay caramba!” when the prestidigitated finger rose like Excalibur from his bowl of steaming burrito soup. Guacamole splattering, corn chips clattering, Juan burst through the nearest mosaic-covered mud brick wall as if it was one of those swinging doors in a fabled western saloon. No one ever returned to El Gordo Sombrero, considered until that tragic day the finest Mexican restaurant in Uzbekistan.

Actual meaning: an expert at prestidigitation, which means sleight of hand.

Croquette: A psychological condition in which the subject is only capable of flirting while playing croquet.

From the age of two, Helga cried foul over the name her parents chose for her. Why oh why couldn’t they have named her something pleasanter, like Babette or better yet, Bala Cynwd? She tried everything in her power to destroy the grim image her name evoked. Instead of dark, practical clothing, she wore frilly dresses. Instead of short, practical straight hair, she wore her hair in artfully arranged ringlets. Instead of a stern, uncompromising expression, she wore something decidedly inane and vacuous. Her attempts at base flirting, at the normal coquetry of feminine youth, failed utterly and completely until one day while visiting her fourth cousin’s mother in law’s best friend’s neighbor twice removed (no one knew why), she took up the ancient and esteemed game of croquet. The men who played that day, the Italian count, Garibaldi Garbanzo and his sycophantic associate, Garlic Gorgonzola, found themselves fascinated, charmed and captivated. Helga, who despaired of ever marrying, used her new-found croquetry to land both, living happily ever after at the conjoined Garbanzo-Gorgonzola estates until one day a prestidigitated thumb appeared in her linguini. The unfortunate result was the sudden disappearance of her remarkable abilities as the world’s most famous croquette, thus ending a chapter in Heinz Uberburgerschnitzel’s classic tome, Psychotomimetical Psychosomatics.

Actual meaning: a croquette is a cake or pastry filled with diced meat and vegetables, coated with breadcrumbs and fried in deep fat.

Tales from a Misinformed Dictionary – Kloof

Kloof: A mechanical attachment used to provide dexterity to sentient ungulates.

Urko visited the Kloofeteria, where an assistant helped him try on four varicolored neon kloofs, which fit front and back hoofs perfectly. At last, instead of kicking away unwanted tennis balls, he was able to pick them up and eat them. Instead of leaving angry hoof-marks on books, he could actually turn pages and read the stories. The kloofs were an utter delight – he never had to trim them and he never had to coat them with hoof cream in winter, unlike his hoofs, which became brittle and cracked. There was no such thing as “kloof cream.” You didn’t need it.

One day, while perusing his favorite volume of encyclopedia (the “U” volume of course), Urko discovered that somehow, without consulting them, dinosaur-obsessed scientists had deviously replaced the name of his type of mammal, once euphoniously known as “ungulata” with either “perissodactyla” or “artiodactyla.” – they couldn’t seem to make up their minds which. As a proto-beatnik type of ungulate, Urko naturally preferred “artiodactyla” which got him pondering about art, a subject he often pondered his deepest ponders about. Urko had noticed the unusual mosaic of tracks that kloofs left in the mud he liked to cool off in. After experimenting with a variety of patterns and creating his own personal style, Urko invented an entirely new art form, at first known as “Art Urko,” but after it caught on with other artist-ungulates, as “Art Kloof.” Unfortunately, within days, Kloof manufacturers underwent major nuisance lawsuits from several individuals named “Art Kloof.” Tied up in litigation for years, “kloofmania,” as the media referred to it, underwent severe decline until now no one is sure if kloofs ever truly existed.

Its actual meaning: “a deep glen: ravine”

Tales from a Misinformed Dictionary – Biramous and Whaup

Biramous: an unusually intelligent, two-whiskered mouse. Several whisker strands fuse together into horn-like projections from each side of the mouse’s mouth. Because of their tensile, metallic-like strength and conductivity, the fused whiskers act like radio antennae, drawing broadcasts from around the world directly into the mouse. Because of their keen minds and sponge-like absorptive abilities, the average biramous quickly becomes conversant in a multitude of languages, especially that of advertising. The enlarged biramous speech box provides startling resonance, allowing many biramouses successful careers as radio announcers, deejays, and voice over artists. No doubt you’ve heard them advertising cheese.

Legend has it that Amos was the most famous biramous of them all, although cantankerous cranks groused that he was a louse, except when most sonorous, which brought down the house. Vain and snooty (but never snouty), Amos always wore a sunny yellow mouse-blouse featuring glamorous photographs of himself posing at the microphone. Some say that only a blasphemous ignoramus would frown at such a vainglorious biramous as Amos.

Actual definition of biramous: having two branches, as those on the appendages of crustaceans.

Whaup: A particular sound produced by members of the obscure religious sect known as “Burpers” at the exact second they reach their daily moment of enlightenment.

Franklin was a recent convert to the Burpers, swayed by their promise of enlightenment – deep and soulful riches beyond imagination. However, try as he would, meditating for hours on end by himself and in large groups, he’d never emitted more than a tiny “uhp” which reminded his fellow Burpers of the sound one makes after swallowing an under ripe grape. Castigated for his failure, reviled for his undeniably weak belching ability, thrown out on his own devices, (etc. etc.), Franklin dragged himself to the nearest mountain (some ten thousand miles away), planning to end it all. He sat in an old shepherd’s hut, high above a darkling plain and gave it one last try. He’d consumed a cucumber steak with watermelon gravy and found it too rare for his liking. His stomach, however, seemed to be speaking to him and he felt insistent, mystical words rising up, clamoring to get out. He opened his mouth and felt the “whaup” coming, but only a stray “wherefore” slipped out. Steeling himself, he tried yet again and this time, at long last (he thought), the whaup tumbled down his chin, only to turn into a “wherewithal.” In despair, he rose swiftly, stepped forward to pitch himself down the steep slope…and then that most lovely and rare of words, “whaup” slithered out of his mouth and swirled in the mists of the canyon below, echoingly brightly (or was it damply?) from peak to peak, wall to wall, finally settling on a radio tower where it became part of an international broadcast listened to with delight by every biramous near and far.

Actual definition of whaup: “a European curlew.” A curlew is a species of bird.

Tales from a Misinformed Dictionary – Scripsit

Scripsit: In the golden days, perhaps as far back as Shakespearean times (if indeed Shakespeare existed – some literary scholars believe that his plays were actually written by someone named Marlowe’s ghost – an early example of ghostwriting) a playwright would finish his script and then sit on it for awhile, waiting until it was truly ready for producing at the Globe or one of the many other English theaters such as the Hoot or the Catcall. Of course some of the more superstitious playwrights took this literally and actually sat on the script. Eventually finding the process eminently impractical and ridiculously tedious, the playwrights hefted themselves up and ambled down to the Fowle Guild, thinking that if chickens and Cornish game hens and other fowl had the leisure time to sit on eggs, why not scripts? So the guild masters formed an auxiliary and christened it the Scripsit Guild. They allowed only the most patient birds to act as scripsits, since, unlike silky smooth eggs, the parchment felt rough and the ink stained their feathers – plus nothing ever hatched, not even an idea. Playwrights utilized scripsits well into the 19th century until the industrial revolution, when an enterprising inventor created a mechanized scripsit, which eventually evolved into a theatrical agent.

Makepeace Voltaire was the most famous playwright from Devonshire, Piznitz-on-the-wold, Merry-in-the-pigsty, England, although local publicans liked to remind visitors that Makepeace was the only playwright ever to have come from Devonshire, Piznitz-on-the-wold, Merry-in-the-pigsty, England. Renowned for his tragicomic dramaturgy, praised for his facility with what critics even in those days referred to as the English language, Makepeace felt justified in calling himself Makepeace. Sadly, however, come 1642 he fell on hard times. To critics and the public alike, his plays seemed half-baked, regurgitated and spit out. Something was seriously wrong with his dialogue (‘Alas!’ seemed to be repeated every other line). Something was seriously amiss with his stage directions (men with spears kept tripping over each other and bumping into walls). His closest friend, the Dutch poet, Hans Moo (umlaut over the first o) urged him to either give up or give in – “Ach dermitzich nurdengammer fichiflachtifechtidammerung,” he said, which loosely translated (Makepeace believed) meant, “Go to the guild and get yourself a scripsit, goshdarn.”

So, Makepeace visited the Scripsit Guild and returned with a rather taciturn peahen named “Elizabeth” who, after carefully arranging her feathers, sat on Makepeace’s latest creation, a play about a farmer who has a problem with too many leeks, entitled, The Farmer Who Had Way Too Many Leeks. Hours passed, days passed, and Elizabeth sat stolidly and stoically, never allowing Makepeace even the tiniest peep at the script to see if it was ready. She just stared balefully at his nose and occasionally took a nip at it. Finally, two weeks later, she stood up, ruffled her rump, and stepped away from the script. Makepeace was astounded to discover the play renamed Elizabeth of Devon, now a romance about a lonely woman with a rather bird-like face, pining for her lost love, a young ne’er-do-well. Finally, a rich baron whose serfs were world-renowned for their ability to grow the finest leeks, sweeps her off her feet and they live happily – or perhaps not – in a castle full of leaks. Needless to say, the play was a roaring success and the envy of every playwright, even that Shakespeare, or whatever his name was.

Actual meaning: he (or she) wrote (it): placed after the author’s name on a manuscript, etc.

Tales from a Misinformed Dictionary – Vizard

Vizard (rhymes with “wizard”): 1) a rumored species of South Pacific island lizard featuring oversized eyes with an unusual far-seeing ability. 2) [Slang – archaic] an unusual cast of the eye, especially in those who purport to do magic or are deeply religious.

In 1526, the infamous Dutch explorer, Willem de Vandergeertdervandervander, accidentally landed on a previously undiscovered South Pacific island (he was searching for Hoboken, New Jersey). While planting the Dutch flag, and after watering it, he felt a chill tickle up and down his spine like a friendly ship rat nuzzling for food. Someone – or some thing – was watching him. He looked right and then left and glimpsed nothing but palm trees, lapping blue waves and broken coconut shells. It was only when he looked right in front of him at the peak of an immense heap of seashell midden, that he observed a large sparkling green lizard with remarkably bulbous eyes. “Rotmensen, come quickly,” he shouted to his ship scientist, Rotmensen Naaktgeboren (translated loosely his name means “rotten people born naked” but don’t ever mention it to him).

Naaktgeboren rushed over, scattering white sand every which way. He eyed the lizard and the lizard eyed him. “Ach!” he said (his favorite word). “Ach! Ist neu lizzarde de groot.”

“I don’t understand you,” said Willem. “Remember to speak normally please.”

Of course Naaktgeboren was used to this. One of Willem’s quirks was that although born in the Netherlands to Nederlandish parents and having grown up in the Netherlands, immersed in Dutch culture and language, he spoke only in English. “It is undoubtedly a unique species of lacertilian sauria, and most astonishing indeed,” Naaktgeboren said.

“Name it.”

“I will call it a vizard, both because of the monstrous size of its eyes and because it seems able to see a great distance. Do gaze at the reflection in its eyes, my friend.”

Willem stared in amazement at what appeared to be his elderly parents sitting at their kitchen table slurping Flemish stew. He immediately decided to obtain as many vizards as possible, both as additions to the ship’s mascot menagerie and because of the obvious potential for untold riches. Think how the Dutch royalty and aristocrats would clamor for such unusual creatures!

However, catching the vizard proved next to impossible, as it was fleet of foot and no matter how fast a Dutch sailor armed with a net tried, the vizard was far faster, and with reptilian zeal, seemed to delight in the chase.

Two years later, after several shipwrecks in which he lost all of his crew except hard-as-lice Naaktgeboren, Willem returned home laden down with an unpleasant-smelling spice no one wanted and vivid tales no one believed. The word vizard, however, gained brief currency as slang describing a person noted for a ‘guru-like stare.’ Deeply humiliated, Willem lived out the rest of his life in disguise as a gondolier, although he refused to live in Italy and never learned Italian, continuing to speak only in English.

Naaktgeboren, who managed to sneak in several heavy gold bars on their return trip by hiding them in his stockings (although it made walking difficult), holed up in his mist-filled castle, conducting unmentionable scientific experiments (because he couldn’t see anything) and wrote puffed-up treatises on his past discoveries, including one on the mysterious lizard he’d once dubbed a vizard.

Centuries later, brave explorers still attempted to find this legendary lost, probably extinct, species, searching from nameless island to unmapped atoll on and on and on around the world. There were numerous reports of single sightings, as well as rumored colonies of electric-green lizards which upon further investigation proved to be nothing more than the obscure but not unknown “dizzard,” a much more excitable yet easy to catch species of lizard. In 2012, rather blurry photographs purporting to show a vizard running went viral on the internet. However, analysis by photo-detectives proved that the tantalizing photographs actually depicted an old man from Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, vigorously brushing his teeth. The search continues…..

The actual meaning of vizard: 1) a mask or visor for disguise or protection. 2) disguise, guise

Tales from a Misinformed Dictionary – Saprobe

Saprobe: There are two kinds of saprobes, discovered independently in the 18th century; although some scholars posit that a Woodland Indians tradition hearkens back one or two minutes earlier. The odoriferous Vermont variety of saprobe comes from (or one might say, “gloms” from) the congealed sap of the sugar maple tree, while the Georgia variety, a much stickier yet more durable resinous robe, derives from the coagulated sap of the Georgia pine tree. Adopted by trappers, loggers and syrup makers, the saprobe provided warmth and protection during frosty winters and served as mosquito, gnat and fly attractants during the sultry months. Unfortunately, bears, cougars, hawks, crows, and skunks found the clothing unspeakably gorgeous, which eventually led to its discontinuance, however for a time North America featured some nattily dressed animals.

Lemuel Bassington began his life as a fur trapper. Let me back up. He didn’t actually begin his life as a fur trapper. As an infant he was unable to trap fur-bearing animals, although he had good luck with grasshoppers. But by the age of ten he was a working man, complete with matted beard, coonskin hat and more than a pinch of snuff. This was back in the olden days, sometime around 1750. He roamed the colonies, trapping furs (the actual animals got away), subsisting on bitter berries, stringent barks and stump water, but by the time he was twenty years old, he needed a change. He’d discovered the benefits of pine gum and spruce gum and abandoned snuff for gum, which wasn’t too hard on his teeth since he no longer had any (he was begummed). He decided to set up a chewing gum business and began harvesting Georgia pines for their copious sap. One bright morning, after rolling the gum out in sheets, he allowed it to sun dry. Wrapping the finished product around his torso, he found it both flexible and malleable and then extremely difficult to disrobe. Experimenting, he fashioned a pair of trousers, only to find himself attached to the stump he was sitting on, unable to move. He sliced the trousers off with his long knife and tried again, this time creating a warm and completely unfuzzy robe.

Wandering through the forest, he collected gum samples and other fruits of the trees, and the robe collected acorns and pinecones and seeds, slowing him down considerably. Still, he thought he was onto something. One day he met an old man traveling in the opposite direction. He was startled to see that the geezer was wearing an almost identical robe, only it exuded a flavorful sweet smell. “Howdy, old fella,” Lemuel said. “Where in tarnation did you get that thingamabob.”

“I ain’t tellin’ you, youngster. I ain’t tellin’. I made this thingamajig myself back yonder a ways in Vermont.”

“I thought you ain’t tellin’.”

“Well I ain’t. I ain’t tellin’ you where in Vermont. It’s back around Prattleboro in the Green Mountains nestled in a forest grove where they tap sap for maple syrup.”

The old man passed by, but not before hurling a newfangled waffle at Lemuel, which stuck to his robe. He’d heard awhile back from an old fur trapping buddy, via passenger pigeon, that there was a lot of saps in Vermont. Since that was the entire message, he wasn’t sure if his pal meant the goo from trees or that there were a lot of sentimental fools living there. He decided to mosey on over to Vermont. Moseying meant that it took him a couple of years to arrive there, laden down with pine saprobes and assorted tree detritus. One day he came upon a grove of maple trees and people with wooden buckets attached. Let me back up again. These buckets hung from the trees, not the people. Each person, however, wore a sweet smelling saprobe. Lemuel thought and pondered and then pondered and thought. Could he combine the best features of the pine saprobe and the maple saprobe to create an even more effective saprobe? After days of experimentation, this proved to be true. But the new and improved super-duper saprobe, which was both a feast for the eyes and nose and even stomach, depending on your digestive system, attracted numerous fashion plates among the animal kingdom and Lemuel spent the rest of his life captive in a rabbit burrow deep in the woods of mountainous Vermont, only a saprobic legend to the wider world.

Saprobe actually refers to a saprobic organism, one which dines on deceased or decaying organic matter, tending toward an environment as free from oxygen as possible.

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