Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Defunnytions (XII)

As I was thumbing through my fictionary* tonight, I found the word "DROPHEAD". A "DROPHEAD" is somebody who had to undergo the unpleasant process of decapitation. Surprisingly, according to other dictionaries, a "DROPHEAD" is a convertible car. As you probably already found out, my fictionary* is not a very reliable source.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Defunnytions (XI)

"REDBELLY". In my fictionary* a "REDBELLY" is a fat guy with a big red belly who spent too much time exposed to the sun. "REDBELLY" is a kind of fish in other dictionaries.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Defunnytions (X)

Today's "Defunnytion" is "HELPMEET". In my dictionary, a "HELPMEET" is a matchmaker, a person who tries to arrange marriages. In other dictionaries, "HELPMEET" means a helpful partner.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Defunnytions (IX)

Today, I give you the word "FISHWAY". In my
dictionary, "FISHWAY" is a word mainly used by gangsters in the expression "My way or the FISHWAY" to talk people into doing something they wouldn't normally agree to do. Other gangsters prefer the expression "sleeping with the fishes", which means exactly the same thing. In other dictionaries, FISHWAY is described as being a device for enabling fish to pass around a dam.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Japan National Championship 2009

The Japan National Championship took place on the 5th of September in Tokyo, where the best 8 players from Japan fought for the title. Hirai san won the National Championship on spread, after winning his last game against Matsuda san(441-312).First Hirai san and then Matsuda san had to decline the invitation to join the World Scrabble Championship in Johor Bahru, due to work commitments. Warodom Geamsakul, a Thai player living in Japan who finished 3rd , will be representing Japan. Unfortunately Jason Katz Brown and I couldn’t join the Nationals this year. We did meet a week later in Tokyo over the scrabble board, but that is another story. Here are the results:

1st Hirai san 6-1
2nd Matsuda san 6-1
3rd Warodom san 4.5-2.5
4th Kuroda san 4-3
5th Itsubaki san 3.5-3.5
6th Takeda san 3-4
7th Tanaka san 1-6
8th Arai san 0-7

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Age of Shiva (IV) Miscellanea

In this book, Manil Suri uses the word “TRIMURTI”, defined as the group of three Hindu deities which consisted of Brahma (the creator) along with Vishnu (the preserver) and Shiva (the destroyer). This word is not in the Collins Scrabble Dictionary but the word “MURTI” is. MURTI is defined as a shape, a manifestation, embodiment, or personification.

SANYASI+S (a Hindu religious mendicant) and SANYASIN* (not a valid word in Scrabble) both appear in this book. Note that SANNYASI+N,S is also valid in Scrabble

When I looked up “INTERSPRED”*, another word used by Manil Suri, I was surprised to see that it was not good but that there was a valid word with that rack. The word is “RINDERPEST” which is defined as an infectious bacterial disease of cattle and sheep.

BURQA+S BURKA+S and BOURKHA are all valid in Scrabble. Suri uses the word BURKHAS* which is not valid. The same rack gives you the valid word KURBASH. A burka is a long loose robe that covers the entire body and having a veiled opening for the eyes worn by some Muslim women
Another interesting find is HATEMONGER* (one who excites hate, one who provokes enmity) It’s not valid in Scrabble, but … THEREAMONG is.
P. S. The photo (women going to a Hindu festival) was taken right after the 2007 World Scrabble Championship.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Age of Shiva (III)

Paisa+n,s Paise (no-s) = in India, Pakistan, and Nepal: a monetary unit equal to one-hundredth of a rupee. In Bangladesh: a monetary unit equal to one-hundredth of a taka.

Paratha+s = a type of unleavened bread fried on a griddle in butter or ghee, and sometimes served with a filling.

Pipal+s = a fig tree from India

Pooja+h,s Puja+h,s = a religious ceremony, a ceremonial offering to a god; an act of private or public worship.

Purana+s = any of a class of works in Sanskrit verse (with occasional prose passages), comprising (mainly Hindu) myths, legends, history, and ritual.

Qawwali+s = a style of Muslim devotional music, now associated particularly with Sufis in Pakistan, characterized by a fervent, often improvisatory vocal delivery, accompanied on drums and harmonium. Also: a song in this style.

Sadhu+s = a holy man; a sage

Salwar(no s) Shalwar+s = loose trousers worn by both sexes in some South Asian countries, esp. those worn by women together with a kameez.

Sahib+a,s = a respectful title used by the natives of India in addressing an Englishman or other European (= ‘Sir’); in native use, an Englishman, a European.

Samosa+s = a triangular pastry fried in ghee or oil, containing spiced vegetables or meat.

Sanyasi+s = a Brahman in the fourth stage of his life; a wandering fakir or religious mendicant.

Sherwani+s = in the Indian sub-continent, a knee-length coat, buttoning to the neck, worn by men.

Talaq+s = in Muslim law: (a method of) divorce by the husband's mere verbal repudiation of his wife in a set form of words

Thali+s= (1) a gold pendant that is hung round the bride's neck as part of a South Indian wedding ceremony. (2) In India, a metal platter or flat dish on which food is served; a meal served on it.

Tilak+s = among Hindus, a mark on the forehead indicating caste, status, sectarian affiliation, etc., or worn simply as an ornament.

Zamindar+i,s,y Zemindar+i,s,y = formerly, a collector of the revenue from land held by a number of cultivators; subsequently, an Indian who held land for which he paid revenue direct to the British government.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Defunnytions (VIII)

The word of the day is VINOLENT. People who become violent after drinking wine are described as VINOLENT. In other dictionaries, not as good as mine, VINOLENT is an adjective which means addicted to wine.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Defunnytions (VII)

The word I chose for today is FACEBAR. FACEBAR helps you connect and share with the people behind the bars.

The Age of Shiva (II)

An Indian wedding in Kuala Lumpur. Photo taken while Adrian was playing in the Causeway tournament (Johor Bahru, 2008)

Hanuman+s = proper name of a monkey-chief; a semi-divine monkey-like creature, to whom extraordinary powers were attributed in legend; an East Indian monkey

Hooka+h,s = a pipe for smoking, of Eastern origin, having a long flexible tube, the smoke being drawn through water contained in a vase, to which the tube and the bowl are attached; the narghile of India.

Kameez+es = a long tunic that men and women wear in South Asian countries over churidars and salwar

Kabaddi+s = a game popular in northern India and Pakistan played between two teams of nine boys or young men.

Kohl+s = a powder which is used to darken the eyelids (eyebrows, etc.)

Kulfi+s = a popular South Asian dessert made with boiled milk. It comes in many flavours, including pistachio, malai, mango, cardamom, saffron, the more traditional flavors, as well as newer variations like apple, orange, peanut, and avocado. Where western ice creams are whipped with air or overrun, kulfi contains no air; it is solid dense frozen milk. Therefore kulfi is not ice cream. It is a related, but distinct, category of frozen dairy based dessert.

Lakh = one hundred thousand: a. of things in general; occas. used for an indefinite number; b. spec. of coins, esp. in a lac of rupees.

Mangalsutra = an Indian and Nepali symbol of Hindu marriage, consisting of a gold ornament strung from a yellow thread, a string of black beads or a gold chain. It is comparable to a Western wedding ring, and is worn by a married woman until her husband's death.

Masjid+s = a Muslim place of worship (mosque)

Mehndi+s = the henna plant; the art, skill, or practice of applying temporary henna tattoos, spec. as part of a bride or groom's preparations for a wedding; such a tattoo.

Memsahib+s = a European woman living in colonial India

Mughal+s = each of the successive heads of the Muslim dynasty founded by Zah r-ud-D n Mu ammad B bur (1483-1530), which ruled an empire covering a large part of South Asia from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Mongolian; spec. of or relating to the Moguls and their empire in India; designating an artefact produced during the time of the Moguls.

Mullah+s = chiefly in Turkish-, Persian-, and Urdu-speaking regions: a person who is learned in Islamic theology and law; a Muslim cleric.

Nawab+s = a Muslim official who acted as a deputy ruler or viceroy of a province or district under the Mughal empire; any governor of a town or district, or person of high status. A wealthy retired employee of the former colonial service in India.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Defunnytions (VI)

I'm sure you've all heard of drink and drive, which is, obviously, illegal. But has anyone ever said anything about drink and ski? Well, I'm saying... BREWSKI. Many people can ski but not many can BREWSKI.

A Book...Sometimes

I’m trying (as you might have noticed) to come up with a word a day. I’m sure you already know, but just to make things clear, the definitions are entirely my creation, so please don’t use them when your child asks what a teleosaur is. This time I’ll try to introduce a book, not necessarily because I was impressed by the theme or the style, but because it helped me make an interesting selection of words. I’m planning to repeat the experiment with books from various countries, but I cannot be sure of its frequency. So, it’s a book… sometimes.
The first one: Manil Suri’s “The Age of Shiva”. I’m not going to spoil it for you, so if you are interested in the contents, you’ll just have to read it. But here are some words of Indian origin:
(Source of definitions: OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY)

Achkan+s = a light, close-fitting knee-length jacket buttoned at the front, traditionally worn by men.

Akhara+s = a convent or monastery, esp. of ascetics. Also: an order of ascetics or monks.

Asana+s = a yoga position

Ayah+s = a maid or nurse in India

Ayurveda+s = an ancient Hindu system of medicine, drawn from Vedic literature and based on the belief that physical and mental health are dependent on a balance of biological humours (or doshas) uniquely constituted in each individual, which may be maintained or restored by regulated diet, sleep, exercise, etc., and a range of homoeopathic and natural remedies.

Bania+n,s = an Indian fig tree

Biryani+s Biriani+s Biriyani+s = a highly-spiced Indian dish made of meat or vegetables cooked with rice, saffron, and usu. brown lentils.

Brahmin+s = member of the highest priestly caste among the Hindus.

Chappal+s = an Indian open sandal

Chappati+s Chapati+s Chupati+s = a small cake of unleavened bread, generally made of coarse wheaten meal, flattened with the hand, and baked on a griddle. ‘The usual form of native bread and the staple food of Upper India’ (Yule).

Charpoy+s Charpai+s = an Indian bed

Datura+S = a flowering plant; a powerful narcotic

Dupatta+S = a doubled or two-layered length of cloth worn by women as a scarf, veil, or shoulder wrap.

Dhobi+s = native washerman in India.

Durrie+s Dhurrie+s = a kind of cotton carpet of Indian manufacture, usually made in rectangular pieces with fringes at the ends, and used for sofa-covers, curtains, and similar purposes.

Ghee+S = butter made from buffalo's or cow's milk, clarified by boiling, so as to resemble oil in consistency.

Ghat+s = mountain pass (in India); mountain range.

Gymkhana +s = a place of public resort at a station, where the needful facilities for athletics and games of sorts are provided’ (Y.). Hence (esp. in European use), an athletic sports display. Now spec. a meeting at which horses and their riders take part in games and contests; also a competition designed to test driving skill.

Fashion, Leave the Fat Alone!

As I said, I like art and going to museums. And I like Rubens. Which leads to my question: what’s wrong with the women he painted? Why are they no longer the ideal of beauty? I am not going to get into a sociological and aesthetic debate. I am familiar with all the common place answers like “Fat was appreciated because it was a sign of wealth”, or “Beauty ideals and standards change”, or “Your mind is what matters”. All I want to know is why some hundreds of years ago it was acceptable, desirable even to be plump and soft and now it’s a crime against fashion. I have a husband who would never mention my surplus weight (no if he knows what’s good for him), I have a career and some wonderful friends, yet I too have submitted to more or less painful diets in an attempt to look “good”. I even went regularly to the gym for about one year, but then I realized it was too much of an effort. But what’s wrong with looking like a Rubens painting? As my husband put it once, we would be “fluffy and comfortable”, like pillows. And we could spend the entire day eating hot bread rolls, pancakes with raspberry jam, chocolate cake, gorgonzola pasta, French fries and hamburgers. Oh, Rubens, where are you?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Defunnytions (V)

And today's winner is....SALSILLA. In MY dictionary a SALSILLA is a gorilla dancing to the rhythm of salsa.

Note: The Salsilla photo was taken by PELLAEA (http://www.flickr.com/photos/7147684@N03/)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Defunnytions (IV)

And today's winner is... HORSEPOX!

When the horse has chickenpox, it's called horsepox.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Defunnytions (III)

Narcotine: a consumer of narcotics. Like most people, narcotines fall in love too. Most of us have heard the popular expression “Be my Valentine” but not many are familiar with its euphoric sister “Be my Narcotine”.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Defunnytions (II)

The word of the day is... TELEOSAUR

In MY dictionary , a teleosaur is an old obese person who had spent their entire life on the couch watching television.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Clandestine Scrabble

I am sure you are all imagining now dark and musty dens where addicted gamblers play various games, their vice-marked faces clouded by cigarette smoke, their voices hoarse and their eyes glassy. Or maybe you are thinking that I am planning to open an illegal Scrabble betting place, like the one (not related to Scrabble, of course) in the apartment building near our house. Our neighbor says it’s owned by the yakuza. Hm, I wonder whether we could convince Nigel to get into the business…
Anyway, my illicit adventure is connected to the coming of my in-laws to Japan. Don’t get me wrong, I honestly like them. Unfortunately (for all three of us), my wife’s idea of fun is walking around endlessly and visiting all kinds of places that none of us (except her, of course) is really interested in. So most of the two weeks they are going to spend here will probably be occupied with this most appealing activity which will definitely lead to my mother-in-law’s complaining (rightfully) that her feet hurt and she can’t walk anymore, to my suffering from pains in various parts of the body and my father-in-law’s heroic attempts to hide his discomfort and make his little girl happy. I still don’t understand how she can have so much energy, because I can already see her walking besides us or moving around us and talking incessantly.
But I must be fair to her: she knows how much I have to endure, so she offered a compromise. She lets me go to Tokyo to play Scrabble with Jason and in return I must agree to all the entertainment plans she has made. Have I mentioned that we are going to see a play performed by the Takarazuka group? For those of you who don’t know, the Takarazuka group consists of women only, the most appreciated being those who play the male parts. Apparently the audience is made up mainly of other women who fall desperately in love with the actresses. But I’m going. And I’m going to see temples, and Buddhist art exhibitions, and many other things. I know you already envy me.
At least, I’m going to Tokyo, an adventure which must not be divulged, lest her parents think their son-in-law is a good for nothing who wakes up late and wastes his time in front of the computer or on useless games. Well, when I become a Scrabble millionaire, I’ll show them! Until then, I look forward to my underground enterprise. I’ll keep you posted!

Thursday, September 3, 2009



Researchers have shocked the world with a new discovery. According to the Letsshockpeople Institute, stones have feelings too. In my dictionary the word gladstone is defined as a cheerful, happy stone.

The Letter-Loving Deer

by Carmen (that half of the Scrabble family who goes to museums. The photo was taken in Nara, near the Prefectural Museum)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Humble Request

We thank all our readers, but we would like to ask you to post your comments here instead of Facebook. It makes it easier for us to keep track of them, to reply and also allows everyone to see them. Thanks! Carmen and Adrian

Scrabble Travelling Guide (II) Tips

As maybe not all partners are as understanding as mine, here are some tips meant to make your trip more pleasant.

The best option is to combine a Scrabble tournament with a sightseeing tour. This way neither of you will feel bored, although your partner might complain of being left alone for too long.
To avoid this, always travel with friends. Make sure they are your partner’s friends, so that they wouldn’t be much interested in talking to you. We usually travel with some Japanese friends, who, like many of their compatriots, are overwhelmed by a feeling of panic as soon as they leave Japan and become entirely dependent on my wife. As she has to guide and translate for them during the entire trip, that leaves many long blanks in our conversation which can be pleasantly filled with some word lists.
If no Japanese friends are available, make sure the tour is not much longer than the Scrabble tournament and complain daily of how tired you are. Pretending to fall asleep during dinner might help avoid spending an unwanted hour at the bar (particularly boring since I don’t even drink alcohol).
Even if you are a man of simple needs like myself, do not make the mistake of choosing cheap hotels. Inappropriate accommodation may lead to never ending discussions about the inconveniences, while top end places (no matter how much they hurt your pocket; I’ve never said playing Scrabble was cheap, have I?) include attractions such a well stocked bathroom, spa and wellness centers where up to an entire afternoon can be spent (that means one afternoon all for yourself in a cool comfortable room with room service!), as well as various souvenir shops where she doesn’t need to take you since she has all the credit cards and it is better for your health (both physical and mental) not to know how much she spent on various items. I cannot enumerate the above mentioned items here as they are in the habit of slipping my mind as soon as the showing parade is over.

Scrabble Travelling Guide (I) Destinations

I am not going to talk here about places like Bangkok in June, England in January or Malaysia in December, because I am sure they are better than Hawaii beaches or Parisian cafes for any self-respecting Scrabble player. I am going to talk about the other places, the places where you have to go with your partner unless you wish to eat grilled tofu and lettuce for the rest of your life. No, dear, I’m not implying that grilled tofu and lettuce are not the apex of culinary art, I’m only worried that some of our readers may not have palates as refined as ours. So here are some suggestions for places suitable to one of your most beloved occupations, the study of word lists.

The Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan. Although fairly crowded by tourists, if you go there in winter the desert sun is not unbearably hot and you might have a few moments to yourself while your wife/ girlfriend is taking in the fact that she’s walking on myths (yes, honey, I quoted you here).

Machu Picchu. Although the relatively high altitude might not necessarily be conducive to study, it is a cool place and if you lie on the grass, you can spend some fruitful minutes while your partner wonders and marvels at the beauty of nature and human creation.
The Taj Mahal. In front of the big white building (you know what I’m talking about), there are some benches where you can wait for the guided tour to be over. Thus you cannot be blamed for not having accompanied your partner and not appearing in all the photos that must be sent home. I must admit that I prefer the Khajuraho temple complex, especially in the evening, when there are less visitors, to the Taj Mahal, which is always crowded and where the atmosphere is kind of hazy in winter—not the best light for reading.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What would you take with you on a deserted island?

I'm sure you've heard this a million times. I guess the answer is supposed to give us an insight to the true nature of the person replying. But today I'm not asking you, I'm giving you an answer. I know what my husband would take on a deserted island: his Scrabble dictionary! I mean, what would you expect from a person who sat down on the steps of a magnificent Hindu temple in Khajuraho to read his word lists?