Campaign anthems and rally cries: music and politics

With the 2020 United States presidential election now behind us, I’m thinking about candidates’ tactics heading into past elections and also about the use of campaign songs. Artists like Neil Young, the Village People and Aerosmith expressed displeasure over Donald Trump’s unauthorized use of their music. How have music and politics become so inextricably linked?

A fool’s errand: uncovering the origins of “elbow grease”

Someone close to me once worked at a hardware store. I recall his telling me about a family combing the aisles and growing very flustered. Asked what they were looking for, the family replied, “Elbow grease”. Unfortunate but not that surprising that they had taken this common expression literally and embarked on a fool’s errand, given the phrase’s origins.

Nose to the grindstone: hard at work on folk etymology

Not too long along, I asked my Twitter followers to hit me up with common expressions, idioms and colloquialisms that mention a part of the body. Many weighed in, and I thought it a good idea to put my nose to the grindstone to uncover where many of these turns of phrase originate.

Political rhetoric: double-talk, gobbledygook, gibberish and jabberwocky?

I’m gobsmacked and flabbergasted at Donald Trump’s incessant gibberish—is this political rhetoric or jabberwocky? While the following promises not to decipher Trump’s or his advisors’ double-talk, it does uncover the origins of all of this gobbledygook. Being a Canadian who doesn’t understand fully the American political system, I don’t usually follow the goings on orContinue reading “Political rhetoric: double-talk, gobbledygook, gibberish and jabberwocky?”

Etymology of ‘geek’ and ‘nerd’ not so square after all

Oh, how often those ridiculed as puny, studious or unfashionable bear the brunt of such names as dweeb, geek and nerd. But has anyone ever wondered about the origins of these words or even contemplated that, originally, geek actually meant the opposite of what it means today?