Friday, November 25, 2011


Tom Wolfe, The Right Stuff, 1979, page 303
“In his everyday life doughty little Gus lived the life of the right stuff.”

doughty |ˈdoutē|adjective ( -tier -tiest ) archaic, humorousbrave and persistent his doughty spirit kept him going.ORIGIN late Old English dohtigvariant of dyhtig, of Germanic origin; related to Dutchduchtig and German tüchtig.


Tom Wolfe, The Right Stuff, 1979, page 261
“They swirled about his capsule like tiny weightless diamonds, little bijoux – no, they were more like fireflies.”

bijou |ˈbē zh oō|adjective(esp. of a residence or business establishment) small and elegant the greasy spoons have given way to bijou restaurants.noun ( pl. -joux |- zh oō(z)|) archaica jewel or trinket.ORIGIN French, from Breton bizou ‘finger ring,’ from biz ‘finger.’


Tom Wolfe, The Right Stuff, 1979, pages 77-78
“You could see a poor sunken hookwormy sharecropper in bib overalls trying to push a rusty plow through some eroded ground that was more gully than topsoil, aided by a mule with all his ribs showing, while off to one side the man’s sallow hollow-socketed pellagra-ravaged wife with a swollen eight-month belly covered by a dress made from a fertilizer sack leans up against their shack to catch her breath or else to prop up the side wall.”

pellagra |pəˈlagrə; -ˈlāgrə; -ˈlägrə|nouna deficiency disease caused by a lack of nicotinic acid or its precursor tryptophan in the diet. It is characterized by dermatitis, diarrhea, and mental disturbance, and is often linked to overdependence on corn as a staple food.
ORIGIN early 19th cent.: from Italian, from pelle ‘skin,’ on the pattern of podagra.


Tom Wolfe, The Right Stuff, 1979, pages 73-74
“Regardless of how much he thought of himself, no flight surgeon dared position himself above the pilots in his squadron in the way he conducted himself before them: i.e., it was hard to be a consummate panjandrum, the way a typical doctor was.”

panjandrum |panˈjandrəm|nouna person who has or claims to have a great deal of authority or influence.ORIGIN late 19th cent.: from Grand Panjandrum, an invented phrase in a nonsense verse (1755) by S. Foote.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Joan Didion, "Goodbye to All That" 1967
"From my office, I could look across town to the weather signal on the Mutual of New York Building and the lights that alternately spelled TIME and LIFE above Rockefeller Plaza; that pleased me obscurely, and so did walking uptown in the mauve eight o’clocks of early summer evenings and looking at things, Lowestoft tureens in Fifty-seventh Street windows, people in evening clothes trying to get taxis, the trees just coming into full leaf, the lambent air, all the sweet promises of money and summer."

lambent |ˈlambənt|
adjective poetic/literary(of light or fire) glowing, gleaming, or flickering with a soft radiance the magical, lambent light of the north.• (of wit, humor, etc.) lightly brilliant a touch of the lambent bitterness that sometimes surfaced in him.ORIGIN mid 17th cent.: from Latin lambent- ‘licking,’ from the verb lambere.