Wednesday, March 02, 2005

A fiascoCutting glass underwater with scissors

Continuing with Italian for Beginners, today's word is fiasco. In Italian fiasco is the name for rounded bottles which are usually wrapped in straw, and invariably end up as candlesticks in cheap Italian restaurants. In English fiasco means something quite different. The sense of chaos or disaster apparently comes from a French term derived from the French pronunciation of Italian actors [only one of many sources is willing to give a derivation]. So from a bottle wrapped in straw to a fete in a quagmire, language does funny things.

So how did I come discover this other meaning of fiasco? Hemingway, obviously. In A Farewell to Arms, the narrator asks for a fiasco of chianti. But then earlier in the book the narrator also makes some strange comment about cutting glass underwater with a pair of scissors.

According to Spectrum Glass, glass cut in this way is not cut, but grozed, obviously enough. So our second new word for the day is the verb groze. Essentially it appears to mean a process which causes the edge of a solid to be crumbled.

Moving on:
1. Mildly amusing, and interesting photography - The Seven Gummie Sins.
2. People can be so judgemental. Two cars in the snow, open bonnet to open bonnet, with jump-leads running between. One is a C-reg [1986] with decorative rust, the other a clean and shiny S-reg, with intact bodywork. People take one look, and frown at the C-reg. One man points to the C-reg, and asks "Won't start?" For the record people, my car was fine; my rusty C-reg started first time started as normal, but the much newer and better designed car, well, it just didn't like the snow at all. So to all those who pass and frown: stop judging, especially when you get it wrong.
3. Woodpeckers eating peanuts: just wrong. I didn't help that when someone pointed it out, I was looking for a green one, when it was one of the black, white and red versions.
4. Snow can be very pretty. At night, falling through headlights, and crunching underfoot as the jump-leads are passed back and forth. Of course, come the morning there's no sign of any freezing.


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