Thursday, February 17, 2011

"Ward Words," blatantly cut and pasted from Radioactive Terry Ward's Facebook page so that you, too, can incorporate them into your vocabulary . . .

Terry as a floating face
Martha note: Around five, the WMRA offices pretty much clear out except for me, Tom DuVal (who never stops working) and Terry Ward, who's there to bring you All Things Considered. 
This is when Terry and I get to have our daily goof-ball conversations during which he says funny things (imagine Terry Ward being funny!), and I laugh. 
Yesterday, our conversation revolved around Terry's invention of the word "disimprove" to describe something some system had done to the WMRA on-air computer that makes it go dark while whoever's on the air is smack in the middle of reading an announcement. 
I'm proud to say that the Woodroofs have actually invented one Woodroof Word, completely by accident. Charlie was working a crossword puzzle, evidently incorrectly, for when he'd filled in all words but one, the remaining word came up as "repozzled." That has entered our family's vocabulary as a word meaning, "a feeling of puzzled wonderment of the ‘how-the hell-did-this-happen' variety." Or, as a secondary meaning, "the state of being completely flummoxed by a crossword puzzle. . ." 
Terry, however, seems to invent his wondrous words effortlessly and with no miss-worked crosswords necessary. 

Variable measure for any mind-blowingly large number of the sort that makes mere millions look like pocket change.  (It costs a boo-hillion dollars to build an aircraft carrier).

Disimprove, disimprovement
Changes imposed from above which are packaged as improvements but which make things worse or less usable.  Many bureaucratic adjustments, IT department moves, and Facebook automatic wall-format changes are dis-improvements.

Film made in the documentary manner with a non-neutral, activist perspective;  a documentary-style call-to-action film.
image by Galen Johnson

The global economic downturn/mess/meltdown 2008-201_  ;  AKA the Great Recession.

New Security
The post-September Eleventh changes through Homeland Security, TSA, FBI, and the rest ---everything from Orange Alerts to, "If you see something, say something," to TSA "gate rape" (latter phrase not used on-air ---found on the web).

Gulf War One
The 1990-91 Gulf war, Operation Desert Storm ---started speaking of Gulf War One circa 1999-2002 when it seemed like a Gulf War II wasn't far away.  Shortly after outbreak of the Iraq War (AKA Gulf War II) in 2003, the phrases Gulf War One and Gulf War II were in widespread use.

Hussein-ey hole
Any hidey-hole used by a deposed autocrat.  Named for temporary hole-dweller Saddam Hussein.

Britches Bomber
The attempted "underwear bomber", Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab ---accused of trying to crash Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on December 25, 2009 as it approached Detroit from Amsterdam.

The Acronym-Resistant Event
The annual "Active Shooter Situation" drill.   Occasionally area public safety forces participate in this exercise which sounds rude when acronym-ed.

False Return,
Tease Return
Broadcast scheduling format technique used widely in national AM radio shows in which a commercial break is followed by an apparent "return" to the show ---which in fact lasts only 40-90 seconds or so before going to another commercial break.  The sound of the show host's voice leads some listeners who'd lowered volume during the ads to raise the volume and assume that the show had returned ---only to be hit with a new onslaught of commercials.

Terry & I in an F.U. moment
F.U. value
Transitional phrase spoken at public broadcasting stations when segueing from regular programming to a local fundraiser pitch:  "if you value  that kind of broadcasting, well please call now and support it..."

Happy Friday
A greeting honoring the end of the work-week as the mini-holiday that it usually is ---used on-air since about 1988.  The phrase spread to some Music Through the Night-affiliated music radio hosts, and ---so the rumor goes--- from there to right-wing AM talker Sean Hannity who ---so the rumor goes--- uses it often while also bungling it by randomly wishing people "happy (any workday),"  even (horrors!) "happy Monday".  An email inquiry to the AM show went unanswered.  (Ward is uninterested in listening to the AM show for the purpose of confirming such rumors.)

Covering countryside with commercial sprawl ---from an early 1990's municipal meeting.

Tuvo-Scots reggae,
Gregorian slam-jazz,
Post-disco fado-hop,
Celto-uvular krunk,
Klez-yodel fusion,
Xylo-panpipe punk ...(etc)
Various nicknames for the sort of unlikely crossover music sure to be featured on "Morning Edition", "Weekend Edition", or "All Things Considered" at least five times per year ---mostly just because it is such an unlikely crossover.

A Facebook-only "friend" ---usable as noun or verb.

In the manner of Facebook, to DeFriend ---"oh what a mean comment; she'll get deefed for sure."

The  _(location)_  Shooter
On-air identification of various spree killers ---nearly-always-memorized but purposefully kept unnamed on air out of a principled belief that no one should get fame for murdering civilians.  They are identified instead as "The Arizona Shooter," "The Virginia Tech Shooter," "The Beltway Snipers," "The Columbine Shooters," et cetera, as a way of doing a small part to not-contribute to the media celebrity of (alleged) killer/s.

Social Self-Narration
When strangers who otherwise wouldn't converse are placed near each other by virtue of pot-luck or party snack table placement feel obliged to say something aloud and so make otherwise-inane declarative statements about their own easily-observable activity : "well, I'm gonna try a couple of those deviled eggs,"  "ooh I'm just gonna squeeze in here and get a napkin," "I think its time for more artichoke dip."

Fish-shaped chrome-colored car decorations, such as Jesus-fish things. 

To "pull a Spiderman"
While acting on stage, to fall into the orchestra pit.   By extension, any very impressive almost-but-not-quite fatal fall.
Soooooo, any comments on the Ward Words? Better yet, any "You Words" to contribute to the WMRA Community conversation?


  1. We have a birdfeeder outside our large, west-facing bank of windows. The starlings thank us by on the windows during overflights. The streaks of guano are translucent and, when backlit by the setting sun, resemble stained glass. We call the installation our "Starling Crap-estry."

  2. Martha: To continue Terry's "dis" words, I recently told my boss as she was reading a report I had written, I can embellish it if you like, or I can "disembellish" it, if you'd rather.

  3. I just have to say these are wondrous! Anyone else?

  4. Geez... I hate to throw cold water on the fun. I usually enjoy the blog, but as a lover of words I had to respond to the supposed "invention" of some of these by Mr. Ward. The word "disimprove" has been in use, according to Merriam-Webster's online, since at least 1914. And any casual Google search will pull up other, independent references to "docutorial." "Britches Bomber" has been used by a number of commentators in reference to the failed "underpants bomber". And so on.

    I know this particular blog post was tongue-in-cheek. But it seems a bit arrogant to me to claim to have "created" something you didn't actually create.