News of the Week: Words, Welles, and Why Celebrities Apologize in Advance

This week’s pop culture roundup: New slang for Scrabblers, lost Orson Welles memoir found, and Chris Pratt’s preemptive Facebook apology

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New Words (Merriam-Webster Division)

(Shutterstock)
(Shutterstock)

OMG you won’t BELIEVE what new words have been added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary!

That line is an example of “clickbait,” those incredible, excitable, over-the-top headlines that make you click on something to find out more, and it’s one of the 1,700 new words added to the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.

What’s odd is that most of these words are ones we would never actually use, unless we’re talking specifically about the words or in a story like this. When was the last time you were talking to your friends and used “jeggings,” “NSFW” or “WTF?” Those last two you’d probably just use the entire phrase. Some words, like “eggcorn,” are ones I’ve never even heard of before (it’s a word or phrase that you use by mistake but it sounds like the correct word or phrase, like when you don’t hear song lyrics correctly). The definition of “slendro” is “a pentatonic tuning employed for Javanese gamelans that divides the octave into five roughly similar internals.” Is there a dictionary that will translate what that sentence even means?

I hope that when you look up “emoji” in the dictionary there’s no text just little pictures.

New Words (Scrabble Division)

1,700 words? That’s nothing! Collins Official Scrabble Words has added 6,500 new words to their rulebook. One of the words is “cazh.” Try to guess what that means. We’ll get to that in a minute.

Other new words added include “blech,” “thanx,” “newb,” “bezzy,” and “yeesh.” And I’ll stop listing the new words now because language doesn’t seem to make sense anymore. The inclusion of new slang is irritating veteran Scrabble players. I would guess that most people who play the game don’t use this official guide to the words, they use a traditional dictionary and many of these words wouldn’t be in there (yet). I haven’t played Scrabble in a long time, so maybe people use the Web now for disputes?

Oh, “cazh”? It’s short for “casual.” So you’ll get to use that the next time you play Scrabble (a good word since it has a C, a Z, and an H), and your opponent will say, “That’s not a word!” and you’ll get online and prove that it is and he or she will be really upset.

Can You Use Those Words in a Sentence?

Perhaps one day the words above will be used at the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The finals were held last night on ESPN. Here are the results.

It’s interesting how a spelling bee is aired on the top sports network every year. I’m not sure how this got into the realm of sports (see also: poker). Shouldn’t they also cover events like Monopoly tournaments and chess matches too?

Lost Orson Welles Memoir Found

Orson Welles
Portrait of Orson Welles in 1937 (Carl Van Vechten/Library of Congress)

Someone needs to start a blog that just keeps track of “lost” or “missing” manuscripts and other items that people find years later. We’ve had a lot of them lately, from Harper Lee’s lost To Kill A Mockingbird sequel to the lost Dr. Seuss story to a lost Sherlock Holmes story that actually might not have been written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle at all.

Now comes word that an unfinished memoir by actor/director/writer Orson Welles has been found. The pages were discovered in eight boxes that were shipped from Croatia by Oja Kodar, who was Welles’s partner when he passed away in 1985. It’s titled Confessions of a One-Man Band, and in it he talks about people like Ernest Hemingway and Rita Hayworth, and what it was like to navigate Hollywood (and why he couldn’t complete a lot of the projects he wanted to make).

This is a big year for Orson Welles fans. Besides this memoir, his unfinished last film, The Other Side of the Wind, will be completed if $2 million can be raised in a crowdfunding campaign.

Introducing the Pre-Apology

Chris Pratt Jaguar PS / Shutterstock.com
Chris Pratt
Jaguar PS / Shutterstock.com

A lot of celebrities say dumb things. Of course, a lot of people in general say dumb things, but when you’re a celebrity it’s reported by every single website in the world. Add social media to the mix and it seems like every celebrity is just 140 characters away from saying something that would seriously hurt their career. Then they argue with people on social media about it, which just makes everything worse, and that leads to the inevitable heartfelt apology, either on that same social media page or Access Hollywood or maybe Dr. Phil.

One celebrity is trying to head that off at the pass. Chris Pratt, one of the stars of Parks and Recreation and Guardians of the Galaxy, has already released an apology. It’s not for something he said or did, it’s for something he might say or do. Pratt has a post on his Facebook page where he apologizes for all of the dumb things he might say on the upcoming press tour for Jurassic World. He was probably inspired by the controversy-which-really-shouldn’t-have-been-a-controversy sparked by the interviews Robert Downey, Jr., Jeremy Renner, and Chris Evans gave several weeks ago promoting Avengers: Age of Ultron. Downey actually walked out in the middle of an interview, while Renner and Evans apologized for calling Black Widow a “slut.” At the same time, Renner released a statement apologizing for a tasteless joke about “a fictional character,” which seemed like a little dig at the people getting oh-so-upset by a sarcastic joke about someone who doesn’t really exist.

Kudos to Pratt. It’s refreshing to see a Hollywood star who not only has a sense of humor about this stuff but is actually Web-savvy too.

National Mint Julep Day

(Shutterstock)
(Shutterstock)

The Kentucky Derby is always held the first Saturday in May, so you would think that National Mint Julep Day would be held on that day since the famous drink is synonymous with the famous horse race. But it’s actually tomorrow. Food Network has a mint julep recipe that it calls “perfect”. Martha Stewart has a recipe too, and something tells me that she considers hers to be even more perfect. You don’t argue with Martha Stewart.

Seriously, don’t argue with Martha Stewart.

Upcoming Anniversaries and Events

Walt Whitman born (May 31, 1819)
The Walt Whitman Archive has everything you need to know about the life and work of the American poet.

Marilyn Monroe born (June 1, 1926)
Here’s a 1956 interview in The Saturday Evening Post with the blonde movie star.

End of the Civil War (June 2, 1865)
The Saturday Evening Post had extensive coverage of the war. Here’s what we had to say about The Battle of Gettysburg, a “half-time” report from 1863, and here are some little known facts about the war.

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee season 6 premiere (June 3)
This season of the comics-get-coffee show starts off with Jerry Seinfeld’s Seinfeld costar Julia Louis-Dreyfus, then the following weeks we’ll see Jim Carrey, Bill Maher, Steve Harvey, new Daily Show host Trevor Noah, and Stephen Colbert.

Robert F. Kennedy assassinated (June 5, 1968)
The John F. Kennedy Library and Museum site has a biography of the Massachusetts senator, along with transcripts of many of his speeches.

D-Day (June 6, 1944)
SEP Archive Director Jeff Nilsson writes about “The Century’s Best-Kept Secret,” the planned invasion of Nazi-held Europe.

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Comments

  1. There’s some interesting features here this week. The pre-apology is something I’ve actually done in a different form (when forced to) such as “I’d really like to call you an ******* right now, which you are—but I won’t.”

    The Orson Welles Memoir should be an interesting read—providing there are enough people to know who he is, Rita Hayworth, Hemingway…

    Some of the words being added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary do have their place, others—not so much. One I like from the TIME link include photobomb, click bait, click fraud, dark money, upcycle and eggcorn. I’m wondering if the word “acorn” will have a 2nd meaning of being a stair lift added to the dictionary at some point.

    Some that should NOT be included, include ‘blech’ ‘newb’ ‘bezzy’ and ‘yeesh’. Getting back to eggcorn briefly, I must say one of the repeated lyrics in a certain ’80s song were/are mocked as ‘Rock the cat box, rock the cat box’. As a big fan then and now of ’80s music I never cared for that song or group anyway. It essentially clashed with with all of the rest I did like. Bob, you tell it like it is in this column, and that’s what I like about you.

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