31 January 2009

On the road again

Our daughter is once more taking her sound engineering talents on tour, this time with the Swedish band Meshuggah. Make that Swedish death metal band--her adolescent fixation on this type of music has finally borne fruit. She flies to Los Angeles today and then will spend the first three weeks of February visiting cities like Denver, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, not an itinerary I'd want to be following in the deep midwinter.

Tomas Haake - Drums
Dick Lövgren - Bass
Jens Kidman - Vocals
Marten Hagstrom - Guitars
Fredrik Thordendal - Guitars

I knew meshuggah was Yiddish, but had no idea what it meant. This time, however, I didn't need to rely on an online dictionary or wikipedia to find the definition. I was telling my sister in Germany about Kate's tour, and she said the word is used regularly there and means crazy, nuts.

There's a brevity and gutsiness about Yiddish expressions that I've always enjoyed. Sometimes one has to be careful though. I quite happily larded my conversation with schmuck, until I found out that it literally means a penis. And there I was thinking that was a schlong. Kvetch, tush, klutz, schmooze, kibbitz, nebbish, nosh, zaftig, glitch, mensch, schlock, schlemiel, putz--is it just because I'm an urban east coast American that these words have long been part of my vocabulary? Or is it an atavistic throwback to those long-forgotten Jewish ancestors? My paternal family didn't always attend Episcopalian churches . . . .

I'm also going to include here an example of what my husband and I call "walterisms," sent to us regularly by a very clever friend who's an upmarket blacksmith in rural Pennsylvania. I've just checked and, yes, several can be found on the internet. Knowing his sense of humor, though, he may well have been the first to post them.

oyster (n.) a person who sprinkles his conversations with Yiddishisms

What the hell. Here are a couple more:

osteopornosis (n.) a degenerate disease

Pokemon (n.) a Rastafarian proctologist

And one I know for sure is original, because I was there when my husband made it up as a response to Pokemon:

thesaurus (n.) the leader of a dinosaur gang, as in "the man"

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