Pennington brings out the best in those who know him

The other day I received an autographed copy of Lee Pennington‘s latest offering to the literary world. Aside from being a past Poet Laureate of Kentucky, retired college professor and film maker, he is a two-time nominee for the Pulitzer in LIterature, and rightfully so.

Pretty much every morning I rise early, and before time to walk my dog, Brody (about sunrise), I read to get my mind fresh for the day. Though I have been into a novel by a best-selling author, when I got Lee’s book, Appalachian Newground, a combination of arresting short stories and crisp poetry based on his youth in rural Kentucky, illustrated with remarkable drawings by world renowned artist, and mate of Lee’s, Jill Baker, I couldn’t help replacing the novel with Lee’s book, which is much better written than that of the best-selling novelist. I highly recommend  it to anyone who loves the charming past and is into nostalgic, well-thought out writing. I’m also looking forward to getting one of a few remaining sets of Jill’s prints from the book.

Lee’s work is so out-of-the-ordinary that it inspired me. Rhonda and I have been beset by some tough circumstances of late, and I needed some inspiration. I’m certainly no Lee Pennington, buy my inspiration led me to pen the  following poem.

Imagination’s Window

It’s a sticky wicket,                                                                                                                    Such a slippery slope;                                                                                                               A stodgy old curmudgeon                                                                                                         Digesting his own jokes.

Imagination’s window                                                                                                               Seems to crack a smile,                                                                                                        Then deafening silent darkness                                                                                               Blinds the brightest minds.

As I tossed my thoughts together                                                                                            They struck a pitchy chord                                                                                                      And I watched a silver granny                                                                                                 Her rusting trinkets hoard.

Tomorrow looked at Yesterday,                                                                                               And shook hands with Today;                                                                                               Then imagination’s window                                                                                                       Had nothing more to say.

 

4-16,17-2016

 

Have you ever drawn a blank?

Have you ever been asked a difficult question and you just ‘drew a blank’? Most of us have, so ‘Don’t feel like the lone ranger’ Have you ever wondered where that metaphoric expression originated and how it came to be used the way it is today?

In my best-selling reference book, Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches. Proverbs and Figurative Expressions, which is in numerous public and university libraries across America, I listed over 1500 expressions and located the most likely origins, most with early citations, and many of which I was able to prove other researchers findings were not correct. ‘Don’t feel like the Lone Ranger is just one of those. But after the publication, and even two revisions of that book, I found so many more which really need to be explained, many of which were also incorrect in some other well respected and much used sources. One that was very interesting was ‘Draw a blank.’ Here is a sneak preview from my upcoming Volume II of Most Comprehensive Origins… to be released this October:

Draw a blank                                                                                                                                           

This is a very old idiom in the English language, stemming from British lotteries set up in Tudor England under Elizabeth I in 1567. Tickets with the names of purchasers were put into a ‘lot pot’. Another pot held slips of paper, some with prizes written on them, others blank. A name would be drawn, then a paper from the prize pot. Those who drew the blank papers were said to have ‘drawn a blank.’

Lotteries continued and in July, 1786, The Scotts Magazine, in ‘Parliament: Commons on the Greenland Fishery’ uses the term about the lottery:

“…his lot was equal to a 20,000 L prize in the lottery; whilst another, who chanced to fail of success, was like a man who drew a blank.

This usage continued through the 19th century, and into the 20th. The phrase, however, had been in print even earlier, in A Commentary upon the Fourth Book of Moses, Called Numbers by Simon, Lord Bishop of Ely, 1699, page 193:

“Then mixing all these in an Urn, he nad them come and draw: And. to every one who drew a Schedule, that had the Name of Elder in it, he said, God hath sanctified thee but to him that drew a Blank, he said, God hath not chosen thee.”

In Glenlonely; or, The Daemon Friend, Volume 3 by William Henry De Merle, 1839, the phrase is used figuratively of Sir Bruce Crawford’s quest for marriage (all marriage being ‘a lottery’ was voiced by Queen Victoria) on page 171:

“About three years after his divorce, he once more decided on the lottery of marriage: in England he had drawn a blank; in France he was more fortunate. Miss St. Clair was all that could add to the happiness of man; but, alas! how rarely does it happen that they who win the purest gems are allowed to wear them long…”

Note: another metaphor was employed in speaking of women as ‘the purest gems’, and being married as ‘wearing them’.

It was the 1930s before ‘draw a blank’ came into common figurative use. In Princeton Alumni Weekly, April 20, 1937 in ‘The Thumbnail Sketch’, number 130 by H.G. Murray on page 11:

“This after the college police and town force had drawn a blank. Ned simply strolled around the purlieus of the burgh, saw his suit on a mucker, and in the parlance of the local press, ‘apprehended the criminal.’”

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Off and On… amazing how many there are!

As those of you who follow my blog know, I am well into creating my second volume of Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches, Proverbs and Figurative Expressions, It is my plan to have it ready to release this coming October. In order to do this it takes long, tedious hours of research and work. It continues to keep my ‘on my toes’. In the first volume, I researched and expounded upon numerous ‘Off and On’ phrases, like Off the cuff, Off the top of my head, On again, off again, On a roll, On a shoestring, On cloud nine, On one’s toes, On shaky ground, On the lam, On the other hand,  On the same page, On the tip of my tongue, and On the warpath. It would seem that the phrases would run out…but, believe it or not, they seem to go On and on. The off phrases don’t seem so endless. I picked up Off one’s feed, Off one’s rocker, and Off the grid. But watch out! Hold ON to your hat! (another one in the new book). Volume two has On edge, On a fast track, On a short leash, On someone’s dime, On, at or to someone’s doorstep, On the blink, On the button, On the edge of one’s seat, On the flip side, On the fritz, On or in the hot seat, On the QT, and On the wrong side of history, and I’m ‘here to tell you’ that this book is not only On the right side of history, it’s On the cutting edge of this genre in books.ant there are over 1000 more besides these!,Just make sure you own the first one first, Don’t ‘get the cart before the horse’ (that’s in the first book). This one is cross referenced with the first book, and has slight variations of some phrases just in case someone looks it up under that version, which refers the reader to the other version. I honestly believe it is more comprehensive than the original, but both are needed to see ‘The big picture.’ Stay tuned for updates!

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Revisiting old friends and making new ones

In my quest for factual knowledge about the etymology and early citations of proverbs and idiomatic expressions for my books, I have been greatly enriched by revisiting old friends and making new ones. It has seemed even more intense than preparing a theses for a post graduate degree. In the past several months of research into hundreds of fresh phrases and their meanings and beginnings, I have revisited giants of literature like William Shakespeare, Geoffrey Chaucer, Alexander Pope, John Rey, etc, and found new individuals whom I had never explored, who contributed much to the rich history of the world and to our ever-evolving English tongue. One of these is French Huguenot courtier and poet, Guillaume de Salluste Du Bartas, whose powerful His Divine Weekes and Workes were translated into English by Josuah Sylvester in 1641, From this work.we get the first known citation of ‘loud and clear’ which we have been told came into use only during World War II.   Then there is the Duke of Buckingham, who coined the phrase, ‘to die in the last ditch’ in the 17th century (sometimes attributed to Thomas Jefferson)  leading to our common expression, ‘last ditch effort’. Then there’s Henry Cockton, who in The Life and Adventures of Valentine Vox, Ventriloquist, 1840., used the term ‘I wasn’t born yesterday’ which a major slang dictionary tells us wasn’t coined until the late 19th or early 20th century. And the list goes on.

But each of you may experience a portion of this wonder for yourselves by getting a copy of my first volume of Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches, Proverbs and Figurative Expressions at stclairpublications.com, or any Amazon site worldwide. After you have thoroughly read those 740 pages, before year’s end, I hope to have this second exciting volume out!  I hope you enjoy them half as much as I still am.

The New Year Brings Change

2016 is rushing by as swiftly as a gelid brook flowing down a majestic mountainside. I just completed tabulating authors’ royalty earnings for 2015 and am proud to say that our authors earned thousands of dollars in royalties over the past year. I believe in passing on the majority of the profit on each author’s work to him or her. As would be expected, those who promoted their fine work via their own websites and/or book signings, personal appearances, etc. and in most cases, those who offered their books in both paperback and Kindle e-book forms, benefited most. I want to say ‘thank you’ to each of them and to those who purchased our work.

In the meantime, I, like others of our group, am working feverishly on my upcoming work, Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches, Proverbs and Figurative Expressions, Volume II. I have been so pleased with the success of the volume out there, still selling regularly, and with the people who have enjoyed it so much as to publish reviews on Amazon and those who have contacted me personally with additional expressions which they would like to see in the new one. It will be a great companion to the original book, and will work hand-in-hand with it to provide an even greater trove of information for everyone who speaks the English language and is curious as to the origins of our figures of speech. I am continuing to find errors in other works which I am doing my best to bring out in this exciting new book. Hopefully, it will be ready for release in the fall of 2016.

 

If You Did This, Please Let Me Know!

Usually late November and December sales keep my business and everyone else’s going for the majority of the year. However, it has continued to amaze and delight me that Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches, Proverbs and Figurative Expressions has sold in January at almost the same rate as December sales. And now, to top it all off, last night some one individual ordered 19 copies on Amazon.com, bringing the 24 hour total of combined sales to 25, well above daily average for that book during Christmas buying season. I want to thank this individual, if he or she will come forward, and present him or her with a free gift certificate for the stclairpublications.com site. If this was you,or you know who did this, please let me know. I will not embarrass anyone, merely show my appreciation. And again, thanks to everyone who has purchased any book from us!

Stan

My Sincere Thanks and Wishes

As 2015 draws to a close I want to sincerely thank the thousands of people who have chosen to purchase books published by St. Clair Publications.My goal for sales of Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches, Proverbs and Figurative Expressions for the month of December has already been exceeded, and I am thrilled that folks have not stopped buying this book after Christmas. May 2016 bring happiness and prosperity to all of my family (both literal and our family of authors) and friends.

 

 

Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches New Limited Time Offer

My unique phrase origin book, Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches, Proverbs and FIgurative Expressions was released originally in March, 2013, and the paperback version has been revised twice since then, adding about 100 new entries. It has been ordered by numerous libraries and has become a favorite of authors, ministers,teachers and public speakers, as well as countless everyday folk in seven countries where it has sold. It received remarkable reviews and praise from persons of all walks of life. It has 740 pages and delves deeper into the meanings, origins and changes of our everyday English expressions than any other book of its type. Check out the reviews on Amazon.com.

Because sales this bookhave been so great  over the past few weeks, I have decided to make a limited time offer to my blog readers who order directly from my website at stclairpublications.com by Monday, December 14. Whether ordering for a gift or a personal copy, each copy will be personally autographed with a note to the person requested. After placing your order, simply send me an email at stan@stclair.net telling me the name to use.

Thank all of you for your interest in my work, and I wish you each a happy holiday season and a very prosperous 2016.

Black Friday–Cyber Monday Special

Numerous individuals have purchased several copies of Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches, Proverbs and Figurative Expressions for Christmas gifts. In many cases, people thought this was a “one size fits all” gift for family members. Think about it, with a good book you don’t have to worry about returns from a mis-fit if the person is interested in the subject matter!  So, what I’m offering from now through Monday for friends wanting the perfect gift for their curious family members is that when they order four copies of this best-selling book they will automatically receive a fifth copy FREE! If you don’t have one, you can get yours free. If you have five that you don’t know what to buy for, you get one of the gifts free! But this only applies to orders from the St. Clair Publications website at http://stclairpublications.com, and only on orders placed today through MOnday, November 30, cyber Monday. I will personally handle each of these orders, so you are assured of getting your free copy without it even showing up on your order! Happy holidays to one and all! Oh, yes, and I’ll pay your shipping, only one $3.00 fee per order!

Stan

Happy Thanksgiving

Today is a special day in America for giving thanks for our many blessings, both as individuals and families, and for our great heritage as a nation. I encourage everyone to take the day to reflect on the positive in their lives and count their blessings not their sorrows. Happy Thanksgiving, America! And may the future bring many more blessings to each of our St. Clair Publications friends and family!.