Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Wednesday's Random Slang-o-rama: All hat and no cattle, by Guest Author Camille Minichino


Please join me in welcoming guest blogger and fellow author Camille Minichino, who is going to treat us to a slang phrase she just recently discovered! 

Camille, a retired physicist turned writer, is the author of 25 mystery novels in four series. Camille is on the faculty of Golden Gate University in San Francisco, California, and teaches writing in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Website: www.minichino.com.
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I'm not the first person who comes to mind when delving into conversation about the Old West. Or even the New West, for that matter. But I do have a stepdaughter who is a prize-winning horsewoman and here's what she said about a newcomer to the ranch.

CC: He's all hat and no cattle.

Me: Huh?

 CC: You know, he talks big, but no action.

So there it is. The West creeping into my personal lexicon. Here's a bit (so to speak) of its history:
Originally used in reference to people imitating the fashion or style of cowboys. These people wore the hats, but had no experience on the ranch -- thus, all hat, no cattle. Similar to talking the talk without walking the walk, also used in reference to wannabe gunslingers. 
 It's going to be hard not to use this newly learned phrase.

Camille, "home on the range" and photobombed by two four-footed strangers, all thanks to her awesome Tech/Photoshop expert!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

In Search of Healing by Guest Author Kat Seaholm

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Please welcome fellow guest author Kat Seaholm to today's special post.

Kat lives on a small acreage in Colorado along with her family and way too many cats. The cats also happen to be her hardest critics and push her to improve her writing along with adding more mice and cats to her story. Besides writing, Kat’s other hobbies include traveling, karate, and several needle arts.

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Hi everyone, Kat here. Ann has generously allowed me to share about my newest book: In Search of Healing, book two of the Seeker Files. In book one, In Search of Justice, Agent Aletta Sheridan and Agent Lirim Bosk are partnered together in Human-Supernatural Investigation (HSI). Book two is about Aletta’s story.

When I first started writing The Seeker Files, it began as a personal dare. I was afraid of sharing my writing with the world, despite having been told that I write well. I challenged myself to write a mystery in October and publish it in time for Halloween. So, imagine my surprise when I sat down and a six-book series sprang to life in my imagination. I managed to write In Search of Justice in a little under a month and published it. I’d never been so exhausted in my life, but I was elated at the same time.

In the first book, Aletta and Lirim form their partnership and learn how to work together. This second book takes a deeper look into Aletta. When I first met Aletta in In Search of Justice, she was sulking at her desk. She’d been sitting at that desk for three weeks, refusing to accept a partner. I immediately knew that this was a fiery woman who was fiercely devoted to her job. In In Search of Healing, I was privileged to be invited into Aletta’s life.

A case has drawn Aletta face to face with her former life, that of the opera. After an accident three years ago, Aletta walked away from the opera world and never looked back. She is happy with her career at HSI and settling into her partnership with Lirim. However, her whole world is flipped upside down when Captain Jones calls her into his office. Someone is targeting the Canticum Company and because of her familiarity with the opera, she and Lirim have been chosen to go undercover. Added into this is her struggle to master her newfound gift. Between trying to figure out who’s behind the attacks and master her gift, will Aletta and Lirim be able to piece everything together or will they run out of time?

I invite you to journey with Aletta as she faces her past and her future, the opera and her gift, in this second book of The Seeker Files: In Search of Healing

Want to see how the Aletta and Lirim’s partnership started?
Check out book one of The Seeker Files: In Search of Justice
 
Or come and visit me at my blog: https://katseaholm.wordpress.com/

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Police Slang By Guest Author Michael A. Black

Please welcome fellow author Michael A. Black. Black is the author of 30 books, the majority of which are in the mystery and thriller genres, although he has written in sci-fi, western, horror, and sports genres as well. A retired police officer with over 30 years’ experience, he has done everything from patrol to investigating homicides to conducting numerous SWAT operations. Black was awarded the Cook County Medal of Merit in 2010. He is also the author of over 100 short stories and articles, and has written two novels with television star, Richard Belzer (Law & Order SVU). Black is currently writing the Executioner series (Fatal Prescription, Missile Intercept) under the name Don Pendleton. His latest novel under his own name is Blood Trails.
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Cops speak their own language and many times it’s a bit rough. You’ve heard of swearing like a sailor? Well, cops are no strangers to bad language, either. I remember when I first started in law enforcement I attended training programs in which they basically stated that sometimes an officer needed to get down and dirty with his or her language in order to communicate with suspects who wouldn’t understand anything else. Now keep in mind this was way before the advent of body cams and cell phone videotaping capabilities. With these technological developments it became obvious that using such language made the officers look unprofessional. While it could be argued by civil libertarians that this is a First Amendment issue, and officers should be able to say anything they wish, the fact remains that an officer should be held to a higher standard of conduct, especially when dealing with the general public.

But what about when officers are communicating between themselves? Special slang is often used in these cases. For writers who want to imbue a sense of realism into their works, including a dash of slang is like adding a bit of salt to a pot of soup. Too much can spoil the broth, but too little will leave it tasting flat. So let’s take a look at some common police jargon.

The first thing to keep in mind is that police jargon varies from region to region throughout our great country. In New York, for instance, it would be common to hear the bad guys referred to as “Perps.” The term “perp walk” is commonly used when referring to a line of arrested subjects being led in view of the news cameras. Going west from there, things change a bit. “Perps” become “Offenders” or “Suspects” as you enter the Midwest. Moving to the West Coast, an LAPD officer would refer to a “Subject” rather than a “Perp.” Usually the smaller departments follow the jargon of the larger ones in the vicinity. The use of radio Ten Codes varies from region to region as well. And officers might also refer to a criminal statute number to designate particular crime. In California, the statute number for homicide is 187, which is also used to designate a murder by officers. “We’ve got a 187, sarge,” an officer might say as his supervisor pulls up to a dead body. A 187 tattoo on the arm of a gangbanger might also advertise that he’s a real bad dude who’s been arrested for murder. Other statute numbers might also apply. In Illinois the charge for a Driving While Intoxicated is 728 ILCS 11-501. An officer might shorten this to advise his partner that he’s got a “Five oh one,” or an intoxicated motorist. Or he could use the ten-code and say, “We’ve got a 10-55.”

 Why would an officer use such terminology? For one thing, it has to do with communication and speaking in a manner that the general public doesn’t immediately recognize. Thus, police develop their own language to effect a semi-private communication.

Remember I mentioned the ten codes? Many times these are used to facilitate officer-to-officer communication as well.

Let me give you a quick example.

I was working a plain clothes unit and we received a call of some suspicious people in a shopping mall. The trio, two males and one female, had been observed going from store to store using a credit card to purchase large quantities of fine jewelry. The sales were all going through, but their conduct and the large purchases, which were being quickly done, raised some red flags with the store security personnel. We were dressed in regular clothes so it wasn’t apparent that we were the police. Our radios were clipped on our belts, under our shirts, and we had ear mics so we could silently monitor transmissions. We were in the center area of the mall, and it was very crowded.

A female store security guard, who was also dressed in civilian clothes, had followed the trio to a vehicle earlier where they’d stashed some of the jewelry they’d bought before returning to the mall for more shopping. The three of them had split up, but we had them all in sight. The security guard gave me the license plate of the vehicle and I covertly ran a check on it. I was ascending an escalator, watching my two partners on the upper level. Two of the suspects, a male and a female, were in front of a jewelry store on the upper level, and the third, another male, was briskly walking toward them. Their body language indicated to me that they might be getting ready to rabbit. (That’s another bit of police slang.)

The dispatcher’s voice sounded tense when she called me back: “Twenty-one-oh-eight, are you clear?” This was radio protocol telling me that the plate I had run was coming back with some sort of warning attached. I responded for her to go ahead with her transmission. She then informed me that the vehicle was wanted in connection with a homicide investigation and that the occupants were considered to be armed and dangerous.

I got to the top of the escalator and one of my partners met me there. Our other partner, who had probably picked up on the same rabbit vibes that I had, was walking about ten feet behind one of the male suspects and looked ready to stop him for questioning.

“Did you hear that?” I asked my partner by the escalator, wondering if he’d heard the armed and dangerous tag.

“Hear what?” he said.

I then saw that he hadn’t inserted his ear mic. My other partner wasn’t wearing his either and was closing in on the guy fast.

I had to communicate the danger in a quick and effective manner, letting my partners know of the possible danger, but not also alerting the suspects.

“Possible 10-32,” I yelled.

That’s the ten-code for “Man with a gun.”

My partner immediately grabbed the suspect’s arms and took him to the ground. With the large amount of civilian shoppers in the vicinity, we had to take measures to secure the suspects and prevent any possible danger to the general public. My other partner and I moved in and grabbed the other two. It was over in a matter of seconds, and no one was injured. The suspects were using the credit card of a murdered woman. One of them was her son, who had a severe drug problem. He subsequently admitted to having strangled her in a dispute over money, which he wanted to use to buy drugs.

So the bottom line is this: check the type of jargon used by the police in the area in which you set your story, and sprinkle in a bit here and there. Just make sure you get that regional speech right, and remember, in Chicago you’ll never hear a copper calling a suspect a “perp.”

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Wednesday's Random Slang-o-rama: Hassayamper


I was perusing the Dictionary of the American West by Win Blevins when I stumbled upon the unfamiliar (to me) term Hassayamper.

This is an old-time term out of Arizona, which seems very appropriate and serendipitous, since I will be heading to the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, Arizona, to participate in their Cozy-Con this coming Saturday, 1 p.m.!

So, any guesses as to what Hassayamper might mean?
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A little background: This comes from Arizona's Hassayampa River, which was the location of a gold rush back in 1863-ish. It was said, "If ya wash yer face in the Hassayampa River ya can pan four ounces of gold dust from yer whiskers."
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Give up? Here's what Blevins' dictionary has to say:
The gold rush on the river gave rise to the myth that whoever drank its waters, especially when drunk, would become a liar. The old-time Arizonans, when bragging or yarning, were called Hassayampers.
If you want to read a 19th century poem that lays it all out, check out this post titled "He Is Full of Hassayamp!" No Hassayamping, I promise, going on at Cozy-Con. Hope to see some of you there...

Think there might be a Hassayamper in this picture, hoping to spin his tall tales into gold??



Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Wednesday's Random Slang-o-rama: Foofooraw


Today's exuberant expression has many possible spellings: foofooraw, fofarraw, foo-foo-rah, foofaraw...

So, just what is it?

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Let us cut to the chase, with the help of American Slang, Second Edition edited by Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D. It is, according to this reference, a "Western" expression, in use by 1848, with a number of meanings:
  1. A loud disturbance; uproar
  2. Gaudy clothing and accessories, esp. the latter
  3. Ostentation; proud show
Not too shabby, eh? (In fact, not shabby at all!)
I expect foofooraw will find a way to sneak into the next book (drafting to commence soon!) in the Silver Rush series...
Looks like a foofooraw to me! Cartoon published in Punch (May 1912) on the Taft-Roosevelt quarrel. “The President and the ex-President, the latter dressed as a cowboy, are having a fierce mix-up in a saloon. Both are at close grips. Mr. Taft is trying to stick his former friend with a bowie knife, and Mr. Roosevelt is letting fly with a six-shooter.
Uncle Sam, philosophically watching the scrap, says ‘Well, I guess old friends are best.’”

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Wednesday's Random Slang-o-rama: To give one cards


Hmmmm. Does this slang term perhaps refer to the exchange of greeting cards on holidays or special occasions?

Somehow, I doubt this has anything to do with Hallmark or Blue Mountain...

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And, if you agreed with me, you would (also) be right!

Here's the definition of to give one cards, according to Americanisms, Old and New by John Stephen Farmer:

A slang expression borrowed from the gaming table, signifying to give an advantage. The English equivalent "to give points" is derived from the billiard saloon.

Intrigued, I looked further, and found this term in A Book of Rocky Mountain Tales by By Richard Linthicum, published 1892, in an amusing little story titled "A Picture of Spring: The Difference between Idealism and Realism in Art." It's short, it's fun, and if you have a minute, you might check it out in its entirety below. (The expression appears in the last line of the story.)


Sunday, April 15, 2018

San Francisco—before and after the 1906 earthquake

Interrupting my usual slang-o-rama posts to add this... Two fascinating films from 1906—the first recorded just before the earthquake and the second showing the aftermath.






And there's more!

According to a recent New York Times article, new footage taken after the earthquake has been uncovered and digitized. (Thank you, Liz, for drawing this to my attention!) I don't see it up and out on YouTube yet, but I imagine that it is just a matter of time.