Expressions in Tim Minchin’s “Storm”

Can you help me with these expressions from Tim Minchin’s Storm? There will be some obscenities—sorry for those; I am just interested in their meaning. “I confess a pigeonhole starts to form” [1:10] “diplomacy dike” [2:55] “What are we – fucking two” [4:55] “Horton heard a who” [4:55] “Blow your hippy noodle” [7:12] Answer “I … Read more

Who became a professor?

In sentence They were rescued by Joseph-Louis Liouville, the son of a captain in Napoleon’s army who became a professor in the Collège de France. who became a professor: Joseph or his father? Photo of the source: Why beauty is truth: a history of symmetry / Ian Stewart. ISBN-13: 978-0-465-08236-0 Answer Poor punctuation leads to … Read more

What does ‘Brace yourself’ really mean?

I saw an article titled ‘The Rise of Chinese Cheneys’, written by Nicholas Kristof, with a lead copy China today resembles the Bush era in America: Hard-liners are ascendant. Brace yourself in today’s New York Times. I know the meaning of ‘Brace for.’ But as I was uncertain about the meaning of ‘Brace Yourself,’ I … Read more

What’s the best word for denoting “treat as a single item” in the specific context I describe?

Why I’m asking @Xanne asks “Does this really have to do with the English language?” Yes. I seek an English language verb. If you, dear reader, find it confusing that the following mentions another language, please imagine this other language is Martian and I’m just trying to describe in English a thing that happens on … Read more

Meaning of “harsh mistress”

What does harsh mistress mean in this sentence? Nostalgia can be a harsh mistress. Answer It deliberately has two meanings, using the ambiguity for poetic effect. One meaning of mistress is as the feminine form of master, and hence it is saying nostalgia must be obeyed, (and is harsh). Another meaning of mistress is as … Read more