Improv as a Vocabulary Builder

One of the things I really like about having a wide range of players at the Improv Meetups (Taylor or Royal Oak) is that I get a good check on my pop culture awareness. Some examples: I know that “Game of Thrones” exists but wouldn’t recognize Jaime Lannister if he came up and bit me, I’m about 50/50 on current songs, and I’m a little disappointed that more of the group don’t get the My Little Pony and Steven Universe references I make.

They do do well with references to the Beatles and Star Trek, so it all balances out.

Every now and then, though, a word will pop up that only a few of us recognize. It usually leads to us throwing the word in here and there all night, often not knowing what it means until someone finally breaks down and asks.

So, here are a few examples of the things I’ve learned:

cannolo is the singular of cannoli

cloaca /klˈkə/ kloh-AY-kə (plural cloacae /klˈsi/ kloh-AY-see or /klˈki/ kloh-AY-kee)  – the posterior orifice that serves as reproductive, urinary, and digestive tract for some animals

ferrule (sounds like feral) – a metal ring used at the end of a handle or tube to keep it from splitting

ferule (which didn’t come up, but is interesting) – a flat ruler with a widened end, used in earlier days for disciplining children (ref. Tom Sawyer, ch. 6)

There may be more coming up – watch this space!

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Can We Learn From the Past? – Tsunami Stones

Last Sunday, Rev. Nate Nix was giving a lesson about paying attention to the signs around us and learning both from our elders and from past experience. I have a love-hate relationship with experts and authority (we tend to over-rely on them and ignore our own experiences and wisdom), but an even more healthy skepticism that “newer is better”. Humans have been through a lot. To ignore all of that accumulated wisdom and experience is just plain dumb.

The point he made about tsunami stones is that they were easy for contemporary Japanese to ignore. Which they did, raising buildings well below the danger zone the stones indicated. And they found themselves shocked and devastated when their homes and buildings were destroyed by high walls of water.

It’s easy for us to ignore warnings about things that we haven’t experienced. Especially things that happened hundreds or thousands of years ago. But “it hasn’t happened recently” isn’t the same as “it won’t happen again.”

As individuals, our life spans are short blips in human history. We need to at least give a listen to those who came before. To blindly ignore advice is just as bad as blindly accepting it.