Daily Archives: February 21, 2009


This word looks like a complement to car phone. (Unsurprisingly, it’s also the name of a company that offers vehicle history checks.) It may also make you think of a town in England, or rather a place in a town (Oxford, among others) or even a building at that place (Carfax Tower). It will have a special resonance for stokers of Stoker, as Carfax Abbey is where Dracula beds down in England. If you read Asterix comics, it may strike you as a name suited for one of the Britons Asterix meets in Asterix in Britain. It has a pleasing crispness to it, [k]s and fricatives, and the a‘s around the r and f have an appearance that may be reminiscent of people passing a turnstile – or perhaps a turnpike, a large turnstile used in centuries past at road toll gates. The x could look like a top view of the turnpike. As it happens, it also resembles a top view of this word’s object: a crossroads. The word is related to French carrefour, which comes from Latin quadrifurcus, “four-forked.” And if you come to one such in a car, it is best to have your facts straight.

Nothing to chauffeur a classiomatic

One of my favourite records (now CDs) of all time is Duran Duran’s Rio. I’ve listened to it countless times, and almost all of those times on speakers, not headphones, until recently, when I started listening to music at work in the afternoon to keep from getting drowsy.

Towards the end of the last track, “The Chauffeur,” there’s some speech and other sounds. The speech is in a resonant male voice with a somewhat toasty British accent. For years I really didn’t know what the voice was saying. You can’t tell that well over speakers, especially with the pan pipes, synthesizer and especially drums going all at the same time. I amused myself imagining the most audible bit was “It’s Maury Niska-Nagay, and Maury’s… covered in shit.” I knew, of course, that that certainly wasn’t it, though there were sounds of that general order.

But recently, listening to it on headphones, I thought, “No, really, what is that dude saying?” Continue reading