Tag Archives: Piatnitzkysaurus

One of the Skipped Chapters of ‘Oy, Rodney’

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Turn we now unto one of the chapters skipped over by Violet Crepuscular in her mad rush to Chapter CCC of her epic romance, Oy, Rodney. Constable Chumley, with Lord Jeremy Coldsore, the American adventurer Willis Twombley, and Johnno the Merry Minstrel peering over his shoulder, at the start of Chapter CCXCIII, is picking the lock so they can search the attic of Coldsore Hall for the missing Marquess of Grone, Lord Cromleigh or whatever his name is. Sheesh, what a sentence!

“Yeer, us’ll see now,” Chumley mutters, “that’s a fithul bricken yairst…”

Click! The door is unlocked. The constable begins to turn the knob–

“By Jove, the attic’s the only place where we haven’t put in any antimacassars to fend off the spirit of Black Rodney,” Johnno is about to point out. But before he can admonish Chumley to be careful, a tremendous explosion nearly hurls the whole group back down the stairs. “Kaboom!” writes Ms. Crepuscular. “I have always found, in describing an explosion, that ‘Kaboom!’ is preferable to ‘Blasto!’ or ‘Boom!'”

When the smoke clears, the door is hanging from a single hinge and half the roof of Coldsore Hall has been blown off. Lord Jeremy, briefly contemplating the cost of repairing it, faints. Twombley just manages to grab him before he tumbles down the appallingly long flight of stairs.

“We never put any antimacassars in the attic,” Johnno remarks.

“A little late for that, ol’ hoss!” parries Twombley.

The constable’s helmet has disappeared, his uniform is in tatters, his hair disarranged, and his face awash with soot. “He looks rather like Wile E. Coyote after one of those Acme sticks of dynamite blows up in his face,” writes Ms. Crepuscular, in an intimate aside, “but of course I can’t mention that because it would be an anachronism.”

The attic is now in considerable disarray. If the missing peer is there, does he still live?

“I shall divulge that in the next chapter, breaking off here to heighten the suspense,” writes Ms. Crepuscular. She has forgotten that this has already been divulged by her writing Chapter CCC before Chapter CCXCII. So there’s no suspense to speak of.

The Dinosaur Whose Name Kids Can’t Pronounce


I was administering a spelling quiz one day at St. Helena’s School, fifth grade, and I asked the kids if they’d like to tackle a really hard word for extra credit. They were all for it, so I gave them a minute to get ready, then laid it on:


And waddayaknow! None of them got it.

Piatnitzskysaurus was a 20-foot-long carnivorous dinosaur from the Jurassic Period in Argentina. Not many people have heard of it.

We adults are sometimes abashed by the ease with which small children toss around the names of dinosaurs that stymie us grownups. But when I wrote “Piatnitzkysaurus” on the blackboard, these really rather bright children just threw up their hands.

It makes me think of a time long ago when Uncle Bernie was trying to read to me from a dinosaur book and stumbling over the names, none of which he’d ever seen before–but of course I knew them already, even at the age of eight. Oh, he had a devil of a time with Ramphorhynchus! I remember it kept coming out as “Rumpadykus.” But he meant well, and for me it will remain a fond memory.

So the next time a little kid tries to show off at your expense by throwing around the names of dinosaurs, fire back with Piatnitzkysaurus. He or she will be in awe of you.

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