The Encyclopedia of Pointless
Posted February 7, 2012 at 8:51 am

It has come to my attention that most alphabet teaching aids get lazy near the end. This is especially noticeable for X, whose examples are invariably an obscure instrument and a form of radiation. Frankly, before X-rays there really was no point in keeping the X, a proposition Benjamin Franklin lobbied for extensively. Since then the philosopher/poet Mitch Hedburg proposed we change it to Z-ray and be done with it.

This may be a bit drastic. There are plenty of useful words that use X. First grade teachers, feel free to include one of these in your classroom.


This word means "yellowish". It is useful because "Piers Anthony's Yellowish series" or "The Magic of Yellowish" doesn't have the same ring to it. As an aside, the more I research this series the more confused I become. For instance, did you know that the fifteenth book of this well-respected fantasy series is titled "The Color of her Panties"? Furthermore, the color in question is not yellowish, but plaid. A missed opportunity, to be sure.


We've all been in that situation where we're obligated to give a gift to a guest, stranger, or ambassador. Most people just call this a "party favor" or "ambassador-gift", but it's really a xenium. Today, flowers or some local trinket suffices, but the traditional gift of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh remains appropriate for any emissary.


Along with Neon, Argon, Krypton, Radon, and Ununoctium, Xenon is a noble gas. This means it does not mingle with plebian gasses like Oxygen, Chorine, or Hydrogen. Xenon is well-known for glowing bright blue when used in gas discharge lamps and when orcs are near. Xenon, and other futuristic-sounding names like it, were often misspelled and applied inappropriately to children as a fad in the mid to late 2030s when people suddenly realized that the reason the future we were promised was behind schedule was because we forgot to start making it. Sure enough, within 10 years we were all living like the Jetsons. True story.


Greece wasn't always the paragon of economic failure it is today. Once, thousands of years ago, it defined modern society before being modern was mainstream. Philosophers triumphed over distasteful concepts like experimentation and research with reason and unrealistic logic, leading to ideas like Zeno's Paradox. There was also a disturbing amount of leeway in what was, and was not, an acceptable relationship between a man and a boy. Thousands of years before all that, though, were the cult idols known as Xoanona. None exist today, but proto-archaeologists of Greece described these in their writings, attributing them to the legendary craftsman Daedalus, who of course built Icarus' wings. Like almost everything else the Greeks did (and do) believe in, this was a gross misconception.


Where would we be without the Xylem? It ranks just behind Xenon as the most recognizable word on this list, and for good reason! Anyone that remembers Biology class will immediately recognize this as the woody portion of a plant responsible for drawing water from the roots up to the leaves via capillary action to provide the moisture necessary for photosynthesis. Long story short, you're breathing oxygen right now thanks to the tireless work of Xylem, and by tireless work I mean ability to take advantage of water's high surface tension.


Once again we return to those ancient Greeks. Back when a Gymnasium was a big open field and the athletes were expected to compete nude, the Xystus, or roofed perimeter of the said big open field, provided a location for exercises during inclement weather. Since the Xystus was essentially the only difference between a Gymnasium and an actual big open field, many of these structures are just referred to as Xysti. The Xystus' most common use was for creepy old men to ogle astetically appreciate the young male gymnasts until they were chased off by, who else, the xystarch.

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