Word up to the past, or where to find a decent thesaurus

As a writer, I have become shamefully dependent on my thesaurus. By which, of course, I generally mean the Internet, since actually taking my fingers off the keyboard is a task too frightening to contemplate (and the thesauri in OpenOffice and Word are rudimentary at best).

Until a few weeks ago, I have been very happy with Thesaurus.com. I’ve used it something like three million times a day, usually with the help of a handy Yahoo widget that sat on top of my documents, and gave me bundles of synonyms at the click of a mouse. But then, a few weeks ago, the site came down with a serious case of uselessness.

I’m not the only one who’s noticed this, although the roars of outrage online seem to be muted. Comments in this blogĀ  seem to indicate that the company has switched reference tools, from Roget’s New Millenium (good) to Roget’s II: The New Thesaurus. As with most sequels, this one is crummy. Parent company Lexico’s blog doesn’t mention any switch at all.

The thing is, I’d even pay for a good thesaurus. But it appears that even the premium version of Thesaurus.com has been eviscerated. Or at least there’s nothing indicating otherwise.

Luckily, the Internet steps in to save the day. Mirriam-Websters’ thesaurus function is too inconsistent to use, but a bit of hunting found me this searchable 1911 Roget’s, put out by the University of Chicago and the lovely, lovely Project Gutenberg. Granted, a lot of words have changed or emerged in that last 100 years. But searches there return a vast and inspiring list of cross-referenced synonyms, rather than a few paltry suggestions.

There’s even a Firefox plugin. What’s not to like?

A kind of springy beginning

I think I’ve spent the last six months entirely inside. It wasn’t a cold winter, but the dark and cold-enough of it seemed to get under my skin more than I expected this year. Though it’s possible that staring at a laptop screen for 29 hours a day every day has something to do with creating a vitamin deficiency.

But last night, against all odds, we actually ventured outside to this event being thrown by a few dozen B-list clubs across the city, one ticket gets you in all of them, dance to your heart’s content. It’s the first time Peasant Glasses and I have been to any Berlin dance clubs except our friendly local Icon, and so naturally we excitedly started at the old-person’s hour of 11, when everything was deserted. The first few were a bust for me; I never liked high school dances, and have zero nostalgia for the disco of the 70s and radio hits of the 80s. But just in time, we found a group of crazy Romanian DJs playing some kind of hard bass-heavy electronic goodness, two in giant cardboard robot costumes, another laying down live sax squeals over the beats. I dug. Dancing is a collective ecstasy; it’s hard for me to transcend my own inclination to simply nod my head and analyze the music, but it’s a beautiful thing when it happens.

On the way home, we stopped to watch a pair of blackbirds battle-rapping at 4 am, sitting on opposite sides of a long vacant stretch where the Wall used to run, alternating complex and creative stretches of song at the top of their lungs. The sound echoed from the sides of the apartments, lit up the pre-dawn streets like fireworks, made us grin.

Winter’s over, finally.