The Mark


Con artists call their victim a “mark.”  Ever wonder how the term was derive.  In the old carnival days, the barkers would look for a chalk mark on a suckers back, put there by a prior barker.  Then he knew he had a mark.

ART ATTACK Book Signing

AA Cover Art

You’re invited to the book signing of David Gersh’s newest novel ART ATTACK, the third installment in the Jonathan Benjamin Franklin Mystery Series. The event will take place at Tecolote Book Shop in Montecito from 3PM-5PM on Saturday, September 10. There will be wine, cheese, and a biscuit for your Rufus!

The Cat


I’d like to let “the cat out of the bag,” but golly, I can’t:

The derivation of the phrase is not clear. One suggestion is that the phrase refers to the whip-like “cat o’nine tails,” an instrument of punishment once used on Royal Navy vessels. The instrument was purportedly stored in a red sack, and a sailor who revealed the transgressions of another would be “letting the cat out of the bag.” Another suggested derivation is from the “pig in a poke” scam, where a customer buying a suckling pig in a sack would actually be sold a (less valuable) cat, and would not realise the deception until the bag was opened.
Both of these suggestions are rejected by, who find no evidence of it originating in naval slang, nor of whips being stored in sacks, and consider it “nigh on impossible to mistake a cat for a pig.”

I favor the naval version myself.  Your guess may be better than mine.