Hillbilly or Mountain Climber?


How’s it going? Enjoying the Easter/Passover season? I sure ham, I mean am. That was actually a typo, which I will leave because it was also very clearly a Freudian slip referencing my eager anticipation of the glazed Easter ham that I will be eating on Sunday. Can we find a picture? Oh yes. The internet is awash with images of  delicious hams. Most of them are copyrighted. I guess people are very possessive about their artistic ham photography. Well not this one! Pass this one around! Print it on a t-shirt! Use it on the cover or your next novel! (Hopefully a novel about ham.)


Let’s see what else could we chat about? Our Risen Lord? Hatching Eggs? Frolicking Lambs? Bunnies Built From Chocolate? The Mass Slaughter of Egyptian Babies? OR, how about we talk about something less timely, and less inflammatory. This week I learned that the Associated Press Stylebook wants journalists to use the word “mountaineer” instead of “hillbilly.” To wit:

hillbilly Usually a derogatory term for an Appalachian backwoods or mountain person. Avoid unless in direct quotes or special context. Mountaineer is a suggested alternative.

When I read this to Dave, a rock climber himself and friend of many mountain-climbing mountaineers, he had a bit of a hissy fit. It should be noted he doesn’t really like AP style to begin with. He says “realtor” instead of “real estate agent” and “bar maid” instead of “bartender.” He doesn’t capitalize the names of horse races. Stuff like this makes the Associated Press really mad. But me, I’m all up into AP style. I LOVE it. And basically cannot get enough of it. And basically am making it my life mission to convert all of my friends into talking AP style.

Yeah, I know, I know, what about the Chicago Manual of Style?


Too thick. And hoity toity. It lacks pizazz.


Nice try, Chicago. Even Mardi Gras beads won’t help.

While we’re at it, here are some of my other favorite reference books:


For when I need to bore and or/dazzle people to tears with famous quotes from Alexander Pope.

IMG_1798For when I need to know the French word for “to extort.”


For times when I  can’t remember who made kittens and I need to look and see, OR when I forget what colors they come in OR when I can’t remember what exactly they like to do with their free time.


But I digress. Je fait une digression. Hillbillies-cum-mountaineers. As we see from dictionary.com, “mountaineer” means both mountain dweller and mountain climber. This is not just some misguided invention of the Associated Press.




1.an inhabitant of a mountainous district.

2. a climber of mountains, especially for sport.

The problem of course will be in knowing how to tell the difference between toothless, jug band yokels and intrepid George Mallory types. To that end, I invented a quiz. I call it: Mountaineer OR Mountaineer? If that’s too confusing you can think of it as Hillbilly or Mountain Climber.

Mountaineer or Mountaineer?

Part I: Who is most likely to say this phrase? A mountaineer (hillbilly) or a mountaineer (mountain climber)?

1) Hey there ole chap, could you toss me up some more rope and carabiners?
2) It’s hotter’n the devil out here in this gully what with our moonshine and jar of pickles not being too very refreshing.
3) Take a looksee at them lil beans I dropped in the waterfall, they is doin’ a funny dance.
4) I do say, we should reach summit by tomorrow.
5) It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.
6) You best get off our property before my pappy come out with his gun and blow you to kingdom come.
7) Help! I’m falling off this mountain!
8) Aw shitballs, I done fell off the mountain.
Part II: Who’s in the picture? A mountaineer (hillbilly) or mountaineer (mountain climber)?



1.1:mc, 2:hb, 3:hb, 4:mc; 5:mc; 6:hb; 7:mc; 8:hb

2.1:mc; 2:mc; 3:hb; 4:mc

Did you answer hillbilly for 2.2? That’s Sir Edmund Hilary! I tricked you.
So I guess, I’d like your feedback. Did you find this quiz difficult? Easy? Challenging, yet within your grasp? How do you feel about throwing mountain dwellers and mountain “conquerers” under the same designation?
I can see where this could get dicey at times. Like if someone puts “mountaineer” on their match.com profile, it will be awkward to ask which type.
Well, anyway, Happy Easter, everyone. Here is the AP stylebook’s entry for Easter:
Easter In the computation used by the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church and by Protestant churches, it falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon that occurs on or after March 21. If the full moon falls on a Sunday, Easter is the next Sunday. Easter may fall, therefore, between March 22 and April 25 inclusive.
Did you know that Easter had to do with moon cycles? I sure as hell didn’t. Thanks Associated Press!
(Sorry about the spacing, WordPress is out to get me. Which could be a bit paranoid on my part, but I don’t know how else to explain it.)

3 thoughts on “Hillbilly or Mountain Climber?

  1. Oh, dear Gail. I read this outloud to your Uncle Ron. We both laughed uproariously. Uncle Ron wants to know if you asked the Associated Press about the Greek Orthodox Easter — which is different from the non-Greek Orthodox Easter. Perhaps you will have to blog about that now. And by the way, yes, we did know how the date for Easter is figured. Seems that we older folk learned such trivia in our educational pursuits before we had to devote lots of time to learning technology, and hence not have time for trivia about dates for Easter. Enjoy your glazed Easter ham! And your parents! And anyone else who joins you for Easter dinner.

    1. Ruth–I am not at all surprised that you have the inside scoop on the mysterious calendaring of Easter. I guess the AP is letting Greek Orthy Easter slide. I hope you and yours have a happy holiday as well!

      Valerie–Yes, it is quite striking isn’t it? Then again, it comes out of Oxford.

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