Christmas Reflections IV:
Thanks for Comin' Round

A few places in blogville (I like this better than "blogsphere"... it's more homey) have been discussing the Christmas X, and its historical place in X-Mas. I'd known for years that it wasn't meant as a slight, but the background is quite interesting.

I never get too hung up on the semantics of the Season. Not like our state Senate, who passed a resolution making sure we call the state tree a Christmas Tree, dangit. Get the important stuff out of the way first, I always say.

Sure, some folks get riled up (redundant? Can one get riled down?) when others try to slip a shot of Jesus into their eggnog. Hey, if you can't get riled at the holidays, when can you? I mean, really.

You know, not too long ago it was flipped. People were concerned about making sure Jesus was in everything at Christmas. I don't have this as point of fact, I just use the lyrics from the old chestnut (redundant? new chestnut, anyone?) Here Comes Santa Claus:

Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus,
Right down Santa Claus lane
Vixen and Blitzen and all his reindeer
Pullin' on the reins
Bells are ringin', children singin'
All is merry and bright
Hang your stockings and say your prayers
'Cause Santa Claus comes tonight!

A nice fusion of Faith and Fancy, I think. We can only hope the kids are praying for World Peace, and not the Power Rangers Dino Thunder Battlized Arm Extender (which is what I'm shootin' for).

Later in the song, we learn that:

Peace on earth will come to all
It we just follow the light
So let's give thanks to the Lord above
That Santa Claus comes tonight!

We at SPASTIC have no problem with this tune. It's adorable. It is what it is. But can you imagine someone writing it today? Chances are slim it'd hit the Christmas Number One (go, Nizlopi, go!).

As the posts, like the Yule Log, dwindle down to nothing over the coming days, SPASTIC (remember them? I barely do) just wants to wish its 12 faithful readers a Happy Holiday. Which includes Christmas. And Hanukkah. And New Year's. And Kwanzaa. And probably others, but I don't think any of my readers celebrate them. But it's open-ended. Because I want you to be Happy.

And, thanks for coming around.
Now go put out those Communion Wafers and Milk for Santa.


Christmas Reflections III

I'm rocking out to Neil Diamond's Christmas Album, one of the classics.
A friend points out the irony that Neil Diamond did a Christmas album.
The Jewish Elvis sings O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.
I guess it is.
Inifinitely more ironic than anything Alanis ever came up with.
So, there it is.
Rock on. [turns it to eleven]


Holiday Reflections II

There'll be parties for hosting
Marshmallows for toasting
And caroling out in the snow
There'll be scary ghost stories
And tales of the glories of
Christmases long, long ago

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
There'll be much mistletoeing
And hearts will be glowing
When loved ones are near
It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

This is a fun song to sing, and I like the sentiment. To many, this probably is the most wonderful time. Of course, this is akin to telling teens that high school is the Best Years of Their Lives: if this is true, then what do I have to look forward to?
Come Jan. 2, it's another 11 months of killin' time until the Most Wonderful Time rolls around again.

That's not really what I wanted to say about this song. First, this:


A great example of verbing, that. And it's much mistletoeing; alliteration, to boot. I've been trying to coin my own holiday verbing, but haven't gotten a good one, yet.


Second, this:

scary ghost stories

Somebody finally explained to me that this references A Christmas Carol.
I guess Christmas Future is kind of scary, but a ghost story to me is one that ends with a farmer saying:
"my daughter? She died a year ago..."


Danny Bonaduce Trims Dutch Elm
Partridge Pares Tree

Headline in today's paper:

Lansing Teachers May Pare Their Raise

I don't often hear "pare" without "down". A googlefight between "pare exenses" and "pare down expenses" comes out almost a tie. "Pare costs" creams "pare down costs", so I may be in the minority, here. Pare by itself may be more common than I thought.

Which is good. Because as I think about it, "pare down" seems to be a redundancy; you can't "pare up".

The story talks about teachers being forced to make a choice: take a cut in your (already sad 2%, but at least we aren't working for Delphi) raise, or we lay off 20 or so of your colleagues. Man.

Now, I guess it's up to teachers to decide which is better: a pare or a full house.


Chew On This

In conversation today, someone was talking about their experience in retail. It had to do with selling calendars, and a customer trying to "chew him down" on the price.

I had to stop him. Chew you down? Don't you mean Jew you down? And, by the way, where's your time machine, because you're comin' straight outta 1950.

He hadn't meant to be even vaguely anti-Semitic. In, fact, he was horrified to think that that he could be construed as such. Unaware of the connection, he had always thought his phrase was more literal: to chew away at (badger) someone until they gave you a better price.

I'd never heard "chew him down". I haven't heard "Jew down" in years.
Enter Google. "Chew him down" gives 250 hits. Quite small, and some of those actually refer to chewing (the dog had to chew him down to a manageable size). So, it's definitely not common usage. It may fit the category of malapropism... though a malapropism, I believe, is the use of the wrong word for your intended meaning. I doubt that most people saying "chew" really mean "Jew".

Here are a few uses:

"...the salesman will try talking to you in terms of monthly payments, but you need to switch him back to total price of the car in order to chew him down."

"I'm hoping to chew him down to $200."

..."trying to chew him down to almost slave wages."

"I decided that I was going to just give him his asking price rather than try to chew him down."

"...I didn't try to chew him down any, I got what I wanted for the price.."

Of course, "Jew him down" gets nearly as many hits, and most of those are talking about the phrase itself, not using it conversationally. This either means that the blogosphere is self-censoring, or that it's going away as a figure of speech.

Either way works for me.


Jokes I Remember From Junior High (4 of 4)

A lady comes down with a terrible rash over most of her body. She calls the doctor, and he tells her to take a bath in milk.
She calls the local dairy, and explains that she needs enough milk to fill her bathtub.
"Do you need it pasteurized?" the man on the other end asks.
Her reply: "No, I think up to my chin should be fine."


My Front Pages

There's been much talk lately about the death penalty, and it gives us another look at Death Euphemisms.
Look at headlines covering the execution of Stanley Tookie Williams. The LA Daily News, CNN and San Jose Mercury News both say it in one, bold word: "Execution". For CNN.com, NPR, and MSNBC, he was "put to death".
One obviously sounds softer. "Put to death" sounds like something you do to an old dog. It almost sounds like "put to bed".
Most outlets lean toward Execution. I agree. There's nothing soft about death by injection.


Posts I Only Have The Titles For

Sure, content is nice. Idea, first. Headline, later.
But I've got some great posts coming... I just don't know what they're about, yet.
But the headlines have already been written:

And Then There's Maude
It's Only Cheating If You Whistle
Arctic Genocide: The Legacy of North Pol Pot
Umlaut... Oprah... Oprah... Umlaut.
Pole Position for Prepositions
If Not Charlie Kauffman, Then Whom?
Is That Your Modifier Dangling, Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?
I Haven't Seen Saw
Cherry Pie Cover Not Warranted
Wait! Wait! Don't Smell Me!
The Year Of The Tat
Coleman Makes Imperfect Tense
That's My Interrogative
Torn Ligatures
Tuber Or Not Tuber


ROPE? Uh, Dope.

From acoolkid, comes this interoffice email letting folks know about an update to an unfortunate acronym:

...ROPES, Version 10.0, the Remote Online Print System, was installed into Production CICS and batch, effective with the cycle of the CICS regions this morning, August 25. There are no significant changes to the product, but it will affect both batch and online...

His question: Where do they get the E?

Sometimes folks get a little liberal, borrowing two or three letters instead of one from some words in order to make a catchier acronym. But there's no E to be found betwixt the P and S. Huh.
So why not use ROPS, and just pronounce it "ropes"? Dunno. Are there other example of this startegy out there?


Holiday Reflections (1 of a few)

You're spending a lot of time talking about a Christmas carol.
Yeah, well, it's what's on my mind. Sue me. And stop calling me Carol.

Do you sing along with O Holy Night? Man, now there's a song probably written by that O, Say Can You See? guy, with that one note that comes outta nowhere:

Fall on your knees
O hear the angel voices
O night divine!
O night when Christ was born

Whew. I don't go falsetto there, though. O, no. Straight-up Axl Rose. It's horrid.


The Man With All The Toys

Just did my first of what will be many readings of 'Twas The Night Before Christmas. Each year, subversive thoughts find their way into my brain as I'm reading this poem. Here are three:

When I read "...threw up the sash" I picture the fellow retching and pulling a beauty queen sash out of his mouth. (actually, it's more often a merit badge sash. Former Boy Scout.)

When I read "...his face it was broad" I want to read it like Jimmy Cagney. It makes no sense, but there it is.

When I read "...filled all the stockings and then turned with a jerk..." I picture Santa standing at the chimney, but suddenly there's Steve Martin beside him, arrow through head, yelling "The new phone book is here!"

Anyone else have crazy images flash though their brain whilst trying to read something not meant to be crazy? Another example of this might be something a friend told me 20 years ago that has made it hard to keep a straight face in church over the years.
He told me that instead of "Lead On, O King Eternal" he sang "Lead On, O Kinky Turtle." So sophomoric, yet there I am, Sunday morning, visions of turtles dancing in my head. Tsk.

I'd much rather have sugar plums in my head. Or even Steve Martin.


Draggin' The Line

Read this headline:

Spoof paper proceeds to buy shoes for needy kids

I think since headlines tend to put verbs early, I read it proceeds.
Then got to the end... then had to go back to the beginning. The spoof paper is buying shoes? Oh. proceeds.
How about you? Anyone else get the same reading?
Is this confusion reason enough for the head to be rewritten, or should people figure it out?

the story


The Wages of This Sin: Two Bucks

In Michigan, smokers pay $2.00 a pack in taxes for the privilege of standing out back in the rain. This tax hike passed over a year ago, mere weeks after it was soundly trounced as bad government. The story of its failure is here:

Estate, 'sin' tax bills fail in House

Now, a mere 19 months later, I've rewritten the headline.

Sin Tax Error

We'll just have to file that away for the next one.


Why do I do this? Just as I'm about to hit Publish, I think Hey. I wonder if anyone else could ever have come up with this bit of wit? Let's check! Google says 386 other web pages already came up with my headline. Dangit! I could've left well enough alone, deluded in the thought that my stream of consciousness had lapped over some unturned punnish pebble, but nope. I checked. I am officially, again, wholely unoriginal.


[update: "stream of consciousness" +"punnish pebble" gets zero hits. I am at turns pleased and unamazed.]


Can't seem to Publish yet. One more thought, as I was trying to pun my way through the post title:

A regional meeting of church leaders where they cast a controversial vote (gay clergy, for example) could have a snarky headline in a partisan paper that reads:

Putting the 'Sin' in Synod

[checks Google. Ha! Zero!]

Full disclosure: this may have subconsciously been inspired by the tagline in Bridget's blog.


(One man's take on why sin taxes don't work can be found here)


Come On!

More billboard reflections.
This one is an derivation of what I call Frag Tags: Fragmented taglines in a headline that work awfully hard to make their product seem hipper than it usually is. One example is the billboard that I still see daily advertising "Quality. Hometown. Care." Wal-Mart advertises "Good. Works."

I submit that these gimmicks rarely add anything more to the content. Well, periods, I suppose.
One I saw recently that I liked was:

Serious. Fun.

That works for me. Another one I saw somewhere was:

Logical. Phallus-y.

I didn't really get that one, but it works.

Any-hoo. back to "Wellcome." I assume it's to be read as a Frag Tag:

Well. Come.

It's for a health plan of some sort (the pic above's an artist's rendering, BTW... I'm still not stopping by woods on a snowy highway to snap pics), and they want me to know that if I use their plan, I'll be well. And I should come.

OK. For me, it doesn't add any more meaning than "quality care" does. Actually, it's more confusing. It sounds like something you'd say to a dog who doesn't get that you have a treat for him: Well? Come!

But what it does do is put a commonly misspelled word on a highway billboard in 4,000 point Times New Roman. "Wellcome" hasn't reached "Comming" proportions (still #1 five years running), but this 'board may make it a contender.
Yes, the misspelling is intentional... part of the charm of the ad, I suppose. That doesn't mean that many won't see it and subconsciously file away the new "Two Ls in 'Wellcome'" rule.

I believe in the First Amendment right to say or print what you wish. But I think there should be a fine for folks who contribute to American-youth-spelling-test-failure. Maybe for every intentional misspelling they create, they have to hand-grade 4,000 standardized English tests.

You say: comming from you, that's rich. You've got a typo in, like, every post.
I say: yeah. but at leaast it's not in 4,000 point type. And no one reads this blog, so your point is mute.


Unique New York. Red Leather, Yellow Leather.

I got this warning message when installing software today. There is no Photoshop trickery involved.

Update: I updated the Updater, and Adobe's up-to-date.


Vanity of Vanities; All is Vanity

Hey, Mr. '05 Mustang Driver. You blew by me so dang fast I could barely make out your vanity plate:


Now, as humbly as possible, I'd like to say that I'm pretty darn good at figuring out vanity plates. I'm usually the first one in a group to shout it out. Now, now, no comments about the social life of a person who takes pride in being the best vanity-plate-figure-outer. Stay on topic, Vanity Plate Man. This is about you, not me. Your plate left me STR8UP stumped.
IMHO, vanity plates are MENT2B understood. An inside joke plate is a waste of money. Vanity plates are all about others' recognition of your wit and good humour:

A1ANA2? A-1? Like the steak sauce? Who's Ana? Oh, A one and a two! He's a conductor! Ha ha! Good show!
(A1ANA2, famously, was Lawrence Welk's vanity plate)

So, back to you.
Mr. Lead City? This is my best shot. But I can't figure this out. It's a Michigan plate... We're not a big lead producer, as far as I know. Judging by the speed at which you passed me, you have a Lead Foot, but are speeders referred to as being from "Lead City"? Not that I know of.
Is your name Merle? You didn't look like a Merle. Not to pigeonhole you or anything. Besides, I still don't make anything of it. Merle D. City?
Meryl? A Meryl Streep fan, perhaps? And your plate references the state of being that comes about on the eve of a new Streep movie... Meryldicity?

No, Cool Car Guy, I can't get it. Therefore, I dub thine plate whack.
The truth hurts, my man. Pick yourself up, get to the DMV, and take a Vanity Plate Mulligan. My suggestion:



Logical. Phallus-y.

Mere months after Pimp Dose, we've got another vandal in the school.
His tag:


It's written in red sharpie on lockers, in the stairwell, on railings.
This may be the work of a group. There's a chance they're a new gang, marking their territory with graffiti. While it's easier to read than typical gang tags, it's just as confusing. There is no punctauation to help us.

Is this a triumphant announcement of his/their manhood? (Penis!)
Is it shock at a recent discovery? (Penis?!)

Or is it, as I'm hoping, the start of a campaign?
Much like the billboards that post a series of teasers before the entire ad appears, I think "penis" will soon have a "The" in front of it:


A few days later, the rest of the text will follow:

mightier than
the sword.

Clever, penis-man. Very clever, indeed.


Oh, Ya. You Betcha.

This billboard greets me on the way to work every day. Actually, this is my Photoshopped rendering of it, since I'm not wont to stop on the freeway and take a picture. What interests me is the deliberation in the art department of where to place that two-foot high apostrophe:

...no, "ya" isn't a word. it's an abbreviation of "you."
Yeah, but what letter are you replacing with the apostrophe?
What are you talking about?! The apostrophe is there to show people that we know we're using nonstandard English!
What, is that from Strunk & White: The Lost Elements? You're making up usage!
Dude, just put in the apostrophe.
Fine. Where does it go?
Just put it where it makes sense...

Maybe because we put one in "y'all", they thought we needed one here. Of course, then we'd have:


Which just looks silly.
If Ya, sans punctuation, is good enough for Outkast, it should be good enough for Adams Outdoor Advertising.


Darkness Falls

Ah, The Darkness.
The boys who gave us lyrics like:

Snowflakes melt in hell
That it would end
Don't let the bells end
Christmas time
Just let me leave please

are back with a new single.

It's called:

One Way Ticket To Hell... And Back

The thing about The Darkness is this: you're never quite sure if it's a joke. I think that's why I find them so appealing.

Either way, this song rocks. Even if I hadn't heard it, I'd love it from the title alone: a one-way round trip, baby.
It makes absolutely no sense.
And therein lies the beauty. Even deciphering the lyrics about highs and lows of cocaine abuse really sheds no more light.

And that's OK.

'Cuz they rock.

...One way ticket to hell and back(yeah)
Bought a one way ticket to hell and back(ooh yeah)
One way ticket to hell and back,
Bought a one way ticket to hell (oooh yeaah)

One way ticket to hell and back(woo!)
Bought a one way ticket to hell and back
One way ticket to hell and back,
Bought a one way ticket to hell...


Three Words I Use When I Want To Sound Smarter Than I Am

Hierarchy (pronouncing it hear-arky)

What are yours?


Friskies Business

Here's a partial transcript from a commercial that plays on my radio at times:

...This is [radio personality]. You've heard me talk about my cats and how much they love Purina, as well as myself...

Whoa. The first time I heard it, I was sure I'd heard incorrectly. This could not be what it said. The next time, I wrote it down, in awe.

To me, the most literal reading of her message is:

I'm [radio personality]. You've heard me tell you how much my cats love [Purina cat food and] me.

Now, she doesn't say "love me". She says "...how much they love Purina, as well as myself." Which sounds like a fairly common misuse of a reflexive pronoun. So we would assume she meant "how much they love Purina, as well as me."

But, this isn't what she means, is it? She means to tell us that both she and her cats love Purina. Something like:

This is [radio personality]. You've heard me talk about how much my cats and I love Purina.

Now, this does bring to mind a radio host sitting down at the breakfast table with her coffee and a bowl of dry cat food. And, maybe that's why it isn't worded this way... someone thought it sounded weird. We need a rewrite from the ground up.

The problem, here, again, is this:

Aren't there people who proof these things?
Even after it's aired, doesn't someone hear it and go "Uh, guys? Yeah, [radio personality]'s on the radio saying her cats love her. It just sounds weird. And she's using reflexive pronouns instead of standard personal pronouns. Can we get a rewrite?"

And the answer, again, comes back.

No. No, there aren't.



Something Wicked Segue Comes*

The news this morning had a story about a family that moved back into its flooded home in New Orleans to find it had been invaded by water moccasins. Every time they opened a door or moved a piece of furniture, a snake slithered out to greet them.

After this piece, the anchor threw to the weatherman with this:

"...Luckily, nothing like that weatherwise is going to bug us today..."

Yes, luckily there are no poisonous snakes in the weather today. And luckily, today we will not have to return to a destroyed home after over a month away. Boy, it sure would suck to be them! Haha! Luckily, it's going to be nearly 70 today!

Do we really need a segue? In TV Anchorman School, it must be drilled into young recruits, because this is only a small example of something that happens every day. In local news, especially, but the Bigs do it, too. I would like the weather, thank you, but I'm not terribly concerned that it somehow ties to the previous story.

Just tell me that it's time for the weather.


*A stretch, yes. The other, less stretchy title was Where There's A Will, There's A Segue.


The Remains Of The Day

When does a body become a remain?

Today, I have heard various reports, some talking about Rosa Parks' body, others about her remains.

"The Senate approved a resolution Thursday allowing her remains to lie in honor in the Rotunda..."

"When they learned Friday night that Parks’ body would lie in honor in the Capitol, Cunningham’s wife said, “We have to go.”"

Many skip the distinction, saying simply that she will "lie in honor."

Is there a distinction? To me, remains suggests ashes, or something more gruesome. I must be off here, though, since it seems a fairly common way to refer to the body of one who has passed.

Hoping someone else will do the research, I wonder if it has to do with bodies that are not immediately buried, but are on view for a period.

Finally, as I got into this post I realized it might seem inappropriate. I do not mean to diminish the legacy of a civil rights pioneer by quibbling semantics. This is simply a straight question of usage that had never occurred to me before today.


Jokes I Remember From Junior High (3 of 4)

Traffic has dropped by half since I began the Jr. High series. Coincidence?

In other news, four people searching for "the infamous el guapo" have found me recently.

Now, to it:

Q: What do olive loaf and Sarah Jesica Parker have in common?
A: One's a Square Peg, while the other's a Square Pig.

You will be shocked to learn that this is one I penned myself.
Even in 7th grade, this was not seen as quality material.

As I reflect upon this piece, I wonder if it could have been reworked for greater effect:

Q: Did you hear about the new show with Porky, Babe*, and Wilbur as dorky kids trying to make it into the high school in-crowd?

A: It's called "Square Pigs".

Yeah, that's a lot better.
"WABAC machine, set for 1982. We've got to find my 7th grade self and get him this joke. It could change his entire future..."

*Of course, Babe didn't exist in 1982. Hmm.. Miss Piggy seems obvious, but I don't like the use of "pig" in the set-up, since it's the punchline. "Kermit's girlfriend", maybe. Any-hoo.


Jokes I Remember From Junior High (2 of 7)

For this one, I took a one-line joke and turned it into a fairly epic tale. Please remember this is 7th grade. The language is '80s-tinged, and the puns are awful. My humor is much more sophisticated now.

* * * * * * *

The Potato family was a happy one. Mother and Father Potato lived with their three daughters. The children grew, and before they knew it, the eldest was off to see the world. One evening, the family was sitting about watching TV (M*A*S*H, natch) when the phone rang. It was their daughter.
"Mom! Dad! I'm getting married!"
"Ore-Ida!" said her father, who'd been hoping she'd marry soon. "Who is he?"
"Oh, dad, you'll love him. He's a doctor."
Well, dad was indeed excited to have such prestige brought to his family. There was a huge wedding and celebration.
A year passed, and the middle child left home for Art School (Julienne) . Soon, a call came. The family stopped watching their movie (The Eyes of Laura Mars) to listen in.
"Mom! I'm getting married! He's a District Attorney! And, he's a real spud muffin!"
"Totally tuberlar!" exclaimed mom.
There was a large wedding and a wonderful party.
Finally, the third daughter left to follow her dream. Her parents could only hope it wouldn't be half-baked. They worried that their small fry might not make a wise decision.
Then, the call came, right in the middle of CHiPs.
"Mom! Dad! I'm marrying Dan Rather!"
Oh, they were not happy.
Mom was boiling. Dad turned red potato. There was no large wedding. They were ashamed.
Because their first two daughters had married so well, and the third had married a commentater.

* * * * * * *

I haven't told this joke in years. It could use updating. The first that comes to mind is that the 3rd girl could marry "Tim Russet". Other ideas?

Jokes I Remember From Junior High (1 of 7)

A priest, a rabbi, and a preacher walk into a bar.

"Ow," they say.


Oh, And This One...

OK, just one more unbelievable-but-apparently-real T-shirt:



There's a pizza place in my town that has an arcade. All of the games, as far as I can tell, come straight from Japan. Most of the text is symbols (Kanji?), but some is in English. Like the marksmanship game where you shoot a mug and it explodes:


Or the street luge game that promises:


These are good for a chuckle, similar to the crazy popularity of ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US.

That would be the end of it... but today I was searching for the latest Elmo toy (hey, give me a break), clicked I'm Feeling Lucky, and this came up, courtesy Engrish.com:

"Engrish", I find, has quite a following. It is the term used to describe poor Japanese to English translations. I remember looking at a puzzle game in line at the gas station, with the directions telling the owner to FIRST ONLY DECOMPOSE THE CUBE, and saying to myself: huh.

Well, the folks at Engrish.com and a boatload of other sites have collected many of these crazy things for you. Some are beyond belief. "They must be Photoshopped!" you cry. "Crap my hands?!" The webmaster says no, they're all legit. Like:

My first thought was that the term "Engrish" was just too inappropriate, and that I couldn't ever bring myself to use it. I still may not out loud... but it sure is all over the place, and seems to be the accepted term. That doesn't make it OK, I realize. I am still amazed at how something so niche can have such a following on the internet.

Which makes me again wonder: If there's so much Engrish stuff in cyberspace, why can't we get more ARK II information out there?


You Can't Have Egg, Bacon, Spam and Sausage Without the Spam!

Mash-up words are fun. Like Spice + Ham = Spiced Ham = Spam.

Or, heaven forbid, Betsimpsier.

I'm sure there's a word for words like that... anyone know it?

Anyhow, this is my post about spam. And how I've got to make it stop, so I'm making comment-posters type a crazy, curvy nonsense word that looks like it's written on the melting walls in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

I've put this off, because it's a small hassle to people trying to dash off a quick reply. You just want to post a thought, and the computer says: "Type "Cthulhu" into this box to make sure you're not a spammer." Or "Clhuuh", I'm not sure. I usually get them wrong on the first attempt. So they give me "Brylwor"* to try again. Actually, can I get another shot at "Cthulhu"? I think I can get it this time. Now, it's "umlaut". Now "Ageageray"*. Now "Thirttlye"* I give up. The world will never know my rakish wit. I have been marginalized by the Spambot Guardian. Post I Shall No More.

So, I apologize for instituting such measures. But I get these posts, and I don't even know where in my blog they're posting in order to delete them. My email says I have a new post (yay!) and it's someone who thinks my blog is awesome (sweet!) and they'll be back for sure (woo-hoo!) and, by the by, they have a great blog about erectile dysfunction (...). What it doesn't say is which post out of a year's worth it's gone to. Sigh.

So, there it is. Sorry. Good luck.

*These names are taken from here. Try generating "consonant-heavy" names. Fun!**

**"Fun" being relative, of course.


Stinkin' Up The Place

In Eldest (young adult Star Wars/Lord of the Rings knockoff written by a dude who's, like, twelve), a character presents the possibilty of using barges to facilitate an escape, and someone says:

Barges? We don't need no stinking barges!

Man. The Sierra Madre (or, more likely, Blazing Saddles) reference is completely out of place in this elf/dwarf/dragon/magic fantasy epic. If the book were built upon quirky pop-culture references (Xanth, anyone?), OK. But it's not. This is not a funny tale.

"We don't need no stinkin'" this and that has been a popular phraseology for years, and this is not the first time I've thought about it. It's just the first time I've had a blog in which to think it through.

Google gives 174,000 hits for the phrase "We don't need no stinkin'". 142,000 for "We don't need no stinking". It gives only 14,800 hits for "We don't need no steenkin'", but that still seems impressive for a phonetically-spelled word. There are even over a thousand hits for "We don't need no steeenkin'".
People like this phrase.

Here's a look at Google's first ten hits for places that say they don't need no stinkin' something:

1. We don't need no stinkin' login!
2. Singelton? We don't need no stinkin' Singleton!
3. 401K? We don't need no stinkin' 401K!
4. Books? We don't nee no stinkin' books!
5. Training? We don't need no stinkin' training!"
6. Keyframes? We don't need no stinkin' keyframes!
7. Rules? I don't need no stinkin' rules!
8. We don't need no stinkin' stats!
9. We don't need no stinkin' love songs!
10. We don't need no stinkin' cookies!

The Stinking Badges Home Page is a pretty nifty catalog of references, a look at how this quote has permeated our culture. It also has as its first entry the actual quote, from the book and movie, which has been misquoted ever since.

While some use the structure "We don't need no stinkin' X" (X being whatever it is we need no stinkin' of), most retain the structure "X? We don't need no stinkin' X!", using X as a question before commenting on our need for X.

People who have time to make up names for this sort of thing call them "snowclones". The term refers to any adaptable cliché, where a word is replaced with a different word appropriate to the conversation at hand. For example:

To see, or not to see?

The name comes from the oft-repeated (and apparently erroneous) statement:
The Eskimos have __ words for for snow... (usually followed by something like "surely you can come up with __ words for ____.")

So. Why do we dig the "don't need no stinkin'" phrasing so much? Is it because it gives us an excuse to use poor grammar? Or the excuse to use an over-the-top accent typical of Mexican Bandits? We get to say "steenkin'", which is fun... shades of "friggin'", but with a touch of danger attached. But doesn't it get old? Probably not for deadline-pressed admen and headline writers.

I think there's a place to add this to a database of snowclones. I'll have to do that. Unless it's already there. In which case, I'm again late to the stinkin' party.


Of Carpools and Malapropisms

In the carpool yesterday, a young science teacher told the story of setiing up an experiment using a small, scissor/tweezer-esque implement. A couple of students asked:
"Is that your Rose Clip?"
She wasn't catching their reference, but the way they snickered she was pretty sure it was drug-related. They found it even funnier that she didn't know what they were talking about.
In the 'pool, we explained to her they were probably talking about a Roach Clip.

What have we learned today?
1. Two young men laughed at their teacher for not knowing what a "rose clip" is.
2. The closest thing Google gets to their meaning for the term is "Download Charlie Rose Clip"
3. Sadly, the irony of the situation will forever be lost to these two fellows.


Bork Bork Bork

And now, time for another episode of Stating the Obvious...

It's tough to write the way people talk.

I mean, yeah, of course it is. Some are better at it than others. I happen to enjoy Tom Wolfe (deal with it), and his contrived spellings that imitate dialect are fun for me. But I don't really feel I know what the person sounds like. Only a caricature of the person.

I'm thinking of this, because a post heading at ilani ilani is Ancient Egyptian Pronunciation. Which, of course, made me think of the Calgon ad that ends with the lady saying:
Ancient Chinese secret, huh?

But that doesn't get the way she says it, does it? It's more:
Ancient Chinese secret, hanh?

Or perhaps:
Ancient Chinese secret, huuuh?

This lines up more with what's in my head. But if you don't know the ad, the last word comes off as something Patrick Star might utter.
So. If we can't guarantee the reading will be what we wish, do we skip it altogether? There's a nice piece here where the author uses Gone With the Wind to make a pretty convincing argument against dailectic spelling.

But, who cares, really? What I really wanted to show you is what I suppose some will see as a vaguely offensive site, as it purports to translate any text into Jive (a la Airplane!). I'll let you take that one on your own... I instead translated a part of yesterday's post into Swedish Chef.

A Hut Met

Vhy du I hefe-a sooch a prublem veet met beellbuerds?
I theenk met is bed, und needs tu be-a stupped. Bork bork bork! Boot ere-a cunffooseeng merketeeng cempeeegns zee vey tu gu?

Zee letest tegleene-a:

Theenk met is pretty? Yeeh, pretty stoopeed. Bork bork bork!

OoK. It vuoold be-a a clefer vurdpley iff I thuooght peuple-a reelly theenk met is "pretty". Hefe-a uny ooff yuoo ell ifer essuceeeted met veet beooty? I theenk ooff heellbillies, durty bethtoobs, und gereges. Um gesh dee bork, bork! Ooff cuoorse-a, I'm nut zee terget oodeeence-a. Boot du yuoo theenk keeds see-a met es pretty? I dun't see-a it. Um de hur de hur de hur.
Et ell.

Meybe-a I'm vey ooffff. I'd leeke-a sumeune-a tu tell me-a thees mekes sense-a. Becoose-a I'm soore-a a lutta duoogh vent intu it. Um de hur de hur de hur.

Und meybe-a zee cleferness ooff zee messege-a isn't vhet's impurtunt. Um de hur de hur de hur... meybe-a it's ebuoot increesed evereness: "met is pretty stoopeed". OoK. Boot troot.cum muneges tu be-a but insunely ooreeginel, clefer, und subereeng et zee seme-a teeme-a. It cun be-a dune-a.

Zeere-a is a TF ed tu gu veet it. Um de hur de hur de hur. Zee fueeceufer verns thet "yuoo cun becume-a eddeected effter joost yuoor secund use-a." Hooh. Su zee furst is a geemme-a, epperently. Bork bork bork!

Sounds rather Jar-Jar, but fun nonetheless. And an example of dialectic spelling where you really need to have a reference to read it. I can't see this working if I didn't know the Swedish Chef.


A Hot Meth

Why do I have such a problem with meth billboards?
I think meth is bad, and needs to be stopped. But are confusing marketing campaigns the way to go?

The latest tagline:

Think meth is pretty? Yeah, pretty stupid.

OK. It would be a clever wordplay if I thought people really think meth is "pretty". Have any of you all ever associated meth with beauty? I think of hillbillies, dirty bathtubs, and garages. Of course, I'm not the target audience. But do you think kids see meth as pretty? I don't see it.
At all.

Maybe I'm way off. I'd like someone to tell me this makes sense. Because I'm sure a lotta dough went into it.

And maybe the cleverness of the message isn't what's important... maybe it's about increased awareness: "meth is pretty stupid". OK. But truth.com manages to be both insanely original, clever, and sobering at the same time. It can be done.

There is a TV ad to go with it. The voiceover warns that "you can become addicted after just your second use." Huh. So the first is a gimme, apparently.

This may be just a Michigan campaign. And it looks pretty slick. But it doesn't work for me. I tried finding any kind of a link to show you the ad, but I think it's too new. There is one campaign I found that I love, though.
Partnership for a Drug-Free America put out Faces of Meth (the name itself a clever play on "Faces of Death"), which shows mugshots of people before and after using meth. Whoa. Check out the woman who after four years turned into Bride of Frankenstein.

So, what do you think? Does it matter how dopey the presentation is as long as the message is out there? Or should it actually make sense?

BTW, I think a website devoted to meth info should be called "Methopotamia".


Just Thinking

If there's a condition where a baby's up all night crying from the pain associated with living in a pastoral setting, it should be called bucolic.


Potty Sign Definitely Not The Shiznit

"Brain Freeze"* just made it into the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Yes! I thought maybe this was the year for "shiznit", but it seems that's still in the wings.
It's been at least ten years since the first time someone used "shiznit" in a sentence in my presence, and it still gets play. Alas, I guess I need to resubmit my suggestion.


This sign hangs over a urinal I frequent:


If I were to wait that long, I'd still be there, I'm afraid.

*When a friend was a church camp counselor, they would have contests to see which camper could drink a slushy the fastest. Mean, dude. Just mean.


Oh, What A Relief It Is

A catalog came to the house with this cool clock for sale:

The pins shift in and out as the minutes change, giving a cool bas relief* readout. It's like those pin art things where you stick your face in and the pins make a 3D mold of you. At least, I always stick my face in. Other people probably stick in other things. (keep your thoughts to yourself here, BP)

Any-hoo, the bottom of the description had this to say:

Takes 2D batteries

I laughed. Then, five short days later, I ran to the computer to share with you all.
I anxiously await the newest flood of spam postings in response.

*not sure if this technically is bas relief, but I didn't want to use 3D twice in two sentences.


Grab a Paddle and Hold On

A gusher of thoughts hit me in the shower this morning, and here they are, in order, before I forget them. Rarely do I take the time to trace my stream of consciousness, but since some of these thoughts were languagey I thought I'd let you all float down the stream with me.

Speaking of extraneous punctuation, CSI: is just silly. I know they do it because of CSI: Miami and CSI: New York and the upcoming CSI: Salt Lake City*. They think we somehow need remind that "hey! There are other CSIs out there!" But I don't get that from a colon at all. All I get is that you were about to add something, then stopped typing. It's more like CSI: oh, forget it.
Which makes me think of emoticons. The birthday of the emoticon was recently, and it got me thinking that I never have used one. Seriously. I never drew smileys in letters either or wrote "j/k" after a joke. I've always figures that either you get me, or not. Of course, I can be dry and sometimes my jests have been taken straight.
An emoticon could have changed the response to a note slipped surreptitiously to my (soon-to-be-canceled) date in 4th hour Algebra. Tell me if you see a difference:
#1. Maybe we could hit Pixie and try to get our names on the wall for eating 12 burgers.
#2. Maybe we could hit Pixie and try to get our names on the wall for eating 12 burgers. :)
For the record, my name's on the wall at Pixie in Mt. Pleasant. It's not under Eric "Babe" Morse, though. That's a pseudonym. Look for Chad Sanders. And it's for eight coneys, not 12 burgers.
In the eighth-grade spelling bee, the moderator asked us to spell pseudonym. But he pronounced it SUEDE-uh-Nimh. Like suede coat. We got it right, anyways.
A math teacher of mine had elbow patches the size of mouse pads.
Had a dream last night I became a 2nd-grade teacher. At the open house, I was 30 minutes late and there was a mob at my door. I tried to explain that I'd been caught in a freakish lightning storm, and trees were falling everywhere, but no one seemed to have noticed any storm. I told them I was very into active learning, and this made them happy, except for one lady, who said "Not a good first impression. That's strike one."

And that's the end of my shower. Eventually, all things merge into one. And a River Runs Through It.

*Since I've always seen the CSIs as latter-day Quincys, this one works for me. :)



This is off-topic.

But for six months or so, I've been listening to Tables and Chairs, a wonderful song from Andrew Bird. And every single time, every time, it makes me smile. It just played while I was grumpily sweating over a deadline, and I stopped, listened, and smiled.
I don't really take time to think what it's about. My take is it's a kind of post-apocalyptic future, which turns out kinda nice.

I know we're gonna meet someday in the crumbled financial institutions of this land
there will be tables and chairs
pony rides and dancing bears
there'll even be a band
'cause listen after the fall there'll be no more countries
no currencies at all
we're gonna live on our wits
throw away survival kits
trade butterfly knives for Adderal
and that's not all
there will be snacks, there will
there will be snacks!

It's the "there will be snacks" that I just adore. Such joy. The Adderal rhyme's fun, too. That is all. Support this man, if you find it groovy. I got this as a free iTunes Pepsi download... I think that means he still gets, like 25¢ or something.


The Holy Ghos't

This billboard greets commuters on our local freeway:

You can't read all of it as you drive by. You get about to "Heavenly Father" and you're by it. Apparently, these 'boards were put up by a Detroit-area businessman frustrated that he can't break through the lock the auto industry has on local commerce. At first, this makes one think of the "God Speaks" series, the white-on-black messages that God sent down to our billboards with messages like: "Don't make me come down there. -God"

But the God Speaks series was obviously meant to make us laugh, then maybe think for a second. And you could read them in three seconds. This guy asks God to "forgive us our sin of being dependent on the Auto Industry..." Hang on. [checks biblegateway.com]. Nope, no "auto industry" commandments that I know of.

OK, I get his point. And having the ability to drop $5,000 (a guess, probably low) on some pretty ugly billboards that you have to park to read is pretty cool.
But here's the thing:


In Jesus we trust, yes. In Jesus I find Peace, sure. "In Jesus name" is missing something. Something simple, something that people who will take checks for $5,000 should probably take a second to fix. Don't you think?


Flip It Real Good

In "Lisa's Rival", Lisa meets the new girl, who is younger and smarter than she. It's a beautiful look at the fun and frustrating sport of Anagramming.

Taylor: Hi, Lisa, I'm Alison's father, Professor Taylor. I've heard
great things about you.

Lisa: Oh, really? I --
Taylor: Oh, don't be modest. I'm glad we have someone who can join us
in our anagram game.

Alison: We take proper names and rearrange the letters to form a
description of that person.

Taylor: Like, er...oh, I don't know, uh...Alec Guinness.
Alison: [thinks] Genuine class.
Taylor: Ho ho, very good. All right, Lisa, um...Jeremy Irons.
Lisa: [looks with consternation] Jeremy's...iron.
Taylor: Mm hmm, well that's...very good...for a first try. You know
what? I have a ball. [pulls one from his pocket] Perhaps you'd
like to bounce it?

Anagrams go way the heck back. Like, B.C. back. Used to be, if you were clever with wordplay, you could be made a part of the King's Court. Kind of like the Anagrammatist Laureate. What a sweet job, sit around all day rearranging letters. Then, they invented television and we all stopped thinking. That's a shortened history, but the point is people don't delight in wordplay as much as they used to.

Which is too dang bad, because a) it's a brainstretch, which we all can use a little of and b) it makes me laugh.

Now, technically, an anagram is simply the letters of a word or phrase rearranged to create a different word or phrase. But the fun part is when you can make the rearrangement makes sense, and make it a particularly insightful reflection of the original word or phrase. This is the fine craft, and mystics, Kabbalists, and Will Shortz have long looked to anagrams for meaning and portent.

For instance, I can anagram Pamela Anderson into "Madonna's a leper", but it doesn't really make much sense. From Alyssa Milano, I can get "I am only a lass", which makes sense enough, but isn't terribly funny or insightful. Woody Allen to "A lewd loony" or "Wooed all NY", now that's good stuff. (All of these examples came from anagramgenius)

The internet (small "i", any objections?) has made anagrams rather fun again. Plug any word or phrase into an anagram server and get back thousands of options. Many make no sense, but it gives you somewhere to start.

So, you got one? Should it be a contest? Myself, I'd like to see what anagrams people could find of "staff meeting", "professional development", or "standardized testing". But that's just me. Share Your Ideas! Which may, of course, Assure Hairy Ode!


Once, Twice, Three Times a Lady Chablis

So, I'm working. In the other room, Law & Order: CI is on. Someone on the TV says:

"...died giving himself a sherry enema."

I yell into the room:

"Sherry Enema would be a great drag queen name!"

No response. I wish they still made Mystery Science Theatre 3000.

I'd try out for it.

Cuz that was gold, if you ask me.


You Have Violated My Fragging Rights

In this post, I talked about a crazy headline that used one-word sentences to create a hip little slogan. Unfortunately, it didn't hold together gramatically. In my library today, there was a giant check from Wal-Mart®, like this one:


There, on the check, is Wal-Mart®'s do-good slogan:

Good. Works.

OK, now I get that they do "good works". And I even get that the act of doing good works out well in the end. Both of these meanings can be taken from the phrase. But what does the sentence "Good." mean? In the other example (Quality. Hometown. Care.), at least the three words were descriptors, and it kind of held together. This, I can't buy at all. To me, the sentence "Good." only works in this context:

SHE: I'm leaving, and never coming back!
HE: Good.

And the sentence "Works." just doesn't.

What is it with the sentence frag tag lines?* Do you have other examples? I know I've seen more...

*Oooh. Frag Tags. I like that.


Movin' Out

This sign was posted by the roadside today:


Such simple words, fraught with such ambiguity.

Has the scheduled date of the sale been bumped up? To when? Have I missed it?
Is this a sale that moves about, like a Progressive Supper?
Will the emotional impact of the sale be so moving that I may be transformed? Am I up to this?

Or is it that someone is moving. And having a sale. And it's up there a ways. And that I felt I didn't have the time for a more thoughtful post, and I mailed this in.

Could be.


If You Build It, They Will Still Charge $1.50 For Extra Guac

A Build-Your-Own Fajita* restaurant in town has two large signs on the wall, side by side, with the headlines:


I understand that folks feel impelled to add apostrophe's after vowels. I know that this is a Thing (This cartoon acknowledges that fact nicely), but then I can't follow as to why they didn't have WINE'S. These are very nice, very permanent signs.


A superior said the other day that he'd taken so much heat from his bosses that "at this point I have Asbestos Pants. Cute. I wrote it down. Then I wrote next to it: "He's doing asbestos he can." There's a knock-knock joke in there somewhere...

*You don't have Build Your Own Fajita places? Not only do you get to spend as much as you would at any other nice restaurant, you get to make your own dinner and wait in line for someone to cook it. Genius!


Three Short Bits

The Wiggles have a camel song with this rhyme:
From Abu Dhabi to Australia
In the desert a camel won't fail ya


A hospital billboard in town uses this headline:


Shouldn't these one-word statements be parallel? As I read them, I get that this hospital is (of) quality, it is (in my) hometown, and that it is... care. I realize that they mean to say that they care, but then they would also be saying that they quality, no? Bill Walsh had a nice bit about this a while back.

Fee Tines
I don't often go about telling people of funnies I made earlier. They are never funny out of context. But I am quite proud of a joke no one in the car laughed at, and I share it here. If this makes me a Big Fat Egohead, so be it.

SEVEN YEAR OLD SON PLAYING WITH BALLOON: Daddy, do you know what's keeping my balloon down?
DADDY: Is it The Man?

Correction: I laughed.

Bonus Fourth Bit
For, like, a week now, Sir Paul's My Love has been in and out of my head:

Wo-wo-wo-wo-wo-wo , my love does it good.

Such crazy grammar. Such schmaltz. Yet, there it is. Every morning. Can't kick it it.


Snap To It

The word "snap" (as in SNAP!) has become quite a versatile idiom, especially with those younger than I.
"Snap" can be:

A response to a putdown
CLARENCE (to JERRY): You're so stupid it takes you two hours to watch 60 minutes.
ME (on sidelines): Oh, snap!

An S-word alternative
TOMMY: Snap! March of the Penguins is sold out! Looks like Dukes of Hazzard for me!

An expression of joy
RED: Whoa! I'm getting Gameshow Network for free! Snap!

An expression of surprise
PHIL: Snap! Steven Tyler is a doctor!

Of course, standard definitions of "snap" (finger-popping, losing one's temper) are still about, but seldom used.

These ruminations come about because yesterday I purchased these:

These, as you may know, are SNAPS®. As hard as I find this to believe, I had never had SNAPS® before yesterday. I enjoy candy. If I had an Indian Prince's cash, I'd build a chocolate palace, and eat it all before it melted. How have these treasures eluded me? They're like Good-n-Plenty, but Gooder and Plentier. I had some left, and I just finished them. Snap, these are good.

A new school year is beginning. I will keep a supply of these delicacies on hand. When students yell out Snap! (as is their wont) I shall chuck one their way. As these candies were not made by Mountain Dew*, they will hate them.

So, as we bend at the starting block of a year, awaiting the buzzer that sounds the start of another mixed metaphor, take a moment to luxuriate in the anise-y goodness that is the SNAP®.

*Kids love the Mountain Dew. Is it just me, or wasn't Pitch Black II called The Chronicles of Riddick?


The Man With One Red Sumac

We passed yesterday at the mall.
I did not acknowledge you.
For that, I am Truly Sorry.


The Warning on the back of my
States clearly:
When using
Avoid contact with eyes.

Please understand.



Place Shirt Pun Here*

Saw this on a fellow at Six Flags:

I laughed.
PIN number and ATM machine came to mind as possible inspiration for this shirt (maybe I was feeling cash-strapped at the time). This site is a fun look at what they call Redundant Acronym Phrases (I think they should be called RAP phrases). Any other examples come to mind?

In unrelated news
Another Six Flags shirt:

If you love him
Let him go.
If he doesn't come back
He's with me.

*Shirt Happens, Getting My Shirt Together... it's all so base. There's a better one, I'll think on it whilst camping this weekend.


Kiss Me On The Veranda

A recent conversation:

SHE:...all last week, we were incommunicado.
ME: So you don't have cell phones?
SHE: Yeah... that's how we stay incommunicado.
ME: ...
SHE: We were in communicado.

At this point I realize she is using incommunicado to mean "in communication". Interesting. In contrast to what this blog may lead you to believe, I am not a grammar Nazi. I do not get all up in people's grills like "Use the subjunctive! It's if I were! Come on!" No, the conversation ended thusly:

ME: Oh.

It made me think of a scene from Three Amigos.

LUCKY: One hundred thousand pesos to come to Santa Poco, put on show, stop. The infamous El Guapo.
DUSTY: What does that mean? Infamous?�
NED: Ah, Dusty! Infamous is when you're more than famous! This guy El Guapo is not just famous, he's IN-famous!
LUCKY: A hundred thousand pesos to do a personal appearance with this guy El Guapo, who is probably the biggest actor to ever come out of Mexico!
DUSTY: Wow, the IN-famous? IN-famous?

It's not a perfect fit, but I think of the Three Amigos a lot. Anyone remember Steve Martin's "I'm-up-here!" bird call? Pure gold. Anyhow, it's just an example of how we interpret words and phrases. Just recently, I dropped the ball on the meaning of "wotcher"... not watching my context clues. What about you all? Words you thought meant something different, or even opposite?


High Camp

SPATIC HQ will be closed for the coming week, as its entire staff will be on vacation. Feel free to browse the archives in our absence.

May your week be sunny and deer tick-free.
-Northern Michigan Proverb


From Soup to Nuts

No time to think, but always time for a quick association. Former ones are here and here.

MONDAY, MONDAY (genius!)
THE DOORS (brilliant!)


Requite Rightly

I realize that anything I post here has been pondered before. I hope only to shed light on questions and invite lively and humorous discussion.
Folks got into this one about negative-sounding words that don't exist without their prefixes or suffixes, like "unrequited". In sorting through their suggestions (props Jess), I came across this fabulous piece, written by a fellow who pondered the same thing, over a decade ago.
Enjoy. It rocks.

How I Met My Wife
by Jack Winter Published July 25, 1994 in The New Yorker

It had been a rough day, so when I walked into the party I was very chalant, despite my efforts to appear gruntled and consolate. I was furling my wieldy umbrella for the coat check when I saw her standing alone in a corner. She was a descript person, a woman in a state of total array. Her hair was kempt, her clothing shevelled, and she moved in a gainly way. I wanted desperately to meet her, but I knew I'd have to make bones about it since I was traveling cognito.
Beknownst to me, the hostess, whom I could see both hide and hair of, was very proper, so it would be skin off my nose if anything bad happened. And even though I had only swerving loyalty to her, my manners couldn't be peccable. Only toward and heard-of behavior would do.
Fortunately, the embarrassment that my maculate appearance might cause was evitable. There were two ways about it, but the chances that someone as flappable as I would be ept enough to become persona grata or a sung hero were slim. I was, after all, something to sneeze at, someone you could easily hold a candle to, someone who usually aroused bridled passion.
So I decided not to risk it. But then, all at once, for some apparent reason, she looked in my direction and smiled in a way that I could make heads and tails of. I was plussed. It was concerting to see that she was communicado, and it nerved me that she was interested in a pareil like me, sight seen.
Normally, I had a domitable spirit, but, being corrigible, I felt capacitated as if this were something I was great shakes at, and forgot that I had succeeded in situations like this only a told number of times. So, after a terminable delay, I acted with mitigated gall and made my way through the ruly crowd with strong givings.
Nevertheless, since this was all new hat to me and I had no time to prepare a promptu speech, I was petuous. Wanting to make only called-for remarks, I started talking about the hors d'oeuvres, trying to abuse her of the notion that I was sipid, and perhaps even bunk a few myths about myself.


Three Things! Two, Sir. Two!

Some recent thoughts I managed to not forget:

• Don't know why, but I've started collecting words that have common negative usage but rarely-used positives. Like "unrequited". Requited is a word, but no one ever speaks of "requited love" (btw, I've never said this word right. It's Ri-QUITE. I want to say WRECK-WIT, because it looks like "requiem"). "Unabashed" is another one I wanted to mention, but just today I was told onpg. 273 of the new Harry that "Riddle did not look remotely abashed". So, there, I guess. And "unnerved". No one is ever said to be "nerved." There's not even an adjective form. Others, please?

• On pg. 89 (so I'm wild about Harry. Sue me.), Hermione scrutinizes Harry "as though he was sickening for something." No, I'm not going to complain about the subjunctive, but thanks for mentioning it. I'm just curious about the phrase. Obviously a British-ism, for about to be sick. I have no comment, I just like new phrases. Like "tastes of chicken". I say that sometimes, now. Working "sickening for something" into conversation will be little harder.

...and where are your Tom Swifties? Come on, people! These Blogs are Made For Posting (and that's just what they'll do).

The Darkness' Growing on Me just came up on shuffle as I'm about to hit "Publish". Rock.


Tom Tom Club


"I still can't believe my godfather is dead!" Harry said seriously.

Sorry. Been reading Harry Potter.
And there's nothing better than a ripping Harry Potter Tom Swifty to start off a post!

So this morning, I was thinking about Tom Swifties. Not sure why... I hadn't really thought of them in ages, probably since I read them in the "Think & Grin" section of Boys' Life magazine. They're named after a character in an old series named Tom Swift. The book (over)used adverbs to describe most of Tom's dialogue ("Father," said Tom earnestly, "may I buy that machine of him?") and soon it became fun to riff on that structure punningly.

-------:::::::::tangent alert:::::::----------

Boys' Life. Now there's an apostrophe to be pondered, yes? Possessive use, so it is the life that belongs to... the boys? One life shared by millions of boys, then? This is the meaning, I believe. Is it that the more proper, I think, Boys' Lives just doesn't swing? Or is the use of Life truly a singular item available to many? As in "Jesus said I am...the Life"? Usage of Life in this way warrants this treatment, I suppose. Jesus is the Life, singular. So in reference to a group of boys all of whom would see Jesus as theirs, we could say "Boys' Life". But we will never do this. And I don't think that's what the Boy Scouts are getting at.


Tom Swifties are way more fun to me 20 years later. At the time, I got them. But I didn't appreciate the minds behind them. At 13, "orange you glad I didn't say banana"? was still killing. And there are some terrible Tom Swifties out there. But some pretty clever ones, too. To wit:

" ..., and you lose a few," said Tom winsomely.
"I'd love some Chinese food," said Tom wantonly.
"We're presently thinking about a figure somewhere between 7 and 9," said Tom considerately.
"I dropped the toothpaste," said Tom, crestfallen. (doesn't technically fit adverb structure, but funny)
" ," said Tom blankly

Maybe you think these are the worst of puns. They make me laugh. Not OMGROFLMAO. Just usually one Hunh! or even no laugh, just a thoughtful nod that says "well crafted".
For me, even the terrible ones are due props to the thinker-upper:

"No pilaf for me, please", said Tom derisively.
"Fee, fo, fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman!" said the giant defiantly.
"I've lost my trousers," Tom said expansively.

None of these are mine, but the Harry Potter one. Which is quite inside baseball, if you're not a fan. But who isn't, really? I mean, come on! One more:

"Where's the Hogwarts gamekeeper?" Tom said haggardly.

Don't much like this one, but it's what I got.
I've shown you mine. Now you show me yours.


A Fair Cop

I realize the county fair is not the place to go if looking for strict adherence to grammar rules. We're usually happy if the number of tickets to ride is less than or equal to the number of teeth owned by the ride operator. We do not go looking for rule-breaking to pounce upon.

But, wow. I must share.

I do not wish for a camera phone; they seem quite unnecessary to me. But I wished I'd had one yesterday so that I could have documented these examples for you, so you knew I was not lying. I think you'll see that the truth here is far wilder than anything one could concoct.

Offender #1
Extremely minor, but interesting. A T-shirt with the Rebel Flag. Underneath:

If my shirt offends you,
Its made my day.

The only punctuation missing, of course, would be the apostrophe in the contraction it's. But beyond that, the structure of the sentence seems to be telling me that if I am offended, somehow the shirt has made his day. This is not the crazy example. But I found it interesting that this shirt has obviously been mass-produced, leading me again to wonder at the quality of people in the T-Shirt proofing business. Colleges offering Associate degrees in T-Shirt proofing are obviously not doing their jobs, and standardized testing should be required to improve their performance.

Offender #2
Here we go. Seen at the game booth of a knock-down-the-pins game. Hand-painted, quite permanent, looking as if some care had been taken in creating it, this sign read:


This is truly amazing to me. You can see the fellow, standing there, brush in hand:
There's an apostrophe, I'm sure of it. But where?
Or, perhaps it's a contraction, but I'm not coming up with the missing letter. Elm?

Offender #3
Across the lane, there was another game of skill. Its title:


I swear I am not making this up.

Final Review: the cotton candy was fabulous, the elephant ear greasy, the pizza doughy, the demolition derby loud. A good time was had by all.
The fair rock's!


Johnny Storm

-the guy at the beginning of Monty Python's Flying Circus

Newsguy the other night said that:

"Hurricane Dennis hit land today. We'll see what damage he caused."

Isn't the idea of naming hurricanes just to keep track of them, not to personify them?

I'm pretty sure we needed an "it" instead of a "he".

Unless of course, said newsguy really thinks the hurricane is a dude. Which, I'm afraid, is possible...


Amber Waves of Grainy

A red, white & blue sign hung over our restaurant table this evening. It had an Americana feel, meant to look Arts & Crafts, but was definitely mass-produced.
It read:

Land of the Freedom



Give Ps A Chance

Welcome to our ool.
Notice there is no P in it.
Please keep it that way.
-hilarious sign that everyone whose grandma has a pool has seen.

What does it take to turn a "shop" into a "shoppe"?

We have a "Book Shoppe" in town. From what I can tell, they do not traffic in Old World literature, and they have no British bent. Some of their books are old, but like Harlequin circa 1980 old.

There is also an ice cream shoppe. I don't know why, but this sits a little better with me (is food more "shoppe"-friendly?). But even if it's a quaint Pleasantvillesque place, which it is not, I don't think it qualifies*. Is it a "shoppe" if it's from the '50s? The 1850s, maybe?

I buy "shoppe" when the establishment is legitimately dealing in old stuff... even if their product isn't of the "Ye Olde" era. Antique shoppes are a much nicer fit. Curiosity shoppes I can buy, as well. Wikipedia has an interesting bit about how the phrases "Ye Olde" and "Curiosity Shoppe" would never have co-existed, as they are taken from two different time periods.

But there's a Disc Golf Shoppe. Come on! Disc golf? It's been around, since, like, last Monday. You do NOT get to say "shoppe". This is a waste of two perfectly good letters.

And we need those letters!

Something not many people know is that there is a finite number of letters available for each piece of the alphabet. When they're all being used, we're out. Luckily, they can be recycled. When Boz Skaggs was really popular (August, 1982), there was a serious Z shortage. Things quickly evened out, until recently. Snoop Dogg is hogging most of the Zs out there right now. I've cut way back to conserve, only saying "swizzle stick" if I'm at a party and it's quite necessary.

Anyhow, these "shoppe" people are using up a lot of Ps and Es they don't need. Right now, there are brokers just waiting for a block to be freed so they can list current P/E ratios for their stocks. Instead of saying they have to pee, gradeschoolers are being forced to say crazy things like "Might I use the loo?" Come on, people!

There's a place called "Ye Olde Rocket Shoppe." Dudes...

Now, my two minutes of extensive research on this subject have shown me that folks in Canada and the UK seem to like to use "shoppe" even more than we do. Is this because you're from England ("you know, where history comes from?" -paraphrased Eddie Izzard), and you've earned the right to spell stuff like Geoff Chaucer? Do you spell it that way all the time? How do you choose?

As for me, I'm saving my Ps for a rainy day. Actually, I need to take one now.


What Is Hip?

A new boutique sprung up overnight in our area. The sign advertises "Clothing for the Truly Hip!" After seeing the clothing in the window, my wife was heard to say:

...should say "clothing for the truly hipless."

Words are fun.


Isn't It Colonic? ( doncha think)

So I'm watching Family Feud with my father-in-law, and learn that they're sponsored by this product:
Now, I'm all for truth in advertising. But, man, they're not beating about the bush here. In case you're unclear what a colon is, there is a drawing right on the bottle. I felt like I was seeing a fake ad, like on SNL. I guess I like a little more mystery in my names: Correctol. Metamucil. Anyone who needs these products knows what they're used for, and doesn't need a graphic description. With Fibercon, you can be regular, without having to look at a picture of a colon sitting on your kitchen counter while you fix dinner.

Speaking of SNL fake ads, the one that came to mind was for ColonBlow®, a cereal Phil Hartman pitched. At the time, it was over-the-top. Now, there's not a lot of exaggeration in it. Now, this is the way they're pitching this stuff. As a matter of fact, someone's co-opted the name and is selling it as a real product. I don't suggest going to this site.

note: An acquaintance had colon cancer awhile back, and had to have a fairly big chunk removed. I asked if now it was called a semi-colon.

note #2 We have a town in Michigan called Colon. It's known as the "Magic Capital of the World." How about that? We have a Hell, too. I'd rather live in Hell than Colon.

Finally, now is the perfect time to tell the world about the sight gag in my blog title graphic. It's "SPASTIC", followed by a ":". If you don't get it, say it out loud. This was not my idea. Props to Nick.

I know someone was waiting for me to say this post was a load of crap, but it ain't gonna happen.


Blind Date

I just posted to the 24th, because I forgot Ambrose's birthday. You probably missed the post. Go here.


Small Observation #2

The other day, the neighbor girl was swimming with my kids and came up to the deck to tattle at me:

"Your son just crossed mother."

As with sentences that make no sense (and song lyrics), my brain tried to make this series of words into something comprehensible. Maybe she said "Your son just crossed over." I checked. He was still breathing. Looked fine. Whew.
Maybe it's "Your Sun Jug's crossed another." A sun tea reference? Not brewing any.

I: Do what now?
SHE: Your son just crossed mother.
I: "Crossed mother"?
SHE: Yes.
I: Oh.
I: ...
I: What does that mean?
SHE: He said something untrue.
I: You mean he lied.
SHE: Yes.
I: Oh.
I: ...
I: "Crossed mother" means lie?
SHE: Yes.
I: Oh.

Anyone out there familiar with this? Is this a colloquialism I'm just not down with? Or has her family come up with a new, creepy-in-a-"Yes, Mother"-Psycho-kinda-way coinage for fibs? Thoughts...

Small Observation #1

I'm jus typing up note from an interview with the city' Mayor. There was a discussion of how he balances a reelection campaign with his mayoral obligations. Outside the context, these sentences which came in succession made me laugh:

"You have to get your priorities straight. First, run the city. You cannot neglect the duties of office. This is why you have a campaign staff.”

Maybe I'm just tired.


A Round Of Bierce, On The House

"An egotist is a person of low taste – more interested in
himself than in me."
-Ambrose Bierce

Today is Ambrose Bierce's birthday. Mr. Bierce's spirit is a continual inspiration for this site, evidenced by both his image and my pseudonym. In 8th grade, we saw the black and white short An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, and I knew this was a dude I could hang with.

If he were alive, he'd be yelling "Hey, Let me out of here! I'm alive!"
If anyone thought that in bad taste, know that Ambrose would've really dug it. Actually, the joke's so old, he may have written it.

I wish I had more, something witty, deep, ironic. But I got nothin'. Sorry, AB. Next year, I'll have it more together.


Forget Paris

So Paris Hilton is marrying a guy named Paris.
How many people on this planet can there be named Paris? I realize there are a few more in Europe than Michigan, but come on. And what can the odds be that two of them hook up? They have to be Powerballesque odds, at least.

Ruminating on the fates of two Parises quickly takes my mind, of course, to Greek legend. There's Narcissus, who rebuffed the advances of the Nymph Echo (echo). She, in turn, had Nemesis make him fall in love with his own reflection, staring at himself until he croaked.

Narcissus doesn't quite track for Ms. Hilton's situation, though. She's not in love with her reflection per se, just someone with her name. And her money. And her interesting hair. Perhaps, in her mind, marrying her male doppelganger somehow completes a mystical yin/yang thing.

I'm more drawn to thinking about the name "Paris." It brings to mind Helen of Troy's beau, and all the trouble that Paris got himself and a few-hundred thousand Greeks and Trojans into. That's a name with a bit of history.

So. Paris, France was named after a Greek legend*. Paris Hilton was named after a hotel. Paris Latsis may have been named after the nurse went a little too heavy on his mom's morphine drip. Or his granddad, there are conflicting reports.

Where was I?
The origin of academy, right.
So, before Paris took Helen and the Greeks got all wooden-horse on the Trojans, Helen had been taken by Theseus (apparently, "Helen gets kidnapped" is one of Greek myth's running gags). When Castor (and Pollux, natch) went looking for Helen, a fellow named Academus helped them out. In gratitude, the Spartans named a grove outside Athens after him. Years later, Plato moved in next door to the Grove of Academus and began taking his students there to philosophize in peace, away from the sounds of traffic and cell phones. He eventually passed on, but the Athenians had taken to calling his school the Academia, after the grove. And that's why places of learning are called academies.

A footnote: It was Aristotle who first came up with the idea of an Academy Award, and he nicknamed it after his cousin Oscar. The buzz is that thanks to House of Wax, Paris Hilton has a good shot at one next year.

*There is no evidence of this.


But Wait... There's More!

The petrol station on the corner has a big poster for Zig Zag rolling papers. It lets me know that rolling my own cigarettes, I can

Save up to 50%... or more!

Now, come on.
I can save up to 50%. This is the limit of my savings. I could save as little as zero or 1%, if I were a really bad roller, or licker, or whatever else is involved. But if I were pumping on all cylinders, perfectly rolling, licking, and whatever else is involved I could save up to 50%!

Or more!

So.. how much more? Up to 60%? 90%? 51%? You can't set a limit, then say I can go higher. Not going higher is a part of the definition of limit.
I know. It sounds good. And it does. Wow, up to 50%! But, hey, maybe even more!

But, really. Figure out the most anyone would ever pay for cigs. Find the cheapest anyone would ever charge for Zig Zags and tobacco. Then, using some equation math people can figure out that will involve division, figure out what the best possible savings could ever be.
Then tell us.
There used to be a nail place in town. Its name, no lie:

Just Nails and More!

I love that. I wish it were still around so I could take a picture. Sigh. Started this whole blog thing too late...

Oh, yeah. I say petrol station now. It's something I'm doing.


Another Brick In The Wall

Coldplay had the chance in its hands.
The band (don't know lyricist, too lazy to look it up, so am referring to entire band in the singular instead of the one responsible for actual lyric) could have shoved the pendulum back toward the "Remember Subjunctive? This is What It Sounds Like" camp. Coldplay probably would not have undone Gwen Stefani's Pepsi-Super Bowl-everywhere assault "If I was a rich girl" but it could have added to the corpus of folks using SUB-TEN correctly.

But, no. Their latest album, X&Y, includes the track What If, with such lyrics as:

What if there was no light
Nothing wrong, nothing right
What if there was no time
And no reason, or rhyme

Dang it! But, then, in the next two lines, they decide to get in the mood:

What if you should decide
That you don't want me there by your side

Is something better than nothing? Or is it too little, too late?


Chasing Bartlett

QUOTATION, n: The act of repeating erroneously the words of another.
Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

It's been a while since I pulled out Mr. Bierce for a quotation. The Hives' Dead Quote Olympics made me think of the one above:

This time you've really got something it's such a clever idea
But it doesn't mean it's good 'cause you found it at the library
Yes they were smart but they are dead
And you're repeating all that they said
You know it don't make you clever like you thought it would

OK, guys. Yes, they're dead. But there's still some pretty good stuff out there. What I like about quotes is how there's always someone out there who was at some point in time thinking about what you're thinking about right now, and he thought enough of it to put it down on paper and now it's become very deep and poignant because it's old. Isn't it the goal of all quasi-intellectuals to someday say something that gets collected in a book that is one day used to start a chapter in a 7th-grade term paper?
I know it's mine.

But, as I always say:

Never has so great a task been set as to have once and always be forever molded in our hearts.

I'm still tweaking it... just a little. I may change "molded" to "smelted". Or "smelten". I think it's got a shot at immortality, though.


Bout' It Bout' It

A local steakhouse is staffed with employees who all wear T-shirts which read:

How bout' a gift card for Dad?

I know I just posted about apostrophes. But, dang. How does an apostrophe migrate all the way to the wrong end of a word like that? How many people have to look at a T-shirt design before it is approved in this organization? I mean, Master P didn't know where it went, so he just ignored it. I think that's better than slapping it on at the end...

I realize this is a case of "I know that word has an apostrophe, I just don't know where to put it." But it's not like "men's" vs. "mens'". This seems pretty straightforward... my seven-year old gets that one use of apostrophes is to take the place of a missing letter.
Maybe it's supposed to read:

How bouts a gift card...

but that doesn't really make sense. More likely, it's simply a case of not enough time to ask someone to look over your work before you send it out. Like another T-shirt I know many of you have seen, but is worth reposting:
nod: Banterist
How many people in City of Lights' entourage knew she was a walking mistake (redundancy noted), but chose to ignore it?
Actually, I think the tee may be a sly jab at the paparazzi. It says: "you think I'm so dumb I can't even get an apostrophe in where the seven-year-old kid of the guy at SPASTIC knows one goes? Well, joke's on you, suckers. I'm just messin' with ya."
And to her I say well played, Paris Hilton. Well played, indeed.