Article Man*

The Episcopal church has this on its marquee this week:


I saw it as I drove by, then circled the block and drove by again, then wrote it down to make sure I remembered it correctly. I puzzled over this for the 15 minutes it took me to get to Google™.
I took it that, since this church was situated in a midwestern farm town, the God of whom they spoke was the God of Benedict and DeMille. But the text leaves some wiggle room here. I read it as:

"Blessed is the nation which puts its God first."

Am I wrong? Is this not the reading? Of course, there are many gods to choose from. We can assume that in the US (or the West, even), that protestants, Catholics, Jews and others can all get behind Yahweh as its Lord. But is this sign saying that the nations who put Buddha or Allah first are equally blessed? It's a very PC-sounding idea, but not one I thought these particular Episcopalians were advancing.

After these musings, I check out biblegateway.com. I quickly found that the sign was (almost) quoting Psalm 33:12:

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance.

And there it is. The missing article the. This helps quite a bit. Now I know that it's not any-old god. It's not "whose god is lord", it's "whose God is The Lord. Now, it's clear that the blessed nations are the ones who follow a very specific God. Whew. Now I can get back to thinking about Amazing Race 8.

Now Playing: Good Morning Beautiful, The The

*I really wanted to title this Articles of the Confederation of Dunces, because I liked the wordplay. But it sounded like I was making fun of the church... so it's an asterisk.


Just So You Know

A Newsweek article about a new robot mopper has the CEO saying:

"We are not just going to replace mopping, we are going to obsolete it," Angle says.

"Obsolete it." That's OK, you know, obsolete as transitive verb. Perfectly correct usage. Just in case anyone thinks it's weird. It's not. It didn't sound strange to me, either. Just thought people should know. If folks want to passé the usage, they'll need to talk to Merriam. Or Webster.

Me, I never thought anything of it.

Do Glass Bulls Have Crystal Balls?

Here's a joke from sixth grade.

Did you see the newspaper article about the midget fortuneteller who escapes from prison? The headline read:


note: I'm conflicted about my headline. I'll be changing it in 24 hours. On the one hand, I wanted it out there. On the other hand, I feel cheap. This is a family blog. Yet, there it is.
update: I'm keeping it, for now. I still feel cheap.


Judg Not Lest Ye Be Judgd

It happened again. I sat down to write about my catching a huge language gaffe, only to find that it is acceptable usage. In today's installment, the one I was sure was correct is actually in the minority. DANGIT!

On the American Idol finale (I wasn't watching. I saw it, um, in a shop window while I was, ah, on my way to the theatre. Yeah, yeah.. that's the ticket...), there was a big splash screen for some dramatic intro that read:


and I said to my wife "did you see that? They spelled 'judgement' wrong!"
To which she replied:


After Carrie won (I mean, after I returned from the Merry Wives of Windsor premiere), I jumped online and found that my spelling is preferred in the UK, Australia, India, South Africa and Hong Kong. It is pretty much THE spelling in Canada (woot!). But in the US, it's quite frowned upon. One site blamed Noah Webster for this, and has a picture of an ass next to "judgement". Hey, now!

Then we have these guys:
The Alliance for the Preservation of the Correct Spelling of the Word "Judgment"
How uptight do you have to be to create a fictional Society that picks one tiny corner of the English language to obsess over? Puhleeze...

Also found that the Brits/Canucks use "judgment" in legal documents, but "judgement" elsewhere. Huh.

Dictionary.com called me a variant speller. I guess at least it didn't say "deviant speller." And I'm sticking with "theatre", too.


King of Cyan

This just in: the black mold that has recently infected SPASTIC HQ may not even be black. A local library was stricken with the stuff, and we're told that:

...Black mold, or Stachybotrys, isn't always black. [some mold expert] said it grows in many colors.

Well, then, "black mold" is not such a great name, is it?
I realize that "Grows-in-many-colors Mold" is a mouthful. But at least it's accurate. Rainbow mold, perhaps. Like rainbow sherbet, which is, of course, a lie as well. Three-colored sherbet is, by my count, four flavors short of a rainbow.
Guess what? The Red Sea is not red. And they call Donovan "Mellow Yellow," when he's white.


Rate Greed

Got kids? No? Get some! Now! Go! Borrow, if need be! Inter-library loan, whatever! Grab a kid, then check this out...

The new Shel Silverstein book of spoonerism poetry,Runny Babbit, is laugh-out-loud funny (pardon mon idiom, but it is). It's a collection of previously-unpublished work (he died in 1999).

The book was a gift for my four-year-old, and she likes the book's fun cadence and nonsense. But it's even more fun to read with my seven-year old, who picks up on what's happening. It plays out like this:

1. Read a line
2. Pause a beat, wait for him to decode it and laugh
3. Repeat

Here's a taste...

Runny gave himself a cairhut
(But he would not admit it).
When his scamma molded him,
He said, "The darber bid it."
So she went to bee the sarber.
The swarber said "I bear
I did not souch one tingle head
Upon your little hare."

The punchline is cute, but darber/sarber/swarber is the clincher for me. Elsewhere in the book, he has a rhyme about "sea poup." My four-year-old gets that one.


Mos Ded

The trailer for Mr. & Mrs. Smith tells us that the main characters "...are the world's most deadly assassins..."

Was my reaction to this commercial:
A It's good to see the guy from Thelma & Louise getting work.
B Angelina Jolie in leather + Expensive Explosions = This summer's biggest blockbuster!
C Yes! Appropriate use of the superlative!

Sadly, as you've guessed, it was C. Why? Take a look at this excerpt from a Money magazine article about a GAO report on crash tests:

Rollovers are among the most deadliest crashes, accounting for about 8 percent of accidents but about a third of all occupant fatalities.

More and more, I'm hearing (assumably) intelligent folks refer to something as "most deadliest." I realize that the Money article places rollovers "among" the most deadliest. Are they off the hook? I'm sticking with "among the deadliest." Is it that, in the 21st century, there are many, many things out there that are the "deadliest", and we must make sure people know which of these deadliest is the worst? How much more deadly can something be? Perhaps:

• The All-New Roach Motel! Now kills roaches 25% deader than before!

• You thought the deer you killed last season was dead? With the new Remington 7667 Pump Action Rifle, your next deer will be even more dead!

• Lita Ford is back with her new single, "Kiss Me Most Deadliest"!*

BTW, Mr. & Mrs. Smith does look like it'll be the most funniest action movie this summer.
*This last one was stupid, but I wanted three and I don't want to spend more than ten minutes on this.


The Wonderful Thing About Taggers

Just came from a restroom where this pithy insight was scrawled:


Is this a line from Snoop Dogg's latest effort, Forrest Pimp? Or is it that there is a pharmaceutical measurement for escort managers called a "pimp dose"? Alas, probably a typo. If only Sharpie®s came with spellcheck, it would have... well, actually, not seen anything wrong. Right.

I am not a fan of graffiti. Free speech, yes. Artistic expression, yes. But not Vandalism. Even when they call it "tagging", making it seem more a job requirement than a crime, I cannot buy it. Even the sweet ones.


10 or more years ago, I stopped at a rest area in Georgia, and saw the only graffiti that has ever made me laugh out loud. It's not original anymore, but at the time it was groundbreaking to me.
Before this moment, hot air hand dryer graffiti had pretty basic rules:

1. scratch out the "w" in "warm" and the word "air" so instructions read "rub hands under (w)arm (air)."
2. scratch "3. wipe hand on pant" below instructions.

For some reason, it was almost always the singular "hand" and "pant". Maybe curvy esses are hard to scratch. Any-hoo. Text-based instuctions for hand dryers were replaced with iconographic ones, much like the manual for anything made by Little Tikes®. Some time passed where people still scratched the "wipe hands" line, but it didn't really make sense without the other text-based instructions.

Then, that day in GA, where I see this:

It took me so by surpise I laughed out loud. It echoed. Guys looked.
Now, I see this graffiti around. There's even a T-shirt. At the time, though: wow. Wherever you are, bacon-joke man, mad props.

So, in conclusion: graffiti is bad. Stay in school. If unsure of correct Pimp Dosage, please consult with your doctor or pharmacist.


System of a Noun

SPASTIC HQ is in the process of getting new linoleum in the kitchen. We've asked Luan to supervise the process, since she's the flooring expert. I'm just a layperson, and definitely not an underlayperson.

Yes, I did it. It's the first Luan joke for this site. Look for our series of gypsum board gags later this year.

Any-hoo, it reminded me of the nouned word "install." As in:
"He's not in. He's out on an install."
"We can schedule your install for a month from now."

In our neck of the woods, the nouned version is to be pronounced with emphasis on the first syllable, I believe to make the distinction from an outstall.

Finally, if you are interested in picking up some construction slang, this guy's site is quite interesting, and amusing. Especially his definition of "wigger" as one who wigs out. Huh. Even in his context, I will not be using this word.


What Hits!?

So, craziness has made it so a lull must occur at SPASTIC. Between Eunice's visits with the Rhodes Scholar people, Vin's experimentations with a new top-secret curry dish ("Super-Curry Fantastic" is its working title), and Gabriel's involvement in fixing the hydraulics on his '76 Impala, we just don't have the manpower to create.

But many of you are new here. Please take the next few days to check out some of our favorite posts to date:

50 Cent is the new Warhol
The Gwen Stefani Piece
Dead Parrot
Me For You and Euphemism
The Association Game
Juan, sense nerds!
50 Nifty
I i, Therefore IM check out qflux's comments here. way funny.


FW: Re: Visit

Now that I know Bill Walsh watches Survivor, I feel better about this post.

Tonight, Jeff Probst told contestants about to tackle a best-of Immunity Challenge that they would have "a second chance to revisit challenges from the past."

So... is this their third chance?

I know, it's cheap and pointless to pick on the speech of reality TV people. But, in the words of Gob Bluth, COME ON!

FW:Re: SPic:ed H am Re::cipes!

I realize there's really no point in making fun of horribly disjointed spam-filter-deceiving junk mail. But this was the subject line from one I just got:

In the site you can acquire cheep mads damn

It's almost as if the fellow spilled something while entering the subject and continued to type.

Another Fine Meth

Are billboards meant to be read on the first drive-by? It seems that would be the goal, but many are so hard to follow, it takes a few viewings. I know that many viewers will drive by an ad at least once a day, but I still think they should be easy to follow on first blush.*

One I pass every day has the headline:

and the first time that's all I got. I figured what followed would be:

Didn't make sense, really, but many don't. Next day I saw:

which was quite puzzling. The second part sounds like a child yelling at a sibling ("quit it!"). Then I figured the child is actually yelling at the parent who is running the meth lab: "stop it, mom!" OK, I guess.
I was wrong. Next day, I see it's actually

So I am to be on the lookout for meth houses with kids in them. And stop... "it." It being, I assume, children... in houses.

I get that I'm actually looking for the existence of these children, and I get that in reporting the condition, I might actually put a tweaker out of commission ("No, sir, just here for the kid. You go on back to your business").
I just don't want to think that hard about a billboard.

I liked "stop it stop it" better.

*A separate complaint is the horrible boards going up with scoreboard-style videos running. What is the point of that? To make an already distracting commute worse? In the words of Gob Bluth, COME ON!



They Might Be Giants has a new CD called "Here Come the ABCs." It's allegedly for kids, but that's just a clever ruse to up sales. The songs are funny, experimental and clever. This is not Barney. It's not even Sharon, Lois & Bram. And I love S,L&B (especially Sharon).

These are guys who know how to mess with words. Check out TMBG's song "ICU":

U R N X, N I, I M N X
I C U, I C U, N U R OK
U R N X, N I, I W
I C U, I C U, N U R OK
I C U, I C U, N U R OK

These guys are so sweet.



At bed time, my seven-year-old son and I practice his spelling words. Often, he'll get a sound-alike. The exchange will go something like this:

"Bare like bare naked."
"Oh. B-A-R-E."

Then he'll make the "hang loose" sign with his right hand, put it to his ear like a phone and sing, to the tune of the chorus from Jesus Christ Superstar, "Homophone, homophone..."

This is obviously something they do in school, and it's great. I just revel in the joy he shows when learning new things, especially when it comes to language and wordplay. I've already posted here how he enjoys puns. And I think "man, to see language as that much fun..."

And then I remember that I do see language as that much fun. Most of the people who come to this humble site do. English is nuts. I have to explain that to my son: because, that's why. Why do I tear up a paper and tear down a wall? Because English is a mish-mash of sounds and ideas worthy of Fatboy Slim and Soulwax. Oh, and stick around, son, the rules'll change.

Everything but that one about subjunctive mood is up for discussion.

Thanks for visiting.

*hey, I just noticed a typo in the title. The "B" and "N" sure are close on this keyboard. Well, too late to fix it now...


The Becky Thatcher! Now on Easy Pay!

"Home is where you come to when you have nothing better to do."
-Margaret Thatcher, Vanity Fair, May 1991

Finally got into the yard yesterday. I spent much of the day thatching. I used a thatcher*.
That's right, I was thatching. I was word-that-doesn't-exist-outside-of-Home-Depot-ing.
As we know, thatch is not a verb. At least, not in this manner. The transitive verb form of thatch actually refers to the act of laying down thatch, not pulling it out and putting it in a bag and driving it to the compost heap. And that's all I have to say about that.

*If Mark Twain were around, you know he'd be selling a Becky Thatcher on QVC.