Category: Slang

Sometimes I suddenly remember I have a nonfiction blog

I tend to cite Occam’s Razor in arguments at the slightest excuse, but it wasn’t until this weekend that I encountered Crabtree’s Bludgeon. It fits in nicely with my current working hypothesis that what we call “sentience” reduces to the intersection of apophenia and confabulation. I know that doesn’t actually explain anything, but it’s fun to say.

I have a lot of ideas about how that all fits together, and how the Bludgeon and the Razor aren’t really in opposition (look at me conceiving coherence!), and what they mean when set against the Theravada-Buddhist concept of the nature of suffering. Lucky for you I haven’t managed to jam them into 101 words yet.

Speaking of arguments, yes, I was, go back to the beginning, I updated my personal slang dictionary for the first time in like a year–this time with a phrase I actually use sometimes. I would use the other ones if anyone would understand them, which they wouldn’t, because they haven’t read my damn personal slang dictionary.

How I spent my summer abroad

So some of you may remember that I like Hackers. I like it a lot. I realized some time ago that while I am not into Rocky Horror, if Rocky Horror was Hackers, I would be a full on costume-wearing hot-dog-throwing line-reciting fanboy. GET A JOB, I would shriek. YOU ARE IN THE BUTTER ZONE.

I recently moved to London and into a house where the function of the residents is, essentially, to egg each other on about goofy ideas. Catriona provided the idea of doing read-throughs of plays or movie scripts as a form of participatory recreation, and Holly asked if there was anything I’d like to toss in the prospective-script pile. Could it be really bad, I asked? Because there was one that could be funny.

Later, we were passing around emails about said read-throughs and a possible visit to a museum full of automata. Somehow Holly came up with the joke of steampunk “hackers” as “clockers,” constructing automata instead of programs. I laughed at it. Then I said “clock the Bigben!” Then I said “oh no,” because I really had more important things to do.

Instead, Holly and I spent a few weeks interpolating the movie script into 1860s London, replacing the absurd computer-feats with absurd clockwork and technobabble with Victorian slang. Then we revised and got it printed and got some friends to come over and wear funny hats, and this was the result: Clockers.

Of the people who did the read-through, only Holly and I had read the script or indeed seen the original movie beforehand, and they all did a fantastic job picking up multiple parts and figuring out what was going on. And putting up with my Matthew Lillard impression. Thanks again, guys, and let me know if you want a link under your name on that page.

I just described (in my last post) a state of consumer gluttony as “getting all American,” which is really inaccurate because most of America is not, in fact, part of the United States. I mean, I’m sure there are poor-yet-rich fat people in Canadia too, but you see the point.

There is no good word in English for “of / from / relating to the United States,” which is why we use “American,” and that’s dumb. I seem to remember that Spanish has “Estadounidense,” which is great but comes from a whole other language, and English-speakers should be able to do better than that.

Here’s a list of alternatives I’ve come up with.

  • United State-ian
  • United Station
  • United Static (currently my favorite, and the most accurate)
  • Unish
  • State-Uniter
  • New! State-Unit
  • New! Statoid
  • Ämerïkaans
  • USch

You know what nobody ever says anymore? “It was highway robbery!” I seem to remember people used to say that all the time.

Nobody’s been robbed on a highway in a few hundred years or so, but I’m just saying.

I say “you gotta believe” a lot, because… well, I believe it, philosophically and biologically. It’s a motto and a mantra. I don’t think I’ll ever know if I picked it up subconsciously somewhere, or whether it’s just one of those examples of convergent phrase evolution.

Turns out there is a specific person to whom it’s ascribed, though, and his name was Tug McGraw, and he died yesterday. His obituary is sad, but it’s also good reading. He lived what he said.

As Sumana inadvertently pointed out to me the other day, because I run NewsBruiser, my use of the verb “to blog” to mean “to publish in my interweb journal” is actually deprecated. “To bruise” is just more specific, not to mention way more not-bleeding-yet-edge. I need to start using that instead.

Tangentially, how far do you think the logical extension of “cutting edge”-style slang can actually go? “Virgin material, untouched by an edge?” “Substance unaware of the edge’s existence?” “Prehistoric stuff existing in a world where edges have not yet been invented?” It kind of loops eventually, I guess. “So far beyond the cutting edge that it’s actually on the other edge, the one not doing the cutting.” I wonder what Anthony Burgess would say.

There are a number of lyrical, rhythmic and tonal cheap tricks employed in pop music for which I am an absolute sucker. I started a list of those earlier this year, and eventually I’ll write an entry on it too. One of the most specific and fun to talk about, though, is hip-hop songs that define their own terms. They’re great! They’re extremely helpful to geeky white people like myself–you’re given a new cool slang term, and immediately know its usage and basic etymology–and moreover, they’re completely happy and unself-conscious about it. I think Radiohead would have a lot more fun if they took a few pages from the same book.

I first noticed the phenomenon quite some time ago, but I was holding off on writing about it until I had three examples I could remember all at the same time. Last night, Maria inadvertently provided the third, and they are as follows:

  • Nelly’s “Pimp Juice:” “She likes my pimp juice! Pimp juice is anything attract the opposite sex.”
  • Alicia Keys’s “Girlfriend:” “I think I’m jealous of your girlfriend, although she’s just a girl that is your friend.”
  • and the granddaddy, TLC’s “No Scrubs:” “I don’t want no scrubs. A scrub is a guy that can’t get no love from me–hanging out the passenger side of his best friend’s ride, trying to holler at me.”

When I told Jon about this, months ago, he immediately suggested that we start putting our own terms into general parlance via Rhythm Method songs, then created the first one on the spot: “She like mah mantelpiece! The mantelpiece is the bulge in the front of your pants.”

If anybody knows more of these, drop them off. With a little thought we could have our very own Rap Dictionary.

Things I Hate About Running

  • The way I look afterwards.
  • Fucking gnats.
  • My legs hurt all the time. It’s my own fault, obviously, for running five days a week. I’m building new muscle, too, which is kind of a novelty, but I think a lot of it is the fact that I’m running on concrete instead of grass. I wish there were something I could do about that. I am alone in my circle of acquaintances in that I’ve had good knees for most of my life, and I’d rather not lose them now.
  • Uphills.
  • Forgetting my towel for my shower afterwards. I’ve done it so frequently now that I finally taped a sign to the bathroom door to remind me. Running about naked is all well and good, but who wants to drip all over the linoleum?

Things I Love About Running

  • The dachshunds in somebody’s back yard at my end-of-West Lexington turnaround. They’re always very excited and concerned to see me, even though I’ve been coming by almost daily for a month.They remind me of our dachshund, Fritzi, who died a couple years ago and who had one of the most expressive faces I’ve ever seen.
  • Downhills. The dip between St. Mildreds and Fifth Street is awful on the way up, but on the way down coming back it’s like an obstacle course–a lot of head-level tree limbs and street signs to tap. Also, I’m one of a select group of people the world over who really understand how to run downhill, so I can really cut loose (the secret is to go ahead and start falling, and trust your legs to catch up).
  • Showers afterwards, which I like to start pretty hot and end icy. I feel like I’m running on auto a lot lately, so the shock of awareness that comes with the cold water is a rare and beautiful thing.
  • And speaking of cold water: running in the rain. I got to do that yesterday, and it ranks high on the list of Best Things There Is. It was hard rain, too, like of significantly higher humidity than your average pond. My clothes haven’t dried yet.

    Since yesterday I’ve been trying to quantify exactly what it is about running in the rain that’s so great, and I’ve yet to come up with anything concrete. It’s a certain I don’t know what.

    Partly it’s that you stay cool and your mouth doesn’t dry out, and partly it’s the feeling that you’re fighting something other than gravity and yourself, and partly it’s just the sense of abandon you get from realizing that it doesn’t matter how wet you are because you’re just going to get wetter. Maybe it’s the ozone. Or maybe it’s just that you get to look at the torrents of water and the mud and the clouds, and think “what kind of maniac would be out in this weather?” and then think “oh, yeah, me.”

Things I Love AND Hate About Running

  • Schrodinger Point. There’s a day, about every couple weeks or so, when I realize I’ve just jogged almost my entire route without taking a break. It’s cool because, well, it means I’m stronger and faster and in better shape than I have been in a while. It’s simultaneously totally uncool, because it means I’m going to have to run longer or faster my next time out. Thus Schrodinger Point: it exists in both states at the same time! (This isn’t technically what Schrodinger was describing, but in this case accuracy is discarded in favor of sounding cool.)

Tonight: Elvis Costello!

with all the will in the world
diving for dear life

Super Super Thick!

Scanned from the back of a box containing a supercheesy sweatband my primary roommate bought. I want to name an acoustic techno album “Super Super Thick.” Also, itcould be applied to lots of people I know in an entirely different sense, and in fact to the people who designed thisbox, because guess what, kids? “Ultimate” actually means “last.”


Possibly the most exciting spam offer I’ve ever gotten. And succinct!

not taken!

I think that about says it all. Watch this space!