Thursday, September 30, 2004

Savage word love

I read Dan Savage's columns and books to learn stuff about sex, adoption, and happiness. This week, I learned a groovy word from Savage: "kakistocracy."

It means "a society governed by its worst citizens," which applies particularly well to this society and pretty-schmucking-well to every other society I can think of. "Kakistocracy" also brings to mind soundalikes I just made up like "khaki-ocracy" and "caca-ocracy"--societies governed by khaki-wearers and fecal matter respectively.

"-ocracy" has spawned a bunch of words not involving shit, pants, or bad citizens, including these I just found on Google:

  • dog-ocracy
  • judge-ocracy
  • weasel-ocracy
  • media-ocracy
  • she-ocracy
  • me-ocracy
  • beer-ocracy
  • diablo-ocracy
  • luck-ocracy
  • button-ocracy
  • geek-ocracy
  • mob-ocracy
  • mullah-ocracy
  • appoint-ocracy
  • Ronald-ocracy
  • porn-ocracy
  • opinion-poll-ocracy
  • dim-ocracy
  • dumb-ocracy
  • damn-ocracy

Personally, I'd rather live in a canoli-ocracy or a Jamaican-jerk-chicken-wing-ocracy. Or maybe a penguin-ocracy--just because they're cute.


Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Fine, fat, fake sausages

Today's word of the day is a horrifying, terrifying, happifying bedshitter of a beast: "pseudo-sausage." At the moment, Google can find this word on 54 websites, and I guess that number just went up to 55.

Sausage is a scary enough concept by itself. Scientists searching for a unified theory of everything in the universe might want to give sausage some thought--is there anything that couldn't conceivably have a greasy future as sausage? Perhaps what unites all living beings is the chance--sometimes far-fetched but never 0%--that we could end up as sausage someday.

The word "pseudo-sausage" seems to have gotten a big boost from Joan Rivers, who said the following in an ad for PETA that shows up on several web pages: "This year, you can pig out at Passover--you can put some pork on your fork, and it's kosher! I'm not talking about eating a dead pig--I'm talking about fakin' bacon, pseudo-sausage, pigless pork chops, and the wave of wonderful new mock meats in supermarkets everywhere.'

As pigs everywhere sigh in relief, the rest of the universe must be shuddering: when you take a type of food that already could be made of absolutely anything, and then remove the one ingredient that could most often be counted on (pork), what does that leave us with? An existential, gastrointestinal nightmare or just a nummy, not-quite-meaty breakfast? Only my proctologist knows for sure.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Get outta my dreams, get into my tent

Today's word is "wash"--an un-orgasm-causing word on its own. As part of some phrases though, it gives me a big, fat happy.

I'm a fan of "It'll all come out in the wash" and "That makes me want to wash my hands," but I've been unsuccessfully trying to find the origin of another saying, which usually follows this pattern: "Have him/her/the dog/the vacuum cleaner washed and brought to my tent."

Sometimes the phrasing is "stripped, washed, and brought to my tent," and other times shaving, scrubbing, oiling, cleaning, bathing, perfuming, or disinfecting is part of the equation. Here are some versions I found with Google:
  • Have Teri Hatcher scrubbed and brought to my tent.
  • Have the slaveboy washed and brought to my tent!
  • Sir , have that man oiled and brought to my tent.
  • Have that one stripped, washed and brought to my tent, forthwith!
  • The President said, “have her cleaned and perfumed and brought to my tent."
  • Have him shaved and oiled and brought to my tent!
  • Have the fat, hairy loser in row 2, seat 2 brought to my tent so that I may breed with him.
  • Just scrape off all traces of your local women, have it disinfected and washed and brought to my tent!
  • Have new ones showered and brought to my tent, won't you?
  • And just for the record, you can keep Keanu -- have Hugo washed and brought to my tent, and nobody gets hurt.

In nearly every case, whoever is being requested in the tent is wanted for (cue porn music) Biblical reasons, but what is the deal with this expression? Did it originate in a movie--or just a well-publicized tent? If anyone knows where this expression started, please let me know.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Sailors, thongs, and doom

Do any trafficking or trading in a commodity lately? If so, you’ve been "mongering"--today's word of the day, which is a more popular part of compound words that I could have dreamed.

According to Google, “fear-mongering,” “hate-mongering,” “rumor-mongering,” and “war-mongering” seem to be the most popular examples, but I also found “scare-mongering,” “hype-mongering,” “threat-mongering,” “peace-mongering,” “slogan-mongering,” “blame-mongering,” “panic-mongering,” “excuse-mongering,” “coup-mongering,” “scandal-mongering,” “communist-mongering,” “power-mongering,” “terror-mongering,” "penguin-mongering," “noise-mongering,” “profit-mongering,” “ballad-mongering,” “nostalgia-mongering,” “list-mongering,” “malaise-mongering,” “fad-mongering,” “sleaze-mongering,” “doom-mongering,” “victim-mongering,” “gossip-mongering,” “publicity-mongering," and "thong-mongering." Ok, I made that last one up, but it has a nice sound to it, no?

I particularly enjoyed finding these variations on a theme: “paranoid political conspiracy-mongering,” “far-fetched conspiracy-mongering,” and “strident and despicable conspiracy-mongering.”

The most amusing one I found was probably “sailor-mongering.” Though I swear like a sailor, I'm not eager to know the intention behind that word. Is it possible that some enterprising young lad or lady sells sailors by the seashore like they were bags of peanuts or yummy bubble teas? Only the Secretary of Defense knows for sure.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

A link and a quote

Here's a link to one of my favorite things on the web: the Lists section of McSweeney's.

And here's a Simpsons quote we can all relate to:

"If tears could burst through my muscular ducts, I would cry like a baby who was just hit by a hammer." --Rainier Wolfcastle

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Just a link

In the interests of quality and sanity, I'll be taking the weekends off from this thing, but for those who tune in anyway, I'll provide a yummy wordluster's link.

This one is to Sports Guy Bill Simmons' Quote of the Day archive.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Don't think of a pot-bellied elephant

Today's word of the day is "elephant"--a fine word and a fine animal.

A few months ago, I saw some baby elephants on Animal Planet, and they were the cutest little son-of-a-guns... Even at three-hundred-goddamn-pounds, they were adorable enough to bring home to Mom, provided that Mom is a tolerant zookeeper with a lot of space. If elephants were the size of dogs--and had a max weight of, oh, a little less than 14,000 pounds--I'd buy one today.

The word "elephant" is also on my mind because of George Lakoff's new book Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate--The Essential Guide for Progressives. I've read a little bit of Lakoff here and there over the years, and I'm psyched that he's getting some attention and may actually be helping our less-evil politicians further their less-evil agendas. Plus, just the idea of a linguist selling any books at all is kind of cool--even for an amateur linguist like me.

I also reread When Elephants Weep last month. Among the hundreds of anecdotes about animal emotions, I particularly enjoyed reading about the mother rat trying to nurse the baby kitten. Hello to the imagery!

Finally, I have to give credit to my friend Mike Basinski for forever changing the way I hear the word "elephant." Mike is a poet/performance artist/librarian whose piece "The Wild Elephant" is kind of beautiful. I wish you could see the bellowing, booming, belching URMPH!URMPH!-ing Basinski perform this one. You can find Basinski's elephants here.

Elephants must be in the air tonight (not literally, I hope) because just as I was finishing this up, I caught a South Park rerun titled "An Elephant Makes Love to a Pig." Yes, we have an interspecies-body-fluid-exchange theme!

I was wrong about this entry being over, and I was wronger in thinking the desire for a pet-sized elephant was original--this episode was all about trying to make pot-bellied elephants, whether through unholy science at the genetic engineering ranch or sweet love-making after a sweet keg. Sadly, this drunken tryst of an anonymous elephant and a pig named Fluffy produced no offspring--no scampering, half-breed, baby pig-elephants sprang from Fluffy's loins.

However, the show did feature a monkey with four asses--so I haven't lost all faith in love and science.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Violent vengeful voluptuous vixens

Anyone who enjoys movies featuring violent women with giant breasts has to be a little sad about the death of sleazy-yet-arty Russ Meyer, who directed cult classics Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.

Though humongous, heaving, voluptuous breasts are admired by many, few could challenge Meyer for the title of Patron Saint of the Humongous, Heaving, Voluptuous Breasts. So "breast" is the word of the day.

As a tribute, here are book and movie titles, with "beasts" turned to "breasts," as if they were brought to life by Meyer:

Breasts of Tarzan
Walking with Prehistoric Breasts
Fantastic Breasts and Where to Find Them
The Breast in Ms. Rooney's Room
Maggie and the Ferocious Breast: The Big Scare
The Breasts That Hide From Man
The Breast That Walks Like Man
Demon Breast Invasion
The Breast of Revelation
Feeding the Breast: The White House Versus the Press
The Breast in the Nursery
The Dark Mystery of the Shadow Breasts
Breasts of Suburbia
The Amazing World of Mini-Breasts
What Killed the Mega-Breasts?
A Breast the Color of Winter
Birds, Breasts, and Relatives
Mythical Breasts Coloring Book
Tyrannosaurus was a Breast
The Friendly Breasts: A Christmas Carol

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Pet pigs, robot telescopes, and Dr. Phil

Today's word is "vengeance," in honor of the prepositional phrase "with a vengeance." 1995's Diehard: With a Vengeance must have boosted the stock of those three words (which get 321,000 Google web hits) quite a bit, but the Oxford English Dictionary has citations for the phrase going back to 1525. I guess I'm not surprised; vengeance is vengeful, and it's also pretty traditional.

You probably know the fun that can be had by adding "in bed" to the end of fortune cookie messages, like "Don't give a man a fish, but teach him how to fish in bed." This also works pretty well with headlines:

Nothing simple about Iraq in bed
Shaquille O'Neal should shut up in bed
Home Alone star Culkin charged with drug offense in bed
Methane on Mars causes controversy in bed
Mouse pregnancy goes down the tubes in bed
Kerry visits Letterman in bed
Gene-modified insects get closer look in bed
LucasArts: the magic continues in bed

Well, "with a vengeance" adds a little punch to important world affairs too:

Woman fights for pet pig with a vengeance
Pope addresses Pacific bishops with a vengeance
Robot telescopes comb the skies with a vengeance
Men do cry--all over the world with a vengeance
Was Jesus Christ a liberal with a vengeance?
Britney Spears is a stepmom with a vengeance
Breeding bunnies need a home with a vengeance
Your spouse could be a space alien with a vengeance
Dr. Phil's special explores his views on raising children with a vengeance

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go lay some brown eggs--with a vengeance.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Holy mother of monkey!

"Holy" is a common word that many use to describe beautiful places like "The Church of the Holy Pharisees," important rituals like "The Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist," and fictional characters like "The Holy Son of God Most High."

Then there’s people like me who save the word for the really important stuff, like saying "Holy freakin' Christ in a Christmas tree, Batman!" Whether you’re speaking to The Dark Avenger or just hit your thumb with a hammer, "holy" is a flexible and amusing word.

Though the use of "holy" in exclamations is older than the 1960s Batman show, the Boy Wonder's use of that word boosted its stock considerably. Here's a sampling of Robin's wit:

Holy remote control robot!
Holy homicide!
Holy armadillos!
Holy human surfboards!
Holy hydraulics!
Holy interplanetary yardstick!
Holy mashed potatoes!
Holy purple cannibals!
Holy ravioli!
Holy rising hemlines!
Holy uncanny photographic mental processes!
Holy hole in a doughnut!
Holy contributing to the delinquency of minors!
Holy dental hygiene!
Holy fate worse than death!

This is just the beginning--a little web-searching reveals more holiness than a convent on Christmas. Rather than trot out the hundreds of exclamations I've found, I'll just list the motherly ones:

Holy. Mother. Fucking. Shit.
Holy sweet mother of crap!
Holy mother of squick!
Holy mother of pearl!
Holy mother of pancakes!
Holy mother of mercy!
Holy mother of Groucho!
Holy mother of God and all things holy!
Holy mother of dog!
Holy mother of crap!
Holy mother of Cheese Whiz!
Holy mother of Bob!
Holy mother of all that’s good and right!
Holy mother of all creation!
Holy mother Molson!
Holy mother god!
Holy mother from hell!
Holy mother bunnies!
Holy living mother of fuck!

Monday, September 20, 2004

The whim of a hat

Today's word of the day is "hat," which is so useful in bigger words like "hathead" and friendly suggestions like "Go shit in your hat!"

"I’ll bet my hat," "I’ll eat my hat," "hold onto your hat," "pass the hat," "hat trick," "talking through your hat," "my hat's off to you," and "pull a rabbit from a hat" are familiar enough, but I like the sound of the more obscure "go-to-hell hat." According to the Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, a "go-to-hell hat" is "an overseas or garrison cap." I have no idea what that means, so let's just move on to my favorite hat word: "asshat. " An "asshat" is basically an asshole, but specifically one who has his head up his ass.

Speaking of asshats, the real inspiration for today's word was the latest from Jacob Weisberg's Bushisms list. Thanks to President Bush, I now know more about hats than I ever could have imagined. I just hope my hat doesn't get any funny ideas:

"Free societies are hopeful societies. And free societies will be allies against these hateful few who have no conscience, who kill at the whim of a hat."

Sunday, September 19, 2004

The poop on the Moops

They say those who forget their history are doomed to make jokes about it, and I can live with that. Few of our brave ancestors have been so forgotten, neglected, and completely invented as the Moops--in their honor, "Moops" is the word of the day.

Seinfeld added hundreds of terms to the language, including "pre-emptive breakup," "low talker," "mimbo," "atomic wedgie," "Denogginizer," "schmoopie," and "conjugal-visit sex." "Moops" was coined for an episode that featured a Trivial Pursuit game/hissyfit between George Costanza and the not-very-cuddly Bubble Boy. Logic--and the foul-mouthed Bubble Boy--insisted that the answer to "Who invaded Spain in the 8th century?" must be the Moors, but a typo and Mr. Cant-stand-ya insisted that the Spain-invaders were truly the Moops. The rest was comedy history.

Or was it? Are the once-proud Moops destined to remain forgotten and hilarious? I'm no historian. Hell, last Wednesday I went to work with one sneaker and one shoe on--I seem to have forgotten that matching is somewhat recommended in the footwear department--so I hardly feel qualified to make any claims about the 8th century. I'm also plotzed by the recent revelation that a friend of a friend really, truly, sincerely believes in leprechauns and swears she saw one in a barn.

So I'm open-minded. Maybe, just maybe, the Moops and the leprechauns formed a cute, diminutive, pot-of-gold-funded military-industrial juggernaut that steamrolled Spain and half of Asgard, leaving frightened, quivering Spaniards, empty Guinness bottles, and mucho Moop poop behind in their terrifying wake.


Saturday, September 18, 2004

Hey man

Today's word of the day is "man"--not "man" as in "Hey man, you're harshing my mellow," but "man" the prefix, as in "man-smell," "man-whore," and "man-spat."

I've been noticing more and more of these words lately, which are sometimes used to name something a dude has that is more dudette-like: "man-boobs," for example. But I don't know how much consistency there is among these words--"mankind," "manhole," "man hours," and "man-eater" are familiar and random enough, and The Word Spy website lists a few more man-words, like "man cave" (a guy's fortress of solitude in his house, possibly including power tools or blunt instruments) "man breasts," (man-boobs), and "manscaping" (the shaving, cutting, trimming, or otherwise annihilating of a guy's body hair). "Man-root" and "man-balls" go back to Walt Whitman, but I don't think the following words can be found in much English literature: "man-pole," "man-diapers," "man-beast," "man-love," "man-toys," "man-package," and "man-pile."

Then again, the Oxford English Dictionary surprised me by showing some pretty old citations for "man-flesh" (1812), "man-witch" (1886), and "man-smell" (1905). "Man-ape," "man-fish," "man-leech," "man-sphinx," and "man-fiend" are also listed, but I'm sad to report no citations for "man-bunny."

Here's one last man-word you may not have heard of: a "manmaid," who is a male member (uh, unfortunate choice of words there...) of a bridal party, also known as the "dude of honor." I don't know how widespread this man-fad really is, but man, I know I'll be one happy man-blogger if I ever get to be a dude of honor.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Popular boy names: Jacob, Michael, Repugno

As you may have noticed, I love new words like "bridezilla," "nonblowoffable," and "fuckedupedness" (or should that be "fuckedupness"?). Well, I love old words too, like today's word: "hornswoggle."

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, "hornswoggle"--first cited in 1829--means "to get the better of; to cheat or swindle; to hoodwink, humbug, bamboozle." Sadly, I am not a great hornswoggler, but let me tell you about a couple of guys who horned many a swoggle in their day, which was in the early sixties in San Francisco: Coyle and Sharpe.

"Ahead of their time" doesn't quite cover just how ahead of their time these two were. With their then-high-tech recording equipment and batshit-loony scenarios handy, James P. Coyle and Mal Sharpe did man-on-the-street interviews they'd use on a daily radio show. These deadly-serious, professionally-dressed pranksters would string their victims along with intriguing offers, like the chance to work in a pit with these companions: maniacs as adversaries, bats for lunch, flames for heat, snakes underfoot, and rowdy customers overhead. One guy was told that scientists had created apples with feet--also known as "foot apples." He was then asked for his opinions on, among other unholy-foot-apple-related issues, how best to herd the foot apples. Another person was offered the chance to live in the sewers with a man named Repugno.

How could anyone believe this stuff? I have no idea, but it's probably the funniest shit I've ever heard--and full of 24-carat "hornswoggling." Verily, few have hornswoggled so mightily. Check it out here.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Charm, confidence, and caramel sauce

Today's word is "ooze."

Despite how much blood, sewage, mud, pea soup, and contaminated groundwater is probably oozing along somewhere in the world right now, "ooze" the verb seems to be used more commonly as a metaphor. I just did some haphazard Googling and found plenty of sentences like "Chaos theory oozes charm," "Marquette oozes confidence," and "Versace oozes glamour," plus phrases like "oozing buckets of smug smarminess."

There is plenty of literal oozing going on ("Hippo skin oozes antibiotic sunscreen") but even situations that must have some corporeal-ooze-factor are often described in metaphorical terms, like "warmed brie just oozes elegance and decadence..."

I guess anything can potentially be oozed--including "venom and jihad" and "caramel sauce." Maybe the potential to be oozed is what unites us all; scientists searching for a Unified Field Theory can call off the dogs!

I can't talk about "ooze" without thinking about oozing cysts, and I can't think about oozing cysts without mentioning the terrific song "Oozing Cyst Blues," by Timothy Aurthur and Alan Seidler. The first stanza should give you a taste--uh, maybe "hint" would be more appetizing--of what this highly-recommended song is like:

Woke up this morning and I'll tell you the news
Looked down at my cyst and it began to ooze
Lord, Lord, talking' 'bout my oozing cyst
Old Man Devil got me on his list

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Desecration and bacon

Here's a link to my new column at Alt Press.

And, an old one.

We will free the pee

I don't know what that headline means, other than "I'm jealous of the New York Post headline writers."

Today I have a lot of words of the day, and they are all full of pee.

First, some background: this idea started two days ago, when my friend Theresa called, asking that I entertain her while she cleaned her room. Since I do this same type of self-serving multitasking all the time, I had no high horse to ride away on, and I agreed, grabbing one of my books by Dan Savage, the terrific writer and sex columnist.

I read several Savage Love letters and responses to Theresa, from the book and online, including a heartwarming story about the kind of love that can only happen between a grandmother and her parakeet.

In one column, Savage reminded me of why I like hyphenated words so much--because you can make 'em up lickety-split. While discussing watersports, Savage goes on a new-word-making frenzy, which I'll quote here:

"What's the opposite of pee-shy anyway? Pee-gregarious? Pee-forward? Pee-friendly? Pee-affable? Pee-cordial? Pee-social?"

Keep these words in mind when writing your next personal ad or limerick.

Well, I have to admit, Savage has got me kind of jealous now, what with all those new words of his. Since the world has a dire shortage of hyphenated adjectives with "pee" in them, I made up some brand-spanking-new pee words of my own to fill the gap. Use with caution:


Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Goons are a boon

Today's word of the day is "goon." Like "loon," "balloon," "poltroon," "maroon," and "nooner," the word sounds kind of amusing, but I didn't pick "goon" for its sound.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the original meaning of "goon" is "a stolid, dull, or stupid person," but it's the second meaning I'm interested in: "a person hired (esp. by racketeers) to terrorize workers; a thug." I've haven't done any racketeering lately, and I have no workers to terrorize, but what the heck, I could use a goon.

Like Philips screwdrivers, goons just make life easier.

If I had a goon, I would ask him to:

--Get me coffee
--Soften up my mortal enemies
--Torment a few relatives
--Lift heavy stuff
--Make the sushi place down the street open up
--"Negotiate" with some publishers
--Rip a phone book in half

Monday, September 13, 2004

Going ape-doo-doo

Today's word of the day is possibly my favorite word of them all: "ape-poopy."

Like "D'oh," "embiggen," "cromulent," "yoink," and "tomacco," this word was invented by The Simpsons writers. In the episode "They Saved Lisa's Brain," Principal Seymour Skinner says, "We have some new rules and regulations you're just going to go ape-poopy over."

Much like Marge's substitution of "whup-tushie" for "whup-ass," this euphemism is barely euphemistic. A soul more sensible than Skinner would have just said "nuts," "bananas," "bonkers," or some other synonym for crazy--using "ape-poopy" to avoid "apeshit" is (kinda) like using "dumbass" to avoid "asswipe." "Ape-poopy" is a magnificent potshot at how dumb some people become when speaking to children. Plus, I just love the word.

"Apeshit" is fun and useful enough on its own--and I have a soft spot for the increasingly popular word "batshit" as well--but "ape-poopy"...I just like it. Unlike Madonna, I don't know if I can properly justify my love. Did I mention that I love this word?

I would like to spread "ape-poopy" like a VD, which sounds kind of gross. Won't you, kind readers, see fit to use "ape-poopy" in your blogs, interoffice memos, weekly newsletters, and bathroom scribblings? You can use it with your children, pets, and neighbors. Today's awkward moment could be tomorrow's OED entry!

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Bongo horror

Today's word of the day is "bongo," not because of any inherent greatness in the word or musical instrument, but because of a truly amazing book that tells many a tale of woe, weirdos and bongos: The Police Log by Kevin L. Hoover.

Police logs everywhere are popular, but The Arcata Eye's Hoover has become something of a cult hero for log entries like this: "A tarp, a disused train easement and the casual elegance of a battered cyclone fence were all they needed for a sunrise soiree at Eighth and N streets. Then an officer turned the affair into an al fresco study group on the concept of trespassing." And how about this: "A weirdo vs. shed showdown on St. Louis Road ended, as usual, in utter humiliation for the inanimate object." And sometimes, the entries are uninformative but ominous: "When things don't work out, it's always the children who suffer."

I'm sure Hoover will make many appearances in this blog, because he has a real knack for making up words, like "scroungeloid," "sloshage," "multi-hairball," "jackassian," "man-spat," "mojo-harshing," "horseplaymate," "defecreation," "drunkectomy," "hissysnit," "piejacking," and "peesome threesome."

But let's not forget the word of the day--in Hoover's eccentric town of Arcata, bongos are frequently a cause of pleasure and pain, and Hoover has a blast writing about it all. In Arcata, "bongo squads" full of "bongoists," "bongo pilots," "bongo magicians," and "bongo interpreters" enjoy the "bongo magic," "bongo vibes," and "bongo merriment." "Bongo tensions" are usually high though, as non-bongoists have different feelings about what Hoover sometimes describes as a "bongo brouhaha," "bongo attack," "bongo crisis," "bongo barrage," or "bongo atrocity." I think my favorite terms are "bongo fury," "bongo flagellation," and "bongo horror." Oh, the bongosity!

You can order Hoover's book at The Arcata Eye's website.

(One more thing: Blogger's spellchecker wanted to replace "bongoists" with "fungicide," a desire I'm sure many Arcata residents share).

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Let us pray

This morning, within minutes of hauling my ass out of bed, I made some coffee, freaked out a little when it appeared that Windows XP had died on me again, ran downstairs to get the doorbell, and thought, "Who in the name of pancakes could that be?"

It was a teenage boy in a great suit and a woman who might have been his mother, and she said, "We'd like to talk to you about the Bible." I instinctively said, "Sorry, I'm not interested" but that's a lie. In fact, I'm so interested in the word "Bible" that it's my word of the day.

What a fun, versatile word. If you love the Bible and want to let everyone know, you might be a Bible-pounder, a Bible-banger, a Bible-thumper, a Bible-puncher, a Bible-slapper, a Bible-beater, a Bible-basher, a Bible-flogger, a Bible-humper, or a Bible-hugger. Those are all real words, folks, and if I were a Bible, I'd just say uncle now. Unless I were a masochist, and then I'd say, "Yes!"

I'm also very fond of the expression "in the Biblical sense"--that is, in the pounding, sweaty, groiny, porny, hoo-hoo-dilly-in-the-cha-cha sense. I wonder if the two Bible-bangers/door-pounders knew each other in the Biblical sense?

"Biblical proportions" is kind of a cool term too, and it's very useful in sentences like, "This double bacon cheeseburger is of Biblical proportions!"

And our friend Homer Simpson will have the last word on The Word. In response to some parental responsibility or whatever, he once uttered these beautiful words: "As the Bible says, screw that!"

Friday, September 10, 2004

Torture, rage, and waffles

If you haven’t played hide the ferret with the dog of God since the hog ate grandma, then you haven’t had sex with a polar bear in a long time.

Using the word “torture” to describe any unpleasant experience—like athlete’s foot or waiting in line at the bank—is a little more uncomfortable since Abu Gharib, isn’t it? Our good ol’ American boys and girls reminded us what torture really means, making it feel just a little wrong to say things like, “This movie theatre is a torture chamber, and Robin Williams is showing no mercy.” Now that I have some perspective, I have to admit even my neighbors probably haven’t violated the Geneva conventions lately.

When lazing by the swimming pool in a pool of blood, do you ever think about how your family’s gene pool is kind of a cesspool?

Until I get a social life, I’ve been rewatching my Alias season one DVDs. In that season, Sydney Bristow is a double agent, so she’s always getting missions from an evil, fake CIA and then going back to the virtuous, actual CIA with this question: “What’s my countermission?” I kind of like the word “countermission,” maybe because it would be fun to lie constantly, betray my colleagues, and destroy my employer from within. That would really pass the time.

The redundancy of the week: “alcohol-induced hangover.” As opposed to what, an alcohol-induced pregnancy? Or a sledgehammer-induced hangover?

Two of my favorite euphemisms for taking a shit are “laying an egg” and “dropping the bomb.” I guess I like that sweet, motherly feeling of giving life, and also that God-like, fatherly feeling of snuffing it out. Both are cool.

I always wanted goons, but I’d settle for minions.

Rage seems to be all the rage these days, as various folks have seriously used the terms “zoo rage,” “tax rage,” “Bible rage,” “golf rage,” “sidewalk rage,” and “salad bar rage.” I hope this trend continues and we’ll soon read about or experience “bunny rage,” “cheese grater rage,” “altar boy rage,” “panda rage,” “bowling shoe rage,” “tranquilizer dart rage,” “liquefied chicken manure rage,” and maybe even “sponge bath rage.”

I wonder how many “people who take the short bus to school” (stupid people) ­“drive the porcelain bus” (vomit) while “riding the magic bus” (tripping on acid or ‘shrooms). More than few I expect.

While talking with my friend Tina in a coffeeshop, I heard a barista shout, “Tall virgin on wheels!” Though I soon learned that these words referred to a medium decaf coffee to go, I had two immediate thoughts: 1) Hello to the imagery! and 2) Our more barbaric ancestors would surely have appreciated a tall virgin on wheels; you could just wheel her right up to the volcano and—ploop—drop her in.

Outside of limericks, very little English literature contains the words “Nantucket” or “Lewinsky.”

Next time you’re trying to describe something that’s neither horrific nor terrific, try one of these real words I found with Google: spider-iffic, hair-iffic, sitar-iffic, horror-ffic, lobster-iffic, scooter-iffic, allergy-iffic, prankster-iffic, cholesterol-iffic, birdcage-iffic, monster-iffic, terror-iffic, gore-iffic, Hitler-iffic, ogre-iffic, toddler-iffic, boner-iffic, blister-iffic, poseur-iffic, weather-iffic, scare-iffic, Cher-iffic, odor-iffic, mediocre-iffic, dinosaur-iffic, wanker-iffic, squid-er-iffic, mosher-iffic, twister-iffic, clunker-iffic, murder-iffic, whore-iffic, terrier-iffic, and vampire-iffic.

How did the waffle get associated with waffling? Is it somehow less steadfast and true than a pancake?

You can say “The new Star Wars movies suck” around more people than you can say “The new Star Wars movies blow,” even though “suck” and “blow” have about the same meaning. I guess “suck,” because it’s so popular, has been more thoroughly rehabilitated and drained of filth. It also doesn’t help that “blow” is one half of “blow job”—that’s just a little too reminiscent of what the phrase actually means.

I worked in a nursing home as a maintenance man one summer, and one of my colleagues uttered these words, which I still live by: “Medical waste…it’s not good to taste.”

If a bleeding heart liberal and a compassionate conservative saw a five-hanky chick flick in the nosebleed seats together, would they drown in their own tears and blood?

The words of the week:
10) Smurf
9) Buttmunch
8) Piggy
7) Smegma-free
6) Skankspionage
5) Ninny
4) Dweebitude
3) Phlegm
2) Vulva-savvy
1) Diddle

A great moment: While walking between work and a sushi place, I overheard three batshit-loony-looking dudes on the street having a debate over whether “paranoid” and “schizophrenic” meant the same thing. God bless America.

The endangered spokes-fembot

People make up new words--or "neologisms"--all the time, even people who aren't the President. Making up words is a basic part of human creativity, though most new words don't catch on at all. (Though if they catch on a little, they might end up on this great website).

Almost all new words are indeed D.O.A., but if I see 'em and like 'em, I try to extend their life just a bit in this blog. Today's word of the day is something I think I read last year in one of Gregg Easterbrook's terrific Tuesday Morning Quarterback columns: "spokes-fembot." I can't remember the context at all, and since Easterbrook tends to discuss Star Trek, the environment, and mutant fish in his "football" column, I'm not surprised I've forgotten. But "spokes-fembot" is a great word, and it was created in the way most new words are made: by combining other words. Just as the Prez combined "misunderstand" and "underestimate" to make "misunderestimate," "spokes-fembot" is a compound word and an amusing concept.

Let's look at the parts of this word. "Spokes-" seems to naturally lend itself to making goofy words; I just Googled and found examples of "spokesmonkey," "spokesvampire," "spokesferret," "spokesmartian," "spokesmonster," "spokescrab," "spokesdoofus," "spokesdude," and "spokesdipshit." I don't know the history of "fembot"--a great compound in its own right--but I think Frank Zappa had something to do with it, and I believe there is an exploding fembot in one of the Austin Powers movies. Are the female robots in The Stepford Wives fembots in a technical sense? Is Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Buffybot a fembot? I have no idea, but if anyone out there really knows their fembots, I'd love to be enlightened.

In any case, I wonder who a "spokes-fembot" speaks for? Would she/it speak for her/its proud/homicidal army/nation of fembots? Or would a "spokes-fembot" be a bubbleheaded drone, a stainless-steel, lonely-person-product-type male fantasy controlled by some programmer dude? Further research is needed. In any case, if you can help keep this word alive, you'll preserve vocabulary diversity and possibly pave the way for a terrifying future at the same time.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Delicious ass sex

Now that I have your attention, America...

Yesterday, I had a long conversation with my friend Lena about the word "bootylicious," so how could it not be a word of the day?

Lena was a bit alarmed to learn that "bootylicious" had assed its way into the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, joining other recent additions such as "road rage," "hottie," and "treehugger." Needless to say, Lena was not much of a "bootylicious"-booster, but I think it is a tremendous word, for a few reasons not involving Beyonce:

1) It's easy to understand. Even someone living in the sewers who had never heard "bootylicious" before would know it definitely had something to do with asses, probably involved sex, and certainly was meant to suggest a heaping helping of yumminess. Or, as Lena suggested, "It could mean delicious ass sex."

2) The word may have hurt the popularity of the witty observation "nice ass," for which bootylicious folks everywhere would be grateful.

3) It's just plain fun--and it sounds better than "asstastic."

I do have one question: I've been told that my quesadillas taste like ass--does that make me a bootylicious cook?

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Polygonal values

In honor of allergy season kicking my nose's ass, the word of the day is "phlegm"--not just because phlegm the fluid has lowered my quality of life, but because phlegm the word is more fun than a frog in a glass of milk.

Much like my phlegm-engorged head, "phlegm" seems a bit overstuffed for just a six-letter word. Phonetically, a mere four letters--f, l, e, and m--would do the job just fine, though possibly at the risk of offending good Flemish people everywhere. But the thick, chewy, mucosy spelling and sound of "phlegm" is very appropriate--saying "phlegm" almost requires some phlegm.

Phlegm is also the root of many fine words like "phlegmagogue" (a medicine for expelling phlegm) and "phlegmtastic" (a synonym for..."really phlegmy"). There's also a band out there called Phlegm Fatale, for which we should be grateful.

(By the way, in case you were wondering about the complex relationship between phlegm and polygons, I originally went with the cute headline "Phlegmily values," but spellcheck suggested "Polygonal values," which I couldn't resist. Think of it as a reminder of just how important polygonal values are, especially in an election year).

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Rhymes with "Luigi"

It wasn't easy picking the first word of the day. Even though it will probably be read by somewhere between no-friggin-one and no-freakin-body, I'd still hate to start out with a lame word.

I've wracked my brain, wracked my bookshelf, flipped through my "words of the week" (see the archive for my biweekly column at and decided on "squeegee." Now there's a word that's beautiful and has a great personality too. I don't know if I've ever seen a squeegee-er (also known as a "squeegee bandit," "squeegee kid," or "squeegee thug" according to the Oxford English Dictionary) in action or felt a squeegee in my trembling hand, and I'm not sure if Shakespeare ever used one in his plays or weekly chores, but it's just a cool, refreshing word, like "nooky-nooky," "tootsie-wootsie," and "Yoko Ono."

If you can find a way to smoothly work "squeegee" into your blog or pillow talk today, then you're very susceptible to suggestion.

In David Greenberger's Duplex Planet magazine, which consists of interviews with nursing home residents, a man named Fergie has what I consider the final word on this word: "Squeegee--that means 'take it all' in French."