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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Candy's dandy. Butt liquor's quicker.

Posted By on 10.04.12 at 06:00 PM

  • Stefan Andrej Shambora
Welcome a newcomer to the lexicon: butt chugging. Butt chugging also takes a more prosaic label, the "alcohol enema," but the former was the nom du jour at a Tuesday press conference conducted by a lawyer involved in the nation's foremost butt-chugging case—he used the phrase on account of the gravitas it lent the proceedings, I imagine. Butt chugging refers to the rectal consumption of alcohol (pretty NSFW illustration here, via Buzzfeed, of course), and is not a supergreat idea, even if you really love getting drunk. The lawyer and his client, a fraternity member at the University of Tennessee, would only stipulate to these facts: There was a frat party at which young men played a game called "Tour de Franzia." As the student, Alexander P. Broughton, noted in a later statement, "I consumed wine from a wine box." A lot of it, apparently, as a case of alcohol poisoning soon sent Broughton to the hospital, where he was asked if he'd engaged in butt chugging. (There was some suggestive evidence, but this is a dignified blog.) "What in the world is that?" Broughton responded, according to his lawyer.

The folly of youth aside, other issues are at stake here, like—how long till butt chugging makes it into the OED? Maybe they can address the inconsistent application of the hyphen across media sources—"butt chugging" here, "butt-chugging" there, but "butt-chugging incident," let's all agree, or for that matter "butt-chugging enthusiast." It brings to mind a June blog post by Mary Norris, of the New Yorker's copyediting department, about a letter she'd received from a reader complaining that "star fucker," which had appeared in a story about Odd Future member Earl Sweatshirt, needed a hyphen. Why, sure, Norris agrees: "See how, with the hyphen, the weight of the word comes down on the first half of the compound? Star-fucker. Without the hyphen, the word tips, giving equal weight to both nouns and turning the compound from an insult to a term of endearment."

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Regrets, I've had TKHOWMANY

Posted By on 09.27.12 at 06:00 PM

  • Oooooops
While we spend the week revisiting past glories on the Bleader, I want to look back on the most shameful thing that was not my fault (as opposed to the most shameful thing that was my fault—a different matter entirely, and once it's identified I'll be sure to atone) that I've endured this year. It was on the occasion of the Reader's inaugural Valentine's Day issue, which a couple of coworkers and I were tasked (against our will) with putting together. When the thing was nearing completion I volunteered to write the introduction, seeing in it a chance to express myself the best way I knew how—with a minimum of tact, a maximum of vulgarity, and a lot of adjectives. I felt pretty good about this. You can read it here, if you'd like. The thing was sent to press and when I got to the office the next morning I looked at a PDF of the intro to see how it was laid out—very nicely, except that in the last paragraph, where I'd detailed all the different components of the V-Day issue, and attempted to refer readers to specific pages, there were no fewer than seven TKs in place of the page numbers. TK is editorial shorthand for "to come"—text symbolizing something that ideally will have been inserted into the piece before it's sent to the printer. Something that you, the reader, are generally not supposed to see when you open your newspaper.

I was having a pretty lousy Valentine's season anyhow.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Don't forget to cover your mouth when you fart

Posted By on 08.14.12 at 10:10 AM

The other one
  • banjo d
  • The other one
From a Times book review that, incidentally, "denounces the priggishness that turns our attention away from intestinal gas, its origin and expulsion":

"I am about to dip into the category listed in the subtitle as 'beyond' yawning, laughing and hiccupping. It includes, among other behaviors, itching, crying, and the body’s two ways of expelling digestive gases, belching, and the other one."

Can you guess? Can you?


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Monday, August 6, 2012

Hipster [cocksuckers]

Posted By on 08.06.12 at 11:08 AM

A page from the Timess stylebook
  • stockicide
  • A page from the Times's stylebook
On Friday the New York Times brought its obfuscatory editorial approach to swearwords to a hilarious and confusing new level when it made a detour around the word cocksuckers so long that it described the epithet (or, uh, compliment, depending on your POV) as an adjective. The context, inevitably, was a trend piece about the fedora-wearing (seriously) interlopers who are so angering residents of Montauk, New York, that one was moved to post a "diatribe" to the website, which is not, appearances aside, an online community for German hipsters. The complaint read, according to the Times, "You’ve accomplished nothing over the last decade but displaced hard-working families, old-time residents and newly arrived immigrants who do not seek attention like you [Offensive Adjective Inappropriate for Family Newspaper]." Linguist Ben Zimmer, among others, pointed out the error, but sadly the Times has been slow to correct it.

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

What's destroying our productivity this week?

Posted By on 08.02.12 at 03:40 PM

  • Evelyn Saenz
I'll tell you what: this fucking Writer's Diet website, which was linked to in a recent New York Times blog post about "zombie nouns," adjectives or verbs or whatever that become nouns with the addition of suffixes ("-ism," "-ation," etc). The author, Helen Sword, mentions that academics love this practice especially, and I was reminded of the time I attempted to read, for recreation, Jose Esteban Munoz's book Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity (nouns can become zombie nouns too, Sword notes, with the addition of a stupid suffix) but did not actually make it past the first paragraph. Here's why: "Queerness is an ideality . . . We may never touch queerness, but we can feel it as the warm illumination of a horizon imbued with potentiality." And so on—normal, intelligible, human-being words rendered not changed a bit, just with more annoyingality.

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Friday, June 29, 2012

When Norman Mailer finally got to talk shit in the New Yorker

Posted By on 06.29.12 at 12:59 PM

Norman Mailer
  • openDemocracy
  • Norman Mailer
Earlier this week I wrote about John McPhee's essay in the current New Yorker, in which McPhee recounts how editors William Shawn and Robert Gottlieb kept most profanities out of the magazine. A commenter on that post asked, "They ran nothing by Norman Mailer, ever?"

Hardly ever. The acclaimed and politically vocal writer, who died in 2007, had just five bylines in the New Yorker. There were two short poems in 1961, and a third in 1995—"Homage to Faulkner", half of which said: "Newt Gingrich looks for angry votes; Ergo, he hammers welfare folks." Which is a nice reminder of the consistency of Newt's politics over the years.

Mailer also authored an article in 1995 on Lee Harvey Oswald's time in Russia under KGB surveillance, and a short essay in 2002 on writing ("Birds and Lions"). Both were profanity-free.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

John McPhee on the New Yorker's motherfucking history

Posted By on 06.26.12 at 03:44 PM

Expletives no longer deleted
  • tsmall
  • Expletives no longer deleted
In a story on the merchant marine in the April 9, 1990, New Yorker, John McPhee quoted a sailor: "A seaman smells like a rose when he's got money, but when he has no money they say, 'Fucker, get another ship.'"

The sailor actually had said "motherfucker"—but of the 60,000 words in the story McPhee turned in, that was the one that bothered editor Robert Gottlieb. "In the family of recoiling words included in The New Yorker for the first time, 'motherfucker' had yet to be born," McPhee writes in the magazine this week. "'Fuck' was alive but barely."

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Friday, June 15, 2012

What we talk about when we talk about vaginas

Posted By on 06.15.12 at 04:54 PM

On Flickr this is captioned Two of the three street names in Chicago that rhyme with vagina
  • Brian Mayzure
  • On Flickr this is captioned "Two of the three street names in Chicago that rhyme with 'vagina'"
These are heady times for vaginas, politically and linguistically. Earlier this week state rep Lisa Brown was banned from addressing the Michigan legislature because, according to the speaker, she'd "failed to maintain the decorum of the House of Representatives." Watch a video of her speech here; Brown thought the punishment was for using the word vagina during a debate over a proposal to restrict abortions after 20 weeks. Today, Jezebel's Erin Gloria Ryan provides 25 alternative expressions—"baby chute," "wide receiver," "[uncomfortable silence]"—but she's not the only one with an opinion. Last month the New Yorker's Hilton Als lamented various incorrect usages of the term, anatomically speaking: "To refer to the entire apparatus as a vagina is incorrect—and pervasive," and so forth. He cited among other things the HBO show Girls; Als may have drawn the connection because criticizing the way Girls talks about vaginas is maybe the only thing that nobody on the Internet had yet said about the show.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Commady, of errors

Posted By on 05.23.12 at 10:24 AM

Today: a little fun, with, commas
  • Today: a little fun, with, commas
On the New York Times, Opinionator, blog, Ben Yagoda weighs in with, "The Most Comma Mistakes" several of which I'm making here, to illustrate. And I'm throwing in some bonus comma errors because, it's fun to be really really bad.

Yagoda wrote the book, The Sound on the Page: Style and Voice in Writing so he knows from commas. ICE, an acronym he suggests may help you avoid the error in this sentence.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Reader comment board reaches dubious milestone

Posted By on 05.09.12 at 11:25 AM

That guy: Ben hates Twitter, Your an idiot. (comment)
Happy Wednesday morning!

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