gray area

Courtesy of friends JE & AC, who moved out of town over the weekend, we now have a new-to-us ginormous TV in our place. The two best things about this TV, other than the mammoth screen:

1. The Fella will no longer need to complain about “the blacks,” i.e., the fuzzy, indistinct gray-to-black range that hampered dark scenes showing on our previous flatscreen TV;

2. I will stop cringing for a split second every so often because my partner has muttered the unexpected phrase “Wow, the blacks are terrible.”


updated to add: Even better than the Ode to Joy clip (at the end of this entry) is Beaker’s Habanera with The Swedish Chef and Animal. Enjoy!

Students at Danvers High School in Massachusetts are forbidden to utter the nonsense word meep.


Evidently, the students have appropriated Beaker’s all-purpose word for their own constant use, to the annoyance of the faculty and administrators. The principal’s balanced, sensible response, which was not at all silly, misguided, or destined for spectacular failure: he prohibited students from uttering the sound meep. Well, that oughta do it.

Two aspects of this story puzzle me, to startlingly different degrees.

First, the minor puzzle: since when has “meep” been an expression belonging only to younguns? I’m old enough to have watched the original broadcasts of The Muppet Show, and whenever I’ve had occasion to utter a tiny meep! of dismay or alarm, no one has seemed too terribly perplexed by it.

Second, the major puzzle: has this principal or any member of his administration ever, I dunno, met any high school students? Barring that, have they ever interacted with any group of humans? Have they any basic understanding of human psychology?

A quote from the second link:

“It has nothing to do with the word,” [Danvers H.S. principal Thomas] Murray said. “It has to do with the conduct of the students. We wouldn’t just ban a word just to ban a word.”

No, because banning a word will not work, and in fact will be counter-productive. The administration has now identified the word as a guaranteed provocation and enshrined it in legend.

In solidarity with the Danvers High students and for the sheer delight of it, I offer you: Ode to Joy, performed by Beaker.


I just learned a new word from a piece of spam: sintering, to heat a powdery material (like ceramics or metal) below its melting point until the particles adhere into a whole.

Why did I open the spam? Because my Gmail’s gone wonky and won’t let me “mark as spam” from my inbox, only from the email itself.

Why did I continue reading it?
A) They didn’t actually indicate any way for me to throw large fistsful of money at them, and I wondered where the hook was buried;
B) sintering, dude. Strange words catch my eye.


A selection of words and phrases used in a wholly positive discussion of our wedding day plans:
– “messy”
– “noisy”
– “ridiculous”
– “a whole mess of kids squealing all the way around!”
– “[Best Woman] promises to cram me full of coffee first.”
– “boisterous”
– “howling”
– “It might be hot as a crotch in that hall.”
– “barefoot”
– “whore’s bath
We are such romantics.


Frankly, I’m heartily sick of three expressions: frankly, with all due respect, and no offense, but…
With all due respect, it’s not the words that offend me. The words themselves are perfectly useful and civil expressions.
No, what offends me is the widespread use of them as magic words excusing the speaker from the social compact. They operate as disclaimers, relieving the speaker of the constraints of both civility and accuracy. For some people, phrases like frankly, with all due respect, and no offense, but… serve as a warning bell. They mean “In a moment, I’m going to step outside the bounds of civil discourse, and I won’t feel a scintilla of remorse, because I’ve uttered the magic word.”
No offense, but that’s a sad excuse for debate.


Terms ’round these parts:
monkey: a general term of endearment, used as anyone else would use “honey.”
out in the world: the area outside our threshold, e.g., “I’m going for ice cream, monkey. Do you need anything out in the world?”
Jive Turkey: the neighborhood market, a charming little shop with a deli, a proper butcher, spices in bulk, and fresh vegetables. Its name (initially misremembered by me as Fresh Happenings) smacks of a ’70s sit-com a la What’s Happening? Happening!! or Good Times. After many, many attempts to call it by name, one day I waggled my hands in frustration and said “You know! Fresh Places! Happy Happenings! Uh, Jive Turkey!” The last one stuck.
cash money: a term employed only because “cash American dollar bills” proved too wordy. Used to distinguish from virtual money (i.e., debit card, credit card). Doing laundry requires cash money, as does feeding a parking meter or running over to Jive Turkey to pick up a $1.29 coffee.
the internerds: describes to The Fella the tiny people who live in my computer. If you’re reading this, this might mean you.

Test anxiety beaten to pulp

Ha! In spite of horrendous nerves, I managed to pass the ZMP with 103 out of a possible 120 points. I totally rocked listening comprehension with 28.5 out of 30 which is odd because usually reading is my strongest area. I’m not complaining though. As I wrote in a few celebratory e-mails earlier,

it was a thrill just to be nominated. Oh wait, that’s the Oscar line… It was a thrill just to pass!