Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Further Sexual Misadventures of Medusa

It has been a trying day, and this is all I can offer you.


It’s as sensible a follow-up as any to my idiot ramblings on Medusa’s sexy underpinnings.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Deku Tree of Life

Sure, I live in a world where Greendale Community College may close its doors forever, but occasionally, awesomely, my interests are catered to. This piece of Legend of Zelda fan art, for example…


… is actually a nod in the direction of one of my favorite artists, Charley Harper, whose coffee table book sits right here in my apartment…


… on the loveseat, for I have no coffee table.

(Kolb Is Neat, via Fill Up Your Hearts.)

So Lonely in Your Company

To some, this might not sound like a compliment, but I’m honestly praising this song when I say it goes from Chris Issak to good era Peter Gabriel in about six seconds. Plus, there’s a dash of the “Take on Me” video, though the song overall does not skew all that 80s.


I wish I hated an ex enough to relate to the lyrics. I’ll just pretend.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Sinister Icy White Hand of Death

When it comes to blogged content, Boing Boing is the end in that once an item makes it onto this particular blog, it’s everywhere, it’s dunzo, it’s beyond the relaying in any formal way. Boing Boing has that much push. Or pull. Or whatever motion information moves in nowadays. Furthermore, most of Boing Boing’s grabby content gets picked up and reposted that same day by major blogs anyway, so the idea of repackaging it for a dinky personal blog is especially silly. And yet I’m writing this post anyway, simply because I haven’t learned anything else in recent memory that so deserved to be called awesome, in all senses of the term.

Also, it allows me to toss off a reference to Calvin & Hobbes, and I don’t get to do that often enough.

Also, it’s also my word of the week.
brinicle (BRAI-nih-kel) — an undersea ice formation similar in form to a stalactite.
I could go one about it, but few words could convey as much as could the BBC documentary footage that Boing Boing featured last week. And here is that footage once more, simply because watching again and again does little to diminish the beauty of its destructive power.


It might remind me of that movie The Abyss, if I had ever seen it, but for now let’s just say it reminds me of what I think The Abyss should be about. It’s tough to make starfish seem relatable, I say, but I have a hard time not projecting my own fear onto them as I watch them skitter aimlessly and blindly while this ice-cold death ray makes contact. I’d compare it to a game of Hot Lava if the comparison weren’t so wrong, temperature-wise. And yet none of this surprises me so much as the fact that the above video, filmed in 2011 for the BBC’s Frozen Planet series, marks the first time the phenomenon had ever been captured on film and, thus, been made available to be seen by non-undersea explorer-types like myself. And you, for all I know. (Do tell.)

Since this is a word-of-the-week post, I’ll at least point out that the term’s etymology and a portmanteau of brine and icicle does little to convey its awesomeness.

A technical note: I usually try to write out the pronunciation in my words of the week phonetically, except when I forget to. I tried this week, too, but I couldn’t figure out the clearest way to represent the long “i” in brine. Anyone?

Previous words of the week after the jump.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Red Rocket Reducer

One day, some clever person will invent an app to address and eliminate the problem of obstructive dog wang ruining otherwise pleasant photographs.

 
If this exists — and I’m talking about a mini-program that can turn canine peen into mere furry underbelly with a single swipe — then there’s hope for amateur dog photographers anywhere. In the meantime, I’m inclined to just tell people it’s an extra foot.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Short Story About 7-11 Cream Cheese

Around four yesterday afternoon, my mother tasked me with getting the butter necessary to complete something we call “pumpkin gooey cake.” No, I don’t know why we never picked a more appetizing term, and no, I’m not sure what set the precedent to place the adjective after the noun, ESL-style. Honestly, the pumpkin gooey cake would probably be better off without the second stick of butter, seeing as how the other ingredients render it a sort of autumn-festive lethal injection. But whatever.

So off I drove into town, in hopes of finding the single least-busy food emporium that might have butter. Not because I have any faith in its food selection but only because it’s the store closest to my parents’ house, I stopped at 7-11. A quick check of the shelves yielded no butter, so I asked the cashier.

This is how he responded: “Butter?” (Technically “butt-air” would get closer to his pronunciation, but the important part here is the question mark at the end.)

Me: “Yes.” (I waited. I grew impatient.) “Do you have butter?”

Cashier of indeterminate ethnicity: “Butt-air. In the case.”

Me: “Can you show me where? I didn’t see it.”

Him: “In the case. Next to… the case.”

I did another sweep of the 7-11 cold storage. Weird single-serving milks with fruit flavors inexplicably added to them? Check. Gray meats cut into identical geometric shapes? Check. Cream cheese? Check. I returned and asked again, but he insisted that butter existed in this place, and I wanted to believe him. “Can you show me?” I asked. This is how the cashier responded: laying his left hand flat, palm facing toward the ceiling, as if he expected me to place something on it. He then clenched his right fist and moved it back and forth over his left hand. “Butt-air!” Well, he had me there. Though he ignored the spirit of my question, his little pantomime had, in fact, managed to “show me” butter, at least in the sense of how it might be demonstrated in a game of charades. (Do note: The gesture for “butter” is not perceptibly different from the one for “cream cheese.” This may come in handy one day.) “No, I need butter. It comes in a cube,” I explained. And I tried to suggest the rectangular prism that is the butter stick with my hands, which is harder to do than you might expect. No response. Now I used my hands to point at the case. “Show me,” I said, hoping he’d get it.

He did, in fact, leave from behind the register and walk to the cold case — past the weird fruit milk, past the gray lunchmeats and directly to the cream cheese. He retrieved one and held it up. “Butt-air.”

So, of course it turned out that the 7-11 didn’t have butter and I had to go to a different store. (There I met a relative I literally had never interacted with before, but that’s a different story.) I got the butter. But when my mother realized this morning that she lacked the cream cheese necessary to complete a different recipe, I knew where to go. I walked in, headed to the cold case with purpose and grabbed an eight-ounce canister of cream cheese. When I reached the front of the line, a familiar face was waiting for me. He grinned as he scanned my cream cheese. And holding the label up for me to see, he proclaimed, “See? I told you!”

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Terminal Penguin Disease

It's trite to tell everyone how you're thankful for your family or your newly rebuilt house or your one good eye, so I'm taking this day before Thanksgiving to share something I'm thankful for: a video game I never played. Like actors who once appeared in McDonald's commercials, some now highly respected video game creators had less than auspicious beginnings, and 1UP.com has collected a few of these early forays into the industry. Included in the round-up was the video game debut by Hideo Kojima, the guy whose name is today synonymous with the Metal Gear Solid series and all associated espionage, plot twists and James Cameron-esque military mech. Kojima's first game was not that. It was a 1986 release for the MSX titled Penguin Adventure.


Yeah, this is what it looks like. Given Kojima's rep among gamers as an innovator and an auteur, this should be funny. (If you are not laughing and don't know what a Metal Gear is, do keep reading. It gets better.) Never having played an MSX, I've never gotten my hands on Penguin Adventure and have therefore never been able to help Penta (heroic blue penguin) venture off to find a magic golden apple in order to cure the ailing Princess Penguette. Not that I would have wanted to. You see, even if this game might have starred cartoony, anthropomorphic penguins, Kojima still had a hand in the development and slipped one of his now-trademark "gotcha" moves on the player. If you reached the end of the game and retrieved this stupid golden apple, you'd return to your little penguin-apolis to find that… Princess Penguette is dead, for you arrived too late. In the spot where she breathed her last, all that remains is a portrait of her in healthier times.


In fact, according to 1UP, the only way to get a "good" ending, in which Penguette's insides didn't rot and boil in her own penguin body, was to pause the game "once and only once" during play. The instruction manual and the in-game text offered no hint about this, which doubtlessly led to Princess Penguette dying a thousand needless deaths and young video game players being soured on penguins forever. So while I applaud Penguin Adventure for including one of the single most dicked features in any video game ever, I have to say that it's easier to appreciate its evil genius from afar, from the perspective of someone who never played it.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Bad Omen

This is what I saw moments before I headed in for an appointment with my doctor.


Despite what you might think, it did not necessarily turn out to be a good sign.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Sound of the Trumpets of Conscience Falls Deafly on a Brain That Holds Its Ears

A topsy-turvy, dystopic cityscape...


... as only the streets of Beverly Hills could create.

Snakes on a Dame

(Discussed herein: Batgirl, the female genitalia, Greek mythology, movie monsters, the “pretty” Medusa problem, priapism (metaphorically), Sigmund Freud, Uma Thurman, video games.)

Think about monsters — the stock spooks, the scary movie types. If pressed to name the boogeymen from those old, black-and-white-and-thereabouts horror films, who lurks to mind? Dracula? The Wolfman? The Creature from the Black Lagoon? Some unnamable mummy? Maybe Frankenstein’s monster, which you might actually call Frankenstein and I’ll let it slide because it’s not the point? But think about this: They’re all dudes. Sure, you might have mentioned the Bride of Frankenstein, but she’s less of a monster in her own right. She is like Batgirl — a thing, sure, but a thing that was only brought into existence as female counterpart to a more central male character. And that holds true for the actual plot of Bride of Frankenstein as well as this frank, smartypants discussion of monsterology.

So then, I’ll pose a second question: Name a famous female monster — a specific one. You have your options, I’d imagine. La Llorona or Lady Snow, depending on your worldview, but they’re not A-list by American pop culture standards. Maybe a whole bunch of black, pointy hat-types. The Wicked Witch of the West? The evil queen from Snow White — Disney version, of course. Maybe other witches, even though they’re not exactly monsters? Maybe a succubus? Maybe Morrigan from DarkStalkers in particular? But I’d wager that any culturally literate person should eventually arrive at Medusa. (Yes, I’m still on this one, a full week later, though it’s far from a new fixation for me.)

medusa, per clash of the titans — the “good” one
She’s not on the level of Dracula or the Wolfman, but she is more a monster than some green-skinned hag on a broom. And she’s iconic in the way of the major big bads are — she’s got the snaky locks, she’s scowling, she’s often depicted wearing a toga. I put Medusa in the big leagues, honestly, because I grew up playing video games, and she happens to show up in them fairly often, I suspect because game designers wanted to throw in a female monster and have gamers not feel so bad about wailing on her. She is loathsome, after all. That’s the point of her: Athena transformed Medusa into an ugly beast to punish her. But thinking about her and the relative lack of widely recognized monstresses in Western culture, I realize that a lot of what she’s about is overtly feminine and metaphorically sexual.

Freud said so, anyway. And I know, Freud thought everything was sexual, but in his essay Medusa’s Head, he astutely asserted that Medusa’s story is all about fear of castration. Her head, which, in the story of Perseus gets lopped off and then toted around Greece like some sort of steampunk petrification ray, is both a symbol of a man’s fear of castration — his “head” getting lopped off in a similar manner — as well as the supposedly treacherous female genitalia. In her book Pandora: Women in Classical Greece, Ellen Reeder takes the idea a little farther: Those writhing snakes? Pubic hair. Her face, basically is a snarling vagina dentata, hungrily threatening worldwide manhood in a more literal way than Freud perhaps meant.


So here’s where I take this train of thought — and all apologies if this is something that academically minded mythology wonks realized when they added two and two together eons ago — but if everything about her physicality seems to suggest sex, and the effect of seeing Medusa is that it turns people to stone, isn’t their a link to be made between her “bad” sexuality and the world’s worst boner? I mean seriously: She gets guys so erect they’ll never be able to be with another woman… because she literally petrifies them.

But that leads me to my final big point: If Medusa’s whole thing is aggressive female sexuality combined with weapon-grade ugly, what’s with the trend of depicting her as a rather beautiful creature?

I bring this up because of my namesake, in a sense. Way, way, way back in the day, when I started this blog and decided, “What the hell? My AIM screen name would make a great URL!”, I kind of tied myself to that beloved video game of my youth, Kid Icarus, a Greek mythology-themed Nintendo platformer that is notable for being one of the few old-school Nintendo games to have a female big bad. Yep, it’s Medusa, and she’s even set up as the antagonist to the game’s damsel, an Athena stand-in named Palutena. When you fight Medusa, she’s a snarly, reptilian thing until you fire the final killshot, at which point she transforms into something smaller and recognizably feminine and not unlike how I described her earlier: snaky locks and wearing a toga. Nintendo has since revived Kid Icarus as a franchise and will soon be releasing a new title, Kid Icarus: Uprising, that once again pits the title character as a pawn in the fight between Palutena and Medusa. Only this is how Medusa looks now:


Clearly, the years have been kind to her. It’s hardly the only time she’s been depicted as sexy or at least cute. Even a simple Google image search for her name turns up about as many sexy Gorgons as hideous ones. Hell, in that Harry Potter rip-off movie that dressed up folksy British magicks in Greek mythology drag, Medusa was played by Uma Thurman.

I’m not sure how to feel about this.

Does the idea of a pretty Medusa totally miss the point? Is it wrong to make her aesthetically pleasing (at best), vampy and sexed up (at worst) just to make her more acceptable when the whole point of her is that her repugnance makes her dangerous?

Or is a madeover, de-uggified Medusa is actually quite progressive, because the fact that she’s female and uses her looks as a weapon only makes her dangerous but not necessarily ugly? Isn’t she all the more dangerous — and subversive — if her outsides actually don’t match her evil intentions? Isn’t the pretty Medusa flying in the face of that fairy tale trope of pure, beautiful princess-versus-withered, embittered hag? And was she ever ugly, necessarily, or was it that “fatally unattractive” was the simplest shorthand ancient Greek storytellers would have had for a woman around whom you had to be careful?


I’m positive that there have to be fewer Google hits for “sexy Wicked Witch of the West.”

Monday, November 14, 2011

Grievous Grape

Grievous Grap Even with purple, cough syrup-tasting Lemonheads being a fairly low bar for a candy to jump over, I was disappointed in these beyond words.


No, not cool. Not cool at all. Your sunglasses are meaningless. And the eyes in the Os in the candy name are just confusing.

Also, the candies themselves look less like grape bunches than purple artichokes.

I had to let that out. I really did.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Square Jaws, Square Personalities

In the past year, two of my favorite shows have benefited from the addition of nerds: Parks and Receation, which got Adam Scott’s Ben, and Fringe, which got Seth Gabel’s Lincoln Lee. Now, I realize that given these two shows’ decidedly terrible ratings, it would be a fairly small number of people who would be familiar with both characters. Trust me — they’re both awkward, stick-to-the-rules types that register in the TV world as uncool, kind of like how Rachael Lee Cook plus glasses equaled an untouchable mutant so many years ago. But even in spite of the character similarities, don’t these two look a hell of a lot alike?


I can tell them apart, of course, but I’m putting this out there to see if anyone else has noticed how these two actors — especially in character on their current, respective TV gigs — have a similar thing going on, to the point that when I see Gabel (the one with whom I am less familiar) on Fringe, my immediate reaction is always “Yep, he still reminds me of Adam Scott.” Anyone?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Lower Third

For my word of the week: a term for something with which every news-savvy person knows but for which they likely lack a smartypants, make-your-friends-feel-dumb term:
chyron (KAI-ron) — noun: an electronically generated caption superimposed on a television or cinema screen.
Essentially, a chryon is the floating bit of text that tells you the name of whoever is on MSNBC or Fox News or CNN or whatever and why they’re talking on the given subject. Think a boldly colored background, drop-shadowed white text and a euphemism such as “party strategist” or “local man” or “teen abstinence advocate.”


I’m guessing this term chyron also includes the dreaded ticker — that horrible thing that reduces lesser news stories to a Twitter feed with a lesser character count — and anything else that happens to appear in the lower third of a news channel screen.

Mythology buffs might attempt to connect chryon with the similarly named centaur/tutor who managed to repress his lusty urges and educated a who’s-who of ancient Greek heroes. I can’t say that this association is wrong, exactly, and it would make a lot of sense, given the term’s informational associations Chiron’s tendency toward explanation. But I’m not sure the centaur gave rise to the word, because it’s generally assumed that the term came from the Chyron Corporation, which has since 1966 supplied TV broadcasts with supplemental, digital doodads that have allowed viewers to know what the hell is happening. Thus, it’s one of those brands-turned-generic terms, like Kleenex and Q-Tip. However, as near as I can tell, it’s the only word we have for this particular element of TV culture.

Previous words of the week after the jump.

Megan Mullally Goes to Lumberton

If you’ve watched Blue Velvet, you know that the main triangular sexual tension exists among Kyle MacLachlan, Isabella Rossellini and Laura Dern — the hero, the virgin and the whore, if you want to get archetypal about matters. (The secondary sexual tension happens among MacLachlan, Rosellini and Dennis Hopper, but that’s a different post.) The new Blu-ray release of Blue Velvet includes never-before-seen deleted scenes, including one that depicts another woman in Jeffrey Beaumont’s life: his college girlfriend, Louise. All traces of Louise were excised from the final cut of the film. And for good reason, since the idea of third, non-archetypal love interest steals a bit from the contrast between Rossellini’s Dorothy and Dern’s Sandy. But Louise is noteworthy for one reason: She was played by Megan Mullally. Her career subsequently veered toward comedy, and that’s for the best, I say, because she’s a gift to that genre. However, her turn in Blue Velvet, which is only a comedy if you’re a terribly fucked-up person, is worth your attention.

Gaze upon Mullally by way of David Lynch, poofy hair rendering her unrecognizable but her voice nonetheless reminding you of Karen Walker:





And it goes without saying that had Lynch chosen Mullally to play Dorothy Valens, it would have been hilarious.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

French Cuisine, Via Japan, Via a Video Game

Here is a villain.


I mean, just try to imagine any instance where this guy is not a villain. Go head. Try.

He may not mean much to you, this Waluigi-looking dastard, but he’s the big bad of an eight-bit video game called Panic Restaurant, wherein the ingredients and instruments of an industrial kitchen turn evil in the way that things in video game universes inexplicably do. WHen I played the game, the guy’s name was Ohdove, and I always wondered why someone thought that was a serviceable name for an evil chef. Now I know. According to the Wikipedia page for Panic Restaurant — I was feeling bored and nostalgic, okay? — the guy’s name is supposed to be Hors D’Oeuvre, but the process of taking a French word, rendering it in Japanese and then translating it into English made that completely unrecognizable. Now I know.

A small thing, I’ll admit, but I never get tired of finding out that clunky or meaningless-seeming names from old video games were, in fact, supposed to mean something, and that translation and re-translation obscures meaning but also makes something new.

And that may be the most profound thing I will ever write about Panic Restaurant.

Names and games, previously:

Monday, November 07, 2011

Questions Reasonable People Should Have Upon Playing Super Mario Bros. for the First Time

(See title for gist.)


Wait, why do coins give Mario extra lives?

Why am I being rewarded for collecting money but not for killing enemies and collecting points? Shouldn’t the points be the more valuable form of currency?

So he’s saving mushroom people but he’s also eating mushrooms? Isn’t that kind of fucked up?

And there are also evil walking mushrooms?

Is this, like, a drug thing?

Why are turtles evil? Or are they just anti-mushroom?

Why is Mario a stereotype of Italian people?

Why does he lower the flag at the end of each level only to raise a secondary, smaller flag in the castle he runs into?

Why would touching something stupid like an evil walking mushroom or a turtle cause you to get injured or die?

So the bricks just float there in the air?

Why is it the same boss at the end of every world? Does he come back to life every time you kill him?

Wait, how do you fly?

Why is the princess of the mushroom people herself not a mushroom?

Did the dragon thing want to, like, eat the princess? Or marry the princess?

So it’s a kingdom, but the person in charge is a princess?

Where did all the people live before the turtles came? Like, in the castles? They have wooden fences and plentiful trees but everyone lives in brick castles?

Are the “castles levels” at the end of each world where the mushroom people normally lived? Did they design the castles to be full of lava and spinning fireballs and stuff?

For a game where you have to eat mushrooms and ingest other psychedelic objects to get superpowers, isn’t the whole money-as-life metaphor weirdly conservative?

If he can break bricks by punching them, why doesn’t Mario just punch the bad guys?

Leopard Tree Dream

Not to harp on Google and its Googly quirks, but it went and did away with one of my favorite features: the “share” option in Google Reader. Now, if we want to tell our friends which articles we enjoyed, we’re supposed to use Google+, and though I actually think the plus has some good bones, it’s just not happening yet. (I am on there, however. Do add me so we’re all synched up when people finally realize that the plus is empirically better than Facebook.) The beauty of Reader’s share options was that it allowed me to keep a running list of the items I thought were interesting and that I could pillage for “link dump” posts here on this blog. I haven’t done one in forever, but I’ll do one now.

Happy Monday. Stop work. Embrace procrastination. Click freely.

The 1962 home movie of a trip to Las Vegas taken by the predecessors of someone I don’t know. Stranger danger notwithstanding, I was very moved.

The best-ever episodes of Batman: The Animated Series, according to some guy with well-reasoned opinions.

Liz Lemon’s middle name, it turns out, is not Yashwali but Miervaldis. (I have dumb ears maybe?) Tina Fey explains the origin of the name.

How to give your cat a massage. (Is technically SFW, I guess.)

Full disclosure: I have never watched a complete episode of Sex and the City. I don’t intend to. But these failings didn’t deter me from enjoying this story of the remarkable, real-life, sixty-year romance that played out in the apartment next to Carrie Bradshaw’s.

Wired on the importance of mind-wandering.

One of the best kills ever in a horror movie: this ill-fated chick from La Chiesa, who catches a train in the worst possible way.

A complete history of Saturday Night Live’s Celebrity Jeopardy! parodies.

From Wikipedia, one of the stranger fads I’ve ever heard of: Hunkerin’

Alyson Hannigan, Mila Kunis, Bradley Cooper and other actors who were never supposed to have left their TV castmates in the dust.

“The repugnant, flippered embraced of this chair.”

“Punchlines from the world’s worst jokes.”

What makes slang “stick”? In a lot of cases, it’s the “ooo” sound. Seriously.

The best intersection of things British, things French and things paranormal: the Moberly-Jourdain Incident.

Judy Jetson is kind of a nympho, it turns out.

A seeing-eye dog… for a dog.

Black twin, white twin; gay twin, straight twin.

The otherworldly grace of the feather star crinoid. (Via.)


Daffy Duck — and, really, Looney Tunes in general — have never been cooler. (Via.)


“Eastern Europe’s favorite cat-and-mouse team, Worker & Parasite!” (Via.)


So... follow me on Google+, I guess?

Sunday, November 06, 2011

The Judge’s Feet

My post from yesterday about the sad, obvious plot to steal my Google password got me thinking about concerns people may have about online security, in particular the kind of people who tend to use Google by asking questions. You know — instead of Googling “buy tickets michael bolton concert” they’d type in “where can i buy tickets to a michael bolton concert and also maybe sting is there too?” Yes, I think we know what kind of demographic we’re talking about. Thus, I’m posting this basically just to see what kind of traffic I get.
Why should I not post my social security number online?

How can I tell if my identity has been stolen by the internet?

Why did Nigerians take all my money?

Where can I find a support group for people who lost all their money to craft Nigerians?

Why is Gmail asking me to email my password?

Why is Gmail asking me to send in all my credit card numbers to see if one of them is lucky?

Why is Gmail asking me to send pictures of my bottom?

How did the crafty Nigerians get pictures of my bottom?

Where can I meet eligible, exiled Nigerian princes locally?

Where can I find naked pictures of Connie Chung? 
 Okay, that last one was neither here nor there, but I’m still interested to see how many people are interested in naked Connie Chung.

Punctuation for the Awe-Struck Spaniard

Few pet interests could out-geek typography fandom. I mean, you’re talking about enthusiasm for an element of life that the vast majority of people see constantly but which they could not care less about. However, I maintain that punctuation marks are interesting, and the following post will either prove or disprove that assertion.

By now, many literary people know of the interrobang, a sort of punctuational hermaphrodite that mashed the exclamation point and the question mark into a multipronged twofer. Perhaps you read about it on this blog back in 2005, when I learned of it and I exploded with interrobang-worthy levels of surprise and amazement. Or perhaps you’re just, like, super smart. In case this word interrobang is new to you, here’s the gist: Instead of lining the end marks back-to-back in the manner of “It’s full of snakes?!” you can instead conserve space by simply punctuating it “It’s full of snakes‽” (I’m unsure what’s a more shocking thing to be snake-full. Your Prius? A pinata? A womb?) The interrobang is handy enough, I say, though I’d imagine less astute readers would wonder what the hell is wrong with that capital “P.” Invented by ad man Martin K. Specktor in 1962, the interrobang actually found a certain level of mainstream acceptance, even getting a spot on certain typewriter models in 1968. Of course, it never made it to the big leagues, but I say it still has a chance. I mean, look how ubiquitous the at sign and the hash mark are today compared to how rarely we used them twenty years ago.

A funny footnote to the story of the interrobang — a story that, were it published in book form, should be titled Huh‽ Wha‽ Really‽ — is that its creation necessitated a second mark for those writing in Spanish. In this language, writers have the odd habit of giving the reader a heads up with a question or exclamation is coming. I’ve always wondered why, exactly, and why the inverted question mark or exclamation point at the beginning of a sentence stuck with Spanish and no other major language. But this is what Spanish does. Thus, if an interrobang were to be used at the end of a sentence — “Esta llena de serpientes,” for example — you’d need an upside-down one at the beginning.


And the name of this mark, by the way, is my word of the week. (Took me long enough, I know.)
gnaborretni (nab-or-RET-nee) — noun: The symbol ⸘ (an inverted superimposed exclamation point and question mark), used in place of ¡¿ in Spanish, Galician, and Leonese.
The etymology? It’s simply interrobang backwards, which seems especially clever until you realize that the gnaborretni isn’t actually a backwards interrobang so much as an upside-down one. But, you know, whatever.

May all your Spanish interrogative exclamations be stylishly punctuated.


You may be wondering why I have included a picture of an orange wearing a crown. You see, the thing is, my intended word of the week was going to be realgar, the name of a pigment once considered to be the only source of pure orange but which fell out of use because it’s horrendously poisonous. In fact, it’s also one of the main sources or arsenic. This story these once-prevalent colors that we no longer use, in combination with orange’s status as the least-beloved color in the spectrum or even colors that aren’t actually colors, like pink or magenta, seemed promising a few days ago but ended up being pretty sucky when expressed by me. But I’d already Photoshopped the orange. Thus, this: King Orange.

Apparently I think punctuation is more interesting than deadly poison.

Previous words of the week after the jump.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

She Had a Face Only a Mummy Could Love

The night’s entertainment: the 1964 Hammer film The Gorgon, because cheap horror is never better than when it’s so very British and so very cavalier with its source material.

 
But I’m a sucker for Medusa and a sudden onset of California winter has me homebound, so whatever. The movie tells the story of the titular monster hiding in an abandoned castle in Germany, allegedly because she fled there after her two sisters were slain. One of the sisters, yes, is named Medusa, so that’s at least right, but this surviving member of the headsnake sisters is named Megaera and the other dead one is Tisiphone. Technically, these latter two are Furies, and the association is strong enough that forms of Megaera’s name mean “shrew” in more than one European language. (The Furies, by the way, are not to be confused with the furries, about which I will not speak, and Megaera is not to be confused with Hercules’s lady love Megara, who in the orginal myth literally gets torn to shreds by him. Let’s just re-write everything while we’re at it?)


The super pressing Gorgon-related question we should be asking, however, is this: If the Gorgon sisters caused whatever they looked at to turn to stone, how the hell did they live together? Careful planning? Deliberate placement of mirrors? Bells around their necks? Was it like Ned and Chuck on Pushing Daisies? Is there possibly a sitcom here? Maybe with Marcia Cross, Jane Leeves and Jami Gertz? Can someone get on this pronto?

My little pet monster, previously:

You Had Me at Alot

Shoot, guys. Looks like Google lost all their valuable customer records!


You know what, I’m going to also give them my social security number and checking account, too, just so there’s no question about who I am exactly. While I’m at it, I think maybe I should also take some full-body nudes, just in case Google needs intimate birthmarks to verify me.

Might as well tweet all of this while I’m at it.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

A Short, Unpleasant Story About a Bathroom

The men's room in my office had been rendered less usable by virtue of the fact that the door handle sticks, making entry difficult. This itself seems only marginally problematic to me, because if you just jiggle it a little, it'll open, to use a famously easy-to-say, hard-to-understand phrase, though I do wonder where all the defeated would-be bathroom-users went when they concluded that they could not use the facilities as desired. But it's more baffling that the management's solution was to simply remove the door handle altogether, creating a nice, wrist-sized space connecting the bathroom and the hallway. Not only could any passerby look in, but other sensation-inducing entities can get out and taint the hallway in a way that reminds us why we invented doors in the first place. Worst of all? Though one can now enter the bathroom simply by pushing on the door -- it swings in, you see -- the only way to open the door from inside, now, is to stick your finger into the knob-hole, dig it into the meat of the door (so to speak) and give it a good tug towards you. It's absolutely obscene, and I feel dirty just having described it.

This is why I don't use the work bathroom anymore.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Simple Times, Stupid Music

The thing is, I like old stuff. I’m not someone who goes around only looking at the popular culture of previous generations with my mind focused on now and how all the not-now things are different and therefore bad. But there’s a certain era of music that I don’t really understand, and its the same one that gave us that “You say potato” song and that “Roly Poly” song from Pillow Talk. At this point in American culture, adults seem to have found entertainment in the kind of songs that today are sung by babies and perhaps children on bus trips who want test how close they can push their driver into taking the entire vehicle over a guardrail. I mean, what other purpose could “One Hundred Bottles of Beer on the Wall” possibly serve?

Not long ago — but long enough, and you’ll shortly realize why — I was standing in a Borders and was subjected to one of these songs: Cab Calloway’s “Everybody Eats When They Come Over to My House.” I’m not saying it’s managerial decisions like this one that caused Borders to cease, but I’m willing to bet it didn’t help.


(And no, I do not know why the background image for the song is a butt. The other version I found was actually more offensive.)

Listen, if you like, or just check out the lyrics, but I’m boggled as to how this was okay for adults to enjoy. I’m actually further confused about whether ol’ Cab meant for, like, half of his food rhymes to sound sexual, though it’s hard to imagine he didn’t think about the implications of that opening pair of lines, “Have a banana, Hannah / Try the salami, Tommy.” And then the thing that seems strangest to me is Calloway’s seeming inability to find actual human people’s names that rhyme with food, which caused him to invite to his dinner party people named Mandrake, Irvy, Mendel, Fagel and Nashville. (Maybe everyone eats at your house because all the party guests suck?)

If this sort of thing gets to you to — and it should, thinking humans! — please examine below the lyrics to “Everybody Eats When They Have Come Over to My House,” which I wanted to highlighted in a matter that reflects my frustrations but I could not figure out how to do that on the new Blogger:
Have a banana, Hannah
Try the salami, Tommy
Get with the gravy, Davy
Everybody eats when they come to my house
 
Try a tomato, Plato
Here’s cacciatori, Dory
Taste of bologna, Tony
Everybody eats when they come to my house
 
I've fixed your favorite dishes
Hopin' this good food fills ya
Work my hands to the bone in the kitchen alone
You better eat if it kills ya
 
Pass me a pancake, Mandrake
Havin
 a derby, Irvy
Lookin the fendel, Mendel
Everybody eats when they come to my house
 
Hannah, Davy, Tommy, Dora, Mandrake
Everybody eats when they come to my house
 
Pasta fazoula, Tallulah
Oh, do have a bagel, Fagel
Now don't be so bashful, Nashville
Everybody eats when they come to my house
 
Hey, this is a party, Marty
Well, you get the cherry, Jerry
Now look, don't be so picky, Mickey
Cause everybody eats when they come to my house
 
All of my friends are welcome
Don't make me coax you, moax you
Eat the tables, the chairs, the napkins — who cares?
You gotta eat if it chokes ya
 
Oh, do have a knish, Nisha
Pass him the latke, Matke
Chili con carne for Barney
Everybody eats when they come to my house
 
Face, Buster, share, chops, fump
Everybody eats when they come to my house
Everybody eats when they come to my house
Also, moax you? Also, I feel real bad for the guy nicknamed “Taste of Bologna” Tony.

Also, neither here nor there, really, but no one pronounces it “poh-tah-toh.”