Posts Tagged ‘Mental Floss’

Good Advice

Good Advice

Be prepared, you won’t be shocked!! Today the movies, cable TV shows and comedians have no holds barred when it comes to using foul language, bathroom humor, swearing a blue streak;  There are no boundaries…  Well it wasn’t always like that and thanks to Pbenjay’s favorite sourcerer, Gail, I received a link to an article about this very subject.

So let’s step back in time…Here’s a little background that I took from the Mental Floss website.

As long ago as 1944, H.L. Mencken, the great observer of American language, sadly noted that cursing had been on the decline since the Civil War, and that while there was still obscenity, “it is all based upon one or two four-letter words and their derivatives, and there is little true profanity in it.”

Taboos against what we would today consider pretty mild exclamations like “damn!” “hell!” and “Jesus Christ!” led the swearers of years past to come up with creative substitutions that gave them some measure of emotional release while keeping within the bounds of propriety. These substitutions are called “minced oaths,” and they’ve left their mark on our vocabulary. Gosh, gee, golly, dagnamit, darn, drat, gadzooks, zounds, heck, and cripes are all minced oaths that are still around to charm us with their innocent old-timey ring. But there are others you may not have heard of. They could come in handy when you get tired of ho-hum obscenity and want something with a little more profane zing.


A substitute for “by Jesus!” that is similar to “bejesus!” but jabbier. An Irish import, along the lines of “faith and begorrah!” Especially good for toe-stubbing.


A substitute for “goddamn.” From an 1854 Dictionary of Northamptonshire words: “Consarn you! If you don’t mind what you’re about I’ll give it to you!” Slow down and hit both syllables equally hard, and it’s like squeezing a stress ball.


Another “goddamn” form. “Well, dad-sizzle it!” was one way to show you meant business. There were a whole range of “dad” forms, from “dadgum” to dad-blast, dad-seize, dad-rat, dad-swamp, and many more. This one sounds surprisingly modern, like something Snoop Dogg (Snoop Lion?) might come up with.


A substitute for “damnation,” similar to “tarnation” and “botheration.” WTF is so tired. Try “What in thunderation?” instead.


Something you can swear by, used in a way similar to “by God!” It seems to have come from seafaring slang, and might refer to the Big Dipper. But you don’t need to know the origin to find it useful. Today the strange randomness of the words makes it feel mystically satisfying to shout.


A shortening of “by God’s nails!” This kind of shortening also gave us “zounds!” (God’s wounds), “Gadzooks!” (God’s hooks), “strewth!” (God’s truth), and “ods bodikins!” (God’s little body). If you yell it thinking of actual snails instead, it’s less profane, but more adorable.


This one goes along with the rest of the “gosh all” family: goshamighty, gosh-all-hemlock, gosh all fish-hooks, etc. “Gosh all Potomac” is the earliest one attested in the Dictionary of American English on Historical Principles, and it’s about time we brought it back.


One of the minced oaths that approximate the sounds in “Jesus Christ!” it uses all the strategies found elsewhere: the “gee” sound (Gee! Jeepers! Jeez!), the middle name (Jesus H. Particular Christ!), and the “cr” sound (Crikey! Criminy! Cracky! Christmas!).


There is no St. Boogar. This is a line from Sterne’s Tristram Shandy, considered by scholars to have a homoerotic subtext. Let it fly with pride!


It’s too bad the tradition of productive, long “by the” swears has fallen out of fashion. You could load enough crazy-sounding nonsense on there to really scare your kids into cleaning their rooms.

Some of the “swears” I heard growing up were “Fiddlesticks”, the ususal God damn and I was always especially impressed with my Uncle Henry’s ” Judas Priest”.  I think my kids will have a much more extensive memory including the likes of “Holy Mother of God”, “Jesus, Mary and Joseph”.

If you’ve got any “good” ones you’d like to share, please do.

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I wouldn't - Would you?

I wouldn’t – Would you?

I mean really where would our society be without a set of rules and a protocol of niceties?  But not wearing white after Labor Day?  Who said so and why?  My friend Gail posted a link (from the web site Mental Floss) on Facebook that answers that question and so I’m going to post the link in this blog. 

But first I’m going on record as YES I was and am one of those people who adhere to that ancient admonition about not wearing white after Labor Day.  I didn’t know I was following in the footsteps of some former elitist class but then again as a child of the 50’s that was how I was taught and so I passed it on to my daughter born in the late 70’s.  I know she followed that rule for some years after she left home but now it’s doubtful especially since she is living in Florida!

No White Shoes

No White Shoes

My husband on the other hand strictly adheres to the no spectator shoes before Memorial Day and after Labor Day.  It may be an antiquated way of thinking and behaving but when surrounded by a couple of generations that seem to have a no holds barred and anything goes attitude, it feels good to cling a few of the old rules.  Decorum has its place in society. Or would you rather walk down the street and pass young men with their pants hanging below their rear ends or girls wearing colorful bras and an open shirt or short shorts so short one wonders why not just wear the thong that the whole world can see anyway?  Or watch an awards show and see the entertainers half or more naked on the stage (because really what is that all about?).  Yes I must be getting on in years, showing my age (and my sensibilities).  But it isn’t fun to be on a bus or train trapped by loud-speaking-totally-unconcious-of-the-world-around-them youths who carry on phone and personal conversation at a decibel level practically illegal!

They're Everywhere!

They’re Everywhere!

So YES I will stop wearing white after Labor Day, No I will not wear gloves or a hat when I go out shopping, YES I try to wear age-appropriate clothing, NO I will not carry on a cell phone conversation on the bus, in an elevator or during dinner in a restaurant.  YES I always allow people older than myself out of the elevator or through a doorway before me and NO I don’t wear suede UGGS in the spring and summer with a Sundress!



Well now that I’ve had my rant, here’s the link to the article:  http://mentalfloss.com/article/12424/why-can%E2%80%99t-you-wear-white-after-labor-day

Some Things Are OK!

Some Things Are OK!


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This past Thursday would have been Emily Post‘s 139th birthday!  In honor of the occasion, the website, Mental Floss posted 10 tips and admonitions from that great arbiter of appropriate behavior.  These 10 items are interesting although probably more suitable to life in the mid-1960’s!

      1. On Eating Corn on the Cob: “To attach the corn on the cob with as little ferocity as possible is perhaps the only direction to be given, and the only maxim to bear in mind when eating this pleasant-to-taste but not-very-manageable vegetable is to eat it as neatly as possible.  The real thing to avoid is too much buttering and greedy eating.
      2. On Proper Attire for Dates: ” It’s always better to be under-than over-dressed.  Should your date be dressed for bowling and you are in a cocktail dress, excuse yourself for 10 minutes-no more-and change into something more casual.
      3. On the Behavior of an Engaged Couple:  It’s unnecessary to state that an engaged man show no marked interest in other women.
      4. On Greeting Guests Before A Wedding:  It is proper to smile and bow slightly to people you know, and even to speak briefly and quietly to a friend if they are sitting next to you.  However, if among strangers, you should just sit quietly till the procession starts.
      5. On Refusing to Dance: Refusing to dance with one man and then immediately dancing with another is an open affront to the first one – excusable only if he was intoxicated or so offensive that the affront was justifiable.
      6. On Dressing for an Audience with the PopeThe rules of dress for visitors to the Pope are not so strict as they once were.  But even now for a private or special audience, men usually wear traditional evening dress with tails or sack coat and women long-sleeved black dresses with a veil over their hair.  No one may wear more than the most functional jewelry.
      7. On Women Dining Together:  When several women dine together, the problem of the check is one that can concern to and confusion among the waiters, the nearby diners and the women themselves.  Women are so seldom able to separate the check into several parts with grace and speed that the cartoon of feminine heads clustered around the waiter’s tab, captioned, “Now Ethel, you had the tomato surprise.”, is all familiar to us.
      8. On Refusing Wine: If you do wish wine, it is best because it is the least conspicuous to allow a little wine to be poured into your glass. Unless your host happens to be looking at your glass when the wine is poured, he will not know later on that your almost empty glass was never filled. On the other hand if he does notice, he could not feel that much wine was wasted.
      9. On Eye Makeup:  Heavily made up eyes belong only on the stage or in the chorus line.
      10. On the Similarities Between Being Witty and Opium Addiction:

“In great danger of making enemies is the man or woman of brilliant wit. Sharp wit tends to produce a feeling of mistrust even while it stimulates. Furthermore, the applause that follows every witty sally becomes in time breath to the nostrils, and perfectly well-intentioned people who mean to say nothing unkind in the flash of a second ‘see a point’ and in the next second score it with no more power to resist than a drug addict has to refuse a dose put into his hand.”

I paraphrased some of her 10 Tips in an effort to streamline the post.

This image shows a red wine glass.
The Polite Glass of Wine

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Plastic flamingos in a yard.

Lawn Flamingos

Quite some time ago, I did a blog post about my flamingo collection and recently my friend, Gail, sent me this article that appeared in the Mental Floss blog about the history of the pink plastic flamingo.  Well several years ago when Peter was selling antiques in Chelsea, one day he saw this couple walking towards his booth.  He noticed them right of because they were wearing almost identical clothes in terms fabric.  Turns out that she made all of their clothes, including overcoats!!  He had a little chat with them and told them about how his wife has one of their flamingos in the guest bath tub.  Yes, it is stuck in the handle of the shower doors. LOL.

Well here is the article as well as a link to my two flamingo posts.



Queen of Kitsch: A Brief History of the Plastic Pink Flamingo

by Haley Sweetland Edwards – June 28, 2011 – 1:55 PM

With the season of backyard barbecues upon us, we thought you could use a history lesson on everyone’s favorite lawn ornament. From the plastic bird’s birth to its modern perch atop the pyramid of campy Americana, here’s the quick-and-dirty on the hot pink queen of kitsch.

The Birth of a National Icon

© Seth Resnick/Science Faction/Corbis

Perhaps not shockingly, the pink flamingo lawn ornament was invented in the same decade that polyester pants, pink washing machines, vinyl wallpaper and Naugahyde lounge chairs were cool. Flamingo fans worldwide owe their thanks to a man named Don Featherstone (pictured), a one-time employee of a plastics company called Union Products, who designed the first pink flamingo lawn ornament in 1957.

When they first hit stores, the blushing birds cost $2.76 a pair and were an immediate hit in working-class subdivisions from the Redwood Forest to the Gulfstream waters. This bird was made for you and me.

A (Brief) Fall from Grace

The 1960s were a decade of backlash against conformity, false experience, and all things Parental—including, evidently, Mom and Dad’s lawn décor. Hippies rallied against the plastics industry, cultural critics chastised all things “un-natural,” and home and garden magazines pleaded with people to abandon the gnomes, lawn jockeys and flamingos of yesteryear in favor of classier, more natural yard décor. By 1970, even Sears had stopped selling the pink flamingo, replacing the gaping hole in their garden department with natural-looking fountains and rocks, according to the historian Jennifer Price. Her book, Flight Maps (Basic Books, 1999), has a chapter on the plastic flamingo. It’s a must-read for flamingo aficionados.

And She’s Back!

Happily for flamingo fans, the ‘70s were a carnival of schlock, and by the early part of the decade, the pink flamingo had become so un-cool, it was cool again—this time as a self-conscious symbol of rebellion, outrageousness and all things Bad Taste. By the time John Waters’ movie, Pink Flamingos, hit theaters in 1972, the bird had fully transitioned to the realm of ironic kitsch. Gay bars used them as mascots, transvestites sported them on earrings and platform pumps, and in 1979, students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison planted 1,008 of the two-legged creatures in the grass in front of the dean’s office, earning them—and the bird—a place in Wisconsin’s State Historical Society.

Pink is the New Art

By the 1980s, the pink flamingo had made the ultimate giant leap for mankind: it had, like Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup cans, become art. In 1987, the governor of Massachusetts proclaimed the plastic bird “an essential contribution to American folk art,” Price wrote, and new clubs like the Flamingo Fanciers of America and the International Society for the Preservation of Pink Lawn Flamingos sprang into existence in time to celebrate the bird’s thirtieth birthday. In 1998, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles began to sell plastic pink flamingos in its bookstore for $19 a set.

Long Live the Queen of Camp

In 2009, in honor of the students’ 1979 prank, the Madison, Wisconsin, city council named the plastic pink flamingo the official bird of the city. And the esteemed lawn ornament lives on in Americana infamy, lending its name to bars, restaurants, casinos and hotels from sea to shining sea. The birds currently go for about $16 a set online.

via mental_floss Blog » Queen of Kitsch: A Brief History of the Plastic Pink Flamingo.

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