Bathroom walls, missing graffiti, and social media. Where have all the cute quips on bathroom stalls gone? We wonder about the apparent decline of restroom graffiti. Are people saving their witticisms for Twitter and Facebook? And: If there were a universal law named in your honor, what would it be? Martha says in her case, “Barnette’s Law” would be “The lane you just got out of is the one that ends up going faster.” Always. Finally: Andre the Giant fancies a cocktail called “The American.” The recipe? Fill a 40-ounce pitcher with various liquors, then stir. Eeeeuww! Plus, using Master vs. Mister in correspondence, how fixin’ to became finna, the meaning of derp, and what happens when you take a forest bath in Japan.
This episode first aired October 31, 2014.
Social Media Replacing Graffiti
Amid the rise of social media oversharing, you’ll notice at least one peculiar change: people don’t seem to write on the walls of public restrooms anymore. But if you’re in search of some good old fashioned bathroom stall graffiti, we recommend checking out Allen Walker Read’s Classic American Graffiti.
Cyril Northcote Parkinson’s Law
Cyril Northcote Parkinson’s Law should be familiar to anyone who’s ever been assigned a minor task and a long weekend to get it done— “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
Speaking of eponymous laws, do you know what Cole’s Law is? (Hint: You might order it as a side dish with your fish and fries.)
Day Planner Quiz
Our Quiz Guy John Chaneski went through his day planner to combine activities with the abbreviations of days and months. For example, when it’s a relief after a long week just to get in bed, you’re talking about Satin.
Proper Noun Possessives
There’s no definite rule for putting the apostrophe “s” after names like Liz or Alex when talking about Liz’s wedding or Alex’s school, but we know for certain that most people say, and write out, the possessive “s.”
Herblock’s Law is a bummer for anyone who, like Grant, loved the socks sold at The Gap fifteen years ago: “If it’s good, they’ll stop making it.”
Cut Off the Nose to Spite the Face
The idiom “to cut off your nose to spite your face” has been attributed to a Medieval nun who described women cutting off their noses to look unattractive and thus preserve their chastity. Whether that story is true, cutting off someone’s nose was a pretty common form of punishment back then. The gist of that saying also appears in Henri IV’s statement about “burning Paris to save Paris.”
Andre the Giant’s Drink
We’ve spoken on the show about the suicide drink— that thing where you mix everything at the soda fountain into one cup. And we’ve also covered the Matt Dillon, when a bartender pours whatever’s in the bar mat into a cocktail glass. But the actor Cary Elwes recently revealed that Andre the Giant fancies a drink called The American, which consists of 40 ounces of various liquors all in one pitcher.
Master vs. Mister
If you’re into the manners and customs of correspondence, don’t forget that a boy under the age of about 12 is referred to as a Master, and a man over the age of 18 is a Mister. It goes back to the time of guild workers.
Euphemisms to Show Sympathy
We’ve talked on the show before about the language of grief and the use of euphemisms like, “I’m sorry for your loss,” or, passed away. A retired Middlebury College history professor wrote us to say that it’s all very well to be against euphemisms, but you also have to be respectful of other people’s feelings.
The Many Meanings of Hootenanny
A hootenanny, commonly thought of as a party in Appalachia, is also a term for German pancakes. But when you look in the Dictionary of American Regional English, you’ll notice that hootenanny is synonymous with doohickey or thingamajig, and can refer to, among other things, a sleigh, something to sharpen shears, or an imaginary object.
In a Car vs. On a Train
It’s largely because of the way we feel while riding in a car or on a train that we use the prepositions in a car and on a train.
Shinrin-yoku, the Japanese term for walking around in the woods that literally means “a forest bath” is a beautiful descriptor for what a hike should be—an opportunity to stroll through nature and wash off the stress of everyday life.
Photo by Liz West. Used under a Creative Commons license.
Books Mentioned in the Broadcast
|Classic American Graffiti by Allan Walker Read|
|Dictionary of American Regional English by Frederic Gomes Cassidy|
Music Used in the Broadcast
|Lady, You Look Good To Me||Galt MacDermot||Shapes of Rhythm||Kilmarnock|
|Village Hustle||Jungle Fire||Tropicoso||Nacional|
|Snake Pit||Jungle Fire||Tropicoso||Nacional|
|Morning Fly||The New Mastersounds||Therapy||One Note Records|
|Coffee Cold||Galt MacDermot||Shapes of Rhythm||Kilmarnock|
|Monday Meters||The New Mastersounds||Therapy||One Note Records|
|When It Rains||The New Mastersounds||Therapy||One Note Records|
|Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off||Ella Fitzgerald||Ella Fitzgerald Ella Fitzgerald Sings The George and Ira Gershwin Song Book||Verve|