Discover more from New-to-me Phrases
NTMP #22: Malevolent olfactory ghost
If you need me, I'll be in the plotting room
New-to-me Phrases, June 26, 2022
Yarden * Pasta hands falcon * Disruptive editing * Anger melons * Plotting room * Weird barn thing * Cardio flailing * The annals of brown marmorated stinkbug invasions * Frass * Gerontocracy
The Phrases, With Context
Rough week? Yeah, me too. Let’s help each other muddle through, and take a break for some laughter, shall we? I have so many good phrases to share with you this week! We have aptly placed gardens, Sicilian raptors, rage storage, and insectile excrement. Also, I explicitly did not use a stinkbug as the photo of the week—you’re welcome. Let’s get to it!
If you’ve been reading this dumb newsletter a while, you’ll know that I love a portmanteau. My friends Tom & Tiffany call their backyard garden either a backyarden or a yarden. I love both! Theirs also happens to be really beautiful; A+ coneflower action.
This does beg the question, however: Where else but your yard would you place a garden?
2. Pasta hands falcon
This one comes from my friend Casey and our friend Abby, whose spouse emeritus* Carling coined the phrase “pasta hands” to refer to Italians (or more likely, Italian Americans) making the familiar emphatic hand gesture pictured below.
Casey FINALLY made the newsletter 🥇🏆💃🏻🎉 when she popped this meme from @openlygayanimals into our IG group chat and dubbed it “pasta hands falcon.”
I am STILL cackling about it:
As a person of Sicilian origin, the “Madone” KILLS me.
*spouse emeritus not my phrase, but I wish it was! Abby and Carling coined it to describe the current state of their relationship.
3. Disruptive editing
This is what Wikipedia calls making fake edits to a page, the results of which are dubbed “vandalism.” The bots show up pretty damn fast, as we learned last week while my friend Abby started specifying when the characters actors played were human on Devon Sawa’s Wikipedia page, which reads: “He . . . received wide recognition for playing the title role as a human boy in Casper the following year.” This is a very funny prank and I wish it would’ve stuck.
My friend Jeff used to make minor random edits to our hometown’s Wikipedia until they eventually sent the chatbots after him and told him to knock it off.
I LOVE a good Wikipedia gag. One person made all of the verbs on Ray Romano’s Wikipedia page hypothetical and someone added “velociraptor” to the list of jobs on Jeremy Renner’s page.
Got a favorite example of this?
Fair warning: Wikipedia can and will ban you if you “vandalize” a page too often.
4. Anger melons
This one comes from my friend Kathleen, in response to this tweet from @consummateLily:
5. Plotting room
During a meeting with one of the founders of the Lexington Writer’s Room, Lisa Haneberg, she shared that they have a “plotting room” for writers to spread out and plot out their stories. The rest of us on the call gasped, exclaiming that we too needed a plotting room! Giant Post-its, activate!
By the way, the Lexington Writer’s Room relies on donations to keep running. They recently had to relocate after a devastating fire a few months back, and could use donations to help them reopen. You can donate money, contribute to their Amazon wish list, or if you’re in Kentucky, you can become a member (including remotely).
6. Weird barn thing
My friend Dawn describing the weekly drop-in writing meetup hosted by professional phrase wielders Atrocious Poets in a beautifully restored barn.
7. Cardio flailing
Dawn again, who in one week has made the phrases list more times than my longtime friend Casey. Here, she aptly describes aqua aerobics.
8. The annals of brown marmorated stinkbug invasions
My reaction to this phrase was: “There are annals? Oh my God. Oh my GOD.” This article from 2018 explains that in thorough and delightful detail to buoy you as the awful reality unfolds.
OK, strap in, because this phrase comes from this incredible piece by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Kathryn Schulz in the New Yorker. This is how you longform journalism.
Here are the quotes I pulled from this article about an invasive species of stinkbug eating and couch-surfing its way across the U.S.:
“But the brown marmorated stinkbug has made a name for itself by simultaneously threatening millions of acres of American farmland and grossing out the occupants of millions of American homes.”
Is this one a cleverly disguised dunk on Trump, one of my favorite phrase categories? I hope so:
"But, as we all now know, being graceless and dumb is no obstacle to being powerful and horrifying."
“On the other hand, dispatching them by any of the traditional methods—smashing, squashing, stepping on—means that, like good Christians, they will triumph even in death, in this case by leaving behind a malevolent olfactory ghost.”
"they have a prehistoric look and a postmortem smell"
(A note: Substack, please design a pull quote feature that, you know, looks like a pull quote.)
And here are some bonus phrases from this piece:
8a. MALEVOLENT OLFACTORY GHOST
Come ON, this is brilliant.
8b. Stinkbug conferences
Would NOT attend.
8c. Stinkbug annus horribilis
Your newest insult.
8d. Impressively omnivorous
Just like me.
8e. An enthusiastic arthropod Yelp review
8f. Magnificent and dastardly
Just like me?
8g. Revolting microfauna
Shared as the opposite of “charismatic megafauna,” a solid not-new-to-me phrase.
From that same article, the scientific word for “bug poop.” I like it. I like it a lot.
If you’re new here, welcome! You’ll quickly learn that I often use new-to-me words here, in addition to phrases.
This was another rough week for American democracy and for American women and LGBTQIA+ folks—particularly people of color and people with disabilities. Lots of anger, grief, and hard conversations and ideas and action plans happening among my liberal friends.
In this twitter thread, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calls on Democrats to, you know, actually DO SOMETHING with the power that a vast majority of Americans elected them to wield. AOC used gerontocracy to specifically reference the Supreme Court’s “core gerontocracy problem of lifetime appointments.” I think 24-year terms are more reasonable than lifetime, and we should definitely be looking more closely at, you know, doing something about sedition-adjacent/-supporting justices.
Merriam-Webster describes gerontocracy thusly: “a form of social organization in which a group of old men or a council of elders dominates or exercises control.”
If you’re grieving and angry this week, I’m with you. Hang in there, and get ready to take action and fight to restore and protect rights that most Americans want. Try to keep a little pilot light of faith going if you can; if not, lean on friends who lift you up.
That’s it for this week. Stay curious!