NTMP #26: Senior Vice Squid
Make a little bad news flashlight in your soul
New-to-me phrases, July 31, 2022
The Nut Bunch * Bad news flashlight * Parentese * Chief Executive Octopus * Lavender Scare * MedBeds * A horde of monkeys * The Forer Effect * Transformers auteur * Fixing Our Regulatory Mayhem Upsetting Little Americans
This week we have corporate cephalopods, doomlights, conspiracy theory bunks, and a fun new Substack feature: Polls! This poll feature is new and therefore pretty limited, but Substack tends to listen to writer input on all things except repeated requests to center text. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Let’s give it a trial run, shall we? I’ll post the results (including write-ins) next week:
There’s no “other” write-in option yet, but if you’d like to write in your fave phrase for July, you can do so in a comment thread (you’ll have to create a Substack account to do so, if you don’t already have one). You can find previous editions containing phrases here.
The Phrases, with Context
1. The Nut Bunch
This phrase came from my husband. The Nut Bunch is his descriptor for the gang of squirrels who magically appear, eager for peanuts, any time we open our front door. At our last house, squirrels had infested our dilapidated garage, and my husband was constantly at war with them. To see him transform into Guy Who Strolls the Neighborhood With Peanuts in His Pockets is nothing short of delightful.
Speaking of squirrels, one time when our oldest kid (who does not read this newsletter) was about seven, he hit a squirrel with a pinecone by the garage. We did what any responsible parents would do and talked to him about not being cruel to animals. Then we convinced him that the squirrels knew what he did and were out to get him. We even sang theme music for the vengeful squirrels when we’d pull into the driveway.
2. Bad news flashlight
I love the paths some phrases can travel to make it here. My friend and Atrocious Poet Dawn shared this tweet by @olliegrace on Instagram and said she’d be referring to her phone thusly from now on. A solid practice.
This is the sing-song speech we use when talking or singing to babies (NYT link).
Do we use petese when talking to pets?
4. Chief Executive Octopus
This phrase comes from the about page of a favorite brand of mine, Goodr sunglasses. I’d expect nothing less from their amazing copywriters.
5. Lavender Scare
This week I listened to a compelling podcast miniseries about the civil rights movement from history teacher Sharon McMahon, aka @SharonSaysSo on IG. It should come as no surprise that what we were taught in history class couldn’t fit into a thimble compared to what actually happened.
In McMahon’s Momentum miniseries, I learned about the “lavender scare,” which occurred in the late 1940s through the ‘60s, where thousands of employees were fired for either being queer or suspected of being queer.
It’s also no surprise that the current “trans panic” and casual accusations of trans people and drag queens being “groomers” is nothing new. Bigots like to draw from the same playbooks of fear-mongering, intimidation, abuse of government authority, and violence.
As an ally and mom to LGBTQ+ kids, a humble request: If you have anyone in your life buying into the idea that trans folks and drag queens (the current primary targets), or anyone who identifies as LGBTQ+ as a “groomer,” call them out on it. Casually tossing around this sort of inflammatory rhetoric can destroy careers, businesses, and reputations, and end lives.
This phrase is catchy as hell, and its meaning is completely 🍌bananas🍌. I discovered it on Twitter via Ben Collins, a NYT reporter who covers the dystopia beat (because of COURSE there’s a “dystopia beat” nowadays).
7. A horde of monkeys
This came from a Morning Brew newsletter referencing this article about recent monkey attacks in Japan. And these are those seemingly sweet Japanese macaques you see in videos grooming each other in hot springs!
I don’t exactly have a phobia of monkeys, but let’s just say I find them . . . unsettling. Click the link to see the pic of one of those things looking into a window to see what I mean. NO THANK YOU.
8. The Forer Effect
I saw this phrase in the context of horoscopes and personality tests like Myers-Briggs (which is not scientific at all) and the Enneagram (which I learned is also not scientific).
For a deep dive, here’s a wild read about the sketchy origins of Myers-Briggs.
The Forer Effect, also known as “the Barnum effect,” (after showman P.T. Barnum and not a new-to-me phrase), is a type of cognitive bias where people are apt to believe generalized statements as if they apply to themselves. American psychologist Bertram Forer wrote a paper in 1949 called “The Fallacy of Personal Validation: A Classroom Demonstration of Gullibility” (.PDF). Psychics, magicians, and tarot card readers all rely on the Forer Effect to help their customers feel validated.
My take is that if stuff like this brings you comfort or makes you feel better aligned with yourself, have at it. But as a sometimes-gullible empath, I also appreciate knowing which tools are grounded in science and research and which ones are sort of just common sense fun.
9. Transformers auteur
In college, my childhood BFF and I took a film studies class. I loved film studies, but our professor had a bit of a hard-on for Hitchcock, constantly referring to him with flourish as an auteur director. I still have a photo of a paper I wrote for class that I sarcastically titled “Hitchcock: An Auteur.”
This is the same class where, while watching the “Dawn of Man” opening scenes for 2001: A Space Odyssey, I kept narrating to my friend—who is known for her boisterous laugh—about picturing the apes having a smoke or playing cards off-set. Sadly, we barely escaped getting kicked out for laughing and had to watch the rest of the movie.
ANYWAY, I’m 100% confident that this Slate writer used “auteur” sarcastically, too. 👯♀️
10. Fixing Our Regulatory Mayhem Upsetting Little Americans
That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading. Stay curious and remain furious!
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