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NTMP #30: The Indiana of Mississippi
Let's never go there.
New-to-me Phrases, August 28, 2022
Consumer Pumpkin Index (CPI) * Hunger stones * Arthur Ganson, UFO * Personal submarines * Mudge * Friendly fraud * The Mississippi of the Midwest * Bestie from another teste * Dark Brandon * KFC Wiki * The Mushroom People
The Phrases, With Context
Wow, we’re up to number 30 of this newsletter. Thanks for joining me on this weird ride. It’s also the last NTMP for August, so look for the latest Fave Phrase of the Month poll at the end. Let’s dig in!
1. Consumer Pumpkin Index (CPI)
It’s that time of year, where Halloween stuff is appearing in stores about six weeks too soon if you ask me (nobody has so far but I’m still right).
A cheeky Morning Brew writer coined this phrase to describe the pumpkinmania that strikes as September looms.
What’s the weirdest pumpkin spice product you’ve spotted in the wild so far?
2. Hunger stones
In this end-times era where receding waters are revealing dead bodies, ghost villages, and Nazi warships, why not also harbingers of famine? A hunger stone pictured in this fascinating Guardian piece reads, “If you see me, then weep,” which I would emblazon upon a trucker hat if I had any skill at that sort of thing.
Hunger stones date back as far as the 1400s, ye olde popup ads with inscriptions designed to warn people of hard times to come when a drought caused river waters to recede enough to reveal them.
3. Arthur Ganson, UFO
Have you ever known someone for a while, only to have them drop a wild story from their past that you had no idea about? That’s where this phrase originates. The story begins at the weekly Atrocious Poets writing meetup at a local barn, a grande dame in the midst of restoration.
Arthur—a sculptor, musician, and inventor—shared that this was his chosen title at a business he founded as ::checks notes:: the inventor of the toy Toobers and Zots. 🤯 He told us that his company had a CEO and a CFO, so he decided to call himself the UFO on his business cards. A+ corporate subversion.
4. Personal submarines
This is the hacker name for former Twitter security chief, Pieter Zatko, who is in the news as a whistleblower against his ex-employer. I couldn’t find the origin of this name, but it was weird enough that I had to include it here.
6. Friendly fraud
My friend David sent me this one and I agree with his take that it’s such an odd mix of words: “How can fraud ever be friendly?” he wondered. He then explained that this type of fraud isn’t always, but can be unwitting. A cardholder might forget they made an online purchase so they dispute it, or a household member might make a charge that the cardholder wasn’t aware of. Banks haven’t figured out solutions to this yet, so they’re losing billions each year.
7. The Mississippi of the Midwest
If you’ve been reading this newsletter for a while, you know I love a good dunk on Trump. I also apparently love a good takedown of former Chicago Tribune columnist and “erstwhile arbiter of the Chicago Way,” John Kass, wrapped within a delicious writerly burrito stuffed with several jabs at Indiana. There is so much to love in this post by Chicago Sun Times columnist Neil Steinberg that you don’t have to be a Chicagoan to appreciate it.
Don’t believe me? Here’s another taste:
The man quit his job and moved to Indiana. What greater punishment could I add atop that? When Dante encounters Judas being gnawed by Satan in the frozen bowels of hell, he doesn't kick him. Let sufferers be.
You have to remember the central place that fear occupies in the conservative mindset. Kass dwells in the realm of panic rooms and alarm systems and doxxing, the fear — perhaps justified — of encountering the baked-in malice of people such as himself. The fear that the harassment they inflict on others might be returned. Then mix-in self-importance.
(h/t to my friend John for this one. I enjoy John’s writing quite a bit; maybe you will, too.)
8. Bestie from another teste
A magnificent alternative to “brother from another mother” or “sister from another mister,” via my pal Kathleen.
9. Dark Brandon
I first discovered this phrase via my friend Tiffany. The Dark Brandon memes are a way of turning the “Let’s go, Brandon” thing on its ear. This is especially apt this week, with the release of the Biden Administration’s plan to offer student loan forgiveness to millions of Americans. Dark Brandon rose via the White House Twitter account to call out the hypocrisy of right-wing members of Congress who were trying to sow discord about student loan relief while themselves having had six- and seven-figure PPP loans forgiven by the U.S. government.
If you didn’t know you needed a deep dive into the Dark Brandon meme and its problematic outskirts, here’s a Vox thinkpiece on it.
10. KFC Wiki
My middle kid (who does not read this newsletter) has jokingly referred to our middle aged African grey parrot as “Free KFC.” He will suggest this as a dinner option when I ask for meal ideas for the week.
WHY? But also: awesome!
11. The Mushroom People
This week was the last Saturday morning summer writing session at the barn, hosted by the Atrocious Poets (Venmo: @Atrocious-Poets). I’m pretty bummed about that.
The one and only Arthur Gantz, UFO arrived to the event a bit late, saying he went to the farmers market to find “the mushroom people,” which immediately made me think “1950s sci fi horror film.” Would watch.
Your Fave Phrase for August
And now for the August Fave Phrase of the month poll! The Substack poll feature doesn’t yet allow for write-ins, which is a bummer. I guess if you feel strongly about a particular late summer phrase, you can:
Substack also still won’t let you center text, which is maddening, because it’s a basic feature any writing site should have, and the phrases at the top of the newsletter each week would look so much better centered. HEAR ME, SUBSTACK OVERLORDS AND LET ME CENTER TEXT, FFS!
ANYWAY . . . to the poll!
I’ll post results next week. In the meantime, thanks for reading. Stay curious and remain furious!
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