NTMP #35: A Tale of Two Otters
Forget about it, Marge; it's Squirreltown.
New-to-me Phrases, October 2, 2022
Happy October! 🎃 A new month, a new poll:
I’ve you’d like to choose another phrase that didn’t make it onto the poll because Substack doesn’t allow for fill-in-the-blank entries yet, you can either email your vote to me or post a comment:
Archives are here for your reading pleasure. Voting will remain open for one week. I’m trying to think of a better way to do these polls without the constraints of Substack’s offerings. Hit me up if you have any good resources or ideas.
By the way, if you’re new here, welcome! If you found NTMP via the web, did you know you can also subscribe to have this nonsense arrive in your inbox? True story.
The Phrases, With Context
Let’s get to it. This week we have yet another squirrel reference, self-pleasuring semi-aquatic mammals, Chicago style potatoes, a town that Dicks built, and more.
This phrase comes from my middle kid (who does not read this newsletter). I’ve written before about how my husband (who does read this newsletter) is our neighborhood’s pied piper of squirrels.
Squirrelbucks is my son’s name for the squirrels’ coffee shop. But instead of coffee, it’s peanuts, and instead of paying $8 for a fancy sugared brew, they get snacks for free from my husband and bury them all over our yard.
2. Chi-Cut Crinkles
This is a brand name of the fries used by Portillo’s. Spotted via a drive-thru window whilst acquiring cake shakes (IYKYK) on our wedding anniversary.
I’m astonished I didn’t know this, but a puffling is . . . a baby puffin! It’s THE BEST!
Source: This NPR piece about how Icelanders throw pufflings off of cliffs—in a good way. Click through for a great story about locals helping wildlife and for additional great phrases, including puffling season and puffling patrol.
As a bonus, I wanted to share the context behind this week’s photo by photographer Wynand van Poortvliet, because I thought it was cool and I love learning new things:
Puffin Talk on Saltee Island Great, one of my favourite spots on earth. . . . The Saltee Islands are a pair of small islands lying 5 kilometres off the southern coast of County Wexford in Ireland. The two islands are Great Saltee (89 hectares) and Little Saltee (37 hectares). Both have been privately owned by the Neale family since 1943.
4. Dicktown, New York
Just to show you the frequently circuitous routes I take to discover phrases and their origins, Rosner shared a Wikipedia snippet from @depthsofwikipedia in her IG stories, and it goes a little something like this:
Dicktown is a ghost town in Putnam County, in the U.S. state of New York.
Dicktown was named for the fact that a large share of the early settlers were named Richard.
I’ll bet most of them were dicks, too!
5. Masturbating otter
Here’s another great example of the twists and turns that occur while phrase hunting. I found this phrase in 2018, before I’d started noting the context for these word assortments. Therefore, I didn’t have an article to link to for today.
So I went and googled “masturbating otter” and friend, let me tell you, some wild search results came up. Turns out that I very much did not know that in gay culture, an “otter” is a smaller but no less hairy bear. 🦦🧸🧔🏻♂️ ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
ANYWAY, this phrase comes from a news story about an actual otter (the animal) named Eddie who loved shooting hoops and beating it at the Portland Zoo. What a legend, what a life. (The URL at that Daily Dot link is hilarious, btw.)
6. Ultima Thule
I was immediately drawn to this phrase because it’s a cool amalgamation of words. Ultima Thule is not a top-tier car top carrier, but rather a reference to the furthest object from earth.
HOWEVER. There’s more to the story. While the phrase “Ultima Thule” is ancient, apparently it was co-opted by the Nazis at one point, which drew criticism of the scientists who used this nickname for the heavenly body, which is near Pluto. (Gifted NYT link.)
The scientists tried defending their use of the phrase, arguing that the phrase is much older than those Third Reich dopes who used it. (Cool cartography explainer at that link!)
But words matter, and words can harm as well as heal.
7. Cheese plate influencer
8. Butter boards
My friend Abby shared this NYT piece (gifted link—click for butter porn) about this trend and I approve—both of the share and the trend.
If you’re someone who doesn’t click links, please know that the headline reads thusly:
Butter Boards Are In. Spread the Word.
A couple of weeks ago I shared the phrase Tom Hamburger (the name of a journalist at WaPo) and my dismay that his headshot didn’t feature one of those hamburger halloween hats. I googled those hats, planning to share one, but didn’t.
Ever since then, every time I log onto Amazon, I get this ad:
I make many sacrifices to bring you this content, is what I’m saying.
That’s it for this week! Thanks for reading.
One final note: In addition to voting in the September phase poll, if you’re in the U.S., support democracy, and early voting is available where you are, get to it! If you can make calls or send postcards or canvas in addition to donating to local campaigns, I urge you to do so. This election is very important to keeping our democracy intact and protecting the rights of the most vulnerable in our society—two great things that go great together.
Remember to stay curious and remain furious!