Discover more from New-to-me Phrases
NTMP #37: Supermeerkat Special
I get by with a little help from my Hags
New-to-me Phrases, October 16, 2022
Eierlegende Wollmilchsau * Pandemic individualism * Supermeerkat * SKYbrary * Crescent Dragonwagon * Rose breastager tanbeak * Fuck hut
The Phrases, With Context
This week we have farmer fantasies, uber mongooses (I vote for ‘mongeese’ but dictionaries disagree), and an ad campaign idea for Pizza Hut courtesy of Joanne Woodward.
1. Eierlegende Wollmilchsau
My friend Mike sent me this phrase, which I can neither readily spell nor even almost pronounce, because I am an uncultured rube.
Eierlegende Wollmilchsau was the word of the week on the blog for the German Embassy in the U.S. (Who knew such a digital publication existed?)
It roughly translates to “egg-laying wool-milk-sow,” which the writer describes as “every farmer’s wet dream.” 👀
In practice, the phrase has come to signify either a jack-of-all-trades or an elusive ideal.
I guess writing literally anything in my house uninterrupted is my eierlegende wollmilchsau. What’s yours?
By the way, Mike writes Downbeat.fm right here on the ol’ Substack apparatus, and I highly recommend his music takes.
2. Pandemic individualism
Last week I wrote about journalist Ed Yong’s coverage of hagfish slime, and this week I’m sharing a phrase from what will be his last article on COVID—or anything—for a while. Yong announced in a newsletter and on Twitter that he’s taking a six-month sabbatical to rest and recover, expressing frankly that he’s burnt and discouraged after covering the pandemic for nearly three years.
His recent piece for The Atlantic summarizes his thoughts on where we are now and where we could be, and the optimism he still carries about the future.
Here’s where this phrase comes in:
“America’s pandemic individualism means that it’s your job to protect yourself from infection; if you get sick, your treatment may be unaffordable, and if you don’t get better, you will struggle to find help, or even anyone who believes you.”
He adds that pandemics are social problems best solved with community effort and preventative measures rather than individualism and striving for expensive cure-alls.
I’m with you, Ed.
Postscript: Reading Yong’s Twitter thread led me to discover that this Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist also wrote the best email out-of-office reply I’ve ever read (seriously, click to read):
My friend Sarah made up this word to describe the supermarket.
I like it. I like it a lot.
What a great word! SKYbrary is a sort of wiki for pilots and air traffic controllers. (The marketing writer in me wants you to know that they could use a tagline that describes this on their homepage.)
In case you find the circuitous routes I sometimes take to discover phrases, here’s how I found this one: I get blog updates from author and artist Janice MacLeod. While writing about ending one of her offerings (custom typewritten letters), she mentioned “the dirty dozen,” which describes twelve of the most common sources of human error precursors that contribute to accidents. The SKYbrary link describes how to mitigate those conditions that can lead to errors. Fascinating stuff!
Distraction comes in at number two among the dirty dozen, which is why I am not a pilot. #adhd
5. Crescent Dragonwagon
This is the name of a prolific writer (read how she got this name at the link) and one of the co-founders of The Writer’s Colony at Dairy Hollow, which looks like an amazing place to write uninterrupted.
6. Rose breastager tanbeak
This is the name for a newly discovered songbird hybrid recently discovered in Western Pennsylvania. It’s not the official name for this beautiful mashup of a rose-breasted grosbeak and a scarlet tanager; my Hag friend Kathleen made it up. But it should be the official name.
The photo caption at that link contains some cool info - “The two species have such divergent nesting preferences that they have been on independent evolutionary trajectories for at least 10 million years — until now.” (emphasis mine.)
7. Fuck hut
This phrase comes from another Hag friend - Wendy, who dropped this headline in our group chat:
Like, is anyone surprised by this news? Those two were super into each other.
Did I add this headline to my Google doc that catalogs amusing headlines, including
You bet I did.
That’s it for this week! Are you registered to vote? Have you voted yet? I’m off to canvass again for a member of Congress in my region. It’s cold and grey and threatening to rain here. Wish me luck! Last week I even got to know a few neighbors, which was awesome, and I also got to meet my candidate at the Democratic HQ in town. If you’re picturing me acting like Leslie Knope with ADHD, that’s 100% accurate.
Until next week, remember to stay curious and remain furious!