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NTMP 53: Poop Doody
Frank Lloyd whataboutism
New-to-me Phrases, February 12, 2023
The Phrases, With Context
Hello and thanks for reading! This week we have a couple of poop-related phrases, a geophysicist you should know about, and a portmanteau portmanteau (not a typo).
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I’ve never been in love with the name “New-to-me Phrases,” but I used it to get this newsletter going without letting perfectionism hold me back. A year into this project, I’ve been contemplating a rebrand and I’d love to hear your thoughts.
I saw a screencap of a tweet going around IG last week with the joke “Who decided to call it ‘emotional baggage’ instead of ‘griefcase’?”
I didn’t save it, so I decided to search Twitter for its origin. I know joke theft is a thing there, but it’s hard to tell if this was lifted or if it’s just something that occurred to more than one person over time. It’s been around since 2019 and people are still posting it in 2023. Joke theft isn’t always intentional; one might encounter something, internalize it, forget about it, and repeat it later, so who knows. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Anyway, it’s a great portmanteau-themed portmanteau and I suggest we adopt it henceforth.
2. Sloth February
Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen used this phrase in her newsletter, which I look forward to reading every week. The theme was “undaunting recipes to celebrate Sloth February.” I’m into it.
What is Sloth February? For Perelman, it is a rest period after a book tour for her latest cookbook, Smitten Kitchen Keepers. But she implies that it’s a universal concept for this short month that always feels like it lasts an eternity here in the Midwest, brightened only by post-Valentine’s-Day candy sales.
3. Mr. Earthquake
I’m not even on Twitter any more (I deleted my account when Musk banned journalists who asked him direct questions that challenged his narrative) but I manage to find a lot of tweets. I miss it, for the record, but until dude is gone and they make significant moderation changes, I’m not going back. I’ve also been taking screenshots of any tweets I use for NTMP on the off chance that Twitter goes away under Phony Stark’s reign.
ANYWAY, I found this tweet from the US Geological Survey and was excited to learn a bit about Mr. Earthquake as part of Black History Month. Also, Waverly J. Person, Mr. Earthquake’s given name, is awesome!
Here’s a brief bio of Person, the first Black chief scientist at USGS, who died in 2022 at 92. He was a geophysicist but—shocking spoiler alert—due to racism, he remained a technician in various government roles, gradually working his way up to the top spot at USGS in 1971.
I really want to talk about how his mother’s name was Bessie Butts, which feels disrespectful, but come ON. What is wrong with me?
4. Poop duty
This was something I said while my youngest kid (who does not read this newsletter) was cleaning one of our birds’ cages. Then I yelled “GET IT? POOP DOODY?” Then I had to look up how “doody” was spelled, since I wasn’t sure if it was with “y” or “ie” at the end.
You bet I clicked on that last one, which turned up a search result snipped that read, “Howdy’s name did not mean ‘hello poo,” a reference to classic children’s TV character Howdy Doody. How does she know? The ‘50s were a weird repressed time.
I also learned that there are quite a few dog poop removal businesses with doody in the name, including “On Doody,” “When Doody Calls,” and “Doody Duty.”
Then I decided to act like an adult (as if!) and I searched for “Doody etymology,” which mostly focused on the unfortunate Irish surname of Doody. I didn’t find much about where “doody” came from beyond less reliable sources like Reddit, Wiktionary, and Urban Dictionary, which mostly said “doody is slang for poop.” Yes, yes, but why? And when?
The search continues . . . I will update if I learn anything more about (ahem) where doody comes from.
5. Snack holes
I love it when investigative phrase journalism is relatively easy.
6. Frank Lloyd Wrong
This was a throwaway line by guest host Sarah Marshall (from You’re Wrong About and You are Good), on the Scarsdale Diet Murder episode of Maintenance Phase (transcript available at that link). I am super-mad that I didn’t think of this first.
7. Twain’s stains
Man, do I love this one because it’s very funny in context. My friend Randal shared a wild read from Thought Catalog about how Nikola Tesla used a device to relieve Mark Twain’s constipation. A NTMP hat tip to writer and podcast host, Zaron Burnett III, for working Twain’s stains into this article.
1. While reading about adding sodium citrate to cheese to allow it to melt to make queso, I learned that the chemical formula for sodium citrate spells the word NACHO!
2. Last week I wrote about the hilariously named discount club for the now-defunct Dick’s grocery store. In response, my friend Jamie wrote with a picture of another billboard seen by anyone who used to make the drive from the Chicago area to Galena, Illinois:
I love a weird billboard! We often wondered what the deal was with that sign, and I found a 1997 Chicago Tribune article covering its origin story in a piece titled “Fate’s Fickle Fingers.” It doesn’t look like the company ever came to be, but I highly recommend that Tribune article, which isn’t paywalled.
That’s it for this week! Thanks for reading, and remember to stay curious and remain furious!
Stay curious: Did you know that octopuses can regrow their arms? And that their legs are called arms?
Remain furious: Fury without action just eats up our insides. Here’s a template you can use to write your legislators to speak out against book bans that my pal Kelly, a badass anti-censorship activist, wrote for Book Riot. It only takes a few minutes to do something like this, and I’ve heard from more than one legislator that hearing from constituents helps them decide how to vote. Do the thing!