NTMP 63: Owls of the chair
Unlighten your load
The Phrases, With Context
This week, we have internet legends, cool jobs, hit man humor, bossy owls and more.
Let’s get to it!
My friend Valary sent me this one, along with a link to a great new-to-me newsletter called International Intrigue. In a recent edition, they shared words of the day that included typerventilate (“bashing out texts in quick succession” and unlighten (learning something that somehow leaves you dumber).
(Note to my fellow marketing nerds: Their newsletter signup process is good strategic fun!)
2. Hat Man
What do you call what was once known as an urban legend that exists almost entirely online? An internet legend? How boring. Anyway, Hat Man is that, and he doesn’t even have a catchy theme song.
Similar to Slenderman from the mid-2000s, Hat Man originated around the same time and was mostly cited in reference to people reporting a vision seen during sleep paralysis. Recently, the youth have been playing around with taking large amounts of Benadryl in the hopes of seeing Hat Man. Here’s a recap from Rolling Stone. Maybe Slenderman is Hat Man on days he doesn’t feel like wearing a hat.
3. Cats of the air
If you’ve interacted with a cat long enough to have them interrupt something you’re trying to do, then this phrase is relatable content. NTMP Superfan Rebecca sent this Instagram reel captioned “Owls are cats of the air.”
A bird nerd like me is predisposed to love this portmanteau, which is featured in the title of a new book by Tove Danovich called Under the Henfluence: Inside the world of backyard chickens and the people who love them. Anne Helen Petersen interviewed Danovich recently onif you’d like to learn more.
This reminds me that I need to get out my Abe Simpson typewriter and complain to the powers that be in my small rural town once again for not allowing citizens to keep backyard chickens.
This is one to make your blood boil - here’s a quote from a Vox explainer on it:
It’s the idea that companies are using these once-in-a-lifetime disruptions. Think about the supply chain hiccups that we’ve had. Think about the Ukraine-Russia war. And they’re using those one-off disruptions as an excuse to raise prices.
. . .
But where it starts to become insidious is when they’re raising prices so much that they’re seeing their profits go up quite substantially as well.
“Let the market sort it out,” indeed.
6. Marine archaeologist
We’ve all heard of marine biologists but I, an uncultured rube, had never heard of marine archaeologists. Sharon McMahon interviewed one such individual, Dr. Sean Kingsley on her podcast, Here’s Where it Gets Interesting. She also interviewed one of the finest writers of our time, Ed Yong, about his book An Immense World. If you like nerding out about nature and interesting jobs that study it, these episodes are for you. You’re welcome.
7. In golfed
I don’t mean to make light of a tragic situation, but I’m mostly going to anyway. I saw this phrase in a local post about a house fire that happened in my town. Someone described the house as being “in golfed” in flames. This may have been a speech-to-text error. Let’s hope so.
8. King of Suck Balls Mountain
The show Barry is violent and dark, with a white male anti-hero protagonist. And as much as I like to think I’m done with that genre, I am not. This is because Barry is also extremely funny, with an incredible cast that includes Henry Winkler and Stephen Root—both terrific in anything they do.
Barry is one of those shows where the supporting characters are the real MVPs. I hate awards shows, but was thrilled to learn that Anthony Carrigan was nominated for an Emmy, because he deserves all of the awards for his portrayal of Noho Hank. Here’s a clip that shows a bit of why that also happens to include this phrase. (CW: gun violence.)
That’s it for this week! Keep on being hilarious and nefarious.
A note on Substack Notes
I’ll admit, I felt heartened by's claim of wanting to support creators by eschewing the "serving ads to users via algorithm" model in favor of a paid subscriber model.
Until they released Notes.
Substack Notes is a Twitter clone that the company released with no plan for moderation; an astonishing omission post-Twitter. In fact, the CEO refused to answer a point-blank, oft-repeated question about whether telling a Black person to "go back to their own country" violates the Substack TOS. (Spoiler: The only acceptable answer to this question is an unequivocal “Yes.”)
If you’re a woman or member of a marginalized community, you might want to skip Notes to avoid experiencing harm from users with bad intent or seeing cis het white fragility rear its mediocre head the moment anyone different from them claims space.
I’ll admit: I wanted to quit Substack the moment I saw the trolls and bots appear on Notes within hours of its launch. When I get mad, my instinct these days is to block and leave. But I quickly realized that avoiding online spaces run by libertarian tech bros means . . . going offline. More than that, I want to engage in action and nuanced thinking before I outright reject things that don’t align with my opinions or values. HUGE disclaimer: I’m not talking about the false equivalence of “reaching across the aisle” to entertain objectively abhorrent viewpoints like misogyny, white supremacy, transphobia, etc. What I am talking about is striving to remain curious when feeling furious, to find shades of grey when I want to think in black or white, and to use what privileges I have to speak up for those who are being hammered by trolls, bots, and everyday assholes.
In this vein, I’m hoping some of the bigger names on Substack will push back about this absolutely tone deaf decision, as's Anne Helen Petersen does here and does here. Because a key difference between Twitter and Substack is that Substack earns its revenue directly from creators. My hope is that enough of us can get through to Substack leadership about what a terrible idea this is. Here’s a really great reply from by T.J. Radcliffe that sums up the problem with allowing hate speech and harassment to go unchecked.
If you write a Substack or have a Substack account and feel that opting out of content moderation is a bad and harmful strategy, send feedback to the company and post about it in your space to push for change. In the meantime, you won’t find me on Notes except to speak out on this subject.