NTMP 68: A Shiver of Sharks
Paging Dr. Brent. Dr. Brent to the courtesy phone.
New-to-me Phrases, May 28, 2023
The Phrases, With Context
This weekend we hosted our annual Memorial Day Weekend cookout and friends came from near and far and it was just such a source of joy after three years of COVID. I didn’t take a single photo (I always forget). I’m feeling pretty thankful for friends, family, and the spectacular weather we’ve been having here in the Midwest.
And now for this week’s phrases! This week, we have a shark tracker, Yoda linguistics, clitoral joy, quince rugs, and more.
But first: The monthly poll!
Post any write-ins in the comments:
Remember: If you don’t vote, you can’t complain!
Let’s get to it!
1. A fever of stingrays
I think most people are amused by the often strange and entertaining words used to describe groups of animals, like a fever of stingrays (which was new to me), a murder of crows, and a flamboyance of flamingos.
After finding a fever of stingrays, I wondered what the word for a group of animals is called. Turns out it’s a phrase—two of them, in fact:
Terms of venery
Nouns of assembly
Fun fact: venery by itself means either hunting or the pursuit of sexual pleasure. According to the amazing new-to-me site Useless Etymology, many of these terms originated in the Book of Saint Albans, written in 1486 (!!) and thought to be authored by a nun named Juliana Berners, who was known for her knowledge of hunting, fishing, and hawking (the sport involving hawks, not the coughing up of phlegm, though maybe she was known for both). The book also included names for subsets of humans, such as a blast of hunters and a superfluity of nuns. Excellent.
The post ends by sharing that words of venery are supposed to be amusing:
They were all part of the wordplay and banter of gentlemen’s hunting culture, and it was a mark of your knowledge as an experienced hunter to be able to name all of the collectives.
Here’s a list of 306 collective nouns from . . . a proofreading site.
Merriam-Webster also has a fun write-up about words of venery.
Once again, I learned a cool word via Sketchplanations by Jono Hey.
Anadiplosis is a linguistic technique where the last word in one line is repeated in the next line. Here’s a notable example from Yoda:
Fear leads to anger.
Anger leads to hate.
Hate leads to suffering.
In this post, Hey shares that he found this word in a book called The Elements of Eloquence by Mark Forsyth, which I immediately ordered along with two of his other books on language 📚 🤓 (I found a deal on Bezos’ hellsite for all three).
In furtherance of the argument that I’m actually 12, this is the name of a hose reel by Suncast that I saw at the local Menards (#mynards). Did the Suncast marketing team snicker while developing this one? God, I hope so.
I think hosemobile makes a great insult.
Longtime NTMP stan Rebecca sent this one and it’s catchy as hell, just an epic dad joke pun about making poodle-shaped cookies. Here’s the how-to from Instructables.
5. Cool clit facts 😎🥑
I recently foundvia Substack Notes, where we were both advocating for content moderation. Based in New Zealand, Emily writes about social justice issues, parenting, pop culture and more with heart, humor, and insight.
Cool clit facts is from a recent post about sex education called This is Where the Clitoris is. It’s a great read - highly recommended. Once again, you’ll learn about the disparity in coverage of women’s health issues, and the reluctance of many people to allow their children to understand their anatomy, as if it’s shameful.
6. Dr. Brent
Once again, I am a sucker for punny or unusual nicknames for animals, snowplows, and library book carts. This week I discovered this amazing shark tracker via the nonprofit OCEARCH (via Morning Brew). If you search around, you can also find sea turtles, fur seals, and alligators, all with data, maps of their movements, and fun names. I could spend a full week on this site and never get bored.
Dr. Brent is a Guadalupe fur seal who was rescued after being discovered in an emaciated state, and released off the coast of San Diego.
Also check out Sally the alligator’s movements through the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia, Here’s Princess Fi the white shark off the coast of South Africa. And Tony the Olive Ridley turtle who travels between South and Central America like a chill dude.
7. Apocalypse cow
Aubrey Gordon and Michael Hobbs, the brilliant and ever-entertaining hosts of the Maintenance Phase podcast did it again; they shared a catchy and funny as hell phrase. This time, they did not coin the phrase but that doesn’t make it any less awesome.
This phrase is part of the title of the episode Oprah v. Beef Part 2: Apocalypse Cow and also the name of an academic paper in the Princeton Journal of Public & International Affairs by Jana L. Tefer (links to .PDF) on the mad cow disease outbreak in England, which I absolutely did not read, but I commend the academic author for going for it with that title.
8. Jam toupee
My Hag friend Kathleen sent this one, courtesy of Gardeners World, hosted by her fave, Monty Don. In a recent episode about quince, Don shared that it was once believed to stimulate hair growth, so balding men would apply a quince paste to their heads “as a kind of quince mulch,” and he enjoyed the imagery of Jacobean men “wandering around with what amounted to a jam toupee on their heads.”
9. A loaf of meth
I can’t really share the entire context of this phrase, as it’s from last week’s episode of Ted Lasso and I don’t want to spoil it. Let’s just say that Coach Beard says it, there is no such thing as a loaf of meth that I’m aware of, and he was making a Les Miserables pun that flew over my head because I know nothing about that story. I guess they did a lot of meth in Les Mis. But once you get the context, it’s chef’s kiss brilliant. (h/t to my Hag friend Wendy for this one!)
I am not ready for that show to end. Just not ready. Season 3 has been stellar so far.
That’s it for this week! Remember to stay curious and remain furious.
Pride month is fast approaching and people on the right are starting to think it’s okay to be homophobic again, while corporations are giving in to customers’ bullying behavior for fear it might hurt their bottom line (no surprise there, but it still sucks).
Queer people have always existed and they have a right to both exist and to thrive. We cannot allow bigots to reverse any progress we’ve made in recent decades, and believe me, people on the right are trying. And for what? Because they’re being fed misinformation to foment panic that garners votes—all so some rich people can avoid paying their fair share in taxes. Yes, it’s a cynical ploy but it hurts real people and their families. So does false allyship ::cough:: Target ::cough-cough::
What kind of society do we want? One that caves to the lowest common denominator or one that stands up for the people who experience the greatest harms from them?
Allies, assemble! Push back at every instance of this willfully ignorant and hateful behavior. If you’re not into confrontation, send an email to your local paper, town council, county board, library, community college and/or school board to show your support as an ally. If you need help drafting an email, reach out to me; I’d be happy to help.