Discover more from New-to-me Phrases
NTMP 73: Guano Hurricane
It's a bird, it's a plane, it's . . . oh god, it's poo
New-to-me Phrases, July 2, 2023
The Phrases, With Context
Whether you’re a new reader or a seasoned NTMP veteran, welcome! It’s a joy to arrive in your inbox each week, and I hope you feel the same about seeing NTMP show up every Sunday.
This week, we have more than scatological reference, cool Jamaican hummingbird and cake facts, and a phrase that made me laugh harder than just about any other because of the context.
But first, a poll
It’s a new month, and if you’ve been around a while, you know what this means: Poll time! You have one week to choose your favorite phrase from June 2023:
Write in your vote in the comments, or if you’re reading this via email, hit reply and share your June fave.
Let’s get to it!
1. Hummingbird cake
I can’t recall where I saw this phrase but I’d never heard of it before. In the U.S., this is a popular Southern favorite; a spongy spice cake made with banana, pineapple, nuts, and cream cheese frosting. To me this seems rather like a carrot cake, but I don’t think the nuts are in the batter, but on top.
When I saw that this cake originated from Jamaica, I searched a bit for its origin story as told by someone with Jamaican roots, and found a great essay by cookbook author Riaz Phillips in Epicurious.
Like language, food often makes unexpected journeys and takes on different meanings depending upon how people interpret and use it. What is now a popular dessert in the Southern U.S. started out as part of a tourism campaign after Jamaica achieved independence in the 1960s. And rather like the name “Freedom Fries,” hummingbird cake, more commonly known as Dr. Bird cake, is not that popular in Jamaica today, according to Riaz.
Dr. Bird cake is a much better name, in my biased bird nerd opinion. Jamaica’s national bird, the red-billed streamertail (Trochilus Polytmus), is known colloquially there as the doctor bird. The bird is also known as the red-billed streamertail, and you can learn more and hear its call at ebird. The doctor bird is only found in Jamaica, so it was fun to click that link and see the range map. The origin of the nickname “doctor bird” remains unknown, with one theory that seems to predominate that the dark head and long tail resemble an old-timey doctor.
Found while researching this phrase: There’s also a hummingbird known as a Jamaican Mango (Anthracothorax mango), which I find incredibly charming.
2. Rainbow chicken
Not a bird found in Jamaica (that I’m aware of), this phrase comes from an Instagram post from _little_dinos_ that my middle kid (who does not read NTMP) shared with me. Sharing a link because the Substack embed feature doesn’t always work well.
Have I started calling our sun conure a rainbow chicken? One HUNDRED percent yes.
Should I start noting the crimes my own flock of 🦜rainbow chickens🦜 regularly commit? Probably. Here’s a small sampling of recent violations:
✅ Finger bite 👉🏻
✅ Chew bottoms of doors 🚪
✅ Aggressive bra strap chewing 👙
✅ Sneeze in face 💦 (the smallest tiny dino is the worst offender here)
✅ Scream 🚨
3. Personal bad idea urinal
Found this one viaat Garbage Day, where he mentions Musk buying Twitter and using it for his “personal bad idea urinal.” Just . . . chef’s kiss. Ryan is a sharp observer and commentator and this entire post is a worthwhile read.
4. 2,200-year-old poop donut
Me, when I read this phrase in a headline on Defector:
The full headline is:
A 2,200-Year-Old Poop Donut In Which We Can Raise Our Hatchlings
by Sabrina Imbler, who writes the Creaturefector column there that I really want to read.
Despite loving the writers at Defector, I haven’t yet ponied up for a $79 annual subscription because 1) I’m not into sports and they cover that often and 2) I’m at what I call a “newsletter saturation point,” a phrase I coined recently. This is less about budget than it is about bandwidth, though I do budget thoughtfully and there are only so many paid subs I can make room for as well. There are so many great writers on Substack and around the web, but I’m at a point where I can’t subscribe to any more, paid or free. This bandwidth changes, depending on where I am in my life and work.
I’m still honing my “Required Reading” spreadsheet, using color coding and detailed notes 🤓 while trying to assess what to keep and what to let go. What do you to to manage your fave reads? Do you set aside time each day/week? Do you set financial or quantity limits?
All this to say, it’s seldom personal when someone either doesn’t subscribe or unsubscribes after reading for a while. Sometimes, like me, it’s a bandwidth issue.
5. Mainstream media fires
I’m not sure I’ve ever laughed as hard or as much at a phrase in my life. Maybe because this week was a real fucker, and I sorely needed the laugh.
A friend, who shall remain anonymous for reasons that will quickly become apparent, was talking with her ex about the WIDELY REPORTED and EXTREMELY VISIBLE HAZE from the Canadian wildfires in the Midwest last week.
The ex started taunting her for “falling for” stories about "the mainstream media fires.”
I’d been wondering what sort of puds are out there freeballing it on the worst air quality index days, inhaling deeply while daring the libs to make them wear a mask.
I think what makes this funnier is seeing how it completely broke the brain of one of our friends, a brilliant, logical thinker:
“But . . . the air is LITERALLY smoky.”
“Does he think it’s Biden’s farts, or what?”
To which I replied, “Well, he DOES eat a lot of ice cream.”
We got an update that this ex later saw a video showing lasers causing the Canadian wildfires. “I’m just saying. I saw a video.”
This was one of our friend’s reaction GIFs:
I’m going to be feasting on this one for a long time. Big thanks to my anon pal for letting me share this one. 😘
Also: Are we all in the wrong business? Should we be grifting libertarians with laser videos and images of Bigfoot stuffing ballot boxes, but, like, for good rather than culture war hatred?
6. Busy Beaver Button Museum
NTMP booster Rebecca replied to a recent edition where I wrote about American Button Machines to share this Chicago museum, which I’d never heard of! The name comes from its home base in the Busy Beaver Button Co. office, but their website doesn’t explain the origin of the company’s name. Definitely going to make a NTMP field trip for this one. Their book looks really interesting, too - buttonmuseum.org.
I’ve started collecting buttons (I also love amassing stickers and decals and then getting EXTREMELY precious about where to place them) and am challenged about where to display them besides on a jacket/purse/bag.
If you have any ideas, I’m all ears!
7. Manure tornado
Having traveled from Colorado to Illinois and back many times, my family is prone to shouting “SMELLS LIKE POO!” whenever Nebraska is mentioned.
I can’t access the original tweet because as of this writing, boy genius Elon Musk appears to have broken Twitter. But I did grab a screenshot of a preview of the tweet in a Slack channel (I hope you followed all of that!), so here you go:
Further reading from The Cowboy State Daily, a publication I did not know existed.
8. Top pecks
I recently subscribed to SquawkBox, a subscription service that sends you a box of toys and treats for companion birds. “Top pecks” is a punny heading they used in their charming newsletter. Here for it!
That’s it for this week! Thanks for reading and remember to stay curious and remain furious! I can’t even describe my fury at this ethically compromised, unethically comprised SCOTUS and the lasting harm the decisions they made last week will cause.
Chief Justice Roberts taking the time to tut-tut people for not respecting the court is really rich. Respect must be earned, and when the most powerful jurists in the land are operating without any federal oversight whatsoever, are being bought and paid for by billionaires, and showing their entire biased asses in their decisions, it’s hard to respect that.
Interrupt their dinners!
A modest proposal: Can someone start grifting people for good, and get them to vote for and do good stuff?