NTMP 82: Pop Tarts for the Win!
Do not pet the skunks after they've had McDonald's
New-to-me Phrases, September 24, 2023
The Phrases, With Context
Hi there and welcome! Whether you’re brand new to NTMP or a hoary seasoned veteran, I’m so glad you’re on this weird word journey with me.
I’m back after a week off recovering from surgery to shore up my crumbling infrastructure - a phrase I coined in an essay I wrote for Outside in The Before Times. I took an entire week to recover—a huge privilege in our cruel safety-net-free society—and I’m grateful I was able to do that.
As a longtime self-employed writer, I’ve always struggled with taking time off—WHAT IF ALL OF MY WORK DRIES UP AND MY CLIENTS AND EDITORS NEVER HIRE ME AGAIN? (Yes, I have anxiety. Yes, I’m in therapy.) As a person living with chronic pain, I’m beginning to understand that rest and recovery are essential to my existence. And if it’s essential to me, chances are it is to you, too. So if we’re able to take that time off, we should take it. Naps aren’t a moral failing! We don’t have to eat lunch at our desks!
It also really helps our creative work to take breaks and return refreshed and ready to write about farts.
But enough about me—you came here for phrases, and phrases you shall have.
Let’s get to it!
This week’s discussion thread about our “coolest, weirdest, best” hobbies atwas a banger. If you’re not familiar, each week paid subscribers can participate in a conversation centered around a theme and it’s one of the best places to hang out online because everyone is just decent, good, thoughtful, and genuine.
There was a thread recently asking about our favorite beverages and I took so many notes! And I bought spices to make chai! I am one click away from becoming a mortar and pestle owner. Also, Instagram keeps telling me I need this octopus-themed electric kettle and . . . they’re not wrong.
Back to the hobbies thread: One commenter shared their hobby of exchanging physical postcards with people from all over the world, facilitated via postcrossing.com. Neat! I think I might try this.
Tell me all about your hobbies—from the usual assortment to the weird and wonderful:
[Note: You have to have a Substack account to be able to comment, but they’ve recently redesigned the app with readers in mind and it looks pretty great. If you’re reading this via email, you can always reply that way, too.]
Here’s what I wrote for mine:
I’ve been journaling since age 11, where I mostly used journaling to process my emotions. I've gotten rid of most of them after re-reading them, with no regrets. They helped me process stuff and I was ready to let them go, as those types of thoughts aren't ones I felt I needed to keep. However, this year I've started journaling in a more documentarian style, writing random things I did, noticed, ate, etc. I draw a bubble around each tiny entry, and they begin to form a pleasing pattern on the page. I use a different color ink for each day, and then I add washi tape stickers and doodles and it's become so enjoyable. My inner middle schooler is extremely happy right now.
In response to someone sharing their hobby of orienteering, where you use a map and compass to find your way through unfamiliar territory, I shared that I once got lost on the way to an orienteering workshop and decided it wasn’t the hobby for me. 🤦🏼♀️
2. Fart squirrels
As seen on Instagram and r/funnysigns — an immediate follow relevant to my interests.
I searched for the source for this and found that it’s a trail sign somewhere in Pennsylvania.
Extremely random note here—any time that state name comes up in conversation, my brother with Down’s Syndrome says it in a menacing horror movie voice, a la Homer from one of the Simpsons Halloween episodes where Mr. Burns is a vampire and the family goes to his home for dinner. It’s funny every time!
I did a Google image search of the trail blaze symbol with the two mountains and nothing turned up. An NTMP mystery! If you find the source for either this sign or the mountain blaze on these trail signs, let me know. (h/t to NTMP megasupporter Rebecca for this one.)
3. Weapons of mass distraction
As the author of the book How to Break Up With Your Phone: The 30-Day Plan to Take Back Your Life, you can probably guess what Price is referencing here. She’s not anti-tech or anti-phone, just pro-presence and living with intention. I’m getting so much out of this book and think about it often. I’ll also have more phrases to share from it, and to me that’s a massive value-add.
We picked up McDonald’s for the kids the other day and when we got back in the car after dropping it off, my husband said, “It smells like someone ate McDonald’s and then farted in here.”
He wasn’t not wrong. Ba-da-ba-ba-ba! 💨
5. The woo to Q pipeline
I’d written about the “wellness to white supremacy pipeline” before, but this phrase is even better, I think. Pick your poison: assonance or alliteration? And it’s fun to say! Try it at your next yoga class and watch the heads pivot (IYKYK).
Both of these phrases describe the phenomenon where people on the extreme left who are into natural health, anti-vaxx, “clean eating” and such end up doing a hard pivot into both QAnon and white supremacy. Here’s a TikTok from New Age Wasteland that goes into one such transformation. Content warning: transphobia and other hate speech, what a time to be alive. (h/t to my Hag pal Kathleen for this one.)
6. Go Bagels!
I saw a car with that window paint people use for homecoming, team sports and weddings on the back window and thought it read GO BAGELS! but it was GO EAGLES! But wouldn’t a bagel make an awesome mascot? Enough with the cultural appropriation and war metaphors; let’s get some team snacks going!
Your Dose of Random Goodness
1. I need your input!
I could use your help for a segment I’m working on: What’s your connection to the word “jagoff”? Did people use it where you’re from? What did it mean—or what did you take it to mean? Leave your thoughts in the comments:
2. A wildly over-researched story about the journey to answer a simple question: why is this bridge here?
I am still not over the journey that ensued when Tyler Vigen decided to explore the origins of a pedestrian walkway in Minnesota. Pour yourself a favorite beverage and sit back to enjoy this one. It’s fascinating to see how much information can be lost in just a generation or two, and how places are defined and known by those who live there.
Vigen also creates Spurious Correlations, where he charts two random research trends to compare how they correlate. I love me a data visualization! I love how dark some of these charts are, too: “People who drowned after falling out of a fishing boat” vs. “Marriage rate in Kentucky.” Okayyyy. 👀
This sort of curious exploration is exactly my jam, and because you’re reading this, I think it might be yours, too.
That’s it for this week! Remember to stay furiously curious.