NTMP 91: Pearls before Einswine
Fight me under the mistletoe
New-to-me Phrases, December 10, 2023
The Phrases, With Context
This week, we have more punny names for inanimate objects, a meta pig chase, slow news vegetables, surprise cheese and more.
An admin note: During one week this November, I unintentionally collected nothing but scatological phrases. However, I made the executive decision to not pack all of them into one newsletter. You’re welcome.
Related: Did you know that if you’re not paying close attention, the word farthing reads like fart thing?
Let’s get to it!
But first! November poll results
Indiana Bones handily won the November poll. Thanks for voting!
1. Feels on Wheels
A clever throwaway Twitter joke from 2021:
2. Cucumber news
This phrase is the translation for the Norwegian word agurknytt.
Great, but what is cucumber news?
According to Life in Norway,
[Cucumber news] is used derisively to refer to news items that have clearly been written as filler because it’s summer, Christmas or some other slow-news period.
Summer is when cucumbers proliferate, hence the phrase “cucumber news.” The idea of a slower news season didn’t originate in Norway—”silly season,” also known as “cucumber time” (LOL)—is known in several European countries as the time when news outlets need puff pieces to fill space normally taken up by politics while politicians are on holiday.
3. Knicky knocky nine doors
I was amazed to learn how many names people have for what kids in my suburban Chicago neighborhood called Ding-Dong Ditch. This was a summer evening activity where we knocked on someone’s door or rang their doorbell and ran away, laughing as a grouchy homeowner yelled at us.
Of course all of this becomes less funny when you consider that you absolutely cannot play this game as a Black or Brown child in the U.S. A brief perusal of headlines related to neighbors shooting directly through their unopened doors after someone came calling, means, well, I guess kids can’t play this one at all anymore—at least not in the gun-fetishizing U.S. I’m sure that constantly ingesting right-wing media that convinces people that the libs are coming to take their precious guns away has nothing to do with this.
ANYWAY, here’s a partial list of geographic variations for this game that I found on Wikipedia:
Ring and run (U.S.)
Chicky melly (Scotland)
Tin-tin corre-corre (Chile)
Bobby knocking (Wales)
Ping-pong dash (Japan)
Tag yourself—I’m dingeldangel.
Did you play this prank as a kid? What did you call it, and where did you live?
4. Albert Einswine
We love a punny pet name here at NTMP. Albert Einswine is a four-year-old pig that escaped his New Jersey home, or farm, or workplace (articles I read didn’t specify).
Deptford Township police officers chased the pig on foot until eventually capturing him, posting videos of the pig chase to social media.
The department shared a photo of the officers posing with Albert Einswine on Facebook with the caption, “Sometimes the jokes just write themselves.”
5. Grief cheese
Is it weird to share that my mom died as part of a new-to-me-phrase? Well, my mom died earlier this month. She was 91, and it was time. We had a complicated relationship, but grief still sucks. My Hag pals sent me a honkin’ box of Tillamook cheese as a condolence gift, and I have never felt so seen.
Here’s where we discover that you can’t align two images side-by-side in Substack: 🙄
A bracing new take on an old holiday tradition from a Tumblr account that has since changed owners—it’s now a high heels sales/fetish Tumblr—which totally tracks.
7. Brown Friday
Mercury Stardust, aka The Trans Handy Ma’am (and author of Safe and Sound: The Renter’s Guide to Home Repair) shared that the day after Thanksgiving is the busiest day of the year for plumbers, who call it Brown Friday.
Is there a better metaphor for American excess? I think not.
I found more than one article that claimed “it’s not what you think,” but methinks the plumbing industry associations doth protest too much.
8. Drain “The Rock” Johnson
If it’s one thing I’ve learned and enjoyed very much since starting this newsletter in 2021, it’s that people love giving inanimate objects and animals punny names.
Did it start with Boaty McBoatface, or have we always been this way?
So far I’ve written about several examples of this, including:
Scottish snow plows (aka “gritters”)
This week, we can add ::checks notes:: storm drains to the list of things people enjoy naming. The city of Somerville, Massachusetts started an “adopt a drain” program where people could volunteer to take care of a storm drain to keep it from getting backed up. The singular perk of this civic duty includes the ability to name the drain for which you’re responsible. Examples include:
Drain The Rock Johnson
Insane in the Mem Drain
Grate Expectations - my personal fave #englishlitmajor
Pet nicknames - If you’ve been reading here long enough, you know I love a pet nickname! All of our pets have at least a dozen other names. Treat yourself to this pet nickname comment thread on Instagram.
My fave? “Our cat’s name is Dracula. We call him Dirty Pete.”
Brighten someone’s holidays - It’s not too late to grant some holiday wishes for trans youth! Transanta is the official NTMP holiday nonprofit - start with their Instagram, read some stories, and donate to a wishlist.
THIS MOOD. This would be me if I worked in an office. TBH, it’s me among my family at home. I have replayed this Insta post 50,000 times since Thanksgiving, solely for the backpack kick and the sign.
That’s it for this week! Thanks for reading, and remember to stay furiously curious.