NTMP 95: TURKEYBLOCK
Also: The 2023 Fave Phrase of the Year
New-to-me Phrases, January 7, 2024
The Phrases, With Context
This week, we have juicy typos, cauliflower abuse, clever public art and more. I also address the fascist elephant in the room at Substack, the platform I use to publish NTMP.
But first! Poll results!
Grief Cheese was the clear winner of the December poll, with a strong showing from you weirdos who voted for Pooisville Fartnals (I love you so much). Also, my fellow English majors showed up for F. Salt Fitzgerald. I see you!
The 2023 Phrase of the Year
I’m really glad I used Google Forms for the Phrase of the Year poll because it lets you create a spreadsheet and from that, a pie chart. We love a pie chart! I tried adjusting the fonts but the phrases kept getting cut off so here’s what we’re looking at:
The people have spoken, and Assholes with Casseroles was the runaway winner for the 2023 Phrase of the Year. Honorable mention goes to a tie for Indiana Bones and United States v. Donald J. Trump. What’s great about this is that you don’t need context to play along, but you can read more about these phrases at the links in this paragraph.
Thanks for voting—see you next year.
And now for this week’s phrases. Let’s get to it!
1. Gwyneth Paltrow’s Blueberry-Cauliflower Smoothie
So this exists. Unless you’re eating a certain way for health reasons, can we please leave cauliflower alone and just roast her in some olive oil or dunk her in mayo-and-sour-cream dips?
This is someone’s surname and the name of a local car dealership. I saw a van driving with the word HAMBLOCK on the back, which struck me as very funny.
Of ham? Let’s hope so.
I shared a photo of the van with my Hag pals and we immediately renamed our group chat HAM BLOCK.
3. The Jokes Phone
This is not the greatest phrase, but it makes up for that in context as an incredibly cool concept and project. Found via Brendan at Semi-Rad, this story about a guy who installed a working pay phone on his street that plays jokes is really great. My favorite part is the way he matched the font for the word Jokes at the front of the phone where the word Phone would be.
This brings to mind the Poetry Phone installed by local mischief makers Atrocious Poets. You can see a pic of it here at their hovel. You can just stop by, pick up the phone, and hear a poem. The best! Yay public art!
4. Succulent pants
Would you wear them: Y or N?
Spotted at ye olde Walmart.com. A+ typo; would giggle at again.
5. Guild the lily
What a great malapropism! Lilies of the world, rise up! ✊🏻
Spotted on Healthline; I forgot to snag the link but, yeah, that tracks. Here’s a great write-up at Merriam-Webster of the origin of the idiom gild the lily. TL;DR: It’s a mis-quote from Shakespeare that took hold a couple of centuries ago.
6. Little Crappy Ship
The Inside Story of How the Navy Spent Billions on the “Little Crappy Ship”
I’m sure you’ll be as shocked as I was to learn of unchecked military spending on a failed project. Littoral1 combat ships (LCS in Navy shorthand) became known colloquially by Navy insiders as “Little Crappy Ships” because they sucked, despite spending an estimated $100 billion-plus on building them and then quickly retiring them. Whoopsie!
I can’t believe I have to write about this shit in 2024
Then again, I can. Look at our Republican front-runner for President.
So, about the ::checks notes:: Nazis on Substack.
I haven’t written here yet about Substack’s Nazi problem (The Atlantic)—which is really a leadership problem and failure—but other people who are much smarter than me have written about it - here and here and here and here. I strongly recommend reading every link in this paragraph because I believe this isn’t just a Substack problem, but a tech company problem that we need to address culturally. It’s worth noting that Substack also has a transphobia and disinformation problem.
I’m keeping NTMP here for now, on the theory that there are no tech outlets I’m aware of that are owned by decent people with any understanding of or empathy for marginalized communities. I’d rather stay and be a thorn in the side of these Nazi and transphobe enablers and hope that they come to understand the very real harm their inaction can cause. And their understanding likely won’t come from decent people abandoning them to their libertarian bubbles.
I don’t think there’s an easy solution to any of this. As the saying goes, there is no ethical consumption under capitalism. Creators who work online have to find spaces to interact with readers/viewers/customers, and many of those spaces are owned by people whose platforms cause actual harm to people in marginalized communities. I have friends and colleagues who rely on Twitter, Substack, Instagram, Etsy, etc. for a substantial portion of their income, whether through platform, promo, sales, or all of the above. This is the reality for creators today. I could do a similar analysis of where we shop or invest our retirement savings and how hard—impossible?—it is to avoid bad actors there.
I have tried quitting platforms and canceling subscriptions. Sometimes that’s the best option. I left Twitter and canceled my subscription to the New York Times to protest the actions of leadership at both outlets. I feel okay no longer giving money to an editorial board that promotes transphobia, but I’m also missing out on some incredible journalism and writing unless someone shares a gifted link. And isn’t that also still benignly supporting the outlet? And some of those writers are my colleagues and friends whose work also needs support. I can’t read threads on Twitter now, or reach out to the guy who made the Pooisville Fartnals sign, but does it matter to Phony Stark or Twitter that I left?
Our individualistic society places the onus on us to take solitary action (cancel, leave, recycle, buy organic, shop local) when collective action or action that leverages individual power is what moves the needle (organize, canvas, join movements demanding legislative change, run for office, donate to orgs with leverage, strike). I believe that for now, staying and taking collective action are workable solutions for Substack creators. We can keep consistently and publicly calling out leadership. And we can divert subscriber payments off the platform in large enough numbers to make a dent in their revenue—a move I’m not seeing any of the big Substack names mentioning yet. Depending on how things go, I might change my mind and jump ship to publish NTMP elsewhere. I will let you know if that happens. But for now, I’m staying, and this is why.
Sorry to end on such a bummer, but such is life in this age. I wonder if I should revive my old signoff to “stay curious and remain furious.”
Either way, keep it weird, and I’ll see you next week.