NTMP 97: International Kumquat Center
You clean your car with what?
New-To-Me Phrases, January 21, 2024
Admin notes: Cool (?) NTMP stuff
Did you know you can submit a phrase without having to interact with me directly? It’s true. 🗳️ Here’s a link to the NTMP Phrase-O-Matic Submission Machine, but you can also find Submit a Phrase up in the main menu at newtomephrases.com.
NTMP is on IG. Let’s be BFFs there. 📸
Speaking of the main menu at newtomephrases.com, I’d like to introduce a project in progress: The New-To-Me Phrases Directory. This directory sorts phrases by category, including animals, snowplow nicknames, dunks on Trump, and more. I think we’re going to have a lot of fun with this one. Ideally, I’d love to be able to have listings that link not to posts but directly to phrases (anchor links), but that’s going to take a bit more time to implement. 🤓
Got an idea for a category I should include? Post it in the comments!
The Phrases, With Context
This week, we have swear words—much like googly eyes—making everything better, a dunk on Trump from one of my faves, who also dunks on DeSantis, a squirrel’s stolen glory, and more.
Let’s get to it!
1. Expletive infixation
I found this phrase on the Merriam-Webster Instagram account. According to this clip, “expletive infixation is a linguistic term for a profanity inserted into a word for emphasis.” Apparently we do this without thinking about where we insert the swear word, sort of organically guessing where it should land, which is before the syllable that holds the emphasis within the word.
So we say “fan-fucking-tas-tic” and not “fan-tas-fucking-tic.” There are exceptions, such as for “un-fucking-believable,” but in general this behavior holds true. Pretty cool.
2. Dumpy golf priss
This phrase is not only so very good, but so is the post where it originated. I believe you need to create an account to read it, with a monthly cap on free articles that helps keep the lights on at Defector.
The headline, What Puts a Smile on Ron DeSantis’ Face? might make it seem like a standard Buzzfeed/Cracked internet hit piece about DeSantis resembling an alien life form trying and failing to approximate human displays of emotion. (No shade on those efforts, by the way; here’s one that elevates the genre, brilliantly executed by Alexandra Petri at WaPo, as a treat.)
But David Roth—arguably one of the finest writers working today—goes deeper with this premise, arguing instead that DeSantis is not only human, but a cruel one who delights in it, much like the rest of the people in his party. Again and again, beat by beat, Roth cites the real harm caused by this simulacrum of “presidential.” I think this piece took me by surprise because while the punchline about his smile delivers, it also clearly lays out what has become easy to forget: that the cruelty really is the point for the Republican party, perhaps due to the sheer scale of it over the years wearing us down. They truly don’t seem to care how many lives they take or irreparably harm, so long as they can hold on to power.
Here’s the section that contains the phrase, a masterful dunk on Trump:
The political movement Trump leads, which easily busted out the more euphemism-reliant Republican establishment, promises its adherents nothing but that punishment. It will hurt the right people, over and over forever, not until bad things get better but until everything has been flattened and pacified and bleached; the end, the moment when the work is finished and the country is finally Safe, is necessarily much less distinct than the lavish, lurid fantasies of getting there. In place of conservatism's worn nostrums about freedom-to and freedom-from, there's just retributive violence and impunity; a gun brandished as an argument-ender at the supermarket or a truck accelerating toward a pod of protestors; the absolute right to turn in anyone who offends or just crowds you, and state agents standing by to do the dirty work from there. It is about who calls the cops on whom, and what they expect the cops to do when they arrive; its adherents are cop-callers and the self-deputized.
The challenge for the cynics and gremlins and adult libertarians running against Trump for the GOP nomination is that they also have to promise to do all this while, crucially, not being Trump himself—to sell the same rancid fantasy in a more compelling and presentable way than the dumpy golf priss that the fantasy's adherents have made its hero and deliverer.
Honorable mention phrase from this piece: DeSantis’ world-historic anti-charisma.
This was the essay that finally made me pull the trigger on a Defector subscription, even though I’m not into sports, which is a significant portion of the writing there. And hey, at least with this subscription I’m not funding an org that is a-okay with platforming and profiting off of Nazis or transphobes1 (that I’m aware of, anyway).
And what did I find straight away upon subscribing? Roth’s tribute to Andre Braugher. I am still gutted by his loss, and I live for the day when a streaming service ponies up for the music rights so we can see Homicide: Life on the Street again. And now I get to also enjoy Drew Magary’s Funbag column, a longtime fave of mine.
A friend recently turned me on to the work of Kat Vellos, author of We Should Get Together: The Secret to Cultivating Better Friendships (something I am laughably bad at these days). In a recent newsletter, Vellos linked to this Curbed article and suggested we add porching to our friendship skills.
Porching is hanging out on our porches while balancing the dueling desires to both attract and deflect convos with our neighbors. What I found fascinating about this piece was that architect Steve Mouzon studied the relationship between porch height and distance from the sidewalk and found that the closer to the sidewalk, the higher the porches were situated. Here’s Mouzon’s original blog post from 2009 about this social-private geometry.
This made me realize that our current porch is all wrong for our neighborhood. It’s concrete, high off the ground, and quite far from the street. Also, it’s too small for more than one person to hang out on. I’ve thought about adding colorful chairs under our big Eastern White pine tree, which is a bit closer to the street, but my husband feels we’d be too much on display there. His vision for our property is more “towering arborvitae hedges,” where I’d enjoy being more open and saying hi to the occasional neighbor and telling their dogs that they are the cutest ever. No shade on my husband; I am an ambivert and understand his desire for privacy. It’s just interesting to think about all of this in terms of where we live and how to balance those competing needs.
Related, also linked by Vellos: Porchfests, or music events held on porches. I could see those ranging from cool and fun to unbearably annoying, but that’s community for you, isn’t it?
Do you have a porch? If so, is it conducive to porching? Tell me more in the comments:
4. International Potato Center
This belongs to a unique and fun subcategory of phrases that includes organizations with weird or funny names.
Is there a cafeteria at the International Potato Center? I really hope so.
5. Chicago rat hole
In Chicago, a comedian posted on social about a “rat-shaped” hole in the sidewalk in the Roscoe Village neighborhood, where I lived in the early-to-mid ‘90s, very much pre-gentrification. Dubbed “The Chicago rat hole,” it went viral this month, there are now shrines and offerings at the imprint, and in a bizarre turn of events, it has since been filled in and then immediately and heroically dug out again by pro-rodent-hole locals.
The rat hole—which has been in the neighborhood since the early ‘90s—presents an interesting mystery: There are no footprints anywhere around it, so how did it get there? A resident reported that there used to be an oak tree over the sidewalk, making it likely that the imprint was made not by a rat, but a squirrel. This was my first thought upon seeing it; the paw impressions look squirrel-like to me. I actually recently saw one of our neighborhood squirrels in our yard that I thought it was a huge rat at first because its tail was stripped completely naked, poor thing. It otherwise appeared healthy, thankfully.
It’s just not as fun to say Chicago squirrel hole,” I guess.
The plot thickens? Someone commented on the Depths of Wikipedia Instagram, run by the very funnyto say that there is an identical hole in the cement in the Printer’s Row neighborhood of Chicago. They suspect this was an art project that went unnoticed outside of these areas. The commenter did not post a link to a photo, and I’ve reached out to them to learn more. I’ll update if I hear anything.
If you’re reading this and are based in Chicago, do you want to go on a rat hole scavenger hunt?
WTF is this blue slime, why is it vaguely genitalia-shaped, and did you, like me, initially read the company’s name as “PUDLICKI?”
I intend to stay on Substack but plan to keep agitating for change. As I devise new ways to do this, I will keep you informed and occasionally ask you to join me in making noise to demand better from their leadership.