October 31, 2010

not your typical farm dog

We met this little guy when we went out to a farm to pick our pumpkins.

He joined us for our hayride to the pumpkin patch.

Where he then disappeared.

We picked our pumpkins and carved them today.

Happy Halloween!

October 28, 2010

"I want to see you wear that polka dot dress, Klum!"

Whoa, Garcia and Klum are on last-name basis in this season's finale of Project Runway. They talk about what's wearable and what's sellable and it all ends with the sentence nobody wanted to hear: "Sorry, Mondo, that means you're out." Guest judge Jessica Simpson liked Mondo's collection best, especially the infamous polka dot dress, but she kindly assures winner Gretchen Jones that her sister (Ashlee Simpson) will "rock [Jones's clothes] impeccably."

What to say? Tim Gunn, not known for being stumped for words (see my ABC of Tim Gunn-isms for details), said this: "Wow. Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow."

Rock on. Impeccably.

Edited to add: Heidi Klum was true to her word. She wore a modified (but still recognizable) version of Mondo's polka dot dress at a red-carpet event. Pictures here. Take that, NinaGarciaFormerFashionEditorForElleMagazine!

October 26, 2010

Who's this Miriam Webster?

I'm a fan of the HBO show "In Treatment." In today's episode, Jesse, a 17-year old with, let's say, identity issues (he wore a T-shirt with the slogan "Hurt me, I'm a virgin"), tries to impress his therapist with a new word he has learned (bifurcated). To no effect. Later, the therapist mentions Merriam-Webster, which Jesse, in a perfect eggcorn, constructs as "Miriam Webster." He asks the therapist who this Miriam woman is. Off the cuff, Weston gives a brief account of Noah Webster and the Merriam brothers, Charles and George (he even knows their given names).

George and Charles Merriam founded a publishing house in Massachusetts in 1831. In 1843 they bought the rights to the current edition of Noah Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language as well as the right to publish future editions. They published the dictionary at a lower price and made it a financial success. The company was later renamed Merriam Webster Inc.

Perhaps this is common knowledge among psychotherapists?

October 24, 2010

Meet the MAMILS

It seems that the older I get the more people I know who compete in marathons and triathlons. And while that might just mean that I now associate more with athletes than in my twenties (which I doubt), there is also a general trend of forty-something men (and women) turning towards triathlons as their preferred sport. The New York Times reports today that
The sport has exploded by 51 percent since 2007, according to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, and men in their 40s are one of the fastest growing segments in the sport, accounting for one-third of the 1.2 million triathletes.
The phenomenon is so popular that there's even a word for these "generation of athletic, type-A men who are entering middle age and trying to hold on to their youth through triathlons": They're mamils ('middle-age men in Lycra').  According to Urban Dictionary, the term was created by Michael Oliver, a senior analyst for the British market research company Mintel, and it caught on right away. Mintel's report describes mamils as "the noughties version of the mid-life crisis." Well, I guess an expensive bike and high-end spandex gear are still a lot cheaper than a Porsche convertible. Just make sure that you won't get chicked at the next race (beaten by a woman), it might take away some of the type-A fun.

October 19, 2010


A student asked me today why the form funner is considered incorrect -- wouldn't one expect a one-syllable adjective to form its comparative and superlative on -er/-est rather than synthetically, with more and most?

Absolutely. At least that's Steve Jobs's point of view.

The thing about fun, however, is that for many people it is not really an adjective yet. And in predicative uses like The concert was fun, it's hard to say if fun is an adjective or a noun, since both can be used predicatively (John is foolish/a fool). The situation becomes clearer once one includes elements that uniquely specify either nouns or adjectives, such as quantifiers. In The concert was a lot of fun, fun can only be a noun. You can only quantify nouns, but not adjectives. In The concert was very fun, on the other hand, fun clearly is an adjective, since nouns cannot be specified by degree adverbs (You can be very foolish, but you can't be very fool). So, while there may be situations where it's hard to say if fun is used as an adjective or a noun, it is very clear that it can be used as an adjective. And as an adjective, it would form the comparative with -er. The OED doesn't give the adjective its own entry yet, but recognizes in the entry for the noun that it can be used attributively (as in a fun game) and is "passing into [an] adj[ective] with the sense 'amusing, entertaining, enjoyable'."

Want more? The Boston Globe also has a column on the subject (including data from the OED), and LanguageLog has a posting that discusses the use of double comparatives like funnerer ("Clever quasi-grammatical stake-raising or pathetic attempt at hipness? You decide.")

October 15, 2010


You don't really expect an acronym to be longer (in terms of syllables) than the phrase it replaces. Unless your acronym includes the letter 'w,' or three of them, as in 'www,' the 9-syllable acronym that replaces "world-wide web." One way to get around this is to clip the pronunciation of 'w' (double-you) to 'dub,' which looks longer in writing than 'w,' but consists of only one syllable. Applying that method, you arrive at "btdubs" ('bee-tee-dubs') for BTW ('by the way') or at "j-dubs" for 'just wondering,' which I overheard someone say in the elevator today. Of course, if you regularly visit urbandictionary.com, you already know that. Jay ess.

October 07, 2010

"I like it on..."

My friend Gen likes it on the barstool. My friend Jasmine likes it in the car.
Have you seen status updates like these on facebook today? Have they made you scratch your head? All those women who normally just post about their children's sandbox activities are now talking about - OMG!- sex? For an explanation, go to this link.
Titillating the Facebook newsfeeds today, women are posting where they like to keep their purses when they come home, but they conveniently leave out the word "purse." [...] The trend follows the January Internet meme in which women posted the color of their bra as their Facebook status. Both are to raise awareness of breast cancer. 
O.k., I'm now even more baffled than before. Juvenile jokes about liking it  on the barstool help raise the awareness of breast cancer exactly how? Let me be an old bore and just link to the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month website.