Showing 11 - 20 of 47 posts found matching keyword: trivia

In the American English language, "pussy" is a charged word that can be uttered innocently, but if you yell it in a room almost everyone will assume you mean it as vulgar slang. In that regard it's like "beaver," also a cute and furry little animal turned profane synonym. Come to think of it, women are also often called "chicks" or "rabbits," which sort of make me wonder why other cute, furry animals like squirrels and raccoons don't get similar treatment.

A quick internet search on the word "pussy" -- don't try this at home -- revealed that the English word has been used as a diminutive form of "puss," as in "cat," for more than 400 years. For most of that time, the word has also been clearly used to refer to women as a term of endearment; the word apparently didn't assume its profane meaning that won't pass network television censors until the late 19th century. There is no consensus among etymologists what triggered this change, but it has been suggested that this was due to an infusion of Old Norse or Old Germanic languages. It seems that "pusse" is Low German for "vulva." (Something else to blame on the Germans!)

This wealth of meaning has caused "pussy" to become the base for several other words of widely diverse meaning over the years. Certainly the self-redundant "pussycat" (ca. 1805) is an obvious example. But so, too, the feline-inspired "pussywillow" (ca. 1869, because cats are soft) and "pussyfoot" (ca. 1903, because cats are stealthy). On the other hand "Pussy-whipped" (ca. 1956) is clearly derived from the profane definition. I don't suspect that anyone ever wanted to whip a cat. Women, of course, are a different story.

This entire train of thought was generated over a pleasant dinner at Olive Garden when my mother informed me that she found it acceptable to use the word "pussy-whipped" despite its etymology. I suspect that this is only because the time she was busy defending ridiculing my need to rush home and tend to my poodles, a situation that caused her to label me as "poodle-whipped." That label is fine by me: I'm sure that I enjoy my cute, furry animals at home as much as the next guy.

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I recently took a quiz on MentalFloss.com in which I had to name the internet's 10 most visited sites. I did... poorly. If you'd like to try your hand at it before you read any further, go here.

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Done? Good. Clearly I wouldn't mention this quiz unless I had done awesomely or abysmally. Care to guess which?

I got only 2 out of 10, the search engines. Bah! No wonder I can't earn a living making websites. I clearly have no idea what people use the web for. I should have gotten Wikipedia; I go there almost every day! But the others? I have no money, so no ecommerce site even crossed my mind. And social networking sites are for people who who like people!

If Facebook is really the most visited non-search engine website in America (Google is #1 overall), of course a movie based on it would be popular. The Social Network is the equivalent of those unauthorized biographies of Justin Bieber that line supermarket tabloid check-out aisles. They don't have to be good, they just have to exist; Bieber's own fame will sell them. If The Social Network wins Golden Globes and Oscars, shouldn't the authors of those Bieber biography books start winning Pulitzers?

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I don't care for the New Year's Eve holiday. I'm too old to be excited about being another year older and too young to be excited about surviving another year. I'm not nuts about crowds anyway, and I don't drink alcohol.

The New Year's Eve television coverage leaves me cold as well. I don't care to listen to rock concerts. I don't care to watch radio DJs. And I have no idea what Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffen have in common, but I'm pretty sure that I don't care.

That said, there is something to look forward to on television on New Year's Eve: University of Georgia football! Georgia has been invited to the Liberty Bowl this year to battle the University of Central Florida. Consider the following facts:

  • No SEC team has lost in the Liberty Bowl since 1991.
  • Despite UCF's 10-3 record, they haven't played any team that has approached SEC-level talent.
  • The UCF head coach is George O'Leary, who went 3 for 7 against UGA during his tenure as head coach of Georgia Tech a decade ago.

What does all that mean? Hell if I know. But get out of the way, Dick Clark; here come the Bulldogs!

Bonus Trivia note: This is the first time in the Liberty Bowl's 52 year history that it will be held twice in the same year. The 2009 Liberty Bowl was played January 2, 2010.

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The 2010 New Oxford American Dictionary Word of the Year is "refudiate," meaning "to reject." My spell-checker wants to change that word into "repudiate," which makes sense, since "refudiate" is nothing more than a typo in a Twitter feed back in July. We now have a new, completely unnecessary word in our dictionary. This bit of political genius/manipulation will now be bloating the reference aisles on our national bookshelves with as much bullshit as is typically reserved for the self-help section.

The enemy here is not, surprisingly, Palin. This bit of trivia may be lost to history, but Sarah Palin herself attempted to correct her initial typo to "refute," the word she presumably meant to Tweet. Rather than let Palin get away with her mistake on Twitter -- where grammar goes to die -- her followers and detractors forced her into owning the mistake as intentional in order to save political face. She's relatively innocent in this fiasco. Sure, she could be smarter and not send messages to the public realm without reviewing them for mistakes, but that's probably asking too much.

No, the enemy here is the New Oxford American Dictionary. Damn you, Oxford University Press dictionary editors. Throwing a political figure's mistaken and jumbled words words back at them is a tried and true political tactic with great lineage. ("Potatoe" and "misunderestimate" spring to mind.) Mudslinging may have a storied tradition in American politics, but let's not start treating the weapons used as anything other than what they are: mud. If Oxford University Press includes words like "refudiate" in their dictionary, all they are doing is dirtying their own reputation.

Therefore, I refudiate the inclusion of the word "refudiate" to my automated spell-checker's personal dictionary. It already has a hard enough time with the perfectly cromulent words that I've already added such as "truthiness," "unfriend," and "wriphe." I mean, come on, it's not like my hard drive has all the space in the world.

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Well blow me down!Despite my guess that his surname was Sailorman (pronounced SAY-ler-mun, of course), it seems that the eternally surly Popeye has no last name. That surprises me mainly because the character is over 80 years old. (Chronologically, anyway. According to his copyright holders, he's officially 34, and has been for a very, very long time.) Older fictional characters tend to pick up a lot of baggage as their stories expand infinitely. Somehow, Popeye's baggage hasn't included any name tags.

For example, over the years Popeye has picked up a father, Poopdeck Pappy (a nickname, as Popeye is definitely not Popeye Pappy), and a grandmother, Granny (last name long forgotten). In addition to adopting a son he affectionately calls Swee'Pea, Popeye has sired a son with Olive named Popeye, Jr. (If Popeye is missing a last name, there must be Oyl on Junior's Social Security Card.) Popeye has even helped raise his unfortunately named quintuplet nephews Pipeye, Pupeye, Poopeye, and Peepeye. (Since Popeye has no siblings and Olive has no sisters, they must also be Oyls. That's a lot of Oyl!)

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I've been busy this past week installing a fence at my brother's home in Dublin, GA. I've been calling it a cyclone fence, but you probably know it as a chain link fence. Turns out that cyclone fence got that name from the Cyclone Fence Company of Waukegan, IL, a trademarked brand now owned by U.S. Steel.

Coke is Coca-Cola!

So I've been committing the same error as people who call a copy a Xerox, facial tissue Kleenex, a hook and loop fastener Velcro, and soda Coke. (For those paying attention, the grammatical error of substituting the specific for the general is called a metonym.) Worse, Cyclone Fence was initially a northern brand (though the concept of the chain link fence was invented by the British), so I have unwittingly been using a Yankee word! I apologize to ya'll for this error and will try to correct my usage in the future.

P.S. I'll post a picture of Trey's fence once I've developed my the pictures still in my kodak.

[UPDATE 08/03/10]: Pictures. Note the DirecTV dish in all three pictures for site reference.

That looks like a lot of yard.
Start of Day 1: It doesn't look that big, right? Next time you shovel the concrete.

Watch out for snakes!
Start of Day 2: I lost track of how many fence posts after I was attacked by the fire ants.

It's not much of a fence if you can see through it.
Start of Day 3: Another day, another $12.74 worth of rebar to fix what we did wrong on Day 2.

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Three things of note today:

1: May 25 is International Towel Day, a day of celebrating the life and works of Douglas Adams by carrying around a towel. If you don't know why carrying a towel is a relevant way to celebrate or even who Douglas Adams was (hint: he's a brilliant, deceased British author), you can probably skip this event.

2: May 25 is International Lilac Day, a day of support for the life and works of Alzheimer's Disease patient Terry Pratchett by wearing a lilac. If you don't know who Terry Pratchet is (hint: he's a brilliant, diseased British author), you may still want to wear a lilac in support of Alzheimer's sufferers everywhere.

3: Remember my friend Brian? (Refresh your memory here.) Well, I haven't heard if he's survived his trip, but someone is posting images of his trip on his Facebook account. And I am sooo jealous of him now:

Threesome with Penn Jilette!

That's Brian with Penn Jilette. If you don't know who Penn Jilette is (hint: he's a brilliant, living American entertainer. Bonus hint: he's the one in the middle above.), then I have to say that I'm beginning to wonder what you're doing reading this blog.

Kudos, Brian. Whether you are now dead or married, I'm sure it was totally worth it to meet Penn Jilette.

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The Cooking Channel debuts on Memorial Day. Maybe "debuts" is a little strong. Technically, it's a re-branding of the Food Life Network (FLN). Apparently living food got to be too much, so they've decided to turn on the oven and change their name.

Cooking Channel is owned by Scripps, which also owns Food Network and the Travel Channel, home of food-centric shows such as Bizarre Foods, Man vs. Food, and No Reservations. Just how many food-centric television channels does one company need? Hell, how many food-centric television channels does one country need? The FDA is prepared to say that too much salt is bad for us, but the FCC is keeping mum on the proliferation of cooking television networks. Does America have so many food networks because Americans are fat, or are Americans fat because we have so many food networks?

I speak from a position of indifference: my plebeian tastes never evolved past the 4th grade cafeteria. My palate still prefers mashed potatoes, pizza, and chicken fingers. I won't eat anything that I've ever seen Bobby Flay prepare. I've never even heard of most of the secret ingredients used on Iron Chef. And I don't care enough to get queasy over Bizarre Foods. I'm the antonym of a gourmet, which Dictionary.com defines as an "ignoramus."

If something is an acquired taste, why should I bother to make the effort to acquire it when I'm just going to be hungry again in a few hours anyway? Give me something that won't go bad before I eat it and can be prepared in under 5 minutes, and I'll be just happy with my peanut butter and honey sandwich on white bread, thank you very much. Let's see Scripps turn that into an entire television channel.

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After reading on the Mental Floss blog that Snap, Crackle, and Pop had a brother named Pow, I lost my afternoon trying to track down evidence. It was relatively easy to discover that the three elves (a baker, a band leader, and a slacker) were created in 1933 as a response to radio advertisement. It was somewhat harder to find evidence for the existence of Pow, who aparently appeared in animated advertisements. But here it is, as provided by John K Stuff. And all that proves is that cereal commercials have always been just fucked up.

[Note: that link above to shamuskrispies.mov is a Quicktime movie link. In my PC browsers, I can't see it, but downloading and watching it on a desktop (i.e. offline) application solved the problem for me.]

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Another year, another Super Bowl. But lest you fear that you don't know enough to make a good pick in your office pool, there's always a celebrity nearby to show you the way. For the 21st year running, Scripps Howard News Service has polled 103 of the world's best and brightest most desperate for attention for their Super Bowl picks. Figuring that there must be some wisdom in the masses, I took a look at the figures:

  • Sixty-two of the 103 stars polled (60%), including Haley Joel Osment, who has correctly predicted 9 of the last 10 Super Bowl winners, losing only on the Giants' improbable 2007 victory, took the Colts to win.
  • Mode score predicted for the Colts is 35. Mode score predicted for the Saints is 28. Four different celebs picked the Colts 35-28, including Pat Robertson, who apparently still feels that New Orleans will get what it deserves.
  • The celebs agree with Las Vegas, culminating in an average over/under of just better than 57 points. A very slight majority, 52 of 103 celebs, took the over.
  • The only NFL team owner to have a say in the poll is the Miami Dolphins' Serena Williams, who picks the Colts because she cryptically "knows" Peyton Manning. She was among the 10 celebs who declined to venture a guess at the final score. I could say something very critical here, but she'd no doubt threaten to kill me if I did.
  • Average final score predicted: 30-28. The only celebrity to pick the Colts winning 30-28 was Russell Johnson, better known as the Professor on Gilligan's Island.
  • The smartest celeb reporting is clearly Dennis Farina: "I hate to bet against Peyton Manning because I think he's probably the best quarterback since Dan Marino." Damn straight, Dennis! For the record, Farina, who previously won the Scripps Super Sage Award for picking the closest final score in the 2005 Super Bowl, picks the Saints, 31-27, which looks an awful lot like 30-28.

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To be continued...

 

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