Wednesday, July 18, 2018

This Either Is, Or Is Not, Awesome

This here is my one-thousandth blog post, which is obviously awesome! By "awesome" I mean immensely cool, or even just cool, or else I'm just signaling the end of a sentence and now it's your turn to talk.

Cranky language people like to sniff that we've gotten careless with the word "awesome" and that if we use it, we'd better be talking about, well, God, or somebody equally impressive. Or one of his larger or more photogenic works. Mostly they don't notice that it started out, around 1600, meaning "full of awe" (so it would, say, refer to somebody beholding God rather than the big guy himself). And then only later was it applied to the awe-inspiring item. At any rate, the curmudgeondom is pretty certain "awesome" shouldn't refer to a collection of blog posts, or a satisfying dump, or even the observation that a person can meet someone at the movies at five. None of those should evoke an "awesome."

This doesn't bother me much. I understand that there is a need to shanghai words for one's own purposes sometimes, and there's a further need in any community to shake the vocabulary up a bit so it doesn't sound stale. "It's garbage day," I might say, and someone might say "Awesome" back. It didn't even have to be "awesome." It could have been "saline" or "gibbous." The point is to move conversation along and, maybe, send a signal to your own tribe that you're a member in good standing. Some day in the future, you might hear someone saying "Gibbous, dude," although "dude" will have been replaced by then. By "bosco," or "kipper."

"Awesome" has been on the way out for a while. Now you're more likely to hear things are "perfect." If you order something off the menu in a restaurant, your servidude will automatically say "Perfect." One suspects that every single thing on the menu is equally perfect and you doubt that, but after all it's a sunny attitude to take toward your food, or your willingness to schedule an appointment at a certain time ("Perfect").

First post
Anyway, I don't get real worked up about it. I know how this works. Some word or phrase or even inflection becomes passed around your cohort and before you know it, you hear it vaulting out of your own face like a dog after a squirrel. Bam. It's like influenza. You think you're immune, but you're not. You can go sixty years without ever saying "I know, right?" or "I can't even with this" and then, suddenly, you do. You might feel sort of weak and susceptible when you hear yourself saying it for the first time. (But at least you know what a "cohort" is.)

Still, I was startled the other day when Dave and I were on a walk, and we saw a young man get out of a delivery truck, and we said "Hi there, which direction  is Burnside?" And he smiled and said "What an amazing question," and pulled out his phone to check.

I laughed outright. "No it isn't!" I said.

He looked at me and laughed back. "I guess you're right!"

"It's kind of an ordinary question, really," I pointed out.

"Yeah! It is. Huh! I guess I just said it to be friendly."

Good enough! We did all feel a few notches happier, all right. He pointed toward Burnside, after checking his phone, and got back in the truck. We took his amazing information and headed toward Burnside.

Nice kipper, that guy.  Truly crepuscular.

65 comments:

  1. I can't wait until everyone is using crepuscular which is what I think about your awesome 1000th post. Do carry on.

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  2. As long as we've gotten past using the word "bogus" for everything, I'm good. Awesome, in fact. Amazing. And crepuscular.

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    1. Hey, I haven't heard "bogus" for a long time. I think I forgot about it.

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  3. Oh, and just let me say that the phrase "vaulting out of your mouth like a dog after a squirrel" is, well, awesome.

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  4. Awesome! "Sweet" and "Wicked" are pretty well gone for placeholder words, and for that, at least, I'm happy.

    I pick up on dumb phrases all of the time, though. A few years ago, everyone was using "I'll be out of picket" to mean "I will not be available" instead of, well, whatever it actually means. It's pretty well gone, but I found myself saying it for a while.

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    1. Here in New England, wikked will never go out of style especially when followed by pissah. We're as curmudgeonly as they come and I think 'awesome' is wikked pissah stupid.

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    2. Cheryl beat me to it! I never heard anyone use "wicked" except in Maine and environs, and I don't think it will ever go away, nor should it. Ayuh. Wicked pissah!

      "Out of picket?" Really? Where do you live?

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    3. Well, now, I'm "from away", but I've got 3 grandkids growing up next door here in Maine, and their mother & father were born here too. Anyway, "wicked" is a natural if infrequent part of my vocabulary, but I won't let myself condescend to using terms like "cunnin'" (for "cute")b/c it doesn't come naturally to me.

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  5. I catch myself saying "woke" and probably imperfectly but I like it.

    Congrats!

    XO
    WWW

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  6. Bosco! Totally crepuscular.

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  7. I am not so sure, though, that awesome[curmudgeon sense] does not properly refer to YOUR thousand blog posts. In fact, I'm pretty sure it does.

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  8. I am curmudgeon enough to want very badly to challenge my waiter when he constantly tells me that everything I order is "awesome". I am paranoid enough to realize that you don't antagonize anyone who has access to both your food and bodily secretions.

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    1. Wait...he has access to your bodily secretions? What restaurant is this?

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  9. Congratulations, Murr! Now, I want to try to read that first post from the image. I doubt there’s more than a handful of duds in the whole thousand. I’ve read nearly every one since 2009, and I can’t recall any duds. I hope to read every one of your next thousand. You’re a fixture at my house. Brilliant!

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    1. It worked I just tapped the image and blew it up bigger. As awesome as usual.

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    2. Yeah, I wrote that first one, and then the next day I wrote another one, and the third day I thought: this is unsustainable. The Blogdom said you had to have three posts a week or no one would pay any attention to you. I decided right away that I couldn't do three GOOD posts a week and settled on Wednesday and Saturday, which I've kept up since that third post.

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  10. Congratulations! I was able to read that first post and laughed all the way through to the end. You have such a wonderful way of slinging words, especially when you're creating new ones.

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    1. There are only around 200,000 English words to sling, and if you grew up with Walt Kelly, you can expand that to fit your needs.

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    2. My father read Pogo aloud for years, so I half-expected Alleygaroo to be on the SAT. On the other hand, I believed the Okefenokee to be fictional well into my twenties. I've read suggestions that Hoover tried to decrypt Kelly's work, as an obvious cipher. I can only hope.

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  11. This is, like, awesome (says someone who is on the curmudgeon scale).

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    1. I'm on the scale too. It always tickles me what things curmudge us. People feel very strongly about certain things, but they're not all the same things. I don't even know why "How's everything tasting for you tonight?" bugs me so much but there it is.

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    2. So I always suspected that awesome was just a polite way to let people know that their comment was normal and nice and not really for information. Now our leaders used of superlatives is nauseating.

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  12. It has been said that I am full of something that isn't awe, unless it's awful. Or something. You are an inspiration and your questions are almost as amazing as your answers. How do you keep that up for a thousand times? I am awestruck!

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    1. Shit, me too. And now it's all over. I haven't written anything new for a week and a half. Sob.

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  13. Sick to death of hearing, “no problem” instead of “you’re welcome”.

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    1. See my comment to Elephant's Child, above. Your crotchet is a very common one. I don't have that one, though.

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    2. I always wonder what they'd say if it were a problem!!

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  14. It's true that words do get overused to the point of being a little annoying, for instance "awesome" when something really is just ordinary, but that passes. When I first moved back to South Australia the word in favour was "excellent". Thirty two years later I almost never hear 'excellent' but I haven't taken much notice of what took its place. "Awesome" isn't around as much either.
    Congratulations on 1000 posts.

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  15. I always thought that 'crepuscular' referred to a pancake that spent too much time at the gym.

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    1. A friend and I are bringing back 'swell' because it's really the only way to answer foolish questions like "How is everything tasting tonight?"

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  17. I pick up lingo far too quickly but only for informal usage. I used to be picky about grammar and spelling in other peoples' writing, but at some point I learned that what really matters is ideas and thoughts. It was very freeing.

    Congratulations on your 1000th post!

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    1. I pretty much only get peeved at bad grammar and spelling in newspapers and magazines and published books.

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    2. And online newspapers. I think they're worse, overall. Everybody rushing to be the first to print something.

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    3. Probably so. Also they're relying on spell check.

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  18. Right here. In Sugar Hollow, my neighbors. Where I play mahjong every week and enjoy lunches, etc. with the mother of John and Hank Green. DFTBA
    https://farmerjanesoap.bigcartel.com/product/dftba-soap-lavender

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    1. Hey, I think you've mentioned those people before. The soap looks great but DFTBA? Eww!

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  19. P.S. I'm really tired of Ira Glass saying "like" every other word, like you know what I mean. And how, like cool is it? 1000" ? Like, that is, like, beyond awesome. DFTBA.

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    1. I've "liked" him more since I've seen podcasts. He's a lot cuter than he sounds.

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  20. I'm so last week that I still forget and say kewl.

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    1. I think that has stayed in style for sixty years.

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  21. "...and that shows that there are three hundred and sixty-four days when you might get un-birthday presents —'

    'Certainly,' said Alice.

    'And only one for birthday presents, you know. There's glory for you!'

    'I don't know what you mean by "glory",' Alice said.

    Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. 'Of course you don't — till I tell you. I meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you!"'

    'But "glory" doesn't mean "a nice knock-down argument",' Alice objected.

    'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'

    'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

    'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master — that's all.'

    Alice was too much puzzled to say anything; so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. 'They've a temper, some of them — particularly verbs: they're the proudest — adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs — however, I can manage the whole lot of them! Impenetrability! That's what I say!'

    'Would you tell me please,' said Alice, 'what that means?'

    'Now you talk like a reasonable child,' said Humpty Dumpty, looking very much pleased. 'I meant by "impenetrability" that we've had enough of that subject, and it would be just as well if you'd mention what you mean to do next, as I suppose you don't mean to stop here all the rest of your life.'

    'That's a great deal to make one word mean,' Alice said in a thoughtful tone.

    'When I make a word do a lot of work like that,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'I always pay it extra.'

    From this I deduce that awesome, perfect, and amazing are all possibly very richly paid words, by now. Carry on!

    P.S. I think Harry meant "out of pocket." Which is quite a good example, actually of something purporting to mean "I'm not available" because it actually doesn't make any sense anyway. Are you "in pocket" if you're available? Or do you "have a pocket" or "I have something in my pocket"? Or should it say "I'm out of the pocket" as in "I'm out of the office"?

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    1. Oh! Out of pocket! I haven't heard that locution used that way but at least it makes more sense. I still don't know what "the pocket" is in music. Lewis Carroll was another huge influence in our family.

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  22. Anyway congratulations on your 1000th blog post. And thank you.

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  23. Use of "awesome" always reminds me of the caveman sequence in Mel Brooks' "History of the World," where the voiceover says, "Early man regarded death with a sense of awe." The caveman, looking down at a dead comrade, all say, "Awwwww."

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    1. Awww.

      Of course, now people write "Awe" when they mean "Aww." So. Wallah!

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  24. I got bifocals and I didn't feel old. Gray hair sprouted on my head almost overnight and I didn't feel old. I find out my use of "awesome" and "excellent" is dated. I feel old.

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