Category Archives: language

STFU and Do Your Job

Norman the plumber listened patiently as one of his helpers presented a long soliloquy about what was wrong with the job they were on, why the morning was so difficult and how nothing that went wrong was his fault. This particular laborer was well known for his complaining. As they finished lunch and got ready to go back to work, the plumber addressed the issues and grievances of his underling.

“Kenny, I’ve go some advice. And if you follow this advice, you’ll be a lot better off: shut the fuck up and do your job.”

I was just a teenager, but that stuck with me.

How many times do you wish people would just STFU and do their job? Yes you know exactly what I’m talking about. And don’t get me wrong, it’s advice I should heed more often.

So, I read this tweet last week from our esteemed leader:

OK. You won the election, you’re the most powerful person in the world, now STFU and do your job.

It turns out there’s an easy way to send feedback to the White House with a handy form on their website. Maybe this would be a good time to send Mr. Trump a message that he’d surely understand. STFU and do your job. Really, the world would be so much better, and indeed, it would be a tremendous way to make America great again.

The Vomitory

Well, I’m heading to Ralph Wilson Stadium Sunday for the clash of the AFC East titans as the Bills host the Jets.

I’ve got a pretty good idea what I’ll be cooking for our tailgate, but I haven’t decided yet on whether I wish to be mildly mocked by the Bills fans or severely mocked. My Joe Namath jersey will bring mild but respectful mocking, but the Mark Sanchez jersey I recently bought for $10 will certainly bring a cascade of derisive (and potentially lewd) commentary.

Buffalo’s being walloped with snow this week, but weekend temperatures will be in the 50s. If it doesn’t rain, it will be a nice day for November — and to be fully prepared for the trip, I took a look at the stadium info on the Bills website. That’s when I found this:

Wait for the Whistle Policy
To ensure the enjoyment of the game action for guests, The Buffalo Bills
enforce a “Wait for the Whistle” policy for guests returning to their seats.
Guests are asked to stay behind the yellow line in the vomitory until the
officials have halted play on the field, at which point guests are permitted
to return to their seats.

WTF? The vomitory? Having been to games at “The Ralph” I’ll tell you this: it would be difficult to define any single area as tyhe place where people vomit.

Naturally, I looked this up, and a vomitory is defined as “an entrance piercing the banks of seats of a theater, amphitheater, or stadium.”  Wikipedia offers a deeper dive into vomitory:

The Latin word vomitorium, plural vomitoria, derives from the verb vomō, vomere, “to spew forth.” In ancient Roman architecture, vomitoria were designed to provide rapid egress for large crowds at amphitheatres and stadiums, as they do in modern sports stadiums and large theatres.

So, there you go, you really do learn something new every day — but just in case, I’m going to avoid standing in the vomitory.

I Have a Gub

Look, if you’re going to send out a video with the whole world as your audience, take a moment to check the spelling on your titles.

Taliban release Bowe Bergdahl

This was the message on the video released by the Taliban showing the turnover of American POW Bowe Bergdahl.

Don’t (Don’) take this the wrong way; I don’t find anything funny about all this — but as someone in the business of doing communication for a large organization, I find their lack of attention to detail as abhorrent as everything else about these animals. I wish the video had ended with us dropping a bomb on them.

Maybe they did it on purpose just to mock our language…

On a lighter note, it reminded me of this scene from Woody Allen’s Take the Money and Run, where they can’t understand his bank robbery note.

Foto Friday

mock

I would never mock the poor. I might mock your grammar, but never the poor.

What Is An Artist?

We had a lively discussion at home recently over Subway calling their counter people Sandwich Artists.

My son contends that they are artists. The best of them, he argued, assemble sandwiches in a way that expresses great skill and creativity — and the really good Sandwich Artists bring transcendent quality to their work. There are, of course, also some hacks.

I take the position that the Sandwich Artists might more accurately be described as sandwich technicians or sandwich engineers. After all, they are making the sandwich based on my set of specifications. I’m the one who decides that cucumbers and jalapenos would go well on my oven roasted chicken sub. It’s in Choosing these combinations of ingredients is the art, therefore I am the Sandwich Artist, not them.

If they were artists they’d decide what to do independently. You’d walk into Subway and instead of ordering,  just say, “Make me a sandwich!” The sandwich artist would then follow his muse and present me with something new and original, like in this funny piece from McSweeney’s.

So who is the artist? It’s well-known that Andy Warhol used assistants to create his art. These crews followed his instructions to churn out work that sells today for millions of dollars — and you’ll never see their name on it. It was his creative vision, not theirs. They were sandwich makers, not Sandwich Artists.

As always, thanks for visiting. And don’t spend too much time reading stuff like this at work, or you too could find yourself a Sandwich Artist.

Paisans

What’s the point of having a blog if you don’t complain about things you find mildly irritating? Like people who pronounce mozzarella mozzrell, dropping the ‘a’ at the end.

I had thought this was largely done by Italian Americans who wish to emsphasize their street cred: mozzarell, manicott, biscott, prosciutt, and so on. The vowel at the end is dropped — but is this affectation or authenticity? Turns out, it’s complicated. This from a 2004 New York Times story:

In some parts of Italy, the dropping of final vowels is common. Restaurantgoers and food shoppers in the United States ended up imitating southern and northern dialects, where speakers often do not speak their endings.

So, like many things, it depends on your neighborhood — but dropping the ending is not universally more Italian than pronouncing it.

Me? I’ll never do it, simply because when I say the words that way I feel like an idiot.

Say What?

It’s hilarious how the writers of Mad Men are addicted to the word “what.”

While what was at first largely a Don Draper thing, now everybody is saying it, even his daughter Sally. And why not? What can mean so many different things depending on your intonation — but mostly it’s not an overwhelmingly positive way to respond.

How many times a day would you like to just say what? Yeah, me too.

Written By Committee

Take a look at this:

multi

“Multi-purpose spoons?” I’ve gone through life thinking that spoons have one purpose, that is to scoop up food you intend to put in your mouth. While “multi-purpose,” sounds very modern, what do you suppose the other purposes could be?

That’s what you get when committees write things. Somewhere along the line there was a discussion that went something like this:

“Well, we don’t have separate spoons for soup, yogurt, and cereal. Do you think that’s going to confuse people?”

“Well, why don’t we just call them multi-purpose spoons — then everyone will understand that they’re good for all those foods.”

Or how about you just call them spoons, you idiots?

As a rule, committees make things longer. Because of them it takes longer to get things done, they have longer meetings, and they spawn longer copy.

If you fight the good fight against committees and others who impede progress, here are some great resources for you from Bidlack Creative Group, a design and communication firm in Ann Arbor. Print these and hand them up!

The Two Charts of Doom: Population Control in the Creative Process

How to Keep Committees From Turning into Evil Monsters

Five Ways to Kill a Great Idea

The Three Rules of Good Communication

You’ll learn more from these four pages than from a stack of business books.

From the Notebook of Rob Madeo