Friday 28 September 2012

More Corny Old Religious Jokes

A diagnostic is someone who doesn't know whether there are two gods.

A priest, a rabbi, and a minister walk into a bar. The bartender says, "What is this, some kind of joke?"

And it came to pass that in the hands of the ignorant, the words of the Bible were used to beat plowshares into swords. (Alan Wilson Watts)

Confession without repentance is just bragging. (Rev. Eugene Bolton)

Every time someone predicts the end of the world, God pushes the date back a little.

Freedom of religion includes freedom from religion.

Go thou and sin more creatively next time.

Heck is a place for people who don't believe in Gosh.

I am ready to meet my maker. Whether or not my maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter. (Winston Churchill)

I disbelieved in reincarnation in my last life, too.

If God is watching us, the least we can do is be entertaining.

If organized religion is the opium of the masses, then disorganized religion is the marijuana of the lunatic fringe.

Lead me not into temptation, I can find it for myself.

Never invoke the gods unless you really want them to appear. It annoys them very much. (G.K. Chesterton)

On the sixth day, God created the platypus. And God said: let's see the evolutionists try and figure this one out.

Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy.

Corny old religious jokes Part One here.

Wednesday 19 September 2012

Whatever Happened To...? 17

Uncut moquette

balloon folding
Bronco and Izal loo paper (they lingered for years)

catastrophe theory
cheese and wine parties

coathanger covers (crochet or ruched satin ribbon with a rose) If they did anything, how is it we can live without them? Actually, they may have stopped your clothes falling off the coathanger in which case they should be revived.

grimy buildings (They all got cleaned – imagine that!)

hair extensions that were sewn or glued to the hair

joints of beef/lamb (and the meat plates, cloches and carving knives that went with them)

office memos

paintings on black velvet
pale green onyx
pin art (you can get a set on Amazon)

salmon pink (paint, cars, cakes)

shoe bags and handkerchief sachets (tissues have replaced hankies, and we put shoes in plastic bags – but shoe bags might be worth reviving. And you can get them on Amazon.)

static cling (caused by an outfit with layers made entirely of nylon, orlon, acrilan etc. When you removed the layers, static electricity stuck them together, and if you undressed in the dark you shot out sparks.)

stretchy furniture covers (in mock uncut moquette)

teatowels with “teatowel lore” (eg the “old Cornish prayer” about ghaisties and ghoulies and things that go bump in the night)

uncut moquette (velvety material used on furniture)

wintergreen lozenges

More here, and links to the rest.

Friday 14 September 2012

Adjectives 6

Bland, sterile Birmingham

bird-witted: These characters, these bird-witted ladies whom I have characterized so often. (Billie Burke)

bland, sterile: 60s brutalism a “failed future”. Replaced in Birmingham by “bland, sterile millennial architecture”. (Culture Show BBC October 28, 2011)

bloated: too-long book, over-featured software

bomb-proof hairstyle (imdb comment)

brain-itching (@Suburbman/Hamish Thompson on BBC story about prime numbers)

bumper-sticker wisdom: e.g. Evolution is better than revolution. (see quilted sampler, teatowel etc)

caked: steel frames caked in pseudo-historical ornament (Owen Hatherley Guardian Jan 13 2012)

claustrophobically boring: a 50s book on things for children to “make and do” (commenter on The Age of Uncertainty)

commonplace: This girl thought herself rather beautiful and intelligent, even though she was really rather commonplace. (

computery mathy graphy
: Opened those last Christmas prezzies... Both from my brother. A space calendar and... A computery mathy graphy technical calculator! (Daniel Hilton/@iPhonie See cheffy, hopey-changey, Bibley etc.)

demented: The whole thing is like TV’s Big Brother projected into the future by a demented Classics student. (The FT on Hunger Games March 2012)

earnest, naïve, second-rate: Oh! Public art! What happened? Our recent history is littered with small-ish bronze sculptures, quasi-abstract, sometimes almost figurative, with titles such as 'FULCRUM IX' or what have you, earnest and damned… There is heart in this naive modernist sculpture that we seem to have forgotten, where every estate, polytechnic, small office building, shopping arcade, etc would have some second-rate Moore or Calder or Hepworth approximation stationed outside, sentinels of abstraction… that British sense of choking banality. (Douglas Murphy/@entschwindet Nov 2011)

envenomated: means poisoned, but sounds more venomous

ESL prose
: Fifty Shades of Grey paying off with remedial readers who are prepared to plough through its English-As-A-Second-Language prose… (Christopher Fowler April 2012)
excruciatingly fey (Charles Spencer, Daily Telegraph, Dec 2011 on musical Pippin)

ferrovitreous: the Palm House

flamboyantly bad (Wendy Ide on W.E., film about Wallis Simpson, Times Jan 2012)

flashy, garish: oligarchitecture

galloping narcissism: ascribed to Hollywood stars in Frank Langella’s envenomated memoirs

glib: what other people’s arguments and pronouncements often are

gratifyingly vulgar: “Call me shallow, but I buy Hello! for photos of the well-heeled on holiday and details of their gratifyingly vulgar weddings.” Faiza Sultan Khan, Tehelka May 2012

grim, po-faced contemporary dance groups, who did things like depict the Jarrow Crusade through the medium of movement (Steerforth on dance in the 70s - see free jazz and Arts Council funded jugglers)

grimly stupid: grimly stupid responses to objections to the Olympic site. (Matthew Sweet Feb 2012)

grudgeful: drowning beneath a tide of grudgeful caveats (Martin Samuel, Mail Feb 2012)

heroically grumpy: the efforts of the Prayer Book Society (Diarmuid McCulloch LRB May 2012)

insipid, posing vacuity (@Furmadamadam/Adam Nathaniel Furman on architectural theory)

insufferably earnest (Wendy Ide Times April 12)

laughable, frantic: A laughable hotel across the water, with a frantic roof in the style of Santiago Calatrava, shows how not to do it. (Guardian on BBC’s new studios in Cardiff, March 2012)

loftily asinine: Is the new Bryan Appleyard book as loftily asinine as I suspect, or is it worth a look? (@rupertg/Rupert Goodwins)

manipulative, fraudulent, glib, overrated, schlocky, twee, whimsical etc: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, manipulative and fraudulent at every level, has its nominations in place and is on the road to the Academy Awards. And that is exactly what was meant to happen. Rarely have I seen a movie as maniacally fine-tuned to drive the voters of the Academy… into orgasms of approbation and applause. It may not carry home the statuettes, but no one can say they didn't try everything. Daldry – already bedazzled unto blindness by glib, overrated books like Michael Cunningham's The Hours and Bernhard Schlink's schlocky bestseller The Reader – was a shoo-in to be suckered by Jonathan Safran Foer's novel. It's one of those twee, child-centric works that sift through the last shakings of the postmodernist bag for ways to enliven their inch-deep whimsy and fathomless solipsism – crapulous, cod-Vonnegut cutesiness being Foer's weakness – and often presume an intimacy with grave and terrible events, the better to drape themselves in the mantle of importance. Thus we are given an annoyingly prodigious and self-satisfied nine-year-old boy with a 30-year-old's mind … who goes on a New York-wide treasure hunt to solve a riddle left to him by his father, who died on 9/11. For me, Daldry plus Safran Foer equals a perfect storm of all that is worth despising in modern "quality" cinema and the tripe issuing from the mills of the hollowed-out American creative-writing establishment which holds Foer so close to its corrupted bosom. (John Patterson, Guardian Feb 17 2012)

monstrously self-involved, breathtaking narcissist
(book review in Sunday Times)

outré: Stanley Tucci and Toby Jones as two TV commentators in outré wigs (The Week on Hunger Games, March 2012)

over-styled: the Boris bus (Guardian April 28 2012)

overidealist: Seattle free food forest (Urban Photo Blog)

pathologically melismatic: Lucy Mangan on talent contest entrants (Guardian April 1 2012) bloody-hell-pick-a-note-love fiddly parts (Grace Dent Guardian April 1 2012 on Jessie J doing the same kind of thing)

relentlessly sensible: the relentlessly sensible Quaker outlook feels wholly admirable but a little over-idealised if you are not part of that tradition. (Amazon review of 50s teen fiction The Lark on the Wing)

self-indulgent: Anyone see Lars Von Triers "Antichrist"? So bad. Art House movies should be labelled as such! (Warning! Self-Indulgent Bollocks) (Alan McGowan  @amcgowan1970)

self-promotey: Man, some of these corporate accounts I follow are a bit self-promotey. (@RopesToInfinity/Jonathan Headington)

shouty: power ballads

showy: showily overwritten (Sam Leith, Spectator Jan 2012)

slick fantasy effects: of children’s movies (imdb commenter)

smugly jolly: This has long been one of 21st century London's most depressing, smugly jolly spaces. (Owen Hatherley)

solemn: the solemn orchestral propriety of 50s pop (Telegraph on Bert Weedon April 2012)

sophomoric, high-gloss, high-concept crap like 24, CSI or Murder One. (imdb commenter)

stately: And the days when every family had a single television, often a stately object made of polished wood, possibly with doors like a French escritoire, have long gone and we scatter TVs around our houses like cushions. (Simon Hoggart March 31 2012)

stultifyingly earnest (Wendy Ide on The Lady, Jan 2012)

stupid, petty: How is it that an organisation as full of clever people who believe that they must love one another can manage to behave with the monumental stupidity and pettiness of the Church of England? (Andrew Brown, Guardian October 27, 2011 re Occupy protests and resulting resignations)

technicolour: cupcakes

terminally twee: A Japanese “cat tailor” who designs fancy-dress costumes to be worn by the long-suffering pets of the terminally twee, and who says her ideas are beamed to her from outer space. (Times 2009)

timid and shoddy Victoriana (Irish Times review of Owen Hatherley New Ruins of Great Britain)

tiresome, arduous, dogged: She goes on to profile a whole bunch of rather tiresome, worthy types who live with their children in dumps and arduously rebuild them with a sort of Little House on the Prairie doggedness. (Guardian on Angela Neustatter’s book June 2012)

tragic: the tragic cubbyhole of a hotel, near Paddington Station, to which le Carré rightly consigned Smiley (New Yorker on John Le Carré, 3 Dec 2011)

Adjectives 5

More adjectives here and here and here and here.

Wednesday 12 September 2012

Mixed Metaphors Part 7

When does it make sense to freeze ruins in amber? @urbanphoto_blog

The wall of silence that has dogged this investigation. BBC News, September 11, 2012

They don’t want to unearth medical problems.

This is a deeply retrograde step. (Back AND down.)

Celtic turned in a brilliant display to seal the SPL crown.

A bubble in wine prices sparked a rash of investment firms.

Religion is a “very fat can of worms” David Horsey in the Los Angeles Times April 2012

triggered a wave of violence

It transformed not just Britain’s criminal underworld but the face of Britain itself, its tentacles helping to unleash a tide of illegal drugs and accompanying violence. Wensley Clarkson

How to reignite growth is China’s main concern now. BBC June 7, 12 (restart)

The witches maintained a tight veil of secrecy. (A tight veil might be almost completely see-through – what you need is a thick veil, or tight security.)

Salt flats "resembled giant skating rinks of frozen milk".

A hefty pill to swallow: GlaxoSmithKline agrees $3 billion fraud payout. NS tweet July 5, 12  

More mixed metaphors and garbled cliches here and here.
And here, here, here and here.

Monday 10 September 2012

Inspirational Quotes 21

Personality is more important than looks, and you'll find someone when you're not looking. Yeah, we know.

The delightful Jonny Marray says he's planning to look for a girlfriend through Guardian Soulmates. (@lindasgrant)

Davros… was physically repulsive, but without a “great personality” to compensate. (shortlist, July 11 12)

Esteem and respect are linked to status in the social hierarchy. (Roy Baumeister)

The Dark Knight Wonders If He Could Change His Life By Doing a Masters Or Whether It Would Be An Expensive Waste Of Time. (Lee Jackson ‏@VictorianLondon reviews Batman 4)

Man in sea surrounded by sharks. Life guard on chair labelled “Life coach on duty” says: “Visualise yourself not dying and then be that reality.” (New Yorker cartoon, July 2012)

I’ve had a ton of fast-food jobs. It changes your approach to human interaction for ever. (Beth Ditto, Guardian July 7 12_

I started as an actress and worked my way down. (One of Paul Auster’s interviewees in True Tales of American Life)

Don’t delude yourself that the powerful cultural values that wrecked the lives of so many of my classmates have vanished from the earth. (Nora Ephron on feminism, 1996)

He said it gives men the chance to look at girls "far prettier than they would ever be able to marry”. (Lapdancing club owner, July 2012)

She's smiley and friendly, in a proficient but hollow customer services way. (Amelia Gentleman on lapdancers, July 2012)

The good old days meant climbing trees, cowboys 'n' Indians, chocolate milk, sucking on ice chips just cut by the iceman, licking Mom's mixer beaters, and catching lightning bugs in a jar. Also hard-to-push mowers, polio, and widespread prejudice. All in all, I'll take today's life anytime. Heck, indoor plumbing and life-saving pharmaceuticals alone make the choice easy. (Frank Kaiser on

More here and here and here. And here. And here too. Yet more here.

Thursday 6 September 2012

Whatever Happened To...? 16

“lather, rinse, repeat”

80s art (it faded)

abstinence-only sex ed (It failed.)

aniseed balls (in long tubes from Woolworths)

Big Society

breakfast cups


career girls

collar studs

desk sets

divans and divan beds

ecstasy (Not the drug - just a state of bliss. We had to make our own fun in the 70s.)

writers Frank Yerby, Howard Spring, Frances Parkinson Keyes, RF Delderfield, William Carlos Williams

ley lines (At least they got people out of the house searching for the past that was being obliterated in the 70s.)

licking stamps

lorgnettes (and pince-nez)

parades with floats


playing records backwards to hear messages telling you to worship Satan

poltergeists (infrared cameras)

recipes called “something shape”

sock suspenders

the conga (it was a kind of dance, me lud)

the new man

thermos flasks

Things to Make and Do (“the sheer tedium of making a paper tree” – Steerforth, The Age of Uncertainty)

More here, and links to the rest.

Tuesday 4 September 2012

Quotes about the Eighties III

Who would have thought the right-on jargon of the early 1980s could have become so quaint so fast, or the ideals behind it abandoned so swiftly? (Novelist Patrick Gale, The Week March 2012)

When I was at university in the 1980s, the pendulum had swung so far… that it sometimes felt as if we were living in a theocratic state, where even the most innocuous remarks could be branded as sexist and offensive. (Steerforth at the Age of Uncertainty blog, Sept 4 12) 

Underlying all Theodor Adorno’s work in the area was his contention that "popular art becomes the mere exponent of society, rather than a catalyst for change in society." He believed American authoritarianism had a different façade than the typical European forms. Instead, it was characterized by a disguised and gentle conformist enforcement rather than blatant terrorist coercion. The American totalitarianism was spread by the culture industry which Adorno saw as undemocratic, reified and phony… ( 

This was the kind of utopian thinking that made fringe candidates permanently fringe. (

The concept of proof which you invoke is part of the hegemonic apparatus 
by which the dominant patriarcho-capitalist paradigm of "science" seeks
 to delegitimize alternatives that are disruptive to it. Western
 scientific "knowledge" is, like all knowledge, the product of discourse 
and as such, is culturally determined, as can be seen from its reliance
 on concepts such as "force" and "rigour" (i.e. stiffness), both of which
 are reflective of the masculine sexuality and violence that underlie and
 sustain it. ... sorry, I am not very good at this. But the key point is that 
scientific "knowledge" is culturally determined and so has no right to
 claim any kind of universal correctness. (JP)

The assumption that ordinary people’s lives could be controlled and limited by what entertained them was always too condescending to be anything but fatuous. (Clive James on Princess Daisy, 1980)

At the child guidance clinic I was struck by [the] indifference to outcome. Eventually I became concerned that I could see little evidence that the children and families who attended received any benefit; in fact, the majority defaulted on their attendance after a few appointments, usually one or two. It seemed to me that the people working there should have been questioning the validity and utility of the theory and practices to which they adhered. (Michael Heap, The Skeptic, June 2012)

Its neo-Marxist, Frankfurt-school inspired vision of the poor, down­trodden masses manipulated by the ruling classes via the media is rather dated. (Cosmo Landesman on Hunger Games, March 2012)

I love the idea of workers' co-operatives, I really love it. But… I used to work for one, and actually, it was a bit of a nightmare. The offices of City Limits magazine, a London listings title set up in 1981 in opposition to Time Out, seethed with victimhood, resentment, factionalism, incompetence and silliness. [In one meeting they put to the vote the proposition that the mag needed “better writing”.] Oddly enough, the co-op did not stagger on for too long after that ludicrous, comedy gathering. (Deborah Orr, The Guardian, 31 March 2012)

Saturday 1 September 2012

Buzz Words of 2012, Part II

Books in the kitchen? That's posh!

supper apparently is the most upper-class word ever ever ever
avi for avatar (in Australia – and now everywhere?)
Are coaches now mentors?
the eurozone crisis keeps “deepening
bariatric surgery (taken over from gastric band)
government still keen on “scrapping” things
folk music now means drippy tunes with breathy vocals and possibly a harp and flute

hugger mugging – getting close to a mark by pretending to be drunk and dancing around, then stealing their phone/wallet

fols for followers (and vols for volunteers)
breakout room, break room: staff rest area

boutique: We’ve seen brightly coloured ‘boutique kettles’, and heard people refer to ‘boutique firms’, ‘boutique offices’, ‘boutique publishers’, ‘boutique libraries’, ‘boutique services’… and, of course, ‘boutique shops’ (ie ‘boutique boutiques’, if you will). None of it means anything; it’s just a panicky attempt to be seen as small, squidgy, unthreatening and not out to get your money. (Middle Class Handbook)

Facebook philosopher (has replaced cracker barrel philosopher)
life changing (replaces “change comes from within”)
haters, hating on
security bubble
(around Olympic torch)
wiggle dress
shambles and omnishambles
popular July
over-sharing: talking about things that are a bit eeew! (Means you can stifle debate.)

unboxing: unpacking hi-tech products. People video the process and post the results on youtube. (No, me neither.)

It’s “Olympic madness” now, or just “madness”, July 24 12 (“escape the madness” – replaced August by hopes that Olympic athletes will prove better role models for young people than celebs and reality TV “stars”, also that the athletes won’t become corrupted like those terrible overpaid footballers)

This is a perfect happy-dance situation. Kirsty Allsop, July 25 12
lappy for laptop
deliver for “make it so” (people complaining)
shout-out (shurely American?)
Two-handed “fanning tears away” gesture seems to have gone out.
douche (We’ve picked it up from the States, where it’s short for “douche-bag”.)
bottle it (as in “bottle Olympic pride and confidence”, not “wimp out”)

ninja for sneaky or cheeky (eg the Daily Mail’s “ninja edit” of its Olympic opening ceremony coverage)

ledge (legend, of course)

killing spree
the question now is…
(both journalese)

pre-fall (late summer)
owning (for “owning up” or “owning to”)
Nobody talks about “the new millennium” any more (turned out to be just like the old one).
clothes manufacturers are using “asymmetric” to mean “large and baggy”

2012 Part IV here
2012 Part III here
2012 Part II here
2012 Part I here

Buzz words of 2011 Part II here.
Buzz Words of 2011 here and here.
Complete Buzz Words of 2010 here.
Buzz Words of 2009 here.
Buzz Words of 2009 Part Two here.
Buzz Words of 2006 here.
Buzz Words of 2002 here.
More here (90s, 2000, 2001).
Buzz Words of 2004/5 here.