Sunday, August 30th21.3°C
Old as dirt. Twice as gritty.

Exploding heads

Hello. My name is Jo Slade, and I am a catchphrase addict. 
It is a trait I inherited from my father. During the 70s, he would say things like, ‘sit on it, ya noid’ and ‘up your nose with a rubber hose’. He looked normal, but underneath lurked those crazy catchphrases. When I was a teenager it wasn’t so bad because I didn’t hear a word he said, ever, because teenagers have a parent-filter that protects them from such things, but my guess is he probably said things like ‘sock it to me’. I was blissfully unaware.
Interestingly, adults have catchphrases, but teenagers don’t. Teens are far too cool for catchphrases. The things they say would be called catchphrases if adults said them, but when teens say them they are merely über-cool words and none of an adult’s business. If an adult steals one, the word is ruined and must be replaced. When that happens, which is all too often, teens judge you, with severe angst-filled rolled eyes. This is because teenagers do not think adults are amazeballs. Amazeballs, by the way, is the Best Word Ever, full stop. It can never be topped. It is a thing of beauty, and ever since discovering it, I’ve not let a day go by without using it.
My grandson, who is nine, already has cool words and phrases. He actually shudders when we use them, which, of course, guarantees that we will ramp up the usage. He tells us in no uncertain terms that we don’t say the words right, and that we just look silly when we try. He is probably right. When we say ‘yolo, for the lols’ (one of his favourites), his head explodes.
Head explosions have become commonplace on the internet. They occur when people see a cute kitten video, a video that is totes amazeballs. 
My head explodes a lot. If someone posts any kind of status update on facebook, my head explodes on the spot. 
Some people claim that their head has LITERALLY exploded. The incorrect use of ‘literally’ to mean ‘figuratively’ is now so widespread that it can lead to problems of clarification. If your head really does literally explode, how do you differentiate it from a regular explosion?
“Whoa, my head just literally exploded.”
“Oh yeah, man. My head explodes every time I see a cute kitten video.”
“No, I mean it literally exploded.”
“No way, man - mine too! Literally! Totes!”
“No, I mean it literally-literally exploded, not literally-figuratively.”
“OH, oh right, yeah, man, my head does that all the time when I’m watching kitten videos. Literally! Just, like BOOM: head exploded!”
“No, you’re not listening, I mean literally exploded - look over there for god’s sake, that’s my eyeball in the fish bowl. And look on the wall, hello nose and teeth. And see? See the brain? - all over the place, we’re still mopping up the blood. My head LITERALLY, for REAL, exploded.”
It can be exhausting. Especially if you have a headache, which sometimes happens after your head explodes. Literally the worse headache ever.
But yolo, for the lols, man.
‘I think not’ is another catchphrase. I think it is a catchphrase, but if I didn’t think so, I’m not sure I’d say I think not. On the other hand, if I think so and it turns out that absolutely I think not is not, then I’d have to think not and say not. Or not. This whole paragraph is amazeballs. My head is perilously close to exploding again.
Some catchphrases aren’t really catchphrases, they are just Wrong Things, like ‘nevermind’. Seeing ‘never mind’ written as one word unsettles the mind, or what’s left of the mind after it has exploded. When the two words are squished together like that it comes out extra fast when you’re thinking it. Instead of n e v e r (space) m i i i i i n d, it comes out nvrmnd. 
But . . . whatever.
‘Whatever’ first came onto my radar in the mid 70s, and it is still out there, on the loose. A rogue catchword, wild and untamed, still annoying anyone who hears it.
‘Whatever’ has nuances, though. There’s the passive-aggressive and chilly: whatever.
Then there’s the clipped tension-riddled my-god-I’m-going-to-go-ballistic-and-cut-off-your-toes: What. Ever. 
“What. Ever” is what you use when someone writes ‘nevermind’. What. Ever. 
In early years Jim and I created a fair share of our own catchphrases and catchwords, some of which inadvertently bled into our little community. We were amazeballs. For example, when Heather was a baby, Jim and I called diapers ‘bum-bums’. And her little push car was the ‘chicken-mo’, ‘chicken’ as in one of her nicknames, and ‘mo’ as in ‘mobile’. Soon we realized that a lot of people we knew had started calling diapers ‘bum-bums’ and push cars ‘chicken-mos’.
Amazeballs trendsetters. 
Mostly, though, we just picked up on what was out there. Our trouble is, once we adopt a catchphrase it is almost impossible to get it out of our system. We offer forever homes to catchphrases.
One from the early 80s, ‘the lotto machine is broken’, is Jim’s personal favourite. He has used it 1,000,000,000 times to date, and shows no signs of letting up. I think his life would be made perfect if just once he could come upon a broken lotto machine. Just once.
And of course there’s the wonderfully cantankerous ‘Hey you kids! Get outta my yard!’, another 80s gem and another favourite of Jim’s. He started saying it back when he was a young man, and now he has arrived to the real-deal ‘hey you kids, get outta my yard’ age.  
He is decrepit, but amazeballs. 
His head has yet to explode. 


Princess Jim

For reasons I cannot begin to understand, I have a reputation in my family for being fussy. A fuss-pot. Difficult. Hard to please. A princess.

Mind you, when I say ‘in my family’, I really just mean ‘Jim’. 
And he is wrong.
And he is the pot calling the kettle black.
When I am fussy about something, ie toast - for which I have very high standards because toast matters. It must be evenly browned, not too pale, not too dark, on both sides, and toasted all through (no soft center). Despite knowing this about me for the past 40+ years, Jim adopts a sort of squeaky voice, minces around a bit with one hand flapping, and does a very cheap imitation of a princess, “Ooooo,” he says, “and what would the princess prefer?” 
This from a man who can’t eat a peanut butter and honey sandwich unless it is made with the peanut butter and honey mixed really well together in a bowl then put on the bread, despite that peanut butter on one slice and honey on the other slice is the exact same sandwich minus the hassle and princessiness. 
Jim calls me fussy because I always do an in-depth inspection of a hotel room upon check-in (but seriously, who doesn’t?) and will change rooms as needed, which is, through no fault of my own, quite often. Jim gives me the princess dance for this, yet recently a very faint fan noise from somewhere outside the room, maybe a block away? made him insist on a new room, even though I was completely satisfied with that room. So, we were changed from the top-floor suite, which had been the substitute for the initial first floor room (I don’t like staying on the first floor) and, subsequently, the second floor room (which had a view of the roof of the pool instead of the ocean). In that four story hotel, we managed to test each floor, finally settling for a nice room on the third floor. 
I felt aches and pains that night. I think the voodoo dolls at front desk were working. No, seriously, they were lovely with us, because we are always lovely about these things. Under the loveliness, though, were the voodoo dolls, I feel certain of it.
Speaking of hotels, bed comfort is important to me. If a sheet is not smoothly fitted on the bed, the fold will keep me awake, as it would any normal person. Jim accuses me of being the Princess and the Pea, but I don’t want to hear it from someone who has to get out of bed at 2 AM to tidy the bed if it is too messy. If I accuse him of being a princess in a situation like that, he looks shocked, “No, it’s not the same thing at all, nobody can sleep in a messed up bed.” which is my cue to violently toss the covers around, which is his cue to savagely tickle me, and so it goes. In over 40 years, he still can’t stand a messy bed, but I’m the princess for not liking an unsmooth bottom sheet. 
And as princesses go, I have only one word: Shoes.
Jim buys shoes that are comfortable. Then, as soon as they are no longer returnable because he has worn them outside, he decides they aren’t quite the right fit. Not . . . quite. Not blister-making or anything, just not absolutely 100% the most comfortable shoes ever made, and therefore they are never worn again. I, on the other hand, buy shoes and wear them inside, so they can be returned next day. 
And underwear. You can’t return underwear, and other than a pair of silk boxers bought sometime back in the 80s, none of it fits Jim properly. 
Boxers - bad
Briefs - bad
Boxer-briefs - bad
Seams down the middle - bad
Cotton - bad
Non-cotton - bad
It’s all wrong, so he struggles along with the almost-good-enoughs, and I wear the damn cast-offs. 
It’s insane, living with a princess who jeers at you for being a princess.
Two princesses. By god, we are royal.

Lion-hearted you

Last year GoDaddy was forced to pull a Superbowl ad (the infamous puppy ad) because of angry people taking a stand. The ad showed a puppy falling off the back of a truck, becoming lost and afraid, then finding its way home only to be sold. There was so much indignation over this that the ad was shut down.
These days in the news, a dentist, a big game hunter between root canals, is on the lam because he killed a lion. The wrong lion, it turns out. Not only did the dentist kill a beloved and protected lion, turns out he has a bad habit of killing plenty of big game, sometimes illegally. He is what most of us would call a Class A Jerk. At any rate, the outrage can be heard around the world as social media climbs frenziedly onto its collective soapbox to condemn the man for his action. 
We hate to see the slaughtered lions, we hate to see the clubbed baby seals, we hate to see the puppy mills, we hate to see elephants killed for ivory. Man, we really do hate to see animals suffer. 
But there’s a disconnect here. . . .
The caring seems only to apply to important animals. Wild ones count. Pets count. Cute ones count. Food animals, not so much.
Do you eat meat? Sure, why not. I have no problem with meat-eaters. At one point in my life I did, but I’m older now and wiser to the realities of life, one of which is that the world will not turn vegetarian anytime soon.
Food animals are not as majestic as the lion or bear. Food animals are generally not as cute and fluffy as the dog or cat. Food animals are, well, just food for us to eat, once they’ve breathed their last. But does that mean we shouldn’t be advocates for them? Should we not care about the way they are treated while they live? Shouldn’t we make sure they are humanely killed? The person who is aghast at photos of a horribly abused dog must surely be equally aghast at the horrific treatment of food animals. If not, why not?
I have a friend who is a powerful advocate for dogs. She is magnificent, a lion in her own rights, fighting against the cruelties, the abuses in the system, the cluelessness of many pet owners, and she fights for better safety, better controls, better everything for dogs. 
But there’s a disconnect here. . . .
One day I asked her about food animals, and she told me that she loves eating meat, was not going to give it up, and did not want to know about the treatment of food animals because it was really upsetting to her. 
That’s a big disconnect.
Do you buy your meat through regular channels without much thought about the source? Join the crowd, few give it a thought. Fact is, most of your meat comes from factory farms. Factory farming is why the meat you eat comes to you cheap. And the things they do - the bloody awful, the bloody ugly, the bloody unacceptable things they do - to ramp up production while cutting costs to the bone would make your blood curdle. It’s not right. It’s a brutal and ugly thing, and it’s something worth fighting against. 
How can you fight something so big? You fight it the same way you fight against puppy mills or big game hunters or poachers of ivory and the like. You take a stand, you say ‘no’ to the crap sold in grocery stores. You make a loud demand for ethically raised meat, and if you do that it will eventually become available, because store owners will hear your anger and see your money withheld. You just have to be strong enough to tough it out. You have to care enough to make it happen.
Support the small ranches, small farms. You’ll pay more, but that’s what you do when you’re fighting for something worthwhile, when you want to make a difference. You’ll pay more, you’ll be more inconvenienced, you’ll have to be more outspoken in stores and restaurants, sometimes you’ll even get jeered at (ie “but what about the poor slaughtered vegetable, haha”). It’s not an easy road to take, but it’s the right one.
And you know, the cause you fight, if you choose to do so, is one that not only helps the food animals, it helps the hardworking independent farmers and ranchers who provide for us. They are struggling to keep going. If we lose them, we’ve lost. 
Once you open your eyes to what happens to factory farm animals, you will find it harder to shrug your shoulders and declare, ‘Well, but what can I do?’ The question is, are you ready to look? 
If we demand that food animals be treated humanely, they will be, if our voice is loud enough. Isn’t that the most beautiful thing imaginable? We have that power. We have the power. 
Go ahead. Be outraged about the lion. Be outraged about the puppy. But be just as outraged by the millions of food animals who suffer in ways that the lion never did. 
Be lion-hearted. Because it matters.


Said no one ever


One of the cool things to do these days is to stage your random sarcasm with ‘said no one ever’.

“I would much rather have a glass of warm tap water than a icy cold locally made craft beer,” said no one ever.
“If I win the lottery I am going to say thanks but no thanks,” said no one ever.
I’ve dabbled in the ‘said no one ever’ schtick, because, well, why not. Until, that is, I saw it used twice in a Maclean’s magazine article, which, for a national publication, is one too many times. One might reasonably argue that it was two too many times. 
“Oh get out of here, there’s no such thing as too many times for it, it’s always fun,” said no one ever.
“Well now, aren’t some people just so precious, all stuck up about such things,” said no one ever, in a bit of a huff.
“Oh really? Oh riiiight, someone like you probably uses it a dozen times in one paragraph. A short paragraph,” said no one ever, with a noticeable and not very attractive sneer.
“You don’t know what you’re talking about. You should seek help, because it is obvious to everybody that you’re completely delusional . . . or what I like to call ‘an idiot’,” said no one ever, who, truth be told, was pretty tired of being a no one and yearned to be a someone. This made him bitter about things and not afraid to show it. 
“Oh so I’m the idiot? Look who has their panties all in a twist,” laughed no one ever.
“You know, of course, that technically speaking we aren’t even having this conversation since we don’t exist, we’re no one,” said no one ever.
“True enough, must be sad to be a no one like you,” said no one ever.
“OMG, this is ridiculous, you’re just as much of a no one as I!” said no one ever.
“Ha ha, fooled you once, shame on me . . . no wait, that’s not right. Well anyway, shame on no one, really,” said no one ever.
“Have we filled up a column yet?” said no one ever.
“I’m not sure, hang on, let me check,” said no one ever. “Damn. No, we have a ways to go. Listen, I have to get going. I’m meeting no one soon, so hurry, let’s fill the rest of the column with something else,” said no one ever.
“But what?” said no one ever.
“How the hell should I know,” said no one ever.
“We could throw in a bunch of modern business jargon, like ‘core competency’ or something,” said no one ever.
“No, that was done in an earlier column,” said no one ever.
“Rats,” said no one ever.
“I’VE GOT IT!” said no one ever.
“I don’t believe it, how could a nobody like you have anything as lofty as an ‘idea’,” said no one ever, dripping vitriol, like a boss.
“Right, Mr. Einstein, because you have all the best ideas. Not. But seriously, don’t you see, we can just switch to doge. Very no-one, so switch,” said no one ever.
“OMG, you actually do have an idea. So idea! Like a boss!” said no one ever.
“We could do this for DAYS! Or until we run out of exclamation marks! Much days! So exclamation! Colour us, like a boss . . . hey! We can throw in a bunch of ‘like a boss’ and ‘colour me’s too!” said no one ever.
“But then how will we ever get out of here, that is going to take forever,” said no one ever.
“Hmm, could be a problem. Hold on, I think I have a way. Colour me a genius, like a boss. There’s a song, right, and it is one of those songs that gets inside your head and destroys your brain cells, you can’t get it out once it gets in. We’ll just tell people to google the song, right, and while they’re hopelessly trapped in the lyrics, we can make our escape. Colour us free of this scene, like a boss,” said no one ever.
“Oh hahaha, dude, I totally know what song you mean. ‘I Wanna Be A Cowboy’ by Boys Don’t Cry, right? That song completely mulches your brain before you even get to the last line. One minute you’re sane, next minute you’re singing for weeks on end that you wanna be a cowboy. Colour me impressed. You may be a no one, but you sure are a smart no one. Like a boss. Such cowboy. Very wow,” said no one ever.
“Hey thanks, man - colour me happy. You know what, we can even make it easier for them, we’ll post the link, bwahahaha,” said no one ever.
“I wanna be a cowboy,” said no one ever.
“And you can be my cowgirl” said no one ever.
“My name is Ted,” said no one ever.

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About the Author

This bio was written by Jo Slade. As you can see she has written about herself in the third person. What normal person would do that? They just wouldn't. Who knows how many other persons might be involved in this thing, a second person? Another third? I worry about it. I - she - we - can't even keep it straight, this paragraph is a damn mess, there are persons all over the place. Round 'em up and shoot 'em. That's what I'd do, and by golly I think that's what Jo Slade would do as well.

Biographic nutshell: Jo has been messing around with words for a long time. Sometimes she'll just say words instead of writing them, it saves on paper.

This column: The columns that appear here are of a highly serious and scholarly nature, therefore it is advised that you keep a dictionary and ponderous thoughts nearby.

If, after reading the column, you find yourself tossing and turning at night, burning with the need to email me, just do it. I answer to [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.

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