Saturday, January 07, 2017


Our three-year-old son has taken to occasionally wanting to hold my arm for a few seconds as a soothing gesture when I put him to bed. And it's not my wrist he seeks but my bicep; he has even gone so far as to ask me to roll up my sleeves to grant him better access to that part of the upper arm.

As a parent of a pre-schooler, I am generally tired and will appease him because it means he will go to sleep faster.

At first I thought he found it comforting to touch the muscle, as though it made him feel safe to be near his strong Daddy. Then he started squeezing my bicep and gleefully saying it was "squishy."

Here's the thing: I am absolutely certain in his mind that is a colossal compliment. That his father has a part of the arm which he can squeeze is apparently what makes him feel better in those moments after I've turned off the light in his room.

It is that oblivion that makes it somewhat endearing, and allows me to put aside societal conditioning about musculature when he specifically asks for "the squishy part" (as has become his preferred phrasing).

I could be more physically fit (of course), but rather than this inspiring me to hit the gym I am merely pleased he hasn't figured out a way to try to grab my stomach. Which I'm sure will only be a matter of time until he does.

And I'm sure I'll learn to live with that, because while I may only be doing so-so when it comes to being "in shape" I can roll with such things by being in reasonably decent parenting condition. Or, again, too tired to object.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Michael saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus

Obviously numerous versions of "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" have been recorded since Jimmy Boyd first did in 1952, but the best clearly was the one performed by the Jackson 5 on their 1970 Christmas Album.

It's not merely the pop mastery of the group or the production, but the way young Michael says just before the solo:
"I did, I really did see Mommy kissing Santa Claus, and I'm gonna tell my dad."

Why does that put it above all others? Let's examine.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Give a shit?

Some months back I struggled to put together the headboard for an Ikea bed (and was reminded the items one gets at that store are actually Swedish torture devices masquerading as affordable furniture), and I vowed it was the last fucking thing I'd ever put together from there*. As I was alone I didn't refrain from venting my frustration through profane utterances. At one point I declared (in reference to the possibility of being required to assemble some such item in the future) that I "didn't give a shit" in some hypothetical wherein I may have to leave my wife and child in order to escape another agrivating assembly scenario.

It was not one of my finer moments, but that's not the point here.

Reflecting later on that expression—"I don't give a shit"—I was somewhat intrigued as to how that became a common idiom. It connotes a significant lack of concern for consequences with the indication of anger and/or exasperation; it carries a bit stronger message than merely saying "I really don't care." And while I have no difficulty believing there would be a need for such a sentiment, parsing out the literal meanings of the component terms there is the suggestion that if one does care about the ramifications of a decision one "gives a shit," and in that scenario it raises the question: To whom is one giving that shit?

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Contemplating "homophobia" literally

Resurrecting posts I never got around to at the time...

Remember a few years ago when a man who was fired from a business that teaches English to foreigners for writing about homophones (because his ignorant boss thought it had some association with homophobia), I am... finally... using that as a paltry excuse inspired to share the following which I'd composed before that incident (for no particular reason), despite the peril in which I could be putting myself.

(Having never made a penny from the blahg, I'm not risking much, I concede.)


Let's take a moment to consider the term "homophobia." Obviously that designates a prejudice toward homosexuals, derived from the pejorative truncating of that down to "homo" and tacking on the Greek "phobia" ("fear of"). This construction has been around for many years now and certainly is ingrained in the contemporary lexicon; I'm not suggesting it isn't handy for identifying that, or that there isn't still a significant need for such a term.

However, that construction—of a slang-influenced abbreviated version of one term and the (let's call it) scientific-based term—seems, upon reflection, like it should be somewhat troublesome. If one is aware of the etymology of "homo" and knows that means "same" then the literal translation becomes "fear of the same," and while that could still be construed to mean "fear of those who are sexually attracted to their same gender" it could just as easily suggest a fear of those who are like oneself. I'm not implying that's really a thing (although I'm not going to say it's not either), or that there seems a need for such a term. I'm merely noting it's a word that operates a little better if one doesn't break it down to its component parts, if one doesn't know the origins of those parts.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The cuddle/snuggle distinction

What is the difference between "cuddling" and "snuggling"? Both suggest a prolonged period of affectionate touching with one's body pressed at least in part with another's body, but the terms are obviously different words so conceivably there's some difference.

The only definite distinction I can draw is that on the Simpsons "snuggling" is Marge's euphemism for having sex, and so as far as I'm concerned that can be the difference: the latter carries a sexual connotation (if it occurs between consenting adults).

When in doubt, look to Matt Groening's characters.


As further evidence of "cuddle" being the less innuendo-laden one, I offer that in the show Doc McStuffins when one of the characters is sad or in some distress it is said (by Lambie) he or she needs a cuddle--not a snuggle.

The doc is in.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

You don't know what 'aarp' should mean

Commercials for the American Association of Retired Persons have included the slogan "You don't know 'aarp'" for a while now, and in the ad that ran during tonight's Emmy telecast still had that in the voiceover, bringing this to mind again.

Turning the initials into an acronym (so rather than it being pronounced by the individual letters in "A.A.R.P." it turns into a single-syllable term that rhymes with "harp") is in keeping with the clear push to make the organization seem not just for old fuddy-duddies.

However, to my ear, that pronunciation makes it one slight exaggeration away from being the acronym for the American Association of Retired Pirates.


(Perhaps it's in part from yesterday being Talk Like a Pirate Day yesterday.

No, it's just me. I know.)

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Splitting the alphabet

Looking at TV for young children where they list the alphabet I've noticed they struggle with how to split up the lines of letters when there isn't room all on one or two. Given that 26 is not divisible by three or four or any whole number until one gets to 13 the lines end up unbalanced.

But it occurred to me that five lines would be closer to equal (with one leftover) than other possible splits. Then I had the thought that the five vowels could make for another way of separating the lines, putting each vowel at the start of one of the five lines; those letters hold a distinction so having the notice from being at the front of the lines made a certain sense.

And while working out each remaining line (with the set of consonants after each vowel) I realized that gave an unexpected sort of quasi-symmetry: