News of the Week: Needless Words, Noir, and Knitting in Public

This week in pop culture, a roundup of words to avoid and film noir to catch — plus the difference between crochet and knitting.

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Stop Using These Words!

This Mashable article is kinda lame. Oh, I’m sorry, that’s one of the words I’m not supposed to use anymore, according to the article (“lame,” not “kinda”).

Now, I’m sure we can agree that there are some words on that list we’d best be advised not to use (though I’ve never used “derp” so I don’t mind continuing to not use it). At the same time, I hope we can also agree we don’t need some sort of incredibly PC word police to tell us what words we need to stop using. People are taking to Twitter to shame people into not using these words anymore, which is the place modern society does its shaming now, I guess. I’m also a bit confused how not using these words make you a better “ally.” What exactly are “ally skills”?

Incidentally, Word Police is a new show coming up this fall on CBS. It’s like CSI, only with dictionaries.

The Summer of Darkness


That sounds like a great title for a crime novel or film, which is appropriate because that’s the name of the noir film festival you’ll see on Turner Classic Movies every Friday this summer (it actually started last week). Hosted by noir czar Eddie Muller, the slate of films you’ll see all day every Friday until the end of July will not only include such well-known classics as Out of the Past, Detour, Laura, and The Maltese Falcon, but also several that you don’t see that much, plus a couple that will be making their debuts on the network: 1950’s Woman on the Run and 1949’s Too Late for Tears. Both have been fully restored by Muller and the Film Noir Foundation.

TCM has created a fantastic site for the event. Not only can you get the complete schedule, you can learn all about noir and even visit the special gift shop they’ve set up, where you can get all your noir needs, from fedoras, lighters, and cocktail glasses to a like-new 1941 Lincoln Continental. It costs $50,000, but it might be fun to click the “Add to Cart” button even if you don’t plan on buying it.

The Summer of Darkness is going on right now, even as you read this. So hurry up, rush, rush to your TV sets! Or however you kids watch TV these days.

Matt Damon Is a Martian

Oh, maybe I should have said SPOILER ALERT, but I don’t think it’s a secret. Actually, the title of Damon’s new movie, The Martian, is a little misleading, as you can see from the trailer for the Ridley Scott movie.

This could be an intense, dour plot, but it looks like there’s a lot of humor thrown in too (it’s based on the novel by Andy Weir). I bet this will be a hit, if moviegoers aren’t gun shy about trusting yet another big-budget space movie.

Eating Spaghetti? You’re Doing It Wrong


Don’t you just hate Internet headlines like that? Headlines that not only insult you but actually want you click on them after they insult you, and then you find out you’re not even doing the said thing “wrong.” How did we ever get by in life before Web articles told us the “right” way to do things?

The thing we’re all doing wrong this week is … eating spaghetti, apparently. This comes from Miss Manners, someone I like because I find her wise, clever, and extremely funny too. But Miss Manners, you’re way off base here! She says that it’s “crude” to eat spaghetti with a fork and spoon. Real Italians simply twirl the spaghetti on their fork using the plate.

Now, as you’ll probably guess by my last name, I’m a real Italian, and my family has always used a fork and spoon. I’ve never heard of the fork and spoon method as being wrong or socially unacceptable. Not only do you get a more perfect twirl, you can hold the spaghetti on the fork using the spoon for a second before you put it into your mouth. It’s not that twirling it on the plate is “wrong” either. To each his own (and there’s certainly nothing “crude” about using a spoon!).

Next week: Straws. YOU’RE USING THEM WRONG

World Wide Knit in Public Day


I’ve always been fascinated by people who knit (I live an exciting life). You watch them, and it seems like they’re geniuses. They take yarn and move their hands really fast with a couple of sticks and BAM, a sweater is formed. It looks like something I could never learn to do in a million years, a combination of physics and magic and artistry that also happens to look really relaxing. My mother used to crochet, and for years I thought crocheting and knitting were the same thing. They’re not.

Tomorrow is World Wide Knit in Public Day. So if you’re really good at knitting (or want to be), get out your gear and head to the subway, a park bench or the beach and show everyone how proud you are of your knitting. You have to do it in public though. Remember that.

You can go back to doing it in private on Sunday.

Upcoming Anniversaries and Events

Stars and Stripes adopted (June 14, 1777)
Here’s how we got the stars and stripes and colors on the American flag.

First U.S. roller coaster opens (June 16, 1884)
It was called the Switchback Railway and it opened at Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York. It went six miles an hour and cost a nickel to ride.

War of 1812 begins (June 18, 1812)
SEP Archives Director Jeff Nilsson on the memorable line in American history, “Don’t give up the ship!”

Paul McCartney born (June 18, 1942)
The SEP has covered the Beatles extensively over the years, ever since their invasion of the U.S. in 1964.

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg executed (June 19, 1953)
Wikipedia has a detailed history of the crimes the Rosenbergs committed that led to their execution.

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  1. On ‘Stop Using These Words!’ (per link) moderation in use may be more in order, but of course few people even know what that means anymote. Lame: not that out of control in usage. Retarded: should be acceptable in a clinical, private medically descriptive way if accurate–never for cruelty. OCD: depends on level of severity, not for cruelty.

    Crazy: not on overkill status. Illegal: undocumented immigrants a nicer term for a very serious U.S. problem. Gyp: a term just not used that much anymore–sorry. Exotic: requires thought before using. Ghetto: an unfortunate, but accurate word to describe the lowest common denominator nature of too many things (and certain celebrities) to mention here.

    Like: a REALLY bad crutch word–stop it! “Kid or Kids” okay as occasional slang for child or children; unfortunately it’s used almost exclusively now instead—really ignorant.

    “Amazing” and “Awesome” for describing the very the mundane has gradually subsided more recently, fortunately. THE most overused word of them all though, by far, is “ISSUES”. A total denial word for the word PROBLEM or PROBLEMS (often EXTREMELY serious) it’s a complete joke that at this late date now is nothing more than a clichéd parody of itself.

    Love the film noir feature and the links, Bob. I like the genre very much, and find black & white films mesmerizing. I really wish the Noir City was a print magazine though; the mid-1900’s style cover art is great!


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