Witch’s Tits and Brass Monkey Balls

Curious, isn’t it, the phrases we use for “fucking cold weather?” “Colder than a witch’s tit, colder than a witch’s tit in a brass bra, cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey” – I hear those three regularly in my neck of the woods (which happens to be southeastern/south central Wisconsin, for those keeping track of such things).

I’ve been poking around for the source of the witch connection. Sadly, I have to report there isn’t much of one. Aside from the “witch marks” that were supposedly assumed to be (how’s that for vague?) cold and numb, searched for during the days of Matthew Hopkins, what’s so cold about a witch’s tit, really? Jonathon Green in the Chambers Slang Dictionary (2008) dates “colder than a witch’s tit” (also “titty”) to the 1930s. Related phrases in that same entry, about “weather, very cold,” are “colder than a nun’s snatch” (1950s) and “colder than a welldigger’s butt” (the same). Those last two are cited as US in origin. (I wonder what US speakers have against nuns that UK speakers don’t?) Continue reading

Review: Chambers Slang Dictionary, Jonathon Green

First things first. For fuck there are seven and a half columns of entries, beginning with (of course) fuck as a noun — which, actually, gets fewer than two of those columns to itself as a noun — and ending with fuck you and its sub-entries of “fuck-you money,” “ fuck you, Charley,” and “fuck you, Jack, I’m all right.”

Now that that’s out of the way (I know you assholes, you always look for fuck first in any dictionary you open, just so you can point and giggle like you were 12 — and some of you are 12, so yeah, okay), I can move on to the actual review. Continue reading

The Elements of Fucking Style: A fucking book review

In order to make this review as useful as possible, I excavated the library for my yellowed copy of Strunk and White, hereafter referred to as S&W for brevity. (I mistyped that “Stunk” and debated leaving it for posterity.)

Baker and Hansen have written a fucking brilliant parody of the well-known (one might even say “hoary”) guide to writing, The Elements of Style. This is seriously important shit, people. It’s not just a parody. It’s a useful guide, perhaps even more useful than the original.

Let’s compare the Tables of Contents first, shall we?

S&W includes an introduction, Elementary Rules of Usage, Elementary Principles of Composition, A Few Matters of Form, Words and Expressions Commonly Misused, An Approach to Style, and an index.

B&H includes an introduction, Rules That Even Foreigners Should Know, On Writing Like an Adult, Punctuation, Form, and a Few Matters of Etiquette, Goddamn, You’re Good (a Good-Bye), Words Your (sic) Bound to Fuck Up, a Glossary of Terms You Don’t Understand, and a Note. (The Note was, for me, worth the price of purchase.)

A Note of My Own: I’m going to refer to the parody as B&H. The majority of people in my acquaintance refer to The Elements of Style as “Strunk and White,” so I’m carrying that to the logical next step. While I appreciate the parody title, it’s just easier to call it “B&H” in keeping with fucking tradition. Bite me.
Continue reading

We’re not in fourth grade anymore

JACKASS.

It’s the title of a cable TV show, for fuck’s sake. And yet, I got hauled into the principal’s office for saying it to a classmate during a heated game of Red Rover back in fourth grade.

Now, I’d heard Red Skelton say it a gazillion times on his television program. AT LEAST a gazillion times. So I thought nothing of saying “Well, you’re standing there LIKE A JACKASS” to whoever it was holding up the game, out there on the playground. No sooner had I done so than [name redacted] took off for the school, to tell on me. She’d had it in for me ever since I started school. Something about my skipping first grade and having a pass to the fourth grade classroom so I could get books that I’d enjoy had gotten under her skin, or into her craw, or crawled up her asshole, and she was going to make SURE I got what was coming to me for saying THAT WORD.

After recess, the teacher (who shall remain nameless but I’m sure she’s dead by now anyway, the old bitch) took me by the arm (HARD! She left marks!) and steered me away from the door so she could “have a word with me” about my swearing. Swearing? RED FUCKING SKELTON SAYS THAT WORD EVERY WEEK! AND MY FOLKS LOVE HIM! I didn’t say that, though. I was in enough trouble as it was.

And it got worse when the bus dropped me off. Mom informed me that she’d gotten a call from the teacher, and wanted to know why I swore.

“I DID NOT SWEAR!” I knew I hadn’t. I KNEW that wasn’t a swear word. RED FUCKING SKELTON SAYS IT! I didn’t tell Mom what I’d said, though. Fourth-grade me figured I’d get in trouble if I did, so I simply maintained what I knew was my innocence, and said [name redacted] must have heard wrong or something and besides that bitch had it in for me anyway. Well, okay. I did NOT tell Mom that last part. Better part of valor and all that shit.

So, Dad went down to the school the next day and stood up for me to the principal. He pounded on the desk (so I have been told) and said emphatically (because pounding on the desk means emphasis) “My daughter does not swear!”

And I didn’t, then. RED FUCKING SKELTON SAYS THAT WORD SO IT CANNOT BE A SWEAR WORD.

Obviously, things are different now. Still, I was in college before I said so much as “hell no” in front of my parents. Even now, I’m careful; Dad doesn’t approve of strong language.

Don’t tell him I’m here, okay? Thanks.