Canadian retailer Kit and Ace – see my post about the company name here – is adding coffee shops to its boutiques: The first Sorry Coffee opens tomorrow in Toronto. “Sorry” can mean “worthless” or “inferior,” but here it’s “an attempt to poke fun at Canadians — a winking nod to the quick-to-apologize stereotype,” co-founder J.J. Wilson toldthe Star. Be sure to pronounce it the Canadian way: SORE-ee.
God, or those who claim to speak on His/Her/Their behalf, has had a busy week.
In Rowan County, Kentucky, an elected official named Kim Davis, apparently misremembering that she is paid to render unto Caesar,cited “God’s authority” as the reason she has defied the law of the land and refused to grant marriage certificates to same-sex couples. She’s been held in contempt of court and, as of this writing, is in a county detention center.
Meanwhile, “Hand of God,” a new original series from Amazon, is available for streaming today. I’ve seen only the trailer for the nine-part series, which the New York Times’s Mike Hale called “a California neo-noir thriller” and which centers on a judge (played by Ron Perlman, whom you may remember as Hellboy) who believes he can hear the voice of God, but I can’t help imagining the fictional Judge Pernell Harris meeting the real Ms. Kim Davis in court.
And “Hand of God” isn’t the only deity-themed entertainment in the news. Cast thine eyes on this holy-ish trinity:
How do you translate a colloquial, nonliteral expression like Trainwreck—the title of the new Amy Schumer feature film—into non-English languages? IMDb has a list of global akas; Mashable has helpfully re-translated some of them. (Not included in the Mashable list: Y de repente tú (“And suddenly you”), probably the most romantically inclined of the bunch. In France, by the way, the official title is Crazy Amy—yes, in English.
Translation of the French Canadian title, Cas désespéré.
Three guys were watching HBO’s “Silicon Valley” when it occurred to them to create a dictionary of jargon used on the show. The result is Silicon Valley Dictionary, where you’ll find definitions for terms like This changes everything (“Nothing has changed. Pure marketing”) and Awesome journey (“used when a startup has failed”).
This new book by Mark Schatzkerlooks interesting. The title, though, troubles me.
There is no “Dorito.” The trademark is DORITOS, which only looks like it’s plural. In fact, it’s singular.*
“But,” I hear you cry, “how do I say I want just onerobustly flavored corn-based snack-food product manufactured by Frito-Lay North America, Inc.?”
My answer: In the privacy of your home, you can say whatever you like. But if you are a major publisher—Simon & Schuster, in the case of The Dorito [sic] Effect—then you should pay attention to the legal niceties. I’m sure Frito-Lay’s lawyers do, every single day.**
Normally, I wouldn’t fault the author. Authors only rarely get to choose their titles; the final decision is almost always up to the publisher. However, a search through the book’s contents reveals several examples of singular “Dorito”: “the Dorito model,” “heirloom Dorito cuisine,” “the Dorito treatment.” So the finger of blame must point back to the author—or perhaps to an editor unfamiliar with trademarks.
Pass the chip, please.
* Just like “kudos.” And speaking of brand names, LEGO, a trademark for a brand of interlocking toy bricks, is never pluralized. At least, not if you want to stay out of legal hot water. Read more about brand names with plural problems (by Arika Okrent for Mental Floss)—but bear in mind that in strictest legal terms, none of these brand names is supposed to be pluralized.
** It has occurred to me that the publisher went with “Dorito” to avoid legal implications from the use of a registered trademark. Well, good luck with that.
Don’t read “How to Name a Baby” to learn how to name a baby. Read it for insights into historical baby-naming trends and to confirm your hunches (e.g., “the popular girl name Reagan is for Republicans”). Also: charts!
Given names are “one of the last social acceptable frontiers of class war.”Also: nominative determination, implicit egotism, and how the Internet has made baby naming more difficult. Part 1 of a four-part podcast series about names from Australian radio network ABC. The presenter, Tiger Webb, has an interesting name story himself. (Hat tip: Superlinguo.)
The not-so-secret jargon of doctors is full of acronyms: a flea—fucking little esoteric asshole—is an intern, an FLK is a “funny-looking kid,” and an “SFU 50 dose” is the amount of sedative it takes for 50 percent of patients to shut the fuck up.
Ever wonder what value-creating winners do all day? Here’s Business Town to enlighten you. It’s “an ongoing project attempting to explain our highly intangible, deeply disruptive, data-driven, venture-backed, gluten-free economic meritocracy to the uninitiated. With apologies to Richard Scarry.”
“The decision is made. The name won’t be changed.” – Tim Mahoney, head of marketing for Chevy, speaking to the Detroit Free Press about the Bolt electric vehicle, whose name is strikingly similar to that of the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid. In fact, a Spanish speaker would pronounce the two names identically. (Hat tip: Jonathon Owen.)
In New York City, you can summon a limo with an app called Gett.
TechCrunch calls Gett “Uber without surge pricing.”“Gett rides are $10 in central Manhattan, anywhere between Houston and Central Park South, no matter what day of the week.”
You can tell your Gett driver to take you to Lincoln Plaza to see a screening of Gett.
Gett—it's the Hebrew word for a religious divorce—is an Israeli courtroom drama that opened in the U.S. in February. New York Timescritic Manohla Dargis called it “gripping cinema from start to finish.”
Curiously, the ride-hailing app Gett was developed in Israel, where Hebrew is, of course, one of the official languages. In most of the 32 cities in which it operates, the company is known as GetTaxi.
Confused? You could just stay home and watch getTV.
I’m back at the Strong Language blog today with a post about “Schitt’s Creek,” a new sitcom that makes its U.S. debut tonight on cable TV’s Pop channel. The title was too taboo for NPR’s television critic to utter aloud, so he spelled it out, provided a rhyming mnemonic, and subsequently truncated the offensive name to “Creek.”
There’s a second naming story hidden in that one, although it’s not as racy: Pop (as in pop culture) was formerly known as the TV Guide Network; it rebranded last year as “a multi-platform destination dedicated to celebrating the fun of being a fan” where “fans don’t sit at the outskirts of pop culture making snarky comments, they live right smack in the middle of it.” Pop is targeting “modern grownups” age 35 to 40 (a rather narrow demo, don’t you think?) “who have a lot of disposable income and still go to the gym, want to look good and want to watch the show everyone is talking about,” according to the channel’s president of entertainment and media, Brad Schwartz.
In another bookstore closer to home (Walden Pond Books, Oakland) I found #Girlboss, by Sophia Amoruso; The Shining Girls, by Lauren Beukes; and Growgirl, by Heather Donohue (who starred in the 1999 cult movie Blair Witch Project and then became a pot grower in Northern California).
All of these books were published between 2012 and 2014; all are about adult women, not children.
There’s a lesson here for lady writers, although it grieves me a little to spell it out: No matter how long ago you passed puberty, to your publisher you’ll always be a girl.
Speaking of specialized lexicons, check out The D.C. Manual of Style and Usage, Washington City Paper’s entertainingly written and copiously illustrated guide. One of my favorite entries: “Blelvis: A portmanteau of ‘black’ and ‘Elvis.’ Refers exclusively to D.C.’s mostly elusive, semifamous busker; he likely never uses the words ‘portmanteau’ and ‘busker,’ but he can sing every song in the Elvis Presley catalog.” Also: “Hipster. A term that is somehow both loaded and meaningless. If you feel compelled to use it, talk to an editor.”
The new first-person-shooter game Destiny, released in September, features a huge arsenal of weapons, and I can only imagine the brainstorming sessions that produced names like Praedyth’s Revenge, Pocket Infinity, Strange Suspect, and the excellent Doctor Nope. The Australian game-review site Kotaku provides a ranking of all 74 names. (Via Our Bold Hero.) IGN lists the weapons by category(pulse rifles, fusion rifles, rocket launchers, etc.).
An “ally” is what British soldiers in Afghanistan call “a battlefield fashionista--desirables include having a beard, using a different rifle, carrying vast amounts of ammunition, being dusty and having obscene amounts of tattoos and hair.” A “crow” is a new soldier recently out of training. From a guide to Afghanistan battlefield slang published by BBC News. (Via Language Hat.)
If you’re curious about the origins of Toyota model names, this CarScoops explainer is a reasonable starting point. The Camry got its name from Japanese kanmuri, meaning “crown”; the Supra is a direct borrowing from Latin (“above”). But this story about the Yaris made me wonder: “Yaris is an amalgamation of words from Greek mythology and German. In Greek mythology, ‘Charis’ was a symbol of beauty and elegance. Toyota swapped the ‘Ch’ with ‘Ya’ – German for ‘yes’ – to symbolise the perceived reaction of European markets to the car’s styling.”
Tom Magliozzi, co-host of NPR’s long-running “Car Talk,” died November 3 at 77. In his honor, here’s a link to one of my favorite features of the show: the punny staff credits, from sculling coach Rose Dior to assistant disciplinarian Joaquin D’Planque. (Via Henry Fuhrmann.)
And speaking of novels: “Can’t get a deal for that novel manuscript? Try ad agencies. Young & Rubicam commissioned Booker award-nominated novelist William Boyd to tell any story he wanted as long as it featured a Land Rover vehicle.” By Ad Broad, who calls herself “the oldest working writer in advertising.”
From veteran name developer David Placek, founder of Lexicon Branding, some tips to help startups avoid making naming mistakes. First piece of advice: The name “doesn’t have to be clever. It just has to communicate.” And, adds Placek, stop it already with the -ly names. Yep.