Whenever a word appears for the first time in the New York Times, a bot called @NYT_first_said auto-tweets it. (The name for such an occurrence is hapax legomenon, Greek for “something said only once.”) Then another bot, @NYT_said_where, follows up with a contextual link.
I rarely catch these first occurrences in the wild, but by sheer luck I too had spotted floint. It appeared in a story, published in the Thursday Styles section of the print newspaper, about Carol Spencer, the 86-year-old designer who worked for Mattel from 1963 to 1998 and created many of the most memorable wardrobe items worn by fashion dolls Barbie, Skipper, Ken, and the rest of the posse. Spencer recently published a book, Dressing Barbie, about her career.
No, notthat “lit.” These brand names are inspired by literature and borrowed from the language of … well, language. Why? I can only guess. Maybe they want to communicate something about creativity and inspiration, but who knows? The names appear literary, but the stories their owners are telling are mysteries. And sometimes, as Dr. Freud might have said, a trend is just a trend.
Mountain Dew, the neon-yellow-green soft drink brand owned by PepsiCo, evidently failed to consult anyone in Scotland before it introduced its new ad slogan, “Epic thrills start with a chug.” If it had, it would have learned that chug is Scottish slang for masturbate. (Jelisa Castrodale for Vice, via Language Log)
That word: It does not mean what you think it means. Not in Scotland, anyway. (Via @jaysebro)
The Brazilian footwear brand Havaianas – established in 1962 and sold in the U.S. since 2007 – is synonymous with colorful, rubber-soled flip-flops that sell for $24 and up. (A current model, studded with Swarovski crystals and suitable for wedding parties, will set you back $78 a pair.) I knew more or less how to pronounce the brand name – hah-vah-YA-nas – but I’m chagrined to say that until very recently I had confidently subscribed to a completely baseless story about its origins.
“We are living in the age of tacticool, and the AR-15 pattern rifle is the weapon of the age,” wrote Kelsey Atherton and Ian Boudreauin a March 2018 article for Waypoint, the VICE channel for gaming culture. Tacticool, they continued, “has become a widespread aesthetic expression associated with the kind of militant hypermasculinity that gave us a ‘tactical lip balm’ Kickstarter and ‘everyday carry’ versions of mundanities like wallets and charging cables (check out this utilitymoneyclip with a multitool from 5.11, who have a ‘product integration partnership’ with Ubisoft).”
The Oscar-nominated 2017 film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has inspired at least two real-world imitations, reports AdWeek. After the shooting massacre in a Parkland, Florida, high school, the group Progressive Turnout Project placed a billboard with a gun-reform challenge outside the Janesville, Wisconsin, office of House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has accepted $61,401 in contributions from the National Rifle Association.
“17 killed in their classrooms. Still no gun reform? How come, Paul Ryan?”
And in London, Justice4Grenfell placed three mobile billboards outside Grenfell Towers, the site of disastrous fire last year that killed 71 people.
“71 dead / and still no arrests? / How come?”
For comparison, here are the billboards that appear in the film, which stars Frances McDormand.
The Northern Hemisphere’s summer solstice – literally, “the point at which the sun seems to stand still” – occurred at 9:24 p.m. Pacific Time on Tuesday, June 20. But for some brands, the solstice never ends.
Should you spend $1.5 million on a domain? Almost certainly not. As A Hundred Monkeys puts it: “While your emotions should guide you in naming dogs, kids, and boats, they need to take a back seat while you mull over dropping seven figures on a domain.”
Context helps: The story is about preparing for the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California, an event that’s taken place annually since 1999 and whose first weekend ended yesterday. Still, this particular sentence would have made no sense in 1999 or in 2009, and it would have required some decoding even five years ago. Because I am so old that I pronounce “Coachella” the way most Southern Californians of my generation do, with four syllables – Kids These Days pronounce it “co-chella,”* although this audio guide gives both options – I needed to do a fair amount of research, which I will share with you now.