Saturday, June 27, 2009

Urban Snarktionary: Transit Edition

Following last week's acclaimed definition of "Duane Reade" (and what, exactly, does "Duane Reade" mean to you? Explain), the Urban Snarktionary is back, for to define those metropolitan mysteries that, at some point or other, have gripped every one of us to the point of mild curiosity. Today's definition: card  n. the pass that allows you to use the subway, or would, if you had any more than five cents left on your current one, which you don't. This is because the system works as follows: subway fare is two dollars a ride, with an imminent fare hike the mere mention of which sends any New Yorker into a white-hot, spittle-emitting HEY!! WHUDDAYOUMEANBYTHAT??!! I HATE YOUR MOTHER!!!, so the fare you should put on your MetroCard is, ideally, $2.00, or some multiple thereof.* However, you will not do this. Adding $2.00 requires you to input the amount manually, which is something we fast-paced city-dwellers will do over sno-cones in hell, because our action-packed existences in this booming conurbation leave us no time for anything beyond gritty life necessities such as Tasti-D-Lite consumption. Instead, we will opt every time for the whonky-ass "ready-made" amounts, such as $6.05 or $7.10, offered by the MetroCard terminal. These amounts serve the invaluable purpose of leaving you, in the end, with .05 or $1.10 in unuseable fare. Then you can sedulously memorize which MetroCard has which amount on it so you can go back to the terminal next time and apply the difference on $2.00.  Then you say the hell with it and buy a new MetroCard. This is how we at the Urban Snarktionary have accumulated a shoebox full of MetroCards with an estimated combined value of $3.9 trillion, which the Transit Authority ("Unintelligible Transmission That Means We Are Skipping Your Stop And Dumping You At One Hundred Millionth Street Ha Ha Ha Since 1953") is way too smart to ever let us use. Though one day, of course, we will "face the music": sighing heavily, we will take all our MetroCards to a terminal, and reload each one of them with the appropriate amount. Right after we finish our sno-cone. n. hee hee hee

* At least for the moment grumblegrumblespittle.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Dude, Where's My Hyphen?

There comes a certain occasion for all of us – that terrifying, yet all too magical rite of passage in which, passion flooding our young senses, we lose our hyphen. Not that I wish to name names, but:

I wouldn't know about this, if not for summer vacation. This is just the kind of thing you miss out on in The City, where the urban media are way too busy shoving its sissy-ass “international unrest” and “presidential elections” down your throat to be bothered with the REAL news. The City spits on world dehyphenization affairs, and if you don’t believe me, consider the city motto.*

Of course it’s easy to understand why Wal “Now With Less Hyphens” Mart would want to repackage itself. Back in the old days, the store was a miserable, blue-aproned mega-corpse; whereas now, it’s a miserable, blue-aproned mega-corpse featuring … WHOA-BABY!!! A flagrant lack of HYPHEN!!! In my FACE!!! Somebody restrain me lest I commit BRAZEN CARNAL ACTS with MULTIPLE STORE ASSOCIATES AT ONCE!!!!!!**

So this is a very exciting development in Walmartland, but still, I have some concerns about this act of mass hyphen removal, seeing as it poses a grave threat to the nation’s hyphen resources. So where do you think all those extra hyphens go, anyway? My theory: the economic stimulus package. Clearly, the government is secretly hoarding these hyphens to give to economically strapped individuals in this time of crisis.

Q: Will this provide these individuals with financial security?
A: No.

Q: Will it provide them with jobs?
A: No.

Q: Will it do squat?
A: Yes. Or possibly we mean no. We forget how this question works.

Q: Speaking of these trying times, how about that public library in your town opening an eatery in the reference room, huh?
A: Shut your dirty, interrogative face. Everyone knows the old adage, “There’s nothing quite like going down to the local library and curling up with a good wiener.”***

Q: And speaking of the highly suspicious, how about that song lyric on the radio just now? The one that went, “Why do I see rainbows when I hold you in my arms?”
A: We believe this may suggest a thyroid problem.

It is only natural that desperate financial times should call for desperate financial measures, but in this case the solution is simple: Europe should sell off its excess verb tenses.**** Does anyone realize how many of these there are? French alone has 759 totally unnecessary tenses*****, a few of which I will illustrate here, by speaking English:



The present

It is raining.

The past

It was raining.

The present-past

It is was raining.

The past-future-present

It was will be is raining.

The present-participle

It is raining participles.

The future-creamsicle

One day, this rain will have a creamy center.

The ablative

(closed Thursdays)

The consumptive

It (COUGH) (HACK) (SPLOIT) raining.

The pleasingly-plumptive

Ten Quarter Pounders, please.

Just imagine if they were to sell off even half their unnecessary tenses. The global economy would swell to bursting. It would conjugate in the pleasingly-plumptive.****** And France would still have plenty of tenses left over for itself. Maybe, if we asked nicely, it would even give us some of the leftovers. Then we could put them up where the Walmart hyphens used to be, like this:

Still: where, oh where, have these hyphens gone? It’s a mystery, and the weight is on our shoulders to solve it. We must, therefore, apply our mystery-solving skills. Not to brag or anything, but at the tender age of 15, I personally watched several episodes of the BBC mystery series "Campion", starring actor Peter Davison. The series illustrates many invaluable mystery-solving principles for one to assimilate, which, unfortunately, I missed because I was too busy assimilating actor Peter Davison. So actually, what I mean to say is, it’s a mystery, and the weight is on YOUR shoulders to solve it.

Which is to say, whew! All this global-ill-eradicating makes me hungry. I could go for some library food. Feel free to join me, if you like. I’ll be curious to hear your take on these matters, inasmuch as my judgment is often questionable. For example, I see rainbows when I hold you in my arms.

* “We Spit on World Dehyphenization Affairs.”
** DISCLAIMER: The Snark Ascending does NOT endorse carnal acts with Walmart store associates. However, bonus points apply if you make it with the Associate of the Month.
*** This has its charm, but you may incur a fine.
**** Duh.
***** Source: Muscle Fitness.
****** Hee! “Conjugate.”

©2009, Nicola McEldowney
The Snark Ascending

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Another Media Show

... (by yours truly) (except for the belches) (yours truly only wishes).

Monday, June 22, 2009

Snarktionary of the day

A helpful definition to accompany the previous entry:

duane reade n. (various upside-down letters to indicate that it is pronounced "Duane Reade") a drugstore located approximately every .0000000003 block (1.576 telegrams) in New York, with 305 new arboreal locations opening up this summer to Better Serve You, if You are a squirrel.*  This makes it the fourth-most populous establishment in The City, narrowly edged by Chase and Capital One banks and things now featuring the name "Trump," as in "Trump-O-Let."

*Not that I am suggesting you are personally.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A-bum bum bum: I've got a little list

Overheard on 86th Street and Broadway:

BUM (holding out a banana): Hey, ladies. Want a banana?
TWO GIRLS: (briskly keep on walking)
BUM (sympathetically): Yeh. You can't be too careful.

This pretty much vaulted him to the top of my list of Favorite Bums Ever, narrowly edging out the bearded behemoth who once sought out my company at Zabar's by asking me, in a tone of great loin activity, if I were lactose-intolerant. That was the same day I received, unasked, the companionship of an elderly woman in a fur coat roughly the shade of yellow Play-Doh. I don't even want to think about how many Pikachu had to die so she could wear that thing.

And on that note:


1. Someone might offer you a banana.
2. Someone might pee on you.
3. Someone might offer you a banana while peeing on you.
4. You might find a giant mutant death bug in your bathroom.
5. The giant mutant death bug might be reading issues of Time Out New York.
6. You might find issues of Time Out New York in your bathroom.
7. Your bathroom might get turned into a Duane Reade.  This might even happen while you are engaged in flagrant bathroom activities.*
8. You might set someone's loins a-roilin' by saying you're lactose-intolerant.
9. You might set his loins a-roilin' by saying you're not.
10. "Loins" is funny.

(source: 2009 Zagat survey)

* There is nothing in the city legislature that prohibits this.  In fact, it specifically states, "the flagranter, the better."

©2009, Nicola McEldowney
The Snark Ascending

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Tonight, I present you: proof that it is BAD to be creative at work. Creativity and work do not mesh, like oil and water or academia and thought. (NOTE TO THOUGHTFUL ACADEMICS: I'm just kidding! Please keep regaling me with The Latest on how certain genders are different from other genders, thereby stimulating me to the point of thought-gasm!) (NOTE TO EVERYONE ELSE: I actually meant what I said.) (NOTE TO THOUGHTFUL ACADEMICS: Love ya! Don't ever change! Let's do lunch!)

So anyway, I was at my place of employment, hereinafter The Food Place, writing a musical (coincidentally that mysterious major project, which, actually, I just finished) in which a character sings of a past life in the following words:


Naturally I turned the notebook page just before writing these very words on an otherwise blank sheet. And naturally I left this sheet, quite by accident, on my boss's desk. And naturally the boss walked in shortly thereafter to see this enigmatic statement. In my handwriting. I discreetly closed the book as soon as I found a graceful opportunity, and while we did not discuss this matter, we later exchanged significant glances. I think.

However, later that same afternoon -- this is true -- famed news anchor Paula Zahn paid a visit to The Food Place. This cannot have been a coincidence. So this post is just to say, whatever wild rumors you may or may not have heard about me are not true. To my knowledge. But just in case, I'm avoiding all outlets of news.

I figure Bud would have done as much.

©2009, Nicola McEldowney
The Snark Ascending

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Sorry the promised Snark never materialized. One is still in the offing, I swear. Fortunately, I have a good excuse: a comparatively humongous project, which I have been working on, in one form or another (these include thinking about working on it, thinking about thinking about working on it, not working on it, going out for Thai food, etc.) for over a year, is suddenly on the verge of completion. Once it's done -- which will be within the week -- I intend to return to the snarkery with abandon. And, if I can help it, regularity.

Meanwhile, I'll be traveling for the next few days, but see you after that. Promise.


Saturday, June 6, 2009

The original script

(©2009, Nicola McEldowney)

(Erna, typing at the computer, Weena nearby. Suddenly, a DRAMATIC CHORD.)
Erna: Ye gads!!!
Weena: What, what is it?!
Erna: Someone – on a message board – is – WRONG!
Weena: Whaddeesaywhaddeesaywhaddeesay??!
Erna (with difficulty): He says Trillian from the original BBC Hitchhiker’s Guide** is an incandescent talent!
Weena: Foul blasphemer!
Erna: What can be done? – I know! We must correct him, and, so doing, save mankind! (She taps a few keys.) Done!
Weena: (Beat.) – Look! He wrote you back already!
Erna: Why, I think I’ll open it!
(Click. Beat. Computer makes a HIDEOUS NOISE hereafter meant to indicate “flame.” E. and W. react in horror.)
(In the following line, an “AA-OO-GAH!” occurs every time there is a “---" in the text.)
Erna: Would you LOOK at the things he SAID to me?! He called me a (---)! He told me to go (---) myself! He said I could take my opinions and stick them up my (---)! I don’t even think I have a (---)! (Wounded.) I wasn’t trying to be mean!
Weena: I know, but on the Internet, nobody can know for sure what you’re trying to be. It’s easy to take offense at something innocent. Say you write, “That’s a great idea.” Who’s to say whether it means - (Melodious “happy music.) - “that’s a great idea,” or, (Music from hell. Synthesized evil mega-voice a la monster truck announcer.) – “THAT’S A GREAT IDEA”?
Erna: You’re right. I now see the error of my ways. How can I put this right? – I know! Everyone knows two wrongs make a right – I’ll flame his flaming butt right back! (She attacks the computer.)
Weena: No, Erna, Erna, stop! Don’t start a flame war! It’s the road to ruin! Don’t you realize what hideous destiny will be yours?
Erna: The angels will kill me?
Weena: Even worse: you’ll be the subject of an AFTER-SCHOOL SPECIAL, CIRCA 1973!
(Even more dramatic chord than the previous one / tight shot on Erna’s face.)
(The scene turns into an after-school special promo/public service announcement hybrid, starring Erna and Weena, with hideous ‘70s hair styles. After-school special music.)
Narrator (always hyperdramatic): Heather and Cookie thought they’d be best friends forever…
Erna (in character): Gee Cookie, do you think we’ll be best friends forever?
Weena (in character): Heck yes, Heather, as long as unsightly bangs are in style!
Narrator: …until FLAME WARS threatened to tear them apart.
(Weena at a computer. The computer makes the aforementioned hideous noise. The following text appears across the screen: ur a loser)
(Erna at a computer. Hideous noise. Text on screen: its circa 1973 and theres no such thing as flame wars so ur a bigger loser)
(The next two lines occurring as though in separate “clips.”)
Weena (bad acting): I hate you.
Erna (bad acting): I wish I was dead.
Narrator: Can Heather and Cookie ever repair their friendship?
(The next two lines occurring in a single “clip.”)
Erna: Look, Cookie, I’m telling you as a friend, one day something called “Wikipedia” will define flaming as “a hostile and insulting interaction between Internet users,” and a flamer as “an individual who believes he or she carries the only valid opinion,” which “leads him to personally attack those who disagree.” I just – don’t – want – to see you get hurt!
Weena: You so don’t get me – you never got me!
Narrator: So remember, kids: don’t shoot up and/or reproduce while getting in cars with perverts unfamiliar to you. Because divorce is never your fault.
Erna (to the narrator): What about flame wars?
Narrator: Oh, right. Flame wars are bad. Ba-a-a-a-ad. So, kids: don’t be a flame-war starting Flamey McFlame flaming flamer flamemeister flamey flame-butt. Or the angels will kill you.
Weena (to the narrator): Well, that seems a little harsh.
Narrator: Okay, well. (Beat.) Kids: don’t start a flame war, because you won’t just start one flame war. Before you know it, you’ll need to start flame wars every day. Soon you won’t be able to control your urge to flame, and you’ll be starting MULTIPLE flame wars SEVERAL TIMES a day, and you’ll GROW HAIRY PALMS.
Erna (showing her paws to camera, and weeping): It happened to meeeeeeee!!!
Weena (in “character” again): Now forgotten actor Jeff Conaway*** will never take you to the prom!
Erna (in “character” again): I hate my liiiiife.
Weena (to audience): Don’t start flame wars.
Narrator (extremely fast): This program has been sponsored by the Anti-flame war-starting Flamey McFlame flaming flamer flamemeister flamey flame-butt Council of America. Batteriesnotincluded.

The End

* Shut up.
** I can say without hyperbole that this performance is the cause of everything bad.
*** It is a scientifically proven health benefit to use the phrase "forgotten actor Jeff Conaway" as frequently as possible. See, watch this: forgotten actor Jeff Conaway. Ahhh! Hangnail awwww gone.

©2009, Nicola McEldowney
The Snark Ascending

Thursday, June 4, 2009

What's in a Flame?

More bloggy goodness anon. Je vous promets!* Meanwhile, meet The Media Show, esteemed brainchild of my esteemed peeps at AfterEd TV in New York. Here is a script I wrote for them earlier this year. (All is mine excepting a couple interpolations by the AfterEd folks, such as the reference to "G.I. Jem," a craptastic nugget of '80s pop culture which, sadly, I was born just a couple years too late to savor. Dang, you know?)

...and in fact, I am hard at work on the snarkery, so stay tuned.

* French, meaning, "Especially if I feel like it."

©2009, Nicola McEldowney
The Snark Ascending