A Bit About Me

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Along with my daily duties as founder and head writer of HumorMeOnline.com, in 2003, I took the Grand Prize in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (also known as the "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night" competition). I've also been a contributor to "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" and the web's "The Late Show with David Letterman". I also occupy my time writing three blogs, "Blogged Down at the Moment", "Brit Word of the Day" and "Production Numbers"...and my off-time is spent contemplating in an "on again/off again" fashion...my feable attempts at writing any one of a dozen books. I would love to write professionally one day...and by that I mean "actually get a paycheck".

15 August 2010

It's Not What You Say...It's How You Say It

(As you can plainly see, my copy has long since lost it's bright yellow cover; the colourful words inside, however, remain intact.)

"We lost our empire, we suck at tennis, our food is lousy, but our television sure kicks ass!" - BBC America's new slogan of sorts they just started airing.

On BBC America's "Being Human" tonight, the werewolf guy was dealing with some anger issues...and kept cussing throughout the show. I think he was not only pissed...but pissed as well. (Oh, go look it up - it's British slang interspersed with American slang...a two-fer, if you will. Mind out of the gutter!)

"Fluffernutter". Just wrong on so many levels. Seriously. I'm surprised no one's complained or that the Marshmallow Fluff people don't have a very crude commercial on the air. Heck, I would if I were them.

And even more shocking, is William Shatner, starring in CBS's "$#*! My Dad Says". Personally I think it should have starred Clayton Moore (The Lone Ranger) years ago. The whole "Who was that masked man?" would have been really funny in my opinion.

In 1972, George Carlin came out with one of the most recognized and repeated bits in history (that was "bits" with a "B"...not a "T"...which, had it been a "T", it would have been number seven on his list): "Seven words you can never say on television." It's been nearly forty years; some of them have crossed over and some have not.

As a Jersey chick, I am well-versed in the art of vulgarity. When I was the tender age of twelve, me and my friend from across the street, Robin Howard, (if you're still out there Robin, say "Hi!") took my often used Monopoly game, pretty much worn out to the point where, had it been real money, would have long since met the incinerator...and decided we'd give it the "naughty treatment".

On the back of each of the bills (and there are 240 of them in a brand-spanking new game) we put "naughty phrases". Taking into consideration we were naive pre-teen girls and there might have been some bills missing, we still had to come up with at least 200 semi-offensive phrases. Offensive enough to make us giggle like pre-pubescent idiots, yet not offensive enough to make a parent within earshot suspect we had put 200 "Beavis and Butthead"-like utterances on the backs of "not so legal" tender.

And we were determined not to repeat ourselves. Granted, some of the bills mentioned boys in town we had crushes on...like Kenny Lear and all three of the Cook brothers, but most were just scrawled with the rudest words we could think of. Some words we really had absolutely no clear knowledge of what they meant, and most words we didn't even have a vague notion. Remember, this was pre-Internet days and Webster's didn't list "vulgarities". "Slang and its Analogues" did, however, and I was never quite sure if my mother knew exactly what she gave me when she presented her flea market find to me when I was about eleven.

This book, besides being a huge book of slang originally published in seven volumes from 1890-1904, is a treasure trove of "all things naughty". I think the guy who wrote "Mrs. Doubtfire" did exactly what I did (the one scene where Robin Williams, as "Mrs. Doubtfire", is talking to Pierce Brosnan about his intentions towards Sally Field, is pretty much a straight read from this book) when I first got my hands on it -- which is, turned to three select locations: "Male Genitalia", "Female Genitalia", and "The Act Itself". As they always say, "Location, Location, Location!", right?

So...when we finally completed our Monopoly money mission, we were downright proud of ourselves. We had the "usuals" in there...and also some others, like...the defunct "Trans World Airlines" acronym with an "extra" initial after it, oh, perhaps initials of Bon Jovi (they were, after all, from Jersey) before they made it famous (it, not IT, famous), and possibly Bruce Springsteen's as well (hey, he's from Jersey, too) and I'm pretty sure we mentioned the illustrious "C" word.

Way back in my day, back in Jersey, the "C" word wasn't primarily used as a euphemism for the "P" word, or for the even more naughty sounding and clinical "V" word. The "C" word was something we used for descriptive purposes...kinda like using the "B" word today. Like "Oh, stop being such a 'C'" - unterstand me now? Ooops, sorry, typo..."understand". And, again, how some words managed to get "letter recognition" status and some are still okay to say...in a way, is beyond me. I never got any of the memos.

Of course, the "mother" of them all...is the "F" word. That's my personal favourite. It's so handy. It can be a verb, an adjective, a noun, and I probably have used it in the past imperfect tense and didn't even know I was being so incredibly correct when I did so. Grammatically correct - not politically.

But, as the Bee Gees sang way back in 1968, "It's only words...and words are all I have...to take your heart away." Granted they probably weren't thinking about naughty words, but I'd like to get a feel for which words, be they on Carlin's list or not, take your heart away, or at least raise your blood pressure some.

So, which "bad" words are you okay with...and which would never touch your lips? Are there exceptions to the rule? Are there any films or TV shows you'd say called for their usage...or would you rather see them cleansed entirely from the screen and you totally wash your hands (and mouth) of them?

For the longevity of this post, please be a "good ranger" and mask your words as well.

(The above statement was for the Montgomery Advertiser's online site commenters. I left it stand because I thought it was witty.)

(For those who are wondering, I still actually have that Monopoly game. It's fun to get it out now and again and read about the good old days. ;) )

A blog forethought on this subject matter as an afterthought: I'm more of the mind-set that it's really not the words you use...but the intention behind them. Unfortunately, in my life I've been called many certain words. These certain words were not naughty, dirty, vulgar words said in jest...but common, everyday words which hurt much more. When someone does that...it doesn't matter what they say...it's how they say it and the meanness put behind it. People don't need to resort to cuss words to be cruel and put you down...regular words do just fine.

Words, are, after all, only words.


  1. I have a pretty big problem with the C-word. That word doesn't ever really cross my lips unless it's in bed. Other than that, all the other words are okay to me. However, I try not to swear too often just because I like some swear words to retain their power, and it's just not very ladylike.

  2. I draw the line at the C-word also. And the N-word, which isn't a "swear word" per se, but it's equally vulgar.

    Nice piece, Mariann. And that's not a euphemism.

  3. Everday? Is that a new pop group or did you just forget to run spellcheck? Other than that, nice fn piece Mariann. It's your call or not if that's a euphemism.

  4. Screw - (Geez - I have to call you SD or something.) I never say a lot of the naughty words. I never say the "C" one, I hate the "P" one and I can't stand the "T" one. I do like that "F" one, tho. ;)

    Chris - I purposely left the "N" word out as I didn't think it was in the same boat as the others and I wasn't interested in opening a racial viewpoint. And I have to agree that it's incredibly vulgar and I don't like it. Just like I don't like the word "ho". It's not nice at all and I don't think there's much you can say to make anyone think you meant it in an "endearing" way.

    Anonymous - Shuddup. I pondered that darn word - I seriously looked at it and then looked some more. I did hit spell check before I typed it in and everything was fine. :)

  5. Pretty damn clever of you to write an entire column about dirty words and never mention one--unless you count pissed, of course. I don't, because I'm half British and I know it means drunk.

    What I really want to know now, however, is whether anybody in your family ever discovered that Monopoly game and the dirty dictionary you scribbled on the backs of the money.

    I don't have a problem with any of the bad words. Fuck is fine, and so is...well, I guess I'm a little uncomfortable with the C-word. The only one I truly dislike, though, is the G-word. Something about taking God's name in vain really bothers me.

    P.S. I'd love to have a copy of that Slang and its Analogues book. Priceless.

  6. Well, I did say "ass". And if you string two words together after removing punctuation, you get a very naughty word. :)

  7. I'm rather amazed I didn't comment on this one during its original run. Anyhow, I have no problem with anyone using any words whatsoever, unless we're talking about a problem with the intent behind the usage. Using words solely to hurt someone, without another reason, seems cheap and tawdry. I will say I sometimes have a problem with LACK of use of a word, i.e., saying "C" word or "N" word or others such as those. And the reason is that, while the intent may be to disempower the word, the result is to make it more powerful when someone does use it in a hurtful manner. If it was heard regularly, it wouldn't have the same ability to bring tears.