While I’m reposting blog entries, here’s another book review I wrote for the now defunct review site, Epinions.com, on September 17, 2013. Just reposting it so I don’t lose it forever.
Yesterday, while hanging out on Facebook, I lamented to my fellow books top reviewers here on Epinions that my latest reading project, Melissa Mohr’s 2013 book Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing, was taking forever to read. A few hours later, I had finished the book after a couple of weeks of reading. Though I did complain to my husband, Bill, about all the profanity in The Big Lebowski when we watched it the other night, I have to admit that I enjoy swearing. I don’t understand why so many people get upset over so-called filthy language. For me, the swearing in The Big Lebowski had gotten annoying because it was the same words uttered over and over again and had become boring. It wasn’t so much because the “f-word” itself is offensive to me.
Melissa Mohr, whose book was introduced to me on Facebook by famously foul mouthed singer, producer, and radio host, Red Peters, has attempted to explain where swearing comes from. In her book, Holy Sh*t, she explains the history behind some of the dirtiest words in English, linking history, literature, and even art and providing a comprehensive and scholarly explanation behind words like f*ck, c*nt, sh*t, and even the “n-word”.
The curious student in me lapped up all this new information enthusiastically, though not without effort. I appreciated the way Mohr married history and current events to write a lucid discussion of the origin of swear words and curses. This is a great book for foul mouthed nerds.
I was surprised that the overall negative attitude about cursing seems to have evolved relatively recently. I was particularly interested in Mohr’s discussion about the so-called n-word, which has gotten a number of people in trouble lately. We’ve become so sensitized to that word that even using words that sound similar, like niggle and niggardly, neither of which have any racist connotations at all, can get a person fired or forced to resign from their job. Mohr relates that scandalous word to hate speech and provides an interesting discussion about court cases in which using that word could be considered “hate speech” that is not protected under the First Amendment, and when it’s simply rude.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, it took me a long time and considerable effort to get through this book. While I did find Mohr’s writing scholarly and competent, I didn’t find it especially entertaining. Holy Sh*t really is an academic look at cursing. Mohr did an admirable job researching and providing notes so readers who want to study more about the phenomenon of swear words can read on in other scholarly books. It’s not so much a book intended to entertain as it is to inform, although I’m sure many readers are able to be both as they read Mohr’s history of swearing.
Frankly, I have done a lot of studying in my lifetime and am somewhat less interested in academic books than I might have been when I was younger. On the other hand, I can’t deny that I learned a lot reading Holy Sh*t and it was ultimately worth the effort. There was a time long ago when people thought nothing of cursing. Mohr explains why we suddenly had “words we couldn’t say on television” and why some people determined that people who cuss are “lazy”, “uneducated”, and “low class”. She enlightens those of us who wonder why we have “bad words” and who determined that those words are bad.
This is a good book for people who love language. If you have any English majors on your Christmas list, this might be a great book for them to read; if they aren’t offended by profanity, anyway. It certainly was good reading for this former English major, even though I’m trying to read less lofty books these days.
I give it four stars.
As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.
I was a bit irritable yesterday. It started as I cracked open my eyes for the first time and read a post in the Duggar Family News group. Someone had posted a screenshot from Jinger Vuolo’s Instagram page. It was from the church she and her husband, Jeremy, are now attending.
Someone’s comment was “How about everyone stay the F home, Jinger?”
Another commenter wrote:
why. This is a virus. We never shut down Before. For viruses. The flu has killed more. The cdc said they gave wrong numbers less then 1%have died. If your not ready stay home. Stop the control
Now… as most of us who have been watching the news know, COVID-19 is not like the flu. A whole lot of people have died of the coronavirus. It really is a scary thing. BUT… there are still people out there like the woman I quoted just above this paragraph who have a different perspective. I don’t agree with her, but I think she should be heard and not automatically and summarily dismissed, even though most everyone else disagrees with her opinion. The original commenter immediately piled on this woman with derision.
“Wow! You are grossly misinformed.”
When I see a comment like that in response to someone who dares to say something that goes against the grain, my hackles go up a little. I know what is to follow will not be productive. What followed was a lot of insults and sarcasm, and even some new “Facebook groups” made solely to insult the woman who said COVID-19 is not as bad as the flu. I think this is how we get people like Donald Trump in charge.
People who are “woke” and “know better” are shitty to people who don’t share their opinions. The people who feel shat upon become disenfranchised and insulted, and they lash out by voting in loudmouthed buffoons like Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell, who promise to speak for them. And can you blame them? In the case of Trump, maybe… although time after time, Trump supporters have said they like him because he speaks like and for them (even if the reality is, he disdains regular folks). No one wants to be treated like they don’t matter. People don’t like it when you insinuate that they’re stupid. And besides, if you don’t listen to opinions that don’t match yours, how can you learn what the other side of an issue is?
For the record, I am with the people who say COVID-19 is much worse than the flu. However, I’m not a fan of the whole “gotcha” phenomenon surrounding most controversial topics these days, and the complete lack of civility people have when they disagree with each other, especially online. It’s no wonder we have a bunch of people who get so unhinged that they freak out. I’m not sure what these people were trying to do when they responded, but in my experience, insulting and being sarcastic to people doesn’t change their minds. It mostly makes them more entrenched in their beliefs. Yes, I agree that COVID-19 is deadly, but is it really necessary to be so shitty? Why not respond with a modicum of respect, at least at first? If they respond with snark and shittiness, then perhaps you can fire back in kind. But I advise only a little bit of return fire, because those kinds of arguments are truly a waste of time and convince no one of anything.
Awhile later, someone else shared this picture of Candace Cameron Bure, whose husband of 24 years was photographed caressing her boob.
Candace Cameron Bure said, “For all you Christians that are questioning my post with my husband’s hand on my boob, my husband of 24 years, thinking it was inappropriate, it makes me laugh because it’s my husband,” she said in a video on her Instagram stories. “We have so much fun together. He can touch me anytime he wants and I hope he does. This is what a healthy, good marriage and relationship is all about so I’m sorry if it offended you.”
A long thread then ensued, with many people writing about what a creep they think Candace Cameron Bure is. I read all kinds of comments from “triggered” people who wrote everything from claiming that Candace is an “attention whore” (hello– she’s an actress! It’s kind of her job!) to one person writing that s/he felt that Candace was putting down the choices of unmarried people. Like– she’s been married for 24 years, so it’s okay for her husband to grab her breast in a photo. But it’s not okay for people who aren’t married to grope each other in public. I sincerely doubt Candace woke up one morning and thought to herself, “What can I post online that will bait and trigger the non-Christians out there and make them feel badly about themselves?” However, some people thought that was what she meant to do and were venting about it.
Personally, as someone who is not all that invested in Candace Cameron Bure’s beliefs or even her acting career, I think it’s awesome that she addressed the Christians who were reaching for the smelling salts over her boob groping post. So I wrote this:
She is so much cooler than her brother is. (17 likes so far)
For that comment, I got a bunch of responses from women who felt the need to “correct” my opinion.
You can see my final response, which some people evidently thought was funny. I wrote:
All I said is that I think she is so much cooler than her brother is. It doesn’t mean I admire or emulate her. I mean, being way cooler than Kirk Cameron is a pretty low standard, isn’t it? Anyway, I don’t really care to argue about this. If you think she’s an abusive bigot or out of touch, that’s fine with me. We don’t have to agree.
See you later. I’ve got to go frost my bush. 😉
Frosting one’s bush… that is a Carlinism. George Carlin had a routine about keeping people on their toes. He suggested going into a hair salon and asking the stylist to frost your bush. I think of it as sort of a more interesting way of saying, “I’ve gotta go wash my hair.” In other words, this is an unproductive conversation and I’m out of it.
Interesting side note. When I was growing up, a lot of my contemporaries had crushes on Kirk Cameron, who was at that time starring on the ABC sitcom, Growing Pains. Yes, I also watched that show, but I much preferred Family Ties, and not just because I looked so much like Tina Yothers. And I never had a crush on Kirk. However, I never thought he would go from teen heartthrob to super evangelical Christian. I don’t agree with his beliefs, but as long as they don’t affect me personally, I don’t really care too much about them, either. It’s not like he’s friends or family. Same thing with his sister.
It irritates me when people feel the need to correct other people’s opinions. It’s one thing if a person is passing off harmful opinions as facts. I guess I don’t blame people for feeling compelled to address the woman in the first example I posted, although I think people who haven’t gotten the COVID-19 message by now are just going to have to find out for themselves.
I just wish those who feel the need to be corrective would do it in a more constructive way that leads to dialogue, rather than resorting to petty insults and blocking communication. I would rather see people trying to convince people in a positive way, rather than just being rude. While they probably won’t change minds either way, I do think that those who want to “correct” others would be more successful if they allowed for a meaningful conversation rather than angrily calling people out for not being with the program.
In the second example, I simply wrote that I think Candace Cameron Bure is much cooler than her brother is. As far as I’m concerned, she really is. But I will admit, I don’t obsess over her career or her personal life, nor do I pay attention to her child rearing methods. I did read one of her books and I remember her as a child actress. I don’t watch her on TV anymore, but she does seem to be a lot more moderate than her brother is. As I explained, that doesn’t mean much, and it certainly doesn’t mean I need to be taken to school. It’s just my opinion, man.
I don’t enjoy getting into petty spats with people, especially online, and especially with strangers. I think they’re mostly a waste of time. Some readers who follow my personal Facebook page may recall the post from last year that I shared yesterday. It was about two American people who wanted to tell me about how life is in Germany, even though they’ve not been here. In revisiting that post, I realize that I did engage with one of those people for a lot longer than I should have. I left that exchange with her still insisting that her anecdotal evidence was superior to my actual, real life experience. But you can’t argue with people who just don’t get it and refuse to see it. And if it’s just their opinion, you’re probably facing a losing battle. It’s not the most productive way to spend a precious Saturday. You’re better off frosting your bush at the barber shop.
According to my Facebook memories, on this day back in 2012, when we were living in North Carolina, I was reading a book called Worst Laid Plans: When Bad Sex Happens to Good People, a book about sexual encounters that somehow went awry. The book’s authors are Alexandra Lydon and Laura Kindred. Today’s blog post title is a direct quote from one of the stories in the book. It was probably the funniest quote… and certainly the only one I can remember offhand, although before this morning, I had long ago forgotten about this book.
Before it was a book, Worst Laid Plans was a storytelling event originally staged at Upright Citizen Brigade, founded by Amy Poehler, Janeane Garofalo, and Casey Wilson. The event was a big hit. Incidentally, back in 2004, when I used to hang out on a messageboard run by former Pensacola Christian College students (PCC is a “fundie” Baptist school in Florida), another poster said I reminded him of Janeane Garofalo because I’m so “liberal”. That’s pretty funny to me, since I am a hell of a lot more liberal now than I was 15 years ago! I guess a person’s degree of liberalism or conservatism is potentially in the eye of the beholder. I’m sure to most of those PCC folks, I was liberal to the point of being an alien.
Anyway, in 2012, when I mentioned “firecrotch” on my Facebook page, a friend who is my age and as equally quirky as I am, wrote that the synopsis of the story I related sounded familiar. Another friend wondered if I was reading Lindsay Lohan’s autobiography. I see from Google that Paris Hilton once called Lohan a “firecrotch”, although I don’t remember that incident. I see it referenced a lot on YouTube, though, as far back as 2006. I guess that means she’s a natural redhead and the “rug matches the curtains”.
The story referenced in Worst Laid Plans went like this. This guy was sitting at home, bored, horny, and lonely, and decided to search Craig’s List to find some company. Another guy answered up and, after a chat online, invited the bored guy to come over to his house. Just as he was about to log off of the computer and visit his new “friend”, the guy the bored, horny man was going to see said he was a “little person”. Not wanting to be a prejudicial asshole, the bored, horny guy decided to go over to his new friend’s house, anyway, to see if they could help each other.
As they were about to relieve each other’s boredom and loneliness, the author of the story, who happened to be a natural redhead, said that his new friend, the “little person” took note of his new friend’s pubes and exclaimed, “I love me some firecrotch!” The author of this story added that his new “friend” had a job working in drag as a “mini” Minnie Pearl. I kind of wonder where this story took place. Maybe Vegas?
Then, just as things were about to get exciting, the phone rang. It was the little person’s wife. She was about to come home with their kids. The “mini” Minnie Pearl panicked and told his Craig’s List buddy that he had to leave immediately. So the bored, horny guy left unfulfilled and, I assume, kind of let down. I would imagine his new friend was disappointed that he’d missed out on the firecrotch, too.
Normally, this kind of book would be very entertaining to me. I’m sure there were other stories in this collection that I thought were funny. I just remember that, by the end of the book, I was more annoyed than entertained. Maybe it’s because these stories were meant to be told verbally rather than read in a book. I have the same reaction to reading a lot of plays. I see that the two people who gave this book two stars on Amazon had the same reaction to it that I did. One person was mildly amused by a few of the tales, but overall just felt sorry for the people relating the stories. The other person felt that the written incarnations “fell flat”.
Even though I usually enjoy raunchy stories, sometimes even raunchy stories that entertain other people don’t entertain me. For instance, I’ve tried really hard to like The Big Lebowski. Bill loves that movie. He quotes from it all the time. The quotes he finds funny, I find funny. I’ve watched the movie twice, and I didn’t like it either time. I think it was the excessive profanity that turned me off. I’ve mentioned before that I am not generally offended by swearing, as long as it’s done judiciously. For some reason, it seemed like the word “fuck” was used way too much in The Big Lebowski, to the point at which it just got on my nerves. It wasn’t even that I was offended. I just found it tiresome to listen to over and over again, and it annoyed me.
On the other hand, for years I resisted watching Pulp Fiction, even though Bill quotes it constantly. I finally watched that film last year and enjoyed it, although I’ve still only seen it once. I will admit that I’ve seen Samuel L. Jackson’s gangster scene a whole bunch of times on YouTube. It comes in handy sometimes.
Anyway… I don’t know how I feel about firecrotch. I would imagine it would be just as exciting as any other crotch is. If I’m honest, I don’t pay a lot of attention to crotches. When I hear “firecrotch”, it makes me think of STDs rather than red hair.
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