Everything is awesome

A strange thing has happened to American English over the past decade: The adjectives seem to have swelled way out of proportion displacing everything else in our sentences, including substance. You know, words like awesome, intense, epic, insane, amazing, etc… While we’re at it why not mention the declaratives like “absolutely” and “totally”? It’s not surprising if you consider the context. America today is a country where moderation in any form is equated with weakness. Why would our descriptors be exempt?

In this era of hyper-enthusiastic expression, anyone who fails to over-inflate their adjectives and declaratives runs the risk of sounding reasonable. That’s enough to raise suspicion in a linguistic ecosystem where its possible to circumvent original thought, considered opinion and sincere reaction altogether and still function socially (not to mention politically). Why bother thinking when you can just blurt out “awesome” in response to, well, pretty much everything that happens to you? It’s like cruise control for your brain.

Everything is Awesome meme

I’ve noticed the most prolific users of these words tend to utter them purposefully. They know these super-sized declaratives are overused. They also understand that to some people, albeit a minority, uttering these phrases is the verbal equivalent of squirting milk out of your nose at a dinner party. But that doesn’t deter them. In fact it seems to embolden them. Like a secret handshake of the trite, they use these words to signal their membership in the club and gain easy acceptance.

To help amp up our language further, the  F-word has been brought in out of the cold. The earliest use of the word has been traced back to an English Court case in the year 1310. However, the word remained under the radar for almost 700 years, used liberally in private but rarely in public and never in media. Today, this relic has been hauled into the mainstream by gabby hoards of late adopters who appropriated it to craft their online prattle and personas. Since I can’t even bring myself to put the word on paper, I’m beginning to feel decidedly pre-millennial.

FCUK Perfume

Man, you smell like Fcuk.

I fondly remember when the F-word was a swear-of-last-resort (topped only by the C-word). The word had real stopping power back then. But writers began over-using it, mostly for shock value. When that was worn out, they began using it to be edgy. We’ve passed that now as well. Today, casual use of the F-word seems to be the only way to self identify as being unaffected, particularly among people who fret about how affected they appear.  But I miss the raw power of the word formerly known as the F-word. I think recent generations have squandered this precious national resource by recklessly tossing it onto the dysphemism treadmill. Today the F-word is some sort of watered down, worn out, wine bar version of its former self. And don’t get me started on friggen, fricken or frack.

None of this is news to anyone who is subjected to American English on a regular basis. But a quote I read today from C.S. Lewis made me reflect. He cautioned: “Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say infinitely when you mean very; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.”

I get it. Language is in a constant state of flux. Linguistic trends ebb and flow like the tides. And like the tides, it serves a purpose and is foolish to resist. Words get overused, worn out then are retired or change their meanings entirely. As Mental Floss points out, “terrific” used to mean “terror-inducing” but was so often used ironically it now means “very good”. Who knows, a few years from now “insane” may no longer refer to a mental condition. It will probably be synonymous with “brilliant”.  The F-word will feature prominently in nursery rhymes and mother’s day cards. But I hope we have some good words left in the slim chance that something truly awe-inspiring does happen.

A bedtime book

Sweet dreams

In the meantime, if the mind-numbing din of these hollow sentiments is eroding your faith in humanity (or at least vocabulary) you may take some solace in recent data from Google Trends. According to the search engine, after seven solid years of growth the word “awesome” finally peaked in February of 2014 and has since been in decline. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of those who abuse it. They are, no doubt, feverishly scanning thesauruses and rap lyrics to find new words to ruin as part of their secret handshake.  Awesome.

Puddles Pity Party: And now for something completely different

A seven foot clown named Puddles shows up in Scott Bradlee’s living room to sing a mesmerizing cover of Lorde’s Royals along with Scott’s band Postmodern Jukebox. The song has haunted me for days. Thought I’d share.

The Boston Marathon Bombing in Memes

“Adversity is like a strong wind. I don’t mean just that it holds us back from places we might otherwise go. It also tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that afterward we see ourselves as we really are, and not merely as we might like to be.” ― Arthur GoldenMemoirs of a Geisha

16 apt memes from last week’s Boston Marathon bombing crisis. Love that dirty water …

















Oh, and this just in ….

17.Boston Marathon Bombing Meme Palin

(please note source)

Thank you Joseph Kony (you have roused a sleeping giant).

Your days are numbered. We the people may not agree on politics, religion, sports teams or global warming. But we are all on the same page when it comes to bullying, kidnapping and murder. We think it’s wrong. We think it’s twice as wrong when it involves kids. That’s what makes us the good guys. And despite all our differences, it is what unites us against you. All 3 billion of us. We are mobilized online and armed with communication. Joseph Kony is just a warm-up act. You’re next. So change your ways. Or you will be asked to leave the planet.



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Law gives all mistreated Americans right to open casinos

This has to be one of my favorite Onion clips next to their Sources Warn Miley Cyrus Will Be Depleted by 2013 piece. Plus, I think I qualify.

The difference between men and women


woman catches foul ball

dad catches foul ball and drops baby




Sorry Charlie: Winning isn’t everything

I am convinced that Charlie Sheen is the greatest actor of our generation. Not because of the gritty realism of his character in Platoon or his comic timing in Two and a Half Men so much as his ability to conceal how absolutely bat-shit-crazy he is when the cameras are rolling.

The Sheen stream after he was fired.

I used to be a Charlie Sheen fan. I actually met him once at a 7-11 by Hermosa Beach with his brother Emilio. I think it was 1990. He seemed OK then. It was a warm Saturday night and we were all partying. Evidently he never stopped. Nowadays he just strikes me as a typical Hollywood douchebag: self-absorbed, spoiled rotten, addicted to excess, unrelatable because he is so out of touch with anything I recognize as reality, and oh so self-destructive.

I see millions of people praising his Sheenius, egging him on, and redefining as “entertaining idiosyncrasies” behavior that would land anyone outside of Hollywood in a psycho ward.  I wish I could join them. I like zaney, I like off-the-wall and deep down I like Charlie Sheen. I  would enjoy the whole Sheen spectacle were it not for a scene that keeps repeating in my mind: I keep fast-forwarding to the piece on CNN in a year or two, long after we’ve all moved on, where they show his body being wheeled out of his mansion and slid into the medical examiners van with somber comments about what a tragedy this is (just like other people whose idiosyncrasies entertained us like Kurt Cobain, John Belushi, and Michael Jackson).

But I digress. I may not be a Charlie Sheen fan right now. But I am a fan of clips that have been auto-tuned. Just wanted to make a quick post to pass this one on and ask what your favorite songified video clip is.

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