• I notice, from the previews, that the new movie, “The Tourist” (starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Joli), features the following conversation (approximately):

    DEPP’S CHARACTER: You look ravenous.

    JOLI’S CHARACTER: You mean “ravishing”?

    DEPP’S CHARACTER (confidently): I do.

    Hee, hee, very funny, but I call accidental inverted plagiarism! That is, my brother has been mixing up those two words in the reverse manner for years…

    BROTHER: Man, I haven’t eaten all day. I am so ravishing!

    SETH: I think you might mean, “ravenous”.

    BROTHER: Yeah, that’s what I said.

    SETHBLOGS: Yes, I’m sure it was: I just hope you’ve been telling people all day about your “ravenous” self-analysis.


    SETHBLOGS NOTE: As a result of comments from my readership, I have discovered that my claim that the tourist engaged in “accidental, inverted plagiarism” may be inaccurate. Please read the below comments for details.

  • So, many years ago, my second favourite sister (featured in the background of JamColouredGlasses) and I were wandering through a bookstore, whereupon we spotted an autobiography by a famous hockey player (who shall remain anonymous, but may be featured in my “Howe to” post). The interesting thing about this autobiography, unlike any other that we’d ever seen before, was that it was an “Authorized Autobiography”.

    “Hmm,” I said to my sister (she’ll claim it was the other way around, so don’t be alarmed), “so, if this is the authorized autobiography, there must be at least one unauthorized autobiography out there too.”

    “Yeah,” the sister quickly caught on, “and how exactly did that work that he wrote and published his own story without his permission?”

    “Maybe he wrote it in his sleep,” I suggested.

    “Yes,” the sister concurred, “and then he must have accidentally published it thinking it was his novel. Oops! But it was too late: the unauthorized autobiography was already out there.”

    Yup, it all made sense. I hope I never write an unauthorized autobiography. I know a lot of my secrets and could definitely portray myself in a negative light.

  • In basketball, the phrase “Nothing but net!” indicates that a player has made a shot so accurate that, on its way to the hoop, it touched neither backboard nor rim, but instead travelled unencumbered straight into the arms of net. It’s a term of endearment, therefore, for shots that not only score, but are accurate in a particular way. Such shots can arise from various basketball plays (jump shots, hook shots, Michael Jordan vs Larry Bird advertising McDonalds shots), but, let me repeat: to be counted as a “Nothing but net! shot, the ball must travel from the player’s hands to the net without touching anything but that net.

    I reiterate this definition because it is apparently not as simple as it sounds. Twice recently I’ve overheard television announcers witness an excellent basketball play, but in which the ball hit the backboard before going into the net, and yet the commentator has nevertheless claimed, “Nothing but net!”

    “But,” I replied from my couch, “it hit more than net… it hit backboard… and then rim… and only then net.”

    After several hours of soul-searching, I realized that these commentators did not actually realize that the words in “Nothing but net!” have meaning beyond being a cool bit of emphasis. You see, during their commentator training, they must have noticed the phrase was always expressed in excitement towards a great shot, so the newcomer announcers logically must have assumed that “Nothing but net!” was just a fancy way to say, “Great shot!”

    If you don’t believe me that newbies to expressions can sometimes confuse emphasis for meaning, consider the statement: “She’s literally hanging around the house!”

    For those who aren’t familiar with the error in this usage, I’ll bring in guest SethBlogger, Dr. Frasier Crane, for illumination. Frasier, take it away:

    P.S. Hee, hee, well done, Frasier! Special SethBlog Contest: can you identify the voice of the literally defeated caller? I’ll give you a hint, this isn’t the first time he’s been accused of being Dumb & Dumber.

  • I gathered recently with some friends and siblings for what I thought would be some wholesome family fun.  Unfortunately, someone challenged us all to a weird word game wherein you’re each given letters from which to try create a full crossword faster than your opponents.  Quickly, it was noticed by me that I was slower than my rivals (generally I was just finishing sorting the letters into alphabetical order when the others were completing the grueling task).  Thus, I suggested that I be given some sort of handicap to make things more fair.

    “How about,” a creative participant suggested, “everyone but Seth has to get at least one dirty word in their crossword.”

    This was accepted and the group set to the lewd chore.

    Several moments into the noble endeavour, one of my sisters – for no apparent reason – announced, “I have sex!”

    “Okay, then,” I replied, “thanks for letting us know, but for now, can we concentrate on the game?”

    My sister tried to cover up her inappropriate announcement by explaining she’d found the word “sex” in her letters, but we knew she was just embarrassed, so, to make her feel better, we spent the rest of the evening sharing made-up sins of our own. Some announced that they read dirty magazines; others were voyeurs; and most of us liked S&M.

  • So a friend of mine sent out a group email requesting participants for a survey that a friend of hers was conducting. She concluded her call for assistance with the phrase, “Feel free to pass on.”

    Wow! Reminding people of their right to die seems a bit harsh—especially when you’ve just asked them for a favour!

    When I confronted the impertinent e-mailer, she explained that she just wanted to make sure people knew their options.

  • As the new hockey season (and so the post-game interview season) arrives, it is important to refresh our understanding of hockey players’ special metaphorical math in regard to percentages. In standard, boring old mathematics, that is, “percentage” is up to a maximum of 100, but hockey players (as well as other athletes) use an alternate system known as “emphasis percentage”.

    You see, in reality, it’s actually quite difficult to always give 100% effort (that’s a sure way to burn one’s self out), but nor is it very safe to admit to the picky journalists that one gave, say, 80% on a given night. Thus, a special alternate system of percentage was invented just for athletes and motivational speakers. Emphasis percentage works exactly like regular percentage, except that, instead of counting the number of points within a 100, E% has a maximum total of 150.

    Thus, after a game, an athlete can happily, and honestly, state that they put in “120%”, which looks great for emphasizing that they tried really hard, but doesn’t provoke nit-picky questions from reporters about why they didn’t give more.

    If you’re curious, however, to know what an athlete actually put forth, just remember the exchange rate from E% to M% is .67. If in doubt, here’s a handy chart…

    Emphasis % Math %
    110* ——-> 73
    120———-> 80

    *Note: 110 is the E% minimum.

    If, however, you ever hear someone claim that they gave 200%, don’t believe them: it’s impossible.

    P.S. Of course, not everyone agrees with my assessment of hockey percentages…

    P.P.S. Also, to further prepare you for the hockey cliche season, consider this….

  • There’s a chef-school advertising on TV presently (I won’t advertise them by naming them) who boasts that it is taught by “experienced chef!… instructors.” It’s really quite funny to listen to the line as the announcer voice-punches the “experienced chef!” part of the sentence so forcefully that you are briefly left with the impression that the teachers are, in fact, experienced chefs, but then, just a tiny moment later, you hear the muffled “instructors” slipped in, and suddenly your mind does a double take: “Oh, that’s something quite different, isn’t it?” For the contrast between the well-emphasized “chef” and the under-noted “instructors” is so distinct that it stands out like a grape juice stain on a white carpet, and so the listener can’t help, but inquire: “Oh, so you were trying to hide that they’re chef-instructors instead of actual chefs?”

    Truth be told, if they’d just called them “chef-instructors” without playing emphasis games, I wouldn’t have known that “chef-instructors” aren’t as good as “chefs who instruct.” But now I do. Thanks, unnamed-chef-school for your helpful emphasis in advertising: it allowed me to clearly see this as a weakness, and so, if I ever decide to get my chef’s licence, I’ll certainly know where not to look.

    Just kidding: I will attend your school!… (if you pay me a million dollars).

  • I’ve just started re-reading a book, Oscar Wilde: His Life and Wit from 1946 by Hesketh Pearson, that I didn’t finish previously because it fell apart (literally – its binding came undone and it’s now a six-piece book), and I didn’t want to damage it further. But the call of the Wilde (oops :)) has proven too much: I must find out what happened to him!

    I’m only a prologue in, but I’m already having a great time once again.

    The book was published forty-six year’s after Wilde’s death by a man who interviewed friends of the great wit (“Oscar,” to us) who, in turn, could remember specific conversations with the hero of the phrase, “[I find] that alcohol, taken in sufficient quantities, can produce all the effects of intoxication.”

    Wow: it’s intoxicating to be reading the second-hand account of real-life interactions with such a significant conversational figure. Indeed, many situations and anecdotes that provoked some of Oscar’s great lines are provided. (I recall from my previous reading of this book that I will get to learn the provocation for Oscar’s, “I have nothing to declare except my genius.” I assure you that the moment I re-discover it, SethBlog will be the second to know.)

    But the book is not just great because of Oscar Wilde: his story is told by Mr. Pearson with charm and wit deserving of his subject. Consider his description of Oscar Wilde’s father, and lady-charmer, Dr. William Wilde:

    “He was taken up by society and especially liked by women, which pleased him well… But accidents will happen, even to doctors, and in due course several children appeared without the advantage of their father’s name.”

    I’ll keep you posted on this developing story.

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