Here's a little gem that's been floating around the interwebs. As always, if you've already seen it, apologies. But if you haven't, read on.Playing off the popularity of the Chilling Two-Sentence Horror Stories, the challenge here was to create a scary story that was only five words long. Twenty-one examples emerged, and while the fear factor varied, some of them are legitimately terrifying. Enjoy, if you dare ...1. Your browser history is public.2. Living alone, toilet was warm.3. We lost Internet access. Forever.4. Hard drive failed, no backups.5. On heavy medication, sleep deprived.6. Redtube clip shared to Facebook.7. George Martin dies; book unfinished.8. Alone in bed. Blanket shifts.9. Strangers. Friends. Lovers. Strangers again.10. Wife screams, at her funeral.11. You didn't kill that spider.12. She lied about birth control.13. Wake. Work. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.14. You awoke suddenly, buried alive.15. Last person alive hears knocking.16. Her heart stopped. She didn't.17. That door was just closed.18. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Monday.19. Narrow staircase, no shoes, Legos.20. Just saw my reflection blink.21. It enjoys watching you sleep.
Admittedly, I'm not a huge fan of brain teasers. Mostly because I end up kicking myself once the answer is revealed and I see how obvious it was. But I happened across this one while wasting precious time on the Internet, and I thought is was actually pretty good. See if you agree.
So let's be clear right up front -- at Solidus, we fear no words. Words are our bread and butter, and whether the words are considered outdated, trendy, offensive, whatever, we still have respect for all of them. Because really, the people who use certain words are the ones who give those words power -- or in some cases, life -- so what is there to fear from the words themselves?When Mark Twain wrote The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, he used the word "nigger." It's considered an offensive word, yes, but it's also part of an important and well-loved piece of American literature. Many of them, in fact. Before the first Red Sox game following the Boston Marathon bombings, David Ortiz said, "This is our fucking city and nobody is going to dictate our freedom. Stay strong." Now "fucking" is generally considered offensive, but it was spoken from a place of pride and passion, and truly, no other word would have conveyed what it conveyed.So all of this is leading up to four words that the Oxford English Dictionary added to its lexicon this month. As I said, we fear no words, but these four are derived from quite possibly the last truly taboo word out there -- the so-called "c-word" -- so if you're offended by that particular word, you might want to sign off now. Otherwise, read on.The new words are cunted, cunting, cuntish, and cunty.What's interesting is that for a root word that still hasn't really found its way into common use -- even among the cursing proud -- it's certainly spawned a lot of variations. Remember, these words need to be used with some degree of frequency to show up on the OED's radar, so someone's using them.With no definitions or context -- other than them being identified as adjectives -- it's pretty easy to discern what cuntish and cunty mean. But don't cunted and cunting sound like verbs? It's possible that cunting is used the same way fucking is, e.g., "He's a cunting idiot." But cunted as an adjective? Weird.So there we are. The same word list that ushers "beatboxer" and "science fantasy" into this venerable dictionary brings those four as well. And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.
By Steve Boudreault
This has been floating around the interwebs for a little bit, so if you've already seen it, apologies. But if you haven't, be prepared to sleep with the light on tonight.Over on reddit, someone posited the question, "What is the best horror story you can come up with in two sentences?" Now on the surface, two sentences doesn't sound like a lot, but the folks who wrote these maximized their limited space and came up with some that are creepy as shit. Have a look and see if you don't agree.1. I woke up to hear knocking on glass. At first, I thought it was the window until I heard it come from the mirror again.
2. The last thing I saw was my alarm clock flashing 12:07 before she pushed her long rotting nails through my chest, her other hand muffling my screams. I sat bolt upright, relieved it was only a dream, but as I saw my alarm clock read 12:06, I heard my closet door creak open.
3. Growing up with cats and dogs, I got used to the sounds of scratching at my door while I slept. Now that I live alone, it is much more unsettling.
4. In all of the time that I've lived alone in this house, I swear to God I've closed more doors than I've opened.
5. A girl heard her mom yell her name from downstairs, so she got up and started to head down. As she got to the stairs, her mom pulled her into her room and said "I heard that, too."
6. She asked why I was breathing so heavily. I wasn't.
7. My wife woke me up last night to tell me there was an intruder in our house. She was murdered by an intruder 2 years ago.
8. I awoke to the sound of the baby monitor crackling with a voice comforting my firstborn child. As I adjusted to a new position, my arm brushed against my wife, sleeping next to me.
9. I always thought my cat had a staring problem -- she always seemed fixated on my face. Until one day, when I realized that she was always looking just behind me.
10. There's nothing like the laughter of a baby. Unless it's 1 a.m. and you're home alone.
11. I was having a pleasant dream when what sounded like hammering woke me. After that, I could barely hear the muffled sound of dirt covering the coffin over my own screams.
12. "I can't sleep," she whispered, crawling into bed with me. I woke up cold, clutching the dress she was buried in.
13. I begin tucking him into bed and he tells me, "Daddy, check for monsters under my bed." I look underneath for his amusement and see him, another him, under the bed, staring back at me quivering and whispering, "Daddy, there's somebody on my bed."
14. You get home, tired after a long day's work and ready for a relaxing night alone. You reach for the light switch, but another hand is already there.
15. I can't move, breathe, speak or hear and it's so dark all the time. If I knew it would be this lonely, I would have been cremated instead.
16. She went upstairs to check on her sleeping toddler. The window was open and the bed was empty.
17. Don't be scared of the monsters, just look for them. Look to your left, to your right, under your bed, behind your dresser, in your closet but never look up, she hates being seen.
18. My daughter won't stop crying and screaming in the middle of the night. I visit her grave and ask her to stop, but it doesn't help.
19. After working a hard day, I came home to see my girlfriend cradling our child. I didn't know which was more frightening, seeing my dead girlfriend and stillborn child, or knowing that someone broke into my apartment to place them there.
20. There was a picture in my phone of me sleeping. I live alone.
Recently at a networking group meeting, which I attend regularly, we had a guest speaker who runs a video production company. I'm always very interested in hearing about other people’s businesses and to learn about their wares, services, lessons, and successes. For the most part, I find these sessions to be useful and interesting. Video, to me, is really important to this online milieu in which we are working. It's like a cousin or a branch of the family of work that we do at Solidus – content marketing.
I was excited to hear about our long-lost cousin’s business. I found myself impressed with the quality of the company’s work, nodding my head with the points that he was making about branding, image, and reaching your customers, etc. However, midway through the presentation, he said: “No one reads anymore. Video is now the only way to reach your customers.” Wait, what? A couple of people sort of glanced at me. (Maybe that was my imagination.) I felt like I was on the spot for a second.
I considered this to be somewhat in poor taste since I had already introduced myself and what it is that Solidus does, i.e., work with words to help businesses craft their messages.
Are we really a culture of morons? I know that I'm a little outside of the norm when it comes to reading and writing, but really? No one wants to read anymore? Not at all? It’s true that writing, especially for mass audiences, needs to be done simply and succinctly. According to some studies, the average reading skill level was estimated to be at around the 8th to 9th grade. I think it's actually lower than that, but that doesn’t mean that people don’t read anymore. It just means we’ve had to change the way we write for different audiences. And FYI, people have to read when they watch videos/commercials all the time.
When I pitch to potential customers, I would never cut down another form of content marketing (especially not when a videographer is in the room, wink, wink). Like I said, we’re all part of the same family. For me, this business is about how to help other businesses succeed by doing what we do. That means working together to find the right mix of content and promotion, no matter what form it may take.
Solidus works in conjunction with all kinds of other content providers, including video production companies! Can’t we all just get along?
My advice overall: Be careful who you’re dissin’ because you never know who you’re going to offend. By Emily Trask
I like symmetry in words.
I like small, medium, large. It’s got a nice balance to it. Three general sizes that anyone can relate to, in a nice, logical order. I tend to think of extra large as a cop out. It should be something more like “massive.” And it should go on from there: jumbo, gargantuan, colossal, monolithic. I bet it would inspire more diets if people had to ask, “Do you have this in a whopping?”
I also like ready, set, go. The three states of a task or an action, and in the only order that makes sense. You wouldn’t go before you were ready. It works well.
But I recall that someone once asked me, “Hey, since Emily is blonde and Emily is brunette, does that make you the redhead?” It was a funny line, but I was struck with the asymmetry of the phrase.
Blonde, brunette, redhead. Not even red hair or red haired but redhead. Like there isn’t even any hair involved at all. If I spend too much time in the sun without a hat and without sunscreen, I’ll show you a redhead. It seems like if you were going to go by color like that, it would be more like yellowhead, brownhead (or blackhead, but … ewwww), and redhead. The British have it all figured out – blonde, brunette, and ginger.
I don’t know. I guess one thing is certain – the thought of your sailing ship being boarded by the nefarious Brunettebeard the Pirate wouldn’t have inspired as much fear, would it?By Steve Boudreault
Sometimes a meme says it more eloquently than 250 to 500 words ever could. From all of us at Solidus, happy holidays everyone!
We have a bit of a tradition here at Solidus. Every year just before Thanksgiving, we repost a blog we wrote titled "While You're Stuffing Yourself with Stuffing." It was about a woman with whom Emily and Emily and I used to work who would almost always close e-mails with “Thnaks.” Not “Thanks,” but “Thnaks.” It was a great post, which we would always end with a wish for a very happy and safe Thnaksgiving.
But in the years since we first posted that blog, it would seem that the typing of "thnaks" instead of "thanks" -- metathesis, for all you hardcore word nerds out there -- is not only a widespread phenomenon, it's positively commonplace. I'm not sure if there's been a spike or if more people are just owning up to it, but there's a Facebook page for Typing 'Thnaks' instead of 'Thanks' and the Urban Dictionary defines thnak as "Thank you, or at least the first part of, commonly mistyped by almost everyone on the planet when signing off an email."
It's nice to know that we weren't the only ones who were experiencing this strange and amusing quirk, but at the same time, there is a bit of a sense of loss. We had adopted thnaks as our word. We would use it intentionally in e-mails to one another. And now, knowing it belongs to the world -- and maybe always has -- it's a little strange. Like finding out your favorite book by your favorite author was ghostwritten.
Still, in all, we have a great deal for which to be thnakful, not the least of which is all the great folks out there who read our blog and enjoy our daily typo posts. To all of you, a heartfelt thnaks.
And hell, tradition is tradition, right? So to all of our friends, family, and colleagues from all of us at Solidus, we wish you a wonderful and happy Thnaksgiving.
By Steve Boudreault
There are certain typos that drive certain proofreaders crazy. Just batshit crazy. I have a proofreader friend who loses her everlovin’ mind when she sees decades written out as “the 1920’s” or “the 80’s.” (And if you don’t see the problem with those, I suggest you steer clear of her.)
I was forced to confront mine at the Topsfield Fair last month.
I was wandering around the fruits & vegetables barn, nonchalantly examining the prize-winning tomatoes and the best-in-show eggplant, when I stopped to read a little blurb set up next to the cabage (their spelling, not mine). The text listed some of the health benefits of cabage, including its ability to help prevent prostrate cancer.
Really, Topsfield Fair people? Really?
I really wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve seen the phrase “prostrate cancer.” I could buy Mars. Just for the record, once and for all, it’s prostate cancer. It’s not prostrate cancer. There’s no such thing as prostrate cancer, nor has anyone ever had a problem with an enlarged prostrate.
To be prostrate means to be stretched out with face on the ground in adoration or submission. The prostate is a male gland that secretes an alkaline, viscous fluid.
And if you’re a guy who can’t figure out the difference between prostate and prostrate, you’re in for quite a shock during your next physical.
By Steve Boudreault
Someone asked me recently if I knew what the word “absquatulate” means. As it happened, I did. (It means to leave abruptly.) This particular someone was very disappointed that I knew this word. Where I thought he was trying to learn a new word, he was, in fact, attempting to trip me up with it.
This is the blessing and the curse of being “the word guy.” People naturally assume that I’ve got the entire dictionary memorized from cover to cover, and while some can live contentedly with that belief, others feel the need to call me out on it.
More words followed in rapid succession. Conflagration. Languid. Defenestrate. Umbrage. As I offered definition after definition, he became more and more annoyed and began to pounce on any of my descriptions that were inexact or imprecise. As if that were some sort of victory.
For the record, I am a word guy, I am not the word guy. I know the words that I know, and I enjoy learning new ones, but I am not the oracle of the dictionary. I am fallible.
For example, for the longest time, I had assigned the definition of recalcitrant (hard to deal with, disobedient) to the word reticent (reluctant or restrained). Even now when I want to use either of those words, I need to pause and make sure I’m saying what I mean. See? The words and their definitions are not all at my fingertips or on the tip of my tongue.
It’s impossible to get an accurate figure, but simple math suggests that there are, at the very least, 250,000 distinct English words, excluding inflections, and words from technical and regional vocabulary. That being the case, I’d say anyone who’s got a vocabulary consisting of more than grunts and squawks is doing all right.
By Steve Boudreault