Looking Glass Language

a word bird reflects on life & language

Archive for the month “November, 2013”

Wordy Wednesday: vinegar stroke

vinegar stroke: the face you make as you're comingI’m a woman of the world.

I’ve been around a bit, read a lot of books and have a particular interest in language (after all, it’s the premise behind this blog, particularly my Wordy Wednesday posts)Yet this was the first I’d heard of the term ‘vinegar stroke’. 

An enlightening and entertaining half hour on Google followed, which told me all I needed to know and more about the vinegar stroke. If, like me, you hadn’t come across the term before (for those already in the know, sorry about the pun…), here’s a definition for you.
The vinegar stroke is a colloquial term for the final thrust in a sexual act, the one which takes you over the edge into orgasm.  Still not with me? Imagine the face you’d pull if you were chugging vinegar. Uh huh, that’s right: THAT face…
Once I’d understood the phrase, I realised that my friend Erin’s (LA writer, Erin Donovan) use of vinegar stroke to describe the final push towards finishing a screenplay was a stroke of genius (again, pun absolutely intended).
Erin seemed to think it was an Englishism, but that may be because she first heard it years ago, from her English husband, Chris Long (who these days is Producer of The Mentalist). But if it’s English English, rather than American English, surely I’d have heard it before? And as it’s such an evocative phrase, shouldn’t it have made an appearance in laddish TV programmes such as Men Behaving Badly and Fantasy Football League? If it has, there’s scant evidence of this online.
Actress Katie Aselton, from hit US TV series, The LeagueA bit of digging uncovered a reference to vinegar strokes in the cult  laddish US fantasy football series, The League. The gorgeous Katie Aselton, left, who plays Jenny in The League, gave a hilarious explanation of this and other terms used in The League, when she appeared on a talk show with fellow guest Mike Tyson. 

Other sexual terms from the show include:

  1. Eskimo brother: when guys have had sex with the same girl, they’re Eskimo brothers.
  2. Teasing stallion: a non-threatening male who you allow to innocently flirt with your girl in the knowledge that this will merely get her worked up for you.
  3. Second virginity: the faux ‘virginal’ state experienced in the immediate aftermath of a break-up, when you haven’t had more than a single sexual partner for a prolonged period.
  4. Vaginal hubris. (My favourite kind…) Talking about this, Katie says, “my character is someone with a lot of confidence in their hoo-ha.”  But when does a lot of confidence become excessive?
    I don’t know that I’ve ever thought in terms of my vagina as having moods, but I’m going to be keeping an eye on things, and if I spot it being aloof, timid or cantankerous, I’ll let you know.

Wordy Wednesday: Selfie

Aki Hoshide selfie in space

Best Selfie ever? International Space Station astronaut Akihiko Hoshide capturing Earth in his visor, whilst in space. It’s awesome.

Come on, ‘fess up: you’ve done it haven’t you? You’ve snapped shots of yourself and posted them on social media (if you’re over 18, you’ve probably tried to frame them to look like they were taken by someone else).

I, for instance, couldn’t resist taking one after my friend Didier let me try on the fabulous wig he wears when doing drag (see below). Damn, I love that wig!

Selfie in a wig

Reasons to take selfies:

  • You think you’re looking hot
  • You’re somewhere amazing
  • You’re doing something amazing
  • You’re with someone famous (selfies with Pope Francis are proving very popular)
  • You’re with your mates and you want to show everyone else how much fun you’re having
  • You’re 14 and your day wouldn’t be complete without at least one selfie posted on Instagram

Selfies have become ubiquitous, even in the most inappropriate circumstances: there’s even a Tumblr site called Selfies at Funerals.

Actress, tap dancer and comedian Charlene deGuzman stars in I forgot my phone: a smart and depressing short film about the overuse of smartphones (including a scene on selfies)…


The first recorded use of the word was in 2002 on an Australian online forum:

“Um, drunk at a mates 21st, I tripped ofer [sic] and landed lip first (with front teeth coming a very close second) on a set of steps. I had a hole about 1cm long right through my bottom lip. And sorry about the focus, it was a selfie.”

Selfie appeared on Flickr as a hashtag as early as 2004. And now everyone from Pope Francis to astronauts is doing it, and the noun Selfie has been declared the word of the year by the Oxford Dictionary.

Don’t know your duck face from your belfie? Check out this article in The Guardian, which gives the do’s and don’ts (A belfie is a bum selfie: don’t do it. Don’t even think about doing it.)

Wordy Wednesday: paean

glass animalsMy choice of ‘paean’ is purely because I went to a great gig last night, the first in a long, long time, and in my old stomping ground of Shoreditch, no less. And as I loved the band I wanted to offer a paean (viz. sing a song of praise) to the talented foursome, whose members include a neuroscientist and two classical musicians at the top of their game. The gig was at Concrete, and I was there with my friend Janie, supporting her nephew Joe, drummer with Glass Animals. The band is the first signing for Wolf Tone, the new label by super-producer Paul Epworth (he of Adele fame). Epworth himself, who was supposed to be in LA on the night, was there, grooving along to his new signing’s performance. As was I…
Screen Shot 2013-11-13 at 18.59.36You can make your own mind up by listening to their enthralling, intelligent and inventive tracks on Soundcloud, here. Their extraordinary musicality reminds me of early Muse, though you’re more likely to find them being compared with Radiohead.

Read all about them in Paul Lester’s Guardian article, Glass Animals (New band of the day No 1,635) (theguardian.com)

Wordy Wednesday: acronym

Royal spotting at the Badminton Horse Trials









I discovered a few years ago that acronyms weren’t quite what I’d thought they were… This brings a blush to my cheeks not only because I am now a copywriter, but also because at 14, while working at the Badminton Horse Trials (indulging in a spot of Royal watching while sporting a fetching turquoise t-shirt bearing the legend ‘NatWest is Best’), I’d laughed condescendingly on noticing ‘AIB Bank’ emblazoned on a fellow worker’s t-shirt, and – in the patronising way of a teenage know-it-all – explained to him that the acronym meant Allied Irish Bank Bank – I have a horrid feeling that I might even have attempted this in an Irish accent. Of course, as I later discovered, it wasn’t an acronym at all, it was an initialism. Oh the shame…  Read more…

Patti Smith mourns Lou Reed

Lou Reed by Tom BatchellReading Patti Smith’s poetic eulogy on Lou Reed in The New Yorker this week has made me want to revisit not just Lou’s work, but also Patti’s own. So, with the weather here in Dorset wet and windy, it seems like the perfect day to put my headphones on and take a walk on music’s wild side.

Below is a transcript of Patti’s poetic article (or you can simply read it in context). And, for the joy of it, I’ve included links to performances by both Lou Reed and Patti Smith.

Read more…

Movember: the Cerne Abbas giant sports a ‘tache

The Cerne Abbas Giant sports a 'tache for Movember

The Cerne Abbas Giant sports a ‘tache for Movember




The Cerne Abbas Giant made Dorset proud today, by sporting a fabulous moustache in support of Movember.

The Giant’s grass moustache (grown by British Seed Houses) is, at 36′ by 9′, big enough and bushy enough to make even Tom Selleck green with envy.

Magnum PI

Magnum PI

The chalk Giant has joined the ranks of those sporting a ‘tache for Movember in support of health programmes that combat prostate and testicular cancer (and mental health challenges).


It seems an inspired pairing: the priapic Giant
(who says size doesn’t matter? Ed.) and the Movember charity, which aims to make an ‘everlasting impact on the face of men’s health’ through its support for prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health. 

The Giant already has a reputation for virility, with folklore holding that infertile couples making love on its huge appendage will conceive within two years (that is, if the guy isn’t too intimidated to be able to perform…).

The National Trust showed its funny and compassionate side by giving permission for the grass moustache to be added to the chalk giant for a day.

Watch a video on this, here:


Post Navigation


Something amiss? Listen to this...

The Seed Factory

Flexible workspace for small businesses to rent in Aller, Somerset


Fit For The Future


meraki: the soul, creativity or love placed in something, the essence of yourself in your work

Adventures of Hal

Fran, Gareth and friends explore the world on Hal, our 35ft yacht

Things I think about while I drive to work

Random topics and conversation about how I view the world I live in

Curiouser & Curiouser

My curious little blog.

Knowingly Undersold

Selling discount truths at an exorbitant price! (Wrap your mind around that one)

David Baker's Novel Factory

Novel = New, Work of Fiction: Fact + History = Factory

A Road Travelled Twice

Twice across Europe by bike and more

Mike and the Marathon

I’m running the 2013 London Marathon for ICAN

A Few Kind Words

adventures in language and life


a word bird reflects on life & language

Helen Weavers's Blog

Stuff I think about...