Community Word, n

Popepourri: (n.) – Community Word Extravaganza!!!

A pleasant pastiche of Pope-themed phrases.


Well… the Pontiff doth impend.

Most Philadelphians have fled out of town, or are hiding indoors… and the streets are bustling with packs of chirpy out-of-towners, sporting brightly colored lanyards and adorable backpacks (courtesy of the Knights of Columbus – AKA: The Secret Society of Italian Grandpas). For the last few days, laborers have been hauling heavy guardrails around town in preparation for this weekend. It’s nice to see people start to fill the spaces they’ve provided. All in all everyone seems rather cheerful and happy to be here, aside from the occasional puffy, neckless cop.

Never a smile from these guys. Ever.

A few weeks ago, I invited some fans of Words That Aren’t to submit their own Pope-related terminology. The result was a lexicographical delight.

So now… on the eve (day) of the Apopecalypse… here is that list of invented words apropope (!!!) of el Papa’s arrival.

NB: I choose to use the term Apopecalypse instead of Popepocalypse because it is CLEARLY A BETTER INVENTED TERM… one which makes appropriate use of the letters at hand, and therefore producing a more natural and pleasing portmanteau.

NBB: I would like to make one thing abundantly clear – I am very excited about the Pope’s visit. The words below are cranky and funny and withering and wry… and that’s a good thing. But please let it be known that at least this Philadelphian is honored to share his home with people from all over the world. At least for the weekend. I am not a Catholic – far from it; I’m an atheist – nor am I particularly fond of the Church’s attitude toward women’s rights, contraception, and the dignity and equality of LGBT folks. But I’m able to compartmentalize those frustrations and remain a gracious and happy host to so many people for whom this weekend is a sincere opportunity (popertunity?) to share in something meaningful and beautiful for them.

That said… here is a list of words you should consider saying instead of Popepocalypse (which sucks).

Words courtesy of me:





Words courtesy of Rachael Silverstein: 


Diocease and desist


Words courtesy of Sean Carney: 


Words courtesy of Steve Clark:

Pope Francesspool


… of Vikram Paralkar: 


… of Laura Gallagher: 


… of Haley Zork McGlaughlin:

Cerebral Papalsy

… of Emma Hitchcock:


… of Kim Matthews:


… of Katherine Fritz:


… of Susan Horner:


Pope and circumstance

… and of those who (for whatever reason, chose to remain anonymous – hello there NSA):






I welcome people’s input and feedback. Have a word? Add it to the list.

Welcome to Philadelphia, Pope Francis.

I think you would really like my cat.


Folloathe: (v.)

To maintain social media contact with someone you absolutely detest, specifically because you enjoy hating them.


Sometimes I cast myself in wonder at just how much there is to dislike about people on the internet. I want to quit you guys… but I just can’t. Oh, how I’ve come to need your outrage. Your casual racism. Your paranoid, conservative hysteria. Your irrational leftist tantrums. Your tedious lectures on social justice. Your calls for anarchy (the worst idea in history) and revolution… your political activism, your memes about God and how blessed you feel… your passive aggressive posts about how nobody really cares.

Oh you awful, awful creeps… I drink so deep from your cup.


Drivebye: (n.)

A rapid and indiscriminate farewell made while exiting.


You’re tired.

Your feet hurt.

You’ve partied enough.

You don’t even remember why you came to this party.

And there’s an uncomfortably good chance you were responsible for the toilet overflowing.

Time for a hasty exit. Are you actually going to shake everyone’s hand? Hug everyone you said hi to?

No way. Huggin’s for chumps.







Reb Herring: (n.)

A racist symbol that draws attention away from the systemic inequality and hatred it represents.


Let’s start here: South Carolina should take the Confederate flag down.

*NB: I will be using South Carolina as a stand-in for any government, institution, or individual who flies or wears that particular symbol.*

The First Amendment purist in me maintains they shouldn’t be made to take it down. I don’t think anyone has the right to do that. But the people (legislature, governor… whomever it is that makes the official decision) of South Carolina should absolutely choose to respect the wishes of so many Americans (and, ya know, the tenets of basic human decency), and remove the Confederate flag from their state capital – and ideally, everywhere.

But here’s the thing – even if it is taken down – it doesn’t actually change anything.

This issue has overwhelmed the media right now. It’s being discussed on every news channel – editorialized and analyzed and explored in countless magazines and blogs. Facebook is replete with endless threads debating and pontificating on either side of the issue. It’s the one hashtag to rule them all.

But all I can wonder is what the actual outcome of its removal would be.

The lowering of the flag would be a kind of victory, yes. For well over a century, it has been a symbol of hate and violence and treason, and to fly it today over a state capital is a symbol in and of itself. It is a tacit suggestion that the government of that place, and the people it represents, endorses those beliefs. It’s vulgar and hateful, and a daily reminder to some that they will never be truly welcome, and that the suffering their ancestors endured, and the inequities they themselves must face are alive and well right there… in the seat of that state’s political leadership.

Lowering that flag would be a victory of symbolism, for certain.

But we’ve had symbolic victories so many times in our history. Marches and elections and even legislation. And while those symbols have represented a beautiful and moral intention… they’ve honestly done little to render a meaningful change in the fixed and unjust realities they opposed.

Poverty has worsened. Racism has woven itself into every single institution of power. Rates of incarceration, drug policy, education, home ownership… you know the list… there’s no need for me to continue it. The effects of institutionalized racism have become a kind of offhand reality in this country. And those realities and the horrifying effects they have on our neighbors remain unchanged no matter how many symbols we upturn.

The men and women protesting right now understand far better than I ever will the toil that remains to turn a symbolic victory into something real.

Doubtless, they have known and lived an inequity I’ve only read about.

And really, I’m not writing this to them. I’m writing this to people like me. Those with the privilege to talk about these symbols, just to hear ourselves talk. People who rant and speechify and tweet tweet tweet about our thoughts and feelings, in the absence of real, substantive action.

We should take the flag down. Yes. And we should feel pride in its absence. But let’s not for a moment think that its removal erases the very real and persistent inequities it represented. Or that we are in any way released from our responsibility to act, to vote, to work, to toil, and to fight for the betterment and equality of our neighbors.


Fandalism: (n.)

Deliberately damaging, setting ablaze, or otherwise destroying public or private property in order to celebrate the victory of a local sports team.


Burning a cop car in protest of institutionalized racism and murder – the act of animals and cowards and beasts.

Tipping over food trucks and setting a tree on fire because the Eagles beat the Cowboys – just some lovable hijinks… an ol’fashioned boozy good time!

Welcome to America. We’re (mostly) all fat and stupid down here.


Oddler: (n.)

A creepy, ghoulish, or otherwise disturbing looking child.


Look, I don’t hate kids.

Far from it, actually. I’m happy to report that I’ve become a man who rather likes them. They’re wonderful, and strange; they’re hungry little ids who run around all hopped up on fudge, asking uncomfortable questions and occasionally pooping themselves. How can you honestly not appreciate that?

These behaviors are the proud marks of a free creature, flaring gloriously through the black misery of the Cosmos. Kids are great. They should be celebrated. Hooray for kids.

That said…

There’s a time in every child’s life… somewhere around three, I think, when they take a turn.

They get spooky looking. Eerie. Their parts start growing at varied paces, making them physically syncopated and rangy. Suddenly afire with curiosity and wonder, mind overrides mien… so, when unoccupied by iPads or juice-boxes or coloring books, they often appear vacant and expressionless… leering about and gawping… their mouths faintly reddened by juice, their smiles a mushy handful of baby teeth.

I like kids. But goddamn they look damn scary sometimes.


Eturnity: (n.)

The endless circumnavigations one makes while searching for a parking spot in the city.


I spent nearly an hour trying to park my car the other night. The minutes, they wore on and on… and with every turn of the steering wheel I felt the fabric of my sanity fray until finally all hope had eroded completely away. Was there ever such a thing? Hope? Certainly not. The world is a barren and dead place. Bereft. A crypt of rubber and steel and glass. Yes, young couples may love. Men and women might indeed walk their dogs and jaunt happily through the streets in their well-tailored, seasonally-appropriate jacket. But I would never know that happiness. Never see my girlfriend again. I was born to die in that car… lost forever in this… place… this horrid metaphorical hellscape of the human condition.

And then, abruptly, without any reason or purpose… I found a spot.

And all was better again.