Friday, 8 July 2011

BSNYC Friday Grammer Rodeo and Spealing Bee!

Yesterday, I mentioned an article in the current issue of the The New Yorker. The article was called "Climbers," and it concerned cycling in Rwanda. Here's a link to the summary, and here's a picture of the picture from it once again:

At the time I first mentioned it I hadn't finished it, but I have since found sufficient bathroom time to do so, and not to be a noodge or anything but I'd just like to reiterate that the article is well worth reading. It was a genuine pleasure to read bike racing-themed prose that didn't consist of doping-related moralizing, or effusive product reviews, or people with $2,000 wheels and electronic shifting complaining that their Cat 4 race results weren't posted online quickly enough. (Hint: if you don't know where you placed, you lost, and I say this as someone who has a perfect record of losing.)

I should also point out that I don't exclude my own prose from the Canon of Inanity, and in fact yesterday I was taken to task by a reader for using the "h" word. (If you don't know what the "h" word is, click here.) Now, he had some legitimate concerns, but the problem remains: what am I supposed to call someone riding a $3,000 track bike, sporting $5,000 in tattoo ink, and wearing a shirt like this when it's 60 degrees?

(The rapper Meh-minem prepares to rob a fixie boutique.)

When you see a fellow in a Primal jersey riding a top-of-the-line Madone with roughly 19 feet of headset spacers and an adjustable stem, you call him a "Fred." When you see a person riding a time trial bike in a tank top and hot pants, you call him a "tri geek." When you see a rider in a Saxo Bank jersey on the side of the road throwing his bike into a ditch in frustration, you call him "Alberto Contador." When you see someone on a recumbent with a beard of fire and a homemade machine gun turret mounted to his cockpit, you don't call him anything. Instead, you run, run, run!

So why don't we get to call the guy in the fixed-gear turtleneck anything? He's not dangerous, even though he tries to look it. What makes him so special that he doesn't get a goofy name like the rest of us do? Plus, more importantly, if we don't call him anything it means that wearing a $120 shirt on your face in mild weather is normal, which it most decidedly isn't, no matter how "fast" you are.

And trust me, I'm under no illusions that I don't look ridiculous myself. I went in for a haircut yesterday and the barber took one look at me and said, "You must be a writer." In terms of personal grooming habits, this is a moment of clarity akin to waking up after a bender with no pants on and your head in a public toilet. It's when you realize something's got to change.

Still, maybe we need to diffuse the "h" word in the way we defused that other "h" word by saying "helment" instead. Maybe the "h" word will go down a bit easier if we call shirt-on-face guy and his ilk "hilpsters." Sure, it's a little extra typing, but I'm fine with it if you are. The last thing I want to do is hurt anybody's feelings.

Lastly, it's interesting (at least to me as an amateur pop culture linguist) to note that, like the "h" word, the word "fixie" was also once in common parlance but is now considered off-limits. This is because it has been rejected by the sorts of people who discovered the bikes just a few years ago. (That is to say, "hilpsters.") Oddly, this only makes the word "fixie" more fun to say, and I now find myself going out of the way to use it. From this I draw two conclusions: 1) People don't like when you remind them that there's an old name for what they're doing because it makes them feel less original, and 2) I am kind of a dick.

And lastly lastly, don't confuse the word "parlance" with the word "palance."

Finally, post-penultimately, I'll remind you to please note that my Tour de France-themed postings continue (though not necessarily on a daily basis) and if you care to know when they're published simply check my Tweeter.

With that, I'm pleased to present you with a short quiz after a short week. As always, study the item, think, and click on your answer. If you're right then palance, and if you're wrong you'll see crazy hilpsters.

Thanks very much for reading, ride safe, and if you get chilly you can always save $120 and pull your shirt over your face.

--Wildcat Rock Machine

(20th century vocabulary, 21st century open-mindedness--just don't get him started on the Jews.)

1) Which culturally insensitive term did Phil Liggett use while commentating on this year's Tour de France?

(Topless trackstands are timeless.)

2) Solo trackstands are out; two-man trackstands are in.

3) The latest in organic bicycle frame building material is:

("This ain't no hilpster shilt.")

4) The "h" word may very well be the most loaded word of 2011.

("Sign my manifest, baby.")

5) "Alleycats" are outlaw bicycle races meant to replicate the workday of an urban messenger--assuming that messenger works in:


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