Blogging a Dead Horse

john blumenthal

john blumenthal
January 05
john_blumenthal (On Twitter)
Curmudgeon. Formidable braggart. Comedy writer. Eight books, 2 movies. Former associate editor at Playboy Magazine. Movies include "Short Time," (major flop), and "Blue Streak" (huge hit, no idea why.) Last three novels were "What's Wrong With Dorfman?" (St. Martin's Press), "Millard Fillmore, Mon Amour," (St. Martin's Press) and "Three and a Half Virgins" (Finalist, International Book Awards.) Latest book -- a spoof of romance novels called "Passing Wind of Love."


JANUARY 12, 2011 11:06AM

Can We Please Stop Calling Everything “Awesome”?

Rate: 75 Flag

This post is not awesome. It might be inspirational. It might be dazzling. It might be delightful. But awesome? No.


The Pyramids are awesome. The Great Wall of China is awesome. The stupidity of the American voter is awesome.



Last week, I heard a teenage girl say: "Chelsea just got a tattoo of Justin Bieber on her arm! Isn't that awesome?"




On the other hand, if 15 year-old Chelsea got a tattoo of Fyodor Dostoevsky on her arm then yes, that would be awesome, since Chelsea spends her day walking around with iPod plugs in her ears while using her iPhone to text mindless drivel to her equally unconscious friends, Megan and Autumn.



Last Thanksgiving, one of my daughter's friends referred to my wife's rhubarb pie as super awesome. Rhubarb pie isn't even any good, let alone super anything. Plus the term is halfway to being redundant. If extraterrestrials with a cure for cancer landed in my backyard that would be super awesome.


The Brits' version of awesome is the overused, insufferable term brilliant, as in:


Lady Dumpleton: "I got a tattoo of Winston Churchill on my left buttock yesterday."


Lady Fluffington: "Brilliant."


True, Churchill was indeed brilliant, but the transference of his likeness upon the posterior of Lady Dumpleton is most certainly not.


The rules of use for the word brilliant are as follows: if you were to say “the sun is brilliant”you’d be right. If you were to say “Einstein was brilliant,” you’d be right. If you were to say “Prince Charles is brilliant”you’d be wrong.



In the Sixties, cool stuff was referred to as either far out or out of sight, but in the Sixties, everybody was stoned, so those two terms -- neither of them as moronic as awesome -- don't really count. After all, this was the generation that also gave us copacetic, groovy and Herman's Hermits.



In the 1920s, really swell things were described as the cat’s pajamas, a far cry from awesome. Why the concept of feline bedclothes would make something impressive is known only to the cat in question and its psychiatrist.



The ancient Romans had their own version of awesome. Flavius meets Clavius in the agora and says, “Dude, your toga is, like, totally caesarean.” Or whatever.



Here’s the basic question: have we become so lazy, so unimaginative, so staggeringly insipid that we can only think of one adjective to describe everything? Your computer has a Thesaurus, folks. It’s three mouse clicks away. If that’s too much effort, have an energy drink. Roget needs the royalties.  




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John, come over for some rhubarb pie. Someone has to change your rhubarb pie bias.
Boss screed, man. I am down with that.
Whats wrong with rhubarb pie?? It's awesome.. Now ask me about the word "hella' and I will stand up and agree with ya..:)
rated with hugs
This post is the tops.

Awesome idea, let's get right on that!
It is soooooo tempting to reply with "a_ _ _ _ _" post!

Yeah..... I'd shoot me too if I did that. But you must give Tink special dispensation to use it. Our favourite cat humourist would practically be mute without it....... ;-)

John, this post is so super awesome! And rad, cool, gnarly, bodacious, phat and zumalicious. Like, peace out, man.
Rated Formidable!

I feel like awesome has fallen to the fate of the F-word. It's used so much it has absolutelyno meaning.

I love rhubarb pie. I might say scrumptious instead of awesome.

I would never have the courage to dis a homemade pie on the interwebs.
"Herman's Hermits" were groovy, to be copacetic.
Very funny! Had me laughing! I dig it, totally, man! V
You sold me with the very first line. By the last, I knew you were right. This post is not awesome, but it's better than a poke in the eye.
Splendid but only a chowderhead would make fun of Herman and the Hermits.
Well, this was the bees knees. Better?
Have a supplier in Newport News who every cust. service rep and manager say "awesome" for every positive response to matter how trivial. At this point I would prefer aww shit.
This post is awe --

... fully funny.
Guilty as charged. A bad habit I picked up and will now remember to give more thought. RRR
And John, rhubarb pie if it has strawberries in it, CAN be full of awe!
Wow John, you are such a wordsmith! Can you make up words too, like Sarah Palin?
I have many faults, I admit it. But I have never said awesome. Maybe it's my age - it came along too late for me. I still say "cool" and have the occasional impulse to say "right on". Even maybe "far out", tho that was far back.

Magnificently superb for-the-ages post!
Note to self: strike this much overused (and now, much maligned) word from vocabulary posthaste. Done.
What's the other word for thesaurus ?
bitchen essay, john.
and why is prince charles such an odd color? greyish, that.
In the late 80s, the decade in which the word began being minimalized through overuse, I was at a church service where the children gathered at the front for a Sunday school sermonette. The teacher that day was defining "awesome", first using the example of creation ; trees, mountians, the ocean, the natural environment as an example, and then working his way up to the creator. Then he asked if a child would like to come to the front and draw something the awesome on the easel. The kid drew a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Awesome.

I'm with you but I find myself using it when talking with my kids. "That's nice" or "That's very good." or even "excellent" doesn't seem to drive it home for them.
You're just trying to cull the OS literati for words better than "awesome" not in the Thesaurus, you tricky dicky. Okay, I'll contribute: this post was neato!
this was fun!!!! thank you.
hella awesome post John! Most Excellent! lol ..rofl

rated (cause I know you hate lol and awesome)
Sweet, smokin', it is what it is--and what it is is several zip codes away from squaresville, daddio. It's hep, boss, cool, where it's at, and solid, man, solid. Whatever.
Freakin' sweet! How's that?

Prince Chawles is not brilliant??? A truly gaspable posit, I say!
I forbid the use of awesome by my daughters around me and they have instructions that the first boy that calls me 'dude' will probably be subject to awesome physical pain. Great post ( I got a Thesaurus on my computer?)..........o/e r++++++
Oh please, yes. This word is driving me bonkers for so long and I rarely get this kind of commiseration. It is a menace of a word that refuses to go away. Thank you for trying to stop it. I have tried so hard and so long and failed.
Greatly expressed!
RRRRRRR++++++ for using my favorite adjective: INSIPID


P.S. How do you feel about "amazing?" Yeah, me too.
My online thesaurus suggested "whiz-bang," as in, "This was a whiz-bang post." Whiz-bang sounds awesome!
Despicable piece of blood libel!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Despicable piece of blood libel!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Delightfully and spectacularly awesome post.
Dude, this post was like, uh, the bomb. And all you other guyses' comments was sweet too.
Agreed! This post was the cat's meow.
Thank god. I've been saying this for years. The lack of language skills is frightening to me in an era when everyone considers themselves a writer, or a fairly educated being.

None of the phrases from other eras (great reminders BTW) because they had a finite measure -- they created a standard for their times. For me the word awesome is not a creates an image of the infinite, never-ending, something truly beyond our experience.

There ain't much in my life that is beyond fabulous. Life can be good, great, interesting et al...but awesome?? Not really. I too cringe every time I hear the word...At least in other decades we created new language, now we're just killing it.

Thanks John.
Your post is cosmic and cool beans as the same time. And I guess you haven't heard the latest variation yet, awesomesauce. Yes it's out there and yes you might as well get ready for it now.
Amazing is another over used one. It's currently drowning it's way through a popular hair care company.
The next person who uses the word "epic" in my general vicinity, will get their achilles tendon clipped with an awesome pair of gardening shears.
I hate that word too! So fake!
I actually wrote a poem about this subject. It was awesome!
Have never emitted the A-word focused on here, but plead guilty to a misdemeanor: Amazing. Maybe zooming along to a Z word? Zumilicious is taken. Zazzy? (r)
Well done, John.

I am an adjunct at a community college, and I hear my students use "awesome" all the time. It made me grit my teeth some 12 years earlier when I started hearing it more frequently.

I still don't care for its liberal use. I prefer to reserve it for things that truly inspire awe in me. That way, it really does mean something. But it has lost most of its meaning now, and I must admit that I don't notice it anymore.

More's the pity, I guess. Words are tools, but you have to use the right word for the right job, just as you would want to use the right tool for the right job. It is absurd, for example, to drive a nail using a sledgehammer. And that is what the indiscriminate use of "awesome" is -- the wrong tool for the wrong job.
Funny, altho I'm not laffing, that it's only the overused euphemisms that piss us off. Will WTF and HOLY SHIT and a few others of that ilk ever wear out? At least enuf to justify a blog post? Just sayin' (I'm sick of that one, too).
Hey BTW, you're just a big ole killjoy. I can't use emoticons, and now I'm barred from the word "awesome". Well...pfffttt!
This blog reminds me of a time I had a professor who told me he was tired of having to grade my papers with a dictionary. He exclaimed with drama in the middle of the class, "write simpler." Then proceeded to make fun of me with a big laugh ha ha ha getting the whole class to laugh along with him. He said, "your audience will need to read the book with a dictionary if you don't."

I bought the "Dimwits Dictionary" and reserved the “Uncommon Words Dictionary” and the thesaurus for the more intelligent professors. It had 5,000 over used words and phrases with alternate endings to them. You could write with egregious English, uneducated English, everyday English, or elegant English. The next paper I wrote I threw in a little of the everyday English and a few of the dimwitted redundant phrases in and the professor was happy. The professor was happy with my next paper.
How about "swell"?
Yup, this was really the cat's meow alright!
Groovy. I've never said the A word.
Estimable post blu. I'm so jaded that nothing awes me anymore.
This was the bees knees. Passing it along to the folks over at Facebook...hopefully it works some magic over there.
(Rated for awesomeness)
Brilliant observation, John.
Last month I overheard an undergrad saying to her iPhone: "AWESOME! it an old people's party? Oh well, at least they have AWESOME drinks and fancy AWESOME party snacks." It's not just the teenagers! Rated.
John---My wife just took a job as a customer service rep. And they told her that her job was to be awesome. That was it. Nothing more. Just awesome.

I hate awesome.
Do not initiate the "Hi Bob" drinking game where the rules include drinking a shot every time a Kardashian says "amazing." A trip to the ER for you if you do.
I love your insight into lazy wordplay. The bit about the "cat's pajamas" was...dare I say it? AWESOME! Running away now...
Bravo. Now, if I could just get my children to drop their favorite phrase, f**ckin awesome.
Oh, boy! You hit a nerve with me on this one! A huge +1....

The English language is so rich in words that it's such a shame to sometimes find people who are so inarticulate in their speech and writing. On one hand.

On the other, one of the glories of English is it's malleability, which is probably the reason it really is the "lingua franca" of the world now.
For those of you who are interested in etymology, "awesome" is derived from the Aramaic term "ewesome," which was used by ancient nomadic shepherds, long deprived of female companionship, to describe attractive sheep.
Really funny! Unusual for your posts.
When I was a kid I got a new skate for Christmas. I told my dad it was groovy (it was 1966). He said we could take it back to the store in exchange for a good one.

Awesome post, though.
I swear, I swear, I will never use the term awesome again. Being of the generation that uses it a lot, I apologize. This post was.......hermetic?
I beg to differ. Rhubarb pie with French vanilla ice cream is awesome--or groovey--or whatever.
"Here’s the basic question: have we become so lazy, so unimaginative, so staggeringly insipid that we can only think of one adjective to describe everything?"

Yeah, and it's really epic.
I'm guilty of using this word because I really do find so many things...well, you know...
Perfect is the next awesome. Excerpt from actual phone conversation with Customer Service:

"My cable is out again. It's the third time today."
"I hear what you're saying. Let's see if we can find the problem."
"Is the problem on every channel?"
"Perfect. May I put you on hold?"
"I have been on hold for half an hour."
"I hear what you're saying. May I put you on hold now?"
(About 23,900,000 results [0.09 seconds])
Yeah, with out the word awesome, I wouldn't be able to write.

What do you mean, AWESOME?

**Runs off stage in tears**
or as some in the beach communities or beach-type wannabes say, "Duuuuuude".
From the Queen's English to the vernacular of the day. "Awesome" has become a colloquialism for anything that is uber cool, astonishing and patently positive. That it is misused, there is no doubt. That it gets the point across, is common to most. That it is exaggerated and overused, is an understatement. Thoughtful and relatable post on how we, the people, fall into colloquial patterns of repetitious repertoire.
P.S. This post was "chill."
As my Granny would say, "Well aren't you something." That could mean any number of things. Hope you're okay with ambiguity. Ambiguity really is awesome.
"Awesome" is such a useful word. Enables anyone to immediately spot am adult schmuck.
I can't stop using the word "awesome" but in my defense, I never believe that anything actually is. And I think it doesn't count if while I am saying it, I am really thinking bitter, desperate, melancholic thoughts.
Oh, and one more thing: when you used the word "rankles" (regarding my blog), you became even better looking to me.
You got a problem with Herman's Hermits?

(bares fang)
This is funny no awesome...I just told my daughter that the word made me sick when I heard it...especially from middle aged moms. It is like "good job!".
So I guess saying this post is awesome would be inappropriate.
Oh God, you're so right. "Awesome" is the most overused word. Especially when you consider what a great word it is - something truly "awesome" is awe-inspiring, phenomenal, breathtaking. Thus, the pizza I described last week as "awesome" was no such thing.

Yes, I'm guilty for using it. Perhaps, I can revise my New Year's resolution list.
"In the 1920s, really swell things ...."

If we're to believe Meredith Wilson, "swell" was a scandalous term in River City, Iowa. "Neat-O" remains above the fray.
to: alsoknownas

Your question was awesome and sent me scurrying. . .

Main Entry:thesaurus
Part of Speech: noun

Synonyms: glossary, lexicon, onomasticon, sourcebook, terminology, vocabulary

Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition
Copyright © 2011 by the Philip Lief Group.
loved this. My rhubarb pie is awesome. So there.
Oh my, I just stumbled upon you. And really: absolutely brilliant. (Sorry, that British accent is just too sexy.)

Also covet your blog title. ;)
Awesome post, dude. I couldn't agree more!
You might appreciate rant about that OTHER "A" word: