Wednesday, January 20, 2010


At work today, this story came up and we discussed replicating the language of its headline on our site.

I didn't really get why HuffPo wrote "Funniest Parking Fails" instead of "Funniest Parking Failures," but didn't spend too much time thinking about it. I figured it was either a quirk of their presentation or a writer with really bad grammar (assumed the former).

Someone else wanted to use fail as a noun in our headline. "I didn't get that when I read it," I said. "Is that just something I hadn't heard of?" Everyone in the room was silent. No one else seemed to need an explanation.

"Yeah, my mother wouldn't get it but..." someone else said, her voice trailing off. The "either" at the end was left unspoken.

Her mother!!

After I got out of the meeting I consulted someone else.

me (5:18:58 PM): have you heard of "fail" as a noun?
me (5:19:02 PM): as in, funniest parking fails?
other person (5:19:50 PM): ya
other person (5:19:56 PM): they use that a lot on the twitter
other person (5:20:00 PM): it comes from the fail whale
other person (5:20:08 PM): which is the landing page when twitter isn't working
other person (5:20:11 PM): it's an image of a whale
other person (5:20:16 PM): it occured so much
other person (5:20:21 PM): they called it the fail whale
me (5:20:25 PM): haha
me (5:20:29 PM): ok, guess I'm out of touch
other person (5:20:36 PM): :-)

I mean -- is this how it starts? First a word, then a TV show or song, and then whole devices and modes of transportation leave you completely befuddled? Will I even be able to understand basic conversations in 20 years?

Not only have I never heard of "fail" as a noun, I don't like it. It's just poor grammar, another assault on the English language. And yet I have embraced "word" as a (now ironic) exclamation, along with who knows how many other grammatically debateable slang words and phrases.

Is this how it starts? You just start refusing to go with the flow? Well, I've been refusing to go with the flow since 1974. I should say, do you just start refusing to adapt to new things? Certainly, I have refused Twitter.

I don't know what's sadder -- the fact that I'm so out of it or the fact that something this small bothers me so deeply.

Music: "LOL Smiley Face"


  1. I'm glad you like me just the way I are.

  2. Hahahahahahaha -- I totally thought of that as I was writing this.

  3. I've never heard of the fail whale. I thought fail entered common parlance through lolspeak, making your musical selection appropriate.

    Check out for many hilarious examples of failure all marked Fail.

  4. How about your a-hole colleague? Although, I do have to say, even my mother would get it...

    I'm not a fan either -- I didn't know about the "Fail Whale" -- I too thought it was an LOLSpeak/LOLCats thing (and how do I even know what those are, by the way?)

    I already gave up on not feeling old when the 20-somethings in my office clearly didn't get my 80s movie references.


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