In my wildest dreams, only eight people take the subway. That way, I can get where I need to go, and no one will be in my way. I am not unique among New Yorkers in having this dream.

Call us rude, call us hurried, desperate, in need of a chill pill. Chillpill. Chipll. Chip Hill. Dr. Chip Hill. But we of this sort know where we want to go, or if we don’t, we know how to stay out of the way of people who do. Actually, I think that last sentence does make me unique. Maybe there are eight people who do the same thing, feel the same way. And maybe those eight people are hot sexy women carrying trays of sandwiches.

The point is: get out of my way, and I’ll get out of yours. Keep moving. Know where you’re going, and go there. Do not stop to check you blackberry, but if you do – enough.

The point of the point is: in general, the system works fairly well. We rush around each other, we push, we jostle, we pass and we edge. Pedestrian traffic in densely populated urban areas manages itself fairly well within the New York model – it’s sort of like that economic theory developed by Russel Crowe while he was working for the CIA and imagining he was friends with Paul Bettany. I might be getting that wrong. I think Steve Nash developed that theory after his first MVP season with the Suns.

Anyway, the point of the point of the point is this: there are certain people who screw all of the aforementioned normal people up, not only rendering the perfection of this chaotic system more chaotic and less perfect, but also pissing me off.

After a few years of grumbling and mumbling, I’ve had it. Following are descriptions of these villains, and a few suggestions on how to handle them.

1. Amblers. These people either don’t know where they are going, don’t want to go there or don’t care to go there, or they’re just downright stupid. The general get-in-your-way pattern “followed” by an ambler is arguably the most difficult to overcome or escape out of the four, especially while walking in areas similar to Midtown, New York, as the amblers in this section almost always double as tourists. An ambler will do just that – amble – in no discernible direction, at a very low speed.

Again, there aren’t very many ways to get around an ambler, once you’ve come across one or more (they often amble in groups) but you can, if you stay wary, manage to identify them earlier enough in your travels to give you the time and space TO ADJUST YOUR LIFE ACCORDINGLY. Signs to look for: cameras and camcorders, children, a lazy man’s paunch, low slung jeans, a general mien of absolute indifference towards other people. This last sign is difficult to spot, and unfortunately is also the most manifest among the human population at large.

Amblers should be enslaved and sent to Antarctica to write messages in the snow with their footprints for the aliens to read.

2. Drifters. It can be fairly easy for A NORMAL PERSON to encounter a drifter and mistake him or her for an ambler. A drifter, in actuality, is a cousin to the ambler, and in fact many drifters have been known to have ambled earlier in life, but have since tried to straighten themselves out. Some follow the opposite path, and worsen until they become an ambler. None of this is actually true.

What is true, is that many people just can’t god damn walk straight. More, in failing to walk straight, they drift straight into your path. The worse sort of drifters belong to a sub-category, magnetic drifters.

Magnetic drifters usually come in the form of walking companions that act like drifters until they have alllllmost crossed your path, whereupon they cease to drift and instead just continue directly on top of your path, with you, in such great proximity as to cause your path to become theirs as well. Magnetic drifters, in addition to making me sweat more on one side of my body than the other, tend to scratch my elbows with theirs, and then my elbows get dry skin, and then I have to moisturize them, and then I feel like less of a man and a lesser man who just spent five dollars on elbow moisturizer because of somebody else’s dopeyness.

Drifters and magnetic drifters should be sucked into a Dutch Javascript version of Lemmings.

3. Waddlers. Now this is a tough one to describe, because there’s not an easy way to be critical of waddlers, because many of them are fat. So let’s put it this way: If you are a waddler because you’re fat because you just can’t help it – fine. I’ll do my best to steer around you and not judge. If you are a waddler because you’re fat because you eat too much, don’t excercise, and blah blah blah – not fine. I don’t have to say anything more about this, except to add that everyone gets the benefit of the doubt initially. If I see you waddling in my way while holding a Big Mac in each hand and drinking from a beer helmut filled with milkshakes, I’m sending you for a tumble.

Waddlers should get the benefit of the doubt, initially, but if you see them holding Big Macs in each hand and drinking from a beer helmut filled with milkshakes, send them for a tumble!

4. Stoppers. These people, for any of a number of ridiculous reasons, like to stop dead in front of you. Sometimes they realize that they’re headed in the wrong direction, because they forgot where they live, becuase they’re dopey. Other times they think they feel their cell phone vibrate, so they have to pull it out in order to remember that you usually don’t get service in the subway – and that they’re dopey. Sometimes they stop to look at an advertisement featuring a beautiful person. Sometimes they see a sale. Everytime – they deserve to die.

Stoppers should be killed, everytime, without question. It is usually best to take this corrective measure while other potential stoppers are watching, so that they have been warned, and so your defense team will have that warning as evidence available to them when they try to exonerate you.

If you fall into any of these categories, stay clear of me, because if you don’t, I might be tempted to take action in one or more of the manners outlined above. Regardless,

I bite your eyes!

as a riven leaf

January 25, 2007

today’s word is “riven.” riven is the participular adjective of the verb rive-1. The main definition of riven is “Split, cloven, rent, torn asunder.” I’ve frequently seen this used for geographical divisions, as it is in an article in this month’s Atlantic (gold star to the first reader to guess the article!). riven also has the really cool definition, “ornamentally slashed” which is, alas, obsolete and rare.  The first OED quote is: “c1450 Songs on Costume (Percy Soc.) 65 So many ryven shertes,..And so many lewed clerkes, Say I never.” Riven shirts are definitely coming back in.

rive-v1, whose base level of meaning is “to tear,” has a couple of great definitions along the way. The OED actually says that the word is now very rare, and most frequently used in the past tense. The best is def. 11b: In “hyperbolic or figurative language:  Denoting the effect of repletion, excessive laughter, etc.” repletion is “the act of eating or drinking to excess.”

def. 8 is to commit spoliation, which is apparently a synonym for pillaging. the word comes from spoliate-v, which comes from the french spolier. there’s also the noun spoliator, a pillager.

i am most ill when i’m rhyming and spoliating.

Question 1: This Website just used to be about your boring life. What happened?

1. At the end of the summer, with Mandrake flying back to California, and a depressing year of graduate school on the horizon, my zany adventures (i.e. the late night trip to Iowa for Apple Pie, my early-morn jaunt to boston via milwaukee and detroit, and the as-yet-unblogged epic day long trip traversing the entire CTA ) came to a close, and my life become unreadable. Then, over the course of my graduate studies, I realized that, though my french, yiddish, hebrew, and german were wanting, my english vocabulary knew no bounds. After being the toast of the after-lecture cocktail circuit, I decided to do the world a favour and spread the wealth. Thus the Word of the Day was born (and shall properly return tonight).

Question 2: That really doesn’t answer the first question.

2. I knew that most people wouldn’t want to read a blog solely devoted to words, so I enlisted the help of some of the finest humorists known to…myself. Thankfully, some of the unfunnier ones agreed, and my star hasn’t lost too much of its luster.

Question 3: Your features seem randomly selected. Does your editorial board have anything resembling a policy?

3. The editorial policy of Yesterday’s Salad is verisimilitude.  If it is true, and matches American society, it belongs on Yesterday’s Salad. That being said, I’m hoping to convince a more computer adept blogger to help me with formatting/find a better way to display the information. That way, people looking for short fiction can find short fiction, and people looking for Joe Biden can have their love requited.

Question 4: Can I suggest features, or submit guest commentary?

4. By all means, yes (for the first one; only preferred commenters, like annie and JT, may submit guest entries at this point). email: yesterdayssalad [at]  (not the actual formatting, obviously). We love to hear from our readers–especially if they’re famous or really attractive.

Question 5: Where are the nude pics of Brandy?

5. Ask Jeeves politely and he’ll tell you.


Newt Gingrich vs Chris Dodd. How the hell are we supposed to tell these two silver-maned honkies apart? By judging the relative merits of their policy positions on the pressing issues of the day? Just kill me now.

I found this written on a Citibank deposit slip, and had to take a picture of it. noname.jpg

America wants Joe for president. Who knows why.

I’ve never watched the George Lopez show, and I probably never will, but I correspond to his views and would like to subscribe to his newsletter.

Apparently, Mr. Lopez was aksed (believe it or not, that was the correct Middle English) in jest if he had a celebrity he wanted to feud with, and Mr. Lopez said he wanted to feud with Jay Leno.

Lopez said that Leno was a big two-face backstabber, and the worst interviewer on TV. Here’s a link to the story with audio of the interview.

I’m sure Letterman has some backstabbing moments himself. After all, look at what he does to poor Chris Elliot in “Cabin Boy.”