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Thursday, 10 April
I Have Neurolinguistic Maladies

Is there a word for the sensation of suddenly feeling surprised about not previously feeling surprised about something? The Germans probably have one.

Anyway, as I left work today, I walked out the door and noticed that one of the buildings across the street was a store with a gigantic sign that advertised CORNED BEEF. I mean, I'd noticed it before, I wasn't uncognizant of its existence, and of course I'd read the giant sign before, too, but this time I stopped and really noticed it, and actually digested the fact that this place sold CORNED BEEF. And that's when I got surprised that I hadn't been surprised by this before.

I mean, I guess there's weirder things to sell than corned beef, but it's kind of a funny, single-minded thing to stake your business on. And, it's not like I work in a retail core or a street traffic-heavy area; the place is surrounded by a few office buildings, a hotel, and a nightclub. "THIS MUSIC IS REALLY GREAT!" "IT SURE IS!" "YOU KNOW WHAT WOULD MAKE THIS EVEN BETTER?" "WHAT?" "CORNED BEEF!" "YEAH! LET'S GO GET SOME RIGHT NOW!" I don't think so.

So it's just this odd place, but it's been there, like, forever, so I suppose that it has a decent steady supply of corned beef customers who make a point of traveling there regularly to stock up. And that surprises me too; and I start to imagine a small but quietly dedicated Seattle underground of culinary mavericks who steadily produce unlauded masterpieces based on the Holy Food, corned beef. And then I unfortunately find myself genuinely upset that I don't know who those people are, because that sounds pretty cool--I mean, nobody's thought of that before, and by now I'm actually torturing myself with angst over not being able to pierce the shroud of secrecy that cloaks this ultra-cool group of people who I just fucking made up in the first place.

And of course that can't be the end of the weird, echolalic behavior, no. Not this guy, because now I'm kind of obsessed with the phrase itself, and already I'm investing it with all kinds of incantatory subtleties, this fabulous phrase CORNED BEEF. I'm whispering it to myself as I walk home, because it's kind of making me chuckle, but also partly because it makes me feel sort of like a superhero, like Captain Marvel's transformatory "SHAZAM!" only instead, I imagine that when I call out "CORNED BEEF!" I will transform into a corned beef-powered superhero, and then those snooty fuckers in the corned beef cabal would have to take notice of me, by God.

There's going to be all kinds of problems, because I've become obsessed with little phrases before, and it takes me weeks to get rid of them. I am not lying to you when I say that once I spent two weeks utterly fascinated by the phrase "hot beans," and I would frequently yell it out in mid-conversation, because it amused me (and nobody else) to do so. The meaningless phrase "Ak mak" (I found out later it is a kind of cracker) lasted for months, long enough for my friends to get infected; "ak mak" became sort of shorthand for "whatever." So this might be trouble all over again. I can just see it.

Fiancee: Do you want to watch a movie?

Skot: CORNED BEEF!

F: What?

S: Heh heh. Nothing. Sure.

F: What sounds good?

S: CORNED BEEF!

F (she's seen this before): Oh, god.

S: Hee hee hee!

(Long pause.)

F: I'm so not marrying you.

Wordplay | Skot | 10 Apr, 2003 |

Note: Comments are closed on old entries.

Comments

Okay, I officially love you. That is all.

Comment number: 000633   Posted by: rickie beth on April 10, 2003 09:30 PM from IP: 216.148.246.134

/me backs slowly away from Skot


/me runs like hell

Comment number: 000634   Posted by: avogadro on April 10, 2003 09:55 PM from IP: 199.183.105.210

I'll marry you. I love CORNED BEEF!

Comment number: 000635   Posted by: TheBrad on April 10, 2003 10:23 PM from IP: 64.218.66.111

as soon as i saw "CORNED BEEF" i puked. that's gross.

Comment number: 000636   Posted by: nick on April 10, 2003 11:07 PM from IP: 64.48.130.17

The store is Market House Meats. That little strip of buildings is basically the only standing remnant of the neighborhood that once stood where I-5 stands now.

Some restaurants in town feature "Market House Corned Beef" on their menus - which I think is a code for saying "We're Old Seattle."

I once had a conversation with the proprietor. He took over from his dad, but I can't recall how long they've been there. Since the War, I think, meaning WW2.

look! A Stranger story:

MARKET HOUSE MEATS: A Little at a Time

Ah! There it is, 1948. I think that Paul Dorpat has a little something on the vanished freeway nabe (The other fragment is the strip south of the Denny overpass, Graceland included, skipping REI and PEMCO, until the street goes down hill ). Apparently it was full of flophouses and dive bars, but that's just what the freeway builders would say, isn't it?

Comment number: 000637   Posted by: mike on April 11, 2003 01:03 AM from IP: 216.173.212.237

I've never really understood CORNED BEEF. I mean, it tastes nothing like corn, and little like beef. And corned is a verb. Do they, like, hit it with corn? Is there this mysterious "corning" process we know nothing about? Does "corning" involved dousing it with battery acid? And why only beef? Why is there no CORNED CHICKEN, or CORNED HAM? or CORNED SALMON? And is it possible to produce CORNED CORN?

Comment number: 000638   Posted by: Bet on April 11, 2003 06:43 AM from IP: 205.242.228.75

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OA/pubs/cornbeef.htm

Corning is a form of curing; it has nothing to do with corn. The name comes from Anglo-Saxon times before refrigeration. In those days, the meat was dry-cured in coarse "corns" of salt. Pellets of salt, some the size of kernels of corn, were rubbed into the beef to keep it from spoiling and to preserve it.

Comment number: 000639   Posted by: Aaaugh! on April 11, 2003 07:39 AM from IP: 209.81.166.54

as soon as i saw "CORNED BEEF" i puked. that's gross.

As long as you vomited. That's the important thing.

The store is Market House Meats.

AAAAAHHH! Facts! Jesus, Mike, why would you supply me with facts? This site is no place for helpful information!

Comment number: 000640   Posted by: Skot on April 11, 2003 07:42 AM from IP: 140.107.120.123

Pellets of salt, some the size of kernels of corn, were rubbed into the beef to keep it from spoiling and to preserve it.

Well, except if you consider that in Anglo-Saxon times they didn't have corn in England, and therefore it's not called "corning" because the pellets of salt were the same size as corn kernels.

"Corn" in Anglo-Saxon times just meant any small particle, although it may have specifically specified a grain particle - don't have any references handy. But anyway, it's nothing to do with what we now call corn (which is really maize) - which is called corn because any grain was called corn, at the time.

Darn government-spread misinformation ;)

Comment number: 000642   Posted by: binkin on April 11, 2003 08:48 AM from IP: 159.53.32.42

I had always figured that the corned beef had something to do with peppercorns. But I had no particular basis for that belief, except that I wanted it to be so. Given the current administration and the continuing absence of Lindt bar-bearing trees, it is tragically apparent that my wanting things to be so is considered non-compelling by the powers that be.

By the way, I love corned beef, and anyone who does not is a terrorist.

Comment number: 000643   Posted by: anapestic on April 11, 2003 09:03 AM from IP: 216.181.58.90

ARRrrgh! I *learned* something today! And it's a FRIDAY.
You people.

Comment number: 000644   Posted by: dayment on April 11, 2003 09:53 AM from IP: 208.12.30.204

Heh. 'Tis glorious.

One such phrase has been with me for almost 10 years, discovered on a late-night Spoonerism run some friends and I made through a supermarket (late-night supermarkets being dangerous linguistic locales indeed): "Boot Reer".

And there is also the greatest Gatorade flavor of all time (linguistically speaking, that is): "Fierce Melon".

(Oh, man.)

Comment number: 000645   Posted by: pfattmeff on April 11, 2003 10:37 AM from IP: 24.62.115.184

%Sometimes I can't stop thinking "Ana Gasteyer".% I prefer corned beef.

Comment number: 000646   Posted by: Cat on April 11, 2003 11:05 AM from IP: 208.27.203.128

No, no, you people have the whole corning technology discssion all wrong.

Corning was invented in Ireland by the evil English overlords, back in the time period when the Irish had saved civilization and been so ground down and exhausted by the effort of copying all those manuscripts in uncial hand that they just sort of watched as the redcots came trooping in.

A major part of the English pacification effort was wholesale slaughter and dismemberment, leaving many an extra human foot laying about on the old sod.

Being a efficient, industrious people, our friends the Limeys noed the overwhelming presence of eruptive calluses, or "corns," on the rebel feet.

In a leap of reasoning unlikely ever to be repeated, the current Lord Cornwallis (who took his name from these calluses, having previously built a wall from them back in Blighty, and his state was so, as a result: Cornwall) decided that it being Ireland and all, he should add some meat to the national repast of cabbage and potatoes.

The problem was storing the meat for a long period of time - after all, if the Irish were to eat meat only once a year in mid march, a means to storing the undesirable scrpas from my lord's table had to be devised.

Meat scraps + callusses in a big barrel of peatwater = corned beef!

And the rest, of course, is history. Later corners limited this variety of preservation to produce the infamous Corn Dogs, replacing the peat + feet with salt and mustard seeds for the corned beef we no love and admire.

Comment number: 000647   Posted by: mike on April 11, 2003 12:50 PM from IP: 216.173.212.237

and may I say: ha HA!

Comment number: 000648   Posted by: mike on April 11, 2003 12:52 PM from IP: 216.173.212.237

Even weider: Dutch people pronounce Corned Beef as "Cor-NET Beef" (even in "proper" Dutch pronounciation that would be wrong, it's a weird mix, generated by someone who didn't speak English, but thought it would be cool to sell Corned Beef. I mean Cor-NET beef.)
My mother came (back) to Holland from Australia somewhere in the 1970's, and corned beef had just been introduced on the Dutch market. She thought she'd buy some, so she asked for some "Corned Beef" (proper English pronounciation)
Butcher: "What?"
Mother: "Corned Beef"
Butcher: "What?"
Mother: "CORNED BEEF" *points*
*Butcher thinks for a while*
Butcher: "Ohh....you mean Cor-NET Beef!"
Mother: "It's called Corned Beef."
Butcher: "No, Cor-NET beef."
Mother: "Never mind" *buys Cor-NET beef*

Comment number: 000649   Posted by: Eva on April 11, 2003 02:23 PM from IP: 142.20.136.147

I understand this malady a little too well. A friend of mine has been in the clutches of the phrase "corny corn corn" for several weeks now.

We're all praying for a swift recovery.

Comment number: 000671   Posted by: Hot Soup Girl on April 12, 2003 07:11 AM from IP: 203.217.38.50

you're hilarious. thx.

Comment number: 000674   Posted by: duff on April 14, 2003 08:41 AM from IP: 192.147.58.6

I myself have enjoyed many a gleeful moment driving around in the privacy of my car repeating the phrase "I am....Dracula!" in my best (or worst) Transylvanian accent. Try it, you'll love it!

Comment number: 000676   Posted by: Krizzer on April 14, 2003 02:41 PM from IP: 12.229.253.255

i don't care if i'm about a year too late.
one that plagued me through the last quarter/finals of some year in high school was: Eudora Welty. over and over, through tests, all the time, it ran through my brain. it still haunts me a little.

Comment number: 003192   Posted by: candice on May 15, 2004 10:04 AM from IP: 68.107.12.215

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