Category Archives: Popular Culture


What makes a catchphrase?

The dictionary definition is:  1) a phrase that attracts or is meant to attract attention. 2) a phrase, as a slogan, that comes to be widely and repeatedly used, often with little of the original meaning remaining.

I came across a list of “TV’s 60 Greatest Catchphrases” and looking at them out of context, how on earth did they become so engrained in our popular culture? I think the answer is the “context.” We attach significance to programs we watch that we enjoy, usually more than one time.

When we write, we try to make every word count, but I’m sure our readers like some passages/scenes more than others. It’s what makes writing challenging. Reaching out to readers and making their experience enjoyable. I hope they would read my books more than once.

Below are a few of my personal favorites. Click on the link above for all of those on the list.

1. “Heeeere’s…Johnny!” Ed McMahon hailed the arrival of Johnny Carson from behind the Tonight Show curtain for 30 years and it never got old. Just ask Jack Nicholson.

2. “Yada, yada, yada.” The ultimate show about nothing gave us more than its fair share of catchphrases, but this Seinfeld signature uttered by Elaine to gloss over a bad date and favored by George’s felonious girlfriend is still really something.

3. “And that’s the way it is.” Long before the advent of cable news, revered newsman Walter Cronkite closed his nightly broadcast with these iconic words. And we understood we’d just seen and heard everything we needed to know.

4. “It’s gonna be legen — wait for it — dary.” He’s a one-man one-liner machine, but our favorite Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris) quote on How I Met Your Mother brilliantly captures his bro-vado.

Other favorites of mine (by older decades)

“Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superman!” — Adventures of Superman
“The thrill of victory and the agony of ¬defeat.” — Jim McKay, Wide World of Sports
“Ruh-roh!” — Astro, The Jetsons
“This tape will self-destruct in five seconds.” — Mission: Impossible
“Live long and prosper.” — Spock, Star Trek
“Who loves ya, baby?” — Kojak, Kojak
“Let’s be careful out there.” — Esterhaus, Hill Street Blues
“Make it so.” — Picard, Star Trek: The Next Generation
“Resistance is futile.” — The Borg, Star Trek: The Next Generation

And then there’s is the movies…

“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” — Rhett in Gone With The Wind

“I’ll be back.” — Terminator

And, so on.

Check out the list and see if your favorites are in the list and let us know which ones. Or, if there is a catchphrase you didn’t find but love, share it with us.


Posted by on October 10, 2013 in Popular Culture, readers, writers, writing


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Word of the Year

According to the Oxford American Dictionaries, GIF (graphic interchange format) is the Word of the Year for 2012. Pronounced JIF (I have no idea why) the definition is “a compressed file format for images that can be used to create simple, jerky, looping animations.” See the complete article for some GIF examples. Very cute. I see them online all the time now.

Originating in the 80’s, the word has experienced a rebirth through use on the Internet. Its rising popularity earned the Word of the Year title from a team of lexicographers and consultants to the dictionary team, along with editorial, marketing, and publicity staff on the Oxford University Press. It doesn’t mean it will automatically be put in any dictionary.

Another phrase I’m seeing everywhere is Internet Meme. The term “Internet meme” refers to a concept that spreads rapidly from person to person via the Internet, largely through Internet-based email, blogs, forums, Imageboards, social networking sites, instant messaging and video streaming sites such as YouTube (from Wikipedia).


In short, enough people like an image, video, or phrase that they send it to others via the Internet or social media. I found a site that lists the “100 Greatest” memes. Better learn what a photobomb is as well. That’s when an object is inserted into another photo, making it “funny” to enough people that they pass it on. Here is Crasher Squirrel.

And there I go, propagating the meme!

So, there’s my update on the further evolution {or disintegration :-)} of the English language. At the least, it’s a fascinating insight in how technology and the Internet impact us on a daily basis.


Posted by on November 19, 2012 in Popular Culture


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I’m fascinated by the number 3.  In numerology, the number 3 is often times called “the heart of humanity.”

We all know about the significance of things in threes. Below is an infinitesimal example of some things grouped in threes.

What is it in our humanity that is drawn to threes? Why is there a beginning, middle, and end? Why not a first half and second half? Why three-act plays? Why ready, set, go? Why not ready, go? Who made the rules?

We seem to want the rhythm of threes. They feel right.

Even in ancient times, groups of threes were important. 3 Wise Men, 3 Gorgons, 3 Greek Fates.

Religion: In Christianity, we have the Holy Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In NeoPaganism/Wiccan, there is Maiden/Mother/Crone.

And how do we know there are only three parts to the personality (id, ego, super-ego)? Maybe we quit looking because we hit the “magic” number.

Groups of three are also popular in literature and popular culture like movies and plays. 3 witches in MacBeth, 3 Coins in a Fountain, 3 Days of the Condor. 3 Musketeers, 3 Faces of Eve, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. King Lear had 3 daughters. Why not 4?

Nursery Rhymes: 3 Blind Mice, 3 Little Kittens Lost Their Mittens, 3 Men in a Tub.

We also love stringing 3 words together in our adages and sayings: The Truth, The Whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth; Of the People, for the People, by the People; Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil; Veni, Vidi, Vici. And who can forget that famous line, “Snap, Crackle, Pop?”

Yep, we love our threes.

Why did I write this? I’m working with a trainer and she always has me do three sets of the various circuits. Believe, I’d be good with two! But, no, it’s three. SIGH.

Arguably, threes are important to our rhythms of language, culture, and creativity.

What do you think?


Posted by on October 22, 2012 in Idaho, imagination, Popular Culture


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Beam Me Up, Scotty

Popular culture fans reverently quote favorite lines from the movies, and in some cases, television. A year ago, I blogged about this in Make it Count. These cherished lines are remembered and become a part of the viewers’ lexicon.

A recent online article pointed out how many popular lines are misquoted and still end up being a part of popular vocabulary. The beauty (and sometimes heartburn for quasi-purists like me) of language is its fluidity and adaptability by the people who use it. Viewers take ownership of lines that resonate with them for whatever reason. They change the line to suit the circumstance and the misquote becomes popular.

“Beam me up, Scotty.” – Star Trek: “Beam me up, Scotty,” is the granddaddy of misquoted movie/television lines. Captain Kirk says “Beam me aboard,” “Beam us home,” and even “Scotty, beam me up,” but never the catchphrase that the whole world associates with Star Trek.

“Just the facts, ma’am.” – Dragnet: Can you believe that Joe Friday never actually said his own catchphrase? The line actually comes from a spoof of the show done by Stan Freberg. On the show, Joe Friday did say versions of the line like, ” All we know are the facts, ma’am,” but never, “Just the facts, ma’am.”

“Play it again, Sam.” – Casablanca: No one actually said, “Play it again, Sam,” during Casablanca, though it has since become the title of another movie. During the original movie, Ilsa says, at one point, “Play it, Sam. Play As Time Goes By.” Usually, though, the quote is attributed to Humphrey Bogart’s character, who says later in the film, “You played it for her, you can play it for me.” When Sam tries to refuse, he replies, “If she can stand it, I can. Play it!”


In Wizard of Oz, one of its most famous lines spoken by Judy Garland (as Dorothy Gale) to her dog: “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” It’s generally misquoted as: “Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore” or “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Toto.”

“If you build it, they will come” was not what the voice said in Field of Dreams. Instead, it was: “If you build it, he will come.”

Did you know the correct quote?

Share a favorite movie or television quote you’ve used.


Posted by on September 24, 2012 in Idaho, Popular Culture


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