I trust no one #thatshouldbeaword

Posted by Lizzie on 02/06/12

TAB-di-kate, v.1. To let someone else figure out how to split the check. “Sally loved to tabdicate after group dinners; she hated long division.” See also: Spendicant (shorts group check); Megan (only pays for self).

Latest That Should Be A Word!

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Suferiority: Why we cannot correct our boyfriends THOUGH WE BE CORRECT

Posted by Lizzie on 01/28/12


(suh-feer-ee-OR-ih-tee), n.

1. Too insecure to believe one is correct. “Crippled by suferiority, Anne could not tell her date that Warren Beatty was, in fact, in ‘Splendor in the Grass.’” See also: Discurse(to wince at others’ errors).

Latest That Should Be A Word!

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Grossest #thatshouldbeaword YET

Posted by Lizzie on 01/21/12

Pole-Dancing as an Olympic Sport? - NYTimes.com

SH-pits, n.v.1. To clean a child’s face with one’s own saliva. See also: Licktim (the child thus cleaned); Spaternity (to claim one’s adult child for cleaning).

Latest That Should Be a Word. And grossest. And one I was born to do.

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I have no car, but remain an inveterate sharker. Latest #thatshouldbeaword

Posted by Lizzie on 01/13/12

Dancing Santorums and Barefoot Living - NYTimes.com

HAR-buh-rate-er, n. One seeking a parking space. “The Ikea lot is always slammed with harbouretors.” See also: pedator (one who asks strollers if they are leaving); shark (to circle the lot).

Latest “That Should Be a Word”!

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As someone who is bad at this, I am bound to do it forever

Posted by Lizzie on 01/06/12


skin-JEK-cher, n., v.1. To speculate about the plastic surgeries someone has had. “Viewers enjoy a fresh round of skinjecture during each new season of ‘Real Housewives of New York.’ ” Also: iconoplast (one who chooses to age naturally); donion (too many procedures).

Latest “That Should Be a Word” at NYT mag!

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Father comments he and mother should get credit for this, and that he likes Whole Food bags best. Done!

Posted by Lizzie on 12/11/11

Bagri-cul-ture, n.1. The practice of saving shopping bags. “David, a frequent customer at Whole Foods, is an avid bagriculturist.” See also: Baggarts those proud to cultivate bags; Folding cell the subsink area where bags are held.

Latest at NYTmag!

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I will just NEVER be the lead for this feature, will I? #never

Posted by Lizzie on 12/04/11



Car-si-mo-ni-ous, adj. To gravitate toward smaller vehicles. See also: Tanktimony to find virtue in low mileage; Gastringent to require a specific limit of miles per gallon.

My latest from NYT magazine!

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Discussions WITH children on items such as what happens when you plunge your arm in lava or whether a meteor or a jaguar is faster are always welcome, of course

Posted by Lizzie on 11/27/11

Brattle, v., n.

1. To discuss one’s children, often at length. “Anne hid in the basement to avoid the cocktail brattle.” See also: spamily (Facebook or Twitter updates about kids); spawntourage (a group of approaching strollers).

Latest That Should Be a Word. Of course I would like to emphasize that my friends have never done this, never never never.

Please also see Maud Newton‘s wonderful treatisette on crows, as well as all other excellent featurelles. (Greatest challenge of this job will be finding new words for “mini-column”, methinks.)

Update! Fellow contributor Gaby Dunn (on Twitter here) comes to the rescue with “Smallumns.”

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This word was in service to a friend to whom this is ALWAYS CONSPICUOUSLY DONE

Posted by Lizzie on 11/21/11

And done deliberately.

De-ni-greet, v.

1. To deliberately pretend to have never met someone. “After her promotion, Lisa made a point to denigreet Tom at the meeting.” 2. To insult by introducing incorrectly to others. See also: hurtsy, himiliate.

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Student just tweaked this into an imperative. “Stop clogin’, dawg!” DONE.

Posted by Lizzie on 11/14/11

Clo-gin, n.

1. One who blocks an entrance or exit while checking a smartphone. “A crowd of clogins at the 72nd Street station made Anna miss her train.” See also: mailingerers (those who pretend to have messages); e-ander (to walk slowly while checking one’s messages); sentropy (the tendency to come to a stop to see if a message has been sent).

Latest “That Should Be a Word.” Obvi.

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Either that, or it truly has something to do with so many bagel “shmears” as a child of the Jewish diaspora

Posted by Lizzie on 11/09/11

(smearch), v., n.

1. To Google someone in hopes of finding bad news about him or her. 2. A Web session seeking damning information. “Repeated smearches yielded the picture of Representative Chris Lee’s shirtless physique, which led to his resignation.” See also: Freudenstalke (to take pleasure in negative findings). Also: misfortune hunters.

I am smearching. I was going to say this wasn’t as dirty as it sounds, but I’ve decided it is.

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Free copy if you can name this view

Posted by Lizzie on 04/24/11

No one could argue that the Garden State doesn’t command its healthy share of literature. From William Carlos Williams’s terse dispatches on Paterson to Leroi Jones’s ragged rages to Philip Roth’s rosy 1950s Newark to Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, that zig-zag outcrop, an afterthought between the mid-Atlantic and New England, wields in literature the same outsized power it does in life—a crucial density that belies its actual size.

I adored, adored, adored When Tito Loved Clara, and not only because I was raised and lived in Jersey, though I appreciated the attention. Then I suggested people Kindle it because *I* wasn’t paying attention to my VENUE. So Nook it, or buy it in hardcover, AS WELL.

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Wow, so Twitter and FB really cut into your blogging time

Posted by Lizzie on 04/17/11

UPDATES on some things that are HAPPENING:

AND some recent work you may have missed. (PLEASE “LIKE” IT because I am now really mesmerized by the upticks on those FB thingers. And yes, “liking” not the point.)

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I Know What You Did Last Issue

Posted by Lizzie on 11/20/10

I am in the most recent Bookforum, writing on the wonderful world of Lois Duncan reissues. Killing Mr. Griffin — yes — makes an appearance. It looks like you can get a free issue, um, here? Do it.

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New Mercury Reading, Baltimore, OCTOBER 23rd, Be There

Posted by Lizzie on 10/22/10

Just to get this whole “postin’ on new site” thing on the road, a quick note to let you know I (with Ann Finkbeiner and D. R. Belz) will be reading at the New Mercury Reading series tomorrow, Saturday 23rd, at Federal Hill’s Light Street Gallery. Revelries begin at 6. I don’t KNOW what happens. They’re already pretending I’m still a Baltimore resident; I may be asked to steal someone else’s identity, for all I know.

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Designing Men*

Posted by Lizzie on

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed–mainly because I have posted nothing yet on the subject or any other, and it has therefore appeared in zero places on the internet except precisely here–but Old Hag has as of this Monday received a revamp and update, courtesy of my wonderful designer, Eric Gordon.

A brief note on the type. Web designers — except for that noxious breed that submits 10-page proposals which somehow quintuple the price — can be even more modest than old-school editors, placing their credit in teeny type, like a faint watermark, at the bottom of the page. (And yes, Eric, thank you for removing that funny-ha-ha-but-now-truly-archaic-if-accurate webmaster reference my ex inserted at the bottom of the page at the time of our breakup indicating he was one of 11; I had not noticed it, but you did, and you are a gentleman and a patriot.)

In 2004, I found Eric in the comment threads of another site  I read, Jessica Lee Jernigan’s eponymous book blog. Eric had, gratis, provided her with a masthead that seemed, in its economy, so delightful, smart and zippy that I emailed him immediately, without even knowing if he did this kind of thing, to ask if he’d do my new site. (This was, at the time, my site.)

I had the usual quota of a writer’s vague visual enthusiasms and directives, born of god-knows-where. I knew I wanted a site with a center column, as well as one that somehow references this really terrific Miso pretty soap. (Which I entirely recommend, by the way.) I knew I wanted room to do quickie reviews as well as post recent work. I even went so far as to open up a word document and do some kind of graphical hashout, which I hope he never opened.

The impetus to do a new “Old Hag” came not from the fact that I didn’t love the old site (LOOK AT ITS JUSTLY AND RELENTLESSLY HAILED BEAUTY) or that it’s 2010 but more from a desire to acknowledge the changes wrought by new times, the idea that we live in a web-world with longer, more magazine-like posts; that editorial has wended left (on the page); that now I am supposed to publish either more regularly or more coherently; that this is my official outpost and should promise official things.

Eric designed me a wonderful site that did that. But then I missed the old site violently. And a large, large part of me, the part that originally started this site at all, said, Omigod, you cannot leave me behind. FUCK IT.

So then Eric designed me this. (He also did, fyi, www.lizzieskurnick.com.)

So this post is for two things: a) to publicly give credit to the designer who’s created the site I love over the years, and b) to let you know, though many of you ask independently anyway, that if you ever need a really great designer, HERE IS ONE.

* additional post thanking ANOTHER important designer for another vector of Skurnick incoming soon

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Because I have no one but you, dear reader, to follow

Posted by Lizzie on 10/10/10

A wondrous friend and I are always talking about how our Venn diagram of reading enjoyment intersects only on older books, and diverges entirely in the latter half of the 20th and 21st century. (I wend Zoe Heller; she, Junot Diaz.) But one thing we agree on is how thoroughly this older generation spanks the younger, line by line, in a way that is not only striking but mortifying, possibly.

I just finished CAKES AND ALE at her urging, having had it at my bedside for the last six weeks, and I was struck by how often I wanted to write down a line or a passage and then had to stop because eventually I would have just transcribed the entire book. Apparently my friend found herself unable to stop following her husband around the apartment reading them aloud. Now I am on the fourth page of Jean Stafford’s stories and am marveling at her ability to index “every datum of our shared millennial life” like she is tossing down a handful of peanuts, no offense to Franzen, whose book I truly enjoyed but will never pick up again.

Anyway, I am nattering at you, with Maugham and Stafford, just briefly, and then I promise I will leave you alone.

From Cakes and Ale:

On genius:

I had watched with admiration his rise in the world of letters. His career might have served as a model for any young man entering upon the pursuit of literature. I could think of no one among my contemporaries who had achieved so considerable a position on so little talent. This, like a wise man’s daily does of Bemax, might have gone into a heaped-up tablespoon. He was perfectly aware of it, and it must have seemed to him sometimes little short of a miracle that he had been able with it to compose already some thirty books. I cannot but think that he saw the white light of revelation when he first read that Charles Dickens in an after-dinner speech had stated that genius was an infinite capacity for taking pains. He pondered the saying. If that was all, he must have told himself, he could be a genius like the rest; and when the excited reviewer of a lady’s paper, writing a notice of one of his books, used the word (and of late the critics have been doing it with agreeable frequency) he must have sighed with the satisfaction of one who after long hours of toil has completed a crossword puzzle.

On beauty:

I do not know if others are like myself, but I am conscious that I cannot contemplate beauty long. For me no poet made a falser statement than Keats when he wrote the first line of Endymion. When the thing of beauty has given me the magic of its sensation my mind quickly wanders; I listen with incredulity to the persons who tell me that they can look with rapture for hours at a view or a picture. beauty is an ecstasy; it is as simple as hunger. There is really nothing to be said about it. It is like the perfume of a rose: you can smell it and that is all: that is why the criticism of art, except in so far as it is unconcerned with beauty and therefore with art, is tiresome. All the critic can tell you with regard to Titian’s Entombment of Christ, perhaps of all the pictures in the world that which has most pure beauty, is to go and look at it. What else he has to say is history, or biography, or what not. But people add other qualities to beauty–sublimity, human interest, tenderness, love–because beauty does not long content them. Beauty is perfect, and perfection (such is human nature) holds our attention but for a little while. The mathematician who after seeing Phedre asked: “Qu’est-ce que ca prouve?” was not such a fool as he has been generally made out. No one has ever been able to explain why the Doric temple of Paestum is more beautiful than a glass of cold beer except by bringing in considerations that have nothing to do with beauty. Beauty is a blind alley. It is a mountain peak that once reached leads nowhere. That is why in the end we find more to entrance us in El Greco than in Titian, in the end the incomplete achievement of Shakespeare than in the consummate success of Racine. Too much has been written about beauty. That is why I have written a little more.

On old rooms, and love (you have to read the book for this):

The room made me, as Mrs. Hudson put it, go queer all over. All the hopes that had been cherished there, the bright visions of the future, the flaming passion of youth; the regrets, the disillusion, the weariness, the resignation; so much had been felt in that room, by so many, the whole gamut of human emotion, that it seemed strangely to have acquired a troubling and enigmatic personality of its own. I have no notion why, but it made me think of a woman at a cross-road with a finger on her lips, looking back and with the other hand beckoning. What I obscurely (and rather shamefacedly) felt, communicated it to Mrs. Hudson, for she gave a laugh and with a characteristic gesture rubbed her prominent nose.

“My word, people are funny,” she said. “When I think of all the gentlemen I’ve ‘ad here, I give you my word you wouldn’t believe it if I told you some of the things I know about them. One of them’s funnier than the other. Sometimes I lie abed thinking of them and laugh. Well, it would be a bad world if you didn’t get a good laugh now and then, but, lor’, lodgers really are the limit.”

And just briefly, from Stafford, as my typing fingers are exhausted.

First line of “Maggie Meriwether’s Rich Experience” (as if that weren’t enough):

There was a hole so neat it looked tailored in the dead center of the large round beige velours mat that had been thrown on the grass in the shade of the venerable sycamore, and though it protruded a clump of mint, so chic in its air of casualness, so piquant in its fragrance in the heat of mid-July, that Mme Floquet, a brisk Greek in middle life, suggested, speaking in French with a commandingly eccentric accent, that her host, Karl von Bubnoff, M. le Baron, had contrived it all with shears and a trowel before his Sunday guests arrived at his manorial house, Magnamont, in Chantilly.

One metaphor:

She had never seen anyone so nondescript; he looked like a bundle that might have contained anything on earth.


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I will not leave this poor woman alone

Posted by Lizzie on 09/03/10

The movie of Eat, Pray, Love commences with the kind of moment that, depending on your outlook, leads you to find memoirist Elizabeth Gilbert either deeply appalling or appealing. In a chatty voice-over, Julia Roberts tells us the story of her psychologist friend, Deborah, who’s daunted when asked to counsel a bunch of recently deposited Cambodian boat people.The boat people, Julia tells us, have suffered “the worst of what humans can inflict on each other—genocide, rape, torture, starvation, the murder of their relatives before their eyes.” How can a privileged American—a mere Philadelphia shrink—possibly relate to their suffering?

But luckily for Deborah, boat people have no interest in discussing their years in refugee camps or having to feed expired fellow travelers to the sharks. Instead, their worries comprise a sort of deposed-dictator, PTSD season of The Bachelorette: “I met this guy when I was living in the refugee camp, and we fell in love. I thought he really loved me, but then we were separated on different boats, and he took up with my cousin. Now he’s married to her…”At this punchline, the audience at my screening chuckled at the oh-too-truthiness of it all. It’s not surprising Hollywood chose to launch the movie thus. It is a moment pure Gilbertian, exactly the kind of psychic pass those troubled by uniquely unspeakable acts require. Sure, life is filled with nasty inconveniences like rape and having to pitch a corpse or two overboard when you least expect it! But never fear. At the end of the day, all we all really care about is if that guy is going to call.

see the rest at The Millions : Zen and the Art of Image Maintenance.

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I so rarely get a chance to use “size queens” in relation to NYTBR

Posted by Lizzie on 08/31/10

Make of it what you will, but the Twitter-born fracas over Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom proves one thing without a doubt: the American literary establishment are size queens.

Their collective pulse races at the sight of muscular doorstopper filled with realism. (Especially following a ten-year dry spell.) They can’t agree on large sales versus long shelf life. They’re critical heavy-breathers: witness New York Times Book Review editor Sam Tanenhaus fervently laud Freedom’s “capacious but intricately ordered narrative that in its majestic sweep seems to gather up every fresh datum of our shared millennial life.”

Wherein I speak of “Freedom” at The Daily Beast.

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FILTHY I tell you. Filthy Chum!

Posted by Lizzie on 08/06/10

This is one of the fave piecs I EVER DID. In honor of SHARK WEEK, which I have so sadly not had a chance to watch yet, I present the encore edition of: ‘Jaws’: Celebrating Sand, Sex And A Really Big Fish :

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