Sunday, 2 September 2007

Mousetrap - 117

Blog Action Day
Bloggers love crusades, even if it’s just one blogger ranting about the system. This site seeks to harness some of that energy with a simple idea. On a given day—October 15th—every blogger enlisted will post about a single important issue. Nope, they won’t be following the media’s lead and talking about film stars going to jail. This one’s about the environment, and everyone’s free to approach it their way. If your blog is about films, post about movies that discuss the issue. If you write about your love life, then, on the day, write about, um, the population and the importance of birth control. “Posts do not need to have any specific agenda, they simply need to relate to the larger issue in whatever way suits the blogger and readership. Our aim is not to promote one particular viewpoint, only to push the issue to the table for discussion.” Blog on.

Cat food
It’s pretty hard to explain this site to you, or why it’s so popular, but your columnist will try anyway. Every now and then, the web is swept by a—there’s no better word for it—phenomenon. Something silly, but inexplicably attractive to the netizen, so much so that s/he feels compelled to send it on to fifty friends that very day. You remember the dancing baby in the nineties? Like that. This one is about pictures of cats, with large-type captions meant to indicate something the cat is saying. This statement is usually in a trademark kind of fractured, misspelled English, typified by the name of the site. And though the phenomenon—called “lolcats,” by the way—predates it, the site is credited with making it hugely popular. The site features vast archives of lolcats, with fresh stuff regularly added. Go see. And check out Lolcats as well, for another huge repository.

How to say cheers in different languages
Just what the world needs for lasting peace. A helpful little glossary of words and phrases used just before chugging down a glass of a booze. I’m not entirely sure how reliable it is; many of the words seem okay, but for India, one sees “A la sature.” And in the course of drinks drunk in various parts of the country, I’ve never heard that. Come to think of it, except for more westernised parts—which, in any case, use western toasts—I’ve never heard anyone say anything ritualised before a drink. Except, perhaps, “Repeat!”

Lifting is the new Research
The Snowclones Database
A snowclone is a type of formula-based cliché which uses an old idiom in a new context. It was originally defined as “a multi-use, customisable, instantly recognizable, time-worn, quoted or misquoted phrase or sentence that can be used in an entirely open array of different jokey variants by lazy journalists and writers.” And, faithful reader, your columnist is not only guilty of perpetrating snowclones on you at the drop of a deadline, but he is so darn lazy that he stole the first two sentences from Wikipedia. In fact he is going to totally goof off and tell you to go to the site to look up the origins of the neologism and see the examples on the site, all with detailed citations. Now, I must nap.

Reader suggestions welcome, and will be acknowledged. Go to for past columns, and to comment, or mail The writer blogs at

Published in the Times of India, Mumbai edition, 2nd September, 2007.

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