Monday, January 09, 2006

The Whole Nine Yards, or why I love Google

Something I learned today: "The whole nine yards" is not a football term.

Aside from being a movie starring Bruce Willis and Matthew Perry (which I have never seen, but which looks dreadful to me, and which apparently made enough money to inspire a sequel, "The Whole Ten Yards," which, as far as I know, is also not a football term, but who knows, maybe that extra yard makes all the difference), "the whole nine yards" might also refer to:

--"an old Irish term coined by an Irish seamstress nicknamed 'Granny O'Flannagan' who would use nine yards of material for the train of the wedding dresses she created. She always thought the 9 yards signified 'completion of a land mark event in someones life' like getting married." (Thank you to Dustin for this suggestion.)

--"the maximum capacity a cement-mixer truck can carry — nine cubic yards of cement." (Thank you to Lindsay for this suggestion, which she points out is wildly in dispute. Actually, she didn't say "wildly," she just said it was "in dispute," but I added the word "wildly" because it sounded more dramatic.)

--"the length of the machine gun bullet belts American fighters planes would carry in World War II in the Pacific. When a pilot had an action-filled flight, they would say they went the whole nine yards." (Thank you to Lindsay and Joe for this suggestion.)

This discussion started in a comments section below, but I wanted to bring it up in a real post because I love how wildly disparate all of the suggestions are. (Notice how I used the word "wildly" again? Read the sentence without the word "wildly" and then re-read it with the word "wildly" again. See? So much more dramatic.)

It's kind of mythical, how a phrase can become idiomatic and have all of these false histories. Who knows which one is really true. I wonder if there are more theories. Send 'em in if you got 'em.

*

Another thing I learned today: People google weird shit. I actually always knew this, because I'm a big time googler from way back. I pray at the alter of google. I love it, live it, depend on it. I honestly don't know where I'd be without it. You know how people say they don't know what they did before they had cell phones, or email, or children? I don't know what I did before I had google. And I know that I've googled plenty of weird shit in my lifetime. But still, I paused for a moment and thought to myself "people really do google weird shit" when I discovered this evening that someone had found my blog by googling the phrase "never worn a speedo." And google.uk no less!

It's true, I've never worn a speedo, and apparently people wanna know all about it.

Speaking of strange search engine searches, my friend Colleen regularly blogs about all of the crazy search engine searches that have brought people to her blog. I love her commentary. You should check it out.

3 comments:

Mazmanian said...

Someone showed at my site the other day searching for "Lance Mazmanian Sockless Bastard"...minus the quotes.

Don't even get me started on "Nasty Boys" (Google image search with "Safe Search" off). I get at *least* 175 people a week on that one.

L.

Erik said...

Can google search comments? Because if it CAN, does that mean that all of your "Nasty Boys" hunters are gonna start heading my way? Thanks a lot, Lance. Thanks a lot.

Michael Hartney said...

One question, one comment: How does one find out how someone arrives at your blog? Do you ask and they tell you? Or is there some fancy-schmancy program that figures that out that I couldn't possibly ever understand, let alone use? And the comment (I guess that was three questions) is this: I also use the adverb "wildly" non-stop. It does make an otherwise mundane sentence seem wildly dramatic.