Lesley Arfin is a writer who lives in Hollywood now working for famous people and Elizabeth Spiridakis is a…
Photo from a Kanon Vodka thing they did.
Lesley Arfin is a writer who lives in Hollywood now working for famous people and Elizabeth Spiridakis is a writer who is the boss of all things fashion. They are both professional linguists who have contorted the language into a patois that is so far removed from the original English, it’s bizzoinkers.
Street Carnage: Here’s a question for both of you. Do you have any idea who came up with “abbreves?” I met my wife in 2000 and I remember she was big on it. I think she brought it from San Francisco where the fags were using it with a vengeance.
Lesley: Oddly I feel as though I was introduced to “abreeves” later in the game, as late as 2007. Emily could have brought it over, sure. I know that Jon Glaser shortened it to “breevs” or “breeving” on “Delocated,” which was one the best episodes eves.
How is “eves” an abbreviation of “ever”?
Lesley: It just is.
Elizabeth: I didn’t start talking like a slightly retarded valley girl with word-related ADD until I started working at magazines around 2003. That scene was all about working with viciously funny fashion gays which means abreeving. Incidentally, Matt Marden at Details (obvi a gay) is the first person I ever heard say OH EM GEE out loud as a declaration and not just a text, like 5 years ago.
Are you both fag hags?
Elizabeth: More so on Twitter than in real life these days.
Lesley: I barely like gay people at all.
Elizabeth, I understand you were very upset by this video where a couple claimed Perez Hilton stole “amazeballs” from them.
Elizabeth: I wouldn’t say I was upset, but its eye-rolling bullshit for those two to think they invented it. When P. Hilton started claiming that he was the father of “amazeballs,” I got lots of Tweets and emails from readers of my blog (and I still get them, last week someone tweeted me about it) saying, “umm… did u know that he is trying to steal your word?” So, for the record, I am not alone in this outrage.
When did you first start using it?
Elizabeth: To be fair, the true originator of “amazeballs” was probably Ece Ozturk or Andrea Oliveri, two of my best friends. We met at Details mag in 2003 and all had a love of ridiculous shorthand and nicknames and dumb jokes like that. Putting “-balls” on everything was pretty standard (starveballs, hungballs, tiballs, exhaustballs = starving, hungry, tired, exhausted. regs vocab for girls at magazines.) I just had a forum to make it more public because I am addicted to the internets and they are just sorta “whatevs” about blogs, etc.
I also noticed women who work at fashion magazines all talk like gangsters. You have these rich, white, socialites with blonde hair saying, “I swear to God, if Chelsea doesn’t show up with my latte, I am going to bust a cap in her ass.”
Elizabeth: For us it was always about making each other laugh by making any normal words unnecessarily fake slang-y.
Do you have evidence of early amazeballs usage?
Elizabeth: I WISH I had all my work emails from back then, bc -balls would be all over them (JOKES!) but I def found gchats from 2006 where I used it and WL blogposts from 2008.
It’s worth noting to the reader that I have seen evidence of said convos and they do exist. I didn’t include them here because the date is at the top of a mile-long conversation with amazeballs about 100 yards down.
Elizabeth: People would just say it was Photoshopped anyway.
Lesley, I understand you own “totes.” When exactly did you come up with that because it’s a fucking HUGE word now (though you can’t really count Google results because of those stupid bags).
Lesley: OK, here’s what: I went to Hampshire college from 97-01. In the Fall of 99, I lived with one of my favorite little lesbians, her name was Michelle. (*She is now Eli). We were cleaning up Mod 100, where we all lived, and I said, “We really need to mop the floor but we don’t have a mop,” and Michelle said, “totes.” I died laughing 10,000 times in a row and from then on we all used it. So the truth is, I believe it was Michelle Weiss who invented it.
HOWEVER: I used it with a vengeance as did Jesse Pearson, former Vice editor, who lived with me at the time. He graduated in the winter of ’99 and probably brought it over to Manhattan where he hung out with you and Amy Kellner who adopted it. BUT I used it in Vice BEFORE Jesse, who may have written something before me but I actually used “Totes” in one of my first articles. Now the world thinks they own it. I’m totes cool with that, considering “totes” is so “breeving 101” at this point. So yeah, I think Michelle aka Eli invented it but I was responsible for its exporting into the mainstream, so I’ll take the credit thank youuuuuuuu.
I INVENTED writing in all caps bee tee dubs.
I also think I might have come up with Gnarles in Charge or some kind of Gnarles that blew up, but I can’t remember.
Lesley: You definitely didn’t invent Gnarles In Charge as far as my eardrums are considered, but it’s such an easy go-to that I have a feeling many people believe they invented it. All of the “Gnarles” from my recollection come from Tara Sinn. “Gnarly” is very West Coast, which is where she’s from and happened to grow up with—shocker—Ben Cho. He has a huge part in the history of ‘breeving, but he’s disappeared from the world now. It’s the saddest thing ever because anyone who knows Ben knows that he is the world’s biggest genius, literally, no exaggeration. What’s even sadder is that no one even talks about Ben’s absence anymore because it’s too sad to talk about. If he would be normal again, I believe the world of ‘breeving would be a very different place.
Easy on the “literally,” please. That and “like” are the worst thing about this game.
Lesley: Anyway, he said to me: “Gnarles in Charge,” “Gnarles Barkley,” and even “The Gnarly Lama” (one of my faves that never gets any play). He told me they were invented by his cool friend Tara Sinn and I met her and confirmed this.
I could give you Gnarles Barkley but that’s not such a big deal after the other Gnarles were already around.
Wait, now I remember, Sameena from Built By Wendy said Gnarles in Charge was invented by Steve Dore way back in 1990. I wonder if he started that whole name thing. I think Pinky Carnage is responsible for Lou Gossip, Jr.
Lesley: I disagree but I think you should save the whole name thing for another post.
Take it easy, Britney Tears.
Lesley: For the record, I also invented “L. Ron Tired,” but no one else thinks it’s funny.
In my household we use “ceebs” to mean “cold” as in “chill-based.” We also use “heebs” to mean “hungry,” as in “hunger-based.” Then “weebs” means a “wee bit” which has, no basis in it at all. They can be combined as in “I’m a weebs ceebs” and “I’m a weebs heebs.” What are some of your favorites that you invented?
Lesley: I will 100% give you guys credit for adding “based” to anything. I say “I’m ti based,” which means I’m tired (that is, if I’m not pulling out my own gem, “L. Ron Tired”). You guys also invented “comfers cozers” which I say, as well as “care juice.” Now I’m not sure how common these are but I predict in about three years, everything will get a “based” on the end of it and you will be REALLY annoyed!
Another thing I stole from Ben Cho was saying something is “Incorporated,” obviously sung to the tune of “Kids, Inc.” A big one is “Farts, Inc.” remind me to sing it for you. (Totes, Inc. is also an obvious go-to.)
Dude, Ben has so many that he base created a new language. (I invented “base” with Jeannie Goldman, spring 1998).
Elizabeth: I am a big fan of a portmanteau situation. Crafternoon is one that I swear I didn’t hear before I started blogging it. Any two words that can be forced together…do it.
What are some favorites you use that others have invented (and when mentioning them, mention if you know who invented them)?
Elizabeth: The first time Lessles said “doy bomb,” I thought I was going to die. Any variations on this theme that anyone comes up with (doy latte, doy sauce, doylent green) excite me beyond belief.
Lesley: I’m not taking credit for everything, but I do believe it all started with our little crew in the 2000s. We all used our ‘breeving language in Vice magazine articles, and I honestly believe Vice brought it to the masses.
I think Vice also declared a memorial for these words as well, sometime after me and you stopped writing over there. Obviously they (we) created a monster that will never die. Vice slang came before Perez Hilton even had a dial-up modem. I give that dude credit for nothing, no one should. He’s the Walmart version of anything that was ever slightly funny or cool. He may have been invented by the government. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised.
Elizabeth: One last thing: to give credit where credit is due, I always preferred obvs to obvi (even though I use both) and I sorta credit obvs to Choire Sicha while he was at Gawker.