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The Language of 30 Rock

How Liz Lemon and company have enriched our lexicon. Since its debut in 2006, there hasn't been a more quotable comedy than 30...


How Liz Lemon and company have enriched our lexicon.

Since its debut in 2006, there hasn't been a more quotable comedy than 30 Rock. Memorable lines include the quacky pronouncements of Dr. Spaceman ("Medicine's not a science"), Jack Donaghy's non-compliments ("Lemon, don't ever say you're just you, because you're better than you"), Tracy Jordan's bizarre endorsements ("I love this cornbread so much, I want to take it behind a middle school and get it pregnant"), Liz Lemon's grammatical breakdowns ("I want to go to there"), and Tracy's awesome advice ("Live every week like it's Shark Week").But it's a trio of terms that are 30 Rock's most significant linguistic impact, so far: "blurgh," "lizzing," and "mind grapes.""Blurgh" (sometimes spelled "blergh") is a synonym for "bleah" and "ugh" that was first used in "Cleveland" (April 19, 2007), a first-season episode featuring four different blurghs, each expressing a slightly different form of revulsion, deflation, or disgust.On the 30 Rock website, Tina Fey gave some insight into the term on April 26, 2007: "Blurgh is something we say around the writer's room and also since we're on network television we can't curse or anything...sometimes we run out of non-cursing ways of saying things. So we started to make up expletives...feel free to use it!" Folks have done just that-especially on Twitter, the most bountiful home of unselfconscious language use these days:"Meetings, a morning of meetings, a meeting of meetings - want to go to sleeeeep....blurgh"Oct. 21, 2009, Adam Clare"Sorry all, my mind is too blurgh with sickness to be able to write understandable reviews. I'll catch you up on your next update"Oct. 19, 2009, Simone Rigley"blurgh, i really need to fix up my myspace, its outta date and cluttered..."Oct. 16, 2009, Jay RowlandThat Oct. 19 use shows that, much like The Simpsons' "meh," "blurgh" has migrated from interjection to adjective. "Blurgh" also has something in common with "doh" and "yada yada," which were popularized by The Simpsons and Seinfeld, but not created there-"blurgh" is older than 30 Rock. The oldest use I found was in a 1993 Texas Magazine story by Nguyen Phan:Me: WHOOOAHH! Here comes another one!Him: Uh huh.Me: WHOOOAHH! MOMMY!Him: Blurgh! (sound of him vomiting)People below: Look out! Incoming!Speaking of bodily fluids, Liz Lemon's blend of laughing and whizzing-"lizzing," which also plays on the heroine's name-has been very successful since debuting in "Apollo, Apollo" (March 26, 2009). Many uses of the word directly reference lizzing (or Lizzing) in response to 30 Rock, but for true signs of success, you can't beat real-life examples that don't mention the show at all:"@kangaroocaz I lizzed ALL over yesterday from pure joy and rapture."Oct. 18, 2009, Jerryn C. Currie"OK please review this. If you want to laugh so hard that you will be 'lizzing' ....Oct. 16, 2009, Kwesi Robertson"Modest Mouse MAKES ME FEEL LIKE "LIZZING!" LIZZING LIZZING! HELP!!!"Oct. 14, 2009, cutoffjeansSince "lizzing" is a timeless concept that lacked a word, its success isn't a surprise. But some terms succeed no matter how little the world seems to demand them. Case in point: mind grapes.In "Tracy Does Conan" (Dec. 7, 2006), Jack reads Liz a draft of a possible quip he's thinking of using to introduce Jack Welch at a $1000-a-plate fundraiser: "Jack Welch has such unparalleled management skills they named Welch's grape juice after him, because he squeezes the sweetest juice out of his worker's mind grapes." Liz and Jack quickly agree this doesn't make sense, and to underscore that point, we cut to Tracy wailing, "What else? What else is on my mind grapes?"I would have wagered that "mind grapes" would stay confined to this episode and only be remembered by the 30 Rock equivalent of Trekkies. Yet this term also turns up in plenty of tweets, showing even greater versatility than "blurgh" and "lizzing":"@syncretized flip flops? in this weather? you must have crushed some of your mind grapes."Oct. 19, 2009. seandammit"is psyched about my thesis direction. Solid 2 days of mashing mind grapes that are turning into delicious thesis wine. I hope. Haha."Oct. 14, 2009, Kunal D. Patel"Plant-able birthday cards? My mind grapes just turned into raisins!..."Oct. 11, 2009, jubjubWhat's super-cool (and lexically significant) about these and others uses of "mind grapes" is how people are extending and developing the term, taking a throwaway joke and making it truly useful. On the show, mind grapes were only squeezed, but tweeters imagine them being mashed, fed, sapped, crushed, and turned into wine or raisins. Krisco420 suggests that some rhymes may peel one's mind grapes-a vivid alternative to "blow your mind" if I ever heard one.A curmudgeon might reasonably point out, "Why the blue hell do I need to talk about ‘mind grapes' when the word ‘mind' is working just fine?" Well, as Cosmo Kramer once asked, "Why go to a fine restaurant when you can just stick something in the microwave? Why go to the park and fly a kite when you can just pop a pill?" Language isn't always about brevity. People like to be clever, and they like to reference clever shows like 30 Rock. Whether that makes you blurgh or liz is up to you.
Articles

Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

RELATED: Bill and Melinda Gates had a surprising answer when asked about a 70 percent tax on the wealthiest Americans

"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.





Culture
via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

In the far-reaching conversation, Clinton and the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" and, without a doubt, the best interviewer in America discussed everything from Donald Trump's inauguration to her sexuality.

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Politics

The healthcare systems in the United States and the United Kingdom couldn't be more different.

The UK's National Health Service is the largest government-run healthcare system in the world and the US's is largest private sector system.

Almost all essential health services in the UK are free, whereas in America cost can vary wildly based on insurance, co pays and what the hospitals and physicians choose to charge.

A medical bill in the US

One of the largest differences is cost. The average person in the UK spends £2,989 ($3915) per year on healthcare (most of which is collected through taxes), whereas the average American spends around $10,739 a year.

So Americans should obviously be getting better care, right? Well, the average life expectancy in the UK is higher and infant mortality rate is lower than that in the US.

RELATED: The World Health Organization declares war on the out of control price of insulin

Plus, in the U.S., only 84% of people are covered by private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Sixteen percent of the population are forced to pay out of pocket.

In the UK, everyone is covered unless they are visiting the country or an undocumented resident.

Prescription drugs can cost Americans an arm and a leg, but in the UK, prescriptions or either free or capped at £8.60 ($11.27).

via Wikimedia Commons

The one drawback to the NHS system is responsiveness. In the UK people tend to wait longer for inessential surgeries, doctor's appointments, and in emergency rooms. Whereas, the US is ranked as the most responsive country in the world.

RELATED: Alarmingly high insulin prices are forcing Americans to flock to Canada to buy the drug

The New York Times printed a fair evaluation of the UK's system:

The service is known for its simplicity: It is free at the point of use to anyone who needs it. Paperwork is minimal, and most patients never see a bill. … No one needs to delay medical treatment until he or she can afford it, and virtually everyone is covered. …

According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States spent 17.2 percent of its economic output on health care in 2016, compared with 9.7 percent in Britain. Yet Britain has a higher life expectancy at birth and lower infant mortality.

Citizens in each country have an interesting perspective on each other's healthcare systems. UK citizens think it's inhumane for Americans have to pay through the nose when they're sick or injured. While Americans are skeptical of socialist medicine.

A reporter from Politics Joe hit the streets of London and asked everyday people what they think Americans pay for healthcare and they were completely shocked.

Health