It’s Official. I’m a Crank.

I never thought I’d be saying this, but NPR and I are getting a divorce. And it’s all because of  vocal fry. For those of you Dear Readers who are not familiar with this monstrously annoying affectation in the speech pattern of American youth, this short viddie will explain (guess who just figured out how to embed You Tube!):

For years vocal fry has been seeping into the news and entertainment shows that are broadcast by National Public Radio (AKA: NPR).  I loathe it, of course, and in hindsight I can see that NPR and I were already on a camel/straw footing, but the straw that broke this camel’s back was when Ira Glass, American public radio personality and NPR-ish producer of This American Life, set out to defend vocal fry from grouches like me in the most deliberately insulting way.  On his program o/a January 23, 2015, he put it this way:

Listeners have always complained about young women reporting on our show. They used to complain about reporters using the word like and about upspeak, which is when you put a question mark at the end of a sentence and talk like this? But we don’t get many emails like that anymore. People who don’t like listening to young women on the radio have moved on to vocal fry.

And then he said that if vocal fry drives people like me crazy, it’s because:

1. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like listening to young women on the radio anyway (see: above) because I’m too stuck in the past times (that is, indoctrinated by the patriarchy).

2. I’m too OLD to get with it and know that that’s just the way that young folk “naturally” speak these-a-days.

His advice to haters of vocal fry?  Get over it.

Well, ha ha, Ira Glass, guess wha —wait just a sec, tho. This actually does make me laugh:

(Are embedded viddies annoying or not? Opinions, please.)

So anyway, Ira Glass, ha ha. The same people who can’t stand vocal fry are the same people who have enough disposable income (because they are OLD) to give to NPR  so, as I cancel my monthly-sustainer membership (because I’m OLD), see how you like it when you have to rely on vocal-fried hipster not-OLD people to pitch in to pay for your radio program, OKaaaaaaaaaaay?

Because we are through.


Wiping out vocal fry, one membership dollar at a time. Ah…that feels good. Because I’m OLD.

(I’m not really listening to NPR all that much anyway these days, what with me turing the radio OFF as soon as one of their new hires goes into vocal fry mode.)

But it’s not just vocal fry that gets me riled up. Last week a dental hygienist also really pissed me off.

Well, thank DoG that I live in the era of Yelp, an interwebs site that publishes crowd-sourced reviews about local businesses. Yelp is my dream come true.

I would show their trademark, but people these days are very litigious about using copyrighted stuff and I don’t have time to get Yelp‘s written permission to use their logo in my blog post, but the logo is very colorful.


As colorful as the picture I took of a rainbow over Nashville — V. Swift copyright.


As colorful as the picture I took of a strange, mauve beam of light on my patio one December morning, my copyright.


As colorful as the picture I took of a field of cosmos somewhere along the Garden State Parkway in New Jersey, yep: V. Swift copyright.


As colorful as the picture I took of me painting a nifty oak leaf — my damn copyright.


As colorful as the picture that Top Cat took of his Texas Hold ‘Em stack in Las Vegas, copyright gifted to v. Swift because I’m Mrs. Top Cat.

P.S. If anyone wants to use any of my rightfully copyrighted pix, be my guest. I’m not like  some grubby, third-rate, low-rent, entrapment sue-happy copyright-holders lurking out there in the inter webs.

Note: One of the things I did on my year off from blogging was get sued for copyright infringement. I’ll have to tell you that story some time.

Anyway, thank DoG there is Yelp


A very colorful picture I took of my neighbor’s secret garden. As far as I know, I own the copyright.

…because Yelp gives disgruntled customers a place to diss. So last week, after my tiff with the dental hygienist, I hastened over to Yelp to get myself registered and then I put in writing my disgruntlement with a certain dental practice.

Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 3.18.08 PM

SCreen shot of Yelp. I hope I’m not infringemenig on anyone’s copyright.

You can read it here.

So now that I have a platform, disgruntlers everywhere should watch their step when conducting business with one Vivian Swift. It’s the fact that I don’t crave the approval of strangers that makes me so dangerous.


(Courtesy of www.Keep Calm O , a great website that lets you create your very own Keep Calm poster. The funny thing is, I did not make this one (above) — it was already in the ether. I wish I could be best friends with whoever thought up this poster.)

As much as I can’t stand vocal fry, I am also annoyed that the way people  (even OLD ones) these-a-days try to sound smart is by using the word “prior” when they mean “previous” (THERE’S A DIFFERENCE!!!!).

Destination weddings; and the smell, texture, and taste of cucumbers — can’t stand either of them.

I’m so over Rock Operas, Rock Operas based on the Book of Revelations, and the Book of Revelations.

Love locks on the Pont des Arts, dreadlocks on white people, and co-workers who tell you they are too smart to be working here — they should all be outlawed. Or punched in the face.

I can’t stand people like me, who do not know how to “nest” their replies to Comments on their WordPress blog; but I figured it out yesterday and all my replies to your lovely Boogie Girl comments are properly nested and now I don’t hate myself any more.

But don’t get me started on the way the morning news will break your heart six times before breakfast,  or the fact that Giselle Bundchen makes 47 million dollars a year for parading in her undies while a  park ranger in Virunga  makes 47 dollars a year for saving the mountain gorilla from extinction. (Hey! I just figured out where all my NPR money will go now!)

I also despise Auto Correct.

Retail shop assistants who tell me If you have any questions, just ask me drive me nuts. Do they think I’d be confused about where to go if I had a question about the item on the middle shelf? Do they think I’d wander across the street to ask the deli guy? Do they think I’d end up standing in the middle of the shop having a nervous breakdown because I had questions, O, so many questions, and had no idea where to go to find answers??? I mean, really: Who the hell else am I going to ask?  Dear Abby?

Also on my Shit List is the way people to whom I’ve just told that I have eight cats will then tell me every last reason why they hate cats; ditto being a Bruce Springsteen fan, watching Judge Judy every day, and joining the Peace Corps to go to West Africa. ( I’ve been holding onto that last one for quite a while. The guy I told it to came right back with: I’ve never traveled outside the United States but if I did, I wouldn’t go to Africa. I still hate that guy with all my heart.)

There now.

I think I’ve proved my point.

I am not the nicest person in the world.

But I’m OK with that.

28 Comments, RSS

  1. Megan

    Don’t hate me, but I had a good laugh. How very annoying is ‘vocal fry’ eeeerk I say! Love the cat love the oak leave, actually love cucumbers, sorry ’bout that. Love your blog, so very entertaining and mostly I agree with you. Keep up the good work I’m off to read about the dental hygienist.

    • Vivian

      As much as I dislike cucumbers, I love a good dill or sweet pickle. Ditto tomatoes and tomatoes sauce. I really do have the taste buds of a six year old.

  2. Megan

    Okay it’s me again, hope that isn’t too annoying. I agree wholeheartedly, how very rude to keep you waiting. My doctor does it and one morning I had the first appointment at 8am and it was quite a commute to get there… she was swanning about the surgery with a cup of tea and kept me waiting for 20 minutes. My BP was through the roof when she took it. I want to bill her, I have a minimum 4 hour call too… What about this,

    • Vivian

      Whoa: what a GREAT idea (from the link — thank you!). From now on, I when I make an appointment I will mention that I ave a dollar a minute late fee, which I will deduct from my bill. Hey: I wonder if this could catch on?

  3. janet b.

    vivian, your blog space has always been a treat, filled with wonderful language, beautiful photos, fantastic watercolors and now, VIDEOS!!! woo hoo! one of my favorite all time web inventions is YOUTUBE, and these days it is such fun to be able to back up what you’re speaking about with “let’s go to the video tape”. as for vocal fry, i’m with you, eewww. the english language has been taking a beating for years on TV and on radio…you can often find me yelling at either of these mediums because the speaker has no clue about grammar or pronunciation, and my delicate little ears are so disturbed by that. but AHHHHH, the luxury of being OLD, my friend, when we have a wealth of experience, have found our voice and can blast, i mean EXPRESS ourselves appropriately to the offending dolts we encounter (great job on that dental write-up!). like the gray hair flowing from this scalp, i’m embracing my being OLD, and appreciate that you do too. give ’em hell, vivian, and keep spending those OLD, hard-earned bucks on good things!!

    • Vivian

      That’s right, my friend: OLD is the new DON’T EVEN TRY TO PULL THAT SHIT WITH ME. It comes with delicate ears, a huge vocabulary, and a big stonking brain.

  4. This is a wonderful way to wake up today! I haven’t heard a lot of vocal fry on NPR but I must be listening to the wrong shows. Where I DO hear it and it annoys the heck out of me is when I get my hair cut. The back-up stylist is about 30 and she fries with the best of them. I want to say “Doesn’t that hurt?” Shouldn’t sound that blase at 30. Trust me, there’s lots more of life to bring you into that mode in the next few decades.

    OK — and my other big one — using nouns as verbs. If I hear that someone was gifted with something one more time I might throw the book at them — the grammar book, that is. You are given a gift, receive a gift, buy a gift. The only time you are gifted is if you are Mensa smart or Mozart. Sorry. You started me on a roll, too! (Or wait, maybe it’s the new language because I’m old…)

  5. Thank you for enlightening me — even though I work at a university full of young people, and ride the bus with them, I was completely unaware of “vocal fry” — how utterly idiotic! But then, I am completely unaware of lots of things because the only time I listen to the radio or watch TV is when there’s a baseball game on.

    Trust me, sports announcers do not fry anything except food.

    What I hate: the young women on my bus commute who APPLY THEIR MAKEUP there. Yes. While the bus is moving and bumping and jerking down the street. Yes, in public. Yes, as if a BUS were their BATHROOM. OMG, I want to say that last line with a vocal fry. Soooooooooo wrong.

    Also, I have a postcard prominently displayed at my office with a picture of a woman looking upset and the legend, “OTHER PEOPLE RUIN EVERYTHING!” I’d post a photo but I’m pretty sure it’s copyright-infringement (can’t wait for that story).

    Oh, and workplace lingo is deteriorating daily as I creep far too slowly towards retirement because I am OLD — a committee I attended was crowded with YOUNG people who, at the end, said they had “asks.” Apparently, instead of saying “does anyone have questions or issues they want to bring up”, people now get to have “asks” as if that were a real word. I just gave them a baleful Paddington Hard Stare. Sadly, they were oblivious. Which reminds me — I did once invent a word for people who are both oblivious and clueless about their own stupidity at the same time: obliviot.

    And they are *everywhere*.

    You can also spend your NPR money on your local dog rescue societies!

    • Vivian

      I saw the postcard you mentioned — it’s a good one. Talk about olbliviots: When I used to commute, first on Metro North and then on the Long Island Rail Road, I was constantly appalled by the sight of women putting on their make up on the train. I used to content myself with just thinking “It’s always the ugly ones”, but then I saw a woman flossing her teeth on the rush hour train home. That was a bridge too far. I got up and walked over to her and said, “I know what you did, when you flossed your teeth just now and dropped the used string on the floor by your seat here. It’s the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen — the train is not your bathroom. I know you can hear me (she was “reading” a book and pretending I was invisible) and I know that you know that I am telling you that you are filthy (or something to that effect).
      I was shaking with fury and, a little bit, from fear — it was the first time I was ever that bold — and altho the car got eerily silent while I ranted, there were absolutely no repercussions. I tucked that tid bit of knowledge in the back of my brain and used it to perfect my subsequent foaming at the mouth public appearances.

  6. Brava! I’m 42, quite rebellious against patriarchy or status quo, at least, and have been complaining for at least 5 years about this pathetic voice used by the young journalists on NPR. I find it so grating, I turn the dial while shouting,”clear your throat and speak up! You sound like a toddler with a hairball!” How anyone expects to be taken seriously while infantilising themselves and insulting the public who pay their salaries, is absolutely beyond me.

    • Vivian

      Heather! That’s it! It’s not “fry” — it’s “hairball”! I’m putting that in my letter to the program director. Thanks!

  7. Gigi

    I am card-carrying member of the “Sisterhood of Satire” (SOS) – entry into which means pledging never to use abbreviations like “convo” for conversation in an email or in actual…yes…conversation. Or to never ever say, “at the end of the day,” or “incentivize,” or “in our wheelhouse.” Sisterhood (we are mostly all women) of Satire members have earned the right to comment on observed idiocy, especially when it is accompanied by obliviousness (as in “obliviot” – thank you, thank you, Alex MacKenzie for coining this apt word!). I love that these young women are so self-referential that they don’t recognize they have become caricatures of themselves. It is laughable because we know exactly where they will be – eewwhh! – in a few years. So, yes! I love the videos, as a punctuation in your otherwise staid (ha-ha) blog.

    • Vivian

      I’ll gladly join the SOS, but I’d like to put something really really scary on the T-shirt. Something like a screaming half-animal half-alien with teeth like a survivalist’s collection of daggers, about to chomp a texting girl-human newt-burger. Just to let people now that we of the SOS are not as nice as we look (because were all so very cute).

  8. Love me good rant! I, too, am old, so I hate all weird language affectations. Some of my adult friends who do not speak any language except English (and may not have even heard another one), use gangster- speak like, ” Hi, Sista” or the classier version, “Hi, Sistah”. And don’t even get me started on text-speech, ” Don’t u just h8 that”?

    Thanks to your rant, I now know the name of that annoying growly speech. And have a new word, thanks to Alex – “obliviot”. I’m going to use it three times in a sentence to make it mine. (Told you I am old).

    Fridays are even better now that you’re back!

    • Vivian

      Deb, it’s been my honor to give you “vocal fry”, so that now you can now name the thing that makes you want to put duct tape over the mouths of anyone under the age of 35. It’s so important to use the correct word when you rant: us language-lovers are meticulous that way.

  9. Deborah S. Farrell

    Oh, myyy — vocal fryyy and Iyyy go way back, thanks to an ex- who was a speech pathologist. It was never this funny when he was talking about it, though. Happy, happy!

  10. Art Hackett

    It’s not about being “old” (did you like the “air” quotes?), it’s about not being an ignorant, narcisstic tosser. Have you noticed that people who “hate” cats are people you never want to associate with anyway? Quick way to find out what you’re dealing with gurrrrrrllll.

  11. Felicia

    If you’re old, I must be ancient because I completely missed this new trend in speaking. I love the embedded video, without it, I’d have no idea what vocal fry sounds ilke.

    It’s crazy how copyright works now. You can embed a video, in fact video producers want their videos to “go viral”, but use an image and the lawyers swarm.

    I’ll just go back to my non-urban, cultural dessert and await further posts from the culture frontier.

    • Vivian

      Felicia, if I were drinking tea I’d be doing a spit take. That is hilarious! During the whole 11 years I’ve lived on Long Island it has never crossed my mind that I live on the “culture frontier”. But I guess you’re right — a place with this many back to back malls *must* be some kind of amazing feat of civilization, since shopping is what seems to keep society as a whole in tact. Please pleas please take me to your non-urban cultural desert.

  12. Linda J

    Are these young vocal fry girls the ones who grew up with moms who all sounded like Minnie Mouse?
    Actually, although I’m also OLD, when growing up one of my good friends (High School in the early 1960s) spoke vocal fry. She often affected boredom and would say, Goop and All, in case anyone hadn’t noticed she was bored. Then everything that came after that was in vocal-fry-speak. Fortunately, the way a teenage girl talked back then didn’t change the way every teenage girl talked.

    Linda J

    • Vivian

      Don’t get me started on the baby-voiced women…don’t get me started. Because I would name names and these days I’m trying to be the “nice one” in my family.

    • Vivian

      Gitana, you made my day. And you’ve reminded me that “keying the car of a jerk” is on my Wish List; the only thing is, I’m afraid that once I start I won’t be able to stop.

  13. Cheryl McLaughlin

    you’re BACK and you didn’t TELL ME?!!!
    I was cleaning up some bookmarks and was organizing blogs – was about to delete yours because I’d despaired of ever seeing you again – and VIOLA! there you WERE!
    YAY! thanks for coming back – looking forward to catching up by reading your recent posts!

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