by Cassie, Publicity
Mark Peters, a language columnist for Good and Visual Thesaurus, as well as the blogger behind The Pancake Proverbs, The Rosa Parks of Blogs, and Wordlustitude is our guest blogger this week. In this post, he looks at all the Star Trek “set phasers to X” snowclones that can be found on Twitter.
Right now, I kind of feel like I’m cheating on my wife…with my wife. Or at least her twin sister.
You see, I should be re-re-revising a project on TV words, a project that seems to have more lives than a zombie-vampire cat. That is the project I should certainly be working on right now, this very instant, in fact. Instead, I find myself writing this blog post on a TV-word-related topic: the Star Trek snowclone “set phasers on X.”
While searching for examples of this adaptable phrase on Twitter, I was aware that the phasers snowclone tended to include variations on stun like stunning and stunned, plus unpredictable one-word substitutions like ennui, spoil, and vaporize. But I was completely unprepared for some wild variations—especially, “Set nerdy-comedian fantasy phasers to ‘uhhhh take me now.'”—and I was generally surprised at how mega-fun this snowclone is, so much funner than my monkey brain could have guessed, and definitely way, way funner than working on my revisions like a good boy. If I had a phaser, iPhone, or robot butler with settings like sexytime or discombobulate (see below), they’d probably have to lock me up in an undisclosed location and intensely interrogate me until I got back to work on those revisions.
So please join me in my procrastination and enjoy these recent Twitter examples of a prolific snowclone, in the spirit of recent posts on Twitteration and Trekitude. By the way, since I totally love the new Star Trek movie, and I dearly love Twitter, and I fiercely love snowclones, I don’t know how I could enjoy writing this post more, unless puppies, a chocolate-coated robot butler, a Three Floyd’s Dark Floyd Russian imperial stout, or a magical conclusion to my revisions were involved. If you can supply any of the above, CALL ME.
“Learning ten lengthy pieces alone by the 4th of July? For a community symphony in which you are one of 5 violists? Set phasers to INHUMAN.”
(June 20, 2009, xneurotic)
“Jian Gomeshi interviews Dave Matthews. Those two are a match made in heaven. Set phasers to barf.”
(June 17, 2009, Jason Harmer)
“@Schonste Set phasers to Lol… and then shoot those people with them… Also the ‘lol’ setting actually makes them be on fire.”
(June 17, 2009, Chrysalid)
“Oh boy — Larry David is on Conan tonight. Set nerdy-comedian fantasy phasers to ‘uhhhh take me now.'”
(June 16, 2009, Kristen Theodore)
“abbreviated movie review #2: star trek = set phasers to wanting a refund”
(June 16, 2009, Phil Duncan)
“is up late reading a Star Trek novel, and considering how to play my new D&D character. Set phasers on ‘geeeeek’.”
(June 16, 2009, Michael Doss)
“initiate exam freakout mode. set phasers to study. may the course be with me. live long and procrastinate no longer. beam me up, coffee. lol”
(June 15, 2009, papashem)
“Writing up notes from Thursday brainstorm. Foolishly took notes on all feedback but MY proposal. Set phasers to ‘wing it’.”
(June 14, 2009, Article Dan)
“How do they make margaritas on the Enterprise? ‘Set phasers on Blend, Mr. Sulu.'”
(June 13, 2009, Jim Thompson)
“eeeee! guillermo del toro announced that ian mckellen, andy serkis and hugo weaving r on board for the hobbit. set phasers to anticipation!”
(June 13, 2009, Dolores Haze)
“off to see Star Trek. For the fourth time. On my own. Set phasers to suck.”
(June 13, 2009, Lily Rae)
“Also, I’m pretty sure Old!Spock is wearing silver lame. Set phasers to fabulous!”
(June 12, 2009, Maxwell Arcturus)
“‘Captain, phasers are set to ‘Sexy Time’!’ #geekpickuplines”
(June 10, 2009, MellowMarketing)
“setting phasers on discombobulate”
(June 10, 2009, gentlejones)
When I was in college in the early ’90s, we used an almost identical Star Trek-influenced construction, but the substituted word wasn’t “stun” — it was “phaser.” So if the music was particularly loud, we’d say, “The speakers are set to stun!” Or if the ice dispenser in the dining hall delivered an especially large amount of ice, we’d say, “The bucket o’ ice is set to kill!”
Of course, this was all pre-Internet. So there’s no giant online corpus of colloqual speech we could use to figure out whether this was just my own circle of friends, or in broader usage.
Interesting… So the snowclone works both ways. Thanks for sharing that–I bet there are a bunch of examples out there.
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