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10 Vocab Words from ‘The Big Lebowski’

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By Susie Tae, California State University Northridge

Quote The Big Lebowski, and you’ll likely get a lot of laughs and knowing looks. But Lebowski isn't just a comedy about the misadventures of a lovable stoner—the movie uses sophisticated words and concepts for some intellectual humor. Use any of these 10 words in casual conversation, and you can hold your head up high.

1. MICTURATE

Meaning “to urinate,” we first meet the Dude as thugs harass him and, well, “micturate” on his rug. In a case of mistaken identity, the Dude visits the other Lebowski to seek compensation. But what he gets is an unsympathetic Big Lebowski, who mocks him for his attire and attitude towards life. The offended Big Lebowski asks, “Every time a rug is micturated upon in this fair city, I have to compensate…?”

2. NIHILIST

If you thought being a nihilist means passing out on floating pool lounges, read on. While there are several forms of nihilism, the most common, existential nihilism, argues that there is no intrinsic meaning, purpose or value in life. While German nihilists are behind much of the hijinks in the movie, their battle cry (“We believe in nossink!”) is contradicted in the end by their whining at the unfairness of no payout. Clearly not nihilists, this unfortunately makes losing a toe and an ear much harder to bear.

3. SHABBOS

Shabbos (Yiddish), also known as Shabbat (Hebrew), is the Jewish day of rest. Shabbos begins just before sunset on Friday evening and ends Saturday evening, and can be honored by meditating on spiritual matters and spending time with family. Walter, who converted to Judaism, observes Shabbos by not working, not driving, not riding in a car, not handling money, not turning on an oven, and definitely by not bowling. Walter even doesn’t answer the phone on Shabbos, unless it’s an emergency—which it was, which was why Walter picked up the phone.

4. FATUOUS

Adult films are not known for their complicated plots. So when Maude shows a scene where a cable repair man complains of difficulty working in his clothes, Maude comments, “You can imagine what happens next.” The Dude replies, “He fixes the cable?” and Maude asks him not to be fatuous, meaning “silly and pointless.” But of course, that’s why we love the Dude.

5. PARLANCE

Meaning “a particular way of speaking,” parlance is used twice in reference to Bunny Lebowski, the much younger wife of the Big Lebowski. The first relates to her relationship with known pornographer Jackie Treehorn, who Bunny is said to be sleeping with. The second is in the Dude’s explanation of Bunny’s role in her kidnapping. As a "trophy wife" and needing money, the Dude tries to reason that Bunny faked her own kidnapping. That did not occur to the Big Lebowski.

6. FASCIST

One who believes that government reigns and use of force is necessary and good to ensure that power, the term fascist is now more often used as an insult. The Dude calls the police chief a fascist after the chief throws a mug at his head for back talk. Do I make myself clear? Or were you not listening?

7. PARAQUAT

Upset at being exploited, the Dude calls the Big Lebowski a human paraquat for stealing $1 million and pinning it on him. Paraquat, which is actually an herbicide that’s also poisonous to humans and animals, may be known by the Dude because of the Mexican marijuana fields sprayed by the U.S. government with paraquat during the 1970s. Ironically, plant material sprayed with the toxic paraquat is actually safe to smoke because of its burning. So no worries Dude.

8. NOMENCLATURE

In non-political correctness, the term "Chinaman" is used to describe various Asians throughout the movie. Early on, the Dude complains of the "Chinaman" who peed on his rug, the rug that really tied the room together. Walter, in his unfailing desire for what’s right, clarifies that Asian-American is the preferred nomenclature, meaning “term applied to someone or something within a system of naming.” The Big Lebowski also uses "Chinaman" for the soldier in Korea who shot him during the war. Clearly both Lebowskis could use some sensitivity training.

9. PACIFIST

A pacifist is someone who believes that war and violence are unjustifiable. After having threatened a fellow bowler with a gun, Walter is scolded by the Dude for his behavior. The Dude informs Walter that the bowler was a pacifist, and has emotional problems. Walter shares that like the fellow bowler, he too was once a pacifist. But not in Vietnam, of course.

10. STRUMPET

A term for a promiscuous woman, Walter uses it in reference to Bunny in a rant about how good men died face-down in the muck in Vietnam. Throughout much of the movie, Walter references Vietnam every chance he gets, literal connection or otherwise.

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5 Things We Know About Stranger Things Season 2
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Stranger Things seemed to come out of nowhere to become one of television's standout new series in 2016. Netflix's sometimes scary, sometimes funny, and always exciting homage to '80s pop culture was a binge-worthy phenomenon when it debuted in July 2016. Of course, the streaming giant wasn't going to wait long to bring more Stranger Things to audiences, and a second season was announced a little over a month after its debut—and Netflix just announced that we'll be getting it a few days earlier than expected. Here are five key things we know about the show's sophomore season, which kicks off on October 27.

1. WE'LL BE GETTING EVEN MORE EPISODES.

The first season of Stranger Things consisted of eight hour-long episodes, which proved to be a solid length for the story Matt and Ross Duffer wanted to tell. While season two won't increase in length dramatically, we will be getting at least one extra hour when the show returns in 2017 with nine episodes. Not much is known about any of these episodes, but we do know the titles:

"Madmax"
"The Boy Who Came Back To Life"
"The Pumpkin Patch"
"The Palace"
"The Storm"
"The Pollywog"
"The Secret Cabin"
"The Brain"
"The Lost Brother"

There's a lot of speculation about what each title means and, as usual with Stranger Things, there's probably a reason for each one.

2. THE KIDS ARE RETURNING (INCLUDING ELEVEN).

Stranger Things fans should gear up for plenty of new developments in season two, but that doesn't mean your favorite characters aren't returning. A November 4 photo sent out by the show's Twitter account revealed most of the kids from the first season will be back in 2017, including the enigmatic Eleven, played by Millie Bobby Brown (the #elevenisback hashtag used by series regular Finn Wolfhard should really drive the point home):

3. THE SHOW'S 1984 SETTING WILL LEAD TO A DARKER TONE.

A year will have passed between the first and second seasons of the show, allowing the Duffer brothers to catch up with a familiar cast of characters that has matured since we last saw them. With the story taking place in 1984, the brothers are looking at the pop culture zeitgeist at the time for inspiration—most notably the darker tone of blockbusters like Gremlins and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

"I actually really love Temple of Doom, I love that it gets a little darker and weirder from Raiders, I like that it feels very different than Raiders did," Matt Duffer told IGN. "Even though it was probably slammed at the time—obviously now people look back on it fondly, but it messed up a lot of kids, and I love that about that film—that it really traumatized some children. Not saying that we want to traumatize children, just that we want to get a little darker and weirder."

4. IT'S NOT SO MUCH A CONTINUATION AS IT IS A SEQUEL.

When you watch something like The Americans season two, it's almost impossible to catch on unless you've seen the previous episodes. Stranger Things season two will differ from the modern TV approach by being more of a sequel than a continuation of the first year. That means a more self-contained plot that doesn't leave viewers hanging at the end of nine episodes.

"There are lingering questions, but the idea with Season 2 is there's a new tension and the goal is can the characters resolve that tension by the end," Ross Duffer told IGN. "So it's going to be its own sort of complete little movie, very much in the way that Season 1 is."

Don't worry about the two seasons of Stranger Things being too similar or too different from the original, though, because when speaking with Entertainment Weekly about the influences on the show, Matt Duffer said, "I guess a lot of this is James Cameron. But he’s brilliant. And I think one of the reasons his sequels are as successful as they are is he makes them feel very different without losing what we loved about the original. So I think we kinda looked to him and what he does and tried to capture a little bit of the magic of his work.”

5. THE PREMIERE WILL TRAVEL OUTSIDE OF HAWKINS.

Everything about the new Stranger Things episodes will be kept secret until they finally debut later this year, but we do know one thing about the premiere: It won't take place entirely in the familiar town of Hawkins, Indiana. “We will venture a little bit outside of Hawkins,” Matt Duffer told Entertainment Weekly. “I will say the opening scene [of the premiere] does not take place in Hawkins.”

So, should we take "a little bit outside" as literally as it sounds? You certainly can, but in that same interview, the brothers also said they're both eager to explore the Upside Down, the alternate dimension from the first season. Whether the season kicks off just a few miles away, or a few worlds away, you'll get your answer when Stranger Things's second season debuts next month.

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Everything That’s Leaving Netflix in October
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Netflix subscribers are already counting down the days until the premiere of the new season of Stranger Things. But, as always, in order to make room for the near-90 new titles making their way to the streaming site, some of your favorite titles—including all of 30 Rock, The Wonder Years, and Malcolm in the Middle—must go. Here’s everything that’s leaving Netflix in October ... binge ‘em while you can!

October 1

30 Rock (Seasons 1-7)

A Love in Times of Selfies

Across the Universe

Barton Fink

Bella

Big Daddy

Carousel

Cradle 2 the Grave

Crafting a Nation

Curious George: A Halloween Boo Fest

Daddy’s Little Girls

Dark Was the Night

David Attenborough’s Rise of the Animals: Triumph of the Vertebrates (Season 1)

Day of the Kamikaze

Death Beach

Dowry Law

Dr. Dolittle: Tail to the Chief

Friday Night Lights (Seasons 1-5)

Happy Feet

Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison

Hellboy

Kagemusha

Laura

Love Actually

Malcolm in the Middle (Seasons 1-7)

Max Dugan Returns

Millennium 

Million Dollar Baby

Mortal Combat

Mr. 3000

Mulholland Dr.

My Father the Hero

My Name Is Earl (Seasons 1-4)

One Tree Hill (Seasons 1-9)

Patton

Picture This

Prison Break (Seasons 1-4)

The Bernie Mac Show (Seasons 1-5)

The Shining

The Wonder Years (Seasons 1-6)

Titanic

October 19

The Cleveland Show (Seasons 1-4)

October 21

Bones (Seasons 5-11)

October 27

Lie to Me (Seasons 2-3)

Louie (Seasons 1-5)

Hot Transylvania 2

October 29

Family Guy (Seasons 9-14)

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