Word Buzz Wednesday: Godzilla El Niño, lek, velfie

10th Annual Prairie Chicken Festival

Welcome to Word Buzz Wednesday, in which we round up our favorite buzzworthy words of the week. The latest: a monster storm, a display that’s for the birds, and yet another selfie.

Cobble Hook

“Andy Ricker’s Whiskey Soda Lounge shuttered over the weekend, and now Carla Hall’s Southern Kitchen will be taking its place—in a neighborhood Hall has identified as Cobble Hook.”

Lauren Evans, “Is Brooklyn’s Hottest New ‘Hood ‘Cobble Hook’ Or Should We Burn It All Down?” Gothamist, July 8, 2015

Between Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill and Red Hook neighborhoods is Cobble Hook, an entirely fake neighborhood made up by Washington, DC celebrity chef, Carla Hall.

Other neighborhood mash-ups include Bedwick, a combination of Bedford-Stuyvesant and Bushwick; Parkwanus, the “unloved bastard child” of Park Slope and Gowanus; and San Francisco’s Tendernob, that semi-sketchy stretch between the “affluent Nob Hill” area and the “less affluent” Tenderloin.

Godzilla El Niño

“‘Not a puny El Niño but a Godzilla El Niño,’ adds Bill Patzert, a climatologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena.”

Craig Miller, “El Niño Update: California’s ‘Great Wet Hope’ Continues to Build,” KQED, July 9, 2015

The Godzilla El Niño is a super-sized version of El Niño, “an invasion of warm water into the surface of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Peru and Ecuador.” This “invasion” occurs “every four to seven years,” usually around Christmas time, hence the name, “The Little Boy,” a reference to the Christ child.


“They form groups known as leks and sing their hearts out, with the females sometimes choosing several males to mate with.”

Matt Simon, “Absurd Creature of the Week: The World’s Tiniest Bird Weighs Less Than a Dime,” WIRED, July 10, 2015

A lek is a gathering of male animals, especially birds, “for the purposes of courtship and display.” The word also refers to the patch of ground used for the courtship and display, says the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), and to take part in such a gathering.

Lek probably comes from the Swedish leka, “to play,” which also gives us fartlek, a kind of interval training, especially in running. Fartlek translates from Swedish as “speed play.”


“He argued that the open-heartedness of poptimism was actually a guise that gave listeners ‘carte blanche to be less adventurous’.”

Chris Richards, “Poptimism: how critics betray pop music fans,” The Age, June 29, 2015

Poptimism, a blend of pop and optimism, is an ideology that says “all pop music deserves a thoughtful listen and a fair shake, that guilty pleasures are really just pleasures.” However, such an ideology also risks becoming “worshipful of fame,” treating “megastars, despite their untold corporate resources, like underdogs,” and granting “immunity to a lot of dim music.”


“Move over selfie, India is embracing the ‘velfie’, with Bollywood stars, sporting heroes and even politicians taking and posting videos of themselves online using a range of new mobile apps.”

Indians embrace the video selfie, or ‘velfie‘,” 3News, July 6, 2015

A velfie is a video selfie as well as an app that facilitates such videos.

2 thoughts on “Word Buzz Wednesday: Godzilla El Niño, lek, velfie

  1. The verb underlying lek still survives in the North of England as laik, which can be glossed ‘not work’: children laik after school, but adults laik when they are on strike or locked out. As the poet says:

    Nick a ting, nock a ting;
    Wages keep pocketing;
    Working for little is better nor laiking;
    Twist an’ twine, reel an’ wind;
    Keep a contented mind;
    Troubles are oft of a body’s own making.

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