A (mainly political) gossip column in the Los Angeles New Times weekly alternative paper. It broke the story on Monica Lewinsky's million-dollar deal with Jenny Craig to lose weight and keep it off. It also tends to hound the Los Angeles Times whenever it does something stupid, which is depressingly often.

Creative ways of displaying the Middle Finger

1. Produce a fist with hand of choice, turn invisible crank with other hand slowly erecting middle finger.

2. Hold up all fingers with hand of choice, fashion a gun out of other hand and shoot down all fingers shooting gallery style leaving only the middle finger...

3. Hold up all fingers with hand of choice, obtain a real gun, or something which will actually remove all fingers leaving only the middle finger *effective!*

4. Smile, give the thumbs up to enemy, then raise thumb to mouth and blow hard, "inflating" the middle finger.

5. Say: Oh let me draw a diagram for you... and draw a middle finger! perhaps two middle fingers!

6. Purposely raise incorrect finger on one hand, preferably ring finger, while secretly giving real middle finger off to the side on the other hand.

7. The entire time enemy is speaking to you, have middle finger discretely raised and at a key point start staring at it and smiling, or perhaps keep it entirely secret and tell your friends about it later.

8. Reach into pockets saying in casual voice: "Oh, I have something for you..." when you see their eyes wander to your pockets, its time to whip out middle fingers!

9. Raise all fingers except middle finger, then flip hand upside down.

10. Write "Middle Finger" on a different finger and hold that one up instead!

Added Kids fun bonus!: Hold up middle *3* fingers, and say "read between the lines" You will be king of the lunchroom! Share with family, teachers!

And yet more ...

  • Give someone the finger, but hold your hand upside-down with your palm facing in. Then say "Can you hear this? Want me to turn it up?" while rotating your hand upright. From The Breakfast Club. Contributed by hKath.

  • Produce a hand in the standard "middle finger extended" configuration and casually but deliberately use the finger to push your glasses up or scratch the bridge of your nose. Continue unnecessarily, lean back in your seat and/or accompany with a loud artificial yawn if the subject seems unaware. Contributed by Erik Fish.

  • The Robot

    Extend your hand far away from the body in a fist, fingers up. Reach over to your extended arm with your free arm. Now press an invisible button somewhere along your arm. As you are holding down this "invisible button", raise your middle finger at a moderate pace. While doing this, make sound effects. Something like "zzzzZZZZZtttssccchhhhh" should work nicely (just something that conjures an image of hydraulic machinery). When your middle finger is fully extended, release the button and quit making noises. For a twist, you may want to reach for a second imaginary button and press it down to retract your middle finger. Contributed by Antagony.

  • The Fishing Rod

    Start with one arm near you and ball your hand into a fist. Keep your arm vertical, fingers in, sort of like you are going to punch thyself in the chin. Now take your free hand and put it next to your closed fist. Your free arm will have your fingers facing away from you and you should leave all your fingers loose except for your thumb and forefinger which are loosely touching. Now you cast your line. Move both hands in a smooth motion, bringing them just over your shoulder, and then forwards in an arc. Upon reaching the end of the arc, flick your wrists, and pop out the middle finger on your "rod arm". Now you firmly pull back your arms, but have your free arm be cranking as if to be pulling in your line. Naturally, when reeling in the line, you will be simultaneously be curling your middle finger back into a fist. Contributed by Antagony.

The "Korean thumb" is the Korean version of "the finger". What you do is make a fist and then insert your thumb between your index and middle finger. To the person on the business end of the Korean thumb, it looks like some kind of emerging sex organ. I believe it's symbolic of an emerging clitoris. All in all, it means "fuck you!". Ostensibly if you insert the thumb between the middle and ring finger, this is far worse. It means "fuck you in the ass!"

Oddly enough, in America, this gesture is not rude. Many times you'll play with a small child and go "I got your nose!" and shove your thumb between your fingers. So, word of warning, if you're on a subway in Seoul and you're trying to entertain some curious child sitting next to you, don't play that game with him. His mother will beat you senseless if she sees you.

Side note: This gesture is considered rude in many places in Asia (like Japan) as well, as some users inform me, in many places in Europe.
Giving someone the finger has been an insult throughout history. However, determining how the gesture came about is difficult (especially on the Internet). The most popular version of the origin of the gesture often refers to the Battle of Agincourt and attempts to hint at the origin of the word "fuck" at the same time:

Before the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, the French, anticipating victory over the English, proposed to cut off the middle finger of all captured English soldiers. Without the middle finger it would be impossible to draw the renowned English longbow and therefore be incapable of fighting in the future.

This famous weapon was made of the native English Yew tree, and the act of drawing the longbow was known as "plucking the yew" (or "pluck yew").

Much to the bewilderment of the French, the English won a major upset and began mocking the French by waving their middle fingers at the defeated French, saying, "See, we can still pluck yew! PLUCK YEW!"

Over the years some 'folk etymologies' have grown up around this symbolic gesture. Since 'pluck yew' is rather difficult to say (like "pleasant mother pheasant plucker", which is who you had to go to for the feathers used on the arrows for the longbow), the difficult consonant cluster at the beginning has gradually changed to a labiodental fricative 'F', and thus the words often used in conjunction with the one-finger-salute are mistakenly thought to have something to do with an intimate encounter.

It is also because of the pheasant feathers on the arrows that the symbolic gesture is known as "giving the bird".

This story seems to have originated around 1996 and is generally considered false.

Another popular story involves the Welsh and the wool yarn they manufactured in the 15th century. Allegedly, Welsh wool was spun into an extremely strong yarn, which was thin, yet strong enough for use in English long bows. The result of having thin yarn was that the notch cut into the English arrows could be made very narrow. A problem during wars in this era was that enemy soldiers would return fire with the arrows that were shot at them. The narrow notch of the English arrows made it impossible for French soldiers to reuse them against the English. The tale says that the English attributed this fact to many victories and took to giving the French soldiers the 2-finger salute (the English version of "the finger") after defeating them in battle, referring to the notch in their arrows.

The most believable (probably because it amounts to "we just don't know") seems to be this:

The middle-finger gesture, which apparently has had phallic connotations in every culture in which it has been used, is much older. We know it dates back at least to ancient Greece, where it was referenced in "The Clouds," a play written by Aristophanes in 423 B.C. It was also well known to the Romans, who referred to it variously as digitus infamis ("infamous finger") and digitus impudicus ("indecent finger"). In all likelihood its origins were prehistoric.
Excerpt from "The Clouds":
Socrates: ... Polite society will accept you if you can discriminate, say, between the martial anapest and common dactylic -- sometimes vulgarly called "finger-rhythm."

Strepsiades: Finger-rhythm? I know that.

Socrates: Define it then.

Strepsiades: [Extending his middle finger] Why it's tapping time with this finger. Of course, when I was a boy [raising his phallus], I used to make rhythm with this one.


The popular notion that the "Middle Finger Salute" originated with the Battle of Agincourt is a Suburban Myth, one which folklore expert Barbara Mikkelson describes as "so obviously a joke that shouldn't need any debunking." As noted in an earlier post, Aristophanes explicitly refers to the middle finger gesture in The Clouds, written almost 2000 years before the Battle of Agincourt. The Romans referred to it as digitus impudicus.

In fact, many cultures have variations of "giving the finger," ranging from the upraised middle finger, to the upraised arm, to the Renaissance thumb gesture mentioned in Act I, Scene i of Romeo and Juliet. Aristophanes explicitly refers to the middle finger gesture in The Clouds, written almost 2000 years before the Battle of Agincourt. Some cultures even prefer what to Westerners would be considered a thumb's up. It is vitally important not to hitch-hike, at least western-style, in such places.

A more probable, if unprovable, theory, relates the gesture to primate behaviour. When one monkey or chimp, say, wants to establish dominance over another, it will mount it from behind in an act of what can only be termed mock rape; penetration does not actually occur. If the other primate accepts its submissive place in the hierarchy, it will tolerate this situation, briefly. The gender of the monkey assuming the "masculine" position and the monkey assuming the "feminine" one is irrelevant.

Humans share most of our genetic material with chimpanzees and bonobos. But mock rape of this nature would be rather inconvenient in human societies. Instead, we find a symbolic substitute.

The upraised finger, then, becomes a symbolic phallus. This might also account for why fuck you* and its equivalents in many other languages are an insult. It could account for why the most macho of men will, despite their frequent inclination towards homophobia, make what amounts to a request for sexual favours when they want to insult another man. The primate connection also might explain bowing, certain positions of prayer and obeisance, and the classic spanking position. Even the evil practice of actual rape during war, in prisons, in gangs to show dominance may be a human perversion of a primate ritual.

I realize this may have you wondering, "did I just symbolically rape that idiot who cut me off?" next time you flip "the bird" in traffic, but somewhere, deep within your primate brain, you just may have.

*"Fuck," of course, has a well-documented history which has been noded elsewhere, and has nothing to do with the Hundred Years' War, either.

Corbeill, Anthony. Nature Embodied: Gesture in Ancient Rome. 2003, Princeton University Press.

“F-ck.” Online Etymological Dictionary.

Laërtius, Diogenes. Lives of Eminent Philosophers VI.2.34.

Mikkelson, Barbara. "Pluck Yew." Urban Legends Reference Page.

Sagan, Carl and Ann Druyan. In the Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors. New York: Random House, 1992.

Lizmar struck the keys violently as Michael Craig Davis's words echoed in her mind.

"Ayn Rand sucks? How can he say that?"

She grew angrier and angrier with each key stroke until she was finally paralyzed by fury.

Ayn Rand is amazing, The Fountainhead changed my life.”

She thrust her hands into her sweater pockets and sat there, marinating in her rage.

Her fingers breathed a sigh of relief.

Pinky turned to Index, "When is she going to stop? I can't take anymore of this, we can't keep up with her."

Index twitched violently.

"Excuse me? You can't take this? No, Pinky, I've had enough. You don't know the half of it. Every time she stops for a break, she launches at her Coors Lite like it's an oxygen tank. You're not the one that has to deal with the cold aluminum pressing against your skin, like you're lying on some examination table waiting for an autopsy. You just dangle in the air while the rest of us grip the can to drive her alcoholism. And it's me and middle finger doing most of the typing. You occasionally drift toward backspace but most of the time you're just floating around like a fucking finger fairy."

Pinky was about to open his mouth in protest but Lizmar went for a swig of the Coors Lite. Index was lost behind the aluminum wall once again.

Pinky was furious. How could Index reduce him to such triviality? He had as much a part in Lizmar's daily musings as Index.

Didn't he?

But Index was right. Pinky did spend a disproportionate amount of time being dangled in the air, teased with prospects of utilization, only to be overlooked for Middle... or even Ring. He spent a lot of time on the metaphorical finger bench while the other fingers shone like stars.

But what could he do? He couldn't force Lizmar to overcome years of habitual neglect solely for the sake of his sense of self-worth. He was just a Pinky. He was smaller and weaker and less coordinated than all of the other fingers. He was feeble next to Ring, sickly next to Thumb. Meanwhile, Index boasted the dexterity of pianist. What was a Pinky to do?

Index had defeated his spirit. And Pinky had let him win. Pinky decided he would just have to keep his mouth shut around Index. He couldn't handle his acerbic attacks right now. He retreated to the safety of Palm's warm embrace and closed his eyes.

When Pinky awoke, Lizmar and the rest of the fingers were fast asleep. Pinky was left there alone, in silence, to sort out his insecurities.

Index’s voice repeated itself over and over again in Pinky’s mind. Pinky’s own thoughts would chime in to add to the discourse on his worthlessness. Index had become his self-talk and Pinky’s subconscious was apparently happy to whistle the same tune. How could this have happened? Index shouldn’t have this kind of power over him. He only grew more furious as he tossed and turned.

Suddenly, he shot up. He had had enough. In the throes of this anger, his insecurity subsided and he was overcome, empowered by a desire to hunt down meaning and pursue purpose. To disprove Index and to quiet any part of him that entertained Index’s lies.

Pinky reached for the nail clippers Lizmar had left on the bed. He dragged the rest of the fingers, hand, arm, behind him. He crawled toward the nail clippers. He knew what he’d have to do to free himself. He took the nail clippers and positioned them at the edge of his base. It was too thick to but he would rip through it, millimeter by millimeter, layer by layer, until he freed himself.

He was Aron Ralston, trapped underneath the burden of his dependence. But he was done. He clipped, little by little. The blood poured from the open wound, he'd have to hurry and free himself to tourniquet his base if he expected any chance at self-preservation.

Everyone else was still fast asleep, the clippers clipped and the blood flowed, but the 24-pack of Coors Lite had rendered them nearly unconscious. He clipped on until he finally reached the last flimsy piece of skin. It was the only thing keeping him from reaching his full potential as an individual. He slowly lifted the clipper in the air, and ceremoniously lowered it to the last bit of skin.


He was free.

He hopped toward the night stand. Hop by hop, he made his way to the bandages sitting on the table. He pulled them out of their box and threw them into a pile. He began to unwrap them. He stuck them together, taking each individual bandage to the adhesive of another to form one lengthy band-aid. He wrapped this super-sized band-aid around his base and squeezed. He couldn't let himself lose anymore blood. He wanted the blood at the base to coagulate and scab over. The wound of the severance would heal. He would be complete. He would be whole.

The process of breaking free had been a tiring one and he craved a warm bath to soothe his aching body. There was a half-empty cup of meatless Wendy's Chili on the stand. It was still hot. The smell, the warmth, it drifted over Pinky, overwhelming his senses. Delicious. Pinky hopped toward the cup. Without body heat, Pinky had grown chilly. Pinky figured the chili would sooth his chills and hopped over into the cup. For a minute, he floated blissfully amongst the beans in Lizmar's chili.

All of a sudden, the chili began to swallow him. He tried to wiggle himself back toward the surface but it only pulled him further down. The cup of chili wasn't as shallow as he'd thought. He tried to stand vertical but could still not get up for air. The chili poured into his mouth but he couldn't cough or scream for help. He couldn't swim. All he could do was wiggle furiously, and thus what little oxygen he had absorbed before his descent quickly dissipated as his tiny body begged for air. Only minutes into his freedom he had become a slave once again. To the chili. To his misjudgment. To the impermanence of his existence.

He knew what the chili had in store for him. But he wanted to have at least a scrap of control over his life, and so he opened his mouth to take in the chili. He would not beg to be spared by the chili. He was not an animal. He had his dignity. He would welcome the chili. He would embrace it. He would get his freedom one way for another, from worldly things. From worldly people. He would stare death in the eyes to greet it.

And so he did.

He went limp as the life drained from his body. Until all that remained was the empty corpse of the finger.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.