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July 10 , 2003

This week’s newsletter is dedicated to the memory of my computer, which died suddenly on Wednesday, July 2nd at 7:14 PM. It was five years old. It had suffered a modem failure last month, but had received a replacement and seemed to have recovered. Its unexpected passing came as a shock to all of us. The computer is survived by a monitor, a printer, a scanner, and various lesser peripherals.

Slang of the Week: blue screen of death (noun)
An unfortunate situation in which a software error causes Microsoft Windows to freeze up, requiring the user to restart the computer, often losing unsaved data.

The Microsoft representative was embarrassed by the blue screen of death while trying to demonstrate the “new, improved” Windows operating system to potential customers.

Celebrity quote:

“Windows NT crashed.
I am the Blue Screen of Death.
No one hears your screams.”

-Peter Rothman, whose poem won an honorable mention in a 1998 computer haiku competition sponsored by

Our example actually happened at COMDEX (a big, high-tech conference) but it wasn’t just any salesperson – it was Bill Gates who got the blue screen of death while pitching Windows 98. Fortunately for him, he had a backup computer and showed the system on that instead.

There are a lot more nice slang terms for this kind of situation, including crashed, dead, tanked, down, and hosed. However, these can all refer to a temporary difficulty. For my more permanent problem, I’d like to propose a new expression: The black screen of eternal rest. Here’s another haiku that expresses my feelings:

A crash reduces
your expensive computer
to a simple stone.

- James Lopez

What’s new at Slang City?
Is Slim Shady chopped liver? Find out in our translation of another popular request: Eminem's Without Me.

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