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And stoves will be called "kenmores"
Thursday, April 26, 2007   4:04 PM

Against my better judgment (!), I'm something of a reality show fan. Survivor no longer holds my interest; however, I do like the newer generation of reality shows, where the contestants are judged by their grasp of a measurable professional skill like cooking or modeling. Preferably something that the audience can also have an informed opinion on.

(Aside: I've heard the such as vs. like distinction before, and have occasionally copy-edited for it rather than risk even that slight confusion. But I think it's a stylistic trade-off because such as probably sounds stilted to most people of my generation. We are Generation Like.)

For those of you not familiar with elimination-style reality shows, there's often a first challenge (usually for an award) followed by a second, more important challenge (for either a bigger reward or to avoid elimination).

On Top Chef, that first challenge is called the quickfire challenge. I had some problems with Top Chef (i.e. I couldn't taste the food), but quickfire challenge has always struck me as an unusually evocative phrase.

Recently I've noticed that like some of my friends, I've started applying that term unselfconsciously to the first challenge on any reality show. A quick web search confirms that we are not alone in this.

Over at Nerd World, the semantic broadening continues:

Quickfire challenge: what 5 things should the new Hulk movie do differently from the old Hulk movie?

Lev is not the only person doing this. The amazing thing is that even if you miss the allusion — he made it clear with a link, but others don't — this reference is probably perfectly intelligible.

I'd like to think that quickfire challenge has legs. Go neologism, go!

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