Idioms in Distress

December 11, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Posted in Internet Sleuthiness | Leave a comment
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I’m worried about the idioms.

They’ve been feeling neglected and, really, misunderstood. It’s not that people have stopped using them, no; they’ve been notably present in everyday speech. Rather, the problem is misuse. It is apparent that, as my mom used to say, American idiom use is becoming more and more “culturally illiterate.” Observe:

“Cooking for kids is something that hits very dear to me.”

One of the contestants on Top Chef All Stars uttered this mangled phrase, a dreary combination of “hits close to home” and “is very dear to me.” One idiom or the other, dude: YOU MUST CHOOSE.

“We were deep in the weeds trying to dig our own graves.”

While this example (from another reality show I have  now forgotten) does not Frankenstein two idioms together, it has ignored the common sense one-idiom-per-sentence rule that all speakers would be advised to follow. Again, you must choose: are you “deep in the weeds” OR “trying to dig your own graves”? You can’t be both—not in the same sentence at least.

Finally, a sports metaphor:

“[John Doe] has been a home run hitter for the Dallas Cowboys.”

Now, I’m sure the ESPN announcer who uttered this sentence is aware that the Cowboys play football, not baseball. This is not an example of sports confusion, but rather proof positive that the most potent sports metaphor seems to be a baseball metaphor: applicable anywhere, even when talking about other sports.


Of course it was.

August 29, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Posted in Internet Sleuthiness | Leave a comment
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I know this is old news, but remember the crazy ranting letter Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert wrote in the wake of LeBron James’s decision to sign with the Heat—the letter that earned Gilbert a $100,000 fine from the NBA?

Are you at all surprised to learn that it was posted on the Cavs’s website in Comic Sans?

[ screen shot from Cavaliers official site, which now mysteriously reroutes to the homepage… ]

Target Audience Fail

March 6, 2010 at 7:39 pm | Posted in Internet Sleuthiness | Leave a comment
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An ad for the NBA during an online episode of MTV’s “16 and Pregnant.”

“Super Bowl porn shocks Tuscon TV viewers”

February 3, 2009 at 6:11 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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The best line in this article is the very first:

Tucsonans watching the Super Bowl got more action than they bargained for when a short clip from an adult movie channel interrupted Comcast’s feed with full male nudity during the climactic moments of the game.

Alex Dalenberg, you deserve a raise.

This is a no-huddle situation, people!

February 1, 2009 at 7:49 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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(originally written July 16, 8:29 pm)

It’s been a busy week in linguistic madness and mayhem, but due to  the fact that my summer school class and internship take up most of my lazy blogging time of yore, I’m going to have to log ’em all in list form (only this time, to mix it up, let’s use letters, shall we?):

A. A July 13th article in the LA Times entitled “The mystery of Prop. 98” discusses exactly that: the fact that the proposition’s guarantee for K-14 education funding in California employs such a ricockulous rubric that no one but John Mockler, the initiative’s author, can understand how the hell it works. The article is fairly straight-forward, but the line that really caught my eye (and merited its mention in this space) was the declaration that if Mockler “is ever so selfish as to die,” the state would be fucked, as it would have no remaining to soul to interpret and comprehend Prop. 98’s crucial formula. Um, it’s not like he’s one of the two guys who knows half of Coca-Cola’s formula or something. Are we really so idiotic as a state that only ONE GUY can figure out a math formula?? I mean, we’re not even talking Calculus B/C here or anything. Perhaps I’ll make it my life-time goal to understand this rubric. Hey, a gal can dream, right?

B. The same day produced an SF Chronicle article about San Francisco city’s open-enrollment public school system (whereby students from any neighborhood can choose to attend any school in the system) that contains, as its second paragraph, a single word:


Ehm. Is it EVER acceptable for a Professional. News. Article. to use the word “duh”?? Especially as its own paragraph. ESPECIALLY in an article about education. Seriously.

C. It wouldn’t be a well-rounded episode of Language Round-up without a sports metaphor, now would it? This one comes courtesy of the LA Times in an article called, “Judge dismisses home-schooling credentials case.” A case against a woman from Lynwood who home schools her eight kids (and was accused of mistreating some of them) sparked a legal ruling regarding all home schooling California, but this week the case against the Lynwood mom was dropped. Law folks now disagree whether this new development will make the state-wide ruling moot, or whether they are two separate animals. Santa Clara law professor Edward Steinman, however, is unambiguous in saying, “It should have no effect…But it became political football, and the [appellate] court may use this to say ‘let’s just punt.’ ” Okay, I guess I should concede the fact that this is one of the more deft sports metaphors that gets tossed around (heh). But, meh. It’s just suuuch old news—and a weaksauce out—to use a sports metaphor. Let’s get more creative, people!

D. Last but not least is a gem from the Sacramento Bee that takes extended metaphor to a whole new level. An article about the still-unpassed California budget finds Schwarzenegger contrasting the fact that “he has always turned in his spending proposal on time” to the Legislature’s extreme budgetary tardiness. “I can only get the horse to water,” the governor tells us, “but I can’t make it drink.” A Republican senator named Dave Codgill (who, God willing, heard the preceding quote before coming up with this idiocy) retorted, “We’re not going to drink any tax increases.” Oh, Mr. Cogdill. Really? REALLY? Is that the best you could come up with??? I wish I could say that it was his sentiment and not his semantics that bugged me so much, but no. I can’t hide behind politics on this one. Gah.

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