Tag Archives: sayings
How ya Doin? Fine. How you Doin? Fine. You Sure you Okay? Well, I’ve Been Better. Yeah, I’ve Been Better, Too. Actually, I’m Feeling Pretty Rotten. Yeah, I’m Gonna Lie Down.
When you set out to write a piece, it doesn’t matter if you use an outline to structure your story or fly by the seat of your pants. It’s a given that you must drop your cast of characters into a location, be it fact or fancy, in order to tell the story. Even the condition of the participants makes no difference as long as they’re where you put them and ready to do your bidding while being forced through the story as you weave your tale.
The location of that location can ultimately shake the credibility of your story. For argument’s sake, let’s say that chapter one takes place on a beautiful white sand beach somewhere in the Tropics. Coconut palms sway in the warm afternoon breeze. The smell of seafood cooking in banana leaves fills the air. Then, a throng of mercenaries clad in dirty underwear and headbands come frolicking from the jungle and play tag until sundown.
See what I mean? No continuity. This same linguistic problem can squeeze from between the pages of any novel and bleed over into everyday life.
Have you ever heard someone say:
We’re lost in the middle of nowhere. First, we must ask ourselves, is there really such a place as nowhere? Then, we must follow-up that question with a resounding, “no!” And to further back up this conclusion, we refer to the statement, “no matter where you go, there you are.” This phrase and this phrase alone proves without a doubt that if you are there then it is physically impossible to be nowhere.
Mayhap we should delve into this “location” quandary a bit deeper. Have you ever asked an individual the whereabouts of a particular landmark, only to receive a reply such as, “just over that hill a spell” or “down the road a piece?” Not that hard to decipher if you give it a little thought, but the real barnburner remains to be, “Over yonder.”
I was born and bred in the South, heard it all my life and just accepted it at face value. They used it in William Shakespear’s day (Hark, doth light thru yonder window break?) and even then they didn’t know what it meant. (Of course, they thought Juliet was the sun.) If someone were to ask me, “Where is over yonder and what exactly does it mean,” I would have to say, “Why, over yonder is anywhere other than here.” Its exact definition is anywhere other than here.
I want you to ponder something until we meet again. The next time you ask someone where they are going and they answer you with “nowhere,” suggest to them that since, “nowhere” is an impossibility (citing facts learned in this blog post) offer “yonder” as an alternative since you’re both already there.
How often have you complained to a friend or coworker using those exact words? “Mama told me there’d be days like these.”
How many times has someone, be they friend, foe, brother, sister, neighbor, aunt, uncle, mailman’s sister-in-law, wife or just the dog down the street, hammered you with those words? Each one mired in their pathetic excuse for a life, drug through the muck of an excruciatingly painful day, causing them to speak those words of wisdom. “Mama told me there’d be days like these.”
Something is amiss. I ponder, I worry, and then ponder and worry some more until it hits me–Mama never told me there’d be days like these. In fact, I know of no one who’s Mama ever said “there’d be days like this.” And, to take it one step further, I know no one, who knows anyone, who may have thought they knew of someone, who had an inkling, that they heard of someone, who may have said that somebody’s mama, said something like that.
Mama did tell me one thing:
“Always make sure you’re wearing clean underwear in case you’re ever in an accident.” And she also said…… Wait a minute, back up a few words. Mama always supplied me with clean underwear, but she never told me to wear it in case I was in an accident.
“Clean your plate.” With the appetite I had growing up, she may have said something like, “don’t eat your plate,” but never, “clean your plate.” If starving children in China were depending on food being left on my plate, they were in for a rude awakening.
You know, the more I write, the more I become disillusioned with what Mama said, because it turns out that she didn’t say much of anything.
She didn’t tell me to become a writer, but she did act all proud when I published my first novel. She said, “This is my son and I’m proud because he published a novel.”
The more I think about it, Mama was just trying to steal my thunder and that’s why throughout the years she never said anything.
I’ll be talking to Mama soon and maybe we can work this out, but until then I’ll sadly wonder what could have been, if Mama had just opened her mouth.
And on top of all that, Mama doesn’t have Internet, so I can’t get in trouble…… Of course they do say, “The walls have ears.”
It’s probably just one more thing attributed to something that Mama said and since we know that she didn’t say anything, we’re still in the clear.
I’ve got to go; I’ve managed to confuse myself.
Ah, the written word….so much more reliable than its close cousin, the spoken word. Way back yonder in them thar olden days, folks would have to commit important happenings and occasions to memory. And what was the most efficient way to accomplish this? Turn them into a story to be passed down from generation to generation, of course.
Can’t you just see it?
The Chief Elder, dressed in fur, staff in hand, flames from the fire dancing off his wise bearded face. throngs of children, young people, and adults alike awaiting for this gifted storyteller to weave his tale of adventure, romance, and intrigue.
Then, one day, some party-pooper picked up a piece of charcoal, or some such other soft piece of material that would make a mark, and commenced to scribbling on the cave wall… and there you have it–the twenty-six letters of the alphabet are born.
Now, I have mentioned the spoken word, the written word, but left out one very important part of today’s language, and that is none other than the stupid word. Please allow me to explain.
I spent nearly 16 years of my life in and around the corporate world, and every so often a new phrase, spoken only in what we will now dub “corporate speak,” would surface, rear its ugly head and spit out some silly nonsense.
Think outside the box.…… Now that I’ve stopped laughing, I will admit that even though I know what this means, will somebody please tell me…… What does this mean!!! Do we really need this cornball phrase to tell us not to be like Jethro; instead embrace creativity. I hereby ban this saying and replace it with my own…… Don’t be stupid.
Here’s another little ditty:
Too much on my plate.…… Boy, there’s one for the ages. The last time I had too much on my plate…….I don’t think I’ve ever had too much on my plate. I have no choice but to flush……… and down the porcelain La-Z-Boy she goes.
How about number three:
Low hanging fruit……… I sure would like to know who came up with this one. Just in case you don’t know, it means to get the easy tasks out-of-the-way first. I can only imagine the phrases the creator of this one canned on the climb toward number one.
Picture wavy lines and fading scenery as dreamscape music ushers you to another time and place. The place where corporate speak is created. It’s a small room. The walls and ceiling are painted an institutional white. The single door and frame painted an inviting light gray; the carpet a stain resistant dark gray. There are no windows, and a small fluorescent fixture in the ceiling, its worn-out bulbs blinking to the tune of Good Golly Miss Molly. A small man, in a gray suit, with dark framed glasses, sets at a small gray desk humming, Ain’t No Woman Like the One I Got. Every now and then he’d release a phrase and allow it to flow around the room before shooting it down into the trashcan and sending up another.
Let’s move in closer and intercept some of these words of wisdom.
1) Smash the eggs and let the birds go for now. We’ll blast them from the sky later.
Nah, too long and a hair too violent.…… I know… how about?
2) Stomp’em afore they get too big.
Won’t work either. The length is close, but the content’s just not quite there. I’ve got it!
3) It was the best of times, it was the worst…….
Nah, it’s been done to death.
What do they want from me? I’m going with my first choice, the hanging grape thing, the one my supervisor shot down. I’ll show him. It will become the greatest, nonsensical, off-the-wall corporate speak phrase ever uttered! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!
Needless to say, the phrase enjoyed moderate success and the employee was transferred to the mail room.
Now for the crème de la crème:
4) Who’s got the rock?
I refuse to waste virtual paper and ink on this ridiculous collection of words.
So there you have it. Give mankind a toehold to create something totally unnecessary and of use to absolutely no one, and he’ll do it.
In a way, it reminds me of this blog. Chocked full of useless information; ready to use at your discretion.
Until next week
As I sit in my lonely writer’s room, I ponder my very existence. Do I actually exist? If so, why am I here? How can I possibly accomplish the task for which I was brought into existence to accomplish? “How,” I ask you. “How?” As my soul sinks into the depths of despair, I feel my very life’s blood flow into nothingness, for I am nothing…a mere thought, unable to accomplish the simplest of accomplishments.
How sappy can you get? I almost threw up writing it. It may have flown a hundred years ago, and although my version was a little over the top, it just goes to show you how writing styles have changed over the years.
I used this intro to segue into sayings we use today, but which have lost their relevance, (had they possessed an iota of relevance to begin with.)
Remember this one?
“Work like a dog.”
Now I’ll admit that there are breeds of “working” dogs that actually labor today and this practice was much more prevalent back in the day when dogs were bred for a specific job. The notion that, “work like a dog” has any real meaning today careened down the mountain side, through the veterinary specialists (including psychiatry) canine insurance, into businesses catering exclusively to our four-legged friends complete with gourmet food, sweaters, bows and, the crème de la crème, fake reindeer antlers.
My dog’s definition of work would be as follows:
Eat, drink, lick, standup, yawn, chase squirrels, become bored, give up, bark at a cloud, water bowl too far away, yawn, circle twice, plop down, lick, take nap. Repeat process until bedtime.
“Work like a dog?” I think not.
How about this one?
“Sleep like a baby.”
A friend spends the night at your house. The next morning you meet in the kitchen for breakfast. During coffee you make an offhand comment.“How’d you sleep last night?” “Like a baby,” comes the reply.
So you went to bed around 8 p.m., I think to myself. Cried yourself to sleep, woke up at 10 and 12 for a feeding and diaper change. At 2 a.m. you drank your bottle, burped ever so slightly and then pressure-puked all over your mother, your crib and yourself. Finally returned to sleep at 3 a.m., woke up at 4 a.m. for bottle and diaper change , then laid back down just in time for a rectal blowout. This little slice of heaven managed to push through the diaper legs and all over the crib. Someone cleaned you up and all involved were back to sleep by 5:30 a.m.. You were up for the rest of the day by 6 a.m.
Once again, “sleep like a baby.” I think not.
So what can we take away from these paragraphs of wisdom? Unfortunately, not much, so I’ll leave you with this tidbit:
Elephants could fly, if bicycles would stop eating ham sandwiches… Now think on that one a while and get back to me.
Whether I’m penning a novel, a short story or a grocery store list, I have to wonder about the English language. Nay, what America has done to the English language? I have to wonder when a traveler from another country lands up on our hallowed shores, what is their first inkling? Finally, America “or” I’ve somehow landed on another planet.
The clichés alone are enough to send the average visitor screaming back to their homeland. Put yourself in their place. You’ve taken the time to learn proper English. Your late flight lands in Los Angeles. You run for the gate to board the plane that will take you to your final destination, Chicago, only to find that the doors are closed and the plane is backing from the jet way.
The concierge says, “You must arrive at the gate on time; remember the early bird gets the worm.”
You ask, “When does the next plane leave?”
The concierge replies “Just sit tight and don’t kick up a fuss.”
You think, bird, worm, sit tight and don’t kick anything. What have I gotten myself into?
Finally, you arrive at Chicago, recover your luggage and head for the taxi stand. You notice storm clouds overhead. You hear someone say, “It’s raining cats and dogs.” You run back inside, not wanting to be bombarded by falling felines and canine.
Anyway you get the picture…
Now, for my personal favorite: “phonics.”
The very name,” phonics,” is a misnomer in and of itself. If I were to spell the word “phonics” using phonics, it would look something like this, “fonix.”
And here’s a question that I would really love an answer to. Why are words that start with an “X,” pronounced like they begin with a “Z” such as “xylophone”? Or words that end with an “X,” pronounced like they finish with an “O,” such as, “Bordeaux”? Some would say that’s the French pronunciation. Well, the last time I looked I didn’t live in France.
Why are so many of our words rooted in Latin, when Latin is a dead and unspoken language? I guess you had to be there.
I bet it was something akin to our American revolution (which at the time was not a popular idea.) Many a plan was discussed under the cover of night in the city Taverns that laid the foundation for our independence. Can you imagine the pints that were pulled during these discussions? I imagine that not only would it have been enough to float the oldest commissioned battleship in our Navy, the U.S.S. Constitution, but several modern aircraft carriers as well.
I guess what I’m trying to get at with this analogy is that over the span of many years there had to be an inordinate amount of alcohol consumed to have created the language of these great United States of America.
It’s been said that American English is one of the most difficult languages to learn. For whatever reason, I find that a source of pride. What could be more appropriate than a complex language for such a wonderfully complex nation?
Post Script: Kinda makes me leery when it comes to writing another novel with all the language faux pas. Well, I guess if John Hancock can get his stuff published, then I’ll hang in there, too.