Sunday, August 28, 2016

'Corrections' column for mistakes printed in the past year

Nobody is perfect, and when producing thousands of words a year in print, errors are inevitable, especially when you consider that my first language is English.

This is the language which brought us the word "pneumatic." From the Latin "pneu," meaning "silent p, especially in the middle of the night when you are trying not to wake anybody else up," and the Greek "matic," meaning "word which just somehow magically comes after 'auto.'"

Here are some gaffes I regret from the past year:
  • In my column about this fall's election, I used the phrase "power-hungry egomaniac" when I should have chosen the more internationally accepted "accident de locomotive" ("train wreck.") My apologies to PHEW (Power Hungry Egomaniacs Worldwide) for hiring an exterminator, so to speak, when a simple can of RAID would do.

  • There was a typo in my column about fracking. Parents were understandably upset that their children were exposed to such language. The sentence I had intended to write was actually "the governor won't stop fracking long enough to study the effect on women of childbearing age."

  • I used a technique called exaggeration when writing about my dog's appetite. He does not "literally" eat half a cow a day, any more than I literally once dated Giselle Bundchen while not dreaming. He wants to eat half a cow, don't get me wrong. His desire is to have access to a whole cow, eat half now, then half in 10 minutes. Like most Americans, I tend to use the word "literally" when I really just mean my life is hollow.

  • In my column about which direction a toilet paper roll should be placed, over or under, I regret calling people of the "under" persuasion "soulless ghouls." Over or under preference is an inborn trait, not a choice, and I should not have maligned people for what is, in essence, a genetic defect.

  • I mistakenly used the word "hermaphrodite" in a column about the arctic, when I realize now the word I was really going for was "permafrost." Mea culpa. As I recall, I screwed that one up on the SAT too.

  • Finally, in this very column, I concede I may have erred by claiming mistakes which were not actually made in columns which were not actually written. If you are seeing an ad for mattresses in this space right now, you will know that the editors caught this in time.




Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Losing the slur 'philistines' is nothing to sneeze at

It is midsummer, and that means naturally I have the attention span of a Congressman at a beauty pageant.

Random thoughts bounce around my skull like ping pong balls on lottery day, except nobody wins. Random thought—who was Granny Smith and what did she have against apples?

Or this—have you ever come across anything that WAS something to sneeze at?

Recently I read that archaeologists discovered a 3000 year old burial site of some Philistines showing they had ornate pottery and toe rings and were not, well, philistines, after all. Mind blown. NOW what am I going to call ruffians who won't accept the state of Israel or can't quote any lyrics from "Hamilton"? Louts? Neanderthals? If memory serves, scientists now say it turns out Neanderthals weren't really philistines, either.

It is a hard thing during an election year to have one less word to throw at the bums on the other side. Pointing out a candidate's lack of sophistication or character or qualifications requires slurs, and lots of 'em.

Work with me, archaeologists! Find me a new tribe, a pile of bones showing a race of people who wore live cats as necklaces. Something! How did the Huns treat cats? Somebody google that.

The Huns got a bad rap in World War I themselves, or rather the Germans did, being derisively called Huns, even though the Huns were nomadic Asians who hadn't been around for a millennium. It was wartime. We didn't care. In wartime or in an election year you just need a good short slam. Accuracy be damned. Something pithy. Ideally something with an f-sound. Philistines was perfect. I just might sob.

"Nabob" is pretty great, best used in Vice President Spiro Agnew's sneering "nattering nabobs of negativity," but young people don't know it. They would probably assume it meant residents of Naboo, a peaceful planet in "Star Wars," where democracy runs cleanly and without rancor, like an Amish bachelorette party.

I may have to coin something. How about "whacks," a combo of witless and hacks. Or "fombies," the latter part being zombies and the first part you can figure out.

"Troglodyte" is great, as it refers to a cave dweller or someone who is "deliberately ignorant." The ironic thing is, if they would just stay in the cave, we wouldn't know they were deliberately ignorant. Oh, this election year, if only it were so.



Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Wednesday Wa Pic - Peak enjoyment



At twice the price, it's still a bargain.


Sunday, August 14, 2016

Rio dances the Summer Olympics samba...or is that the trots?

The XXXI Olympic Games are well under way, with the motto "A new world" ("in which you shouldn't breathe too deeply or let our water touch you.") I believe the "XXXI" is an affectionate nod to the "toxic" symbol you used to see on poison bottles in old cartoons.

Recent studies showed that the water at Copacabana, where the triathletes swim, is contaminated with drug-resistant "super bacteria." Same at Ipanema. This explains why all the people who watch the tall and tan and young and lovely girl passing go "ahhh." They are probably hopping from foot to foot outside the restrooms.

This is the first Summer Olympics which will take place entirely in winter. File that away under "Southern Hemisphere" for when you need to win a bar bet.

So the temps will be mild, but the air toxicity is three times worse than the levels the World Health Organization calls "worrisome." I do not think the athletes from a first-time Olympic competitor like South Sudan will define this as hardship, though.

Worst of all, the IOC still hasn't brought baseball back. There was room to add two sports this Olympics, and what did they choose? Golf and rugby. And it's not even regular rugby, it's called "rugby sevens," where a whole game takes just 16 minutes.

In baseball, fans can soak up three to fourteen hours of pleasure, where in rugby a bunch of guys just square off and grunt against each other until Ty Cobb rolls over in his grave. That's apparently five points. Metric too, probably.

The Olympic motto is "citius, altius, fortius" ("faster, higher, stronger"), and I am not sure where golf fits in there. At least in trampoline they've got one of the three covered; plus, there are statistically pleasant odds that somebody might fly into the stands.

I love some of our U.S. athletes' names. I look forward to rooting for tennis player Jack Sock and runner Charles Jock. I think they should start a clothing company. Field hockey player Katie Bam and cyclist Sarah Hammer should open a brewpub. Runner Molly Huddle and beach volleyballer Brooke Sweat could make a fortune with a chain of gyms.

I always enjoy the Olympics, and I am sure that with a purported 85,000 soldiers and police deployed on the streets, the tourists will enjoy them too. How do you say "Wear full-body latex, everybody!" in Latin again?