Yeah. I know. So naturally, I've been whining about grading papers
and the dumbshit things that our students come up with Goddess Caroline.
This whole mess, bemoaning Repetitive Student Stupidity, sent us
spiraling into Deep and Meaningful Pondering of Overused Words and
Phrases in general. So, for the record, I'll be happy if I never
again hear the following bullcrap:
Smoking Gun: Evocative, isn't it? Well, maybe the FIRST
MILLION TIMES IT WAS USED! There're smoking guns in Iraq, smoking
guns in Afghanistan, smoking guns in the White House, smoking guns
in every branch of world government, and now it seems like everyone's
searching for "smoking guns," not evidence. Oh no! "Evidence"
is far too boring a term. We need BUZZWORD!
Closure: For the love of God, you just might not GET "closure"
on something! Accept that sometimes life gives you unanswered questions!
Nine-Eleven/Nine-One-One: Please don't freakin' commodify
a national tragedy with a snappy catch-phrase! The date was September
11. The event was NOT "Nine-Eleven"
it was the Al
Qaeda attack on the World Trade Centers and Pentagon building. And, oh, please, I beg,
DON'T CALL IT "NINE-ONE-ONE"!
Weapons of Mass Destruction/WMD: 1) Shut up. 2) See the
above re: commodification, okay?
Prevenative Measures: I can accept this concept when it
refers to, say, birth control. However, it drives me ape-shit when
it refers to oft-questionable screening tactics, long-term incarceration
without action, or laws with potentially racially/socially unjust
undertones. This is one of those phrases that gets a Pavlov-like
reaction. Yes! We must take preventative measures against ___ or
____ else we all gonna DIE! That's right, Chicken-Joe-McCarthy-Little,
the red sky IS falling and we better take preventative measures
or else THEY will git us! P.S. Hey, morons? It's PREVENTIVE! "Preventative"
is a different word.
Bling: Please. Using this does not give you street cred.
Hell, if you use the word "bling," you have less street
cred then Justin Freakin' Timberlake!
Ultimate ____!!/Extreme ____!! You know it's bad when, instead
of just being used for sporting events (which was annoying enough),
these tags have moved to, like, dish soap (New EXTREME Cleaning
Power!) or snack foods (Try our ULTIMATE Nachos!). An overabundance
of superlatives just makes me wonder "What was it before, complete
shit?" Really, these nacho cheese-flavored chips are THE LAST
WORD IN CHIPS, EVAH?! They have reached the SUPREME PINNACLE OF
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A NACHO CHEESE FLAVORED CHIP and NO OTHER CHIP
CAN EVER OR WILL EVER BE ABLE TO COMPETE?! Shut up. And in that
same vein, there is
Take ___ to the Next/a Whole New Level!! I heard a commercial
on the radio for a restaurant that claimed they were "taking
fajitas to the next level!" Because they've added portabella
mushrooms. Oh yeah. Landmark revolutionary groundbreaking FAJITAS!
As if. Now if eating fajitas were to cure cancer, okay, that
might be taking fajitas to A WHOLE NEW LEVEL!
Pop: The verb, not the noun or adjective, that is. Every
time I hear some makeup person blithering that "Using eyeliner
this way makes the eyes really pop!" or some decorator
person yammering that "The colors of the pillows against the
sofa make it really pop!" I want to leap, screaming,
from a ten-story balcony. Or worse, "We're going to pop
the colors with a striking yellow boarder!" Guh! No! The only
things that "pop" are corn, balloons, and pustules.
Disrespect/diss: I don't care if it's an accepted colloquialism;
I fucking HATE it! Disrespect is a noun, not a verb. I do not "disrespect"
you; I treat you with disrespect. The worst example of "diss"
I ever heard of was when Mommy went to visit Sugarbear up in Seattle
last spring, and my Dumb Dad was trying to schmooze her into (his
words, not mine) "a memory-lane fuck," and when Mother
declined that offer, as well as any other offer to hang out with
him, Dumb Dad got all pissy and demanded, "Why're you dissin'
me?" I told Mom she should've told him that it was because
he didn't fizzle her nizzle, fo' shizzle.
Basically: 97% of the time this word is used, it could be
omitted entirely. "Well, basically, I went to work that morning."
Why do you need to say "basically"? "I went to work
that morning." That's all you need. "Basically,"
as with other padded words, just dilutes your sentence and makes
it weak. "Basically, here's what happened." Of COURSE
it's "basically" what happened
that's the point
of telling the story! But if you throw in a weak pad-word like "basically,"
it just sounds shifty, and I'm inclined instead to wonder what you're
leaving out. "Well, basically, I told her that ____"
means to me that you're leaving out all the vituperations and expletives
that you most likely included. Because when I say, "You fucking
insane asshole piece of shit!" I'm "basically" saying
"you're crazy." Basically.
Literally: Even worse than basically, this padding-word is
usually completely inaccurate as well. "My face was literally
melting in this heat!" No it wasn't. It was not LITERALLY melting.
"Literally, I could not take another breath!" Yeah you
could. You aren't dead, are you? "I was literally flabbergasted!"
You were flabbergasted. You don't need to add "literally"
to convince me. Lose it.
Hero/Diva: These titles are so easily thrown around that
they've lost all meaning. ANY bi-otch who shows 'tude is called
a "diva"! ANY person who does something even REMOTELY
human is called a "hero"! Lil' Kim is NOT a diva! Every
person who lived through that hurricane is NOT a hero!
Instant classic: This is an oxymoron. Period. Hell, "classic"
ranks with "hero" and "diva" as something that
is so easily used that it's lost any real meaning.
Reality TV: Ditto the oxymoron thing.
Homeland Security: I'm beginning to think this is an oxymoron
as well. You know, like "US Intelligence."
Manolo Blahniks: You are not thisclose to being a Hollywood
Stah if you wear, or even MENTION, these stupid, trendy, overpriced
dumb-shit shoes. They're just SHOES! Shut UP already!
Redefine/reinvent: I'm so sick of hearing every other week
that Madonna is "reinventing herself." Funny, back in
the 80s and early 90s, we all used to think Madonna's savvy, cutting-edge
"reinventing herself!" was just, like, trying out new
hair colors or clothes and looking for attention and publicity.
Now it's, like, tied to something deeply personal and professional
Really? (So much so that she's now FOLLOWING the herd and calling
her latest concert outing the Re-Invention Tour?) And that new Justin
Timberlake is going to "redefine" pop music? A bunch of
Michael Jackson knock-offs? Really? Just because something is new
doesn't mean it's going to REDEFINE or REINVENT anything.
And now, for One Final Peeve: incorrect use of quotation marks.
Please listen carefully, and take notes if needed.
QUOTATION MARKS ARE NOT USED TO ACCENTUATE OR EMPASIZETHINGS! NO!
There must be tens of thousands of signs and advertisements cropping
up with continued misuse of quotation marks. All over LA, there's
stuff proclaiming "The Best" Tacos! Holiday "Sale"!
"Vintage" Furniture! "Daylight Savings" Time.
My favorite was a sign posted by the 405 onramp I take every morning
to school: "Fresh" Fruit! I used to assume some of it
was an ESL problem; there is a high percentage of people in Los
Angeles that speak English as their second (or third or fourth)
language. But no, that's not it. Somewhere, someone got the idea
that quotation marks are to be used interchangeably with bold type
or italics as a way of emphasizing a word or words. And between
bad websites and horrible SPAM and Pennysaver
ads, the problem has compounded beyond belief.
QUOTATION MARKS SET OFF SPOKEN LANGUAGE OR TITLES OF CERTAIN THINGS!
For example: Dylan's favorite poet is Byron, and he zooms around
in his Porsche quoting from "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage"
or repeating Lady Caroline Lamb's famous description of the poet
as "mad, bad, and dangerous to know." Quotation marks
can be used to indicate that a word or phrase is being used in a
special way; if you are being ironic or sarcastic, or, using a well-known
slogan, or using a simile. For example, like this: The so-called
"free concert" last weekend ended up costing taxpayers
hundreds of thousands for security and cleanup. Or like this:
The Dairy Burger is home of "the best burgers and fries
in Sweet Valley!" So, understandably, advertising "Antique"
Furniture or "Fresh" Fruit sounds like someone is being
snarky about the quality of said goods.
And so sayeth "Professor Dwanollah," "Author"
of the "Best" Site on the Web!