Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Unusual Arctic Weather Poised to Ruin Your Life and Afterlife -- Popcorn by The Colonel #80

Epigraph: Memoir is not an act of history but an act of memory, which is innately corrupt.” -Mary Karr (b. 1955), poet and memoirist

What is with the metastasis of “so”? We were lunching with a friend and the friend asked the waitress whether there were any specials. She replied, “So, we have individual pizzas....” The inappropriate “so” is rampant, high and low. Now that we’ve called it to your attention, you’ll start noticing it, too, and it will slowly (or quickly) drive you mad. You’re welcome.

Baby Boomers greatly fear dementia. Their spines chill whenever they forget where they parked the car or put the car keys. Fortunately, the bad economy distracts them with grisly visions of a poverty-stricken old age. The low-interest policy of the Fed robs them of the benefit of their saving. Let one fear temporarily relieve another.

A commentator said a higher minimum wage won’t draw native-born Americans back into minimum-wage jobs because “the recruitment networks that used to connect [native-born] young people with entry-level jobs have been allowed to atrophy.” Interesting observation.

Baby Boomers were born in 1946, 1964, and the years between. The terminal years are chiastic: “46-64” (a-b-b-a). How’s that for a high-class mnemonic device? The boundary dates for Gen X, Gen Y, Gen Z, Millennials, and Echo Boomers are not the subject of consensus. (Gen Z is not to be confused with General Zod.) Those born before 1946 are increasingly called “The Grayest Generation.”

The ad on the screen was partly obscured. What was visible said:
What could it have been but “The Great Buddy Holly”? We fell to thinking about the Dead Sea Scrolls and other ancient documents, and how scholars puzzle out what must have been in the holes, tears, smudges, burnt parts, and all manner of lacunae. The detective work is amazing. Just to be sure, we scrolled the ad into full visibility. It read, “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”

The exciting possibilities for riverfront redevelopment in Middletown give birth to the following free-form meditation upon exciting possibilities for the adaptive redevelopment of another Middlesex County town, Chester. Chester was long known as "Dog Town," supposedly because of the abundance of free-roving dogs. The lovely nickname has been the subject of brutal suppression by persons ruthlessly fighting to enhance property values.

How about doing a 180 and officially changing the name of Chester to its perennial nickname, “Dog Town,” the better to attract libertarians, anarchists, dogs, free soil Democrats, bohemians, dog eaters, dressage competitors, Romany, ACLU members, freedmen, nonconformists, beatniks, hippies, old salts, old tars, washed-up actors, gadflies, militia members,  foodies, survivalists, muster enthusiasts, battle reenactment aficionados (conservationists vs. preservationists?), ant farmers, low-tech start-ups, incubators, succubators, astrologers, vegetarians, people without driver’s licenses, weredogs, prophetesses, diet cranks, friends of dogs, communards, people who are Swiss since the war, louche entrepreneurs, instigators, improvisation artists, outside agitators, necromancers, ventriloquists, channelers, stand-up comedians, Scientologists and their Dianetics wingmen, fortune tellers, tarot readers, philosophers, aromatherapists, child philatelists, numismatists, numerologists, unregulated psychotherapists, thespians, Diggers, backroom dealmakers, open air cigar enthusiasts, middle-of-the-road nudists, zoning opponents, squatters, backdaters, Gandy dancers, Ponzi men, aged hepsters, medical meth drinkers, medical pot sellers, medical illusion dwellers, and medical people with wounds they have no intention to heal? The town will be like Hell, under the definition "Hell is where all the interesting people are."
Business development people will be reassured that an influx of such people will necessarily draw in the businesses that cater to them: saloons, head shops, independent churches, temples, ashrams, dojos, coffee houses, souvenir, curio, and memorabilia shops (“My parents went to Dog Town and all they got me was this lousy T-shirt”), hobby shops, dog pounds, houses of good repute (not), Zen bakeries, SAT prep courses, vendors of vintage and modern weaponry and military accoutrements, marijuana pharmacies, permeable parking lots, drive-through liquor stores, futon dealers, Birkenstock outlets, chiropractors, granny glasses kiosks, off-off-off-off-off Broadway productions, tattoo parlors, taxidermy studios, craft stores (including making drinking glasses from wine bottles), folk music cafes, disco parlors, improv nooks, Pablo Fanque’s Fair, health food shoppes, avant-garde comportment schools, raw milk wholesalers, and more.

Just imagine it! A People’s Republic of Dog Town, right in the bosom of Middlesex County! Are not states and municipalities supposed to be “laboratories of federalism”? And the above are just the intended consequences of the name change -- think if you can of all the serendipitous unintended consequences! The unknown unknowns! Tourist magnet idea: a large monument to the Unknown Unknowns, perhaps in the form of a statue of Donald Rumsfeld?

New town motto: “Going to the Dogs Since 1836!” Talk it up!

Economic redevelopment is fun. What’s next? The reinvention of Belltown with an Edgar Allen Poe theme? Any excuse will do to assure frequent use of the word “tintinnabulation.”

A Dialogue

She: Do you drink beer?

He: Yes.

She: How many beers a day?

He: Usually about 3.

She: How much do you pay per beer?

He: $5.00, which includes a tip.

She: And how long have you been drinking?

He: About 20 years, I suppose.

She: So a beer costs $5 and you have 3 beers a day which puts your spending each month at $450. In one year, it would be approximately $5400. Correct?

He: Correct.

She: If in 1 year you spend $5400, not accounting for inflation,
the past 20 years puts your spending at $108,000, correct?

He: Correct.

She: Do you know that if you didn't drink so much beer, that money could have been put in a savings account and after accounting for compound interest for the past 20 years, by now you could have bought a Ferrari?

He: Do you drink beer?

She: No.

He: Where's your Ferrari?

Various Business Signs

Sign at a gynecologist's office: “Dr. Jones, at your cervix."

In a podiatrist's office: "Time wounds all heels."

On a septic tank truck: “Yesterday's Meals on Wheels”

At an optometrist's office: "If you don't see what you're looking for, you've come to the right place."

On a plumber's truck: "We repair what your husband fixed."

On another plumber's truck: "Don't sleep with a drip. Call your plumber."

At a tire shop in Milwaukee: "Invite us to your next blowout."

At a towing company: "We don't charge an arm and a leg. We want tows."

On an electrician's truck: "Let us remove your shorts."

In a non-smoking area: "If we see smoke, we will assume you are on fire and take appropriate action."

On a maternity room door: "Push. Push. Push."

At a car dealership: "The best way to get back on your feet is to miss a car payment."

Outside a muffler shop: "No appointment necessary. We hear you coming."

In a veterinarian's waiting room: "Be back in 5 minutes. Sit! Stay!"

At the electric company (in Canada, hydro): "We would be delighted if you send in your payment. However, if you don't, you will be."

In a restaurant window: "Don't stand there and be hungry; come on in and get fed up."

In the front yard of a funeral home: "Drive carefully. We'll wait."

At a propane filling station: "Thank heaven for little grills."

At a Chicago radiator shop: "Best place in town to take a leak."

On the back of septic tank truck: "Caution -- This Truck Full of Political Promises."

Next issue: standards return!


Anonymous said...

This idea is too good to share with Chester. Let's do it here! Please find some previously undiscovered etymological reason why Middletown is actually Dogtown and let the re-branding commence.

Anonymous said...

Baby Boomers, see A Dialogue. Stop blaming government for your own waste, and stop blaming old-age forgetfulness for your selective memory, as you "forget" about Enron, etc created by Baby Boomers. Welcome to the GenX party of necessary self reliance

Anonymous said...

What happens when the dogs of Dogtown visit the trees of Forest City?

Tree Fanatic said...

That's when the Tree Fanatic grows vexed.

Anonymous said...

We could call the dog a mattabasset hound.

Ed Foreleg said...

BTW, I began noticing "so" about six years ago while conducting interviews in the academic world.

Attached is a column I wrote on the topic. A column which seems to have avoided copy editing considering the absence of several plurals in a few prominent sentences.


Two Hands Clapping said...

Dear Ed Foreleg:

1/ Thanks for these comments and for your steady support of Popcorn.

2/ My knowledge of linguistics is nearly nil, although I once debated Noam Chomsky.

3/ Nevertheless, I recognize the enormous importance of what you call verbal "filler." I'm not sure that category includes things like "y'know," "look," "like," and "so," but I could be wrong.

3/ Regardless whether "so" belongs with "er," "um," and "ah," one point to be made is that why a speaker says something (e.g., to get time to collect her thoughts) and the meaning of what she says are two different things.

4/ Interesting that you perceive both "look" and "so" as condescending put-downs. Query whether that's exegesis or eisegesis.

5/ Interesting also that you discovered "so" six years ago in academic circles. I associate it with less educated people. Maybe it originated in academia and spread from there to all, and I just happen to hear it in the low places I frequent.

6/ So far it seems not to have jumped to written English, like the (rampant) redundant use of "single" with the superlative, as in "[John L. Lewis was] the single most hated man in banks, boardrooms, and Harvard clubs."

7/ That's from "The Patriarch," a biography of JFK's dad, a well-written book by David Nasaw.

8/ William Safire and William F. Buckley Jr. also occasionally misused "single" that way.

9/ That use of "single" is not only redundant but also hackneyed, and it detracts from the writer's credibility because it's an attempt to "juice up" a superlative. It's not just the tallest building in Kansas City, it's the *single* tallest building in Kansas City. What are you selling me with your rhetorical emphasis, sir?

10/ Shakespeare can say "the most unkindest cut of all" because, well, he's Shakespeare.

11/ "Well" is another initial filler word that conveys subtle meaning. Reagan used it to good effect enough that impressionists caught it and used it.

Thanks again.

Col. T. H. Clapping