Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Words mean things

I wont post rants all the time but it IS my blog so here's one:

I love words. I consider my vocabulary to be way above the average but now and then I run into a word that irritates me for some reason. Usually it is a "new" word, some made up piece of useless jargon that some group of "eLiTeZ" have decided is "de rigeur" for the moment. Usually, the word is unnecessary as it replaces a perfectly good word for no valuable reason.

An example of this is the (usually incorrect) usage of "sourced" to replace "supplied."  "Supplied" has worked just fine for years. What is the added value of mis-using the word "sourced"? None that I can see. Let's look at a concrete example before moving on. Back a few years when I was still "gainfully employed" (wouldn't "working" have been better? More concise for sure.) Anyway, back when I was working I got a memo addressed to "All those sourced from 01."  Obviously 01 was a location, but where was a mystery. My boss didn't know what or where 01 was. Eventually I discovered it refered to a particular warehouse. Then I was in a "quandry," (See:  Large vocabulary. Puzzled or confused would have been better communication.) I was almost certain that despite the fact that the warehouse in question supplied us with more than 25,000 items, NOT ONE of them was sourced there. They only passed through. Unloaded from one truck which may or may not have come from the source, those products lived a transient existance (There he goes again. Those products were only in the warehouse temporarily) and then they were shipped out to one or more of 128 stores. So here is a guy whose mom still buys his groceries looking cool (to himself) because he failed to communicate. (I had 5 phone calls that day asking me what "sourced from 01" meant.) Sadly, the word "sourced" has remained in use with clever youngsters everywhere and now the most incompetent of those have risen to higher positions.

Anyway, that's not the word that irritated me today. Nor was it "quirky" a word used exclusively by the ever so "precious" food and travel writers of the world.

Today's winner is "unreconstructed" which apparently means "not reconciled to some political, economic, or social change" I'd love to see the etymology of that. So, how often do you use that word in a sentence? Maybe I am wrong, but wouldn't "old-fashioned" do the job without the need to find a dictionary?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Thrilling TV Tales

Sometime in January 1954, homework finished and dinner over, my brother Dick & I settled down for our daily ration of TV. Often that meant the evening news but we didn't care. We were watching the one-eyed monster. That was all that mattered. We were hooked. The beginning of the TV generation. Since it was a school night, we had to go to bed way too early and in order to cut down on bathroom fist fights, Dick who was 18 months younger had to head upstairs a half hour before me. This had been a minor problem before Christmas when the TV arrived but in the week after school had started up again it reached a crisis. Dick staged a whine-in at the top of the stairs. The stairwell acted as a megaphone and filled the living room with the screech of a 9-year old's whine:  "IwannawatchTV IwannawatchTV IwannawatchTV IwannawatchTV IwannawatchTV IwannawatchTV..."

Finally, unable to ignore it any longer my father yelled, "Go to bed! There's nothing on but Eddie Fisher and he stinks!"
Immediately and without a pause, the whine changed to "I wanna watch Eddie Fisher stink..." We really didn't care what was on. We just wanted to watch it.

Through the even more addictive magic of the internet, you can watch Eddie Fisher stink too.

A Christmas Story

This is the city. Bangor, Maine. I live here. I'm a kid. December 24, 1953. 5pm. I was working the day watch out of the living room when a big white truck pulled up in front of the house. A tall man with sculpted bronze hair and glasses held together with what looked like a band-aid got out and opened the back.

"Swede's here," my mother said and my dad was out the front door like a flash. Together they wrestled a large box from the truck to the front porch where they peeled off all the cardboard and packing material revealing a beautiful Bendix Television Set about the size of a kitchen stove. Dad and 'Swede' Nelson eased the new TV through the front door and into a corner of the living room that had been cleared to make room. That explained why the Christmas Tree was not in it's usual corner this year.

The men tilted the case this way and that while my mother spun the legs on and finally there it sat. Huge, awesome, unbelievable. We finally had TV! Dad plugged it in and Swede played with the knobs in front until finally a ghostly, snow covered John Cameron Swaze appeared extolling the virtues of Camel Cigarettes.
Swede said, "We'll need to do some fine tuning," and stepped behind the TV. He fiddled with something back there and the picture magically cleared to (17" diagonal) glorious black & white and we could hear Swaze reading the news. Exciting stuff but the real  excitement was about to begin.

Swede called to my dad to join him behind the TV and showed him the rod that came out beside the picture tube and explained the fine tuning. Then he pointed to the back end of the picture tube and said, "Whatever you do, don't touch th...BAM! Swede slammed off the wall behind the TV and crumpled to the floor. Before anyone could react he shook his head and climbed unsteadily to his feet. Like Boston Blackie's fedora, Swede's sculpted bronze hair was undisturbed.  "I hate it when I do that. But that was why you never want to touch that." Dad said we would all learn from his experience and be careful. Dad & Swede retired to the kitchen (probably for some lemonade) and we all stared bug-eyed at the new one-eyed monster in the corner. All the wrapped gifts under the tree were totally forgotten.

Swede & dad came back into the living room and Swede reminded us that although there were channels 2-13 on the dial, we only had one channel in Bangor so we wouldn't have to change it. Dad walked Swede to the truck and then we all sat down to dinner, rushing to eat so we could go watch TV.

Finally we settled down and heard the famous "Dum-de-Dum-Dum" sound as Dragnet started. You can watch the very same episode here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ls5GfZVJHXo