Tag Archives: words

Best. Sentence. Ever. (Lately.)

14 Apr

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Sometimes a sentence can change your life.  Whether from someone you admire, or a Texan, hearing the right words at the right time can make a difference.  Like the first time your mom said “Don’t stick that fork in the outlet” or “Don’t stick that fork in the toaster” or “What’s with you kids and forks?”

And then there are fragments.  Fragments are bits of a sentence that, when deftly used, can enhance a paragraph or improve a joke.  For example, the sentence “David Duchovny is a beloved television, stage, and screen actor, as well as a screenwriter and director” from the jacket of his book titled “Holy Cow” (published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015) would work better if followed by fragments like: “For real.”  or “No joke… “beloved.””

The problem with fragments is that they can also ruin things.  Things that were just fine until someone added a few bonus words, usually three.  It seems as though it takes as little as three words to ruin things.  (Like hearing “I love you” but having it said by Ted Cruz, Bill Cosby or beloved sex addict David Duchovny.)

For example, has this ever happened to you?

A friend invites you to a show and as you pull into the Middle School parking lot and see on the marquee “Community Theater Presents” you know that this production of “Glengarry Glenn Ross” will run about 45 minutes less than the original because all the swear words were eliminated or changed to safer words like “dummy,” or “stupid dummy” or “Asian-American, Italian-American or Jewish-American stupid dummy.  Chocolate milk is for closers.”

Some lesser known three-word negatives include: “just his Birkenstocks” (from when a friend told me about a steamy one night stand and then ruined it by answering truthfully when I asked what he was wearing).  “Back in Texas” is a winner because if things are so great in Texas, why am I hearing this story here in upstate NY? and, finally, “are you listening?” works because if you have to ask me, you already know the answer.  (PS: according to an unofficial survey (me), “are you listening?” is the question that is most often asked following sentences that begin with “Back in Texas.”  And, no.  I’m probably not.)

Not all three-word groupings are bad, though.  “Are you hungry?” and “I could eat” work just fine and need no improvement as do “You look fine,” “Let’s just go,” and “We’re already late” which, incidentally, were all spoken on my wedding night as were “the Yankees win!” and “Good night, Spouse.”

Happy Anniversary, Fresh Air and Sarcasm!

12 Jul

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Well, it’s been two years or as my publicist would say: “FA&S enters third year of earth-moving, world-changing, mind-altering goodness!”

Side note: my publicist leans toward hyperbole.

Side side note: until recently, The Boy pronounced it “hyper-bowl.”  Like a trophy match for the most caffeinated kid.

Additional side note: I have no publicist.

Still, more than 115 published bits of sarcasm and, despite our efforts, we have yet to be sued by: David Sedaris, Dave Barry, Oprah Winfrey, David Lee Roth, Wolf Blitzer, my mother, Hellman’s Mayonnaise, Rand McNally, Alex Trebek, Lance Armstrong, Donald Trump, Judd Apatow, David Lynch, Karl Marx, Adam Sandler, Tom Arnold, The Drifters, Bono, Dire Straits, Priceline.com, Dane Cook, my mother, Taylor Swift, New Zealand, Nabisco, Bailey’s Irish Cream, a Kardashian, James Sacket, Cliff Bars, Eminem, Janeane Garafalo, yoga, Entenmann’s, Cyndi Lauper, Vitamix, The Girl Scouts of America, Santa or my mother.

That’s an impressive list which, to me, says two things: either everybody loves FA&S or everybody really likes FA&S and the love will eventually follow.  In the cases of Tom Arnold and David Lee Roth, however, I think that if they had the money, a lawsuit would only help revive their- oh, how I am loath to use this word here- careers.

Notice that I am eager to use the expression “I am loath” because, really, how often does one get the opportunity to actually be loath?  Answer: infrequently.  (Additional answers include: extraordinarily, only just, sporadically, seldom and, for our Spanish readers, rara vez because, really, how often does one get to use those words either?)

And words, after all, are the reason we are here.

I don’t mean that words are the reason that we, as a species, are here.  (Yea, right.  Millions of years ago caveman says to cavewoman: “go fix me a dirty martini” and BAM! three more of those later, a species is created.  PS: the martini was dirty due to early cave hygiene practices.)

What I mean is that we (okay, you) have read thus far because of something in the words (it’s either sarcasm dust or bits of organic compost imported from Oprah’s new hobby farm) and I thank you for your loyalty.  Sincerely.

But not too sincerely.  That would be wrong.

Me:0 Universe:1

21 Nov

Let it be known that this occurred well before Halloween or, as I think of it, “Never Again Day.”  Because never, ever again will I allow The Boy and his friends to eat as much candy as they want and then invite all the kids over to hang out while their parents run out for a “quick bite.”  One kid was here until 9:45PM because his parents ran out of “gas.”  And I suppose they couldn’t use their “cell phone” because they were too busy walking along the side of the “road.”  Never.  Again.

In retail, Halloween marks the beginning of “54 days of Rudeness” or “Good Luck Trying to get Someone to Help you Find That in Your Size.”  (Yes John at Colonie Macy*s, you totally sucked the joy out of a fabulous sale in the shoe department and for that you will never be forgiven.  Never.)

My point is this: what you are about to read happened a while ago which is significant because while lately it seems as though everyone is thinking about gifts, back when this happened, I was the only one.  (Maintaining a cutting edge status is very important to me.  Also, I like gifts.)

I woke up wishing, no, hoping, eh…maybe more like wishing, hard to tell.  Those words are so similar, really, it’s just an age difference between them.  Wishing is a younger version of hoping.  Wishing is what kids do.  Hoping is what folks old enough to vote for Obama do.  But I digress.  A lot.  That isn’t a question; it’s a fact.  Digressing is what I do.

Either way, I woke up wanting a present.  Just a present.  Something that I had absolutely no part in the procurement thereof.  I didn’t shop for it, I didn’t plan for it.  I didn’t carry it to the car or even bring it in the house.  I never even thought about it.  It was just there for me and it was delightful, no, wonderful, eh… awesome.  It was awesome.  And it was mine.

I asked the universe to bring me something and I realize now that I should have been more specific.

The Boy was bitten by a dog later that day.  Also noteworthy: this was well before the ax/leg chopping incident of November 14th.  (I wasn’t even speaking to the universe that day.)

So yeah, I asked for and received a story but that’s not what I wanted.

“The Boy was Attacked and All I Got was This Lousy Blog Post.”

Although as blog posts go, it’s not that bad.  (See “digression” above.)

I’m thinking that maybe some ice cream in a dish or a plant in a pot would have been nice.

Screw you Universe; this isn’t over yet.

Words with such little gravitas, they anger me. (Also: a children’s folk tale.)

28 Sep

broth: so whiny and non-committal and whiny.  It’s the Joe Lieberman of soups.  It’s not even a soup, it’s an ingredient.  A true cook uses stock to make soup; in the dusty annals of your grandma’s house is where broth is served.  With ants on a log and nothing more.  By 4PM.  And the ants are extra dry.  Parched.

chill: what the broth means to remedy.  I don’t chase chills; I chase thrills.  And when I’m cold, I’m frigid, numb, wintry, perhaps.  When Joe Lieberman is cold, he dons a sweater vest because “most chills are felt primarily in the torsoooooo.”  (I hear him in my mind: that’s why I added the quotation marks.)

Joe Lieberman does not chill, my friend, Joe Lieberman feels chilly and poof! there goes your gravitas.

draft: precedes the chill which precipitates the broth (precedes and precipitates- dictionary game on!)  Which angers me because we just insulated the entire house.

The house that Jack built.

I Oxymoron and You Can Too!

23 Aug

Oxymorons happen all the time.  Example: Saturday morning at the town dump and your neighbor, while throwing away what looks like a perfectly good lamp says, “This lamp never worked right and I don’t understand.  I just bought it at WalMart.”  (BAM!  You now have your first oxymoron of the day and it’s not even 10AM!): A Quality Purchase from WalMart.

The way I see it, my job as a wordsmith is to record oxymorons so that our understanding of language improves over time and I enjoy a tiny inner trickle of bemusement that’s just for me.

The following list contains oxymorons that I have collected recently (along with horribly named hair salons like, “Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow” and “The ClipHer Ship” but that’s for another time.)

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do and, please, feel free to add your own.  Just not “Jumbo Shrimp.”  That one is as old as dirt.  (BAM! Cliche Alert!):

Fat-Free Ice Cream

Department of Environmental Protection

Fluorescent Lighting

Rap Singer

Party of One

Egg White Omelet

Late Fines at the Free Public Library

A Gripping Performance by Adam Sandler

A Film by Adam Sandler

Funnyman Adam Sandler

Ohio-style Pizza

State Worker

White Chocolate

Actor Tom Arnold

A Wait List at the Olive Garden

Mrs. Harvey Fierstein

and

Music by Sting.

I think I can

1 Mar

This has been the boy’s practice for a while: he brings graded papers home from school, hands over a giant tattered pile of them and says: “I think I did bad on my math test” to which I reply: “you think, or you know?”

Because I’ll tell you what I know: Mom does not tolerate imprecise language.

Besides, Bambi eyes, dulcet tones and disorganization garner only so much sympathy before I become mad and frustrated at his ability to stall and his inability to be direct.

Haven’t I raised him steadfastly enough to know that if there’s a problem, I’m going to out it and address it?  For example, if he gets off the school bus with clouds of stink billowing around him and the little kindergarteners are straining their heads out the windows gasping for air, I’m going to say: “you reek, go put on deodorant,” and if he snarls back at me (he will) I will add: “and drink a glass of water too, you’re acting like a dehydrated idiot.”  Problem recognized and resolved.

So if you failed the math test, tell me you failed the math test.  I will ask (stupidly) why you failed the math test and you will answer (sincerely) that you failed the math test because you didn’t get enough right to pass the math test.

Then we can settle down and do all the proper, nurturing parenting stuff and maybe have a cookie (if one us made cookies.  Hint: not me.)

So when you came home on Monday and mentioned the math test, I should have looked at your paper because your grade was given as a fraction.  You hate fractions.  You struggled through an entire unit on fractions, made everyone around you hate fractions and there was no way you were going to decipher a fraction just to learn that you should hate algebraic equations now too.

You were completely within your rights when you gave me the Bambi eyes.

Son, I hope that one of your English vocab words for this week is “chagrin.”  I can help with that.

P.S. 15/20=75.

Lou and Karl and me

28 Dec

Lou and I found ourselves in a midtown bar at 3PM on Tuesday.  Actually, it wasn’t hard to find us, we had been there since noon.  It’s not that we didn’t want jobs, we just didn’t have jobs.

Instead, we did the next best thing: drink and wax philosophic.  Like Karl Marx after one or two (or five) beers.  By the time Lou returned from a trip to the restroom, I had figured out everything that was wrong with his life.  He didn’t even have to ask me.  Why are there no jobs like that?

Quite simply, Lou’s life contains too many one syllable words.  Moving to the outer boroughs has made him boring.  My scrutiny revealed that:

he drives a Ford.

Truck.

Automatic or manual?  “Stick,” says Lou.

Color?  “Blue.

Married?  “Yup.”

To?  “Peg.”

Kids?  “Nope.”

Pets?  “Dog.”

Name?  “Mike.”

Breed?  “Mutt.”

Favorite food?  “Meat.”

Drink?  “Beer.”

Snack?  “Meat.”

Spice?  “Salt.”

Band?  “The Who.”

Sports?  “Mets, Jets and Knicks.”

And so on.

By the time we left the bar, it was dark out and we were hungry.

“If  I could just get Lou to utter more than one syllable,” I thought, “his life will change forever.”  Emboldened by drink, we stopped at a hot dog wagon- this was my chance:

“How many?”  I asked.

“Two,” he replied.

‘Ketchup or mustard?”

The curse of the Mono-Syllabic Man was about to be lifted.  No longer would Lou be saddled with a boring, non-conversational existence; he would engage and be engaging.  He and Peg would become the center of a social whirlwind that resulted in notoriety, opportunities and meaningful relationships.  All because of me.

“Lou- ketchup or mustard?” I implored.

“Both,” he replied.

We ate and then each took a train home.  Me to my basement apartment in Woodbridge, Lou to Queens.  As if you couldn’t tell.

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