More Silly Things We Read

Anyone who ever observed The Curmudgeon while he was reading – in a doctor’s waiting room, for example, or on a train or plane – might come away with the mistaken idea that he is, how shall we say this, slightly…out of his mind.

Why? Because sometimes he laughs when he reads. Out loud, too. He reads a lot of silly things – or at least things he finds silly – and as long as people keep writing silly things, he’ll keep sharing them with you (as he has done previously here, here, and here).

A Time magazine writer offering a downright effusive review of Taylor Swift’s latest album – can we still call them albums? – got a little carried away when he wrote that “Though Swift is skilled with melody, her deadliest weapon is a superhuman knack for tight, evocative images…” Oh, where shall we begin? “Deadliest weapon”? It’s pop music, for pete’s sake, not nuclear armaments. And “superhuman knack”? “Superhuman”? Really?

A Philadelphia Inquirer article titled “Do’s and Don’ts to Reduce Paper Use at Home or Work” advises readers “DO track your use of paper to see where wastage can be lessened.” Putting aside the use of the passive voice, what about the waste of a perfectly unnecessary “age”? “Waste” works just fine there; “wastage” is superfluous. The addition of unneeded “-age” is a particular bugaboo of The Curmudgeonly Sister, who used to howl during hockey games when the announcers would refer to a “stoppage in play instead of simply a “stop in play” and refer to the next “droppage of the puck” instead of the simpler “drop of the puck.” For a while, just for fun, sister and brother would take turns adding unnecessary “age” to all manner of verbs.

We are a very, very fun family.

The philly.com headline read “U.S. border agents on the look for destructive insects.”

On the look? Wassat?

The release of the movie The Interview, about a plot to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, elicited an (understandably) angry response from the North Koreans, who apparently don’t understand that any movie starring Seth Rogen shouldn’t be taken seriously, and the movie studio decided to limit some of the usually relentless promotion that comes with a new movie. One reader on the Philly.com web site thought this was cowardly, writing that “Pathetic how they cow tail to that fat little punk in North Korea.”

cowtailYeah, don’t you just hate it when someone cow tails?

While grocery shopping recently, The Curmudgeon picked up the store brand of a sauce labeled “Asian Style Teriyaki sauce.” Presumably, that’s to differentiate it from all those non-Asian Teriyaki sauces.

The Philadelphia Inquirer ran an obituary of Richard C. Hottelet, a long-retired CBS news reporter and one of the last protégés of Edward R. Murrow. Hottelet was ninety-seven years old at the time of his passing, and the obituary noted that “No cause of death was given.”

Um – Hottelet was ninety-seven. Isn’t that reason enough?

Outside of Philadelphia, a man troubled by demons that may nor may not have involved his brief deployment in Afghanistan turned a gun on his family, killing six and seriously wounding a seventh. After a search of nearly two days he was found dead in the wood – killed himself, according to a camera-hogging district attorney, with a knife. Hogwash, the coroner said, noting that the killer’s only external wound was a relatively minor knife puncture. With an as-yet unsolved mystery of who or what killed the killer, a Philadelphia Daily News headline declared, “Stone still dead, but more questions pop up.”

“Still dead”? Is this a headline out of the Generalissimo Francisco Franco School of Journalism?

An October 2014 article about Temple University president Neil Theobald had a couple observations that tickled The Curmudgeon’s funny bone.

“The news hit the scholar-athletes gathered in Temple University’s Student Pavilion on December 6th of last year like a brick to the gut: The sports teams they’d been recruited for, trained for, worked for, played for, were being eliminated.”

What teams? Men’s rowing, men’s crew, women’s rowing, softball, baseball, men’s gymnastics, and men’s indoor and outdoor track and field.

Excuse The Curmudgeon, but “scholar-athletes”? Really? Student-athletes, absolutely, but unless the writer has met them all and performed some kind of screen, referring to them collectively as “scholar-athletes” is probably not only inaccurate but almost certainly an offense to real scholars.

The same article quotes Theobald saying

“The biggest problem in our society…is the level of student debt.”

Really? A bigger problem than people who don’t have enough to eat, don’t have a roof over their heads, can’t read, can’t afford a doctor when they’re sick? Perhaps the biggest problem in Mr. Theobald’s little corner of society, but the biggest problem in “our” society? The Curmudgeon thinks not.

The Philadelphia Inquirer headline read “Atlantic City versus Detroit: Who is better off?” Well, The Curmudgeon can’t say for sure which city is in worse shape, but he can say who is worse off: people who care about grammar and understand that because Atlantic City and Detroit are not people, the headline should have said “Atlantic City versus Detroit: Which is worse off”? Of course, to get really technical, the headline also shouldn’t have ended a preposition with.

But The Curmudgeon can’t fight every battle.

librarianThe Philadelphia Inquirer headline read “School cuts have decimated librarians.” The Curmudgeon may be mistaken, but either there are a lot of dead librarians on the roadside or the paper was referring to employment for school librarians or the ranks of school librarians.

Not too far from where The Curmudgeon lives is a town called Haddonfield. It’s a very expensive, high-end town populated mostly by WASPy types who think they’re better than everyone else. The town has long been dry, but a recently passed New Jersey state law creates opportunities for establishments to serve wines made from grapes grown in the state – believe it or not, a lot of grapes are grown and wine produced and bottled in New Jersey – on a very limited basis with a special state permit. Of course, the town’s dining establishments are jumping at the opportunity, and one restaurant owner told the Philadelphia Inquirer that “You can buy wine in Haddonfield. It’s been dry so long, when they hear you can buy wine in Haddonfield, they almost don’t believe it. It’s kind of like a myth, an urban legend.”

Well, actually, it’s not. It was true for a very long time and therefore not a myth, and there’s absolutely nothing urban, and for that matter nothing legendary, about that town.

The Associated Press reports that an Ohio man called the police to report a theft: his wife stole his cocaine. The police didn’t help him find coke but they did find him in possession of drug paraphernalia, brought him in on outstanding warrants, and, to add insult to injury, charged him with abusing the 911 emergency system.

The Philadelphia Inquirer’s restaurant reviewer didn’t have many good things to say about a new establishment called Juniper Commons and one reader thought he understood the problem:

BAD MOVE TO NAME A DINER AFTER A PLANET LOOK WHAT HAPPENED TO PLANET HOLLYWOOD

Where does one even start?

Philadelphia magazine opened a review of a new restaurant by observing “Everyone knows that opening a restaurant is the surest path to an empty checking account…” The Curmudgeon, however, suspects that anyone who can’t think of a better way to empty a checking account is sorely lacking in imagination.

The web site espn.com featured an article about the firing of a major league baseball manager. It noted that the team’s general manager – the man who picks the players and hires and fires managers – tended to be aggressive about both types of decisions and so firing his team’s manager shouldn’t be much of a surprise.

“It’s on brand for him to be aggressive in making a managerial change.”

This is a real two-fer fer The Curmudgeon: both because it’s a silly way to say this on the face of it and also because the subject of brands and branding is near and dear to his heart, as you have read previously in this space.

ferretThe School District of Philadelphia hired an administrator with a dubious past, according to the Inquirer; among his past misdeeds was that he was “forced to resign after a series of missteps that included underestimating the rainy day fund by $15 million and using a public school bus to ferret around friends and loved ones.”

Ferret out? Were those furry rodents hiding?

In a Washington Monthly article titled “How Mike Huckabee Became the New Sarah Palin,” the writer – writing for a fairly liberal audience – apparently felt that he needed to engage, or really, lower himself, to name-calling. He referred to Palin as “St. Joan of the Tundra” and “LaPasionaria of the Permafrost.” This is one of those instances where, even for a liberal like The Curmudgeon, liberals can be as bad as those Fox News conservatives. The name-calling just isn’t necessary and it lowers the quality of the discourse. Sarah Palin’s accomplishments, and lack thereof, speak for themselves; no one needs the name-calling.

The editor of a web site featuring news about the city told Philadelphia magazine that one of the candidates for mayor “…has been very focused on the user experience of the city.”

Really. The “user experience of the city”?

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on the uncertain future facing a Jersey shore theater after an auction failed to net enough to cover the facility’s debts. The bidders, the article noted, had several plans for the facility, and those plans “ran the gambit from those wanting to continue using it as a theater, another who wanted to operate a bed and breakfast on the site, and those wanting to develop the property for residential or commercial use…”

They probably ran the gamut of those ideas, too.

A Philadelphia Inquirer crime story began, “Philadelphia police are asking for the public’s help in finding the men who attacked and killed a transgender woman in Logan in the wee hours of the morning Tuesday.”

The “wee hours”? Really?

A Time magazine article about Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird sequel, laments the sad news that the previously heroic Atticus Finch is just as much a racist as anyone else by observing that “In the context of current anxieties over the apparent lack of justice in racially charged cases, it seems too much. We need heroes in our fiction, at least.”

Really? We need heroes in our fiction? Don’t you think learning that Atticus Finch isn’t entirely one of those heroes has inspired more discussion and interest than just another heroic act ever could?

In an article about how to make it easier for people to make wise investments with their 401k money, Time magazine declared that “By now, we know that beating the market is impossible and we should steer people toward the things we can control – diversification, low costs and good savings behavior over long periods of time, through many market cycles.”

Nonsense: while it’s absolutely true that most people can’t beat the market, some absolutely, positively do.

More sometime in the future.

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