Archive for the ‘words’ Category

Grumpy Old Man

I’m grumpy.

Maybe it’s me, but lately I seem more irritable. This is not a good thing given we’re entering the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons.

My mood exudes foulness for various reasons.

First, I’m getting old. At 45 I’m definitely in the middle-age-phase of life. Perhaps I’ve recognized my time is short on this earth. So little things like traffic jams and waiting in line at a retail store check out make my fuse burn faster. Plus, my body is breaking down in areas that mystify me. Twinges in my cervical vertebra; a plantar wart on my right foot thanks to the fitness center shower at work; a sty on my eyelid that refused to go away for months (sounds like I belong in a belltower, doesn’t it?). These medical issues never occurred to the old, young me and if they did, they didn’t last for weeks on end. Apparently reaching 45 also means maladies and conditions that, in many cases, should not be mentioned in writing. Thank God for WebMed.com so I can self-diagnose myself better than my Aunt Martha did back in the ’70s.

Secondly, my gorgeous wife and I are remodeling a bathroom in full DIY mode. We’re both competent, but we’re also learning that days quickly turn to weeks and suddenly the little master bedroom bath project is already a month old and we’re behind schedule. Add to it the war wounds of remodeling – cuts, bruises, sheetrock dust everywhere, and working in a small space with large power tools and only one tiny window for ventilation – and the thought of the project now makes me frown. Fortunately, my wife is my mood counter balancer. We’ve yet to have short words with each other over that little project. We just want to get ‘er done.

The other thing making me angry (at the present moment) is all the Christmas advertising that is invading my space. It’s not yet Thanksgiving, but every retailer in town began airing their TV spots in early November. As if I’m not aging fast enough, the Best Buys and Targets of the world want to rush past Thanksgiving and head long into the Christmas shopping season to make me older, faster. Ummm. No thanks. I’ll wait until after Thanskgiving before I start my Christmas shopping or break out the decorations. Why rush a good thing?

There. Now you know. I’m angry. Don’t cross me.

Or at the very least, don’t ride your brakes in traffic and make me curse you. After all, it’ll be Christmas…soon.



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Ode to The En Dash

Oh en dash! What would my writing life be without you?

Sprinkled in and throughout my paragraphs – separating key thoughts from inane flotsam and jetsam – the concept of not having you at the whim of my fingertips saddens me. Your absence in my day worse than lack of caffeine or the inability to enjoy a vigorous bike ride.

How I truly wish – on this day of National Punctuation – that you, en dash, receive the laudatory credit you deserve for making every professional writer’s life a more enjoyable life. Indeed, it is you, my friend, who I credit for giving my writing meaning. And texture. And purpose.

– end –

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My 18-year-old daughter, a senior at Maple Grove Senior High School, graduates on June 7. In a few weeks, wings will spread and she’ll transition from a child student to an adult preparing for the start of her college experience. Wow. Where did THAT time go?

Several years ago, in her Freshman year, she spoke to a few hundred parents and students at the ninth grade honors banquet. Without a note card, without a stutter, she shared words of friendship and responsibility – words beyond her young years. Words that pushed my heart into my throat and caused my eyes to glaze over in prideful tears.

On June 7 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, she’ll once again speak to the masses. This time several thousand will listen, including the entire graduating class of 600-plus students. Her peers and friends. Her face will be on the jumbo-tron and her words will be transmitted via loudspeakers once used to announce Kevin Garnett as he took the court in a Timberwolves uniform. (Interestingly, “KG” has been one of several nicknames for my daughter through the years.)

I’ve read a draft of her planned remarks – the speech she wrote to be selected as one of two students to share thoughts and parting “best wishes” to her fellow graduates at the commencement exercise.  Without giving it all away, she’ll impart advice that an average 18-year-old isn’t likely to have thought about when setting out on a new path in life.

The phrase “e tan e epi tas” means return with it or on it. It’s a reference to Spartans leaving for battle and the sentiment the warriors’ wives shared with them when they donned their shields in preparation for a march into battle. In a nutshell, “Give it your all and make us proud.”

Before she even steps foot on the stage and utters one syllable, I’ll be proud and my heart will once again be in my throat. Seems some of what we’ve shared with her these past 18 years landed and stuck.

Stay tuned. I plan to post her short speech here next month – maybe I’ll even post the video recording.


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The big difference between people is those who have had pleasure and love, and those who haven’t.”   -Paul Newman


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Ob-se-qui-ous: Full of or exhibiting servile compliance, fawning.

Her obsequious comments and actions were more believable than even she might have imagined.”


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For All Intents and Purposes

For all intents and purposes, people should not attempt to domesticate wild animals like tigers, bears and chimpanzees.

The recent, sad circumstance bearing out this truth occurred in Stamford, Connecticut, where a woman was mauled to near death by a “tame” chimp named Travis.  You can see the full story below.

In this particular case, the chimp was being treated for lyme disease and was also on anti-depressants. The owner allegedly was providing the chimp with ample doses of wine as well. Crazy? Ummm. Yeah.

I love animals, but with the repetition of news stories about wild animals living on hobby farms or in confinement that suddenly attack their owners or others who cross into their territory, one would think we should enact laws against providing refuge for wild animals in places other than zoos. Just maybe.  Maybe.

And another thing…

Words play such an important part in our daily lives. Unless you’re a hermit living under a rock and only talking to yourself in your head, you really can’t go more than a few hours without communicating.

So when I hear amusing misconstructions – such as “irregardless,” which by the way is not a word at all – I have to laugh. Out loud. It’s funny.

For all intents and purposes, we live by the words we speak. Note, I did not type “for all intensive purposes,” which is another phrase that is misconstrued frequently by millions in the Western world every day. I used the phrase correctly because I’m just that good (said with complete sarcasm).

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”


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Wordplay – Surfeit

It’s been months since I entered a Wordplay post. This one seems poignant given we’re a week out from the U.S. Thanksgiving.  If you want to see other Wordplays – just enter the word “wordplay” in the search bar at the top of the page.

Surfeit (pronounced sur-fit): to feed or supply to fullness or excess; satiate. 1. Overindulgence in food or drink.  2. An excessive amount

The smells of turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes and dinner rolls filled the air on Thanksgiving Day. But after the enormous dinner, you could cut the surfeited air with a knife.


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Wordplay – Somnambulant

Som-nam-bu-lant: to walk as if asleep.

Former Nebraska Cornhusker head football coach, Tom Osborne, has a set jaw and stoic manner that famously makes him look somnambulant.

Wordplay went on hiatus, didn’t it. But when I read this line from story in the New York Times, I just had to add it to the Wordplay files. It’s truly a pompous-ass word for the basic and easy-t0-comprehend term, sleep walking. It’s also a word that make you focus on the placement of the tongue to enunciate each syllable.  Say it three times fast. C’mon. Say it!


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If my mind wasn’t made up a week ago, it is signed and sealed now.

Billary has come slashing at Barack following a stump speech in which Obama used some familiar words by his friend, Massachusett’s Governor Deval Patrick. The Financial Times reports on the story, but in a nutshell, Mr. Obama said:

Don’t tell me words don’t matter,” Mr Obama said in the passage borrowed from Mr Patrick. “I have a dream – just words? We hold these truths to be self-evident – just words? We have nothing to fear but fear itself – just words?”

BillaryBillary took issue with Obama’s using the excerpt from a speech made two years ago. Billary. The “let’s make this campaign all about the issues,” candidate. The “I’ve got the experience to win,” candidate. The “Words in speeches are just words. I’m the candidate who will actually DO something in office,” candidate.

I’m humored because, my friends, what do animals do when they’re angry and injured? They lash out. They go into defense mode, bite and claw at anything and everything that gets within reach. Billary is in defense mode. She’s losing ground. She’s fading. And, like any bad candidate will do, she’ll get in the ditch and start shoveling shit until she can no longer keep up with the sewers.

She’s gonna be up to her nose in it. And meanwhile she’s losing the votes that she had in a lock just months ago – women in their 60s.

Yep. My mind is made up. Billary is just another politico. Hope for change? Making a difference? Restoring some pride in the U.S.? Politics not as usual? It starts and ends with one candidate.


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What Was Said?

“In true love the smallest distance is too great, and the greatest distance can be bridged.” –Hans Nouwens

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