Monthly Archives: December 2012

Don’t mix killings with politics

Aside effect of last week’s Newtown, Conn., massacre, once we think beyond the heartache, futility and insanity resulting from the actions of a deranged 20-year-old who gunned down 26 people, is the politics that inevitably follows.

The bodies weren’t yet cold before that gun-control issue surfaced. The loathsome part of the issue stems from the accusations that those of us who argue for more gun control have somehow politicized the issue. Already millions of words have been written accusing us of “taking advantage of a tragedy to further their own agenda.”

Let’s get real.

It’s not as if we who favor stricter laws on gun ownership were hoping the slaughter of 26 flesh-and-blood people — mostly kindergartners — would stir us into saying, “Oh, good! Now we can use those shootings to help us argue our case. Let’s go!” That’s as inane as our surmising the gun advocates are saying, “Oh good! Let’s band together before Obama takes away all our guns.” Continue reading

A fresh, new topic

Months back in this space I mentioned some of the extremely specific topics I’ve covered since this column began in 2003.

Would you believe one of the columns analyzed the word “up,” and how it can be used in many contexts, as in finish up, grow up, wise up, etc., without necessarily having anything to do with direction.

Another column discussed the way people end their sentences with “so …,” and, you know, another like parsed the overuse of “like” and “ya know.”

How about a fresh topic? This will explain the way we use “fresh” and discuss how that word is used, depending on our sex and age.

Let me explain:

As a pre-teen, in a house with three older sisters, I heard the word “fresh” applied not to vitamins, vegetables or viewpoints, but (mostly) to adolescent men. Before I grew accustomed to “fresh” as a way of describing the newness and unsullied quality of things, I heard of men, usually those destined never to have a second date, regarded as fresh. Continue reading

Things smell all right

A long-held belief — whether it’s based on myth, practice or even superstition — says that whatever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

Taking that analogy a step farther, we can then assume that a broken bone actually heals and becomes tougher, or a person who survives a particular illness soon become impervious to that ailment, a kind of immunity.

It was later in life that I heard many versions of the “makes us stronger” mantra, usually on the football field or at some athletic event.

I wonder, then, whether some of the body’s senses act the same way. Specifically, when I began smoking, around my junior year in high school, I started noticing that my sense of smell weakened. The piquant aroma of the really hot chile Mom used to make somehow didn’t hit me in the same way.

Before that, coming for supper each evening after delivering papers, I could usually recite Mom’s entire menu for that meal. Continue reading

Some things don’t mix well

Time changes things. Or at least, the lack of time changes things by rendering them trite, banal.

Ever notice when someone utters something while taking off from a red light, or on the way out the door? In my case, in the rush,  I sometimes fail to understand and respond with something all-purpose, like “You’ve got it” or “That’s correct” or “I see what you mean” or “Yes, I agree” or “Good point.”

We can sometimes get away with these pat, unrehearsed replies, but what if the person who addressed us said, “I’m a little short. Can you lend me a hundred till payday?” What if the person were to have uttered, “All your former students call you ‘Blackboard Breath’”? Would one of the pedestrian, clichéd answers come to mind when nothing profound will surface for a question like “May I borrow your car?” Continue reading