Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

‘Cathargic?’ Um, Okay…

I don’t know how my husband manages to watch CNN Headline News. I almost always seem to find something in their newscasts that drives me nuts. If it isn’t the way the simpering newscasters attempt to pull off a look of sympathy after showing a gut-wrenching news clip it’s that they seem to lack a quality I find integral to broadcast journalists–the ability to articulate; to turn thoughts to words quickly when not reading off a teleprompter.

Today I heard a CNN newscaster, talking about the California wildfires, say that, “the damages have caused billions of damages.” Now, I might write that off as a slip of the tongue, but that sort of slip happens so often on CNN, particularly during the daytime Headline News broadcasts.

What I found more annoying occurred when one newscaster was discussing CNN’s bulletin board feature with another. Newscaster #1, presiding over the bulletin board, had just read a comment from a man who had lost his home to the wildfires and watched his memories go up in flames. With a heartfelt look, Newscaster #2, the anchor, commented that “talking about this must be cathargic for people.”

Cathargic? You mean cathartic, sweetheart. Apparently you were absent the day your class learned that little vocabulary word in high school English, huh?

Just for kicks, I Googled “cathargic” and came up with 620 results. Almost every time I saw cathargic used it was clear from the context that the author meant cathartic. None of the results I found were from what I would consider intelligent sources, although one was a comment in a blog from someone who said he’d discovered that cathargic meant “causes evacuation of the bowels.” I found no such thing (because no matter how hard one tries, apparently cathargic is still not a word), although cathartic means “purging,” and it can be used to refer to something with a strong laxative effect. Either way I like the comedic value in this definition.

Imagine the bubble-headed newscaster:

“Talking about the fires must be cathargic for people. I mean, because first you say, ‘Holy shit, my house is on fire!’…and then you do it!” (With apologies to Bill Cosby, who used that joke in another context.)

Now, I’m no genius and I certainly do not possess perfect grammar skills or a vast vocabulary, but I do expect the people who deliver my news to be articulate and to use real words instead of made up ones.

I guess I’ve seen Broadcast News too many times.


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Dove is doing some really cool things with its Campaign for Real Beauty. This one’s apparently a commercial from the UK, but I believe the same one is running in the US. (I haven’t seen it; but then I don’t watch much TV.) We’re bombarded daily with cultural pressure to be perfect, and the beauty industry is a key player. How many times a day do we see or hear ads that tell us we have to have flawless skin, no lines or wrinkles, vibrant hair color, long lush lashes, and nary a ripple of cellulite or anything less than washboard abs?

What would our world be like if there was no “beauty industry,” and instead there was a “healthy lifestyle industry?” What if advertisements urged us to make healthy choices instead of showing us how to correct the damage our unhealthy choices have done? I’ll bet I see dozens of ads for weight loss products to every one ad that encourages me to eat a balanced diet and get more exercise, and dozens of ads for anti-aging products to every one that tells me to eat foods rich in antioxidants and use sunblock.

Sad, isn’t it?

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The Foiled Snausage Heist

Ella...bustedGreyhound owners are all too familiar with a little something we call “counter surfing.” This act of thievery occurs when a tall greyhound sees something edible on a kitchen table or counter and desire, not to mention a bottomless pit of a stomach, overcomes reason and training.

Last night I was preparing a quick meal of kielbasa and pasta salad. I plopped the kielbasa, still steaming, on the table and went to get the rest of the meal set out. When I turned back to the table, there was my precious little greyhound girl with her mouth poised over the sausage.

I barked a warning, “Elll-aaah…” and she stopped dead, mouth open but not touching her intended prey. She was completely frozen in mid-snatch.

Trying not to laugh, I said, “Just what do you think you’re doing, young lady?”

Body still frozen, her eyes turned toward me and I could almost hear her thinking, Aw, crap. BUS-ted!

No snausage for you, Ella girl.

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I Am a Human Comma

I love StumbleUpon. While it turns up a lot of inane (though still sometimes funny) gobbledygook, nearly just as often I come across something that makes me think. Robert J. Samuelson’s Newsweek article, “The Sad Fate of the Comma,” was one such thing. While punctuation articles don’t normally intrigue me–anyone who knows me and my writing knows that my understanding of grammar is more practical than academic–this one caught my eye because it was not only engaging and well-written, but a treatise on modern life. About the disappearance of the comma from today’s writing Samuelson said:

If all this involved only grammar, I might let it lie. But the comma’s sad fate is, I think, a metaphor for something larger: how we deal with the frantic, can’t-wait-a-minute nature of modern life. The comma is, after all, a small sign that flashes PAUSE. It tells the reader to slow down, think a bit, and then move on. We don’t have time for that. No pauses allowed. In this sense, the comma’s fading popularity is also social commentary.


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Here Goes…

I start blogs a lot like I started diets back in the days when I thought dieting worked. with lots of enthusiasm that eventually tapers off into procrastination. I probably shouldn’t tell the world that I’m a notorious blog slacker, but really, what’s the point of blogging if you’re not going to be honest?

If you really want to know more about me, click the “Who Am I?” tab and learn up. I’m ordinary (again with the honesty), but I have a way with words and a few things to say, so perhaps you’ll visit again and hear me out. I think I’ll start off by posting some short and short-short fiction I wrote several years back. Maybe you’ll care enough to comment. Maybe you’re a literary agent and you’ll offer to make me famous. (Hey, it could happen!) For whatever reason you’re here, enjoy. And please leave a little of yourself behind in my comments. Just be a good guest and don’t make me clean up after you or, worse yet, kick you out.

Welcome to my blog! Here goes.

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Beautiful Braids, Fabulous Shoes

This post originally appeared in an older, abandoned blog of mine on January 19, 2006. I thought it was worth reposting here.

My little girl is an expert compliment-giver. And although we often joke about the way she seems to suck up to peopleDiversity (after Shayla issues a compliment, Peter’s been known to say, “Did anyone else hear that giant sucking sound?”)…she’s really very genuine about it.

Last weekend we went on an excursion to the mall. I hate malls, but I endure them occasionally when Shayla decides she needs to make a pilgrimage to Build-a-Bear Workshop to spend her Christmas money. And my daughter, ever the charmer, was striking up conversations all over the place. “I like your braids!” she said to a beautiful brown-skinned woman with plaited black hair.


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