Who ever thought that a single word like “please”, in context, could be so humorous? Yet Henny Youngman made a comedic career out of four simple words and a pregnant pause: “Take my wife….. please” (Youngman). Yes, the word “timing” says it all.
Take the word “value”….please. How I hate this word. There are so many variations to the theme that surround this word that any smart minded non English speaking immigrant to our country would think twice about trying to learn or understand the English language. For example, an individual or group’s perception of worth, based upon personal or collective experiences in a shared environment can only define or measure “value.” “Value”” is illusive, as there are more perceptions of “value” out there are there are cars on the road.
Let me try to exemplify exactly what I mean here:
In 2005, I picked up my dear ole mother’s car: a 1979 Mercury Zephyr, something akin to a Falcon or Fairmont – Ford only knows. My mother could not drive anymore. She was 91 for heaven’s sake. The car had about 56,000 kilometers on the O.D. Mint condition! Lime Green with a sickly, yellowed tan interior.
Now the market “value” of that car in 1979 was $6,500.00. Twenty-six years later the book “value” was about zilch. The insured “value” – who knows, but the assessed “value” was about $3,000.00 and climbing, as long as it didn’t disintegrate during the long hard winters. Its “value” would continue to rise in “value”” as long as its condition remains, well, “valuable.”
Obviously my mother held considerable sentimental “value” in that automobile. As I pulled away from the big city for the drive back to my home town I came to understand the hereditary “value” of this gift to me and the intrinsic “value” of the trust she placed in me to take good care of Betsy.
I made it back home in one piece although the water pump went out around some god forsaken country hick town. Between that and thinking about the local Elvis sightings, I was beginning to ponder the meaning of life and the mechanical “value” of the car; the emotional “value” that this machine may have had and its effect on my own sense of “value” and well being.
Arriving home I thought about its economical “value” as it had taken over a tank of gas to cover the 300 miles from the really big city to my hometown. Had I been taken for a ride? Were there aspects of this car that were known only to my mother, the parish priest, her hairdresser and the bagger at her local supermarket? I had to contemplate its utility “value” considering the other two cars I had.
Yet, thinking of my dear ole mother and somewhat excited about the possibility of getting perhaps $3,000.00 for the car’s assessed “value” I thought hmmm, but quickly shook any thought of that out of my mind for if I “valued” my life I dared not even think about selling dear ole Betsy.
Trying to define “value” can be problematic, which in itself is an extremely overused word. It’s like common sense. Something that is taken for granted yet is extremely rare in today’s world. And trying to make sense out of “value” as in “What are your values?”, as opposed to someone else’s values is like an academia nut trying to make sense out of common sense and coming up with pure nonsense.
Words can mean different things to many different people. It is how we shape them, construct them, and construe them that are key to our success in using them. Timing may be one thing but context is everything. Take my word for it. You’ll be surprised at how much fun words can be. You’ll be truly amazed at your wordiness.
Song of the day:
Or would you rather have a Prius?
Have a great weekend and Cannabis Day
It’s the law of the land. Canada, the first country to legalize marijuana.
I can’t realistically celebrate being a Canadian 01 July while we have a Prime Minister intent on destroying our country.
When I first heard the words “plethora” and “paucity” I thought, “What on earth! Speak clearly man.” It brought my mind back to my elementary school days, grade eight to be exact, where a classmate of mine by the name of Big Maxx loved to show off his literary skills with those flowery descriptive essays that we had to write from time to time and read to the entire class. He didn’t realize just how funny he could be ranting off to the class; so proud of his literary skills with words of art that reflected anything but those big flowery descriptive texts for his words were always in the wrong context or with the wrong meaning. He would write: “I had a flora of jobs when I was young but with not a fauna of ambition or get up and go.” Big Maxx wasn’t too smart back then but he did try very, very hard. And those were the days when one could fail a grade. I think Big Max had to repeat Grade 9 a plethora of times.
The writing of those words, flora and fauna, plethora and paucity, Romulus and Remus got me to thinking and brought me to the following train of thought with respect to words:
Words! What is in a word? My kingdom for a word! A horse it may be but a horse is only a word that by any other name is still a word. Words declare wars, they garner peace. Words can be hurtful, they can be playful. Words describe words as in spiteful words, hurtful words, insightful words. We can have a war of words, crosswords or them’s fightin words. Words can be theatrical: we can have a play on words. Word is the law. It is the word. Words are prophetic. Words can be the gospel truth. So sayeth the word of the Lord. Words inspire, they transpire. Words transcribe: you have my word on that. Failing that, can I have a word with you? But words are not enough. That’s why we have lawyers. Words can also be despotic, or chaotic. A single word can inspire poetry, lyricism.
And when a few words are taken together, we have a phrase. And when a couple of phrases are linked together we have, in a word, a “sentence.” And when a group of sentences are grouped together we have, in another word, a “paragraph.” And to describe or summarize a paragraph we can go right back to the beginning of this word-train of thought – to “paraphrase!”
We can combine words to make quotable quotes: some profound, some sublime, some simplistic, some stupidly clear:
“To be or not to be – that is the question.” That may be but on Jeopardy it is the answer!
“If things are good in moderation then they must be great in excess.” My favourite.
“If something is worth doing, then it is worth overdoing.” My other favourite.
“Baseball is 100% physical. The rest is mental.” (Adapted from Berra).
“A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do. A woman does what she wants.”
“A consultant is someone who is adept at making the simple… complex.”
“The problem with theory is that it’s just not practical enough!”
“A wise fool is an oxy moron.”
“Those lefties are so darn righteous!”
“Militancy is great…for pacifists”
“She was at a loss for words.” a paradox for sure.
“Words cannot describe what she said.” Huh?
Yet words are not enough when communicating. Context and understanding are crucial. Without context confusion arises to the point of ridiculousness. Let me try to illustrate this by something that I learned in school:
Take the word “nit.” The Concise Oxford English Dictionary defines “nit” as a stupid person, a louse. Then add the letter “k” before the “n” and you have “knit.” Yet the word “nit” from the word “knit” is a whole different kettle of fish. And what is that anyway: a kettle of fish?
Now, let’s take the word “wit:” defined as someone with a sharp sense of humour, a player of words perhaps. As in “that man possesses wit. He has a sharp mind.” But then add the letter “t” before the “w” and you have “twit.” Or, combine the word “nit” with the word “wit” and you have a “nitwit.” But “nit” and “twit” together does not sound quite right – “nit-twit?”
Nonetheless, given that a “nit” is already defined as a stupid person, and “wit” is someone who has a sharp mind, then “nitwit” defiles all logic in a descriptive sense except perhaps to define someone who possesses a stupid “wit” – which in itself is oxymoronic. But “dimwit” already has that locked up. Yet what is really frustrating about the undercurrent of this word is that “dimwit” is the opposite of someone who has a sharp “wit.” So, that being the case, let’s call him or her a “blunt-sharp” person!
To make matters worse a “twit” could be someone who has a sharp “wit,” and is still a “nitwit” or a “dimwit.” So why can’t we call him or her a nit-twit? Or a “dim-twit”? The bottom line is that “nitwit” or “dimwit” sounds better. The other bottom line is that English words are just downright confusing without context and a shared understanding of the contextual environment we are communicating in.
I remember my Italian uncle declaring to his wife: Hey Flora, let’s go to the big city and have some fauna – hey?….Groan
(c) Excerpt for my book: I Thought I’d Died and Gone to Heaven
I worked as a busboy at an outdoor Charcoal Broiled Hamburger restaurant or stand as they sometimes referred to it during the annual fair. It was really nothing more than a “V” shaped open air concession booth that sold burgers of all sorts and sizes: hot dogs, French fries, soft drinks, coffee and other major food group worthy snacks and delectable treats.
There was this sports stadium very close to the concession stand. This stadium was quite big for the times holding about 40,000 people at a sitting. It had a large concourse that also provided various snacks and refreshments, including beer during game time. The work was mindless fluff: empty the garbage; ensure all the condiments were full; replenish supplies such as coffee cups, cold drink cups and the like; clean what few tables there were; and just be an all round gofer.
Beside our booth there was a side entrance, staff only, to the Food Building. It was in here that we stored all of our supplies. It was also my smoking room and measuring room. We diluted almost everything in there. Ketchup, mustard, pop, coffee, you name it. Yes coffee for it was also my job to gather discarded coffee grounds and add them to our tins of real coffee bean. It also housed a cold storage walk in freezer, which held our pails of our so called charcoal broiled hamburgers (BB’Q)
During the annual fair the concession did a thriving business in charcoal broiled hamburgers: hamburgers topped with cheese, with bacon, with bacon and cheese, fried onions, relish, mustard, pickles, ketchup, mayo, well… all of the major food groups of the day combined in a huge, messy calorically rich, artery busting snack. In fact their burgers were so well known across the fairgrounds that the working stiffs, old and young, migrated to this place everyday either at lunch, dinner or just before closing time of the fairgrounds itself to get their daily fix. They sold so many burgers that a ranch out west had a herd of cattle on standby just for this fast food joint. They sold hundreds of these burgers daily. How did they do it? How were they able to keep up considering it does take some time to cook one of these delicacies properly so as to ward off those nasty gastro-intestinal loving critters?
For the Hamburger joint!
It was easy as I found out. The owners had this wagon stored in the storage shed beside the concession. The wagon could hold about six of the two gallon type stainless steel kettles, two abreast: narrow at the bottom, bulging wide in the mid section then open to the air at the top, with a thin steel handle bar fastened at each side near the top rim. Every day about 2 hours before lunch it was my job to take that wagon and the kettles over to the sports stadium, up the ramps into the concourse of the stadium itself. This was a stealth operation you see for I could not make it be known to the public that I was connected to a food processing establishment while on this particular mission hence off came my white apron and hat while in transit from the concession booth to the stadium’s concourse.
Inside the concourse one could not fathom that anything was amiss, or open. All of the vertically oriented and aluminum sliding shutters were shuttered shut. Silence, nobody there it would appear at first glance. Then, almost subliminally, the odour of a deep fryer operation wafted the senses. It became overpowering as I walked along the concourse, pulling my wagon, as if a hundred deep fryers were at work simultaneously. An exaggeration perhaps but the smell of gazillion French fries could be overwhelming to the senses. But this wasn’t about French fries frying. This smell was sweeter, pungent, salt-like in its aroma with a deep and richly textured smell. It was meat!
No French Fries here!
As instructed I banged on the penultimate shuttered booth to the main ramp of the stadium. It opened slowly.
“Yeah, what do you want.” said no one in particular.
“I’m here for the burgs”
“Okay, hold on a bit”
Suddenly the shuttered metal door opened up about half way. Inside I could make out about 3 sets of deep fryers going full tilt. The oil bubbling and boiling over it seemed. Smoke filled the air but then got caught and sucked up in a vacuumed vent. This was only one of the booths. There were three more in operation.
“Give me your kettles” he ordered. “Just two.”
I complied. He took the two kettles over to the fryers. He then lifted two baskets out of the oil tilting them up then down, then shaking each of them to drain the oil, or grease, or whatever from the baskets. He tipped them over onto a white cloth, stained by a hundred deep fried burgers past while the burgers present looked like a lump of brown, oil soaked fried “cow” pies laid out on to the white cloth towels. With tongs he then transferred these deep fried burgers into the kettles ever so carefully but ever so skill fully so as not to damage the integrity of the burgers themselves. When he was done, both kettles were full to the rim with these oil soaked cooked burgers. He then covered them up with more white cloths tucking the ends into the kettle walls.
“Here, off you go” he said
“Thanks,” I think
With that the shutter was shuttered closed again, until tomorrow.
The same was repeated at the other two booths. I now had six kettles full of delectably delicious, oily and greasy yummy burgers. Mmmm mmmm good. Off I went, careful not to give anything away as to what had just occurred. Down the ramp pulling that wagon as stealthily as one could pull a wagon stealthily that had six cloth covered kettles on it. One had to be very careful here as the exit ramps were situated in such a way that two 90 degree turns were required to navigate one’s way from the concourse level of the stadium where the fryers were located to the ground below.
The very first time I did this I courted disaster. As I turned from the bottom of the first ramp into the first 90 degree turn and its transition to the second ramp the wagon tipped over. I was going too fast. The kettles rolled and clanged and rolled and clanged, scraping metal against concrete, a sound akin to a cat’s claws scraping down a blackboard, and rolling along the concrete walkway. The burgers fell out onto the cement ramp. Some of them were so firmly cooked as to roll down the ramps on their sides, turning wildly from left to right, out of control, then twirling rhythmically like a top before collapsing and plopping face down on the concrete surface of the ramp. I was a sight to behold running after these wayward, vagabond burgers: cursing hard and picking them up, collecting them then throwing them back into the kettles while at the same time wiping my greasy, oily hands on my pants, licking my fingers in a juicy disgusting fashion. After a while it became difficult to grasp these slippery burgers. Lucky for me I was wearing dark coloured pants.
At about the same time a flock of seagulls (shit hawks), and pigeons swarmed in at the sight and smell of these juicy burgers. I had to swat, and slap my way around these birds not unlike a scene out of Alfred Hitchcock’s movie “The Birds.” And what made it particularly bad was the noise from the cawing and screaching of the birds. They were in a raptured, excited state which caused them to crap all over me and some of the exposed burgers. The white creamy, liquid droppings of bird dung or guava.
Finally, after a conscious, concerted and panicky effort, I managed to collect all of the burgers and redistribute them into the respective kettles. Covering them up I continued my pace back to the concession stand but in more of a determined and deliberate manner. Returning, stealthfuly, I immediately placed the kettles into the walk in freezer, or fridge awaiting the first call of the day for more burgers. With the call from the cook they would be placed inside the concession on the floor but beside the grill but in such a manner that when they went on to the grill the paying public had no clue as to the life cycle of our delicious charcoal broiled burgers. I’m sure I saw some customers spitting or picking something out of their mouths after taking a bite or two of those burgs.
Yes, the charcoal broiled burgers at the concession stand were the best in the whole wide world!
Back in the day my employment prospects, while numerous, were never really career worthy. So in between jobs, or between a period of steady employment I would sometimes hit the road and do some travelling. My first bit of travel occurred just after working for A.C. Wickman. While working there polishing the fat wide ends of the tiny drill bits I was let go just one day before my three month probation period ended. All of us rookies, who had all started at this factory on the same day, were all released, terminated, let go, made redundant, superfluous, surplus, unused, outmoded, unnecessary….fired. It didn’t matter how or why or what you said to describe your circumstances, situation or bit of bad luck.
It all meant the same damn thing. Pogey! And how I love that word redundant! Code for fired. A nice English bit of linguistic mumbo jumbo, confusion-speak to tell someone that they’re sacked.
“You’re being made redundant” someone once told me. Great! I thought I was getting a promotion. Redundant… wow.
I decided to head to the west coast. By train! The Transcontinental…all the way and all by myself. Well not really by myself when I got there as my penultimate oldest sister was shacked up with a Japanese fellow. Her best girlfriend, my next door neighbour’s daughter, was also out there. You see, this was 1968, the year prior to the summer of love. Yet 1966-69 was, in reality, the longest summer of love in history. And “go west young man” was really hippie-speak for the wider, greener pastures of acid rain, or West Coast Bud. And I could stay with them until I got settled.
“Why not just stay here and be a stoner” someone once said. “Why go all the way out there?”
“Well, man, sunsets are really, really weird out there.” another answered.
“How so?” they queried. “You can’t see them anyway cause it’s always raining out there.”
“Well man… because man, it’s like, wow man, out of site…but there is no land anywhere west of there. Don’t you think that is sooo cool. Soooo out of site. Land I mean. You can’t see any land man. It’s out of site”
“Well yes” they thought of this stupid idiot. “Land is out of site west of there cause it’s all Pacific ocean from there on in. Until you hit Japan.”
“Japan? Like wow man! Japan? Really? Man, that is so weird, so cool, that is so profound man.”
Good gawd I thought. The future of mankind!
My parents were fine with this although they were entirely tuned out of the reality of the drug culture. Unbeknownst to them they were letting their young son, at 17, to hit the long and winding, purple hazed road of personal freedom. I can say this now, looking back on those years, but at the time I was scared shitless. I boarded coach on the Transcontinental at the very large cavernous platform of the enormous train station that served my hometown for over a hundred years. I could imagine then and there, at that very moment in time, how the soldiers of the Great War and World War Two felt when leaving the familiarity and warmth of families and loved ones for the trenches of France and Belgium, or the training fields of England, knowing full well that many of them would not be returning to the comforts of home. Why did I feel this way? Think this way? At this particular moment? I don’t really know but the images of troops on trains in cavernous train stations like this one just seemed to pop into my head for no apparent reason: as if it had been ingrained into my psyche from such a young age that their individual and collective sacrifices paved the way for my very own freedom of choice at this very moment in time. And, as I was waving goodbye to my parents just as the Transcontinental was slowly leaving the station, I could almost see or visualize the spectres of long lost souls roaming about this very station looking for and finding, waving goodbye to their friends, their families and their loved ones for the very last time, for eternity. These willowy images dissipating slowly like some afterthought in a mist of memory in the stillness of time.
It took over three days to reach the coast. I was dead tired as it was extremely difficult to sleep in coach. The scenery for a young lad was extremely boring. Trees, and lakes; trees and lakes; the occasional hill covered with trees then more lakes with trees around them. Muskeg, Muskox and Muskrat – it was rather musky out there with a lot of musky critters running or scampering through the musky forests of trees and lakes and streams. Then more trees and more lakes and more trees and… trees. Finally, no more trees. Just flat grassland. A sea, no an ocean of grass. More grass, then a lake, maybe a river bounded by grass on all sides, but no trees, just grass. As far as the eye could see. Grass! Sometimes a small rise would come into view, a small hill covered with grass. I dreamed of grass, of trees, of lakes, of grassy knolls. It was weird man and I was no stoner.
Finally hills, as barren as Sister Mary Bernice, my grade school principal, morphed into bigger hills which transformed into very large hills with deep, deep valleys. Valley’s covered with trees. The mountains, the Rocky Mountains: all the granite one could ever imagine. Most people see these mountains as majestic, beautiful, God’s handiwork, a reflection of his power: the very smallness of mankind in full view when measured against this spectacular backdrop. Yet all I could think of was granite. Enough granite to cover every kitchen counter top on the planet. But wait, that wouldn’t occur for another thirty years. What was I thinking?
Mountains, and more mountains, snow covered, nature’s monuments. Mountain passes that scoured a route for the early explorers: Lewis and Clark, Thompson, Fraser, Carson, DiCrapio, Morrison I thought. Unbelievable! Then darkness. What? These idiot trainers scheduled the very best transit, the transit through the mountains, to occur at night? Dopes! And they called us stoners! Alas, we would arrive at our west coast destination in the morning? Try to get some sleep I thought but in Coach that was an impossibility.
Waking up to a slow moving chugalug train inching its way it seemed into the outer burbs and run-down industrial sites of this so called magnificent coastal city. Magnificent in that it was a large metropolitan area surrounded be the majesty of the coastal mountain range and the Cascades: a nice name for a string of active, dormant and extinct volcanoes. Think of Mount St Helens, Rainier, Hood, Baker, Shasta and other non descript names for mountains that have the potential of reeking natural havoc, cascading death and destruction on an unsuspecting, unassuming public. These mountainous, frighteningly natural megaliths formed a formidable barrier to the north and east of the city’s metropolis but then offset by the calm waters of the Pacific Ocean bordering its northwest, west and south-western flanks. Only problem with this visual description was the curtain of rain, drizzle and mist that permeated my vision out of the coach’s dirty windows. These titans of nature and the oceanic beauty and seemingly calmness of the Pacific were really just figments of my active imagination in all of this rain, or as a described picture by some nature magazine article I read about the place.
My first impressions were not good. I found the outer fringes of this city in disarray: disorganized, third worldly in its ardour and its feel. Low rise buildings of various sizes and shapes with facades of every colour of the rainbow. Ugly purples, grotesque yellows and grim orange decor trims added to this canvass of dirty grey stucco buildings and rusted out arches and gantries of the numerous bridges that spanned the delta of a mighty river. With the dreariness of the rain and the drabness of the grey skies these colours and contours were transformed and morphed into a visual scene that reminded me of some hippy’s bad acid dream of an undulating kaleidoscope landscape of a barf induced wasteland. When we finally reached the western terminus of this national journey, and could go no further, a young fellow like me could only sigh a sigh of relief that the torturous three and a half day trek in coach was finally over.
My sister met me at the station then took me to their abode in the downtown core. They had rented an apartment in the City’s west end, very close to the beach of the British sounding bay with water that was so cold as to render it un-swimmable. One would have an extremely difficult time finding one’s privates after a swim in waters such as this. And who was one anyway? Close to that were funky looking shops and high rise concourses that spread their way along narrow streets, avenues and boulevards toward a massive green expanse of a park that adorned itself with towering trees of old growth forest. But in the rain these towering, magnificent giants of nature were mostly obscured by the fog in the midst of a city that was blanketed for the most part of the year by a canopy of clouds and mist. With all of this rain the buildings of the downtown core exuded a depressed aura of doom and gloom being grey on the mind, grey on one’s thoughts with an outlook of a grey depressing world in the midst of all of this precipitation. “But at least it’s not snow, you don’t have to shovel it,” I heard over and over again. Yes, but saying this was really a defensive mechanism on one’s part, a sense of insecurity or rationalization by some idiot who chose, regrettably, to live in such a grey expanse of concrete within what is, in reality, an urban rain forest. After a few days of this I wondered how anyone in their right mind could live here. The dampness of the place was bone chilling and mould worthy.
But then again I guess home is where the heart is.
(c) Shakeyjay 2016
*Excerpt from my book: “I Thought I’d Died and Gone to Heaven.” Soon to be out on Amazon and Kindle.
“I love this stuff, I found this in my wife’s medicine cabinet and have been using it ever since -same with her lipstick!” one guy was heard to say.
How would you like to be the most hated man on the planet:
According to Progressives:
You know, he does have a mother who loved him. He does have a family who loves him. And he has the support of about 70 percent of Americans, who love him. But if you dare show your support in Progressiveland this is what can occur:
– Press secretary MS Sanders told to leave a restaurant because she works for Trump;
– Comedian Tim Allan loses job and Hollywood series because he is outed as a conservative;
-Leading HBO talk show host Bill Maher calls for massive recession just so Trump can be ousted in 2020…nice;
– Progressives stand for “Inclusion?” As long as it’s their definition of inclusion and not your’s;
– When all else fails, lower the standards;
– People losing their jobs, reputation and livelihood all because they are conservative;
– Man vilified and called an idiot because he has Christian values and believes in God;
– Supreme Court of Canada strips Western Christian University’ right to award Law Degrees because of their Christian code of conduct for students;
– no longer a separation of church and state;
– Lord’s prayer is banned everywhere in public but Muslim call to prayer welcomed in Toronto City Hall chambers;
– Canada becomes first nation to legalize pot. Trudope will get re-elected just on that alone;
– It used to be Pride Day, then Pride week, now Pride Month and soon to be Pride Year. Go ahead, have a parade, just do not shove your lifestyle down my throat! Leave me and my values alone;
– Peter Fonda calls for the kidnapping of Baron Trump and to be kept in a cage full of Paedophiles…nice;
– Florida Attorney General kicked out of movie theatre in Tampa by violent lefties. The movie? “Won’t you be my neighbour!”…Guess not.
– “if we lose a referendum we’ll just keep having more of them until we get the result that we want. Then, when we do win, and we will, we are legitimate. No more referendums to the contrary.”
– he, she, them or they? No way. It’s zits, zats, zey or hey…asshole;
– Obama poverty? Trump’s fault. MSM laps it up
– if we legitimately lose an election to conservatives we will resist, resist, resist and fight, and lie and cheat until we “out” the bastards. Where’s mommy! I’m taking my ball and going home!;
– spend, spend, spend…other people’s money;
-Obama / Clinton…………………saintly
Bush / Trump………………evil;
– When Obama F&^ks up it’s Trump’s fault;
– Trump standing up for American businesses………………evil, evil, evil;
– Canadian, French, Chinese and German subsidies and trade barriers to US goods…..great business practices. Godly
– Trump talks the talk and walks the walk. The others mumble and crawl;
– Obama separating children for their parents? Responsible, wonderful immigration policies; and
– Trump continues Obama’s immigration policies…vilify the bastard as the devil himself.
So who are the real bullies?
Our children have wonderful role models these days, don’t ya think?
Song of the Day:
Lie la Lies
Stay away from large cities like Toronto and Vancouver.
Ever notice that majority of activists are young people.