Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Irony Man

According to a "Cheat Sheet" summary on The Daily Beast, loathesome hack actor Charlie Sheen is probably headed to jail. However,
Owing to a high-paid lawyer and good behavior, that 30-day sentence is likely to be reduced to, ironically, two and a half weeks. Before heading to court, Sheen will be finishing up his court-mandated 36 hours of anger-management courses.
The reference to the reduced length of the sentence is a lame play on the lame title of the lame show Sheen stars in, Two and a Half Men. But I have to protest that while it may be coincidental that the execrable Sheen will serve two and a half weeks, it is not, in fact, ironic. Irony requires an element of oppositeness--it needs to be "poignantly contrary to what was expected or intended," to quote the American Heritage Dictionary. Now, if Sheen attacks his anger-management coach in a fit of rage, that would be ironic, as well as predictable.

Also on The Daily Beast today is a slide show feature on "hockey hunks" who date comely starlets (I tell you, the Beast breaks all the big stories). Want to know more about how Hilary Duff and Edmonton Oilers center Mike Comrie met on a plane ride to an Idaho resort? It was...
...a chance encounter that Comrie says was "maybe a bit of a fluke. [Hilary] calls it ironic."  
Hilary is wrong, puck-slapper. The chance meeting may have been improbable, but unless she was on that flight to get away from hockey players, it was hardly ironic.

Then, of course, we always have Alanis Morrisette's hit, Ironic, in which she croons about a series of misfortunes, coincidences, and bummers ("a black fly in your Chardonnay", etc.) and asks after each stanza, "isn't it ironic?" To which the only accurate riposte is, "No, it isn't." Cool song, anyway.

Bonus quibble: Awhile back I had a client confide to me that he had used the word ironical in conversation with a friend and was shamelessly ridiculed, because the word is ironic. I assured him that ironical is an acceptable variant with a respectable pedigree, and he promptly called his friend to settle the score. The fact that he then took me out for a round of drinks was neither coincidental nor ironic, but it was certainly agreeable.