Saturday, July 30, 2011

Points of Pride

It's Pride Weekend in Vancouver, which means tomorrow I can take the kids to the West End to see spangled parade floats full of hairy gay men in assless chaps flagellating each other with foot-long purple dildos.

The Vancouver Sun is getting into the spirit of things with their weekend edition. There's a column explaining why hairy men in assless chaps flagellating each other with dildos came to be a Pride Parade staple (it has to do with irony and self-parody), and a number of other related stories, including an interesting history of the storied Davie Street neighborhood and how it's becoming less gay-centric. Ron Dutton, who is described as an archivist for the B.C. gay and lesbian communities is quoted as saying that nowadays...
There are gay Buddhists and gay volleyball and gay knitting. There's a gay antique car club...So now you can be a part of your community with ever darkening the door of a bar or an overt gay business.
The way I see it, the visitor in this idiom is blocking the light at an open threshold, so I always thought the expression should be "darkening the doorway." Darkening a door just doesn't make sense in that context. And it's interesting to note that although there are plenty of sources that list the "darkening the door" idiom (going back to Ben Franklin),and offer a definition, none that I found provided an explanation for the metaphor. There are, of course, a number of citations for "darkening the doorway" as well, including this from a test of English idioms:
"Get out of here, Jed! First you show up drunk, then you hit on my wife and then you insult my son. Get out of here and don't come back! Never darken my doorway again!" An irate Matt told him.
Correct answer: (c) doorway
So I suppose we can deduce that either version has a respectable claim, but I'm sticking with my "doorway" preference. We can also deduce that Jed is an asshole.

But back to the Weekend Extra section of the Sun. A few pages on, there is another story, this one about how, many years ago, the owner of Joe's Cafe on Commercial Drive asked a lesbian couple to stop kissing, and how a rival (lesbian-friendly) cafe opened nearby in response. The story begins with this puzzling sentence:
A decade ago, Pat Hogan opened up Josephine's Cappuccino Bar and Wimmin's Crafts just off Commercial Drive as a place for lesbians to grab a cappuccino and, if they wanted, each other's hands or lips.
I'm certainly no expert on the amorous techniques of the urban lesbian, but this idea of them reaching out and gripping each other's lips strikes me as unlikely behavior, even for the really butch ones who ride the motorcycles topless in the parade.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

You Don't Say

What Your Favorite Author Says About You
...blares the inane Huffpo headline. Gosh, I didn't realize Paris even knew I existed, let alone that she was talking about me!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

You Look Familiar...

 Woman Who Looks Like Casey Anthony, Sammy Blackwell, Attacked By Driver In Oklahoma
A woman outraged over the Casey Anthony verdict was arrested in Oklahoma for allegedly attacking a convenience store clerk who resembles the Florida mom acquitted of murdering her daughter. 
After leaving work in Chouteau on Friday, Sammay Blackwell said a customer who had told her that "you look like Casey Anthony" followed her for several miles and then crashed her car into Blackwell's, causing her to flip several times...
Sure it sounds insane, but I must confess that there is a clerk in my local liquor store who bears an uncanny resemblance to insufferable Euro-twit Piers Morgan, and I consequently find myself suppressing the urge to slap his smug puss as he bags my moderately-priced Shiraz. So I can relate.

The nit I'm picking with this AOL-HuffPo story (we'll just overlook the "Sammy/Sammay" inconsistency) is an oldie, and it comes in the final sentence:
In an ironic twist, Blackwell has a daughter named Caylee too, Channel 9 said.
Its claim to the contrary notwithstanding, that sentence suffers from an irony deficiency. As some tedious scolds never get tired of pointing out, irony and coincidence are not the same thing. The fact that the Casey Anthony doppelganger has a daughter named Caylee is a coincidence--and an astonishing one at that. It may even be a good enough reason to attempt to kill her. But it is not ironic.

On to the the fresh-from-the-mailbox Maclean's for another example of usage and abusage from the collection of greatest hits. In a capsule review of the Swedish thriller novel, The Hypnotist, comes this scene-setter:
Shortly before Christmas, almost an entire family is slaughtered in a Stockholm suburb, two parents and a two-year-old girl literally sliced to ribbons.
Charming. But, as some tedious scolds never get tired of pointing out, literally means literally, not "I-really-want-to-emphasize-or-hyperbolize-this."  It's unlikely the murderer actually filleted the family into sushi with such painstaking precision, especially since the following sentence tells us that another family member, a son, "though cut by as many knife wounds as the others, is still alive." Or perhaps Swedish surgeons are impressively adept at reconstituting ribbons into whole people. 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Unintentionally Funny Headline of the Day...

From HuffPo:
Sarah Palin's Documentary a Nearly Empty Audience
It's the auditorium that's nearly empty, not the audience. On the other hand, if they're spending 15 bucks each to see this...

Friday, July 15, 2011

Dead Man Marching

Today in The Province, columnist Jon Ferry writes about a friend and colleague, Claude Adams, who was sacked from his job as a writer for the CBC evening newscast after an unfortunate error made in the heat of wordsmithing battle:
Under intense deadline pressure, he was tasked to write an intro to a story about a police dog reportedly locked in a sweltering SUV while its RCMP handler went fishing. Adams assumed the dog was dead, which is what anchor Tony Parsons faithfully read on the air.  
The problem was the dog, a 10-month-old German Shepard, survived. Which was good for the dog and even for Parsons, who calmly delivered an on-air correction. But it was bad for Adams...the next day he was called into executive producer Wayne Williams' office and given his marching orders.
But "marching orders" are directives a superior gives when dispensing an assignment. I think Ferry means that the hapless Adams received his "walking papers," which, although it sounds better (who wouldn't prefer a blithesome amble with some papers to a forced march?) is in fact the more disagreeable of the two.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Wile E. Cougar

The bears are back--and this time they've brought the cougars with them. Each day seems to bring another news account of a lively unexpected encounter between man and homicidal woodland beast. There have been two bear maulings in recent days (one fatal) and a sign on my local running trail advising of a cougar sighting in the area had me nervously scanning the perimeter for crouching cats.  

The Province tells us of a teen girl on Vancouver Island who forestalled a cougar assault with the time-tested trick of "making herself taller" and ringing her bike bell. That's a trick I'd like to learn. The spontaneous heightening, I mean. I already know how to ring a bike bell.

The piece goes on to inventory other encounters, ending with:
And in the Squamish area, in mid-June, a cougar possibly trying to pounce on a rider preparing for the annual Test of Metal mountain bike race missed and landed on his real wheel.
The cougars have wheels now? Given their already significant predatory advantage, that hardly seems sporting.