Thursday, December 29, 2011

...and I have many grievances to air....

…regarding  the denizens of the local airwaves.  My first is a wish that in the New Year, the electronic media folks would learn what their print counterparts learned a long time ago: that it’s drunken driving, not drunk driving.  Another huge pet peeve that’s reared its head for the past couple years is the tendency among both print and electronic media folks to use the incorrect and awkward form “one-year anniversary” or “fifty-year anniversary”; worse yet, “six-month anniversary”, and all the possible variants.  First anniversary.  Fiftieth anniversary.  You can’t have a six-month anniversary, since “anni” means “year”.

Somewhere decades ago, probably beginning as an evil plot by some misguided English teacher, we were told that it’s correct to say “an historic”.  Well, it isn’t.  Not any more than it’s correct to say “an hysterectomy”, “an horrible”, “an hospital”…I could go on.  If you are British and do not pronounce the “h” sound in the previous words, as they do in some dialects of the mother tongue, you can say “an historic”, but you cannot pronounce the “h” in historic, so it really sounds like you’re saying “an istoric”. And even then it sounds stupid in American English.

Here’s another grievance I have with the media, and the last few weeks have about driven me off the edge of sanity.  Please stop showing “soldier homecomings”, particularly when it involves weeping spouses and/or children.  It’s OK once every few months when it’s truly an unusual circumstance, but the contrived crap that’s being foisted on us these days is tiresome.  Yes, dad is home from Iraq (always mispronounced “eye-RACK” by the dweeb reporter) and it’s nice to see him reunited with his family, but enough with the weeping spouses and children.  The voyeurs and emotional misfits who thrive on this sort of cloying emotion have plenty of other places to go to get their fix.

We’ll also soon be in the season of cognitive dissonance for the local news writers.  They decided a couple years back to replace the perfectly good word “closing” with “closure” for reasons which I have yet to fully grasp; but, unless the weather continues as goofy as it has been so far this winter, we will soon have school CLOSING reports.  How this winter phenomenon escaped conversion to “school closures” is one of the great mysteries of newswriting.  I suspect it’s because the graphics packages and software programs associated with it have yet to make the migration from closing to closure.

I’ll be OK if no politician every again talks about giving us “tools” of an sort, whether it’s a “tool” to help balance a municipal budget or a “tool” to help police catch more bad guys.  And, it’s OK to say the word “snow” more than once in any given report.  It’s not necessary to call it “the white stuff” on second reference.  And interviewers can revert to the old form of “tell me more about what this means” instead of the current “talk about…..” whatever.  It sounds rude.  You can drop the word “different” out of most of your stories, too.  It’s not necessary to say “he went through seven different counties on his European tour”; nor is necessary to say “the Local High School Team beat seven different teams en route to the state championship”.  “Different” is almost always needless and annoying. (Thank you, George H.)

If I hear one more nooz functionary tell me “the incident remains under investigation” at the end of a crime or spot-news story, I’ll puke.  OF COURSE the incident remains under investigation.  Unless cops nab the bad guy red-handed, they continue to investigate until they nail the perp.  Stupid, lazy, writing; but you hear it every day, along with the newsspeak phrase “officer-involved shooting”, which has only recently come into the parlance of nooz writers, who cleverly took the phrase directly from the stilted writing of police reports. (Joel DeSpain, this definitely does NOT mean you!!!)

About the same time as “closing” became “closure”, it apparently became unlawful to write or say the words “get” or “got” in writing news or commercial messages.  “Buy one, get one free” is now “buy one, receive one free”, and as stupid as that sounds, you hear it all the time.  Just a few moments ago I heard a commercial saying “buy now and receive zero percent financing for 2 years”.  I don’t know who made this new rule, but I’d like them to receive my size 13 shoe up their butt.

Here are words to live by for a certain class of nooz readers who, for reasons best understood by themselves, refuse to use the words is, are, was, were, has, have, or had in the first sentence of a story, thinking perhaps that it lends some sort of dramatic urgency to their weak writing and delivery, in the same manner as those nooz dweebs who say things like “Five people are killed in a Christmas Eve house fire in Connecticut”, as if forcing the opening line to sound like present tense will make the story more dramatic and exciting. Stoopid.

And you sports folks….I have grievances with you!  First of all, the damnably stupid phrase “welcome IN”, which seemingly precedes every sports broadcast.  No one except Chris Berman says “welcome in”, and if you want to go through your professional career emulating a has-been clown, please don’t do it when I’m watching or listening.  And, something I’ve ranted about for years – could we drop the “former” from “former Cy Young winner” and other similar constructions?  Once you win the Cy Young Award, you’re a Cy Young winner forever.  They don’t take it away from you.  That used to be true of the Heisman Trophy, too….but….along came Reggie Bush, who is the only “former” Heisman winner.

Now that Bret Musburger has achieved the age of 95, he’s learned to say “WISconsin” instead of “WESconin” most of the time, but you sound like an outlander when you say GREEN Bay instead of Green BAY, as so many network sports guys do.  Two other quick sports grievances: supposedly professional announcers who say “offsides” instead of “offside”, and the myriad of football announcers who refer to a run-action pass as a “play-action pass”, a misnomer that’s stuck since the fake handoff into the line was invented.  It’s not a “play fake”, it’s a real, actual play; it’s a RUN fake that freezes the linebackers.  It’s a run-action pass, and the only announcer I’ve ever heard say it properly is Ron Jaworski.  (I could also add my grievance that in baseball it should be called the fair pole and not the foul pole, since if a ball hits it, it’s a fair ball, not a foul ball, but that would be piling on.)

And one last sports grievance to close out the year: In the name of all that’s holy, Bo Ryan, will you PLEASE put the names of the Badger basketball players on their jerseys – not just their number – so I can learn who they are more quickly and be a better fan?

Thank you for listening to my grievances, and have a nice New Year.


  1. You forgot something (maybe old age???)

    "Concerning" IS NOT AN ADJECTIVE!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Holy smokes, I agree with Dad again. (I bet this won't happen much in 2012.)

    I would favor the instant firing of anybody who says "eye-RACK." It was the 51st state for eight years, so people ought to know how to pronounce it. Ditto "eye-RAN," which is going to be the 51st state at some point in the future.

    Also, FWIW, politicians who give us tools are sometimes tools themselves.

    Happy new year to you and yours. I very much enjoy your work here.

  3. And when did we drop the modifier "fewer?" Now it is "less" everything.
    "Less people"
    "Less dollars"
    "Less days"

    It drives me crazy!!!!

  4. My language peeve is the use a of data as singular. I still remember my newswriting instructor, "Data are plural, datum is singular." Economist stats geeks like myself get it wrong constantly.

  5. "media are plural," too.
    and "he is a person that ..." is wrong, wrong, wrong.
    and I can't believe the rehabilitation program with Dad29 is working.
    and "play fake" is a great one, thanks!
    and fires don't break out. prisoners break out. measles sometimes break out, but fires NEVER break out.
    I could go on, but there is not enough beer.

  6. I would like to see the cessation of politicians ending every third sentence with the phrases "for Wisconsin families","job creators", and God help us, "job creators for Wisconsin families."

  7. Colonel,

    >> I don’t know who made this new rule, but I’d like them to receive my size 13 shoe up their butt. <<

    It pains me to say this but that sentence highlighted two of my own pet peeves: disagreement in case coupled with the acceptance (gack!) of third person plural pronouns in place of third person singular pronouns solely because English, since the rise of feminism, can't get its gender act together and agree on one that's gender-neutral.

    If one is going to go along with "them" and "their" as substitutes for "him" and "his", then how about:

    "I don’t know who made this new rule, but I’d like them to receive my size 13 shoe up their buttS."

    But since you've only got one size 13 shoe and it can only kick one butt at a time, one would think that "him" and "his" would fill the bill quite nicely instead of "them" and "their"...since one wouldn't dream of kicking a lady's butt, eh?

    The Town Crank

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