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(March 24, 2004)
Forget all the recent hoo-hah over Sandra Tsinging the bleeping f-word---the Lingo Czar is giving you the Lohdown on terms that really ought to be bleeped at all times under all Lingocircumstances.
       Citizens are therefore advised to avoid using the following worn-out phrases, buffoonish slang, buzzwords, mistakes and mispronunciations infecting and muddling clear and dignified communication in this, the 21st century. They are rated "T" (trite), "A" (asinine), "P" (pretentious), "W" (whoops), and "CP" (criminally prosecutable, with recommended minimum punishment of one day of self-imposed silence).

I SEEN---No, I'm afraid you haven't. I realize that asking for the Great Lingo Herd to change deeply ingrained speech patterns is like asking cows to un-moo, but I seen enough. I mean, I've seen enough. Attention, Herd: next time you get your fifteen seconds of fame when a TV Newsmannequin sticks a mike in your mug and asks for an eyewitness account of the murder/ shooting/arson/ slow-speed chase/high-speed chase/ cat-in-a-tree, please do not start your sentences with "I seen." As in "I seen this guy running up the street, and. . ." Please. "I seen" is a bad scene. You are trying to employ past-perfect tense (remember your friendly "helping verb," to have!) imperfectly. So be more perfect and use simple past tense. "I saw." See? Just do that one favor for the old Czar, and he will allow you to say "ho," "bitch," "fly," "dude," and "cool" with impunity. I seen enough. W, A, T.

LOOKS PRESIDENTIAL/UNPRESIDENTIAL:  Children, children, please put down your milk and cookies. It just looks unpresidential. Now, The Czar doesn't play politics much, but what exactly does "look presidential" mean? Huh? Does this mean that a candidate should wear big flapping silk suits with soundbite-perfect ties and piously say "May God bless the United States of America" a lot? Or should he look like Lincoln? Warren G. Harding? Nixon? How is it that you, the Amerigun Public, so often use this term as the primary means of making up your tiny minds about a candidate? How often does the Czar hear you say, "Well, I don't know, he just looks presidential!" as you smile giddily into a camera (obviously anticipating that ice cream cone Daddy's going to buy you after dinner.) Or "I don't know why I don't like him---he just doesn't look presidential." Oh, woe to the country when choices are based on the gut feelings of those whose brains have been gutted. Howard Dean didn't "look presidential," but John Kerry did, and on this basis, apparently, was the candidate selected. Yet Dean was the man who went out on a limb and spoke his mind, had the courage of his convictions to oppose current administration megalomania---er, policies. Guess those things aren't  "presidential." Oh, darn the Czar---there I go, playing politics, after all. Look, does Ralph Nader "look presidential?" No, he looks grocery store managerial. Lincoln? Rondo Hatton with a goatee. Harding? President as zeppelin. Nixon? Lacked horns and pitchfork. Bush? He looks like he could be president of a Fraternity of Loyal Brotherhood of Elks, maybe. Listen: I saw a an old guy on a bus bench the other day who "looked presidential." He had a fine beard, noble visage, and dressed nattily. Maybe I'll write him in. T, A, P, CP.

FIRE IN THE BELLY---Is there a phrase that conjures a more peculiar mental image? This unfortunate expression has caught on among those who would pass themselves off as manly, masculine, and otherwise male. John Kerry recently uttered the grotesque words, "wait till they see the fire in my belly!" Uh, viewing Mr. Kerry's belly, or anything related to it, is a most unappetizing idea. And if there's fire in there, well, where there's fire, there's smoke, and. . .we'll let that go. I don't know, it's just rather vulgar, all around. "Belly" is best reserved for children, anyhow, as it is anything but cute on adults. Fire in the belly, you're fired. T, A.

REDEMPTION: Gadzooks, film critics! Do you imagine you are writing doctoral theses? The way you garishly declaim about movies like, oh, "Fifty First Dates," makes the Czar thinks you haven't had one in a long time. I mean, you are forever prattling on in hifalutin lingo that most moviegoers have never experienced outside of "Jeopardy!", with particularly frequent references to "redemption." This is a film that is about redemption, you say, in reference to movies written by people who probably can't spell "redemption." Why such grandiose terminology for such common commerce? Most films have nothing redeeming about them in the first place, anyhow. P, T, A.

MAKES US THINK---A prevalent prevarication among pundits and poseurs. Critics and commentators are forever saying sagely, scratching chins or smiling slyly, that a film/book/artwork/piece of music/ "makes us think." As if this alone is a measure of worth, an arbiter of artistry! What a namby-pamby, puny, and otherwise featherweight notion is "makes us think." You know, "I didn't necessarily agree with this, but it made us think" or "This film might upset you, but at least it will make you think." Folks, if you're not already thinking, you're in deep trouble. Besides, what's so special about provoking thought? Hamburgers provoke thought, and poodles and tweety birds. Finally, the Czar objects to the "presumptuous 'we'," which is to say, users of this phrase are speaking on behalf of the Czar, with no knowledge whatsoever of what the Czar is thinking, if anything. Make you think, did I? T, A, P, CP.

DE-TELLS---Formerly "details," this vowel-challenged noun now pervades the domain of TV newsmannequins, "reality" shows, and sitcoms. "Details" has fallen victim to the dropped-vowel Valley syndrome (along with "female"---now "fe-mell"), where for reasons known only to speech therapists and The Department of Homeland Security, "long a" has been supplanted by "short e." Perhaps it has something to do with the speed at which Valley girls speak, which simply does not allow time for lips, tongue and teeth to coordinate with vocal cords to produce that nasty, demanding long "a." Tune in the evening news, and listen to Kelly/Lena/Marta/Laura talk about "de-tells at eleven." "A" has fallen down a hole. W, A.

JOURNEY---Wow, thought this one went out of fashion with "aura." But no. . .it's a staple of every phoney-baloney writer/artist/actor/"icon" out there. Don't believe it? Tune in Oprah! Every second sentence on that show seems to be about someone's "journey" through pain/insanity/addiction/incest/toenail biting. Then you have the cliché about "life is a journey/enjoy the ride" etc. Well, lemme tell ya, if life is a journey, I'd just as soon postpone the arrival. I'm more of---as the Grateful Dead sang---a "may be going to hell in a bucket/ but at least I'm enjoying the ride" sort. A close cousin of "process," as in "it's all part of a process," "journey" needs to be sent packing. T, A, P, CP.

POSSE---Call the Sheriff and round up "posse." Yes, this varmint's time is just about up. When you hear middle-aged Caucasian housewives talking about their "posse," you know the pizzazz of this little bit of palaver has taken a permanent powder. Of course, the Czar found "posse" to be positively passe the first time he perused it. T, A.

YOU GUYS---It's true that "ladies and gentlemen" sounds a bit pretentious, a bit pompous, but it beats the hell out of "you guys." Attention all TV newsmannequins and interviewers, you are no longer twelve years old (at least physically.) You are no longer roaming the corridors of elementary school, saying "Wait up, you guys!" You are adults, at least in terms of numerically measured longevity. Many of you are well over the age of 30, which means you have not behaved like a teenager in at least a year or two. Yet there you are on the tube, calling everyone under the sun "you guys." Including women. Of course, the Czar should count his blessings, probably, that you have not yet begun addressing your subjects as "dude." A.

AMAZING---It amazed the Czar how much "amazing" is used. You would think people would have been amazed long ago by the prevalance of "amazing," which has long since lost its ability to amaze---being now roughly equivalent to "good." Yet, amazingly enough, "amazed" pervades the acceptance speeches of every awards show recipient, every actress talking about their role/boyfriend/diet coach/plastic surgeon/guru, etc. It amazes the Czar that people are so amazingly unthinking and unoriginal. T, A, P, CP.

UNHELPFUL/NOT HELPFUL---The Czar has remarked upon this before, but it apparently did not filter up to anyone in the White House yet, so. . .This is a Donald Rumsfeld-ism, as near as it can be traced. He loves to show his upper teeth, squint, and say that something is "unhelpful," and this has caught on throughout the Cheney, er, Bush, administration. White House Press Butterball Scott McCLellan loves the term, and just the other day, unnamed White House officials were quoted as saying that Israel's assassination of the paralyzed Hamas leader was "not helpful." Such euphemisms really take the sting out of reality, don't they? No, further destablizing the Middle East, escalating the chances of all-out war are "not helpful." Flirting with cataclysm just never really is. T, A, P, CP.
The Czar wishes you all a safe and sane Lingo journey.

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