The Rip Post


by Rip Rense

        The Lingo Czar is finding 2003 syntax to be skeevy, but is ramping up his courage to face the rest of the lingo year.
        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 recom- mended minimum punishment of one day of self-imposed silence).
        SKEEVY---You read it here first: now heralding the birth of a new cliché, it's. . .skeevy! As James Cagney yelled in "Mr. Roberts, " "Sound the general alarm!" Skeevy popped up in a recent L.A. Times article describing Viggo Mortensen in "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers." Apparently, this is the latest way to say "creepy," "uncouth," "unappealing," etc. (Sorry, Viggo.) Prepare to encounter it emanating from every pop cultural-type media mouth. A, and soon to be T and CP.
        RAMP UP---Loosely meaning, "to ready" (verb), ramp up is regularly employed by politicos, pundits, and the pretentious, apparently to make them sound folksy and down-to-earth. The Czar hears it in reference to everything from starting war to launching a sitcom (sometimes a fine distinction.) We're not preparing to invade Iraq, we're just ramping things up. Where are all these ramps? The origins of this expression are too dull to contemplate. T, A, P, CP.
        EXTREME---Extreme Makeover, Extreme Sports, Extreme Cake Decorating. . .Just another slice of the hypertrophic pie. "Good" was long ago supplanted by "great," "model" by "supermodel," "superstar" by "icon," "best" by "best of the best," and so on. Everything is trying to out-do itself: the size of cars, volume of movies, hysteria of discourse, insanity of tennis shoe design. Somewhere in the dank caves where marketing/demographic monsters plot your manipulation, the word "extreme" crept out and wrapped its slimy tentacles around what's left of the American consciousness. I don't think I'm being extreme here. T, A, P, CP. (Thanks to reader Jim Oostdyk.)
        _____ DUDE---The Czar has previously written of the "dude" disease, and the spectactularly creative employment of the word as a noun, verb, adjective, and declaration of joy, anger, disappointment, affection, sorrow, and possibly constipation. Now comes the latest permutation, that of title. "Car dude," "computer dude," "mealworm dude"---it's ubiquitous in radio, television, and all speech heard within a one-mile radius of UCLA. The only good thing about "_____dude" is that it might supplant "_____guy." T, A, CP.
        OUTSOURCING---From the cold keyboards of corporate managers springs this bloodless inanity. Translation: hiring people without offering benefits or security; sheer heartless exploitation. A remarkable example of how corporate managers remove all humanity from language, and in the process, from their treatment of employees. Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels would be proud. A, P, CP.
        HAND-WRINGING---A popular euphemism with pundits, especially those on the right (as distinguished from "in the right"), this is intended to trivialize the gravity of genuine anxiety. There is a great deal of concern over the government's potential invasion of privacy, while searching for terrorists. There is a great deal of concern about the ever-impending Iraq invasion. Vice-President Dick Cheney and others on the right labelled these concerns as "a certain amount of hand- wringing," and it caught on. The Czar's ears are ringing over "hand-wringing." A, P.
        EMPLOYEES---Smile, everyone! Big one, now! Show The Czar your pearlies! That's it. Now do the same thing when you get to the last syllable of "employees," bearing in mind that this is a three-syllable word! Here we go, ready? Say "Em. . .ploy. . .(flash those choppers, now) EES!" You did it! Now show your friends, and maybe they'll show their friends, and maybe it will eventually reach TeeVee newsmannequins. You see, "employee" is often (correctly) spelled "employe," which confuses the poor Newsmannequin, who is a stranger to pronunciation symbols in the dictionary. Newsmannequin figures that "employe" must be two syllables, but isn't quite sure, so fudges it a bit, and stretches out that second syllable, just in case. The result: the neither-fish-nor-foul "employyyyy." Imagine the stress Newsmannequin suffers every time he/she confronts this word. And. . .smile! A, W.
        CALENDAR---Gadzooks, it's the latest casualty of the verbalize-the-noun syndrome. Let's calendar that tonsilectomy in! Calendar me for Friday! Put calendar in a colander and rinse the verb out! That should solution the problem. A, W. (Thanks to reader Leslie Wolfe-Cundiff.)
        BREATHE A COLLECTIVE SIGH OF RELIEF---A hoary old media stand-by, and so deeply entrained in public speaking that it crouches behind the synapes, awaiting the slightest prompting. Listen to an NFL broadcast, and you hear it more often than "great competitor." Two questions: does all that collective sighing by the population deplete the ozone? And do people hyperventilate afterward? T, A. (Thanks to reader Jeanine Mendoza.)
        UPTICK---A distant cousin of "ramp up," this originated in reference to stock market reports (Maria Bartiromo certainly caused an uptick in male viewers---uh yuck ,uh yuck), but has since become a TV newsmannequin flavor of the day. An "uptick" on Wall Street has spread to "an uptick in military presence" and an "uptick in concern over Michael Jackson's nose." Uptick threatens to suck more blood out of honest language like "rise." T, A, P.
        GOOD FOLKS AT---One of the 10,000 objectionable things about radio commercials is that every product is offered by the good folks at. . .Harvey's Lugnuts. The good folks at. . .Leo's Rat Poison. Yessir, nothin' but good folks out there---nothin' but good folks in every emporium, everywhere! So many good folks, The Czar wants to regain his faith in humankind! Of course, this is a demographer's effort to make you think that the people at Burt's Buns are good folks just like you! When they are probably slovenly, beer-swilling, unshaven, backstabbing, wife-cheating, sitcom-watching average citizens. Hey, maybe they should just say that---more people would identify. T, A, CP.
        NEED SOME HELP OUT TO THE CAR WITH THAT?---The Czar is getting old, but not that old. So why do young fellows---and yes, girls!---constantly ask The Czar if he needs help carrying his groceries to the car? Ah, because extra-terrestrials implanted them with microchips! Must be! It can't be that managers have instructed them to say this to perfectly healthy adults, can it? It can't be fear of lawsuits, can
it? A. (Thanks to reader Steve Plesa.)
        FOR THE 21ST CENTURY---You know, The Czar went to sleep on the last night of 1999 (or 2000, if you're a perfec- tionist), and woke up in the 21st century. Funny thing--- nothing seemed any different! Yet advertisers who spew this phrase with gusto---a car FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY!. . .a dog collar FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY---seem to want to convince you that because of a number change on an artificial time measurement, cars and dog collars are very different. They're not. T, A. (Thanks to reader Dick Sherman.)
        WOOOOOOOOOOO!---Department of Hypertrophia, "approval" subsection. How and exactly when people began shrieking like gibbons to indicate approval is of no conse- quence. It's just part of the "ramping up" of emotion in the losing battle with relentlessly desensitizing media. And not only is the style of approval way out of control, approval itself is way out of control. Every time an unknown actor/actress (usually named "Justin" or "Britney") is introduced for the first time in front of any TeeVee audience, the crowd begins making noises as if it has missed feeding time. Why? There is no more restraint or judgement when it comes to displaying approval. This is the "give it up" phenomenon---as if withholding approval/ applause is somehow egocentric and mean. Woooooooooever started this deserves no approval at all. T, A, P, CP.
        The Czar wishes you a reader dudes a skeevy lingo day.


© 2002 Rip Rense. All rights reserved.