The Rip Post                                                                                              


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(Oct. 6, 2006)

          The Lingo Czar has been busy interviewing Sarah Palin, which is a lot like going for a swim in the Dead Sea, and has so far discovered that she: admits that global warming is caused entirely humans, specifically Rush Limbaugh; believes rape victims should give birth, but only if they were raped by Evangelical Christians; and favors drilling for oil in Larry King. His Wordliness now returns with enthusiasm to policing the remains of American English.
          Citizens are hereby advised to stop using the following insipid American slang, buzz-words, e-mail patois, virulent clichés, and peer-enforced coolspeak inculcating media-softened brains. 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.)

          MAC AND CHEESE---When the Czar was a tiny, skinny prince with a butch haircut, his mom occasionally whipped up a batch of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. You know the stuff, from the neat little blue box. Well, it used to be in the neat little blue box, last time The Czar bought it, which was probably 35 years ago. But it was delicious! A miracle that such a large amount of perfectly shaped symmetrical noodles could come from such a small container, covered with such delicious artificial carcinogenic artery-choking cheese-like material, to boot! Mm-mm! And that’s what it always has been to the Czar: macaroni and cheese. Repeat with me: macaroni and cheese. Why, it’s even fun to say, isn’t it? Has a sort of rhythmic symmetry. But the foodie crowd hilariously decided about five years ago that macaroni and cheese is a hip thing to ingest, and took to referring to it sort of hip-hoppingly as “mac and cheese.” (Guess one should be grateful it wasn’t “M. Chee.”) Now you see it on every other chalkboard menu: mac and cheese, mac and cheese, mac and cheese, you’re getting sleepy, sleepy. . .Look, I don’t know how to say this. It sounds stoooopid. Maybe it’s just the idea of something this cheap and easy to make, and this bad for you, being deemed de riguer by the foodies. I mean, $12.95 for a buck-fifty in noodles, butter, and cheese? Then there is the annoying fact that people just love to say it, and say it to their kids, and their kids love to say it, and soon no homo sapien left on this shrunken prune planet will ever say the jolly, musical, “macaroni and cheese” again. Mac and cheese. It grates. A, P.

          TRUTH TO POWER/SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER---A simple question: when is the last time someone spoke truth to power and it made any difference? The left, the sane, the moral, the ethical, the quixotic---all blow the “speak truth to power” bugle, and it’s rather stirring, really. Well, bravo! It takes some nerve, if not courage, if not foolhardiness. Hell, The Rip Post has been speaking truth to power for years. Problem is, power hasn’t noticed. And that, really, is the whole problem with speaking truth to power: power just ignores truth. At least that’s the way it’s become in the United States in the 21st century. Why, Your Verbalaciousness bets that never in human history (as opposed to, say, rat history) has so much truth been spoken to so much power since George W. Bush was illegally elected president. And it is Bush and Dick Cheney et. al who have really taken the fun out of speaking truth to power. Billions and billions of words of truth have been written about the endless, blithe abuses of power by this so-called administration and its various corporate tentacles, yet it seems to have had no effect at all. In America (and, really, most of the world), truth bullets just bounce of power’s chest. Truth has been rendered little more than a kind of comfort for the idealistic in these times of hypertrophic chicanery, where the entire infrastructure of societies is built on liposuction, Photoshop, cooked books, spin, credit cards. As speaking truth to power reached epidemic proportion via the Internet, it is interesting to note that lying has proportionally increased in volume and viciousness. The more you illustrate with irrefutable fact, for instance, how John McCain is deeply involved with lobbyists (truth), the more he comes out and says that he isn’t. Perhaps its time to speak lies to power. T.

          LET ME BE CLEAR---It’s the kind of thing that makes you scratch your head and wonder, “Are people really so indominatably, triumphantly banal?” Must it be pointed out to Barack Obama that the line most identified with Richard Nixon was, “I just want to make one thing perfectly clear?” Must it be pointed out to Barack Obama that more than a dozen and less than a galaxy of politicians since have relied to sickening extremes on variations of “Let’s be clear”/”I want to be clear?” Must it be explained to Barack Obama that this is perhaps the flabbiest, emptiest, most leeched of all meaning expression that any politician can possibly use? Apparently, it must. Obama, for all his vaunted intelligence, literacy, and charisma, leans on “Let me be clear” the way George Formby leaned on a lamppost. Hey, Barack, go ahead. I ain’t stoppin’ ya! Go ahead and be clear! Who’s holding you back? Who’s keeping you from being clear? Tell us, and we’ll have ‘em arrested for obstructing clarity! Sheesh. T, A, P, CP.

          ASSET---Now, most of us need not worry about speaking the word, “asset,” because most of us will soon have no assets to speak of. But there is a bit of a problem with the word that must be noted, anyhow. Very few people are pronouncing it “ASS-seht” anymore. Instead it has become “ASS-sit.” Really---“ASS-sit.” So these people are really sitting on their asses, when it comes to pronouncing asset correctly. It’s one of those slangy little insider pronunciations, apparently, like “Mn-HAT-n” instead of “Man-HAT-an.” Assit first sat in the porches of The Czar’s ears courtesy of Robert Kiyosaki, the stupendously obnoxious “finance expert” who once lamented that he thought he was doing pretty well, owning a private jet---until he saw Donald Trump’s private DC-9. Ah, modesty, humility, frugality! Anyhow, in various of Kiyosaki’s infomercials in which he advocates wild financial speculation of the ilk that brought down Wall Street---and what’s more, suggests that such “financial education” be taught in the schools (hey, Bob, it used to be called Econ 101)---he says “assit.” You know, it sounds casual, like he was just sitting around with his old pal, Ass-sit, discussing how much he might get for his private jet. Here’s to liquidating ASS-sit. A.

          LOUCHE---Coming soon to a Harvard-educated critic near you. All right, the word is not that obscure, but using it as common coin of the conversational realm, let alone in an ordinary newspaper review or article, is disingenuous. Most people don’t know what it means, and you know it! While you would expect that a louche person like The Czar would not understand louche, it is really well over the border into Pretense Land to employ it as if the general public does. Yet louche---“of questionable taste or morality; disreputable, shady”---is creeping into critics’ and commentators’ notebooks like Sarah Palin is creeping into the American subconscious. And I don’t just mean George Will, where you expect to find words not commonly in play since the 19th century. Lose louche. P.

          ELECTRIFY---Now, Elvis electrified crowds. The Beatles, obviously. Martin Luther King. Judy Garland. Menudo. (Aieeeeee.) But. . .but. . .Sarah Palin? Somebody put the cuckoo back into the clock. I think it’s broken. Sarah Palin? A vicious, ruthlessly ambitious pinhead reading banal words written by a guy who used to write speeches for Bush? This “electrified” the crowd at the Repignican National Convention? Well, this is good news for the energy crisis, as this seriously cheapens electricity. Leave it to poor disenfranchised (almost entirely white) reptile-brained Airhead-Americans to be “electrified” by such wretchedness. The difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull. . .lipstick? Oh, hawww hawwww hawwww. Thass a reeel knee-slapper, Maw! Why, Ah’m jess elektreefied! Yet. . .yet. . .the media granfalloons (look it up) were flapping their maws just moments after Li’l Sarah made all the Repignicans excited with her promises of evil, evil, and still more evil, that she had “electrified” the crowd. You heard it for days, you read it in columns, you saw it in newspaper headlines. For the Czar to witness such horrific, sordid, debasing affairs taking place under the guise of politics, elections, patriotism makes him wish to be electrified. In the chair. A.

          BUSINESS MODEL---Not long ago, Your Wordliness was having a little discussion with a brilliant friend (yes, he has brilliant friends!) about the sad state of California---I mean, newspapers. The Czar advanced the broad notions that while newspaper circulation revival is probably as likely as Bela Lugosi corpse revival, newspapers still could be doing a much better job. The Czar averred that newspapers should cover their communities first, and do so in hard-hitting, irreverent, even playful fashion. That they should advocate for “the underdog” at all times, whether overtly in editorials or in the nature of the news they cover. And so on and so on. Well, Brilliant Friend replied, “What’s your business model for this?” Really. His Royal Syntaxalaxity was dumbfounded. Business model? Business model? Here I had just outlined some general priorities for newspaper personality, and Friend began talking “business model.” Well, the “business model” would be called a “newspaper,” I believe, no matter what material it contains. And suddenly, as if fairies had decided to have a little fun with someone other than Arthur Conan Doyle, “business model” began popping up all over the place: magazines, newspapers, TeeVee, bus benches, dreams, hallucinations. Even the jabbering homeless guy on the corner stopped raving about Jesus coming back to cure everyone’s hemmorhoids to declare, “You gotta have a good business model if you want make it!” (Okay, that last incident is fiction, but I’ve heard jabbering homeless guys blurt stranger things.) Well, “business model,” as far as the royal we are concerned, is one of those inventions that largely belongs with such down-the-rabbit-hole nonsense as “human resources,” “demographics,” “blue-ribbon panels.” Sure, if you are opening up a dildo emporium, you need to draw up a good plan first. But not everything requires a “business model.” Some enterprises, in fact, would do well to abandon their business models in favor of, oh, general philosophies, attitudes, policies, ethics, priorities, cleverness. Even. . .what’s that word? Oh yeah---ideas. “Business model” is overused to the point of bankruptcy. T, A, P.

          PLEASE WELCOME---Now this has the glaze of hospitality, but at this point the glaze is cracked from extreme, uh, overkiln. Every single host/emcee/entertainer/ dope holding a microphone blurts, “Please welcome.” No one says, “And now here is,” or “A big round of applause for. . .” or “I’d like to introduce. . .” or “Without further ado. . .” or “Herrrrrrre’s. . .” anymore. No one. Chuckle if you must, but this is emblematic of the homogenization of culture, and the dumbing down of dumbing down. Why is it that no one can think of saying something other than “please welcome” as an introduction? Why? I mean, really, think about that. Why, it’s because it never occurs to these people to say anything different (never mind those Apple ads.) If you’ve been eating cherry Jell-O all your life, why would you want to try tiramisu? People have been so boxed up, bagged, folded, spindled, and their minds mutilated that it simply never occurs to them to inject originality into anything. As if great hordes of automatically hooting/shouting/hair-trigger-standing-O audiences need to be asked to applaud. Humans applaud anything that appears on a stage these days as if it is just short of Jesus Christ, or even more important, a miraculous regrouping of The Beatles. The Czar can’t think of a single plea more unwelcome in his ears at the moment. T, CP.

          HIT THE RESET BUTTON---You know, speaking should be licensed. You could do it according to I.Q.. Just so many minutes per day of speaking allowed per I.Q. point, or something like that. This would spare the general populace a lot of presidential speeches, lawyers, and televangelists, for starters. And, of course, “news analysts.” Before there was cable and satellite TV, the world got along just as badly as it does now. I know it’s hard to believe, but there was a time when there were no 24-hour news channels full of yapping “news analysts.” I suppose they're preferable to infomercials for hair restoration, but not by much. The newsyappers go into panic and/or preen mode every time the camera is on. Camera on? Start yapping. Usually left out is the intermediate step called “think.” These “analysts” also tend to rely on frowns and arched eyebrows normally seen only on the faces of the extremely constipated (you reading, Candy Crowley?), and they also rely on whatever patois-du-jour is at hand. One of the more prevalent expressions used during this so-called presidential campaign is “hit the reset button.” As in, “McCain needs to hit the reset button.” Meaning “start over,” “refresh his approach,” “regroup,” “come up with a new plan,” etc. It makes The Czar frown and arch an eyebrow to think of expressions that liken already mechanical human reactions to those of machines. I know, I know, being glib and quick equals renewed contract. But “reset button” is not glib and quick. Maybe it was, oh, the first time it was used. It all makes The Czar yearn for his ideal of a news channel: older, ugly men and women in street clothes, reading from wire copy, making sarcastic remarks in between shots of Old Granddad. A, CP.

Have a taciturn lingo day.


                                              copyright Rip Rense, 2005-08