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        The Lingo Czar has put aside his paralyzing astonishment over nearly everything happening in the world today, and, well, no he hasn't. He is barely able to type at this stage, so thunderstruck is he by the staggeringly stupid manner in which human beings are currently conducting themselves. Only his undying sense of duty has led him to shackle himself to this computer and bring you a column. Now where is that damn key.  . .     
Accordingly, noble citizens are hereby 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 alleged 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).

---The Czar likes women. Really. For a great variety of reasons, beginning with their great big bouncing intellects. He has known a good many fine ladies, and has duly admired their large aspirations and well-rounded backgrounds, and he has the hardest and most unwavering commitment to their success and happiness. So it is always with great dismay that he witnesses full-grown adult female humans in smart business attire greet one another as if someone has hidden bumblebees in their panties. "Hiiiiieeeeeee!" is sung out shamelessly in public places, but then, most things are done shamelessly in public places these days. To make matters worse, it is quite often accompanied by a little bouncy tippi-toe dance and goofy, mad embrace---sometimes capped off by "ladeeee" or "girlfriend." Please say byyyyeeeeee to hiiiiieeeeee. A.

GIRLFRIEND---The Czar can no longer have a girlfriend, not merely because the Czarina wouldn't approve, but because girlfriends are now reserved exclusively for other girls. At least that's what extra-terrestrials would conclude after watching Oprah, whose program is largely responsibile for placing "girlfriend" in the public patois. Of course, extra-terrestrials would also conclude that Oprah is Queen of Earth, so perhaps that's irrelevant. But when is the last time you heard a male refer to a female as his "girlfriend?" And when is the last time you heard a female refer to a female as "girlfriend?" Right, I thought so. Oprah's influence is not only great in causing people to purchase fiction books passed off as fact, but also in influencing language in a big way, girlfriend. Soon girlfriend will become like "dude," which is now employed in unisex fashion. Perhaps, in the Winfrey household, it already is. Steadman, get me the Pringles, girlfriend. . .A.

NOT A PROBLEM---What, me worry? This half-sister of Alfred E. Newman’s pet phrase renders anyone who speaks it a problem. A permutation of “no problem,” it is often pronounced in sing-songy fashion, with a perky little smile. As in “see what a folksy, wonderfully cooperative person I am!” It could actually be notated musically. The first word is generally emphasized, drawn out, and the first syllable of “problem" is squawked. Something like this: “Nahhht a PROBlemmm!” While the Czar dislikes problems, and wishes that more things were not a problem, this phrase has an annoying tendency to supplant “okay,” “yes,” “fine,” “bitchen,” and “righteeo!” What’s more, it easily gets stuck in repeat mode, in the grand tradition of “y’know.” The Czar has had phone conversations with travel agents, computer technicians, and even worse, editors, who have sung the “Not a problem” song, over and over. It reaches a point where one can almost say anything, and get the “not a problem” reflex in response. “Fix my computer?” “Not a problem.” “Shave the cat?” “Not a problem.” “Eat my shorts?” “Not a problem!” Perhaps there is some reactionary psychology involved here; that people are so inundated and hammered with problems that they have taken to crowing “not a problem” as a kind of unwitting prayer. This. . .is a problem. T, A.

SUCKY--- Fellatio first was employed in disparaging fashion by teenagers who were looking to be coarse and outrageous. It was pathetic enough that the vulgar “this sucks” sneaked into adult discourse, seeing as it refers directly to fellatio (and, not to be sexist about things here, I will allow that cunnilingus might also be involved.) Hence you have five-year-olds of all ages saying “that sucks,” literally meaning “that performs fellatio.” (Book of Seinfeld 14:21---Not that there's anything wrong with that.) Mm-hm. That’s our good old Slanglish. Now we have the adjectival “sucky,” as in “it’s really sucky.” Why, just last week a lovely woman said to The Czar, regarding her technique on a musical instrument, “it was really sucky.” And it wasn’t even an instrument played by mouth! Now, I realize that “sucky” is not meant to literally translate, but any time a female employs “suck” or “sucky,” The Czar wants to say, “do you realize you are referring to fellatio?” Because, frankly, when lovely women start using words like “suck” and “sucky” in front of male chauvinist pigs like The Czar, it is. . .distracting. A.

SUCKS ASS---We are here venturing into the deeply banal, with some regret, but these things must be done on occasion---this occasion having been afforded by a perfectly nice young fellow working in a coffee joint, who declared, “It sucked ass.” This was in reference to the simple and friendly entreaty, “how was your weekend?” spoken by another employee---and a female employee, at that! Well, not only did this diminish His Wordliness’s interest in ingesting coffee, or anything else, but gee, it was just a bit oh, un-picturesque. Do we really live in a world where common conversation has so decayed? The speaker of this decorative outburst---which he repeated emphatically, incidentally, to other employees---did not seem to find anything objectionable about it, and, more to the point, neither did the recipients. A (pun intended.)

SECULAR HUMANIST---This has become the equivalent of “dirty commie bastard” for the 21st century. Thanks to televangelists and so-called “Christian” propagandists everywhere (and Dennis Prager), “secular humanist” is up there with “godless commie,” “dirty hippie,” “liberal do-gooder,” and “enviro-wacko.” The only thing wacko here is that any of this madness is transpiring, of course. Let’s examine this. “Secular” means, more or less, outside of organized religion, if not religion altogether. “Humanist” refers to a person dedicated to the humanities; a student of literary culture. We are dealing with a secondary or tertiary meaning here, though: “humanitarian,” which, last The Czar checked, was one of the most flattering and respectable descriptions a human could aspire to earn. It is, Webster’s informs, “a philosophy that usu. rejects supernaturalism and stresses and individual’s dignity and worth and capacity for self-realization through reason.” Wow. Well, you know, reason is pretty dangerous stuff! It is certainly the enemy of televangelists and the “Christian Right,” many of whom think the earth was cooked up a few thousand years ago by the Holy Whisk and Mixing Bowl. What, exactly, is wrong with being outside organized religion? What is wrong with a private religion, or an ethical philosophy in place of a religion? Those who say this leads to “permissiveness” and “societal breakdown” might find more viable culprits in weakness of will, poverty of intellect, and the pervasive influence of a mercenary media thriving on low-common-denominator stimulus. And, possibly, Dr. Phil. A, CP.

-Bastard dwarf cousin of “Not a problem,” this is cropping up with worrisome regularity, most often spoken oh-so-cheerily by (apparently) unworried females---as was the case when The Czar politely asked a neighbor if he had parked too close to her car. Never mind that it was a subtle hint that she had, in fact, parked too close to The Czar’s. She smiled and said, “no worries!” But she was wrong, of course---there were, and are, worries. Lots of 'em. The Czar recommends that the next time someone says “no worries” to you, that you respond this way: “Really! Is it your medication?” This will likely make them worry. T, A.

OUT OF THE BOX---God bless writers! Pity the poor slobs, forever looking for some novel way of saying something. Thus do all manner of unlikely words and phrases work their way into everyday print, if not discourse---not necessarily a bad thing! But then, most of these unlikely words are either ungainly, conversationally (chockablock, hardscrabble) or just plain dopey. It is a form of Thesaurus-itis, really. Why, The Czar once knew a writer who---this is true---wrote entirely without adjectives and adverbs, but left blanks for them. And then got out his Thesaurus, and filled them in! Anyhow, headline writers, ad execs, and commentators are all chanting “out of the box” these days instead of “new,” which is not surprising, considering that “used” is now “pre-owned.” The point is that out-of-the-box is now out of the box, and while it can never be put back in the box, at least people might stop using it as if it is out-of-the-box. And please, please recycle those boxes. T, A.

DRINK THE KOOL-AID---This might have been glib in the first year or two, max, at the expense of all those poor fools who drank Jim Jones’s cyanide-laced Kool-Aid (actually it was a Kool-Aid knock-off---so to speak), and went to the big fish fry in the sky. One assumes that prevalent employment of this expression as a means of suggesting that someone has been co-opted, brainwashed, etc., stems from the Jonestown mass suicide---and not the LSD-laced "electric Kool-Aid” of the ‘60’s. But either way, the cleverness of this expression is not Kool any more, and speakers of it are badly in need of lingo Aid. It seems to be a staple of political speech, which is almost an oxymoron. In other words, it seems as if all blowhard politicians (redundant) drank the bad lingo Kool-Aid. T, A.

THAT BEING SAID---One of the most awful songs ever written was Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson’s “Say, Say, Say,” and one of the most awful catch-phrases ever spoken is “having said that.” The Czar thought things could get no more insipid, no more micro-brained, than “having said that” and its spawn of incest, “that said,” yet it has. Having said that, “that said” is now joined by its evil triplet, “that being said.” The Unholy Three! Say what? What’s next, “that having been said”? (Oh, don't tell me.) Say “that being said,” and lots of other persons of crimped cranium will think you are saying something! TeeVee Newsmannequins are frequent that-being-said sayers, particularly local Weathermannequin Josh Rubenstein, who slips it in between clouds and rain. What in hell is the purpose of saying “that being said?” To let someone know that you have just spoken the previous sentence? Okay, there is the argument that you are setting up contrasting information. That being said, “that being said” is seldom said to introduce any contrast. It is just filler, mortar between sentences, manically employed on the tube in order to avoid “dead air.” But no air is deader than air employed to say something that need not be said. And that’s saying something. T, A, P, CP.

CHEERS---This alone should be justification for wishing e-mail had never been invented. “Cheers”---undoubtedly a staple of the not a problem/no worries crowd---seems to be the most predominant of all cutesy-pie e-mail sign-offs. Here are samples, inspired by actual e-mails: “I’m sorry, but all our positions are filled. Cheers. . .”, “I’m sorry, but we will be unable to grant your request. Cheers. . .” “I’m sorry, but your pardon has been denied, and you will be executed as scheduled. Cheers. . .” Obviously, somewhere in e-prehistory, a nitwit received an e-mail from a Britwit, was smitten with “cheers,” and appropriated it, thinking this would make him or her come across as jaunty and cosmopolitan. (The Czar finds “cheers” especially amusing when employed by young people who cannot spell.) Do these people imagine that by typing "cheers," they are sending along merriment, frivolity, hijinks? Do they imagine that this might somehow take the edge off, oh, a three-day drunk, a divorce, a funeral? Look, every time you see “cheers,” please accept the following invitation to write back to the sender, “go cheers yourself."  Or better yet, quote from George Harrison’s wonderful song, “Cheer Down.” I can see by your grin/ That you're trembling within/ It's all over town, cheer down. . .T, A.

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION---TeeVee Punditmannequins chronically yack about a "culture of corruption" in politics, Washington D.C., Sacramento, and The Bachelor. To which The Czar always wants to yell, "well, at least they've got a culture!" An alternative is proposed to this dry, hollow cliche, which has all the impact of a statement by John Kerry. How about "rats' nest," "snakepit," or some other colorful animal metaphor? I mean make it as stock as "culture of corruption." Pile of bat guano. . .wolverine world. . .weasel wonderland. . .Why, the American Sheeple might briefly rouse from their slumber if they heard, say, Jim Lehrer, refer to Washington lobbyists---I mean senators and representatives---as a "den of dog incest," for instance. T.

BASED ON A STORY BY---Nothing has so debased literature as “based on a story by.” Among lawyers, scriptwriters, and directors, “based on a story by” has come to mean “this movie bears almost no resemblance whatsoever to the story it represents itself to have been based upon.” How did this happen? How is it that a film may be called “Cannery Row,” for random example, and have almost zero resemblance to the book? Answer: same way that “used” has become “pre-owned.” Cheers. CP.

SNARKY---Writers who like to imagine themselves au courant employ all manner of slang, and the less recognizable and more street-fresh, the better their cache among peers. “Snarky” arose in the last five or ten years, and to tell the truth, The Czar didn’t know what in hell it meant until he wrote this little item. His Wordliness, you see, labors under the old-fashioned illusion that language should be recognizable and intelligible, whenever possible, when employed for a general audience. “Snarky” allegedly is a corruption of “snide remark” and refers to sarcastic or cynical utterance. You know, like this column. T, A, P, CP.

SKANK---Using words like “snarky” and “skank” is, for a writer, the figurative equivalent of showing off a tattoo or body-piercing. There are words that certain writers---or better to call them people who write---employ to demonstrate their hipness, pardon a hoary adjective. Instead of saying “creep,” or “lowbrow,” or “dissolute,” or "blogger," alternative weeklies (where most of these people who write work) are full of “skanky” and “skank.” Here is the definition offered by “Derogatory term for a (usually younger) female, implying trashiness or tackiness, lower-class status, poor hygiene, flakiness, and a scrawny, pockmarked sort of ugliness. May also imply promiscuity, but not necessarily. Can apply to any race, but most commonly used to describe white trash.” Girlfriend, isn't it just lovely that humans are endlessly thinking up new ways to cruelly categorize other humans? I’d rather have dinner with a skank than a writer who uses the word. T, A, P, CP.
          The Czar wishes all you secular humanists a safe and snarky lingo day. Cheers.

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