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Lingo Czar is back in the day
(Dec. 1, 2004)
        The Lingo Czar is back from his extreme makeover, but somehow they missed the double-chin. Anyhow, you don't type with your chin, and good looks never got any writer anywhere, so. . .
        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).
           To Die For---I know that the little busybrains with their little manicures and little cellphones and little SUVs really have little time to think about little things like language. Their minds are musing over bigger stuff, like where to park, whether to dart around that bus, whether they remembered to take "Bean-O," whether they would eat raw bull scrotums for $50,000, and if they will go to hell for kicking the dog. But it is yet hoped the busybrains might take a moment to consider eliminating "to die for" from their lexicon of unthinking kneejerk cool patois. The Czar loves crème brulee, gulab jaman, and zucotto, but would not die for them. While people are dying for lots and lots of different reasons now, few are doing so for dessert. And while this phrase once had a certain snobbish cache and charm, speakers now tend to sound deadened to human suffering. R.I.P. "To die for." T, A, P, CP.
            'Puter---Now, pewter is an innocuous enough thing, admired and coveted by artisans dealing in arcane stauettes and Elvis memorial dinner plates. But "'puter"---I ask you, "'puter"---is invidious. To the Czar, whose affection for computers rivals his love of prostate exams, "'puter" is akin to referring to Hitler as "Dolph." Good ol' Dolph Hitler, your neighborhood genocidal maniac. Yes, readers have by now deduced that human beings are referring to their desktop microcircuited brain prostheses as "'puters." As if these are just cute li'l ol' things, like a Hummel or a Hello Kitty! clock. Listen: computers are artificial versions of human foibles, and that's the extent of the anthropomorphosizing in order here. They will refuse your punctuation, challenge your (correct) spellings, disappear with a screenfull of fresh thinking that can never be duplicated, decline to do things that they have done a thousand times before (for no apparent reason), insist that your perfectly functional printer no longer can be "found," and on and on. They are not pets. They are not cyber-pals. They are not cute. They are not. . .your friend. They are machines, fully deserving the inanimate, sterile implications of their full name. A.
            Progrum---Why are so many pilgrums---I mean, pilgrims---suddenly saying "progrum?" Is it the same reason so many pundates---I mean, pundits---are saying "candi-dit" instead of "candidate?" Do they imagine this clipped, streamlined delivery makes them sound more urbane? From NPR to the Today Show, "progrum" has replaced "program." This, of course, is dangerously close to "pogrom," a grim term referring to the massacre of human beings. And while The Czar can argue that the pogrom in Iraq is a popular TeeVee program with about half the country, and that programs like "Fear Factor," "Oprah," and "The Bachelor" have effectively been a pogrom for human soul and thought, the similarity ends there. Please re-program "progrum." A, P.
        Finger pointing to God---This is a gesture, not a word, but it is a major part of American League---er, American language---nonetheless. The Czar realizes that baseball players are young people who do not, for the most part, contemplate much beyond how to hit the curve ball. And that is as it should be. The Czar realizes that steroids and beer-throwing fans can play havoc with major league baseball brains. But be advised that God did not help you to hit that home run, Barry. In other words, please stop pointing to the sky whenever you drive one out of the park, Sammy. It does not show humility, it shows pomposity, as if your "personal relationship with God" enabled you to guess correctly on a three-and-two pitch. Listen: God does not interfere in baseball. Why would He punish the Cubs and so often reward the likes of George Steinbrenner? T, A, P, CP.
            Dystopian World---The definition reads: "an imaginary place which is depressingly wretched and whose people lead a fearful existence." The Czar has it on authority that Rense considered this as a name for this website. That aside, this is a term that one would never run across outside of graduate school and film reviews---and in fact, that is no mere coincidence, as most film reviews read like master's theses. Yes, if you wish to improve vocabularly, please read a major newspaper's film criticism, where such five-dollar words as "plangent" are beginning English. And here, also, you will often find "Dystopian World," used in reference to any movie about people who aren't too perky. You know, like film critics. A, P, CP.
            Blinkered----Also from the Dystopian World of film criticism comes "blinkered," meaning roughly being the owner of tunnel vision. This term is thrown around as if ingrained since first grade readers, i.e. "See blinkered Spot run." What is quite amusing is how, soon after one critic introduces an adjective like "blinkered"---with perhaps impeccable specificity and atmsopheric aplomb---another critic picks it up. Before long, "blinkered" becomes a bastion of hifalutin' blather. It even creeps into spoken reviews on radio. Tell me, dear readers, when is the last time you heard a human being use "blinkered" in conversation? Perhaps on a farm somewhere, in reference to Old Dobbin? The Czar celebrates language (and understands that critics get bored using the same ol' gol-dern descriptors) but finds such vocabularistic fetishizing to have much in common with Dobbin, and what he leaves behind. T, A, P.
            Tempechure---Formerly "temperature." Shiny-faced TeeVee weathermannequins everywhere have abandoned the middle "r" sound in "temperature," much as they have done with "February" (now "Febuary.") The clunky (accepted) pronunciation of "temperature" has long been such as to drive an upper-class Brit twit to distraction, what with that chunky "ch" sound replacing the more precise and dainty "t" in the final syllable. But that's fine with The Czar, who finds the upper class Brit lilt ("silf" instead of "self") to be highly distracting. The "r" absence in "temperature" is a logical progression in the gradual return to drooling ongoing in TeeVee newsland. Instead of "tem-pera-chure," weathermannequins are now just speaking like their kids. Hence: "tempechure." The Czar has also heard famed local news anchors refer to eating "samwiches," and taking "potty breaks." Soon they will come to work in short pants. Let "tempechure" burn. CP.
            Drama---The Czar, the world will be relieved to know, has never successfully propagated his own kind, and lives largely alone in a room full of crumpled paper and rat droppings. Still, he does get messages from the outside via this nasty thing you are staring at right now, dear readers---and one such message came from the world of teenaged youth. A parent informs of an entirely new usage for "drama," apparently in vogue among femalius pubesencia horribilus, a.k.a. teenaged girls. The word is now used to refer to any portion of teenaged life deemed objectionable, as in, "I can't deal with all that drama," or "I just talked to Cindy and I can't deal with her drama." While few sane humans would argue that hormones transform the tiniest aspects of teenagery into titanic daily angst, this employment of the term strikes as more comedic than dramatic. The Czar would advise reserving use of "drama" for serious travail, but realizes that attempting to alter the speech habits of young American females is a dramatically difficult proposition. Rather like trying to make Julia Roberts stop showing her teeth. A (but you're forgiven.)
            Reach Out---This must be banned entirely from usage, except by the Four Tops. Jackass politicans, which is to say, all politicians, use "reach out" no more frequently than Oprah says "girlfriend" and Leno tells a toilet joke. It is a tool meant to connote compassion and fair play, i.e. how the president said he was "reaching out" to Democrats who didn't like John Kerry. You can't merely "request," as that puts you strategically in a whiney gimmegimme disadvantage. Instead, you "reach out" to opponents/ minorities/the poor/Vladimir Putin/France/Germany/The Rip Post. Translation: because you very badly need something, you cast yourself as the initiator of all things good, all things compromised, all things open-hearted. . .by "reaching out." If the other side does not reach back, they're the bad guys. Put this phrase out of reach. T, A, P, CP.
            Boobs---The when, how, and why women began referring to their mammary glands as "boobs" are better left unexplored. The Czar finds the word onomatopoeiacally at odds with the target it purports to describe. A "boob" sounds like something festering, bulbous, possibly tumorous---hardly terms that one enjoys entertaining in close proximity to "breast." The widespread use of this slang is part of the rampant vulgarizing of the female bosom---as if it is merely a ridiculous configuration of goofy utilitarian flab that wildly excites men for no apparent good reason. Women everywhere refer cavalierly to their "boobs," and often expose them for videocameras in moments of high-spirits. The Czar prefers a certain amount of mystique, and longs for the days when lace brassieres and silk stockings kept banality at bay. T, A.
            Back in the day---Back in which day? The day when nobody said "back in the day?" Those were the days! The Czar gets his back up on days when he hears this---especially when the speaker's days don't add up to 30 years. Apparently a contraction of "back in the good old days," this phrase is heard daily. It is spreading with such dazing speed as to rival the infectiousness of the Xanax/Prozac/Lithium cheer, "it's all good." The appeal, one supposes, is that it makes the speaker sound charmingly seasoned. To The Czar, it sounds alarmingly cheese-ened. Put it back out of the day. A.
          The Lingo Czar wishes you a very Lingo Christmas and an eloquent New Year.

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