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    (May 12, 2004)

     Citizens are 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).

ORALCY---Okay, boys and girls, in your seats, please. Time for grammar! Jimmy, put down that .357 magnum right this instant! And Britney, how many times have I told you, no toking up in class! Do that in the girls' bathroom! That's better. Now, today's grammar rule is the -cy rule! You just tack on a -cy to any adjective and---alakazam! ---you get a noun. Take Latisha's brother, who was shot dead by gangbangers the other day. He's dead. That's the adjective. So now, just add a -cy and what do you get? Right, Jesus, you get "deadcy!" That's the noun! Now your parents might tell you otherwise, but this is how we do things in the Los Angeles Unified School District! Yessirreee! You've all heard the word, "literacy," right? No, no, it does not mean trash! It means how well you read. Well, now the LAUSD has a brand new word for you---oralcy! That's right, it means how well a child reads aloud! Never mind that it isn't in Webster's. The LAUSD said it, I believe it, that settles it! W, CP.

WANNIT---Attention Karen Hughes, if you are going to follow proudly in the footsteps of Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels, please engage in language suitable for those past the age of five. On second thought, it you are speaking for this President of the United States---a man who says things like "Is our children learning?"---maybe it's okay to speak like a Rugrat. But "wannit?" Wannit? Karen! Isn't it enough that most of the statements emerging from your mouth are vile in content? Must they also be foul in pronunciation? Given that you're from Takesuss, perhaps that's a silly question. Still, The Czar requests that at least you speak the word, "wanted" like most other English speaking people, including lots and lots of ESL students and immigrants. As the LAUSD would say, Karen, you are lacking in oralcy. A, CP.

WE'RE DOING EVERYTHING WE CAN---The Bush Administration---from Scott "Butterball" McClellan to Condolleezza "Oil Tanker" Rice to Vice-President George W. "President" Bush to Donald "Not Helpful" Rumsfeld to President Dick "Vice- President" Cheney--- loves to say we're doing everything we can. They just adore it! What a lovely phrase it is---conveying massive action of every conceivable type aimed at problem alleviation! A real confidence-bolsterer! The administration says this more often than "with respect to," and "clearly," and "the Iraqi people." The funny thing is---it doesn't really mean anything! In fact, the most likely translation goes about like this: "There isn't a goddamn thing we can do and basically we're screwed." T, A, CP.

AWESOME---It's so sad, really. Americans are so pummelled and numbed and hammered by mass media, rendered so jaded and insensate, that tried-and-true descriptors like "good" and "nice" and "pleasing" are limp, ineffective, all but deceased. As applause transformed into automatic whooping, and all ovations became standing, exclamations of praise went exponentially hypertrophic. In truth, folks, we are running out of superlatives. "Awesome"---long trite---is now a starting point. Like "cool," it applies to absolutely anything, no matter how mundane or uninteresting. As in: "Awesome patio furniture, dude!" A Chinese friend of mine pronounces it roughly, "Orson," which I enjoy, as I like the idea of invoking Orson Bean as a happy declaration. (But this is not likely to catch on.) "Awesome" really could use some real awe, but this is not likely to happen. T, A, P, CP.

WUDN'T/ IDN'T---Wudn't it great when we had presidents who could pronounce "wasn't?" Idn't it just staggeringly amazing that this isn't the case any longer? W, CP.

BAD APPLES---Every problem and scandal in the Bush Administration is now blamed on "a few bad apples"---from Enron to the torture chamber of Iraq. The administration never takes the blame or responsibility for a single error, misjudgement, or problem. And that's saying a lot, as pretty much everything this administration does amounts to a scandal that dwarfs Watergate. Gee, to hear Bush tell it, there are just an awful lot of bad apples in the military, Pentagon, business world, intelligence community. Perhaps one day the public might come to suspect that the problem is the tree. T, A.

WOY-YER---Attention, sportscasters! Attention, all elected officials in Washington, D.C.! There are two---count 'em, two---'r's' in "warrior!" Correct. Why, the word comes straight from one of the Bush administrtion's favorite words---"war," see? What's more, here is a well-kept secret: there are three---yes, three---syllables in the word! It's like "worrier" but with the first syllable pronounced like "war." So the San Francisco Woy-yers are really the San Francisco Warriors (or Golden State, or whatever they're called.) Make lingo love, not woy-yer. W, A.

WARM---Well, even the barely sentient must realize that all TV weathermannequins are utterly insane. Who in his or her right mind would dress glamorously, smile like small monkeys were tickling their hindquarters, and point at big electronic maps, chirping things like "coastal eddy" and "offshore flow" and "high pressure system" for a living? These people are dealing without a deck. The only ones crazier are those who pay them six figures a year to do this, and call it "journalism." But the Czar would forgive all if weathermannequins would just return the word, "hot," to their vocabulary. Folks, when it's over 80 or 90, it is not "warm." Nope, no more than Oprah is merely "plump," or Diane Sawyer merely "unashamed." Yet weathermannequins everywhere have a fabulous aversion to saying "hot." The Czar figures they have been instructed by demographics specialists against upsetting viewers with this terrible, frightening descriptor. God forbid that the weather be unpleasant! So when the temperature is hotter than the devil's ass on the sun, weathermannequins will smile a cutesy little smile and tell you it's "a warm one." This makes The Czar very warm under the collar. T, A, P, CP.

IT LOOKS LIKE A MOVIE---Every night, TV newsmannequins across the nation intone this phrase, or interview poor "eyewitnesses" who intone it. Yes, it seems that the public has lost all ability to understand reality unless it is compared with something celluloid. The problem is, folks, it's the other way around: the world doesn't look like movies---movies look like the world! It seems that the human eye is so filmy from watching 500 satellite channels that natural images are a bore. Nothing registers unless it can be imagined with a frame around it, in Dolby. "I seen the explosion," says Faceless Nameless on the Nightly News, "It looked like something out of a movie!" Or, squawks News- mannequin in that controlled shout and artificial syllabic stress, "The people who LIVE here said the devastation looked like something out of a movie." The Czar would like to clue everyone in here: the real world is far, far more interesting, spectacular, strange, beguiling, horrifying, and lovely than anything ever put on film. Turn off the TeeVee and open your eyes. T, A, P, W, CP.

THE IRAQI PEOPLE---Isn't it strange to hear "The Iraqi People" mentioned by this administration far more often than "The American People?" Why are "The Iraqi People" of such concern to the people of the United States, let alone its government? (Answer: they're not, but their oil and strategic closeness to Israel are.) Ladies and Gentlemen, the Czar submits that you are all being subtly brainwashed to accept "The Iraqi People"--- whom most of you have never met, seen, or played Pachisi with---as an important part of your lives. They're not. T, CP.

IT'S SO NOT (BLANK)---Upon viewing the photo of the cigarette chomping female G.I. pointing to the naked Iraqi's genitals, the G.I.'s sister declared, "it's SO not her." This odd, "sport" use of "so" has cropped up in a variety of circumstances and is frequently heard in alleged comedies, usually in phrases like "you are SO busted," or "you are SO fired." Best guess of origin: American malls, where much contemporary English is born, and quickly harvested by Hollywood. Further evidence of two things: the increasing decline in vocabulary, and the drive to declare with sufficient emphasis to penetrate mass-media-dulled pysches. It is so not graceful. T, A.

GET IT---Explanation is a bore. Who has time? Who has the energy to explain something, or to process explanations? Just say "get it," get it? Everybody's doin' it. The Czar heard a classical music station host during pledge drive say something like, "Maybe you are one of the people who gets it." Gets what? Congressmanne- quins constantly say "They just don't get it" and "We get it." What is everybody getting? Imagine if everybody who "gets it" tried to explain their thoughts to one another. Might turn out that everybody who thought they get it never really got it in the first place. Got it?
T, A.

GOD CHANGED MY HEART---From Tuscaloosa to Boise, from Truth or Consequences, New Mexico to Intercourse, Pennsylvania, "born-again Christians" are declaring "God changed my heart." Oh, wait, the Czar forgot Washington, D.C., where Bush has uttered this very phrase, too! Yes, they all get glassy-eyed, and speak with that "I know something you don't know voice," and say, "God changed my heart!" The amusing thing is that none of them ever seem to be able to explain what this means. It's the "born-again" equivalent of "gets it." Let's examine Bush's case. The big change in his alleged heart was that being "born again" meant he would never booze again. That's the sum total of the Prez's explanation. But let's take him at face value, and assume he had a great, life-altering experience, just as so many bull-goose looney, Armageddon-happy "Christians" claim. Well, after Bush's heart "changed," he: went to war on false pretenses, killed somewhere between 10,000 and 30,000 Iraqi civilians, drastically increased the threat of terrorism by invading and occupying the Middle East, sent lots of ill-trained troops to Iraq (including National Guard Reserves!), secured the deaths of over 700 U.S. soldiers, bankrupted the economy, dismantled much of Medicare, and has worked diligently to dismantle or weaken all pollution regulations. (There's more, but that'll do for starters.) If God changed his heart, well, you sure have to wonder about God, don't you? T, A, P, CP.
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