05.14.09 – Thursday

Word: odium [oh-dee-uhm] n. 1. intense hatred or dislike, esp. toward a person or thing regarded as contemptible, despicable, or repugnant 2. the reproach, discredit, or opprobrium attaching to something hated or repugnant: He had to bear the odium of neglecting his family 3. the state or quality of being hated

Birthday: Thomas Gainsborough (1727), Otto Klemperer (1885), Herbert W. Franke (1927), George Lucas (1944), David Byrne (1952), Robert Zemeckis (1952), Tim Roth (1961), Suzy Kolber (1964), Cate Blanchett (1969), Sofia Coppola (1971), Miranda Cosgrove (1993)

Standpoint: Thursday means it’s time to for Annoying Sayings & Misused Words.

  • “epic fail”(submitted by a Facebook friend) – “Epic Fail” is being thrown around like a hot potato these days on the internet. And like most catch phrases, it’s being unmercilessly beat into the ground. No one seems to agree on the meaning of the term. Here is the best description of “epic fail” I’ve found so far: “A mistake of such monumental proportions that it requires its own term in order to sucessfully point out the unfathomable shortcomings of an individual or group.” OK. If we accept that definition for our purposes here, let’s look to a few weeks back, when Twitter was experiencing some serious difficulties. The Twitterati were madly tweeting about the site’s “epic fail.” I didn’t feel it was a “mistake of such monumental proportions.” Probably just a bad day over at Twitter HQ. No one died and nothing exploded. Everybody walked away just fine. As I’m learning, it’s not a saying like, “epic fail,” that’s annoying, but the overuse of it.
  • “affect” vs. “effect”(submitted by Gina L.) – This is a tricky one. “Effect” means “something that is produced by an agency or cause.” On the other hand, “affect” means “produce an effect or change in.” Confusing, right? I’ll try to clear it up. “Effect” should be used when describing a result: “Jimmy had no effect on what happened.” “Affect” should be used when describing the influence someone or something had on a result: “How did your talk affect her decision?” As you can see, it’s a very fine line.
  • “a lot” vs. “alot”(submitted by John G.) – I doubt we’d find anyone who’s never misused “alot.” But “alot” is not a word. “A lot” is “an informal phrase meaning a large portion or large quantity of something.” So there you have it.

How about you? Do you often hear a phrase that irks you? A word that is constantly misused? Please share.

Quotation: As an intellectual, it’s my job to take ideas that pass as common sense and complicate them.Dr. Marc Lamont Hill

Tune: The Weepies. Not my favorite band name. But Deb Talan & Steve Tannen make some pretty incredible songs. Case in point – “World Spins Madly On”

Gallimaufry: After its upcoming European tour, The Lucksmiths will be breaking up after a 16-year long run. In a statement released on its website, the band wrote, “We had tried to operate the band in a way that would suit all of us, but at the same time we’ve been very conscious that too much compromise would in the end affect our creative output.” There’s another band I’ll never get to see live. Good luck, fellas. ∞ If you smoke cigarettes or drink acohol, you might soon be spending more money to support your habit. The Senate Finance Committee is coming for you. ∞ The heading reads, “Rotten office fridge cleanup sends 7 to the hospital.” No. I didn’t find this on The Onion. It’s true. 28 people received medical treatment. Unreal. 

Incoming: Tomorrow3 Things To Do In Philly When You’re Dead and 7 Covers Songs Better That The Original

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05.07.09 – Thursday

Word: acrimony [ak-ruh-moh-nee] n. sharpness, harshness or bitterness of nature, speech, disposition, etc.: The speaker attacked him with great acrimony

Birthday: William Bainbridge (1774), Johannes Brahms (1833), Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840), Gary Cooper (1901), Eva Peron (1919), Johnny Unitas (1933), Jimmy Ruffin (1939), Thelma Houston (1946), Bill Kreutzmann (1946), Randall “Tex” Cobb (1950), Tim Russert (1950), Traci Lords (1968), Eagle Eye Cherry (1969), Breckin Meyer (1974)Nicole Sheridan (1975)

Standpoint: It’s Thursday and that means I’m addressing your suggestions for Annoying Sayings & Misused Words. Right. Now.

  • “ironical” vs. “ironic” – Mentioned by many of you, I think it’s safe to say that we owe this “irony” debate to Alanis Morissette. “Ironical” is defined as “using or prone to irony.” I hate it when I disappoint my readers but that’s probably just what the next sentence will accomplish. As for “ironic,” the second definition offered by dictionary.com was actually “ironical.” So, unfortunately for all of you grammar hounds out there, you are no longer free to correct people when they use “ironical.” Sorry.
  • “could have” vs. “could of” – I hear this one a lot. Hell, I might even say “could of,” I’m not sure. But if I do, I’m wrong as can be. To quote EnglishPlus.com, “‘Could of’ does not exist.” That’s about the end of the debate right there, I think.
  • “no offense, but…” – In its essence, this is a cowardly phrase that was most likely shortened from another, much longer phrase  like, “Hey, I’m a big wuss and I’m about to say something that may or may not piss you off, but I still want to make my feelings known on this issue without fear of bodily harm or reciprocity via an equally offensive comment launched in my direction.” In my experience, when someone starts out a statement with, “no offense, but…” it’s usually meant to imply the opposite like, “No offense, dude, but you suck.” I think it’s all right when used that way. Kind of ironical. Right?

Well, there you go. I’m starting to get the sense that a lot of these words that we all originally thought were being misused have now been accepted by the word authorities as acceptable usage. Are they simply addressing the evolution of the language or are the bending to the will of a people who are too lazy to speak it properly? What do you think?

Quotation: The internet is the world’s largest library. It’s just that all the books are on the floor. John Allen Paulos

Tune: Colin Hay might be remembered by most for his involvement with the 80s Australian pop band Men At Work, but what he’s done since then is create some amazing singer-songwriter anthems. Check out “Waiting For My Real Life To Begin.” Also, if you are a fan of the show “Scrubs,” this might be worth checking out. And if, for whatever reason, you’re pining for those Men At Work days, here’s Hay’s reworking of “Overkill.”

Gallimaufry: Apparently, our society now has individuals calling themselves “public intellectuals.” Read all about Stu Bykofsky’s experience with Dr. Marc Lamont Hill. ∞ Due to all of the driving around I’ve been doing since the new move, I’ve been daydreaming about faster-than-light travel. It’s fun to fantasize about pushing a button and having the world around you turn into a blur as you travel hundreds of miles in the blink of an eye. It’s even more fun to imagine Jean-Luc Picard in the backseat, calmly giving the order to “Engage,” right before you hit the imaginary button. That kind of thing will probably never be possible over land but, out in the cosmos, Space.com seems to think it might be possible sooner than we think ∞ The Shins are back. Well. Kind of. Marty Crandall and Jesse Sandoval are out of the band for what lead singer James Mercer calls “aesthetic reasons.” He’s recruited Ron Lewis from Grand Archives and Joe Plummer from Modest Mouse to join the band for their new tour and upcoming album.

Incoming: Tomorrow3 Things To Do In Philly When You’re Dead and, inspired by all of this rain lately, 7 Sunny Songs About Rain.