Wednesday, October 13, 2004

shameless plagerism

ok, maybe not plagerism exaclty. i'm going to tell you exactly where i got this: from the Tuesday, October 12, 2004 issue of the Jackson Citizen Patriot, my local paper (also known as the Cit Pat or the Shit Pat, depending upon your political orientation). It is an article titled "Literally taking a phrase a bit too far," written by Brad Flory. I'm copying it in its entirety here for three reasons. 1, this particular article does not appear in the on-line version of the paper; 2, it is worth reading, both for its eloquent expression of a shared pet-peeve and its entertainment value; and 3, i am bored.

Literally taking a phrase too far, by Brad Flory

Being the son of an English teacher, I am burdened with strange pet peeves. One is the word "literally." Television new broadcasters almost always use "literally" incorrectly.
"A mid-Michigan man literally explodes with rage," they say. "We'll have the story at 11."

No, the man did not literally explode with rage, not unless he is a suicide bomber. "Literally" means something really happened exactly as the words describe. It is not merely a figure of speech.

Let me illustratewitha story of intense personal stupidity. (me talking again. you can see why i wanted to share this with my global readership. I always find stories of intense personal stupidity extremely entertaining. sadly, there is no shortage of them these days. back to the article...)
A couple years ago, the state put new campfire rings in all its campgrounds. They built thick, reinforced concrete rings that begin about a foot underground. Dirt inside the rings (damnit, SOIL inside the rings. Dirt's the stuff behind your ears. So sayeth BIll Niering.) is excavated
below ground level and the concrete rises maybe 8 inches above the surface. No one would confuse it with natural beauty.

Last weekend, I spent two evenings huddled around one of those ugly concrete pits for warmth on the Flory famliy's annual fall camping trip. Autumn, in theory, is a wonderful time for camping. Crowds are small and trees are colorful. In practice, it can be agony.

Each year in October, my family camps at the very tip of the Leelanau Peninsula, spending a weekend pretending not to be miserable. Beautiful as it is, the Leelanau Peninsula can be cold and even snowy in October. When the weather is not cold, it isusually hideously windy. A man with Florida plates told me the breeze off the lake Saturday reminded him of home.

Anyway, on to my stupidity.
Before dawn on Sunday, my son and I awoke at our campsite and took a cold, windy walk to the beach to gaze at the stars.
"We don't have stars like this at home," I said. This sounds dumb, but it's true. Stars, planets and galaxies are remarkable bright when you find a spot without artificial light.
When we returned to our campsite, I boiled a kettle of water to make hot chocolate for the boy. This is where I turned more stupid than usual.

Carrying the kettle in the dark to the picnic table, my feet suddenly came out from under me. I tripped hard. Bracing for the fall, my right knee went past the ground. How could this be? My knee hit the bottom of the fire pit. My thigh slammed intot he reinforced concrete, sort of breaking my fall and, almost, my leg. Boiling water flew from the kettle, some landing on me.
Nursing bumps, burises and burns, I remembered a crude phrase. Word experts trace its origins back to the 1890s.
I literally went ass over teakettle.

See? Even for TV types, this should clear up confusion ver proper use of the word "literally."
I have more pet peeves, but I am too sore to illustrate them.


Ah, Brad Flory: nature-lover, klutz, and grammatical stickler. A man after my own heart. Too bad he's married.

2 comments:

Sal said...

>See? Even for TY typesshould this read "TV types" or am i being more than usually dense?

(you'll note i have staunchly and stoutly resisted commenting on spelling mistakes ;) )

Chaucer's Bitch said...

Thank you sal for your careful proofreading of my lousy typing. Yes, "TY types" should read "TV types." Please note that the mistake has been remedied. Feel free to return to your previous state of self-restraint at any time.