Sunday, July 15, 2018

10 Modern Clichés to Avoid or Stop 'Thinking Outside the Box!'

 I recently spent some time cat sitting for a friend. In the process, I managed to get in a few hours of television watching, something that takes up very limited amount of time in my home. After messing around with the remote for a while, I discovered many shows and people I had never heard of before. Now ordinarily, this would not bother me ... but it did make me realize that cutting the cable and relying on just two networks (one of which is public television), I was getting close to the morass of ignorance with regard to what is going on in the world beneath the heavy veil of politics.

Not only did I discover a whole world of reality personalities, cooking celebrities, and detailed forensic methods for murdering women, I discovered also that either the writers or the unscripted dialogs have created a new wave of clichés or there is very little creative effort by media.

I call this phenomenon "modern clichés" because while the combination of words has not been around as long as the true cliché, the rampant overuse leads me to believe I can call them clichés.

In just a week, I heard these worn phrases while surfing various channels and shows.

  • Think outside the box. Really? How many times have you used this?
  • Kick it up a notch. Now this one was used six times on six different cooking related shows.
  • You know what I'm saying? This is kind of like adding "you know" to your statements.
  • I'm just saying. (Don't we know what you are saying; after all, you just said it.)
  • I mean. (Have you noticed how many speakers answer questions by using these two words to preface their responses?)
  • It is what it is. Ah, this needs no further discussion.
  • To be honest ... (Oh, so otherwise what you have to say is dishonest?)
  • I cannot even ... (I cannot even think of what this means!)
  • That's a game changer.
  • That's my final answer. (Is that show still on TV?)

Now, the 2nd Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (1989) has 21,728 pages in 20 volumes. I have no idea how many words that equals but I would wager it is at least 13,000,000. Not surprisingly, English-speaking Americans use only (an estimated) 3,000 of 20 volumes of words.

I realize that broadcast media has to get a message across quickly, but I wonder if they assume the public will not be able to understand what they are trying to convey if they use more than the 3,000 words.

Surely with this many words available to us, we could cease employing these "clichés" and become more descriptive.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Where or where have 18 months gone?

A year-and-a-half ago, I input my last blog. The subject matter was New Year's resolutions, and I listed five things I planned to do but did not resolve to do. Here's the list I was considering:


I ended the list by stating I might post a follow-up now and again -- that didn't happen.

The 18 months passed as timely as 18 months should. In that time, I did manage to carry out most of the list.

(The biggest disappointment was the music promise. The battery gave out on my trusty Ipod classic so I could no longer carry it with me on long walks or don its earphones while checking email and scanning facebook. Luckily I was able to pick up a used Ihome at the thrift shop next door so I can still use the Ipod. Also, since I bought a new phone, I transferred a lot of my music to my old cell and I now use that as my walking music player.)

 One thing I did not expect to do during that time, and it became one of the biggest contributors to lack of input on the blog, was learning to use Wordpress. Also, I returned to my second favorite pastime (art), designing t-shirts for Amazon. I guess it's a matter of focus. (I do tend to spend a lot of time on new projects, often neglecting old ones.)

I'm still not sure how much effort I'll manage here because I did discover that blogging, like building websites, took time away from other writing, which does not please me. Just last week, I opened my backup laptop and looked at the list of unfinished work sitting in a documents folder, saved for later updates --- two non-fiction books, three novels (one nearly complete, one in rough draft and one in outline form) and a dozen short stories I planned to put together in a collection. This is not good, especially when that list gets added to the miscellaneous writing in progress on this desktop.

That said, I'm going to pretend today is the beginning of the new year. I put a few sticky notes on the desktop with reminders to share time between all projects and to walk away from the computer more often. Perhaps I'm relearning the discipline one has when involved with the work force. I'm not sure I want to bring all of that back because I enjoy the impromptu life too much. However, I have already opened the oldest novel to read and refresh my train of thoughts and look forward to seeing where all this leads.

Saturday, December 24, 2016


I'm working on my 2017 New Year's resolutions. I usually resolve NOT to resolve anything. This allows me to have a totally open mind, or at least I think that's what it does. In reality, it just ensures I won't mess up and break a resolution on January 2, by accident, of course. In short, I'm making certain that I'm not setting myself up for failure.

You see, I understand keeping resolutions is a tough job. A quick search on the world's most popular internet search engine (You know which one I'm talking about.) for suggestions for keeping NYR reveals 84,400,000 results in 0.42 seconds.

One of the sites ( indicates that the percent of people who are successful in achieving their resolution is 8 %. (This study was done by University of Scranton. Journal of Clinical Psychology.) Even if the figure is off, it's still a pitiful number, isn't it?

Now that we've established that difficulty exists (which we already knew), let me announce here and now that I've found the real answer to the conundrum of keeping resolutions:

Just resolve to do the GOOD things you normally do BETTER.

(Kind of a poorly constructed sentence but I'm sure you get the point.)

With that in mind, here are a half-dozen resolutions I'll been working on for 2017--resolutions I'm sure I'll keep. Note: I've included some interesting, fun -- and in a few cases suggestible -- links. Check them out to see where they lead.


Even if you're not interested in hydration, you might be interested in this site which pinpoints natural springs across the U.S. and in parts of Canada. (Might make for an interesting if very long road trip.)


After all, according to Charles Schultz, "All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt." (Who are we to argue?)


I can't imagine a day without reading so this won't take effort. This year I'm focusing on learning more about how the brain operates.


Does this really need additional input? In Nevada, you can still smoke in public places, especially in casinos, though many are now sporting smoke-free areas.


I know I have my trusty mp3 player as well as access to all kinds of music on the web, but there's something special about actually being up close to music while it's happening.

That's it. I'm definitely setting myself up for success. I was thinking of doing a follow-up every now and then but I don't think that's necessary. What I would like is a suggestion or two that I can add to the list. Anybody?

Sunday, December 18, 2016

I'm Still Standing

Or rather, I'm still moving.

This blog has been temporarily (a long temporarily) on hold. It will  be revived in the near future, after I've finished a new venture that's become almost overwhelming.

The writing continues to fill up all the empty spaces on my hard drive and eventually the words will find their way here.

Meanwhile. it's nearing the end of a year. I'm hoping to have the big project wrapped up by the last day of this month.

I hope to have a Merry Christmas and wish the same to you.


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Don't clean up my act

Even a few days after reading about the app, my body is still reacting the way it does when I accidentally bite into a burrito filled with sriracha sauce. Maybe my face did not change to watermelon red and my cheeks did not streak with tears, but the sting, oh the sting, it certainly does exist.

What is this app that has me feeling so irritated?

It is the modern-day version of bowdlerising, the so-named cleansing of the English language to make it more acceptable to some unidentified group of individuals--well, maybe not so unidentified in some cases.

To me, this is censureship at the lowest level, right down there with book burners. Yes, down there, not up there, because I am sure there is a hot place for those folks who find it necessary to make sure I do not get them verbally mixed up with the offspring of their wayward female terrier.

Clean Reader! It is available through the customary downloading sites and it will zip through any book on your electronic reader, zap out "dirty" words and replace them with "clean" words.

Can you imagine the lack of satisfaction the reader gets when reading this line?
[Frankly,] My Dear, I don't give a pitooey! (Gone with the Wind)

And how much of a rally would result if the Admiral had cried,
Gosh dang the torpedos (David Farragut)

Do you think we would still be quoting Paddy Chayefsky if his sadly disillusioned character had shouted
I'm mad as heck and I can't take it anymore. (Network)

Maybe this would be acceptable in third grade (but would a third grade kid actually be reading this play)...
Darn Yankees (Broadway musical)

 Of course, Twain has already been sanitized by the academic world so maybe this is superfluous:
Go to Heaven for the climate, that other place for the company. (Twain)

We either love or hate Shakeaspeare. I think we would really dislike him if he had written this:
…[thou] art nothing but the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pander, and the son and heir of a mongrel female dog. (King Lear)
I had a love/hate relationship with William Blake when trying to prepare my thesis. Maybe I should have done a clean up version of his work instead.
The Marriage of Heaven and Something Else (Blake)

If I downloaded the clean up app and applied it to my ebooks, I am sure I would find many examples of the sanitized segments.

I am not going to download it! Are You?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Writers do read...but do they cook?

Writers usually have fairly decent-sized libraries.

I was thinking about this as I started packing some of my personal library to make room for some of the books I’m selling on ABE.

I’ve read many of the books I’m offering but there is one catalog that I’ve been collecting for a while now and it’s pretty much a surprise to me.

See, I don’t cook. I gave that activity up about ten years ago. Okay, I do make little things, quick meals like breakfast and lunch, but I don’t consider that cooking.

Cooking happened a long time ago when I made my own won ton dough for homemade war won ton soup, when I perfected my shrimp scampi, when I made 20-pound turkeys (and all the fine food that goes with them) to feed groups of friends on Thanksgiving.

So when I looked at the number of cookbooks I’ve put together to sell, I was shocked to discover I had forty books listed on ABE!

My favorite books do fall into the non-fiction genre, especially books about the brain and certain crafting books, especially on mosaics (which is a hobby of mine) and crocheting (not because I’m very good at it but because I’d like to figure out how my mother made some of those fantastic tablecloths and afghans).

I know I’m rambling here. I guess it’s because I can hardly bare to stuff all my lovely reading material into the guest bedroom closet.

I’m just glad I don’t have the extensive libraries some writers have (or had).   (I bet there aren't many cookbooks on those shelves.) I’d have to move into bigger digs if I did.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Happy New Year

February 19 is the start of the lunar new year, also the start of the new year for many cultures.

This is the Year of the Goat for the Chinese New Year. If you were born in one of the following years, you were born in the Year of the Goat -- 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027. (I was born in one of them but you'll have to guess which one, 'cause I am not telling.)

So far, the New Year that started on January 1 has been pretty good, but I think the one starting tomorrow is going to be even better.

I hope it's the same for all of you.