Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I do not think you said what you think you said.

It is not always clear when people say expressions wrong whether they have merely mispronounced them or whether they have no idea how they should be pronounced. When I hear one I may ask the person to repeat it, or I may just sit back and ponder what the person thinks it means and why.

Let me trot out a few I have enjoyed as an example, and what they could mean if they were the actual expression:

Cool, calm, and collective: That satisfied feeling a hippie gets in the early days of the commune, before human desires, boredom, argumentativeness, and selfishness turn the whole thing to crap.

A reading from the Letter of St. Paul to the Philippines: Evidence that St. Paul's reach far exceeded the range classically ascribed to him, this letter was sent to a tribe of Hebrew Negritos (called Negribrews) around A.D. 55. Almost 1500 years later, Magellan finally delivered it.

Mea copa: I feel really guilty, but only for the things I did at the Copacabana.

He forgives you.

As rich as crocus: Yes, those little purple flowers are a wealth of delight for the eyes after a long winter, are they not?

Flotsam and gypsum: Rocks float!

On tenderhooks: If I have to be on hooks, these are the hooks to be on.

Some of them are really charming, and in fact would make excellent Slip Mahoneyisms. I'm sure the malaprop master would approve.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Miss Noo Yawk.

As you can imagine, we're all just stoopid with pride here in New York, having the honor of winning Miss America three years running. Kira Kazantsev joins Nina Davuluri and Mallory Hytes Hagan for our three-peat.

When I was a kid, and Miss America was a network event with Bert Parks and everything, Miss New York never won. Miss New York often seemed like---well, kind of a skank, really. But we've sent a few classy broads to the contest over the years; in fact, we've won six times now since 1945, tying us with leaders California, Ohio, and Oklahoma.*

I didn't see the show, but apparently Miss Kazantsev used a bizarre act for the talent portion of the show, singing Pharrell's "Happy" while banging a red plastic cup. I think singing "Red Solo Cup" would have been more appropriate, but that's her call, and I guess it worked.

Over the years contestants running under the banner of Miss New York have demonstrated some pretty amazing abilities for the talent portion of the pageant, unique to our proud state. They include:

- hubcap stealing

- rolling a joint without using her hands

- dramatic recitation from On the Waterfront ("He gets the title shot outdoors on the ballpark and whadoo I get? A one-way ticket to Palookaville.")

- pole dancing

- eating 42 Nathan's hot dogs in 12 minutes

It is not easy.
- monologue about what a two-bagger Miss Joisey is

- simulated subway surfing

- simulated going over Niagara in a barrel

- beating the crap out of Miss California

Not usually singing. Sure, New York has Broadway, but Broadway is full of plucky youngsters fresh off the bus from Ohio---haven't you seen the old musicals?---who go back home to represent Ohio for Miss America. Which is why they've won six times.

* If Vanessa Williams hadn't gotten nekkid on film we'd be alone in the lead with seven. Damn it. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Insert beauty-parlor-name-type "Hair" pun.

As regulars to this blog know, I hate getting my hair cut. My gentle, flowing locks are so roughly manhandled that---

Actually, I hate going in bald and coming out balder. My barber's main crime, as I noted last year, is not that he's bad at cutting hair, it's that he's no good at growing it.

Not a sign of miracles.
A man's barber is a totally different animal than other haircutters, a fact that I discussed with my barber last time I saw him. He'd asked me what I was up to and I mentioned that I had to take the humongous puppy for a grooming session.

"That'll cost you more than this," he said.

"If they charge me by the yard," I said.

He noted that haircutters who do dogs can make a very nice living, mentioning a woman of his acquaintance who groomed dogs and was booked solid all summer long. Downside: dealing with other people's frightened, nasty, poorly trained, and in a couple of cases even abused dogs. He had a story about a sheepdog that would make any dog lover sad.

"Well," I said, "you can still get in on the big money," noting that my wife spent a good deal more on her haircuts that I. The fact that she has a lot more hair is irrelevant. Even if she sported a short-n-sassy do, it would still be five times the price. Also, the loyalty inspired by women's hairstylists is as fierce and sometimes as baseless as the loyalty inspired in men by sports teams. You never see a sign in a barbershop window saying Pete Is Here!

"You could go into women's styling," I said. "Lots of beauty parlors around."

"Oh, no," he said. "Never again."

Turns out he'd spent several years on the distaff side of the tonsorial game. Despite being an older and heterosexual male he could do it all, the dying and curling and frosting and highlighting and perming and primping and God knows what else goes on in those places. He'd had enough. "They bring in the magazine and say make it like that, but I can't make it like that. I can only do the hair, lady; I can't do nothing about the face."

This is a guy I've known to shave the backs of other men (not mine; not that hairy) and he'd rather do that than handle women in a salon.

I gained a new respect for him, and for the stylists who do work in salons. And for dog groomers. Hair, she's a tough town.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Stupor Dog.

Saturday was a long day. Tiring, stressful.


Because we changed Tralfaz's bowls.

He's getting big; he needs a big food bowl and a big water bowl. You'd think he'd like these. They're classy. They're stylish. They hold more. They don't clank (he hates the sound of metal clanking; recycling day can be a bit trying). They're just what he would pick out himself if he could.

But he's terrified of them.

Tralfaz is no superdog. Krypto, baby, you've got no competition to worry about.

Tralfaz is not what we expected in some regards. He's not scared of other dogs. He's not scared of any human. You could be a big smelly man covered in the blood of your enemies; he will want to play tug-of-war with your battle-ax and sniff your heinie. But he's terrified of objects.

A flight of stairs. Getting into the car. Getting out of the car. A new leash. A new harness. A new toy. A new food bowl. A new toy that dispenses food. A little set of stairs to help him get in the car.

About the only things he is not afraid of are things we want him to stay away from because they could hurt or kill him, like cars in the street, weird animal poop, paint chips, safety pins. nails, dynamite, etc. If we tell him No! Leave it!, that's as good as a solid endorsement.

So at this point he would not make a great superhero. You can't be a superhero if you're chicken---unless you're Super Chicken, but that's another story. It's too bad, because Tralfaz does have some potential superpowers, including:

- Supershedding

- Superslobber

- Superbad timing (Dinner's out? Time for poop!)

- Supernip

- Superwhine

- Supersmell (Can detect human feet from 100 yards)

- Superchew (So-called indestructible toys don't stand a chance with Matter-Eater Dog!)

Another one he seems to be working on is Ingestional Knitting. He's swallowed so much thread from his rope ball that I expect him to poop a sweater one of these days.

If he does that, I'm calling Animal Planet. Or DC Comics.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Friday, September 12, 2014

Kicking it old school.

Last Sunday night, ABC aired a special dedicated to that great educational series Schoolhouse Rock!

I and Mrs. Key grew up with these cartoons, as did millions of Americans. The special was fun to watch, a romp down memory lane, as it were. About how many educational products can you say THAT? Surely not the classroom videos "Fun with Integers" and "Blood on the Freeway."

The Schoolhouse Rock cartoons really were extraordinarily well done -- each 3 minutes long, concisely explaining some pretty complex ideas about language, history, science, etc. in memorable ways. The tunes were catchy and individually distinct. You can't say that about every cartoon PSA. Not a lot of people are clamoring for a one-hour prime-time special about Time for Timer.

Nope, not happening.

I got to wondering if anyone had ever done a tribute album. I have Saturday Morning: Cartoon's Greatest Hits, a fun compilation from 1995 of well-loved cartoon theme songs performed by acts of the day, like Matthew Sweet, Violent Femmes, the Ramones, and the Rev. Horton Heat. Surely a bunch of bands could be gathered to perform "Conjunction Junction," "Naughty Number Nine," "Sufferin' Till Suffrage," and "No More Kings." So far it has not come to pass.

But maybe it was in the works in the 1990s. In fact, I suspect that the whole East Coast/West Coast rapper war was begun because of it. If only Tupac and Biggie hadn't both insisted on doing "I Got Six"! They might be alive today!

And I have to wonder if Michael Hutchence and Kurt Cobain both packed it in because U2 had already laid claim to "Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, Get Your Adverbs Here."

Well, now Disney owns SHR, and given Disney's track record of squeezing blood from rocks, I'm sure they'll find plenty of ways to make dough off it. If you start hearing news about Gwen Stefani in a hair-pulling catfight with Beyonce, Katy Perry taking a knife to Pharrell, or Taylor Swift pulling a .45 on Iggy Azalea, you'll know the call went out for the tribute album. Everyone wants to do cool songs like "Verb: That's What's Happenin'" and "Electricity, Electricity." No one wants to be stuck with numbers from Computer Rock.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Outside job.

This guy likes to hang around on the upper east side.

He makes me angry. But I have not got the desire to belt him. Nor, do I notice, is he in danger of being hauled off by black ops in an unmarked van.

He actually makes me more sad than angry.

I wish I could explain to him that the burden of proof rests on the accuser. This is always and everywhere the case, or ought to be. I could not "prove him wrong" to his satisfaction any more than he could prove me wrong if I were to go around with a placard saying that the moon is made of Brie. To every bit of evidence he would produce, I would easily discount it -- the astronomers are in on it, the calculations of lunar density fail to take into account the density of large hunks of Brie, there is no evidence against naturally occurring stellar dairy matter in space, the moon landing was fake (or the guys went with water crackers), you've never been to the moon so you couldn't know. And on and on.

I don't know what makes him like this. He may have lost someone dear to him in the attacks on September 11, 2001. He may have been there on that day and never recovered. I hate impugning someone's sanity as a refutation of his argument, but he leaves me no choice. My Brie theory would not leave anyone a choice in their judgement of me. And every day I would return to my apartment saying, "Another day and no one has proved me wrong! They're starting to realize I'm right!"

For him to be right, you'd have to believe:

1) That the most massive conspiracy ever enacted has left no one around to spill the beans, even though people are terrible about keeping secrets;

2) The massive amounts of secret data Snowden and Manning released just happened to contain nothing about the conspiracy;

3) Huge quantities of flaming jet fuel can't weaken steel*;

4) All the people who claimed to have a part in the attack were lying as part of the coverup, including one bastard that now rots in jail;

5) Popular Mechanics was in on it;

6) The Democratic Congressional majority elected in 2006 and the president elected in 2008 are in on it too;

7) And the whole conspiracy was done to kill innocent Americans, spend a fortune hunting terrorists in two countries we didn't take over and don't want, drive the price of gas up, and make commercial flying a pain in the ass. Because I do not see a damn pipeline being constructed across paleolithic Afghanistan, so there had to be some other point to it.

Mr. Placard Man: I maintain that you're mentally unwell if you buy all this. Prove me wrong.

* Melting like candlewax is unnecessary to cause structural damage.