Saturday, June 5th, 2010

A wandering mind reads the morning news…

I get The New York Times delivered to my door on the weekends because I like reading a newspaper. Our local paper, noble effort that it may be, is rather thin on content compared to a paper like the Times, or even to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal, and I understand some of the reasons for that, but when I sit down at the kitchen table with a newspaper I would like to run out of coffee before I run out of newspaper. I can read just about all of the Wisconsin State Journal during a single fifteen-minute break at the office. I almost never finish the Times in one sitting.

What catches and holds my eye when reading the Times is the language their writers use. Adam Nagourney wrote about a politician’s “propensity to puffery” when referring to the way they toot their own horns. Alliteration: It’s what’s for breakfast.

Nagourney was writing about Congressional doothead Mark Kirk, who made himself out to be an Iraq War veteran by saying he served in the invasion of Iraq, until it was pointed out he was in the States at the time of the invasion. He has since changed his web page to read that he was serving during the invasion of Iraq, covering his ass with the excuse that he “misremembered it wrong.”

“Misremembering it wrong” is a literally funny way to put that. I recall “misremembering” to be a nonsensical word coined by President Bush the Second in one of his more lucid moments. It’s now apparently being used in all seriousness by Kirk in a way that changes its meaning to the polar opposite of what he would seem to want it to mean. “Remember” means “to put the pieces together; “misremember” suggests that you made a mistake putting the pieces together. Does “misremembering it wrong” indicate that your mistake was wrong, that you mistakenly put the wrong pieces together, or that you’re negating the action of mistakenly putting the pieces together? I’m upgefuddled.

“Cypriot religious and political leaders unleashed a furious broadside on Friday…” began the story of the pope’s visit to Cyprus. How curiously appropo to couple the Catholic Church with an archaic term like broadside, a salvo fired from the main guns of one battleship at the flanks of another. Battleships haven’t fired an actual broadside in combat since the beginning of the Second World War, when aircraft carriers became the castles of the seas and made battleships obsolete. Well, I couldn’t help drawing the parallel. Mea culpa.

Bonus mixed metaphor: Why would a broadside yearn to be “unleashed,” as if it were a rag-tag collection of snuffling house mutts straining toward the next fire hydrant during an evening stroll? Not even the dogs of war were unleashed.

befuddled | 7:25 pm CDT
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