A holiday party invitation that recently arrived at NN.C Central promised “piping hot chili.” While I’m pleased that we won’t be having somewhat hot chili, I had one of those moments you sometimes get when you look at a word too long. That is: What the hell does “piping” mean, anyway?
Piping is what pipers do. It’s what plumbers install in your house. It’s the little row of cord or decorative seam that runs along your sofa cushions, or down the leg of an usher’s trousers. Hmm, what else? Adjectives — The child spoke in a piping voice. That is, he piped up. OK, like a flute. But how does something very hot become piping? (Richard Dawson voice.) Dictionary SAYS?! “Because of the whistling sound made by very hot liquid or food.” Huh. In a teakettle, maybe. I’ve had casseroles that sizzled a bit. But nothing that could be confused with actual piping.
Resolved: Never say “piping hot” again. And so, little by little, we banish clichés from our beloved language.
Further resolved: No more “deeply religious” or “badly decomposed” again, either. If you catch me at it, say something.
Gah. A kwazy-busy week stretches before me. I only volunteer for a few school activities a year, and yet they always seem to arrive in the middle of a deadline week. Fortunately, to leaven the seven-grain dough of this week (huh?) I have the rich stew of humanity all around me, which calls itself…Detroit.
Really. It’s weeks like this that I pity those of you living in places like Salt Lake City or Indianapolis. You should hear the morning traffic reports: “And we have a backup on the Lodge Freeway, apparently due to an engine block sitting in the left-hand lane…A pothole on the Chalmers exit ramp from eastbound I-94 has flattened the tires of at least two dozen cars, and they’ve run out of room to pull over, so expect delays there…” (Note: Paraphrasing of actual traffic reports, with very little exaggeration. The pothole actually had only 12 cars disabled and pulled over, and the engine block? Word. A couple weeks ago it was a driveshaft in the road. Ah, Detroit iron!)
And today? A man fleeing police this morning made his getaway by jumping into the Detroit River. Since the likelihood that this was either Mark Spitz or a battle-hardened Channel swimmer is pretty slim, it’s safe to say this tactic constituted suicide and not an unorthodox bid for asylum in Canada. The other day we drove downtown on surface streets instead of the freeway, and Alan pointed out the latest wrinkle in urban life — razor wire around industrial and commercial buildings’ rooflines, to keep thieves from stealing the rooftop air conditioners. And yet, the town refuses to die. You gotta love it. It’s Miami with snow.
A little bloggage today, for your amusement:
Do not, whatever you do, go to the Generator Blog. I mean, if you have work to do. Because you will not be coming back soon:
The NYT has a story today on gay evangelical Christians. You can tell the gay gene is a little weak in these guys because they have a really ugly coffee table. (Regrettably, the online version crops most of it out, but take my word for it — it’s plate glass on top of two ceramic elephants, Pier One c. 1980-something.)
beat my head against the wall of a corporate PR machine make some phone calls. Make merry in the comments.