What’s wrong with ‘hot?’

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:

ImageChef.com - Create custom images

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.)

Off to beat my head against the wall of a corporate PR machine make some phone calls. Make merry in the comments.

Posted at 10:36 am in Current events, Popculch |

21 responses to “What’s wrong with ‘hot?’”

  1. Mindy said on December 12, 2006 at 10:45 am

    Add “creamery butter” to the list of retirees. Creameries haven’t existed in, what, a hundred years? Yet advertisers have invited us to sample delicious food slatered with “rich creamery butter” for at least that long.

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  2. brian stouder said on December 12, 2006 at 10:54 am

    You know, I watched a Food Network contest show where the barristas (or whatever they call themselves; I prefer ‘coffee jerk’) competed to make the most compelling design in the foam in the top of the cup. (In real life, I have probably never consumed more than about 1 fluid ounce of coffee of any sort….but I must be on my 73,000th gallon of Diet Coke)

    As for traffic, this area made The Weather Channel the other day, when we had just enough snow, and just enough cross-wind, to cause a white-out and a 30 car pileup on I-69 – closing the interstate for 5 miles in both directions. Oddly enough, this also snarled traffic all through town, making us late to the Christmas program at North Side High School – but I digress!

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  3. brian stouder said on December 12, 2006 at 11:25 am

    speaking of sayings – one that now makes me wince whenever I hear it is ‘sold down the river’ – an echo from the days when families would be broken up, with some ‘sold down the river’ into the [much harsher] cottonfields of the deep south.

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  4. Dorothy said on December 12, 2006 at 11:50 am

    Mindy I beg to differ!! http://www.creamery.psu.edu/

    Penn State University has a creamery and the ice cream there is fabulous. It’s actually part of the curriculum in the Food Science Department. So creameries might not exist everywhere, but there are still some around!

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  5. nancy said on December 12, 2006 at 12:18 pm

    OSU used to have a creamery, too, as part of the ag school. They sold the best ice cream on the planet, but closed years ago.

    I have a new banned phrase, too: “Infinitely (whatever).” Bleh.

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  6. Marcia said on December 12, 2006 at 12:34 pm

    As far as the gay evangelicals go, this quote via Zorn cracked me up. (Sorry if you’ve read it already; I’ve been out of the blogging loop.)

    If (ousted evangelical leader Ted) Haggard’s unblinking congregation could sit and listen to such a liturgical Liberace week after week and not realize they were in the presence of someone who makes Barry Manilow in a full-length mink look butch, they really need to recalibrate their ability to detect prescription-strength doses of flamboyance…..His lying skills are so uproariously amateurish that, frankly, I think he needs some lessons from a pro like Dick Cheney, a man who can say, “I’m not currently saying this” and mean it….”Betty Bowers”

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  7. brian stouder said on December 12, 2006 at 12:39 pm

    more phrases to ban: ‘unprecedented ______’ (almost nothing is really unprecedented)

    ‘virtual_____’ and/or ‘virtually________’

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  8. Dave said on December 12, 2006 at 2:12 pm

    The creamery in my hometown, Pickerington, OH, closed in the mid-seventies. It was the Pickerington Creamery, home of Mayflower Gold n’ Flow Butter and I remember it being very good butter. They also made some good cheese there.

    A dozen cars with flat tires? Engine blocks in the middle of the freeway? Much too much excitement, guess I’m content with the mundane and would not be thrilled with such early-morning commuting adventures. Am I allowed to use mundane?

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  9. Dwight Brown said on December 12, 2006 at 2:22 pm

    May I please add to the list of banned phrases: “brutally murdered”?

    However, if you ever run across the body of someone who has been “gently murdered”, use of that phrase is permissible.

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  10. John said on December 12, 2006 at 3:25 pm

    How about “literally?” Very overused. I literally hear it all the time!

    And I thought the same thing when I saw the NY Times shot!

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  11. Connie said on December 12, 2006 at 3:30 pm

    Michigan State had a creamery as well and sold great Christmas cheese boxes. It was part of the school of agriculture.

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  12. Marcia said on December 12, 2006 at 3:42 pm

    Years ago, there was an obituary in the Dispatch for someone who had been “murdered unexpectedly.”

    Not that this matches the theme here. Just that Dwight’s comment reminded me of it, and it is somewhat amusing. As if most victims expect to be murdered.

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  13. brian stouder said on December 12, 2006 at 3:43 pm

    Along the lines of things which are hackneyed – has anyone seen the movie “Fly Boys”?

    We caught it at the dollar movie (I love that place!) – and it’s highly romanticized bit of fluff ‘inspired by actual events’ in the first world war (presumeably that means that there really WAS a Great War in Europe, and there WAS an air corps called the Lafayette Escadrille…but not much beyond that!)

    The movie was entertaining enough – certainly worth the dollar admission – but it got me thinking about war movies in general.

    This one was sort of a cinematic cross between Titanic and Gone With the Wind…in some ways fairly blunt (the war-weary antihero hints at a much darker truth, which the movie otherwise resolutely looks away from), but also a lot like World War II movies that were made during the war, wherein moral questions are literally rendered in black and white.

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  14. Adrianne said on December 12, 2006 at 3:53 pm

    And now for something completely different..

    I hate to indulge in schadenfreude, but this I cannot resist: the allegedly “comic” writer who does Mallard Fillmore, the least funny comic strip going that weenie newspapers run to offer a “conservative” voice, was picked up for his second DWI in three months in Columbus, Ohio. He will now join the list of unfortunate mug shots of the nearly famous. Here’s the link: http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061212/LOCAL/%20612120413

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  15. nancy said on December 12, 2006 at 3:57 pm

    Adrianne, I’m so disappointed in you. Mallard’s creator was picked up in Columbus, Indiana. Bartholomew County. Don’t you remember our trip to Louisville, and stopping at the truck stop there, and Ron wanted to buy the Alf clock?

    You’d think, with a cultural experience like that, you’d remember.

    This does explain a lot about Mallard Fillmore, though.

    Oh, and Kate used “literally” the other day. Correctly. Just to make sure it wasn’t a fluke, I asked her what the word meant, and she defined it correctly. Congratulations, I told her, you’ve just leapfrogged ahead of most of the writing public and many newspaper reporters, and you’re only in fourth grade.

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  16. Ricardo said on December 12, 2006 at 11:34 pm

    This is true. Around 1966, a guy was being chased by the Detroit police down West Grand Blvd. He was driving a late model Amphobile, that part-car part-boat invention that didn’t last very long due to rusting. He drove right down the boat ramp at the foot of WGB into the Detroit and propelled his way to Windsor Canada to escape.

    Well, police have radios and he was intercepted by Ontario’s finest. That spot is very near the area that Houdini came through the ice after being trapped upstream in that near-fatal stunt.

    Oh, and my grandfather told me when he came to Detroit in 1919, East and West Grand Blvd was the city limits pretty much.

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  17. nancy said on December 12, 2006 at 11:41 pm

    Unfortunately, the guy today wasn’t driving a watercar or amphibious vehicle of any kind. And he died. Police said he was depressed. RIP.

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  18. Nina Boslin said on December 13, 2006 at 12:32 am

    I did not need another blog to bookmark! I am like a fiend checking in on the bad nanny sighting on http://isawyournanny.blogspot.com/ and the gossip blogs and UBing all day! Now this! And yours. You rock.

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  19. brian stouder said on December 13, 2006 at 9:11 am

    The same river upon which Henry Ford once set a speed record (while it was frozen), I think

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  20. Linda said on December 13, 2006 at 11:19 am

    Could we retire “went missing”? What’s wrong with “disappeared”? Also “busted” as a verb is very annoying. Lake Superior State College has an annual overused words or words and phrases to retire list.

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  21. MarkH said on December 14, 2006 at 8:46 pm

    Dave, I remember the Picktown creamery! I lived there from ’77-’79, in a little house on a hill south of town on (where else?) Hill Road. I think it closed just after I moved there; great dairy stuff.

    My God, Picktown has changed, too. I have two college buddies who live there and have periodically keep me up on all the changes. So, I Google-Earthed the area and was floored at the unbridled sprawl. Couldn’t find my little old house either; the one that almost blew off its foundation in the blizzard of ’78.

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