Our fabulous language.

Hm. Newspaper says John Conyers may be vulnerable this time, that the winds of change, redistricting and marriage to a felon might be enough to sink his ship in the Democratic primary. But it’s hard for me to get past the first paragraph, which describes him as “iconic.” That’s my new pet-peeve word, a fancy-sounding adjective thrown in as vocabulary filler when you want to sound smart, like some otherwise inedible foodstuff tossed into the granola.

Iconic (adj.) — having the qualities of an icon.
Icon (n.) — a painting of a religious figure on wood; a person or thing regarded as a representative symbol of something; a symbol or graphic representation on a video display terminal of a program, option, or window.

Is an 82-year-old, cemented-in-office congressman iconic? I guess you could stretch the term that far, but that word, I do not think it means what the writer thought it meant.

Did you know Wikipedia has a page on cultural icons? With photos? Some cultural icons of Austria — wiener schnitzel, strudel, Mozart, Freud, Schwarzenegger. But not Jean-Claude Van Damme? I’m disappointed.

If you read the original story I linked to, you will come across a pollster named “Bernie Porn.” Oh, my.

Someone in my Twitter feed described a 48-year-old actor as “venerable.” That is, “accorded a great deal of respect, esp. because of age, wisdom, or character.” This is Wendell Pierce we’re talking about here. Disallowed. I’m sure he’s a nice guy and a fine actor, but no one under 50 gets to be goddamn venerable.

If the content of this blog is ever published between hard covers, I hope the subtitle is: A sleepy writer in search of coherence, most mornings. How do you come up with things to write about five days a week, Nance? I don’t. I make a pot of coffee, I open the laptop, I drink the coffee and I close the laptop sometime later. How it happens, I’m not sure.

And while it work some days, other days it doesn’t, so let’s go bloggage-ing. I have to be downtown in an hour, and it’s plain I haven’t had nearly enough coffee.

A good read for this, or any day: the absolutely true story of a Holly Golightly for the stripper-embezzlement age.

Terrorism at the pancake house yesterday, a car bomb in the exurbs today. Welcome to WTF America.

Finally, as so frequently happens, when I’m having a bad day, Tom & Lorenzo are having a pretty good one. Note: They are always having a pretty good one. But I loved their Emmy-gown roundups, especially this one, for the great description of Katie Holmes and the photo immediately below, of Kerry Washington, notable because you can so clearly see the big-head/lollipop-people thing that so many film actors have going on. (I have an enormous head, too, but it’s balanced by an enormous body. No Zak Posen gowns for me.)

Me, I’m off to maybe score a black-bean wrap at the Wayne State Wednesday farmer’s market. Maybe that can improve my day.

Posted at 9:38 am in Same ol' same ol' |

45 responses to “Our fabulous language.”

  1. Buffalo Bilious said on September 21, 2011 at 9:43 am

    IIRC, Van Damme is from Belgium.

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  2. Peter said on September 21, 2011 at 9:47 am

    Nance, I think Jean-Claude van Damme is Belgian; I know he’s not Austrian.

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  3. coozledad said on September 21, 2011 at 10:11 am

    Poor Louise Roe. She’s very thin, and they put her in the same upholstery they use for a narco trafficker’s coffin. There are a couple of dresses in that spread that have that souped-up casket look.

    It’s funny you mention the automatic writing phenomenon. I was thinking about that while not quite being able to get to sleep last night.
    For me, it’s the ghost versus the stupid robot. Most of the time the stupid robot is pretty much inert. Then the ghost comes around and says, “Here. Type this shit for me.” Sometimes the stupid robot offers suggestions, and the ghost says, “I’m not going to be here all fucking day. Shut the fuck up and type”.
    Then the ghost leaves and the stupid robot eats stuff and looks at the screen. Classic mania/depression, if you ask me.

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  4. nancy said on September 21, 2011 at 10:34 am

    Yep, my mistake. “Muscles from Brussels,” right?

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  5. Heather said on September 21, 2011 at 10:38 am

    This non-famous fashion writer thinks that T&L are way too picky about odd things sometimes–I don’t agree with about 25% of their verdicts. I thought Kristin Wiig looked amazing and don’t think there’s anything wrong with wearing a dress the same color as your hair. However, I agree that the strapless-wearing chicks needed to hike those bustiers up and that Drew could have done better. But isn’t that why we love her? She makes wardrobe mistakes just like us!

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  6. Kirk said on September 21, 2011 at 10:52 am

    Agreed, Nance. “Iconic” is overworked, misused and abused. I never use it.

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  7. Scout said on September 21, 2011 at 10:55 am

    @ Heather – I liked Kristen Wiig’s dress too. I was surprised when T&L trashed it.

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  8. Dexter said on September 21, 2011 at 10:57 am

    Venerables. So many I considered venerable over the decades are gone already of course, so I must keep this in “today”.
    Kirk Douglas, trouble maker 🙂 Tony Bennett (did you hear about what he said on the Howard Stern show yesterday?)

    Some people are old enough, but just too current and hip to be venerable yet. Robert DiNiro fits here, right?

    Yesterday was a perfect one. At sunset I got the road bicycle out, aired it up, and rode a quick and pleasurable 14 miles, which is my highest mileage single non-stop pedal trip of the season. Today I am striving for a 15 miler. November will be here in 40 short and getting shorter days.

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  9. nancy said on September 21, 2011 at 11:11 am

    I frequently disagree with T&L as well, but even when I do, they’re so funny I don’t mind.

    Far worse than the hair/dress match is the dress/skin match, a.k.a. the Classic Aniston. I know the intent is to convey that oops-I’m-naked look, but meh, me no likey.

    T&L are really on an Evan Rachel Wood-love binge. She is looking great of late, but I can’t get past the dated-Marilyn-Manson stuff.

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  10. LAMary said on September 21, 2011 at 11:35 am

    As Gregory Peck would say, “und remember I speak German perfeckt.” But he doesn’t. He might have known that Van is Dutch, Flemish or possibly Danish. Von is any German speaking country. Then there are places like Luxembourg, Lichtenstein and Alsace-Lorraine which could be Von, Van or something French sounding. Forget about Walloons.

    There are three T and L installments of Emmy red carpet fashions, but this one gets her own installment. She looks effing amazing. What a gorgeous dress.


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  11. alex said on September 21, 2011 at 12:02 pm





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  12. nancy said on September 21, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    Thanks, Allison Hantschel, for pointing out this example of why all rules of grammar can be broken at least once. I don’t like the Oxford comma, but I certainly want one here.

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  13. paddyo' said on September 21, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    I gasped for a moment at the second shot in that New Yorker slideshow with the piece about the new Holly Golightly. Does Diane Passage have her own time machine, too? That looks like little-boy Barry Obama she’s posing with, 40-some years ago . . .

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  14. beb said on September 21, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    the sad thing about T&L’s Emmy glamourfest is that that I didn’t recognize any of the names. It’s hard to care about how someone dresses when you don’t know them at all.

    John Conyers is 82? I knew he was ancient, but not that ancient. However reliable he has been as a Democrat I think it’s time for him to retire. In fact I think any politician over 70 ought to retire. I’m only 60 but already I can see myself turning into a Crank(ier) Old Man. Not the sort of material that should be running this country.

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  15. Jeff Borden said on September 21, 2011 at 2:42 pm


    I’m with you. I’m falling way behind the pop culture curve these days. Case in point: advertisements for Xfinity in the past have featured Neil Patrick Harris and Jane Lynch, who I recognized even though I don’t watch the shows in which they star. Now, there is a very pretty, heavily accented Latina talking about Xfinity and I have no idea who she is or where she came from.

    If anyone knows, please share.

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  16. brian stouder said on September 21, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    If she has exceptionally pleasant rackage, I bet it’s Sofia Vergara – from the TV show American Family, which is funny enough, but which is mostly worthwhile because of her…

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  17. Kirk said on September 21, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    Better yet, just shuffle therm around so Nelson Mandela is at the end.

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  18. Dave said on September 21, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    Jeff, she’s Sofia Vergara, who plays a character on Modern Family, the ABC comedy that continues to win awards and we watch and find mildly entertaining. She plays the much younger wife of Ed O’ Neill, the curmudgeonly (I don’t think I’ve ever used that in a sentence before) father and grandfather to the clan.

    Oh, and I know few of the Emmy folks, either, have little interest in learning and, I fear, at 61, I may be becoming curmudgeonly.

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  19. MaryRC said on September 21, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    Beb, I feel the same way. That woman Nina Dobrev looks wonderful in the photo that LAMary linked to, but I still have no idea who she is or what she does.

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  20. april glaspie said on September 21, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    What was anybody thinking at WaPo, the bastion of liberal MSM, when this shit was deemed newsworthy? Buck McKeon is the most despicable chickenhawk defense spending grifter, maybe, of all time. World class. HOF crook. How he’s not breaking rocks at Club Fed is beyond me, unless it’s work release. This is like publishing a press releas verbatim as nes, only far more heinous.

    The Oxford comma would have us type red, white, and blue. Nonsense.

    Van Damme’s nickname for himself is the Muscles from Brussels. But hell, that’s Wikipedia, close enough. The icons by country are generally hilarious. No Joyce or Yeats or Synge for Ireland, but the Blarney Stone makes the grade. There’s a quite good post-modernist movie called JCVD in which the Muscles plays himself in a world-weary, endearing performance. Well worth watching. But I like several of his movies, like Universal Soldier (’92) and Timecop (’94), and Desert Heat (’99), with the great, frightening Danny Trejo, who’s probably a nice guy in real life. Only thing I noticed about the Emmy Awards was that Margo Martindale won. She was truly awe inspiring as the Hillbilly Crime Lord Lady Macbeth, Maggs Bennett, even better than the Maggie’s white trash bitch mother role in Million Dollar Baby.

    Heidi Klum looks she was dressed to titillate Bill O’Reilly. I mean, that is a loofah, right? The Katie Holmes one, they got this right. I thought it looked like she was wearing an old swim team tank suit with some sort of beach wrap. Martha Plimpton looked terrific in these photos. Always a favorite of mine, Goonies never say die, and she was the star of the single greatest episode of SVU ever, with Mary Steenburgen. That’s the best dress, I say, although I’ve got five big drawerfuls of tee-shirts and sweatshirts eight pairs of jeans, 10 pairs of cargo shorts, two suits, and a tuxedo (inherited from my dad), so what the hell would I know? Footwear by Converse and Teva. Also, I find it hard to believe anybody heterosexual would have any problem with how Julia Stiles presented herself. I understand what they mean about foundations with strapless dresses, but Ms. Stiles is more along the classic champagne glass model than the Grand Tetons of most of these actresses.

    I don’t have any idea who most of those photos represent. I assume a lot of the women are cast members of sitcoms, a genre so degraded these days I’d rather watch the TV Guide channel or QVC or the Weather Channel, or Mash episodes I know by heart. How do people mistake vulgarity and crassness for wit and humor? Does that make me cranky? I blame Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld.

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  21. april glaspie said on September 21, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    And Id bet that not a singlle actress looked half as ridiculous as this fool. I know this guy’s a clown, from running across him looking to see who Chelsea Holder is mocking. But really, dressing up like Jerry Lewis at the MDA Prom? Holy crap.

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  22. Dorothy said on September 21, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    I thought Martha Plimpton was the best dressed and tressed at the Emmy awards. I recognize fewer and fewer names over the years and eventually I’m sure I’ll just skip watching it all together. I’m just anxious as hell for Mad Men to come back on. Do the executives behind those shows ever worry that viewers will get sick and tired of waiting for the next “season” and move on to something else?

    Forgot to mention that I was released from treatment for my left hand this past Monday with the physical therapist. I don’t need the splint anymore, and I actually cast on a pair of new socks on knitting needles yesterday before I came to work. I’m nearly giddy with happiness about this, just 9 weeks after having the surgery on my arthritic left thumb.

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  23. Sue said on September 21, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    Wow! Anyone here from Mass. want to comment on this? I wish Obama hadn’t passed on her.

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  24. april glaspie said on September 21, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    Obama didn’t pass on Warren. Her chances of confirmation to a fed position were those of a mosquito in a dragonfly swarm. She withdrew in the face of fait accompli

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  25. Jakash said on September 21, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    I hate to disagree with Brian S., but out of the 6 adult leads that help make Modern Family so funny, I think I’d rank Her Rackitude 5th. Which still ain’t bad, because they’re all very good. She was on a one-season-and-done show a few years back called “Knights of Prosperity”, which was fairly entertaining while it lasted.

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  26. coozledad said on September 21, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Sue: Remember her encounter with North Carolina Republican toad Patrick McHenry? I still wonder why the manwhore murders haven’t sunk him.
    Elizabeth is good. She’ll shred naked boy in the debates.

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  27. moe99 said on September 21, 2011 at 4:58 pm


    something fun to read for today. We used to vacation at Lone Mountain Rance in Montana before Chet Huntley bought it and turned it into a resort. It was a working cattle ranch when we were there and went on lots of long trail rides. Never met a bear but did meet a mama and baby moose once. And get caught in a lightning strike on top of a ridge. Fun stuf..

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  28. LAMary said on September 21, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    Thank you for that link, Moe. What a great story.

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  29. MarkH said on September 21, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    Brush With Greatness (sort of) — Tonight is the season premier of Modern Family with Sofia & co., notable hereabouts because this episode was filmed in Jackson Hole. Showcasing Grand Teton National Park and the Lost Creek Ranch location, it was a huge deal for the local business and tourist promotion people who claim credit for getting them to shoot it here, over Steamboat and Aspen anomg other locales. Have not watched Modern Family, so it will be s a first for me.

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  30. MarkH said on September 21, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    That is an amazing story, moe, and all involved are very lucky at the outcome. I would venture that only that plucky, quick-thinking young lady and the behemoth horse could have pulled the rescue off like that, given the interruption of a huge griz after a choice meal.

    Out in the local paper today, here’s what happens when things don’t go so well:


    EDIT — As you’ll note near the bottom of the story, a man named John Wallace succumbed to a secomd grizzly mauling in August. Glad it wasn’t our own John G.

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  31. Suzanne said on September 21, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    Modern Family is one of my guilty pleasures. It’s flat out funny.

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  32. Deborah said on September 21, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    I too have no idea who Nina Dobrev is, but she looks great in that dress. And Moe that story is terrific, had me on pins and needles, the last sentence got me to tear up.

    Elizabeth Warren, way to go! I love her.

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  33. joodyb said on September 21, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    great horse story. thanks, moe. give me that 18-hand mutt any day. like sitting atop a stout ship.

    i also think M Plimpton knocked it out of the park sunday night.

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  34. John G. Wallace said on September 21, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    @MarkH – Alive and well, and somewhat younger than the unfortunate other John Wallace. I’m still below Nance’s now established cutoff for venerable.

    I do have plenty of bear stories and bear encounters in my past, but those were black bears in New Jersey. Here in Florida it’s all alligators, wild boar, bobcats, and all the invasive species you could possibly desire.

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  35. Linda said on September 21, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    She is awesome, but the guy he nominated in her place, Richard Cordray, is great, too. He was the Ohio AG, and a great consumer advocate. If she could get to the Senate, and Cordray to Consumer, it would be an awesome day for America.

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  36. alex said on September 21, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    Holy Toledo, Dex. If it isn’t terrorism related, perhaps they’re running some other sort of enterprise, like importing counterfeit cigarettes and putting fake state tax stamps on them. A Yemeni national got busted doing that in northeast Indiana/northwest Ohio a couple of years ago. That, and not being particularly discreet in his use of a Russian assault rifle.

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  37. Kim said on September 21, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    Moe, I often say I am probably the only woman who didn’t as a girl fancy herself National Velvet but what a great story. Thanks for sharing it.

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  38. moe99 said on September 21, 2011 at 10:40 pm


    Another outstanding video of Elizabeth Warren. She is really something!

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  39. MarkH said on September 22, 2011 at 1:57 am

    Yes, she’s already a campaign pro in record time. She didn’t answer one question thrown at her. She, and this fawning over her, reminds me of Obama in 2007. But, it’s a long way from November, 2012, just as it is for all the presidential candidates. Time will tell. Meantime, an older piece, but here’s much of what you need to know about Warren:


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  40. moe99 said on September 22, 2011 at 2:26 am

    Actually, I thought she DID answer most of the question, in particular the ‘gotcha’ question about the Chinese military. Obviously YMMV. You got anyone you think is better than her? Scott Brown?

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  41. ROGirl said on September 22, 2011 at 6:46 am

    If you watched Mad Men you should remember Randee Heller as Miss Blankenship, but you probably wouldn’t recognize her from the T&L picture.


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  42. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 22, 2011 at 7:48 am

    Anybody here surprised to hear that on Facebook, I clicked “like” on Sarah Palin’s feed page, and have followed @SarahPalinUSA on Twitter? Nope, didn’t think so. (P.S. I also clicked like on “Log Lady,” but she never posts updates anymore.)

    I also have unused prescription medications still on a shelf in my bathroom, and ate some sliced ham that was past the “use by” date on the outer packaging. And I run in those weird five finger shoes that make your feet look like parts from a leftover gorilla costume. If there’s anything else anyone is concerned that I’m concealing, feel free to ask me, or you can go down to River Road Coffee in Granville and ask random strangers, who will probably know the answer.

    Moe, in reviewing my “likes,” I am embarrassed that I’ve clicked “like” on the Man/Booker Prize, which is really sheer pretentiousness on my part, like those people who ask at the grocery store if you’ve gotten ahold of a bottle of the spring Beaujolais in March. If it doesn’t come in a cardboard box, I probably haven’t bought it for home consumption. But I do, guiltily, check out all of the Booker shortlist novels, like some weenie anxious Cambridge grad who’s fearful of being left out of the latest intellectual trends. But I’m not going to un-Like it, either.

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  43. coozledad said on September 22, 2011 at 8:35 am

    Via Roy, I see the the Washington Examiner is calling Rick Perry “the Headmaster”. Various sources indicate he has a great deal of experience here, but it seems early to pick him out of a crowded Republican field; and it’s a slap in the face to Republican headmasters of old, like Lindsey Graham and Jimmy Jeff Gannon/Guckert, especially on the flimsy evidence that he delivered a couple of toe-curlers.
    I think most people would be justified in wondering if Rick Perry can suck dick and chew gum at the same time. We won’t know for sure until they get his Lieutenant Governor on record.

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  44. Runner said on September 22, 2011 at 9:42 am

    Mild-mannered Jeff, those five-finger shoes are awesome! I have them too and use them intermittently. I mostly run in the Newton and am a huge convert. I starting PR’ing – in my 40s – in the Newton.

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  45. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 22, 2011 at 9:55 am

    I’m barely running, really, (2 miles and mostly less, three times a week), but my former shin-splint tendency has not come up at all, and this is week four. Some guys get a shiny red car for their 50th birthday; I got ugly running shoes. But I am completely convinced now of the barefoot running, no heel-strike thing. It’s working for me, anyhow, and I began as no paragon of physical fitness, but the impact is only hurting me in the backs of the calves, which is really not impact, but working muscles that have been on a long sabbatical from having to pull their weight.

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