Eyeball Mystery Solved — The giant eyeball that washed ashore mid-month at Pompano Beach on Florida’s east coast was not the eye of a storm, as first believed. Neither was it the eye of the beholder. The softball-sized organ came from a swordfish, the marine and wildlife ophthalmologists say, and that’s all there is to it.
Not quite. If you were following the story, you learned along the way that a giant squid was ruled out as the eye’s owner — an early theory — because giant squids have eyes as big as basketballs. This horrifying factoid will haunt our memories for as long as calamari appears on menus.
Clichés Retired to Hackneyed Hall of Fame —“Boots on the ground” will join “overarching” and “track record” among recently designated buzz words for the ages. These exhausted mots justes were officially excised from our everyday language and will take their place among the immortals in the pantheon of linguistic drivel.
Meanwhile, a brand-new word has achieved overnight clichédom, especially among the babblers and shouters of talk TV and radio. This rising star is “outlier,” a word — if it is a word — nobody had ever used until two weeks ago. “Outlier” is rapidly winning favor among political pundits to describe that which lies somewhere outside of the middle — an idea, an issue, a policy, a voting consideration, or a candidate. Almost anything can be an outlier.
In other words, “outlier” seems to be “gaining traction” in political discourse. And none too soon, for “gaining traction” itself will soon be sent to die on the vernacular mountaintop, along with “kumbaya,” “metrics,” “paradigm,” “get-go,” “go figure,” “epiphany,” and “concern.” No one ever did find out what “kumbaya” meant. The word is the title of a Christian hymn, which originated in the Gullah dialect of lowland South Carolina and means “Come by here.”
Keith Olbermann, the liberal ranter, used the word or phrase, or title, or whatever it was, between overbearing political sermons on his program on MSNBC. Olbermann was the kind of person who could make your teeth grind even while you were agreeing with him. Eventually, there was no one left without ground-down teeth, including the people who run the network, and he was fired. Kumbaya went with him and Olbermann remains the only person alive who has any idea what he meant by it.
Romney Caught Telling the Truth — The Republican presidential nominee made history last week by admitting he had cut down a cherry tree during a campaign visit to northern Virginia. “I cannot tell a lie,” Gov. Romney said. This came as a surprise to some of those who have been attentive to the former Motown hipster, who is said to have begun his political life years ago by denying that his first name was Willard.
Tigers Sue Yankees — The American League champion Detroit Tigers have filed a suit against the New York Yankees for damages, claiming the Bronx Bombers compromised the quality of the Tigers’ game by offering no competition in four straight losses in the league championship. The Tigers have been struggling to regain their pre-Yankees form ever since.
Rape Legitimatized in Missouri — Women everywhere rejoiced to learn that they need not fear pregnancy if the rape they suffer is legitimate. Todd Aiken, a Republican Congressman from Missouri and an eminent authority on human reproduction, tells us that the female reproductive organs can distinguish between legitimate rape and, ah, illegitimate rape. Mr. Aiken explained that where what you might call a “real” rape occurs — that is, a legitimate rape — women should have no fear of pregnancy. In other words, the only kind of rape that can end in pregnancy is an illegitimate or what you might call “phony” rape. The only women who don’t understand this distinction are thought to be members of NARAL-Pro Choice, a radical fringe group of loopy career women and aspiring terrorists. Congressman Aiken is running in this year’s election for the Senate, where he hopes to put his ideas into play to get women back into the kitchen and the nursery where they belong.