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A few words about my latest gripes

August 03, 1999

A friend of mine recently had the honor of interviewing George Will. He asked the great columnist whether it was hard to come up with three column ideas a week, and Will said no, he was annoyed far more than 12 times a month.

I concur. And with that in mind, here are some things that have been bugging me lately.

* Woodstock, revisited yet again. OK, let's review. The '60s brought us Vietnam, deadly race riots in Watts and the assassination of two Kennedys, mass protests over war, the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., the Cold War, Chappaquiddick, nuclear missiles in Cuba - and we're horrified that today's kids would dare sully the good name of the '60s peace-and-love era by burning a couple of Coca-Cola vans?

Earth to Boomers. What's next, complaints that teenage skinheads are giving Hitler a bad name?

Thirty years ago these same crazed kids would have been applauded for sticking it to the man for charging $4 for a glass of water. They would have been praised for this firm statement against an establishment that overcharged for tickets and planted ATMs at every fence corner. The crankiness on the part of the organizers and older concert goers shows what the aging process does to a person, and the results aren't pretty.

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* It took three years, but the results are in and Robbie Alomar was right. Is there a crazier race of individuals alive today than Major League Baseball umpires?

Major League Baseball had the audacity to ask umpires to enforce the rules as they are written, specifically where a ball must be pitched to constitute a strike. Umpires (who perhaps had been reading too much of Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, who once said the laws mean what the judges say they mean) took umbrage with being told by the Major Leagues how to call a game.

Other slights, real and imagined, caused umpires to submit their resignations en masse, thinking that the Major Leagues would tremble at the thought of the game being played without a full complement of belligerent fat people standing around making bad calls and plead with the umps to come back under whatever terms they wanted.

Bad career move.

Instead, Baseball said fine, we accept your resignations, now Get Out. At which point the umpires promptly went to court and filed suit against the Major Leagues to try to prevent Baseball from accepting the resignations that the umpires themselves had submitted.

As my friend Kate said, "These are the people who are supposed to be out on the field making decisions?"

* I have here a list of new words that will be added in the upcoming edition of Webster's New World Dictionary, Fourth Edition.

And I think they show, clearly, how the dictionary industry is going down hill.

Here are some of the "words" that are now officially part of our English language, according to Webster:

Wazoo. Bizarro. Buzz cut. Sleazoid.

Even "zzz" is now considered a "word," something Dagwood knew years ago. So getting stuck with the Z in Scrabble isn't what it used to be.

Here's one on the new list for Hagerstown: Conversion van. And one we've been using in Hagerstown for a long time, at least at Mack Trucks: Outsource.

There are two words whose best reference is in the TV show The Simpsons: Artsy-fartsy - Homer is trying to get to the chili cookoff, but his wife is lingering over the craft booth and he says "Come on Marge, less artsy more fartsy, and phallocentric - Mr. Burns is screening boys for a potential heir. Lisa tries to horn in, telling Mr. Burns to strike out against this phallocentric world and Mr. Burns rejects her, saying "I don't know what phallocentric means, but NO GIRLS."




Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist

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