Flood of storm maxims are draining our pun resources

November 01, 2012|By TIM ROWLAND |
  • Tim Rowland
Tim Rowland

There’s a lot of this century left to play out, so I can understand why news outlets shied away from “Storm of the Century” as Sandy crept up the coast. The 1990s, if I recall, were a bit of embarrassment after we logged about five “storm of the centuries” in the space of three years.

So we went with “Frankenstorm,” along with a side dish of the old stand-in “Perfect Storm.”

That’s a concern. Because these, paired with “Snowpocalypse” and “Stormaggedon” from a couple of years ago, represent a serious drain on our pun-related resources.

Because, to me anyway, it’s becoming clear that we are robbing future generations of weather-related clichés.

Won’t someone think of the children? If we selfishly hog all the bastardized storm pronouns for ourselves, what will adult Americans of tomorrow be left with? Either they will be forced into the humiliating position of just having to call it a “hurricane,” or they will be left to nibble on dry, awkward pun scraps that are not entirely appropriate, like Floodosaurus or Towering Infernsnow.

This is just like the Boomer generation to use up our precious linguistic resources, leaving it up to future generations to figure out how to get by on their own.

I know there are some lone voices out there who are trying to get us to wake up and conserve the bounty that the good Lord has so generously blessed us with.

A reporter from ABC bravely tried to get traction for “A Fist From the Sea,” but the public ignored him. Clearly, that would never be more than an inefficient, fringe cliche, capable of providing maybe only 10 percent of our storm-moniker needs.

And what chance did it really have, when “Frankenstorm” was so heavily subsidized by every nonthinking, blue-raincoat-wearing parrot standing on every street corner between Ocracoke and the Hamptons? The cries of “Shill, baby, shill!” only reinforced antiquated public relation solutions that increasingly soil our airwaves.

It just shows how much a nation of sheep we’ve become when we all have to call it “Frankenstorm,” just like we all have to go out and buy water — at a time when they’re predicting 10 inches of rain. This would be like stocking up on fans in anticipation of a tornado.

Everyone seems to think that our supply of angry-sounding storm clichés will last forever, and that there will always be an apocalypse or Armageddon to play off of. Rationing and self-deprivation have no meaning for us, so we keep supporting cliche hogs who burn through a good six puns per year.

What an opportunity we are wasting. I see no one out there at the moment who is willing to do the heavy lifting of creating new books or movies with alarmist titles that our weather reporters will be able to co-opt in decades to come. In the name of austerity, we have cut back on our pun R&D departments so that by mid-century we will have reached a tipping point from which there is no return.

Oh I know, people will say that “American ingenuity” will kick in whenever our backs are to the wall and someone will be there with a Catistropical Storm or Murderer’s Snow.
But can we depend on that? Why take the chance? So you can sit there greedily ladling out hot, steaming bowls of Frankenstorm without a thought to the future if you want.

Me? I am retreating to my cliché bunker, and I’m not coming out until a hear an original thought out of the Weather Channel.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or via email at

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