Thursday, June 19, 2008

things i hate

(Dan is exempt from reading this due to length and lack of focus - tcd)

“Drinking the Kool-Aid

Do you remember the term “wilding”? I think it was newsworthy in the mid- to late- 1980s and used by various gangs running roughshod over New York City’s Central Park. I think it included mugging, robbing, assaulting, raping, and any other shitbag activity you can imagine being done in the name of losers. Maybe after twenty years we can step back a little and take the better attributes of wilding and somehow mangle it into our vernacular. Maybe we can use it when describing groups of folk getting together, supporting each other, and spending a crazy night out on the town. Maybe not.

Somehow we’ve become enamored of “Drinking the Kool-Aid” as both good and bad. I guess you have to be of a certain age to be able to pseudo-decrypt the meaning behind the phrase because I don’t think it came into use until years (decades?) after the event that’s the locus of its strength. The idea that anyone would say this about any other group or organization is eerie. Oftentimes, it’s thrown off quite casually when talking about a football team’s success, a company’s profits, or any other strong-willed group that has bought into a system. Sometimes it has a distinctly insulting connotation (“The Democrats have all drunk the Kool-Aid” quipped the Republican operative), but most of the time isn’t not nearly that overt. It’s become so horribly pervasive in American society. Maybe wilding wasn’t the best parallel. Maybe in ten years we can start saying that “the Republicans have gone all Koresh on us” as a perfectly acceptable way of saying that they’ve circled the wagons, locked the doors, and convinced everyone in their base that there’s a God-like figure gonna save ‘em – and they’ll use the guns just to make sure.

“It is what it is…”

If you’ve been in the military then this can be directly related to the “with all due respect” opening that might keep you from being court-martialed when you decide to tell a superior officer to kiss your ass. This has become the suffix appended, when challenged, to an insult or denial of any discontent. It sounds so sophomoric when you hear it coming from anyone over 15; hence my choice of definition. Imagine some confrontation with a co-worker who’s told everyone else at work that you’re a complete waste of time, money, air, cubical space, and sticky notes. You ask them about it in the hall and they say, “it is what it is.” I can almost picture that same person, ten years ago, making the “W” sign with their fingers and mumbling “Whatever, geez.” Of course, that same person, back then, probably had either a pierced tongue, a pierced nipple, or both. If you look closely you’ll be able to make out a tribal band tattoo on their upper arm. It’s all inane chatter substituting for actual thought. Hey, it is what it is…

“Throwing someone under the bus”

Wikipedia reports that a variant of this junk might have first been uttered by Cyndi Lauper in the 1980s. I hate this little riposte. I can’t even frame it in my mind – how many people ride buses and how many of those would actually throw someone under (maybe in front of?) the bus? I would think that throwing someone on the tracks or in front of the train would be a better option. Either way, this has become so pervasive that it’s more of an irritation factor than anything else; kind of like Richard Marx songs. The interesting bit about its usage is that it can be used by the person guilty of such behavior or by anyone attempting to pitch scorn on the person guilty of throwing someone under the bus. From what I see around these parts, the buses are always moving slowly in traffic or stopping all the time. Unless you’re going to drag someone kicking-and-screaming out to one of the expressways that provide access for express buses than I’m pretty sure the driver will have plenty of time to stop and yell at your target for laying in the damn road.

“Presumptive nominee”

When the hell did this become a life in being? I think Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, and John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, are asking the same question. According to my trusty compact Oxford English Dictionary, presumptive means “presumed in the absence of further information.” Are we to assume (presume?) that there’s some information we don’t know about the nominees? Are we really so pessimistic that we feel the need to assume that one or the other has something so heinous in his closet that he might have to drop out of the race? I’m going to guess that the idea behind this turn of phrase came from the politicos of both parties who decided it would be best to use it as an indication of just how much they hate their own nominee; and as a way to de-legitimize them. I think the Republican base first attached it to McCain and the Dems simply followed suit. Everyone can chant it over and over in hopes that something happens and either the right-wing or left-wing crazies can eventually say they told us so. I have begun using it to indicate mystery and pessimism around our dinner plans. The other night X asked about my dinner plans and I told her that the presumptive menu included fresh Maine lobster, beluga caviar, a light frisee salad rinsed by “Holly Hunter’s tears” [© Patton Oswalt], and a bottle of 1969 Grand Vin De Chataeu LaTour. Of course, when I got home that night I realized I could neither afford Holly Hunter’s tears nor the ’69 LaTour. We had cold soup and slices of processed American cheese. I told her it was presumptive.


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