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Niblet Publishing

Occasional Observation #52

I am a committed socialist. At the same time, I have to admit that if offered the services of a full-time maid, I wouldn’t refuse. Who was that Waldo Emerson guy, and what was it he said about consistency?

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Niblet Publishing

A Social-Political Notice

Going out tonight to a favourite local eatery–the last night we can go there before our new 10-day circuit breaker lockdown begins in W. Quebec–to celebrate the death of G. Gordon Liddy, the most notorious of the many thugs involved in Watergate. It is hard to enumerate all the reasons to celebrate this man’s demise (at age 90). Starting off life as an FBI agent, Liddy once ordered an FBI background check on his fiancee–who went on to marry him anyway. Under Nixon he was the key strategist involved in Watergate and the subsequent aftermath. Sentenced initially to 20 years’ imprisonment, Liddy had his sentence reduced to eight years by President Jimmy Carter and was paroled after four and a half.

Of all the many charming stories one could tell about this unbelievably awful man, one, of a twistedly gastronomic nature, stands out. Liddy was known to eat rats in prison. Confronted once by a fellow inmate who asked if he didn’t find it gross to eat such things, Liddy calmly replied, “Chacun a son gout!” (to each his own)–and went on chewing.

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News Publishing

For Pete’s Sake!

The other day, I saw a story about a press release from U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. The release included a phrase like “infrastructural indivisibilities,” or something along those lines. I had a hard time pronouncing it, let alone understanding it–and I have an earned doctorate in English literature!

Like large cannons or ultra-formal articles of clothing, such phrases must be used sparingly and judiciously–in this case, to nail a situation with great precision, or to defuse another type of situation with laughter. Used indiscriminately, such phrases suggest either a tin ear or a complete lack of awareness of and sensitivity to one’s audience. Or, very possibly, both.

Fortunately for Mr. Buttigieg, an effective remedy is ready to hand. To prevent further embarrassments of this sort, all he need do is read, or have one of his staff read, press releases aloud before sending them out into the world. If the reader stumbles over a phrase, that’s a sign that the writer needs to go back and translate it into ordinary English. If he keeps up this routine for a few weeks, writing in language that’s friendly to the ordinary ear will become second nature. At that point, he will no longer need to read all his press releases out loud.

In the meantime, a simple suggestion for Mr. Buttigieg. Try writing (or having your dedicated staff member write) your next press release in monosyllables. Once you’ve managed to do three or four of those, you will never look back. No longer will people think of you as “Pompous Pete.” Now you will be “Pithy Pete,” and your popularity will soar.

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Niblet Publishing

Occasional Observation #52

This morning, instead of my usual Mozart or Vivaldi, I played a lively CD of Glenn Miller jazz, even dancing to two of the tunes. One day doesn’t make an entire chapter of a life, but this looks like a positive indicator to me!

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Niblet Publishing

Writing 101 Warmup

A) On some days, it had got to the point where he could hardly use a simple noun, such as the name of a common household object or piece of clothing, without first qualifying it with a profane or obscene adjective. At that point, he. . .Complete the sentence.

B) On some days, it had got to the point where she could hardly use a simple noun, such as the name of a common household object or piece of clothing, without first qualifying it with profane or obscene adjective. At that point, she. . .Complete the sentence.

C) Compare and contrast the above.

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Niblet Publishing

Occasional Observation #51

Some of my critics have suggested that, in my writing, I’m doing little more than creating a brand new set of cliches. Are they right? Maybe. But it doesn’t cost anything and doesn’t harm the planet or put anyone’s health or safety at risk, and it keeps me off the streets. So I guess that until someone shows me some compelling reason to stop, I’ll just keep on doing what I’ve been doing for the past 61 years.

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Niblet Publishing

Occasional Observation #50

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the death of my mother, Carol Foss Peirce. She was just two weeks past 70. Although her own life was difficult and in many ways troubled, she was an inspiration to her children, three of whom (including yours truly) went on to earn doctorates in various fields. And she inspired me with a love for theatre early on, by taking me and my sisters to Broadway shows. Rest in peace, Mother. May the dialogue be crisp and witty, and may the actors always know their lines.

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Niblet Publishing

Occasional Observation #48

The death of one’s favourite professors from college or grad school days is sad, but not unexpected. But when one starts seeing the children of those professors turning up in the obits, that’s when one starts to worry!

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Niblet Publishing

Occasional Observation #47

A touch of the rogue in one’s makeup is important, in my view, not just to have a full and happy life, but to achieve longevity. It helps to keep other, lesser things in proper proportion, and thus to prevent one from going off the rails emotionally.

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Niblet Publishing

Occasional Observation #46

Does anyone who uses the time-honoured expression “Give me patience,” as I often do, really want to get more patience? Let’s have a show of hands. Not everybody all at once. No one? Good. I didn’t think so.