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Word Watch

October 09, 2005|Brendan Buhler

Crews fighting the Southland wildfires had better be carrying asbestos mitts if they're going to "get a handle" on the blazes. It's quite the macho affectation from TV news-wits who rarely come to grips with anything hotter than a hair dryer. And what excuse do writers have? A LexisNexis search of U.S. newspapers and wire services shows use of the phrase rising every year: It was in 3,504 stories in 2004, nearly 700 more than 2000.

Besides fires, writers have tried to attach handles to crimes, car races, art exhibits on "reverse shoplifting," freestyle kayaking, "musical sprawl," the works of Foucault, styles of sake and invasive species. Please, get a grip.

-- Brendan Buhler

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