December 30, 1985 |
The name of the school French painter Francois Boisrond is connected with is Figuration Libre. That must be French for Neo-Expressionist Graffiti. Like Keith Haring and the rest of that irreverent, hip crowd, Boisrond makes TV-generation art; it's flashy, splashy, trashy stuff with references that are all over the map.
February 9, 1986 |
What is "fast food"? Is it simply a phrase of our times, or do we really have faster food? Writing recently about schoolchildren's ideas of the '30s and '40s, I observed that there were no fast foods back then. That is questioned by John F. Haigler, a San Diego attorney. "What actually qualifies today as a fast-food restaurant?" he asks. "We in the legal world are burdened with a supposed need for precise definition."
February 9, 1991 |
Each war forges its own peculiar language as words and phrases are reshaped to reflect a new reality. In World War II, soldiers were "GIs," for government issue, and a problem became a snafu--situation normal, all fouled up. In Vietnam, soldiers were termed "grunts" and any place outside Southeast Asia was "the world," as in, "I'd like to get back to the world." So, too, has an indigenous jargon emerged here. At least for now, the slang of this war is more humorous than vicious.
June 16, 2009 |
What do you call the loss of productivity caused by too much time spent on Facebook? "Social notworking." A steeply devalued retirement account? "201(k)." A painfully obsolete cellphone? "Brickberry." These linguistic dispatches from the land of cooler-than-you come courtesy of wit-mongers Cramer-Krasselt, a Chicago-headquartered full-service agency with a tidy billion dollars in annual billables.
November 16, 1986 |
When I first began reporting on Hollywood and everything was new and interesting, my greatest fascination lay with Hollywoodese, that mixed-up melange of techno-Yiddish blurbology spoken by anyone who fancies that they are a true industry insider. I savored every new piece of slang, from "multi-pic-pact" (multiple picture deal) to "turnaround" (when a project's progress at a studio is suddenly thrown into reverse). I schmoozed, schlepped and Spago'ed.
April 4, 2009 |
Do you know any of these phrases: "think of England," "a gun in your pocket," "go nuclear," "rough and tumble," "knock-down, drag-out" or "at the drop of a hat"? Do you know what it means to "go to the mattresses"? It's no skin off my nose if you don't. There's no doubt that great American cliches are, well, cliches. Whether we speak in street slang or have a broad, beautiful vocabulary, we all use little bits of language that come from another time and place. However you like to talk, it can be funny and fun to discover the origins of classic phrases and what popularized them.
August 22, 2012 |
Twitter, Facebook, YouTube ... they're all great, aren't they? Anything that just happens to be on your mind, you can just put it out there for all to see. Unless you happen to be, say, a female tennis player at the University of Louisville who wants to profess her love for Track 5 ofGuns N' Roses' "Appetite for Destruction" on Facebook. Or a Cardinals golfer who wants tweet about the goings-on with the Gambia National Olympic Committee but needed to use the acronym to save character space.
January 27, 1999 |
In 1998, it was the N-word. Will 1999 be the year of the F-word? "Fruit." "Fag." "Fairy." According to Merriam-Webster's thesaurus, they're all other words for "homosexual." When the list appeared in America Online's version of the thesaurus earlier this month--along with related words and synonyms such as "uranian" and "queer," among others--gay rights leaders weren't the only ones who gasped in horror.
October 17, 1999 |
Imagine a world in which "hello" cannot be found in your trusty dictionary. That was the case before the last turn of the century, when the word made its official debut in 1898's Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. And that, said John Morse, publisher of the first Merriam-Webster edition of the 21st century--finished, but not yet released--came only after a word war between two great inventors who owned telephone companies: Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell.