Banning Banalities: Reclaiming the Language of Expression

Throughout history, certain expressions arise from creativity and twist language into new and imaginative forms.

These expressions gain popularity, peak in their usage, then become almost too commonplace. Therein lies the problem.

I’d like to suggest two we should bury for the sake of intelligent conversation. The sound of these overused expressions tortures the senses.


According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “awesome” meaning “inspiring reverential awe” goes back to 1598. The meaning of “overwhelming” goes to 1961, and the current weaker meaning of “great” dates from 1980. The term gradually lost its awesomeness over the years.

I say let’s finish it off and kill it. Wouldn’t that be like awesome?

Back in the day

There is no such thing. There is the past, perhaps worth remembering perhaps not, but it seems a poor way to give an example of something better. Upon closer examination, one would inevitably find the memory is clouded by the fog of nostalgia. It may have been different but it wasn’t necessarily better. Live in the moment to make these times memorable, don’t long for a whitewashed past.

We all have words and phrases we fall back on. When these expressions turn into crowdspeak, permeating every conversation, they need to be excised.

What are your most despised expressions?





How to Scare Terrorists

We are conducting this anti-terrorism campaign all wrong. Saber rattling and drone strikes are okay, but I have a much simpler solution.

Think about it.  Terrorists induce others to strap on bombs, hijack planes, shoot up shopping malls through ideas.

Ideas about a heaven filled with virgins.

Ideas about the glory of martyrdom.

This is ‘Merica. We have bigger, better, infinitely more terrifying ideas.

All we have to do is tell them about some of our cultural traditions and they will stay in the 14th century and leave us alone.

Just tell them about the Testicle Festival. (


There’s a gem of a town in Arizona

With a secret that gives pause as you wonder

To fill up their halls

They snip their animal’s balls

Then fry them and eat up the plunder

There’s not a terrorist in the world that would mess with a country that celebrates emasculating creatures they’ve raised from birth.

Just imagine what they’d think we’d do to our enemies.

(P.S. Public service announcement, REGISTER to VOTE)

Tormented by Choice

All of us face choices in our lifetime. Some of these can affect a moment, a day, or a lifetime. Often, we face ridicule and torment from those who follow a different path.

Does the toilet paper roll go over or under?

Peanut butter first, then Jelly or vice versa?

Yankees or Red Sox? (This one’s is easy for me. I like pinstripes and World Series Flags.)

Does anyone really know what time it is?

However, there is one choice I have consistently made which subjected me to a lifetime of torment and terror. One that every time I make the choice I have instant flashbacks to the taunts and the torments.

Tortures visited upon me by two people I looked up to, admired, tried to emulate.

After all these years, I am ready to face my darkest fears. Ready to confront the demons of the past.

You see, from the moment I was able to choose, I always picked mayonnaise over mustard.

There was no other way to go.

Yet I faced the ridicule, nay bullying, of my two cousins who shall remain nameless (Dave Moreau and Joe Szpila.)

They made sport of my choice. Sniffing the mayonnaise coated knife as if covered with the excrement of demons. Insinuating I was insane to so choose. Madness, they implied, it must be madness.

Oh how they tortured me. Their haughty superiority as mustard men hung over me like the Sword of Damocles.

To this day, I cannot enjoy a sandwich with my beloved mayonnaise without the demons of the past laughing in my mind. Even now, as I try to enjoy my sandwich, the torments continue.

A lifetime of torment for a simple choice. As Shakespeare said in As You Like It, “How bitter a thing it is to look into happiness through another man’s eyes!”


Sharing Nature

I went fishing today. As soon as I had baited the hook, cast it into the channel off of Sanibel, I got out my throw net to capture some live bait fish.

The entire time I was setting up my fishing position I was ignored by all of the other creatures of this area. However, as soon as the cast net came out I was immediately joined by two white Herons.

I didn’t know if I should take that as a slam of my fishing abilities or endorsement of my throw net prowess. The birds diligently followed me up and down the shore as I cast and retrieved, cast and retrieved, cast and retrieved.

This encouraged me. These were birds who had amazingly sharp vision and beaks that could snatch fish out of the water with blazingly fast speed. They had been superbly crafted by evolution to be successful at this.

Yet, here they were, waiting to benefit from my obvious evolutionary superiority, ability to use tools, innate intelligence, and apparent potential to capture bait fish.

They had seen creatures like myself engage in this activity and share the abundance, generally in the form of bait fish unsuitable in size to be useful.

So I threw the net with renewed enthusiasm, I would share my bounty with these beautiful birds who showed such faith in me. I resolved that I would capture sufficient bait fish to add to my fishing success and feed those who demonstrated unquestioned confidence.

When I finally reached that point wherein my resolve and determination had become frustration and embarrassment, I put down the net, looked at my companions, and tried to convey my most sincere apology for failure.

In one of those moment of intra-species communications, one of those marvelous times where the lack of a common language was in fact a benefit, the herons approached me, cautiously but deliberately.

One stood on my right side and the other on my left.

Each looked to me and then into the water, simultaneously snatching two perfect sized bait fish from the water. I believed for that moment that they were encouraging me to try again, don’t give up, don’t be discouraged.

As I went to pick up the net again, both of the herons let out a cry and flew off.

At that moment I realized what I had been, all along, was in their way!