for) a laugh A plebeian sentiment (SEE). These
expressions are used by people who tally their
giggles and count their guffaws, people who value
numbers and sums more than they do words and
concepts, people who consider laughter a commodity
and life a comedy. I need a laugh.
Sue and I want to do these silly things to you
for a laugh. I'm always looking for a
laugh. SEE ALSO avid reader.
living hell A moribund metaphor (SEE). chthonian;
chthonic; hellish; impossible; infernal;
insufferable; insupportable; intolerable; painful;
plutonic; sulfurous; unbearable; uncomfortable;
unendurable; unpleasant; stygian; tartarean. The
force and colorfulness of this metaphor is no longer
evident. An uncommonly used word such as chthonic,
insupportable, plutonic, sulfurous, stygian, or tartarean
is often more potent and captivating than a
commonly used metaphor. SEE ALSO hell on earth.
statement A plebeian sentiment (SEE). Making a fashion
statement is the concern of adolescents and
addle-brained adults who have yet to fashion for
themselves a sense of identity. Their habiliments
interest them more than does their humanity. People
so intent on being fashionable make only
misstatements. They but blither.
An infantile phrase (SEE). big; brobdingnagian;
colossal; elephantine; enormous; gargantuan; giant;
gigantic; grand; great; huge; immense; large;
mammoth; massive; monstrous; prodigious; stupendous;
titanic; tremendous; vast. This is a word for
buffoons. Any businessperson or politician who uses humongous,
when a word like huge or monstrous will
do, imperils his professionalism. My appetite
was humongous. USE enormous. We
were up against a humongous insurance company.
USE colossal. My feeling is that there
is a humongous gap between justice for the
rich and the poor and working class. USE huge.
The players should recognize the exception for
what it is: a humongous bargaining chip. USE titanic.
just happened An infantile phrase (SEE). As an
explanation for how circumstances or incidents
unfold, none is more puerile. And though we might
excuse children such a sentiment, it is rarely they
who express it. It just happened is a phrase
used by those too slothful or too fearful to know
what has happened. It wasn't something I
planned; it just happened. What can I
say? it just happened. SEE ALSO because
(that's why); whatever happens happens.
feelings A torpid term (SEE). This expression
tells us how little we listen to how we feel. In our
quest for speed and efficiency, we have forfeited our
feelings. The niceties of emotion anger,
animosity, anxiety, depression, despair, displeasure,
disquiet, distrust, fear, frustration, fury, gloom,
grief, guilt, hatred, hopelessness, hostility, ill
will, insecurity, jealousy, malice, melancholy, rage,
resentment, sadness, shame, sorrow, stress, and
so on have been sacrificed to a pointless
proficiency. It was reported that IAM
headquarters failed to renew a $1 million bond that
matured in June, due to their negative feelings
toward El Al's actions. REPLACE WITH displeasure.
Negative feelings can trigger a cascade
of stress hormones that accelerate the heart rate,
shut down the immune system, and encourage blood
clotting. REPLACE WITH Resentment or anger.
SEE ALSO in a bad mood; positive feelings.
prescriptions Powerless to repeat an author's
epigram, unfit to recite a poet's verse, more than
many of us are utterly, thoroughly, completely able
to echo a society's slogans and clichés: absence
makes the heart grow fonder; actions speak louder
than words; a picture is worth a thousand words;
beauty is in the eye of the beholder; better late
than never; do as I say, not as I do; forgive and
forget; hope for the best but expect the worst; it
takes two; keep (your) nose to the grindstone; live
and learn; misery loves company; money isn't
everything; neither a borrower nor a lender be; take
it one day (step) at a time; the best things in life
are free; the meek shall inherit the earth; the
sooner the better; time flies when you're having fun;
two wrongs don't make a right; you can't be all
things to all people; you can't have everything.
Popular prescriptions are the platitudes and proverbs
by which people live their lives. It is these dicta
that determine who they are and how they act. Popular
prescriptions define their intellectual and moral
makeup. Dull-witted speakers and writers depend on
prescriptions like these to guide them through life.
For this poor populace, life is, we may surmise, laid
out. From the popular or proper course, there is
scant deviation. A stray thought is, for them, a gray
thought. Popular prescriptions endure not for their
sincerity but for their simplicity. We embrace them
because they make all they profess to explain and all
they profess to prescribe seem plain and
uncomplicated. Inexorably, we become as simple as
they we people, we platitudes. SEE ALSO plebeian
sentiments; quack equations.
are no words to describe (express) There are many
more words than people seem to think, and far more is
expressible with them than people seem to imagine.
Those who depend on dimwitticisms to convey thought
and feeling are more apt to believe there are no
words to describe ..., for these people are,
necessarily, most frustrated by the limits of
language. Dimwitticisms do permit us to describe our
most universal feelings, our most banal thoughts, but
they prevent us from describing more individual
feelings, more brilliant thoughts. These are reserved
for a language largely unknown to everyday speakers
and writers. SEE ALSO words cannot describe
Plays Back to Top
to Approval has, primarily, to do with the
revelation of Nathans personality and state of
mind. One of the plays nine characters, Nathan
is subject to approval because he fears rejection. By
the end of the play, Nathan has been, in fact,
rejected, but not for the reason he most fears.
Nathans rejection neither comes as a surprise
to us nor, we may believe, is wholly undeserved. What
is important is not that Nathan is rejected but that
the people who reject him are, in actuality,
rejecting those aspects of themselves that they most
fear and that they see or imagine they see in Nathan.
plot is but scant. Agnes and Otto
octogenaries, and man and wife though they
live in the same house, have not, we soon realize,
seen, much less spoken to, each other in many, many
months. Agnes, believing she is soon to die, writes
Otto a note asking him to visit her. She does not
want to be alone when she dies. She wants his company
and whatever comfort he may be able to give her. But
comfort Otto seems unable to offer.
Death and Demons
quartet of young adults have evolved only to learn
how to best torment one another. Self-absorbed though
they are, there is compassion, or the promise of it,
hidden beneath their behavior. As in Subject to
Approval, here, too, we meet Nathan an
older, though perhaps not much wiser, person.
copyright 1973, 1999 by Robert Hartwell Fiske and
Vocabula Communications Company. All rights,
including production rights, are reserved. If you are
interested in producing any of the plays, or in
having a hardcopy version, please contact the author,
Robert Hartwell Fiske, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fiske's plays are available now at Novelon.com. See Subject to
Approval, Speaking of
Silence, and On Death and
Demons. Also look for the
plays at the following sites: