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
is often more potent and captivating than a
commonly used metaphor. SEE ALSO hell
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
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
will do, imperils his professionalism. My
appetite was humongous.
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.
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.
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 (express).
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.