April 16th, 2021


Cranky Again

Greg Crosby

By Greg Crosby

Published Sept. 25, 2014

Sometimes life's little irritations pass unnoticed, they just don't get to me or I'm able to shake them off like water off a duck's back, as the saying goes.

Then there are other times the water won't shake off so fast and the annoyances annoy me (for instance I'm annoyed that I used the expression "water off a duck's back." It's trite and stupid but I've already written it and I don't feel like rewriting so there it is).

It's times like this when I get somewhat cranky, or maybe a lot cranky. I'm feeling like about 6.8 on the Crosby scale of cranky today. Don't say you haven't been warned.

There are numerous things that have been a source of minor irritation to me lately, but since I've already mentioned trite expressions, let us concentrate on those right now.

I'm really sick and tired of hearing "Boots on the ground" used as a euphemism for ground troops. I especially don't like it coming from high-ranking government officials.

Using it once or twice, okay, but now it's being used exclusively. Just say "ground forces" or "ground troops."

But enough with the cutesy "boots on the ground." It's been used to death.

Another trite expression that politicians love to use all the time is "Sooner rather than later," which is not only trite, but is redundant, vague, and meaningless.

"We've got to pass comprehensive immigration reform and we've got to do it sooner rather than later." Sooner rather than later? Just say "soon." That's all you need.

If something is sooner, then it automatically means that it's not later. You don't have to say "rather than later."

It would be like saying "hotter rather than colder" or "smarter rather than dumber" or "thinner rather than fatter."

And while we're on the subject of political speak, enough already with using "folks" as a synonym for "people."

I know politicians think that using that term makes them sound like they are "just one of the folks" but they use it so much that they misuse it.

When it is used correctly, folks is a colloquial, friendly, sort of country-ish term. Many use it to refer to their parents, or to the people in a small community.

But I've heard President Obama use it when referring to illegal immigrants and even to terrorists.

"The radical folks in northern Iraq have been beheadin' our folks." It just makes him sound like a dope.

Similarly "gentleman" is used today, not as a description of a cultured, well bred man as it once was, but as a synonym for any "man." Over and over again I hear news broadcasters and even police spokespeople referring to a criminal suspect such as a car chase fugitive as a "gentleman."

Calling lowlifes "gentlemen" destroys our language. Of course calling a woman a "lady" has been deemed offensive by feminists for quite a while now.

It was once considered an elegant term to use. Young women once strived to be ladies, now in some quarters you'll get a dirty look for using the word.

It's a shame. We're losing these terms and our society will become the poorer for it.

Many of our words have changed meaning entirely.

Many younger people may not know that "gay" didn't always refer to homosexuals and lesbians but was used to describe a light-hearted, carefree emotion for anyone.

"Discriminating" was once a positive trait to have. If you were discriminating, you possessed excellent taste or judgment. Today it only means you are a racist.

The word "judgment" was once a positive thing to have; today if you are judgmental you are considered a bad person. Yep, our language has been corrupted.

There's another word that is used much too much today, and basically that word would be basically.

Everyone uses it for almost everything, basically.

"We went shopping at the mall and basically stayed there most of the day." "I brought my car in for basically a tune-up."

It's one of those words that people can stick in any sentence and they do.

"I basically told her that I'm going to be seeing other girls." "Basically we lost our way getting back."

There are other words and phrases that can be used in place of basically such as "essentially" and "for the most part."

But usually the B word can just be omitted entirely since the word is used as nothing but filler, basically.

And basically that does it for Cranky Crosby this week.

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California.