Thirteen Verbal Ticks That Really Bug Me

by Steve, June 7th, 2007

I was raised by two English majors, so you’ll have to cut me some slack here. I’ve always been a stickler for proper speech. There’s a time and a place for colloquialism, and lord knows I use it in my speech and writing.

But there are some verbal ticks that just really bug me. I’ll see if I can come up with 13.

1. “Yeah, no…” I’m not sure where this came in, but it’s a meaninglessly self-contradictory interjection used to start sentences in conversation. I hear it all the freakin’ time at work, and it drives me nuts. I worry I’ll start using it. Maybe I already have.

2. “The thing is, is…” I’ve even heard the variant “The thing was, is…”

3. “I mean…” This one I hear all the damn time on NPR when a news anchor is talking to a reporter. It’s the new “you know,” I guess. The irony is, is, I mean, it has no damn meaning. Okay, fine, use it in everyday speech. But if you’re on National Public Radio? I mean, Come on!

4. Upspeak. This is when topic sentences? or clauses? are inflected as questions. It’s residue of valley girl talk, and as the valley girl generation has grown up, it’s become common in adult speech. I think of it as a solicitous tick, as in “Are you listening? I think I have something to say?” Our local NPR affiliate’s morning anchor does this, and it drives me crazy.

5.”Uh.” Practically everyone says “uh” in everyday speech. No big deal. But when the Secretary of State of the United States of America can’t speak a single extemporaneous sentence without uttering it, I cringe.

6. “…for Jack and I.” Or the equally jarring “…for Jack and myself.” For whatever reason, nobody wants to say “Jack and me”. Me is a proper object, people, I can’t emphasize this enough.

7. This one’s common among stewardesses for some reason: “If you do need to leave your seat, we do ask that you do buckle your seat belt when you return.” We ask that you do omit needless words.

Okay, I guess that’s all I can come up with off the top of my head. Apologies to the Thursday Thirteen crowd for punking out early.

Oh Stanley…

by Steve, June 7th, 2007

I watched the last 18 minutes of the Stanley Cup Final last night, and watched Ottawa sputter to a 6-2 game 5 defeat. All told, I watched probably six total periods of the series. Am I a bad hockey fan? Maybe. But I just couldn’t get behind either of these teams. As in the past two Stanley Finals, I defaulted to rooting for the Canadian team. (Yes, this year was déjà vu all over again, with a southern US team beating a Canadian team.) But unlike years past, the US victors didn’t win me over with veterans like Carolina’s Rod Brind’Amour or Tampa Bay’s Dave Andreychuk, or with hot (relative) youngsters like Cam Ward or Brad Richards.

Sure, Anaheim has the Niedermayer brothers, and Teemu Selanne finally gets his name on the cup. But they’ve also got serial head-hunter Chris Pronger.

For me, the whole series comes down to what happened in game four. I was already having a hard time liking Senator’s captain Daniel Alfredsson, when at the end of the second period he whipped a slap shot directly at Ducks’ captain Scott Niedermayer. It was clearly intentional, and completely absurd.

Sadly, the highlight of the series came just after this ugly affair, when intermission report anchor Bill Clement hosted Don Cherry of “Hockey Night in Canada” fame. Cherry took the opportunity to go on an extended rant about how the NHL is making a “big mistake” by reducing fighting in the game, and if they want to save the game they need to bring back the rough stuff. Cement-head co-host Brett Hull piped in with his own troglodyte idea that visors should be eliminated from the game, and that fighting is the most “honorable” part of the game. He said this a few times before changing it to “honest”. Somehow or another, the avuncular Clement managed to keep a reasonably straight face through all of this.

Of course, this all goes back to a discussion on this blog a while back. There’s an assumption (not shared by our neighbors to the north) that the game is in trouble, and something must be done to save it. There’s the “old time hockey” school, led by Don Cherry and his ilk, who maintain that we need more blood to sell the game. Then there’s the Gary Bettman approach of expanding into the southern US, where the ponds don’t freeze and most kids don’t have the opportunity to play the game.

Both approaches are way off the mark, and both are based on the faulty assumption that hockey should have the kind of broad appeal all across the US that basketball and NASCAR have. It never has, and it never will. It will always be a niche sports market, and I don’t see a problem with that. Hockey is best watched live, and it thrives on home-town tradition and local rivalries. Hockey will never be in crisis in Canada or in the Midwest and northeast United States. If it’s in crisis in Nashville or Dallas or St. Louis or Washington D.C., I don’t give a shit.

But I digress. Let’s put a wrap on ’06-’07 by saying anybody who was on the fence about the game of hockey and tuned in to see Alfredsson’s antics at the end of game four’s second period, followed by Cherry’s and Hull’s rants, would find it hard to take the game seriously. Maybe it’s just sour grapes with me, since my favorite, the Sabres, were eliminated in the conference finals. But I think this is a particularly ho-hum year for Lord Stanley’s Cup.

How many months till hockey season starts?