I’m very selective when it comes to identifying mentors and role models. I can only think of a handful of people who I’d give that label. One guy who gets a lot of credit for whatever writing skills I might have is my high school English Teacher, Tony Russo. Tony not only taught me to write, he taught me to think. I’ve occasionally speculated that he might have regretted doing so during some class discussions and debates on topics ranging from Hamlet to academic freedom. Fortunately here we are some 45 years later and he and I are still in contact.
One of the running amusements we share is that after all these years I still have trouble keeping analogies, metaphors, and similies straight. So it perhaps will come as no surprise that when I recently reported being as “busy as a one-armed paper-hanger with diarrehea,” I also confessed that I wasn’t sure which it was. Here is Tony’s response:
Here’s the thing, you have created an analogy to describe your current situation, i.e. you are currently as busy as, but you are not actually, a one-armed paperhanger with diarrhea. On the other hand, metaphorically speaking, you have replaced yourself with the one-armed paperhanger with diarrhea, thus creating a metaphor. I’ll bet you had no idea that you were so agile with turning a phrase. My advice, don’t sweat the small stuff. 99 and 44/100ths% of your readers will never know the difference anyway, and even if they do, they really don’t give a shit, no pun intended, but I must admit that if one were intended, it wouldn’t be all that bad.
I would observe that I am not the only one who is agile with turning a phrase… and I’m a bit relieved that I apparently no longer need to worry about whether I’m using a metaphor, analogy, or simile.
But I’ll bet I do.
This came with no provenance… and while I haven’t verified any, I can see how they could be true. Unfortunately, mistakes like this are not limited to writers for whom English is a second language!
It is forbidden to enter a woman, even a foreigner, if dressed as a man.
Sign in a Bangkok Temple
Ladies are requested not to have children in the bar.
Cocktail lounge, Norway:
Continue reading Did You Mean…?
Getting a fresh start sometimes means letting go of a grudge. I recall watching a friend’s relationship with his daughter-in-law go bad. Of course I only heard one side of the story so I was spared the agony of arbitrating and allowed to focus on how my friend was coping with the situation.
At one point he admitted that several people suggested he should apologize in an attempt to diffuse the anger and tension. He said, “I can’t do that. It would be like the victim apologizing to the mugger.” In his opinion, he’d been tragically wronged and it just didn’t make sense to do anything except be hurt and angry.
His analogy of being mugged intrigued me since I was mugged at gunpoint Continue reading He Done Me Wrong!
Maybe it’s a small town thing, but when folks here attend a public event there’s a lot of time spent looking around so you don’t miss seeing and waving to everyone you know. After living here less than two months it might have seemed pointless, but then one of the first people we’d bumped into when we arrived at the fairgrounds greeted us by name.
Admittedly, he was about to sell us raffle tickets. Those raffle tickets are part of the Annual Kiwanis Auction – an event that this year raised over $20,000. Not bad for a Club in a town of s Continue reading Why I Moved to Maine
On his 74th birthday, a man got a gift certificate from his wife. The certificate paid for a visit to a medicine man living on a nearby reservation who was rumoured to have a wonderful cure for erectile dysfunction. After being persuaded he drove to the reservation and handed his certificate to the medicine man.
The medicine man slowly, methodically produced a potion, handed it to him, and with a grip on his shoulder, warned, “This is a powerful medicine, and it must be respected. You take only Continue reading Proper English