‘Tis Grand to be a King . . .

. . . and march in glory through the streets of Persepolis!

As I recall, this may be a line from a play called Tamburlaine the Great by  Christopher Marlowe, but how would I know? I never read it. So where did I get such an irrelevant phrase? Portland State University, circa 1974 or thereabouts. I was in a play there and one of the professional actors in the production spoke the line out of context observing that when one  had nothing better to say, the line could as easily fit in one place as another. Relevance wasn’t an issue anyhow. So, while walking from place to place, or doing any number of random though needful activities why not simply sigh and say, “Ah, ’tis grand to be a king and march in glory through the streets of Persepolis!”

Indeed, why not? Relevance is highly overrated.

Nervous as a . . .

… long-tailed cat in a room full of rockin’ chairs.

What a great way to describe being uncomfortable! Why would you say you were feeling anxious or stressed out, when you could say you felt as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rockin’ chairs?

Where did that danism come from? I believe it was Tennessee Ernie Ford. He was pretty big stuff back in the day. He contributed several aphorisms to my repertoire.

Chugging Along Like a . . .

. . . steam-powered pickle seeder.

What in the world? That’s what, Kyle, my young friend at the gym wondered as I was wheezing away on the elliptical machine this morning. He had asked me how I was doing today and I responded with, “Oh, just chuggin’ along like a steam powered pickle seeder!”

Indeed, what in the world?

This danism came from one of my favorite podasts: A Way with Words — the show about language and how we use it.  The hosts take questions from callers, one of whom wondered why her grandfather might use the phrase under discussion. The answer? They didn’t know, either. One thing is sure: there just ain’t much use for a “pickle seeder.” Steam-powered or nuclear, why would you want to seed pickles?

So, what’s my explanation? As I explained to Kyle, a device of this kind huffs ‘n puffs; clatters and bangs; belches and clangs doing a job that, let’s face it, just doesn’t need to be done.  Sometimes that feels like the story of my life, especially as I flail and wheeze on an exercise machine.

You can find  the podcast at www.waywordradio.org.

A New Category: “Danisms”

Like a bolt of lighting it hit me…

Well, maybe it was more of a slight electric shock, but it did nudge me a little.  I’ve been kidded, giggled at and generally made sport of for my inclination to bandy words and play with language. I’m known for pithy (sometimes stupid) little phrases that pop up in my conversation—well, excuse me for living! The thing is, I’m helpless to stop. It’s just so much fun! So, rather than wait for my funeral for all of them to come out, I’ve decided to start a catalog of my “Danisms.” I’ll try to explain them and recall where I first heard them. I won’t try to explain why I remember them or use them…there is no good explanation.

The idea came to me as a young friend of mine at the gym asked the meaning of one of these linguistic oddities. (It had something to do with a pickle seeder. I’ll include it later). Anyhow, I’ve created a new category here among my word-carvings called “Danisms.” For those of you who’ve known me awhile, they’ll undoubtedly sound familiar.