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The Tentacle


September 16, 2014

Etymology Can Be Fun

Harry M. Covert

Honestly now, can it get any better? The Orioles and Nationals are winning big time in their respective leagues for playoff championships and, prayers in Emmitsburg and elsewhere in Frederick are unbroken en masse for a Beltway and I-95 World Series. And The Great Frederick Fair is under way.

 

Why not? There is simply no reason why the Baltimores and Washingtons can’t have a baseball knockdown at Oriole Park at Camden Yards and at Nationals Park. If the crowds become a bit testy at either facility just lay back, watch or listen on cable or AM&FM, the iPhone, laptop, SiriusXM satellite radio or just read about them in the printed pages a day late.

 

Football and its myriad activities, including the busy alleged criminal activity to go along with some games, has been getting most of the headlines and broadcast time. Politicians and left-wingers out there are finally calling the Middle East terrorism a war. Ask, do words make a difference? Probably more than we think.

 

For example, it is really a smart thing to say parsimonious referring to any tightwads or stingy people. Niggardly was once a good word until someone unread was determined to make it a racial expletive.

 

Those in the public eye, or writing, or entertaining venues also must avoid using such terms as hoods, thugs, ruffians, or hooligans for fear of violating politically correct usage. Obviously, it’s good taste not to use such as the N-word or the F-word. Even those with Divine Appointments must be careful not to use the S-word. You know, sin or sinner(s) in their pulpiteering. The Book calls attention to the sin of “reprobate” lifestyles. In today’s churching whatever the Scripture teaches is pooh-poohed. Be careful; don’t insult the people assembled.

 

It was not too long ago when newspapers, those billed as family style, never used the description “rape” for the sexual crime. Instead they used “criminal assault” and let judges and courts figure it out. Criminal assault does, perhaps, have a more simplistic or nicer reception. But, the public reacts more vividly when the newsers say, r-a-p-e, r-o-b-b-e-r-y and m-u-r-d-e-r. Higher the decibels the more attention received. Advertisers love it.

 

It is indeed thrilling to see the Orioles and Nationals winning and winning and winning. As the sports cycle moves about, baseball is back on top. At least in this quarter. The Ravens have been suffering, especially with the suspension of a player caught on tape cold-conking his then girlfriend and baby’s mama and later his now-devoted wife.

 

A few years ago a university president’s wife took it upon herself to teach the incoming football players some manners, including such courtesies as thank you, yes sir, yes ma’am, and how to act each in the college cafeteria quietly and using napkins. Plus, “there’s no fighting, yelling or cursing [cussing].” Still, an assistant coach had to be assigned to make certain manners were enforced.

 

This sounds rather mundane – or maybe silly. It worked. Those who couldn’t adjust to courtesies went home and no scholarships. There were no later returns no matter how fast they could run, pass or kick a pigskin.

 

We also have to be careful as to our jokes and joking. An Oregon football coach, at the height of a circa 1950s cheating scandal, suggested colleges recruit three teams each year, one for offense, one for defense and another to go to class. True story.

 

A University of Michigan coach said he was only going to dress half of his players for next week’s game. The other half will have to dress themselves. True.

 

I’m a fan of Steve Spurrier, South Carolina’s football coach. He denies that the Gamecocks play like an opossum. “They play dead at home and get killed on the road.”

 

Of course, these can’t be told in public any more. A retired coach I know described his Virginia championship team as “agile, mobile and hostile.”

 

I almost forgot. The Ravens quarterback is back in action and probably still one of the best around. The Redskins still can’t get their starting “signal-caller” in for a complete game or season. “Hail to the Redskins” did play loud and long recently and the Washingtons won a game.

 

Now, thankfully we have some more days at The Great Frederick Fair. I missed the Belgian horse challenge, the chicken petting and the musicians, especially the fellow who said, “You gotta know when to hold ‘em.” I know. I don’t play from any 52-card deck.

 

hmcovert@gmail.com

 



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