Today, past and present

A literary milestone was published on this day in 1951:

Cover features a crude drawing of a Carousel horse (pole visible entering the neck and exiting below on the chest) with a city skyline visible in the distance under the hindquarters. The cover is two-toned: everything below the horse is whitish while the horse and everything above it is a reddish orange. The title appears at the top in big dirty yellow letters against the reddish orange background. It is split into two lines after "Catcher". At the bottom in the whitish background are the words "a novel by J. D. Salinger".    While Salinger had written numerous short stories, Catcher in the Rye was his first actual novel to be published. Written for adults, it quickly caught the imagination of teens everywhere. Holden Caulfield, the main character,  became an icon of teenage angst and rebellion. 

The novel itself also had a storied career, as one of the first teachers to assign it for class reading was fired. The teacher was later reinstated, but Catcher was banned from 1962 to 1981 in the United States.  In ’81, Catcher in the Rye was both the most censored and yet also the second most taught book in US public schools.

While it may not have been read in classrooms, it nevertheless developed a healthy following. Today around 1 million copies are sold each year with total sales of more than 65 million books.*  (Don’t shoot me when I say I preferred Franny and Zoey.)

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I seem to be taking a fiction vacation. But I will return!! Just enjoying all the summer weather and I don’t feel much like opening my computer….and when I do, my attention seems focused on my other blog about fitness. But the stories will build and spill out of me soon enough 🙂

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Cliche Sunday

Here we go–the end of the alphabet! Following tradition, I will be doing X, Y, &Z in one lump.  Sadly, the X’s seem nonexistent–which is not truly a surprise.

Now that I have reached the end of the alphabet,  Cliche Sunday is also taking a break. Frankly, my weekends are so very busy, it is hard to get Cliche Sunday out. As you may have noticed by the amount of skipped weeks recently! I do have some ideas for some other serial posts–just not on Sunday 🙂 So stay tuned.

And I am sure there will be a resurgence of Cliche Sunday. Maybe in October?

you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink: people, like horses, will only do what they want, when they want.  This cliché started life as a proverb,  very, very long time ago, which can attest to its popularity. The earliest written copy of it was 1175, in Old English Homilies:

Hwa is thet mei thet hors wettrien the him self nule drinken
[who can give water to the horse that will not drink of its own accord?]

you are what you eat: the idea eating good food is best for you if you want to be healthy. This phrase has been around a bit longer than one might think. I thought its roots was likely to be in the 1970s, when the modern health craze hit.  However, the cliché began in  France in 1826:

Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es. [Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are].
   Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, Physiologie du Gout, ou Meditations de Gastronomie Transcendante

Later, Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach shortened it a bit:

Der Mensch ist, was er ißt. (man is what he eats)
Concerning Spiritualism and Materialism, 1863

The modern iteration of the phrase came to be in the 1920s when Victor Lindlahr came up with the Catabolic  Diet:

  Ninety per cent of the diseases known to man are caused by cheap foodstuffs. You are what you eat.

zero tolerance: a policy that allows no behavior to be overlooked. This has been a popular phrase in schools recently, having a “zero tolerance” for bullying. The cliché actually came out of the American 70s, when it was used to describe police action in areas with specialized high crime–drugs, mugging, prostitution, etc.  It was used more in the 80s during the War on Drugs, and also by the Food and Drug Admin to describe their policy on pesticides allowable in food.

zig-zag: the literal meaning of a series of straight lines joined at angles, used to describe a course of action. The popularity of the term is similar to other phonetically alternated phrases, like see-saw or tick-tock. The origin of this one is not known, although the earliest known  versions are either German or Dutch, suggesting that it came to English second.

“eenige in de voorstad van St. Germain zig zag bewegen  (some in the surburb of St Germain move in zig zag)
Dutch author Roelof Roukema, 1706

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Friday Fictioneers

Ok, so I know I missed Friday. But I wanted to join the roundup led by Rochelle! I have been missing in action for weeks.

So here is my entry for the Friday Fictioneers, the story group she leads with a photo prompt and 100 words (more or less, I went a bit more this time). Make sure to check out all the other marvelous stories HERE. Thanks to Sarah Potter for our great photo this week 🙂

 Vegan Vengeance

“Wow,” Greg said, sliding his finger along a blood-red, velvety flower. “What a greenhouse!”

“Thanks, ” Silla said. “I make my own special fertilizer. Wanna see?”

She led the way into the back of the greenhouse, wandering past long tables of flowers and vegetables before stopping.

“What’s this?” asked Greg uneasily, staring at the slick metal slab with straps.  He turned to Silla, eyes widening as he saw the mallet; before collapsing on the table.

Silla smiled as she tucked the cattle rancher in, tugging the straps quite tight before starting the IV. She nodded at her plants as Greg’s blood slid into her mixer, already filled with bone meal from the last cowboy.

“There,” Silla said in satisfaction, “now instead of him killing animals, he’ll be helping you guys grow.

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Cliche Sunday…….kinda

I found the single-word prompt from WordPress again, this one being “trace.” I turned it over and over in my mind, thinking of all the different meanings I could use. But two ideas  kept circling in my brain: country singers and the cliché “without a trace.”  Happily, today’s Cliche Sunday is for W, and this post was born 🙂

“Bri, what’s wrong? It’s a party, ya know.”

“Oh, he left,” Bri sighed. “Just put on that cowboy hat and swaggered out the door.”

“Oh dear,” Marge said. Everyone  had seen it coming. Even Bri.  “I’m sorry.”

“Yeah, he had a rodeo down past Austin and I guess he didn’t wanna cheat on me, or miss out on any fun. So he broke up with me. What a jerk.”

“But a good-looking one, with broad shoulders,” Marge sighed a bit herself. “We were all living a bit vicariously through you.”

Dana left her group to see what they were talking about.

“Well, you know you are going to be better off.  Now you can find someone to relax with,” she said.

“I know, I know, you’re right,” Bri answered. “But he was so exciting…and the way he looked in those cowboy boots!”

“Cowboy boots aren’t everything,” Marge put in. “Even if they seem like they should be. Although, he did make that cowboy hat look damn good.”

“Girls, girls, focus!” Dana announced. “Let’s raise our glasses! Here is a toast to Bri, starting a new phase of her life–without a Trace!”

 

 

without a trace:  without leaving any signs to show where something or someone had been.  A trace, in this instance (although there are other meanings) , is a sign which shows you that someone or something has been in a location.  The cliché itself is very hard to find an origin on. The word trace itself can be, pardon the pun, traced back to the fourteenth century. A Middle English word that derived from the Latin “tractiare,” meaning to drag, as well as Latin “tractus”–to pull. The cliché was popular enough in the early 2000s to start a TV show of the name on CBS. 

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Cliche Sunday……

……..will return next weekend. I would love to say it is due to the holiday weekend, but in reality is because I have had the last three days off and I have been working my butt off outdoors and I am whipped. I do have the next two days off as well (mini-vaca!!), so another post may magically appear.

Meanwhile, in honor of Memoria Day:

Thank you to every body who served  in our military, whether in an office or the front lines. You are all important and all gave part of your life to keep us safe. Thank you. 

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Adrift

Scrolling through my Reader this morning, I found inspiration. WordPress puts out a Daily Prompt to write about–fiction, nonfiction, long, short, whatever finds it way onto your page. So here is my story based off today’s one word prompt: Adrift.

Angelique looked around the funeral.

His poker buddies on one side, leaning against each other. Work cohorts on the other, shocked looks still on their faces. In the front, where Angelique should also be, was his mother, sopping tissues in hand.

They didn’t know. None of them knew.

She had spent hours plotting his death. Each plan more elaborate than the last. Only to have it taken away from her by a random car accident. She supposed she still had a surprised look her face too.

When the cops came to the door, Angelique had felt only relief. Relief that he wouldn’t hit her again; relief that when his friends left on poker night the critique would never again start on how she was clumsy and had almost spilled beer on Tom; never have to worry about his mother complaining about the house and him taking it out on Angelique when she left.

And now she was free.

Angelique looked around again, at his friends and family. His. What was hers?

Angelique suddenly realized she had no plans. All her plans, all the ways for him to die, ended with his death. Nothing further. What would she do with her life?

Angelique burst into tears.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Adrift

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Cliche Sunday

And, on to the V’s! Of course, V is a bit rare, so it will be interesting to see just how many clichés can be found starting V. The site I use actually stuck U and V together, like many file sets do. And the book I use only has one, and it doesn’t even truly start with V– “Violin, to play second.” I think I will skip that one 🙂

veg out: to relax, or, as Julia Roberts said in Pretty Woman, to lay like broccoli.  The phrase did come from the 1990s, and while popular in London literary circles during that decade, the earliest version of it can be found in Pretty Woman. The origin is from the idea of people with limited brain capacity as vegetables, lying in bed and unable to do move. Couch Potato has a similar origin.

vicious circle: a self-perpetuating cycle that has no improvement as it circles back to the beginning of the process. This was used as logicians in the 1800s originally as a method of describing a fake philosophies:

A depends on B
B depends on C
C depends on A

The term was picked up for use in the mid 1800s by medical practitioners, and was found first in figurative form in 1892:

The whole situation works in a kind of inevitable rotary way – in what would be called a vicious circle.
                                            Henry James’ Notebooks

vanish into thin air: to disappear, whether it be a person, a wallet, or just that thing you so desperately need to find and were sure you left on the kitchen table. This one is mostly likely a a variation of the phrase Shakespeare used in Othello:

Clown:
Then put up your pipes in your bag, for I’ll away. Go; vanish into air; away!
                                   1602

 verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things: literal meaning, and quite timely if you actually listen to our politicians. This quote is attributed to Dan Qualye, President Bush (Sr)’s vice president, who is otherwise best known for his youth and inability to spell the plural of potato. While many politicians do seem to talk in a vicious circle, an excellent demonstration of this phrase is given by Donald Rumsfield:

                      Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.

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Cliche Sunday

Another week has flown by! A rather wet week to be sure, but a week none the less. I guess that means we are on to U! I don’t think there are all that many clichés that start with U, but we shall see what we can find…..

under your hat: keep it secret. There was never anything to hide under one’s hat, although stories do abound about keeping gold or even spare arrow strings under an archer’s hat. Truly it simply means to keep information in your head, and share only as needed.  The phrase originated in the nineteenth century, most likely in Britain.

Thus, oh friendly readers, we see how every man in the world has his own private griefs and business… You and your wife have pressed the same pillow for forty years and fancy yourselves united. Psha, does she cry out when you have the gout, or do you lie awake when she has the toothache? … Ah, sir – a distinct universe walks about under your hat and under mine.
                                       The History of Pendennis, William Makepeace Thackeray, 1848

up the apples and pears: up the stairs. Another fun  example of cockney rhyming.  This type of slang is made when words are replaced by any words or phrases they rhyme with, although no relationship other than the rhyme is requires. Whether this  slang is meant to exclude outsiders, or simply be creative is unknown.

the usual suspects: most likely criminals in the area to have committed a crime, although whether they actually did it is of little consequence. This one has a clear history: the film Casablanca, 1942. Captain Louis Renault makes the statement after the main character Rick Blaine shot a Nazi, and the Captain tells the investigating police to “round up the usual suspects” instead of turning in Rick.

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Cliche Sunday

I have been a book-a-holic this week. At this moment, I am fighting the urge to put away my laptop and pull out my e-reader. It has been a while since I had a reading frenzy,but once I gave in…… I read six books this past week–or was it seven?

Unfortunately, the rest of my life tends to suffer when I get like this. Especially my blogs. But I am making a concerted effort here to get the ‘T’ clichés in before giving in to my next book.  So here we go:

technicolor yawn: throwing up. I had never heard this one, and thought it, well, colorful until I saw the meaning. Not a fan of vomit; mine, yours or descriptions thereof. However, since I went to the trouble of looking it up….this phrase comes from our friends down under in Australia. It has been around from at least the 1960s, when Barry Humphries used it (fairly gracefully):

When I swallowed the last prawn,
I had a technicolor yawn and I chundered in the old Pacific Sea.
                      A Nice Night’s Entertainment

tall story: a fake, doozy of a story with very little basis in reality. Given our need to exaggerate, there are many names for such  boastful stories–tall talk, tall writing,tall tales, and even Munchausens. Munchausens were named after the Karl Friedrich Hieronymus, Baron von Münchhausen. He was well-known as a “purveyor of extravagantly untruthful stories about himself.”* In America, the stories became a tradition around the campfire, with each storyteller trying to outreach the previous teller, making the tales taller and taller.

that’s all she wrote: an end to one’s plans. While there are a few versions of where this came from, it definitely came from America in the early twentieth century. The first– and unsubstantiated  –version is a Marine during WWII who received a Dear John letter, and told his friends mournfully that she broke up with him and that’s all she wrote. It was definitely used to title  a popular country song by Ernest Tubb in 1942:

I got a letter from my mama, just a line or two
She said listen daddy your good girl’s leavin’ you
That’s all she wrote – didn’t write no more
She’d left the gloom a hanging round my front door.

Although he probably popularised the saying, the first time in print can be found even early, in 1935:

No power except that of the legislature can change the rolls. The assessor-collectors do not have the power, the commissioners’ courts do not have the power. That’s all she wrote and it’s final, the attorney general says in language much more eloquent and technical.
                   Texas newspaper The Brownsville Herald

the bane of my life: the instrument of ruin in one’s life. We often call someone or something the bane of our existence in modern times; such as an annoying coworker or mosquitoes while camping. Bane, however, is a much stronger word than we give it credit for. In Old English, bane actually meant murderer–a much more serious threat. Later bane came to mean anything that might cause death, thus the multitude of plants with ‘bane’ in the name: wolfsbane, hensbane, ratsbane; to name a few. The earliest printed record of this phrase comes from 1592, so we can safely assume that the author was using the phrase with the Old English meaning:

He that like a Lacedemonian, or Romane, accounteth Infamy worse than death, would be loath to emprove his courage, or to employ his patience, in digestinge the pestilent bane of his life.
                     Gabriel Harvey, Foure Letters and certaine Sonnets

To quote Porky Pig, t-th-that’s all folks!

Now, shall I go work in the greenhouse or is it time to read???

 

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