Month: September 2013

How Big Is Your Gorilla?

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900-pound-gorilla-metaphoeYou know, the one you keep in your metaphorical locker for use when you want to refer to an immovable object, or to a huge presence that people keep ignoring for some reason.

I usually opt for 900 pounds, as in “the 900-pound gorilla in the room” (or wherever), but I’ve also seen 800-pound gorillas roaming out there in Englishdom.

Yesterday came a 500-pound version in a column by Bill Dwyer about the opening of Santa Anita Race Track, to wit: “Santa Anita is the 500-pound gorilla in Southern California racing now” due to the year-end closing of Hollywood Park.

Maybe Dwyer’s gorilla shed those 300 (or 400) pounds because Dwyer was writing about horse racing, not football (surely at least 900 pounds) or basketball (no less than 800). Even baseball must weigh in at least 650.

Anybody know how big these metaphorical gorillas are supposed to be? Or does it even matter?

But consider this: So far, no one has gone to a 1,000 pounds or more.

Except maybe doctors when referring to Obamacare. ♦

Categories: Grammar Notes

A la Recherche du Temps Perdu

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These machines are still used in funeral homes, but mine is for looks only.
These machines are still used in funeral homes, but mine is for looks only.

It’s musty, looks urine-stained, smells of an old biddy’s storage attic, but it’s a connection to my past — of sorts — just like a linotype machine, which I don’t own or display in my house as I do this blast from the past.

The urine-looking stains on my SmithCorona (the machine doesn’t use a space in its spelling, so I guess I won’t either) are hopefully just atmospheric corrosion, but one never knows when one purchases a half-century-old (or more) portable typewriter for 25 bones on eBay.

The carrying case for the portable was so smelly that I tossed it immediately upon receipt, and I’ve been spraying the typewriter itself with Simple Green and anything else I can think of ever since, in hopes of eradicating the Old Biddy kept-things-too-long smell.

The typewriter sits as an ornament in my upstairs study (read: spare bedroom) between a book on the history of Mickey Mouse and a radio/CD player. Talk about three relics — four if you count me.

As for linotypes, yes, my first job was as a scab reporter for the old Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, and the seven-edition-a-day rag was composed on a linotype and then assembled into pages by hand.

Ah, the good old days. I made $92 a week, but it was enough to buy my first house. Today, I doubt I could even feed myself and my three dogs on that.

(Meanwhile, for the real deal on used typewriters, check out My Typewriter. Also, please note that typewriters are still used in funeral homes because many states require typed death certificates. I hope that’s not an omen emanating from my recent purchase.) ♦

Categories: Grammar Notes