Archive for the Dumb Catchphrases Category

…you think America won the Second World War.

Posted in All, Dumb Catchphrases, Faux Elitism, Illiterate, Inconsiderate & Rude, Pop Culture, Stupid Trends with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 1, 2012 by oooranje

This Cold War misconception is so laughable I barely want to spend time on it, but for the sake of setting the record straight, I will.

The United States entered the Second World War at the end of 1941 – nearly six months after Germany invaded Russia.  The United States did not fight a major battle until Midway, six months after that, and did not fight a major land battle until Guadalcanal, a year later, in November 1942.

In the meantime, Russia had absorbed the full brunt of the German advance, retreating deep into its country and losing millions of men.  The Siege of Leningrad started September 1941 (three months before Pearl Harbor), and was not lifted until the January 1944.  Stalingrad – the decisive battle of the war, and one of the most horrific episodes of bloodshed in human history – began in August of 1942 and raged on for six months until February of the next year.  When it ended, the Soviets had lost a million men – but captured or killed an entire Wehrmacht Army Group.

The war may not have been over just then, but Germany never recovered.  Yes, the Allies (not just America!) re-opened second and third fronts in Italy and Normandy, and yes, these clearly helped to hasten the end. But the reality is this – the Allied invasions only worked once Soviet Forces had neutralized a significant portion of the German forces, and weakened the defenders on the Western and Southern frontiers.

It is telling that England does not claim to have won the war.  As one of its first entrants, they would be in a unique position to claim the honor.  But, from their front-row view, it was only too clear who had turned the tide. My grandparents in Holland still fondly recall the playing of the Communist anthem, The Internationale, upon liberation, despite having a profound distaste for Stalinism and left-wing politics.

So, finally, let me state this one statistic: the Soviet Army under General Zhukov suffered nearly as many casualties in the three-day Battle of Berlin as the United States lost men in the entire war.  The scope of the two operations is barely comparable. And further, because I don’t think the history books are clear on this – the Soviets took Berlin alone, without allied help, taking on the full force of the remaining German defenders on their own. This is why West Berlin became an island of the West in the middle of East Germany – and why, later on, the Berlin Airlift became necessary.

If you want to claim that the United States won the Pacific Theater, you might have greater claim to that, but then you’d have to admit the atomic bomb saved lives and was in the end a relatively speaking humane end to the war.  As for Europe – thank the Russians / Soviets (I’m aware I’ve used the terms interchangeably here.  Oh well. Deal with it).

What the United States did do in Europe, however, is win the Peace by restructuring; the Marshall Plan remains one of the greatest achievements and policy decisions of the 20th century. But winning the peace doesn’t sound quite so sexy, does it?

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…you’re just going to ‘run that idea up the flagpole’, ‘throw it against the wall and see what sticks’, or ‘give it the college try.’

Posted in All, Dumb Catchphrases, Work on December 16, 2009 by oooranje

I realize that two-thirds of office work involves avoiding any genuine social interaction, and that cliches are your best friend a lot of the time, but there’s a difference between ‘another day, another dog’ and the office-speak mumbo jumbo that you use un-ironically to describe your middle-of-the-road work ethic.

Like someone spouting quotes from movies that haven’t been popular for a decade (‘show me the money’, anyone?), your words – and likely, your entire social interaction – have become so overused as to be meaningless, which is why, when you try to use them in a meaningful way, you pretty much fail, and fail hard. Not to mention the fact that the shotgun, eh, we’ll see what works mentality isn’t exactly distinguishing you to begin with, so trying to call attention to it is kind of a more general miscalculation.

Next up on the list of hackneyed office speak: ‘crushing it’, ‘hitting the ground running’, and ‘from your mouth to God’s ear.’

…you’re ‘over it.’

Posted in All, Dumb Catchphrases, Work on December 11, 2009 by oooranje

In this economy, jobs are hard to find, recent trends notwithstanding, which means the odds are high you’re sitting at a job you don’t particularly like for longer than you’d like, working for a boss you don’t like, doing things you can pretty much do in your sleep for insufficient pay. Clearly, it’s time for you to check Farmville for the umpteenth time, wonder why it’s still not lunch o’clock, and then make a personal call explaining to your friend/coworker/family member (after carefully making sure your boss isn’t listening) that work sucks and you are ‘over it.’

For some people, this is a temporary/end-of-the-year malaise, for others it’s a semi-permanent state of mind; either way, it’s the equivalent of an office-wide FML that in no way endears you to anyone. After all, it takes zero effort to be blase and cynical, but every ounce of energy to positively engage in something, and even if you are trying (and failing) to make yet another impossible dinner reservation at a restaurant insultingly beyond your paygrade, guess what? Odds are the person on the other end is also ‘over it’, so pony on up and get it done. If not, welcome to the club: F my life, F your life, let’s sit here and eat worms.

…you use the phrase ‘in this economy/recession’ in every other sentence.

Posted in All, Dumb Catchphrases, Stupid Trends on December 7, 2009 by oooranje

We get it, there’s a downturn. Oh, sure, yeah, the mid-to-late 90s were something entirely different, when anyone with a two-bit business plan and a bad comb over/wig could get a loan and a subsidy and write a self-help book. Oh, definitely, it’s hard to, I don’t know, order out for pizza, tie your shoelaces, pay your bills on time, pay back the $20 you owe me from when I covered your dinner the other night because they didn’t take multiple credit cards, in this economy. Hurray, that sucks, whatever, you still owe me money and we all need to eat.

Seriously though? This has got to be the most overused phrase since ‘incontrovertible video evidence‘. It gets more air time than Dickie V, and equally groundlessly. To listen to it, you’d think every issue in the world was caused by either ‘this economy’ or global warming, and, quite frankly, that cannot be the case. Although, ‘this economy’ might well be the reason why there’s nothing better going on to talk about than that whole Tiger Woods fiasco. Either way, I can’t wait for the economy to pick back up and start the next wave of reckless speculation. Not that people will stop using ‘in this economy’, but at least then it’ll mean something different.

…you’re a very ‘sensual’ person.

Posted in All, Dumb Catchphrases, Faux Elitism, Sex with tags , , , on November 3, 2009 by oooranje

Really? You’re joking. You mean you actually like taking off your clothes and exploring the various physical stimulations that are the logical next step? Unheard-of! Oh, and sometimes you just like to take long baths and light candles and just sort of close your eyes and feel everything? You don’t say. How about silk sheets? They make you weak at the knees? I’m shocked, shocked!

Are we serious with this? ‘Sensual’ is just polite speak for ‘sexual’ in the first place and for those who are at least honest enough to call it the latter, I’m confused – how does being a very sexual person set you apart exactly? Even from an ultra-conservative standpoint, human beings were designed, among several things, to ‘go forth and multiply.’ And from the evolutionary perspective? Hell, we’re fine-tuned after years and years of selection to be eager as effing beavers to pass on that sweet sweet genetic legacy. Either way, we are by definition sexual beings, by definition ‘sensually’ responsive, and by definition, were it not for the various ethical considerations surrounding procreation, hard-wired to get down at the drop of a hat.

So please, explain to me how believing your specific carnal impulses set you apart makes you anything but figuratively – and literally – wanky and self-involved. By all means, get the sheets, buy the candles, walk around naked, do whatever it is that makes you feel ‘sensually’ alive – but let’s not pretend that everyone else does not have the same impulses. Just because they don’t choose to share theirs with everyone does not mean they aren’t there, after all.

…you love Journey.

Posted in All, Dumb Catchphrases, Faux Elitism, Pop Culture on October 13, 2009 by oooranje

Seriously. That doesn’t mean everyone on the planet loves them unconditionally, but it does mean that you won’t win personality points for choosing ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ at karaoke. To consider why, let’s simply take a look at the two protagonists in that, their most well-known, song:

First there’s ‘just a lonely girl / living in a lonely world/took the midnight train going anywhere – ‘

Ok, accepting that ‘train’ can be a metaphor for any of the various forms of transportation, this female hero is about as universal as it gets. Who doesn’t on frequent occasions consider themselves ‘lonely…in a lonely world’? Correct. No one does not do that (double negatives unite!). In other words, here is a protagonist that is every woman and everyone who identifies with being lonely in a lonely world and then, you know, trying to leave it for something better. Well and good.

And then we have ‘just a city boy / born and raised in South Detroit / he took the midnight train going anywhere – ‘

Again, ‘train’ could be any form of transit, but on the surface, this one actually looks quite specific. Ok, it’s a little redundant to call someone from South Detroit a ‘city boy’, but there can only be a few thousand males that would qualify for that description. Unless, of course, ‘South Detroit’ happens to be the city area that best fits and rhymes with ‘city boy’ in the first place. But 80s power ballads never sacrificed structure or story for rhyme, did they? Exactly. In fact, so obvious is the neat rhyme here that ‘South Detroit’, in the mind of anyone listening to this song, immediately becomes any America city, and we are looking at two of the most basic, archetypical protagonists in any literature or music anywhere.

Other examples of this abound in Journey’s discography, including ‘Any Way you Want it (That’s the Way You Need it)’, ‘Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’’, and even to a degree in ‘Faithfully’, where the, at least in theory, autobiographically singing singer describes his relationship in the broadest, most universal terms possible. This is not in the least bit to criticize Journey for the generic nature of their lyrics – I am in fact arguing for the universal appeal of their music, after all – but rather to state that Journey’s angle is clearly to get as many people as possible on board for their explosive power chords and, of course, Steve Perry’s croon-tastic symphonies of soul. And at this, because they are quality 80s power ballad superstars, they succeed.

In closing, far be it from me to tell you to ‘stop believin’, but if you think you are the only one who ‘holds on to that feeling’of ‘streetlight people / livin’ just to find emotion’, then you are sadly mistaken.

‘…you got sooooo high / drunk.’

Posted in All, Dumb Catchphrases, Inconsiderate & Rude, Stupid Trends on October 8, 2009 by oooranje

Listen, we’ve all been there.  Puking, rallying, puking again, huffing this, smoking that, snorting the other.  Not necessarily all at once, but come on. 

There are two main reasons why this doesn’t make you special.  The first is as written above: everyone’s been there.  Feeling woozy, sleepy, hazy, giggly, out of control, or in some other way altered and excited isn’t special or even all that unique: it’s part of life.  You can get there without drugs, as we are so often told in high school / by DARE, MADD, etc., and you can get there with drugs, although those have more extreme side effects some of the time.  Either way, you’re altered, out of it, and having a great time.  Just like everybody else.

The second reason this doesn’t make you special is that telling the story is like telling an inside joke to your parents: they will not get it, no matter how hard you try.  Not only is it a ‘you kinda had to be there story’, but it’s also a ‘you kinda had to be there AND have done the various chemicals that I did to get myself into that state’ story, and what’s worse, you’re obsessed with it in retrospect. 

To sum this up, telling a ‘I was soooo high / drunk’ story is a lot like going to Paris.  Paris is a fine city, a great city even, and you probably had a blast while you were there.  But a lot of people go there.  And they don’t need to hear about your impression of the Champs Elysee, much less see your nauseatingly repetitive souvenir digital photos.  Especially because, in the case of being high, it’s very likely the story ends with some fairly to extremely gross bodily function.  Which, again, everyone has been there at some point.