Friday, October 27, 2006

Literally Clueless

Literal
adj. - true to fact; not exaggerated; actual or factual.
- being actually such, without exaggeration or inaccuracy.
reference

I'm a fan of words. From the early days of University Hill Elementary School, with the daily back-and-forth book for my mother to sign, I've enjoyed reading and writing. A current English prof of mine gave us a term project of a wordbook. We have a lot of readings to do and from these readings we are to choose seven words; they can either be unusual or common. For each word, we are to write about its sound, its meaning(s), its meaning(s) when looking at the text it is found in, its etymology, its synonyms. We are, according to the prof, to get to know the word, to caress the word... "to make love to the word". I have two words completed and so far I'm, ahem, loving it.

Because of my fondness for words and writing I get rather annoyed when I read, or hear people using, inappropriate words; and when I read typos by professional writers - say, journalists - or when on something that is for students - say, in a school, both elementary and secondary. I had to shake my head when writing the LPI (Language Proficiency Index) in grade twelve and, in the essay question, reading a grammatical error. Now Alanis, that is irony.

Which leads me to the meat of my post. For many years I've been the recipient of a generous Christmas gift: a Sports Illustrated subscription. I've created numerous collages from their superb photographs and saved numerous articles that I felt were worth saving. Most of these are the one-pagers by Rick Reilly and Steve Rushin. Doing the wordbook reminded me of one of the Steve Rushin articles, so I went looking for my SI binder. From the November 5, 2001 issue is the article titled "Literally Clueless"; subtitled "People in sports don't seem to know the meaning of literal from a hole in the ground". He then gives these humorous examples:
  • Coach Rey Reyes, on his volleyball player Angela Miller: "She has literally carried us on her back."
  • Coach David Lewis, on his football player Clement Marie after an open-field tackle: "He just literally lit the kid up."
  • Coach Dick Stockton, on tennis player K.J. Hippensteel: "Hippensteel was literally on fire."
  • Bergen County's The Record, on soccer player Matt Handy after a three goal performance: Handy "literally took the life out of the crusaders". (Rushin: Surely that calls for a red card.)
  • Pitcher Denny McLain, on throwing a baseball for the first time in years: "I literally died."
  • The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, on Arkansas State football players after a big win: "They were literally on cloud nine."
  • The Detroit News, on football player Greg Taplin after he fell for a fake by an opposing QB: Taplin "was literally screwed into the turf".
  • Football player Nick Greisen, on his first appearance for his university team: "My knees were literally chattering."
  • Coach Bob Bray, on his basketball team after a loss: "We didn't take care of the ball, and literally fell apart at the seams."
  • Basketball player Jerry Stackhouse, on his team, the Pistons: "We literally fell apart tonight."
  • The Associated Press, on a Mets-Pirates game: "Both pitchers literally fell apart in the seventh."
  • The Deseret News, on the Utah State volleyball team: "The Aggies literally fell apart in the third game."
  • Coach Hal Chiodo, on his football team: "We've got a ton of injuries. We're literally held together by tape."
  • The Journal Sentinel, on baseball player Paul O'Neill: "O'Neill is literally on his last legs." (Rushin: Then again... aren't we all?)
  • Coach Barbara Stevens, on her basketball team winning in an upset: "I just fell to the floor. I was literally beside myself."
  • A CNN host, on his guest's work: "You have literally scoured the Midwest." (Rushin: Alas, the guest was a newspaper columnist, not the world's hardest-working janitor.)
  • Marketer Jon Albert, on suggestions that he was trying to exploit the 9/11 tragedy: "I literally was shocked." (Rushin: I pictured angry Ford executives attaching electrodes to his genitals.)
  • The Riverside (Calif.) Press-Enterprise, on a struggling 42-year-old pro golfer: "Steve Haskins has literally seen it all."
  • An energy-efficiency expert on TV's Canada AM, on weather stripping: "It pays for itself, literally." (Rushin: My favorite use of literally... I happily imagined a tube of caulk hopping off the shelf in a hardware store and sauntering toward checkout, a credit card at the ready. For reasons I can't explain, the caulk was whistling.)

2 comments:

mattias said...

that's hilarious!

jblueafterglow said...

agreed.