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Matt Weinstock -- April 24, 1959

April 24, 2009 |  4:00 pm


Summit of Babel


Matt_weinstockdNight is a time for deep, probing thoughts, and a couple of midnights ago the semanticists on the copy desk lobster trick* turned up a disturbing little fantasy. It all started when slotman Robert Smith viewed with alarm certain trends in the language.

"Suppose at a summit conference," he brooded, "one of our lads who had been brainwashed by Madison Avenue lingo became carried away with his own oratory and said something like, "Togethernesswise, we should strive for common aims."

TOGETHERNESSWISE, obviously, would throw the translator into a tailspin. Can't you visualize him, clutching desperately at verbal straws, trying to interpret it? It is conceivable that whatever came through would be the opposite of togetherness to the point that Nikita would rush to the phone to alert his bombers.

April 24, 1959, Teller Togethernesswise might also curdle our British friends, who have a paternal feeling toward the language, to the extent that they might seriously consider climbing down off the summit.

Where would we all be then? Brinkwise.

::

WHEN THE CASE of Love vs. Love (Vera Mac and Charles) was called in divorce court Wednesday, Atty. Eve M. Mack announced, "We are ready, your honor. We thought the case would be settled and had hoped love would prevail but --" Amid laughter, the case was postponed.

::

ABSOLUTE
Be active; keep busy
Whatever you do
For time is a thief!
It steals from you.
-- G.C. McHose

::

STRANGE TALES about the jet transport keep filtering through, indicating there's nothing the jet age can do about the weather, either.

After several hours' wait here because of fog in the East, Bob Graydon took off on a night flight to New York, intending to return by way of Cleveland, where he also had business.

In the morning the pilot announced the N.Y. weather was still bad and they were landing in Detroit until it cleared. After a four-hour wait there Bob decided to skip Gotham and go on to Cleveland and asked that his luggage be removed from the parked plane. Impossible, he was told, only L.A. and N.Y. have the special equipment to unload the 707. So his captive bags went to Idlewild** and caught up with him the next day in Cleveland.

::

A BIRD WATCHING reader who found the remains, mostly feathers, of a bird in his yard is indignant and wants a campaign to keep cats on leashes during the bird mating season. That's crazy talk, friend; the cat lobby would tear you to pieces.

::

CORONET'S*** article on baseball club owners spying on players to make certain they don't misbehave relates an incident about a National League first baseman. He was suspected of knowing too many bookies, and a pretty girl operative was put on his trail. Although warned about her by fellow players, he began dating her and in her next report to the front office she wrote: "Have kept in close contact with subject. He's no longer interested in horses."

::

April 24, 1959, Abby AT RANDOM -- A TV drama the other night, reports Viola Swisher, had this disclaimer: "The characters, events and facts in this play are fictitious." Fictitious facts? ... Traffic stopped in both directions on 6th Street near Alvarado at 7:15 a.m. yesterday as one staggering drunk led another staggering drunk slowly across the lined crosswalk. The blind leading the blind, mused David Gottlieb, one of the motorists ... How married can you get? A husband confides that shortly after retiring at 11 p.m. his wife poked him in the back and asked, "Is your stomach growling or is that the back doorbell?"

* This satirizes a 1950s fad -- spurred by Madison Avenue -- of adding the suffix "-wise" to words. The lobster trick probably refers to the "lobster shift," which was the overnight shift.

** Idlewild airport was renamed for John F. Kennedy after the president was assassinated in 1963.

*** Coronet was a popular, small-format magazine that competed with Reader's Digest and ceased publication in 1971.
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