Tuesday, March 20, 2007

This is a second draft of two earlier posts I combined and shipped off to some newspapers...

What We Have Here Is A Failure To Communicate

By Terrence McCarthy

Stuart Rosenberg isn't doing too well. Not doing too well. That's a code my old friend, Terry C. and I have been using for years. He emails me. I email him. Someone’s not doing too well.

What it means is that he or she has joined the choir invisible. Croaked. Bit the dust. Kicked the bucket.

The Eskimos are said to have a hundred words for snow. We have quite a few terms for that one dance we'll one day do alone. Stuart Rosenberg was a movie director. One of his most famous films was Cool Hand Luke. That one starred Paul Newman. There's a line from the flick that must be on a few Best Movie Lines Ever lists. It's spoken by the character Strother Martin plays."

What we have here is a failure to communicate. "That one should be chisled in stone above the doors of many a corporation. It should replace " Welcome " on the mats laid near the front doors of American homes. Maybe it should be added to the lyrics of the national anthem.

" What we have here is a failure to communicate. "It’s a great line from a great movie, directed by a guy who's not doing too well.

I read Rosenberg’s obituary the other night. Then I turned the TV on. Watched a local news station. Wanted to see what the weather would be. A weatherman appeared on the screen. He’s about my age. Late 50s. I wondered. Did he remember when we were in high school and we listened to the radio to see whether the weather was going to be responsible for us getting a day off? Those weathermen told us a storm was coming. A winter storm. A blizzard. Heavy snow.That's how they described what was coming. Event? Did they say, " There's going to be an event, blah, blah, yadda? " Nope. Wouldn't have dreamed of using that word.

An event was the Celtics playing the Lakers post season. An event was Jerry Lee Lewis appearing at the Mountain Park casino in Holyoke. Back then weather guys said, " There's a chance of rain. Or snow. Or fog. These days, local weathermen and women take their lead from the meteorological celebrities on The Weather Channel Weather, where everything, from dew on the grass in the morning to Katrina is an: Event.

Anna Nicole Smith rises from the dead and runs naked through puddles formed by a steady rain falling in Providence...That would be an " Event. "

This is just one example of what we have here these days:

A failure to communicate.

21st century English? It’s not doing too well.

Terrence McCarthy is a writer who lives in South Kingstown

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