Daily Archives: July 4, 2019

Don’t monkey with the buzz saw

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[Today’s run: 6 miles]

We’ve had a nice day today. It’s the 4th of July so I have the day off. We ran. Then we went over to the Penenger House in Starkville and had a nice family get-together with a Mexican lunch, apple pie and homemade ice cream. It was very nice.

On our radio station we’ve just finished up playing “The American Language” by H.L. Mencken. Mencken was a classic curmudgeon, he apparently disliked everybody. But he wrote a book about American English usage.

I heard the last few chapters via stream from our station while I was driving Wednesday morning to Birmingham to fill out some paperwork to be a part-time employee of a place called TEKSystems. That will let my soon-to-be-former co-workers call me up and get help, and me get paid. My last day is tomorrow, July 5th. My exit interview is at 11:00 AM. If they need me after that day they can pay me by the hour.

So anyway, Mencken, the last part was about the variety of American slang and how words go from being slang or rude to being normal usage. Like the word “sucks” was once a rude term but now is more like plain usage. And some words or phrases can go from being acceptable to being rude/slang.

And he mentioned the variety of American aphorisms, catchy sayings, and he gave one I had never heard before but I found it humorous: “Don’t monkey with the buzz saw.” A google lookup of that phrase produced references to a movie from 1914, and other items up to about WW2. I guess it fell out of usage before I came along.

I think the term buzzsaw seems to have gone out of fashion in general, kind of like blowtorch.

Jul 4, 2019
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