Sep 212016

During an open critique session, the facilitators discussed those much maligned creatures known as the flying body parts, aka the wandering body parts and the animated body parts. They mocked them, giving humorous examples, and everyone laughed on cue.

I felt so sorry for those poor body parts. What have they ever done to invite such vilification? From my perspective, the obsession of so many writers and writing instructors aimed at preventing the use of common idioms and figures of speech is the equivalent of putting a straight jacket on the imagination of writers everywhere.


I blame it all on Philip K. Dick and his whimsical short satire titled The Eyes Have It. My theory is that a very no-nonsense writer or editor, who perhaps had a tenuous grasp of satire, actually took Dick’s send up seriously. Dick tells his tale from the point of view of a reader who takes a story’s idioms literally. He misinterprets commonly used idioms as actually meaning the body parts mentioned are detachable and therefore the story’s characters must belong to an invading alien race capable of disassembling its bodies.

The aforementioned humorless writer/editor must have taken The Eyes Have It so seriously that he/she began to spread the suspect Clarity in Writing Gospel of No Flying Body Parts Ever. Most writers never questioned its validity and followed it off the Clarity in Writing Cliff like literary lemmings, drowning their individual voices in the sea of conformity below.

Case in Point:

In her September 8, 2013 article Most Common Writing Mistakes: Animate Body Parts, in line with prevalent thought, K.M. Weiland introduces the topic thusly:

You might be writing a horror story and not even know it. Picture this: body parts scattered all over the room. We’re talking a regular massacre. But it gets worse. These aren’t just any ol’ body parts. They’re . . . aliiiiive!


In her article Breaking the Rules: In Defense of Flying Body Parts, Tami Cowden points out the following:

According to Merriam-Webster, an idiom is “an expression that cannot be understood from the means of its separate words.” There is absolutely nothing wrong with using one. Or even, in moderation, more than one. In fact, writers who write in English ought to have command of the language in all its richness.

I don’t hold with the rigid, inane, suffocating No Flying Body Parts Rule. I believe Tami Cowden has it right. Let me give you an example that should put the ridiculousness of this rule into perspective. Collectively, we are probably more familiar with the same song lyrics and titles rather than the same novels, so I’ll use two song titles to make my point.

Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” is a 1967 single by Frankie Valli. The song was among Valli’s biggest hits, earning a gold record and reaching No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 for a week, stuck behind “Windy” by The Association.[1] It was co written by Bob Gaudio, a bandmate of Valli’s in The Four Seasons. It was Valli’s biggest solo hit until he hit #1 in 1974 with “My Eyes Adored You”.[2] “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” has had a major cultural impact, with hundreds of cover versions, many of which have been on the charts in different countries. The song is a staple of television and film soundtracks, even being featured as part of the plot of some films, such as when the lead characters sing or arrange their own version of the song. The Valli version was also used by NASA as a wake-up song for a mission of the Space Shuttle, on the anniversary of astronaut Christopher Ferguson.

Here is something for you to ponder. How successful do you believe those two recordings would  have been if they were titled “Can’t Take My Gaze Off You” and “My Gaze Adored You”?


A Tale of Two Anniversaries #September11 #StarTrek50

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Sep 132016

The world recognized two memorable anniversaries in the past week, one famous and one infamous.

On September 8, 2016, enthusiastic fans of the original Star Trek series celebrated the 50th anniversary of the groundbreaking series’ premiere on NBC in 1966.

star-trek-50 Continue reading »

Chilling on Sunday Morning #Sundays #Sundaynewspaper #Rituals #Morningperson

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Sep 072016

I am not a morning person. Correction, I am not an early morning person. As such, early Sunday mornings present me with a serious challenge–getting to church on time.

Keep Calm - Get to Church Continue reading »

Baseball Jargon Blues #Sportscasters #Baseball #Jargon

 Serious Whimsy  Comments Off on Baseball Jargon Blues #Sportscasters #Baseball #Jargon
Aug 312016

I never thought I’d need a thesaurus by my side to watch the Detroit Tigers play. The TV sportscasters have a specialized vocabulary made up of jargon all their own, and they appear to be the only ones who understand it. I don’t, that’s for sure.

Take the term “barrel up” for example. It makes no sense. How is it possible to barrel up when there are no barrels anywhere on the ball field? All I see are baseballs, bats, and bases. Someone please point out the barrels. Even Macho Guy, my in-house translator, is out in left field on that one.

Baseball 5 Continue reading »

Aug 242016

Most people, if they are fortunate enough to have a few coins to rub together, accumulate a lot of stuff in their lifetimes. Some accumulate more stuff than most. Others are obsessed with accumulating mountains of stuff of every kind imaginable. If you’ve ever watched American Pickers you know exactly what I mean.

There are three known drawbacks to collecting irresistible stuff that you find so fascinating that you absolutely must have it under your own roof so you may gaze on it lovingly and dust it occasionally.

Vampire Ashes 1 Continue reading »

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