As I Was Saying…

Chatter, memories and rants. Please, don't stop me if you've heard this one before.





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As I Was Saying…As I Was Saying…As I Was Saying

February 5, 2008

The unavailability of the subdomain on WordPress.com should have been a clue. The way the phrase came to me all at once might have tipped me off. The deeply ingrained habit I have of adopting phrases I like and then, after God knows how many years have passed, forgetting where they came from could have motivated to search a little harder for a name.But nooooo. (Thank you, John Belushi.)

I had to go ahead and name this blog “As I Was Saying…” I like the name. It turns out a lot of people have liked the name for a long time.Jack Paar

There are dozens of blogs that use the phrase as all or part of their names. It’s a phrase the television pioneer Jack Paar used a lot. He even used it as the title of a book.

I was a huge Paar fan. He hosted The Tonight Show from 1957 to 1962 and actually had cameras in Havana at the time of the Cuban Revolution. You couldn’t really see much of what was going on in Cuba, but I was transfixed with the thought that I was witnessing the overthrow of a government as it happened.”

As I was saying…” is also a family joke that I use as an easy way of admitting I’ve made a mistake about something. Sample dialog:

Me: Let’s eat at Margarita’s tonight. We haven’t been there for a long time.
Marge (my wife): We ate there last weekend!
Me: As I was saying, I’m sick to death of Margarita’s.

In our family at least it’s the sort of thing that gets funnier with fairly frequent repetition. Please understand that I’m not talking about murderous, sanity-shredding, “Wazzzzzzzzzzuuuuuppppppp?” style repetition here. What I mean is that using the phrase once a week (once a month?) has become my own little family tradition.

I had a professor years ago who spoke of “doughy lumps” in writing. He used the term to refer to a phrase or sentence (sometimes a whole paragraph) that comes to you easily and all at once when you’re writing. It comes to you all at once, he said, because it seems familiar. It seems familiar, he said, because you have heard it before. A doughy lump, therefore, most likely represents plagiarism, cliché, or received wisdom. As I was saying…

Perhaps Oscar Wilde had a point when he said, “Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.”

Anyway, as I was saying, I might have been happy with a different name for this blog.

One Response to “As I Was Saying…As I Was Saying…As I Was Saying”

  1. Elizabeth Says:

    FYI: Here are Orwell’s rules for avoiding what he calls “prefabricated phrases, vagueness, and general humbug,” i.e. doughy lumps. They seem quite basic, but it’s hard for anyone, even the man himself, to write with that much integrity, like, all the time.

    (i) Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

    (ii) Never us a long word where a short one will do.

    (iii) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

    (iv) Never use the passive where you can use the active.

    (v) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

    (vi) Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

    Love,
    E

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