Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Always go to other people's funerals

Wick's World


November 29, 2018

In a recent column I presented myself as a longtime fan of malaprops, morphisms, and a general stewing up a pot of words using the English language for ingredients. It was during our annual Thanksgiving get-together that my children reminded me that Little Pitchers have big ears as they had fun at my expense when they shared some of my sports sayings.

Before serving word soup from their childhood (as well as some clever word soup of others) to my readers, the meaning of “Little Pitchers Have Big Ears” should be explained. In general, it means, watch what you say around your children for it will soon be repeated, usually at a most inopportune moment. This weekend, I learned that my three sons have long memories, many of which I’d rather they had forgotten.

Many phrases that I re-engineered for their enjoyment were generated from our collective love of sports. Football’s line of scrimmage became the line of scribble. Cities and states developed entirely new names. Sport’s teams from one of our thirteen colonies, Virginia, became (in condescending order): Vinegar, Vinegar Tech, and Vinegar Commonwealth. Michigan and Michigan State were abbreviated to “Gun and Gun State”. Arkansas is now, and forever shall be, known as “The Saw”. The University of Iowa became known as “eye-oh-wee-ja-way” and their fans have always been referred to as Ioweegians.

I take no credit for bestowing cheese-related names upon our rivals to the east. Green Bay’s Packers and the Wisconsin Badgers were “Cheeseheads” long before the unintentional invention of Velveeta named for its taste resemblance to the droppings from The Velveteen Rabbit.

When the Virgin Mary was supposed to make a Good Friday appearance in a field outside of Kettle River, Minnesota, a local wit created the clever pun: “Outstanding in Her Field.” If that phrase leaves you saying “What?”, ask any northern Minnesotan over the age of 30 about the giant hoax perpetrated upon gullible believers worldwide who flocked to that field near the small village of Kettle River. The Virgin Mary promised to make an appearance, which was to be followed by a shrine, a chapel, a cross upon which to tack her son, and The Great Virgin Mary Mall of America.

Unfortunately, Mary failed to show her face long enough for the Pope to declare it a Miracle, so Kettle River once again returned to its days of solitude where the biggest event of the year remains the weekend of “Ma and Pa Kettle Days.” The only appearance that day was the multitude of gendarmes who bestowed parking tickets on those gullible enough to illegally park on the edge of a gravel road outside the Holy City of Kettle River, Minnesota.

Politicians, long noted for speaking whatever was necessary to get elected to public office, would sometimes utter statements well beyond the pale. Sarah Palin, who wanted to be within a heartbeat of the presidency, will forever go down in the annals of foreign policy for her declaration: “I can see Russia from here.”

Vice President Dan Quayle, (who even remembers him?) re-wrote elementary curriculum when he taught a class of young students that, forevermore, the word potato—as in potatoe head—would have the letter ‘e’ added to its ending.

Although many of my morphisms were sports related, Yogi Berra shall forever remain the King of Outrageous Quotations such as “Baseball is 90 % mental and the other half is physical.” He once quipped, “A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore” although “I never said most of the things I said.”

Ruefully, his teammate and friend Mickey Mantle who, at the age of 64, was dying of liver failure, borrowed this quote from Eubie Blake: “If I knew I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.”

In closing, it’s best to heed Yogi’s warning, “Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours,” and remember, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”


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