was lying in my bed a few minutes ago (it’s three A.M. here in the U.S. Mountain Daylight time zone)—that reminds me of an old George Carlin sketch from his first album The 11 O’clock News, of the same title (as in when you call a song the “title song” when it’s the same as the name of the album):

[Imagine very deep/newsy voices at first] “In Los Angeles it’s eight o’clock.” “In Denver it’s nine o’clock.” In Chicago it’s ten o’clock.” (Insert Kermit the Froggy voice) “In Baltimore it’s six fifty-two. Time for the Eleven O’Clock Report.”]

And then:

“Time for the weather. You remember Al Sleet, your hippy, dippy weatherman.”

(Then comes a total stoner voice):

“Heyyyyyy, que pasa! Que watcha call yer pasa! Tonight’s forecast: DARK. Turning to widely scattered light in the morning.”

“Man, it’s hot downtown. Downtown’s on fire. But at the airport it’s fifty-two degrees. Which is STUPID, because I don’t know anyone who lives at the airport.”

Then the Kermit the Froggy anchor comes back, “You’ll have to forgive Al, he’s been into the mushrooms…” was back when you could have a blast with drug humor. Like the term “high horse”. Where the heck did that term come from? Sounds like a bad Cheech & Chong movie they never aired: Up In Smoke 2: High Horse. Cheech Marin attempts to saddle a mare that’s been hanging out with Tommy Chong and has had waaaaaay too many bong hits!

Anyway, I had this blog idea and just had to get up and write it even though bed was extremely comfy (and still beckons, the further into this blog I get—see how devoted to you readers I am?). Words. To writers they’re just so fucking cool. Without them, we’d have to take up cat juggling or something (stole that one from Steve Martin). There’s a reason I’m remembering all these old comedian sketches and lines (or, rather, young comedians, because these were all from the seventies when my “little” brother and I were like six and ten and Carlin, Martin, Cosby, and the rest were in their prime).

We had one of those standard box record players that looked like Lilliputian luggage with a handle on it to carry sideways. My parents (of all people; straight-laced as they come) actually owned the Carlin album (“You can’t fool me, man. Shoot is shit with two ohs.”). My little brother and I would listen to that album and howl (literally) all night long. We’d fall asleep and that record player would keep getting to the end of side one or side two, scratch for a few seconds, and then lift, hover back to the beginning, and start over again. It was like learning a new language while you slept (and I’m now positive that the Carlin album was a gift to my parents they never listened to because there is NO WAY my old man would have allowed a six and ten-year-old to listen to that record, despite the fact that by today’s standards (and the later standards of the now late George Carlin) the language was tame, and “swear words” rare.

Brick-shithouseMy brother and I used to mix words and phrases around to amuse and piss people off. One that comes to mind is “shit brickhouse”. If asked to justify its use, we’d say “Down in Dallas. I saw this brick house. It was the shit.” The problem with fucking around with words is they are like Mother Nature, who, if you do that funny face long enough will make it freeze that way.

To this day my brother calls charming old men “old cagers” instead of “codgers”. And he’s not trying to be funny.

Then there are those people who use words completely incorrectly, but you can’t say anything because (for example, and this one is real) you work with them, and perhaps it’s a well-respected engineer, but he totally uses (or pronounces) certain words horribly incorrect. You can’t tell him. But I’d be in meetings sometimes and he’d mispronounce a word then I’d start thinking about my brother and me and all of a sudden I was back at the dinner table, sitting across from Steve (my bro), six and ten again and him making funny faces and my dad red with fury:

“If one of you laughs at the dinner table ONE. MORE. TIME. I am getting the hairbrush.”


I swear, this is it. I can’t believe I found it.

Thing is, I only ever remember my dad using it one time. Ever. On me, three swats for each lie I told. I lied where this money a friend and I spent came from, three different times.

This was back in the day when parents would bring the empty glass Coke bottles and deposit them in a huge crate on their way into the store, just before grabbing their cart. Then they would tell the cashier upon checkout, “Oh, and I had twelve bottles” and the clerk would credit a nickel for each.

I had the bright idea one afternoon in our tree house to get some cash for munchies. We’d go to two different cashiers, one each, and say we deposited twenty bottles. A whole dollar (which went a long way back then for a kid). It worked; my cashier didn’t even cast a doubt. Then I find out Ronny, my friend, told his cashier he brought in FORTY-EIGHT bottles. Holy cannoli. Man did we rock it on the spoils. We had a kid’s dream feast up in the tree house. Ronny’s brother came up and asked if he could have some. He ate with us, climbed down, and unknown to us, ratted.

My dad made me go to the store and tell Earl Ferris (owner of Ferris Supermarket) what I’d done and hand him back a dollar (which of course cost the old man a buck, because we’d already spent the loot on all manner of junk food, and to this day I still think that’s why the brush). Ronny, my friend, literally turned to a life of crime. First he was shoplifting lighters, then stealing bigger and bigger things, and ended up going to a boys home.

13802836_sI always wondered if my master plan set in motion some as yet unused yet irresistibly criminalized cogs in Ronny’s brain and ruined his life. But what could I do? It really was a brilliantly simple, perfectly-executed plan.

Oh, but the “hair brush” was no laughing matter at all. Even though they never really used it. If we were downstairs my dad would make a production of pounding across the floor and rummaging through the drawer shouting “where’s that damn hair brush??“.

So I’m in the work meeting, and my friend and coworker mispronounces whatever word it was, and I saw everyone in the room sort of flinch as one (but say nothing), and suddenly I was back at the dinner table trying not to laugh out loud, which makes it a thousand times harder with your father beet red at the head of the table (and deadly serious) and your little brother across from you holding in a mouthful of milk, and then of course the milk sprays, and we burst into hyena-ish laughter, the whole while protesting (and still laughing uncontrollably) as we’re scooped up, swatted on our jean-covered asses, and dragged off to “bed with no supper”.

Still, I wouldn’t trade those memories for all the stoned horses in Spain. Or Portugal.

cartoon-couple-arm-wrestlingThen there were the words that sparked great, uh, debates, in the household with my ex. She said there was no difference between “imply” and “infer”. I’d tell her, yes there is, one is something you do TO someone and the other a thing you get FROM them.

She implies. I infer.

I even showed her in Strunk & White, but she told me they were wrong, too.

And she called the small discs for a sore throat “lozengers.” I said, no, they’re lozenges. No “R”.

Nope, she told me: lonzengers. I showed her on the boxes at the store.

I guess it was a good thing she didn’t have a hair brush.


The blank page is dead…long live the blank page.


Rubber Chicken Arrow Through Headv2Author known to use spontaneous satire, sarcasm, and unannounced injections of pith or witticisms which may not be suitable for humorless or otherwise jest-challenged individuals. (Witticisms not guaranteed to be witty, funny, comical, hilarious, clever, scintillating, whimsical, wise, endearing, keen, savvy, sagacious, penetrating, fanciful, or otherwise enjoyable. The Surgeon General has determined through laboratory testing that sarcasm can be dangerous, even in small amounts, and should not be ingested by those who are serious, somber, pensive, weighty, funereal, unsmiling, poker-faced, sober, or pregnant.)


Wooden Brush Image credit: <a href=’’>taweesak / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Cogs in Head Image credit: <a href=’’>naphotos / 123RF Stock Photo</a>



7 Responses to Word Usage. What a Hoot!

  1. Caleb Pirtle says:

    Great stuff, Rob. I remember when George Carlin was a disk jockey for KXOL radio in Fort Worth. I was covering the police beat for the Star-Telegram then. He was brilliant. And he was funny. The radio station had no idea what to do with him and thanked their lucky stars when he fled for California. He probably flew without a plane.

    • rsguthrie says:

      Thanks, Caleb. Long time no chat. Now that you’re not breathing down my neck for novel serial chapters…(ahem).

      Carlin was one of the greats. In his later years he got a bit serious and angry (and atheist as ever—I always wonder about him from time-to-time; did God find him funny enough to let him into heaven?).

      My brother and I devoured Bill Cosby, Steve Martin, and George C. Once I was sitting in a class and realized it was the day we were to begin delivering monologues (I think it was Social Studies), and of course whose name is randomly picked to present first? Well the classroom had an area where if you finished your work early, you could put on headphones and listen to records and a few other sundry activities. There was a Bill Cosby album that I listened to daily, so as I walked to the front of the room, mind as blank as a new canvas, I decided to do one of the bits from Cosby about a garbage dump. Not until I began did I realize I not only remembered it verbatim, but I had timing and delivery (well, aped from Cosby, but still). Had them rolling in the aisles, teacher included. Got an “A”, too.

      Thanks for the comment, my friend. 😀

  2. Mark says:

    Not that I’m a smart person or anything, but among my family and the few friends I have, I’m usually the one that knows stuff. But since my brain works in mysterious ways, I have gotten some things wrong from time to time (or perhaps all the time). But the difference between me and your ex is that when shown proof, I gladly admit defeat. Sometimes, though, I’m right, and the other person has to admit defeat—though that’s rare. Maybe that’s why I have few friends. Ah well. Another matter.

    I’m from the south, and instead of saying “might as well,” we’d say something like “mize well.” I was an adult before I realized what we were actually saying. And I figured it out on my own.

    • rsguthrie says:

      Yes, I forgot totally about regional dialect like “y’all” and the incredible lure to smash words together (not to be confused with Smashwords, at least not at this point in time). 🙂

      I’m not going to comment on your brain working in mysterious ways being “another matter”. let’s just hope it’s gray.

      See, I commented anyway. Bad Rob.

      Thanks for the comment, Mark. You gave me my morning laugh, and that’s an important event in any life. 😀

  3. kim stebbins says:

    Great post, Rob! What a great laugh to start my day. Love Carlin too–how we used to snicker while listening to “7 Dirty Words” on the RECORD PLAYER. My 49 year old sister still drinks grapejuice fruit and if she’s feeling bad, she says feels like she got hit by a choo-choo truck. And she’s not joking.
    Keep up the 3:00 am writing–good stuff! (perhaps that could become another blog, like “Rob Writing at 3:00 am”) 😉

    • rsguthrie says:

      Thanks, Kim, and HELLO—it’s been a while. Hope you’re well. I actually sat at a table touching the stage in Vegas about, gee, now it must be twenty years ago, at a Carlin performance. He’d already become what I call “Angry George”, where he was still hilarious (when he’d stick to “old Carlin”), but he’d get on a tear about God or golf or some other group/interest that he despised and he’d get so red-faced and furious (and not funny; the audience members each had the same uncomfortable look on their face) I was honestly afraid he was going to have a heart attack, right then and there. STILL, I’d go again. There was still a plethora of CLASSIC CARLIN.

      As far as writing at 3 AM, I used to do that a lot more often, lying there, and idea pops up for a short story or a blog or a book. Now I more frequently shrug it off and hope I’ll remember it after a good night’s sleep. I’m getting older. : /

      • Kim Stebbins says:

        It HAS been a while–I’m working two jobs now because I owe my soul to the IRS (not really my fault– I have learned “Don’t ever work for relatives!”). So, I just don’t have much time but I try to catch your posts when I can. Always a joy to read. Ah yes, poor old angry Carlin..but the classic Carlin is just so, um, classic! Take care, I will try to check in more often–you are one of my favorite bloggers.

Social Widgets powered by

Featuring Recent Posts WordPress Widget development by YD