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A painful new year

I make my living with words.

So when the Associated Press reported last week on Lake Superior State University's "List of Words and Phrases Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness," my interest was piqued.

The small school - it has about 3,000 students according to its website - has been compiling the annual list since 1976. The 2006 list includes 16 words and phrases - ranging from "Chipotle" (it's a roasted jalapeño) to "healthy food" (healthy is in the eye of the beholder) - out of more than 4,500 nominations. Other words marked for dictionary death include awesome, "i-anything," boast and search - at least as far as internet hunts are concerned.

Admittedly, my vocabulary took a few hits. For example, nothing can be "awesome." It's a word, according to one nominator that is "overused and meaningless."


Speaking of pain, I made a spectacle of myself Saturday night at the Brunswick National Lanes in Augusta. Bowling was my wife's idea: We were already in Augusta with some friends for dinner when she made the suggestion. I was outvoted 3-1, so I strapped on the ugly shoes.

On my first ball I took three steps and let go of the ball. Instead of gracefully sliding my way to a stop, I stumbled across the foul line and tried to plant my feet. A second later, I was laying prone on the greasy lane, too dazed to get up, but too embarrassed to stay down. So I slipped and slid a little more and retreated to our table. That's when the pain set in: my hip, my back, my left elbow and, most pointedly, the back of my head.

But that was OK. Everyone else seemed to thoroughly enjoy it, especially the folks in the lane next to us - once they realized I still had control of most of my faculties.

Still, through the pain and humiliation, one question still stands out in my mind: My wife quietly asked midway through that first game (about four frames after that fateful first fall) why I voted against bowling for the night.

Prior to my tumbling exhibition at the bowling alley, I spent part of Saturday in front of my television watching the public "homegoing" ceremony for James Brown.

The outpouring of love for the Godfather of Soul was touching, and it was great to see the myriad celebrities acknowledge Mr. Brown and his influence on music.

But the most lasting memory from the event came from one of Mr. Brown's main men, the illustrious Danny Ray. As Mr. Brown's most recent band, the Soul Generals, wrapped up their set, Mr. Ray placed a red, sequined cape over Mr. Brown's coffin - a tribute to the countless times he'd done it for the man in concert.

Web posted on Thursday, January 04, 2007

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