A scrambled egg

From Tim Christie:

When I worked at the Yakima (Wash.) Herald-Republic in Eastern Washington, and one of the big city papers would come into town to write about a local issue, you could count on one of the many small towns in the Yakima Valley described as a “hard scrabble hamlet.”

Which always made me think of a hard-scrambled omelet.

Leaf it to us

Adam M. Gaffin has had it with:

Leafy suburb” and “gritty former mill
.” Sometimes when reading the Boston Globe, you get the
idea that those are the only two types of communities in eastern Massachusetts.

Thoughts of brainchildren

Sharyn Wizda proffers these peeves:

  • Describing any profile subject as “the thinking man’s (or
    woman’s) sex symbol
  • Describing somebody’s new product as his or her “brainchild.”
  • Describing any Rocky Mountain town smaller than Denver as “nestled
    at the foot of snow-capped peaks
  • In any crime story: “This close-knit community has been
    shaken by the tragedy
  • Dr. Death

    From Sonya Booth

    My personal favorite, seen in fine newspapers everywhere (including, recently, the Chicago Tribune): Death took no holiday…

    Spark, spearhead, scramble, nestle

    From Paul Bonner:

    I’ve been keeping a list. It seems to me that verbs are the part
    of speech that most often become hackneyed in newswriting. I think
    it must be to cover up the lack of any concrete action in most stories:

  • spark (as in: “The commissioner’s action sparked a lively
    debate among those who signed up to speak at the meeting.”)
  • spearhead (as in: “Pfalphzer spearheaded the fund-raising
  • ax (as in: “The item was axed from the budget”)
  • tapped (for “chosen,” as in: “Klutzwater was tapped
    for the position.”)
  • scramble (as in: “Officials were left scrambling. …”)
  • nestle (as in: “Nestled between a railroad trestle and
    a gulch, the seedy cafe makes what must surely be its last stand.”)
  • Treacly TV

    From Jeffrey Whitmore:

    Ban forever the wrap-up line so loved by TV news people:

  • “. . . and that’s what it’s all about!” It’s typically
    uttered (with a smarmy smile) after a heartwarming shot of an indigent
    family eating day-old bread donated by the corporate sponsors of a
    golf tournament in Palm Springs,Pebble Beach, or on the north forty
    of the Taj Mahal.
  • And do away with its sickening brethren:

  • . . . “but the big [or real] winner in the event was charity.
  • On reflection, Jeffrey added the following:

  • Soon after I sent the “charity” cliche I recalled another,
    possibly more cloying one. It’s the spunky lede that begins with a
    truism. Next comes an invitation to the reader to agree. And then
    comes the zinger. For example:
  • “Real gourmets don’t drink red wine with fish, right?


  • Another purgative worthy of banishment:

  • Nothing could be further from the truth.

    I just ran an “exact phrase” Hotbot web search on the expression
    and came up with 2,961 citations. For each of the many I checked out,
    I could readily imagine fifty billion or so statements that were further
    from the truth.