Monday, December 28, 2020

Really stupid words, Chapter 15

Whereas the beginning of a New Year is the traditional time for Americans to elect to pursue goals and objectives in order to improve their lives and the lives of others; and

Whereas speakers of American English routinely abuse, misuse, overuse, and exhaust words by excessively employing trendy usages and clichés in misguided attempts to sound fashionable and knowledgeable; now, therefore, be it

Resolved, that in the New Year of 2021 and forever after, speakers of American English will eliminate these tired, hackneyed, banal, threadbare, and altogether stupid word usages from their vocabularies:

·   source, when used as a verb (rather than its proper function as a noun) to indicate the location and acquisition of products or services or ingredients.

·   pivot, unless specifically referring to rotation around a fixed point (and not in reference to any and every change or adjustment).

·   curate, when used outside its common meaning pertaining to museums and exhibits (more precise but less trendy words such as choose or select are preferable for other uses).

·   unpack, when referring to discussion or explanation of a complicated subject (rather than when removing items from a crate, suitcase, or other container).

·   surge, to describe any increase of any size (rather than the intended meaning to indicate a rise or movement of remarkable strength or speed or force).


Saturday, December 19, 2020

The Big Rodeo.


    For ten nights in a row recently, we sat in front of the TV watching the National Finals Rodeo. We were especially impressed with how well the cowboys from Utah did, bringing home several world championships.
    For years now, the saddle bronc riding at every level in rodeo has been dominated by the Wright family of Milford, a small, small town way off the beaten path in southern Utah. Before this year, six Wright brothers had won among them five world championships and more other accomplishments than you can imagine. The oldest of the brothers, Cody, won two of those world titles.
    Now, it’s his sons who are in the limelight.
    Back in 2018, I wrote a magazine article about that next generation of Wrights. I spent an afternoon and evening with two of the boys at the Utah State High School Rodeo Finals. The picture above is from that day—that’s father Cody in the middle offering advice and encouragement to his sons Ryder, on the left, and Rusty on the right. Too young for high school rodeo at the time was another son, Stetson.
    All three are now full-time professional rodeo cowboys, and proved themselves the best of the bunch at the recent NFR.
    Rusty, the oldest at 25, tied for first (with his brother) in a go-round of the saddle bronc riding, placed in seven of ten go-rounds and fifth in the average, and came away ranked fourth in the world standings.
    Ryder, at 22, placed in nine and won or tied for first place in five saddle bronc riding go-rounds and won the average, and walked away wearing the World Champion belt buckle (for the second time).
    Stetson, at the ripe old age of 21, won one saddle bronc riding go-round and tied for first in another and ended up seventh in the world standings. Stetson also rides bulls and won four go-rounds at the NFR and was crowned world champion. He entered the National Finals Rodeo second in overall winnings for the year in the All-Around Cowboy race, but passed the leader and left him more than $158,000 in the dust, bringing home his second All-Around Championship.
    The Wrights are a wonderful family, making history in more ways than one, both in and outside the rodeo arena. It has been a pleasure to know them over the years, and we’ll be hearing more of them in the future.
    It also bears mentioning that Kaycee Feild—son of the late Lewis Feild, five-time world bareback riding champion—matched his father’s accomplishment by winning his fifth world championship in my favorite rodeo event.  

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Where I’m going, Part Three.


    For several years now I have wanted to visit Las Vegas.
    Not that one.
    I have been to Nevada’s Sin City more times than I care to remember, and only revisit when there’s a reason—say a rodeo, or a conference, or, in the past, family. The city’s main attractions hold no attraction for me.
    I’m talking about the other Las Vegas.
    Las Vegas, New Mexico, is of interest to me for its historic importance. It was a waystation on the Santa Fe Trail, for example, and played a role in the Mexican-American War and the Taos Revolt. And over time it has hosted Indians, Spanish colonists, cowboys, outlaws, lawmen, railroaders, and other pivotal figures in the history of the West.
    Later, movie and TV folks showed up, and still do from time to time.
    I once got within about 100 miles of the place when approaching from the north, but took a left turn for Amarillo. I once got within 50 miles when approaching from the south, but took a left turn for Albuquerque. When visiting Glorieta Pass while doing Civil War research I came within 40 miles, but u-turned for an engagement back in Santa Fe.
    One of these days, I will make Las Vegas my destination, and I will see the sights on both sides of the Gallinas River.
    And the city lights, such as they are.