Stephen King wrote a column for Entertainment Weekly magazine (remember magazines?) a while back in which he divided the world into two kinds of families: Those that employ catch phrases from popular culture, and those that don't.
My family definitely falls into the former category. So I think Mr. King would find us passable, or something. (Steve, if you're out there reading this, first of all, hi! But also, feel free to drop on by sometime and we'll swap catch phrases.)
A good catch phrase is one that serves two purposes, at least: 1. It helps to clarify a current situation through a reference to a fictional one everyone involved will remember; and 2. It creates unity among those who "get" the reference, thereby bonding them together (and, better, excluding those who don't). That's my theory, and I'm sticking to it.
Here are a few of my family's catch phrases:
- When one of us believes another has, perhaps, gone a little heavy on the salt or something at dinner: "Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?"
- When a situation takes a turn in an unfavorable direction: "Could be worse. Could be raining."
- When we're planning a family activity (even an errand we have to see to together): "We're not going there. We just put it 'round we're going there."
- When some detail of the day needs to be coordinated: "I have a plan. A very famous plan."
- When someone uses the phrase, "Whatever it is," it is necessary in my family to respond, "I'm against it."
- I don't think there's a family left in America that can ask the question, "Is it safe?" without employing a German accent.
- By the same token, words like "bump," "room," and "solved" are all to be said with a bad French accent.
- When pointing out something incredibly obvious: "What hump?"
- When a bon mot falls flat: "It's a joke!" (Bad Scottish accent necessary)
- When someone orders a BLT at the diner: "You can't! There's Jews here!"
- When getting a little agitated: "I'm hysterical! I'm wet and I'm hysterical!" This can be followed by "I'm in pain, and I'm still hysterical," if the situation is really grim.
- When being asked to do something you don't usually do: "Dammit, Jim, I'm a doctor, not a (fill in the profession)!"
- When disappointed: "You make me sad. Come, Patsy!"
- When in need of a hug: "Firm embrace!" (This is best said with a slight Brooklyn accent.)
- And of course, whenever sitting in a swivel chair and turning to face someone: "So, Meestah Bond..." (Best when pretending to stroke a cat.)
What are some of your catch phrases?
- Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
- Young Frankenstein
- Horse Feathers (We are all Marx Brothers fans, and I could have added six or seven more from the freres, including "Atsa fine," "Get tough," "Upstart!" "Chevalier, eh?" and " ", which quotes Harpo.)
- Marathon Man. Duh!
- The Pink Panther series
- Young Frankenstein, again. I could have added "Behind ze bookcase," "werewolf--there wolf!," or a horse whinny, but I was exhibiting restraint
- The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (whose Scottish accent is anything but bad)
- My Favorite Year
- The Producers (1968)
- Star Trek (another candidate: "You canna change the laws of physics!" and in this case the Scottish accent really does have to be bad)
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail
- A specific reference to Mel Brooks's appearances on Mad About You as Uncle Phil
- I won't insult your intelligence.
The LP-to-Digital Conversion Project is over. Probably. I still have to check with my brother and my mother to make sure I didn't leave any stragglers with them when I moved out of the house 30 years ago. But if you want to see a list of all the albums now converted to CD in my collection, click here.While there, feel free to hit "follow" and find out when there's a new post. Next week, I'll post all the singles already converted.