CLEAN AS A WHISTLE: clearly detected and unable to be ignored


The origin of a term is often vague or obscure.    Many of them come into the American English language from rural England or primitive, back-country America where words reflect what one sees or hears.    Such may be  the case with the term clean as a whistle.  The matter is debated (not with much fury I […]

SECURITY: the feeling that all is under control and I am safe

new security

Linus, the little kid in the Peanuts cartoon, is connected at the hip to his security blanket. That is to say, Linus believes he cannot exist without having his “blankee” safe in hand. He drags it everywhere he goes,and when it’s among the missing, he deteriorates to being a little kid without an identity. Security […]

HUE AND CRY: a phrase that means “an uproar” over an issue

hue and cry

How many times have we heard it in a news broadcast? “The hue and cry raised by the Senator’s announcement could be heard all the way to Washington.” The meaning is clear.   There was an uproar.  People were upset.  The protests were about to begin. I heard the comment on the news and thought to […]

BIRMINGHAM: more than a name of a city in Alabama


It was 50 years ago this week that black men, women, college students, high school students, and elementary students marched in Birmingham, Alabama, in one of the most significant demonstrations against racial inequality at the time. Organized by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, known as the SCLC, the demonstrations were a powerful expression of ultimate […]

CRASH COURSE: an immediate access to details of how to do something


The people of the greater Boston area are getting what I would call a crash course in what it feels to be under siege.   That is to say, it has been just a few days since bombs exploded in Boston.  Yet, in those five days the presence of terrorist bombers, police and FBI activity, military […]