It’s nothing new. It’s why prisons are called “correctional” institutions. It’s why toilets are located in “restrooms.” It’s why a 24-year-old is “a senior writer,” and why people become senior, associate, assistant, consultant and undersecretary.
In lieu of a raise, of course.
People say Blazing Saddles couldn’t be made nowadays. Yet A Million Ways to Die in the West was.
Well into the sixties, husbands and wives on television shows slept in separate beds. Imagine how silly that must have seemed to Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore.
I’m against political correctness. I just recognize that it’s as old as the hill where my house sits.
The world makes “people of color” a compliment and “colored people” a slur. The world has every right. It’s a consequence of freedom, this consensus-building diminution of it. Words fall as consensus rises.
Yet I am an inveterate quibbler. I have a lifelong mastery of that which doesn’t make money. I’m a fine speller, for instance. Nobody ever got a job because he could spell. Spelling comes in damn handy, but no captain of industry or information ever said to an associate, “They’ve both got lots of flair, but who’s the better speller?”
I took Latin in both high school and college. Latin nouns are grouped, somewhat randomly, in genders — masculine, feminine, and neuter — that have little relations to men, women, and objects. The word for “graduate” is “alumnus.” The plural is “alumni.” It’s a masculine ending. The Romans weren’t discriminating against women (feminae). They were just going “eenie-meenie-minie-mo” with a list of nouns.
In Latin, a woman who graduates from college is still an alumnus. When today, in English, we refer to formally educated women as “alumnae,” we aren’t using Latin.
That’s okay. It’s not a big deal, except for people like me, for whom everything trivial is a big deal.
Someone called me a pedant once. A person who is overly concerned with excessive details. I’ve been called anal-retentive, too. Most words have positive and negative synonyms. Anal-retentive is a negative term for someone with attention to detail, or, in my mind, try to do things right. One man’s perfectionist (and, yes, one woman’s) is another’s busybody.
I’m Popeye the Sailor Man, which, in turn means, “Iyam what Iyam.”
Lots of writers are pedants. It comes in handy. In the midst of a novel, it’s not a bad idea to say to oneself, “Self, did they actually sell Falstaff beer in Texas in 1946?” Then one says to his phone, “Phone, see if you can find that for me?”
Pedantics is easy. Comedy is hard.
I’ve written five novels and a collection of short stories. I’ve also written a number of books about sports, mostly about NASCAR. You can find most of them here.
The Kindle versions of my books, where available, can be found above. Links below are to print editions.
My new novel is a western, Cowboys Come Home.
I’ve written a crime novel about the corrosive effects of patronage and the rise and fall of a powerful politician and his dysfunctional family, Forgive Us Our Trespasses.
I’ve written about what happens to a football coach when he loses everything, Crazy of Natural Causes.
I’ve written a tale of the Sixties in the South, centered on school integration and a high school football team, The Intangibles.
I’ve written a rollicking yarn about the feds trying to track down and manipulate a national hero who just happens to be a pot-smoking songwriter, The Audacity of Dope.
I’ve written a collection of 11 short stories, all derived from songs I wrote, Longer Songs.
Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing), and/or @wastedpilgrim (more opinionated and irreverent). I’m on Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Instagram (TUG50), and Google-Plus (MonteDuttonWriter).