SATURDAY, 9/14/13, Issue 208


LB_red%22Dear%22The Society for Preserving Clichés.  The mission of the Society for Preserving Clichés is to address the problem of under-used clichés.  If banal expressions are not used often enough, they go out of existence.  It is estimated that every 27 seconds, a cliché becomes extinct.  This statistic means that, every year, we lose thousands of them.  Our linguistic eco-system cannot sustain such loses.  And once we reach the tipping point, we won’t have a lot to say.  Every time we open our mouths, we’ll have to come up with something original.  Our minds will have to work overtime.  Using hackneyed sayings saves a great deal of time and effort.  

Which clichés are we most interested in preserving?  Here’s the beginning of the list, with an explanation accompanying each one:

This dog won’t hunt:   A lot of dogs were never meant for hunting.


batman dog

Take it to the next level:  Mayor Alvin Brown is fond of this phrase.  It dates back to the hippie psychedelic era of the sixties and to the San Francisco rock band Sly and the Family Stone.  It means “I want to take you higher.”  And higher.  And higher.  And higher.  And then a little higher.  Until you die from the overdose.


Sly and the Family Stone

That’s how we roll:  This idiom is very PC; it shows the speaker’s solidarity with the disability rights movement. 


Bucket list:  Coined as recently as 2007, this expression already has achieved cult cliché status.  I don’t know about you, but there’s a hole in our bucket.

Alternative link

What stakeholders bring to the table:  The answer should be obvious.

Burly bearded shirtless man smoking a cigar and wearing a white apron bringing a large red uncooked steak on a white plate to the table


Wake-up call:   The band Maroon 5 sings about a particularly memorable wake-up call:


Maroon 5

Click here

Think outside the box:   This is the ultimate stealth cliché.  We are never more thinking inside a box than when we are using a well-worn cliché like ‘Think outside the box.’  

man in green shirt with box over his head

man with box

At the tipping point:  15%?  20%?  It depends on the quality of the service.

The tip jar

tip jar full of dollars

Pour fuel on the fire:  Here’s footage of what this expression looks like in practice:

Alternative link

My bad:  This is an Anglo-Saxon-Jute translation for the Latin saying Mea culpa.  

Shelf life:  Where can we find the expiration date for a cliché?

Barking up the wrong tree:   It’s not always easy to know which tree is the right one.


raccoon humping beagle

It’s déjà vu all over again:   This saying is like the film Groundhog Day, only there’s no Andie MacDowell, and Yogi Berra said it first.

Whole new ballgame:   The phrase is like FDR’s “New Deal,” but without the poker reference.  Maybe President Obama should adopt it for a slogan.

Jump start:  This idiom usually is followed by “the economy.”  

dollar bill stretched between two battery cables

Step up to the plate:  Too much sitting is killing us.  This cliché is about a standing desk for diners. 


people at standing dinner table

Go with the flow:   Unfortunately, a recent tsunami gave the saying a rather dark meaning:

Tsunami hitting Japanese coastal town

a tsunami sweeping ashore 

Take the gloves off:   Since this is a family Letter to the Editor, please leave ’em on.

very cut young man wearing only gloves on hands strategically located for decency's sake

Right off the bat:  Outside of the baseball reference, this locution is rooted in a homophone: the IRS allows bat owners a tax deduction.

Picture of a grey-purple bat against black backdrop

Drink the Kool-Aid:   My ex-wife once said that somehow I’m the only person who ever drank the Kool-Aid and survived.  And that’s why she was leaving.

Help them get back on their feet:   Being a good Samaritan, I always tell people in wheelchairs I’m willing to help them get back on their feet.  

Zupan from film Murderball

Mark Zupan from Murderball

It’s so [blank], it’s not even funny:   Does this mean, I’m not allowed to laugh?

Get your ducks in a row:   That way, they’re easier to shoot.

Many bright orange-yellow plastic bathtub ducks with ties and sunglasses lined up against white background.

Deer in the headlights:  This saying’s never been the same since Levi Johnston met Sarah Palin.



These expressions are like old shoes and comfort food.  They release us from the demand to be original, specific, accurate, and precise in the words we choose.  

The greatest threat we face today is the under-used cliché.  We at the Society for Preserving Clichés dedicate ourselves to the noble cause of keeping banal expressions in circulation.  With clichés in each and every sentence we speak, we’ll always have something to say to one another.  Even if it’s the same thing.  Repeated over.  And over.  And over.  And over.  And over.  Again.

Did I mention epic fail?

Lemule Blogiver


Leave a comment / Follow us / Like!

pic7 copy

August’s List  Music videos published in the last two weeks. Alternative, Americana, cosmic, dance-pop, dream pop, electropunk, experimental, folk, indie, lo-fi, noise, post punk, nu-gaze, psyche pop, shoegaze, synthpop, trip hop, etc. Watch & listen


crip2Smart Ass Cripple, by Mike Ervin. Expressing pain through sarcasm since 2010. Voted the World’s Biggest Smart Ass by J.D. Power and Associates. Read

pannedPanned Review, by Jacob Lusk. Film reviews by a Jacksonville movie-reviewing fiend and English teacher. Read

calvinsstoryCalvin’s Story, by Christy Shake. Epilepsy & beyond: a mother’s journal. A mother’s journal of the anguish, grief, joy, and triumph shared with her chronically ill son. Christy and Calvin live in Maine. Read

MaggieWorldMaggie World, by Sally Coghlan McDonald. Normalizing the abnormal. A mother sharing her experiences raising my disabled daughter and navigating, advocating and dealing with the system. [Although Maggie passed away in 2014, her mother continues to write. She lives in San Francisco.] Read

OnTheBlink On the Blink, by Emily Michael. Considering how my light is spent. Blog posts, music reviews, and published articles from a blind writer, musician, and UNF English instructor. Read




Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s