Tag Archives: Betty White

Angular momentum

This post could be considered a part two of last week’s post about light bulbs going off. I heard something last night that reminded me of another commonly misused metaphor and thought it might be worth reviewing.

During the Screen Actors Guild Awards program, veteran comedic actor Tim Conway introduced SAG’s Lifetime Achievement Award, given to Ernest Borgnine, who has performed in some 160 films over his 60-year television and movie career.

In an awkward moment, Conway appeared to have trouble reading the teleprompter and winged the introduction. At first I thought he might be doing one of his classic bits. I don’t know whether he was able to access the prepared script or had to make it up on the fly. And unfortunately, I can’t find an exact quote of what he said. But what I heard was a misused geometric figure of speech.

In reviewing Borgnine’s acting career, Conway cited Borgnine’s first film or two and then said that his career took “a 360-degree turn.”

Now a 360-degree turn is quite likely; but it is a full turn. What it means is that there was no change in direction.

I’m sure you’ve heard it. Someone might say, “He was headed down the wrong road, but his life took a 360-degree turn.” Think about it. If that’s true, he is right back where he started.

The correct metaphor for a 100 percent change in direction is a 180-degree turn, a U-turn, if you will.

The point of this lesson is not to make fun of Tim Conway. He happens to be one of the most quick-witted actors on television. I’ve laughed with him since he co-starred with Borgnine in McHale’s Navy, during his many appearances on The Carol Burnett Show, a few years ago on Yes, Dear and now, on Hot in Cleveland. In another 12 years, he might just be the Betty White of his gender.

Maybe the SAG Award’s writers provided a lousy script, but he’s smart; he could have caught and corrected the angular reference. Or maybe he was just doing the gig as Mr. Tudball.

The lesson is:  If you find yourself about to use the wrong angular figure of speech and describe a complete change as a 360-degree turn, do a one-eighty.


Filed under All Things Wordish, Movies, Television and Radio

The List

Every New Year’s Day, the first thing I do is open The Washington Post and read The List, a comparative account of what’s Out and what’s In in the new year. Other papers around the country may publish something similar, but the Post tends to include a few inside-the-Beltway references.

What always strikes me is that I didn’t know so many things were In until they were already Out. Brussels sprouts, for example. Conversely, I am amused to read what’s now In that was already In for me. For example, IHOP is now In. I celebrated my birthday there (by choice) two weeks ago.

Sorry, Betty White, you’ve been replaced by Anne Meara. I’m just glad you’re both enjoying your due glory.

I’ve jotted down a few personal Ins and Outs:

Two spaces after a period One space after a period
Oxford comma No comma
Hot house Central air conditioning
Goose bumps Hot flashes
Real Housewives of anywhere Hot in Cleveland
Coffee, alcohol, chocolate, garlic, onions, tomatoes, fried foods, and late night snacking Hot water and Dexilant happy hours
Zicam Webcam
Pandora jewelry Pandora radio


What’s Out and In for you in 2011?

Happy New Year.


Filed under All Things Wordish, Beauty and Fashion, Food, Health, Holidays, Marketing/Advertising/PR, Movies, Television and Radio, News, Reading, Technology and Social Media

Another land

It’s Saturday.  Time to take a rest from the heady grammar issues and get a little shallow.  And I can be quite shallow.

The truth is, I love TV sitcoms. 

My favorite are the old sitcoms of the 1960s and 70s.  I now confess to being a closet viewer of the TV Land network.  I got hooked early on.  TV Land started off playing the classic comedies I grew up with.  Actually, my parents placed fairly strict limits on our TV viewing, so I usually had to sneak off to a neighbor’s for I Love Lucy or Dick Van Dyke.

My husband jokes that, if there were a channel that aired all Everybody Loves Raymond all the time, I’d watch no other.  He’s right.  And now, on TV Land, for two hours every weeknight—Raymond.

Until recently, TV Land has been a place to which losers slink off to forget their problems and the fact that they are losers.  My time spent in TV Land is clouded by tremendous guilt.  I go when no one is home and always remember to change the channel to CNN before turning off the TV, so the next person doesn’t know where I’ve been.  A shameful addict always covers her tracks.

But things have changed.

TV Land has become home to some intelligent—or at least socially accepted—programming , namely, Hot in Cleveland.  By now, it’s almost cliché to rave about Hot.  It’s really a modern-day Golden Girls, another classic (Psst, Hallmark channel).  Let’s hope its popularity gives rise to more clever new shows in the fall.  

Personally, I think what makes the show successful is timing.  Timing in featuring a hot cast, led by Betty White and Valerie Bertinelli, both at the height of their hotness.  The other two co-stars, Jane Leeves and Wendie Malick, no slouches themselves, fill in nicely, though I’m disappointed they have Malick playing the same character she played on Just Shoot Me.

And what a brilliant move to have Carl Reiner, one of television’s most acclaimed comedic geniuses, on the show.

The writing is also based on timing–timing of the jokes, one right after the other with barely a chance for the viewer to catch her breath (my husband has come in to ask me if I’m OK) and the agile timing of the sight gags. 

Timing is also a big part of the acting.  The lines are delivered with a soft build and a one-two punch, while the actresses’ facial expressions, some extremely subtle, add beautiful texture to the humor.

OK, so maybe I am shallow.  But I am certain of two things.  One, that laughter is good for me and I know where to go to get it, and two, that there are smart people in TV Land who know their target demographic and are going to do very well capitalizing on it.

Now if you’ll allow me to skulk out of here, I’ll try and have something smart to write about next week.

Please remember, Word Nymph doesn’t post on Sundays.  They’ve got to be airing some kind of marathon.


Filed under Movies, Television and Radio

Golden Girls

About 20 years ago, I worked in an office with an extraordinary group of people, many of whom were women my age.

When you spend more than a third of your day with the same people, you become close.  These women and I had our children together and, in the ensuing years, we shared everything–the challenges of working and rearing children,  strategies for making it through each day with our sanity, recipes, more laughs than can be counted and oceans of tears.  Some of these women have passed on, a sad reality that has brought the rest of us even closer.

Once, in the office lunch room, I suggested that maybe someday we would all live together, like the Golden Girls, which was at the height of its run on television.  I painted a picture of us sharing a house in Florida, driving around in a big convertible, with our head scarves tied tightly beneath our sagging chins.

In The Golden Girls series, which ran from 1985 to 1992, the characters played by Bea Arthur, Betty White and Rue McClanahan were in their early 50s.  Estelle Getty played Sophia, who was 70, tops.

The day before yesterday, I had lunch with three of my old girlfriends.  It hit me then that we had, alas, become the Golden Girls.

After settling in according to who needed to sit on which side of whose good ear, many parts of the conversation still had to be repeated.  There was, after all, background noise in the restaurant.

Next came the organ recital.  We discussed our health screenings, what conditions are plaguing us, which body parts ache and what meds we take.  We talked about our feet, debating which are worse, problems with the plantar or those of the metatarsal.

We talked about our emptying nests and commiserated about all it has taken to help our hatchlings fly on their own.  We also heard what it’s like to have an adult child move back home with all of her children.

We heard news of parents and more former colleagues who had passed.

We acknowledged the challenges of dwindling incomes and investments and compared notes on which chain restaurants offer two-for-one entrees on which weeknights.

We laughed at all the old lady behaviors we’ve adopted, such as finding a blouse we like and buying it in every color.

I shared that I had recently bought half a pie.

What brought our lunch to a close was a conversation about television–what shows we like and the fact that you can now can get TV programming through Netflix, which streams through the Wii. 

That was it.  Just the idea of “streaming through the Wii” sent us rushing to the ladies’ room, where we shared a final laugh and called it a day.

I haven’t bothered to take the Which Sex and the City Girl Are You quiz that’s going around in anticipation of the new movie.

Instead, I will start my own quiz and ask my peers to consider:  Which Golden Girl are you?

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Filed under Beauty and Fashion, Family and Friends, Foibles and Faux Pas, Movies, Television and Radio