April 21, 2015

I & Q

Have you noticed how many inexplicable quips turn up in journalism these days? Lines without any air of being uttered in jest or with humorous intent, which are nevertheless designated quips?

Probably they don't come up as often as icons. I once abandoned an article in the Entertainment section of the Star because, not even half a sentence in, some stolid and durable pillar of the entertainment community was referred to as an icon. I decided to apply the same test to the rest of the Entertainment section, which in consequence took me less than two minutes to read; I think the deepest any of these stories got before dropping an 'icon' or 'iconic' was paragraph 2--unusual restraint I'm sure you'll agree.

To be fair, this was a little above the common degree of usage--most days I'd have had to read through at least one story, maybe two, if my only test for skipping was whether they dropped the 'i' bomb.

Coming back to quipping, a piece on Kevin Pillar's outstanding April work on defence and even offence (Friday April 17 the story came out, so there's a full half month's play for sample) includes this: " 'The way he's played the first week and a half, you should give him the Gold Glove right now,' pitcher Mark Beuhrle quipped."

This isn't a perfect example, as there plainly is some humorous intent behind the remark. More typically someone 'quips' "He's been hitting over .300 for the last half year--surprising given that his lifetime average over several years in the majors is .217." If they'd said Beuhrle 'joked' or 'kidded'--nothing implied about how good a joke it was or how noticeable a kid--I suppose I'd let it go--but quips, surely, are a little more rare and should be held to a higher standard. When Dizzy Dean said, "If Satchel Paige were pitching with me for St Louis, we could win the pennant by June and take July and August off to go fishing," that was a quip, not to mention a good sized chunk from the hide of a shaggy dog. On the other hand, a line that good can just be quoted--you don't need to dress it up with inflatable speech tags.