You mean the world to someone

“Watch your step. You mean the world to someone.” (click to embiggen)
“Watch your step. You mean the world to someone.” (click to embiggen)



1. g’day interjection Good day : g’day, mate (1928+ Australian) – The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D. Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers2.

2. g’day /ɡəˈdaɪ/ sentence substitute an Austral and NZ informal variant of good day – Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 20123.

3. I wish all who read4 this a “Good day5!”6

4. Yes, even you, the one sitting in the back who has been talking through the whole picture!7

5. And not in the Klingon sense, at all! Today is not a good day to die!

6. Expressing both my hope that your day thus far has been acceptably pleasant8, and the the rest of the day will only improve9.

7. If you get that reference, please consider yourself the recipient of an authentic No-Prize10.

8. However you define that.

9. Or at least that nothing which goes less than pleasantly is more than a minor inconvenience.

10. And if you get that reference, you are probably an old fart Marvel Comics11 fan, to whom I say, “Excelsior!12 And well met, my friend!”13

11. For a major portion of my childhood and teen years, I was a super loyal Marvel fan, considering my younger years where I liked both DC and Marvel as a something of a youthful indescretion. It was understandable: while Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, and such were confronting mostly serious storylines and tackling topical subjects14, because of the insane popularity of the extremely campy Batman television series, DC Comics became just as campy and silly (at least for a few years). Later, I came back to the fold, learning to appreciate both universes again.

12. If this was a movie rather than a blog post, this would be where Stan Lee made a cameo.

13. I’m an old enough fan that I was, for a few years in the early 70s, a card-carrying member of the official Marvel fan club: Friends Of Old Marvel, receiving four times per year the official newsletter/zine entitled FOOM! I am not, however, an old enough fan that I was ever a member of the Merry Marvel Marching Society, the fan club that had preceeded FOOM.

14. Including a famous drug addiction story in 1971 which, when the Comics Code Authority15 refused to approve the story, Stan Lee decided to publish without the Comics Code seal on the cover. This eventually forced a major (and long overdue) revamping of the Comics Code.

15. In the 1950s a quack made big headlines (and a lot of money going on speaking tours and selling his book) with a bogus study16 that alleged to prove that horror and true crime comic books and the like warped the minds of children and teen-agers, turning them into criminals. Congress held hearings. Several cities and counties banned the sale of comic books altogether. It was clear some sort of federal law restricting comic books was going to get passed, so the publishers banded together and formed the Comics Code Authority, which had an enormous and ridiculous list of types of people that couldn’t be portrayed, topics that couldn’t be mentioned, and situations that could not be depicted in comics. The publishers “voluntarily17” submitted comics to the authority for review. If approved they could be published with an image of the official seal of the CCA on the cover.

16. He surveyed children and teens who were psychiatric patients at several New York hospitals, fudged his numbers, had no control group, merged and distorted some of the survey answers, distorted and misrepresented the contents of some comics, and generally just made stuff up.

17. The code had no legal authority to stop the publication of “offensive” comics, but most of the distributors refused to carry comics that didn’t carry the seal.

18. There is no eighteenth footnote.

19. Good can mean so many things. The opposite of evil, for instance. Or simply something desirable or suitable. It can mean a saleable commodity or a piece of property. I love the way that words can mean different things depending on the context20!

20. This is why I (and others21) argue that the fundamental tool of a storyteller22 is the sentence, rather than the word23. A sentence (usually) provides the context to understand which of the many meanings each of the words25 within the sentence is being evoked.

21. For instance, Stanley Fish, who expounds upon this and related topics in his excellent book, How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One.

22. I am a writer, a storyteller, a reconteur, a fabulist, and a teller of tales.

23. I have always been amused by people who expect that every writer must possess a vast vocabulary of rare and obscure words which mean very specific things and when deployed pluck at the heartstrings and conjure fantastical images in the imaginations of the reader. The obvious flaw in this reasoning is that if the words are rare or obscure (let alone both), that most of the readers/audience will not understand them. Such a writer will be speaking in gibberish!24

24. Not that telling tales with gibberish is impossible. Lewis Carroll’s famous poem, Jabberwocky, contains nonsense words in every line, yet people understand it. Dr. Seuss is another famous author who successfully uses made-up nonsense words to convey sometimes profound truth.

25. What writers must possess in the way of vocabulary is an understanding of the words they use, so that when we use them we use them correctly26.

26. A friend once wrote a science fiction story in which he described in exquisite detail the hostile environment of the planet his main character was visiting, with especial attention to the hellishness of its corrosive atmosphere. Then, to segue27 from the description of the physical environment to talk about the inhabitants of the domed city, he referred to the sky as “the planet’s empyrean envelope.” Reading my friend’s story in a ‘zine for the first time, I stopped at the sentence. He couldn’t possibly mean that, did he? Because empyrean, when used as and adjective, means “heavenly.” But he’d just described the atmosphere as the opposite of heavenly. As an adjective, empyrean derives form a proper noun, Empyrean, which is the name of the highest heaven in some medeival Christian theologies. When I asked my friend why he used that word, he admitted that he had gone through a thesaurus looking for synonyms for sky and such, and had written this one down without looking it up in a dictionary28.

27. segue [sey-gwey, seg-wey] noun 5. any smooth, uninterrupted transition from one thing to another. Unabridged Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.

28. Hence my oft-repeated advice to never use a thesaurus without also looking up the words in a dictionary29!

29. Author Simon Winchester tells a similar story from his days teaching English, of a student who wrote an expository essay on how to re-pot geraniums in which the student referred to chthonic fingers. The student was referring to the fact that your hands would be dirty after you had completed the re-potting, but he thought that for an English class one must use fancy words, so he’d gone through his thesaurus for a lot of the words in the essay. Chthonic popped up while he was looking up “earth” and “ground” and such. He didn’t realize that it was a reference to things pertaining to hell or hades or similar parts of the underworld.

30. This footnote is self-referential30.

31. Yes, I’m running this gag into the ground. But if the world were only full of serious things, life wouldn’t be worth living. And as I said up in footnote 5, today is not a good day to die. I hope that this silliness has lightened your day32.

32. And if not, I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy it.

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