I confess that sometimes when I write my blog I just copy and paste from Wikipedia or wherever. Just little blips and blurbs. It is what? A collage? A medley? Some kind of pastiche? Am I sampling like a rapper? Anyway, I want to give credit where credit is due, but, sometimes the best bon mots are from anonymous sources. In an article in Financial Times there was this quote by an unnamed administration official: ‘advising him during the pandemic is like ‘bringing fruits to the volcano… trying to appease a great force that’s impervious to reason.’ Mark my words, that phrase is going to be remembered. It is an indelible image for the ages. He wouldn’t listen and resented anyone who he felt thought they were smarter than him. That includes just about everyone because this man was the dumbest person who ever lived, Barr none. If you took a bag of hammers, threw it in the volcano, the resultant glob of molten metal and charred wood would be smarter than this man. Anyway, I really liked that phrase, ‘bringing fruit to the volcano.’ Is that as fruitless, pointless, and superfluous as carrying coal to Newcastle?
Newcastle Upon Tyne in England was the UK’s first coal exporting port and has been well-known as a coal mining centre since the Middle Ages, although much diminished in that regard in recent years. Carry coals to Newcastle — Despite the name of the city, Newcastle’s castle keep is almost a thousand years old — having replaced an earlier castle in 1178. The association of the city with coal and the phrase itself are also old. In 1606, Thomas Heywood in ‘If you know not me, you know no bodie: or, the troubles of Queene Elizabeth’ wrote:
“As common as coales from Newcastle.”
Somehow this question keeps recurring: if you carry coals to Newcastle, does that make you a coal porter? Or a coal transporter? Which reminds me that, before she died, Joan Rivers celebrated the 4th of July, 2014 by saying that Michelle Obama was transgender.
The incident occurred during an on-the-street interview with a photographer who asked the comedian whether she thought the United States would see its first gay president. “We already have it with Obama, so let’s just calm down,” she responded, adding:
“You know Michelle is a tranny.”
“I’m sorry, what?” the photog asked.
“A transgender,” Rivers said, seemingly exasperated.
Days later, Rivers has refused to apologize for her remarks, saying in a statement to CNN:
“I think it’s a compliment. She’s so attractive, tall, with a beautiful body, great face, does great makeup. Take a look and go back to La Cage Au Follies (sic). The most gorgeous women are transgender. Stop it already … and if you want to talk about ‘politically correct,’ I think this is a ‘politically incorrect’ attack on me because I’m old, Jewish, a woman and a ‘hetty’ — a heterosexual (sic) … ”
I have concluded that Joan Rivers was joking and she thought it was obvious that she was joking but she felt the need to cross the line because she needed to get her name out there to keep herself gainfully employed. The problem is that in this day of misinformation being weaponized and believed if it fits in with some conspiracy theory that all too many are predisposed to believe . . .
All right. I will get off my soapbox. For now. Anyway, Joan Rivers died that year, and this led some right wing nutjobs to concoct an even crazier conspiracy theory that the Obamas had her killed because of what she revealed about Michelle. But wait! You know who has class and sent a handwritten letter of condolence to Melissa Rivers, Joan’s daughter? Who do you think? Here’s what Joan’s daughter had to say:
Melissa explained that President Obama and the first lady were often targets of Joan’s jokes.
“But I received a handwritten note saying, ‘Not only did she make us laugh, she made us think,'” she said.
She added, “That’s one of the things people now are realizing. It wasn’t just the funny, she made us think.”
Well, this got me thinking, that’s for certain. But what I was thinking was I used the word recurring, but should I have said reoccurring instead? What’s the diff? The answer below may shock and disturb you, but I am compelled to share it with you in spite of any untoward consequences:
Reoccur and recur are verbs that share a common root word. While they are very close in meaning, they are not the same. Something that is recurring happens over and over again, possibly at regular intervals. In contrast, something that is reoccurring is simply happening again but not always repeatedly.