where the writers are
Pushing Duh
Paris Hilton.jpg

Next time you get all Wilde or Confucius, you might miss what lies between. It's Paris Hilton in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. She has made it to the latest edition.

I do not know what are the standards used for such choices, but one assumes there is an element of wit or thought, and it rides on some literary or artistic drive, if not merit. Merit is subjective.

Sarah Palin has made it too, but then that quote did become famous and symbolised a part of an election campaign: "What's the difference between a hockey mom and a pitbull? Lipstick."

Honestly, I don't have a snotty attitude towards what the reports have made a point to mention - Paris's partying and sex tape. The problem is the choice of quote: "Dress cute wherever you go, life is too short to blend in." Is this funny? Profound? Interesting?

I mean ‘cute' blends in like whipped cream does in milk, honey. Besides, this quote has not made heads or headlines turn. It is a run-of-the-mill advice that a matron would give students in a dorm on a good day.

It is so un-Paris. Heck, it is even un-Prague.

Is there a value to duh?

There is something tragic rather than comical when celebrities start to get all high falutin. Intellectualism isn't the prerogative of every goatee-glasses-crumpled skirt-seeking muse creative person on the make. We do have some absolutely marvellous quotes from the entertainment world. Think Woody Allen, think Mae West, think Jean Harlow, think Chaplin, think Sam Goldwyn. Think dry humour, sarcasm...heck, you need élan to carry that off with panache. No emphasis needed to make a point. It has to spout like grease off the tongue.

In a world where ‘lolling' is not a pastime, heavy-set words wearily fall off mouths drained of innovativeness in an attempt at throwing attitude and furtive funniness.

Almost two years ago, Vanity Fair had an interview with ‘Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi’. It is a known fact that most interviewers don't bother to counter-question. After reading those bits, I don't think "The lady's like a sailor!" She is just vocabulary-ly challenged.

Here are some of her replies. There are a few counter-queries I would pose, if I were the one conducting the interview.

PL: On the Top Chef Emmy nomination: "[It] was a big fucking deal."

Me: Erm...was that the deal?

PL: On life without her ex-husband, Salman Rushdie: "I'm really fucking sad."

Me: Bad for the guy you are with. It means you are sorrowful while at it, right?

PL: On her new cookbook: "Finishing the fucking book was like being in labor for two years!"

Me: Shouldn't you have worn a condom?

PL: On hosting a dinner party: "I pulled this out of my ass."

Me: Is that why the guests called it shit?

PL: On an AIDS charity she supports: "...we're doing a campaign and an event and you should buy a fucking table."

Me: Are you trying to say if you do it on the table, then you ain't get no AIDS, but AIDS gets aid?

PL: On telling the press if she had a boyfriend: "My husband would call fucking Reuters."

Me: So, everytime you and Salman were at it, he said "Let's Reuters"?

PL: On a tabloid's coverage of her bra size: "...they said it was 36C. I said, 34C, motherfucker!"

Me: Does it not mean that mamma-obsessed tabloid fellows like it bigger?

PL: On her current living situation: "Now I'm staying in a fucking hotel with all my shit in storage."

Me: Are you saying you live like a stowaway in your own room?

8 Comment count
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The value of "Duh" indeed

Quotations apparently take much of their value these days from how well they fit in --not necessarily express--a given segment of society's emotional attitude, no matter how enlightened or unenlightened that attitude might be. And I'll leave that there.

Your technique for counter questions is what I like to call creative conversatin'. Produce a book of these as engaging as the above hilarious example you can definitely count on me to get a copy :-)

author of The American Poet Who Went Home Again
and Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance (Facts on File)

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'Emotional attitude' here

'Emotional attitude' here would mean an almost unconscious reaction, perhaps that is the hallmark of herd mentality.

Thank you for the 'creative conversatin'  idea. I will need to graduate from boredom to duhdom!


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I had to give up on becoming

I had to give up on becoming famous for being cute, so I think I'll have to settle for being brilliant. :)


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Now, now, Eric, that is

Now, now, Eric, that is going cute on us...


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Didn't realize Padma Lakshmi

Didn't realize Padma Lakshmi is so inarticulate. The intellectual imbalance between her and Salman Rushdie. . .no wonder that one didn't work out.

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Never a duh moment


Since you are one of my favorite posters, (no, not the paper kind, but rather one who posts), I was looking back through some of your other gems. I couldn't help but notice your comment about being confused over the use of "Dear" in business correspondence. Here is a letter I wrote to a vendor (who shall remain anonymous) that I believe exemplifies an effective use of the term. :)

“Dear” Sirs:

Despite my formidable command of the the English language, I lack the proper words to express the elation and unspeakable joy I will experience upon discontinuing any and all future transactions with your so-called organization. Your “company,” if I may be forgiven for desecrating the term in describing your questionable entity, has elevated the concept of incompetence to heretofore unknown levels in the annals of business.
I invite you to accompany me on my recent hopeful journey toward customer satisfaction which, alas, led instead into an unfathomable abyss of gloom and despair.
To begin our festive voyage, your “product” arrived in less-than-pristine condition, after an interminable delay, no doubt caused by your shipping department's inability to decipher the industry standard two-letter postal code. It should be noted that Alaska is indeed part of the United States of America, the postal code of which is AK. AK is neither the postal code for Arkansas nor Alabama, two of the states to which the aforementioned parcel was shipped prior to its weary arrival at its correct final destination.. As the old proverb informs us, “The third time is a charm.” After two “practice shipments,” we are not entirely surprised that the item finally arrived somewhat the worse for wear.
Although the item in question seemed to have suffered only superficial damage on its odyssey, we were somewhat chagrined to discover that said superficially damaged item was the wrong item to start with.
Imagine our delight.
Faced with the dilemma of deciding whether to ship the item back and have the entire process repeated one more, or, yea, more likely, countless times throughout eternity, or to simply ascertain whether we could actually USE the aforementioned wrong item, we opted for the latter.
To use another proverb, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the tree.”
To our further disappointment, the actual item, upon further inspection, bore little resemblance to the item we ordered. We gave it every benefit of the doubt, but it soon became evident that the shipped item represented nothing more than a waste of gravity.
After exhausting all reasonable courses of action, we were somewhat compelled to resort to consulting your “service” department. There is probably no point in regaling you with all the gory details, but suffice it to say your “customer service representative” was indeed representative of something...precisely what remains undetermined. Let me just say that the fire hydrant in front of my office building is more conversant and helpful in such matters...and speaks English much more fluently, besides.
We are certain that the loss of our patronage will soon be filled with that of another unwitting victim.

Sincerely anyone else's but yours,

Eric P. Nichols

Eric the Gentle

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"Dear" Eric: It was a

"Dear" Eric:

It was a delight to read about your complaint and your back-handed compliment to me. I am, as you will soon discover, not as fluent in customer service or English, although I can get by.

By virtue of the fact that you have had to suffer so much, I shall permit you to conduct a small ceremony outside your office building and put me to the use for which I have been purportedly created. Do light a flame in my name and I shall be happy to self-deprecatingly douse it.

As sincerely as is possible to be in English, yours,

~F (Fire hydrant)

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Rushdie was married thrice

Rushdie was married thrice before, and to women who might be considered articulate and intelligent - and I think in a canny commonsensical way, Padma too is...I suppose she just thinks bluster sounds good. But Rushdie's social circle, at least in Mumbai, is wannabe starlets and socialites, so I don't think he is too worried about intellectual dissonance !