« A modest defense of Denise Whiting | Main | My sweet old myopia »


Let me caution you, good people, before you pick up your Sunday edition of The Baltimore Sun, of what lies awaiting you on Page 2 of the Business & Jobs section.

It is, I write to the accompaniment of grinding molars and muttered imprecations (You try to grind and mutter at the same time), a graphic illustrating the price tag of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

In my paper. My public fulminations notwithstanding

In a properly run state, the originator of this article would have been hanged, cut down alive, disemboweled and his bowels displayed to him, his body cut into four pieces, and his head detached and displayed on a pike in a public place as a reminder to others not to do likewise.

I fear that nothing short of the fear of being drawn and quartered can halt the annual infliction of this asinine claptrap on a public already dazed by cliche-ridden holiday twaddle. We’re just going to have to tough this one out.


Posted by John McIntyre at 8:57 PM | | Comments (13)


At least it was buried, and not on Page 1. Thank goodness for small favors.

And they use the time-honored "lying with statistics" tactic of cutting off the bottom half of the graph of the cost since 1984,so it looks like the cost of the twelve days has gone up about 400 percent, when in fact it's not even doubled since then.

Get hold of yourself. Tomorrow it will be something else.

As antidotes to the asinine claptrap in particular and the cliche-ridden holiday twaddle in general, may I recommend the "Get Fuzzy" version of "Jingle Bells" ("Jingle presents, beat the pheasants, reindeer tastes like Spam!"...), followed by a recitation of Calvin Trillin's "Christmas in Qatar"? This combination has worked wonders for us for years.

I understand and empathize with your eagerness to jump on this abomination and write while the red mist was before your eyes, John, but would gently point out another possible candidate for anathematization; "grinding molars." According to my M-W dictionary, the appropriate definition of "molar" says "A tooth with a broad crown used to grind food, located behind the premolar." So, maybe "grinding" is kind of...I don't know, repetitious? But then I don't know how to fix it except by kicking it upstairs as in "grinding jaw."

I think that your dentist might advise that while molars are meant for grinding food, grinding molars against molars is contraindicated.

Liked the "red mist before your eyes" a lot, though.

My paper ran a " 'Tis the season" headline on Friday. (I wrote a different version that didn't find itself on Page 1.)

I'd done the annual newsroomwide e-mail of your list of holiday cliches as soon as you posted it this year, and, whaddaya know, in Saturday's Home and Garden section there were not one but TWO headlines playing off Christmas carols. GRRR, indeed.

Christmas is a cliche. It's proper celebration requires cliches.

Crap. I just wrote It's, when I meant its

Christmas is only a cliche to people without imagination.

OK, I get that doing the annual cost analysis is a tired newspaper cliche. But what if it's a clever interactive video put out by a bunch of economists? The folks at PNC Bank (the same source used for the Sun article) do a fun job with it, anyway: And it doesn't take up one inch of valuable space in the newspaper.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
Baltimore Sun Facebook page

Most Recent Comments
Sign up for FREE local news alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for local news text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
Stay connected