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A shot of wry

In b, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication for people much younger than me, today’s article on the unpleasantness between Jen Royle and Nestor Aparicio,* this quotation appears:

“I thought she did a very good job acclimating herself to Baltimore from New York,” says former Orioles catcher turned broadcaster, Rick Dempsey. “She’s a brutally honest reporter with a rye sense of humor, which is very refreshing. She takes her job very seriously. She puts her time in and she does her homework."

You can make bread with rye, and you can make whiskey with rye, but you cannot make humor with a cereal grain. The homonym wry, meaning dry or mocking, comes to us not from the fruited plain but from the Old English wrigan, “tend,” “incline,” which gained the sense of “contort” in Middle English. In a wry expression, the face is twisted.

Not that I am micturating from a great height on b; The Sun’s features section once published a remark about the “rye humor” of the comic Ziggy, earning a newsbreak in The New Yorker.


*Who make me think of that thing I say about baseball.


Posted by John McIntyre at 11:38 AM | | Comments (25)


Of course, after enough rye, anything can be humorous.

CLARIFICATION: The "rye/wry" error appeared only in the Web version of the article, and has since been corrected.

That sort of grammatical miss really greats on the nerves.

I'm glad you were their to put the breaks on this. We mustn't loose control.

Remember, Dempsey works in a world where teams get beat and they regularly discuss a player's heighth and strenth.

I once handled a story that reported that two opposing sides were at "lager heads."

I have never recovered from the time my sister wrote that she was sending me something "to wet my appetite." Ay yi yi.

Hmm........... I guess that would make former major league backstop-turned-broadcaster, Rick Dempsey, "The Catcher in the Wry"? (Groan!)

Ducky "Double Play" isaksson............. what's corn beef without the rye?

I suspect the rye is what makes her 'brutal.' Hangovers can do that. (And, pray, why can't someone be just honest, without the threat of brutality?

AMcC, didn't Bob Uecker claim that title?

You can't make humor with a cereal grain?

Why, Sherman, you've never heard of a corny joke?

@Eve, you have (more than) a valid point there, re/ Bob Uecker's claim to the punning moniker "Catcher in the Wry". So Rick Dempsey........... as The Donald would say, "You're fired!" HA!

After a quick Wiki-check I discovered, to my surprise, that "Catcher in the Wry" is the title of Uecker's first, of two personal autobiography/ memoirs, the second being "Catch 222"---- I'm guessing a self-deprecating reference to his rather modest lifetime batting average in the big leagues........222, or thereabouts. Hardly a slugger.

I suspect the voluble, outgoing, and seemingly irrepressible former baseball commentator Bob Uecker has tippled a tad w/ rye whiskey, and perhaps other grain-derived alcoholic beverages in his day, but have no real hard (liquor) evidence to 'proof' it. HA!

@Mr. Peabody, I guess one bad corny joke deserves yet another. HA! Now if someone could just come up w/ a good "amaranth" joke, more power to them. Amaranth was apparently a very popular food grain crop back in peak Mayan and Aztec times here in North America (well more precisely, Mexico), and in recent years has been, in a sense, rediscovered as a viable cereal grain alternative here in the U.S. marketplace, competing w/ other more ubiquitous, familiar cereal varieties.

Of course, corn, or maize, was the prime staff-of-life for many pre-Columbian cultures, w/ both the Aztecs and Mayas conjuring up, and revering major maize gods and goddesses, reflecting the importance of this native-grown, life-sustaining food staple in their once thriving, vibrant cultures. But I digress.

Ducky "Oatsy Jokes Are Fun Too" isaksson....... hmm............ where would that Darryl Hall dude be without his Oates? Just sayin'.

@Alex McCrae: Don't blame Dempsey. He said it, he didn't write it. the

@Alex McCrae: Don't blame Dempsey. He said it, he didn't write it.

Sorry for the double comment; the captcha told me I'd gotten and had to do it again. Apparently not.

The Captcha was aWry

Where o where is Yogi Berra when you need him?

Miss Terse,

I think former Yankee great, Mr. Berra, took a few of his many Yogi-isms to heart, namely "When you come to the fork in the road, take it.", and, "I knew I was going to take the wrong train, so I left early." HA!

One of my all-time favorite alleged Yogi fractured quotes has to be, "You should always go to other peoples' funerals; otherwise, they won't come to yours." Priceless.

Of course, "It's never over till it's over.", and "Déja vu all over again" are two quotes ascribed to Berra that have become almost universally recognized........... at least here in the U.S. .

(A little footnote------Yogi, now well into his 80s, had a little on-field mishap at a Yankee pre-season spring training session over a month ago, taking an awkward fall. He apparently injured his leg, or ankle, but I believe has fully recovered. It was a little scary when the accident occurred, but like the trooper he's always been, on-and-off the field, Berra bounced back in yeoman style.)

Ducky "Low-and-Inside" Isaksson

One of my favorites from the great Yogi:
"I'm not going to buy my kids an encyclopedia. Let them walk to school like I did."

And, of course, "I never said most of the things I said."

and, shouldn't it read: acclimatizing and not acclimating?

Here's another menu faux pas (from the usually reliable Cinghiale). Listed among their spring delicacies was "Stining Nettles"--perhaps the sting has been surgically removed?

"Nobody goes there anymore - it's too crowded."

Acclimate is fine, odondon. More common in AmE, no doubt.

Certainly, Alex, "it's never over till it's over" can be heard over here (though perhaps without understanding its provenance) and I suppose that's because, unlike many Berraisms, it's not nonsense at all, but carries the non-tautological meaning "don't assume a result when there is still time for it to change."

We also meet the rather opaque expression involving the singing fat lady, but perhaps the most popular "it's over" saying here carries an opposite meaning: "they think it's all over - it is now!" , which derives from the curious circumstances surrounding England's clinching goal in the 1966 soccer World Cup final. This has no proverbial value, but is a kind of catchphrase used when an expected victory is made certain.

Knock off the hoity-toity! The quote goes. "It ain't over til it's over"


I fondly recall a catchy turn-of-phrase uttered by the veteran CBS TV golf commentator/ champion golfer Curtis Strange while he was covering the 1999 British Open Championship at Carnoustie, Scotland. It had more of an expected-victory-made-UNCERTAIN implication about it.

After declaring the French golfer, Jean Van de Velde, "toast.......I'm sorry, but he's done", he followed with "his chances of winning are now basically slim-to-none, and slim just got out of town", or words to that effect. Strange tends to shoot from the hip w/ his color commentary, without much of a filter of decorum.

The daring-do Van de Velde's final round had sadly imploded at the final hole of regulation play, where he manage to squander a sizable three-shot lead on Carnoustie's devilish par 4/ 18th. His hopes for an outright victory were dashed by a errant shot into the infamous stonewalled Barry Burn (ditch) fronting the final green. Other bad shots on the hole were also the result of questionable judgement, but the one into the 'drink' proved fatal...... or more appropriately, fateful.

Vande Velde amazingly salvaged a triple-bogey seven on the hole w/ a lengthly one-putt sand/ bunker save, but fell back into a three-way tie, and a 4-hole-aggregate-score playoff w/ the eventual winner, Scotland's Paul Lawrie, and American, Justin Leonard, as a typical Scottish mist ensued.

It was while being shuttled off by an official golf cart to the tee-box on the initial playoff hole that announcer Strange unofficially decreed that Van de Velde was history, and followed w/ his "slim-to-none" quip. Personally, I thought Strange's comments were uncalled for, considering the embarrassment the Frenchman had already endured. He never did recover, and France was denied it's first Open victory.

Of course yesterday, we witnessed another monumental final-round-of-a-Major total collapse, at the Masters tourney w/ young Ulsterman, Rory McIIlroy sadly squandering a four-stroke lead going into the final round, only to lose his bearings, and finish w/ a disappointing 80, eight strokes over par, and far from the players leading the pack in the final reckoning.

Yesterday afternoon, I couldn't help but recall Van de Velde's ignominious Open demise over a decade earlier, although his fate was sealed on a singular hole, whilst poor Rory's round just appeared to completely unravel on the back nine. At a mere 21-years-of-age, this super talented, amiable youngster will likely win his share of Majors before his golf career winds down, maybe 30 years hence. HA!

South African Charl Schwartzel, 26, and all of 140-pounds-soaking-wet, had an incredible four-consecutive-birdie-run from the 15th hole to the clubhouse, plus two early unexpected pitch-ins for birdies at the 1st and 3rd holes, and IMO well deserved the two stroke margin of victory. It was clearly his day to shine. But I digress.

Have a great week Picky.

Ducky" No More Mulligans" Isaksson............... TA!

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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
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