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Metaphor pop quiz

@AllBmoreMD tweeted this line from Ralph Waldo Emerson earlier today: “Passion, though a bad regulator, is a powerful spring.”

Emerson was employing a metaphor. Can you identify where the metaphor comes from? (You do not have to reveal your age.)


Posted by John McIntyre at 6:46 PM | | Comments (9)


Since I'm a pro (see link above) and shouldn't compete, I'll only hint opaquely that there appears to be time enough for love.

A pocket watch, clearly.

Full marks, Mr. Gerhardt. What we would today call an analog watch, a retronym made necessary by the invention of the digital watch.

What we would today call an analog watch, a retronym made necessary by the invention of the digital watch.

Doesn't the placement of "today" violate a rule you wrote about previously?

A metaphor made all the more archaic by the more recent obsolescence of the wristwatch. Everyone knows one tells time with a telephone.

"A metaphor made all the more archaic by the more recent obsolescence of the wristwatch. Everyone knows one tells time with a telephone."

No, everyone does not. I use my cameras.

I generally use my pedometer for the purpose.

Oh, you poor, poor obsoletistas! Get with a "GPS-disciplined rubidium" timepiece accurate to 1 sec per million years! These little puny phones and other gizmos are so undisciplined!!

John Bosley,

I'm with you on staying somewhat true to the more time-tested (pun intended) time pieces, but perhaps w/ an updated futurist twist. Frankly, I tend to eschew, w/ a vengence, all these smart phone, Blackberry-like, 'apps'-loaded portable 'gizmos', and such. ( I must confess, I don't even own a cell phone. Yikes! OK, say it, I'm a bloomin' troglodyte.)

Mind you, I'm no big fan of those chunky, macho, wrist-watches w/ all the assorted bells-and-whistles-----basically the equivalent of the classic all-purpose Swiss Army knife-----such as say that newfangled, fairly expensive Tag Heur F1 Chronotimer. (Hmm...... I'm really not that curious about what time it is in Timbuktu, sub-Saharan Africa, when it's high-noon in my hometown of L.A., or for that matter, what the current barometric pressure is in The Valley.)

Actually, i tend to alternate between my two favorite watches---a circa-1990's official Tin Tin
cartoony number w/ the pointy-headed, perpetually youthful sleuth, along w/ his trusty white pooch, scampering across the watch face, clearly rushing off to solve yet another mysterious case of foreign intrigue.

(My Brussels-born girlfriend of-going-on-18-years gave me this Tin Tin original timepiece as a birthday gift, while on our first visit, (as a committed couple), to her native Belgium, back in the mid-'90s.)

My other watch-of-choice is a solid, pretty handsome Swiss Army brand piece, w/ their signature emblazoned, very discretely placed, familiar squarish red logo w/ the little blocky white cross. Keeps fairly good time, but, I'm sure pales in comparison to your swank, "GPS-disciplined rubidium" number, John. HA!

John, I'm curious. Although the answer to blogmeister Mac's "pop quiz" was a pocket watch, do you foresee these somewhat dated chained-linked timepieces ever coming back into vogue?

Perhaps if they keep churning out those Johnny Depp as 'swish-buckling' Captain Jack Sparrow "Pirates of the Caribbean" flicks, ye olde pocket watches just might make a comeback w/ our younger generation of urban 'buccaneers'. Just sayin'.

Who knows, even custom black eye-patches, and annoying 'shoulder' parrots might become a funky novel pop-culture trend, as we embark on this next decade, w/ the likes of bizzaro Lady Gaga, et al, leading the magical mystery tour. HA!

Time's up!


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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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