Paladini Potpie

Adventures within The Crust!


Ironic Iconic Questions

The homepage of my e-mail had a story about an iconic picture of a couple kissing during the Vancouver Riots this summer. Their identities had been revealed! Stop the presses!

Iconic picture?

What in the world was so iconic about that picture?  Possibly just the fact that it brought to mind the truly iconic picture of the sailor kissing the nurse in Times Square on V-J Day.  Or the picture of Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr kissing on the beach.

But kissing during theVancouver riots? Hardly iconic.

I got to share this soapbox with my sister, Monica, a few days ago; although she’s not quite as much of a grammar grouch as I am.  She keeps reminding me that we have a changing language and if our language didn’t change we’d still be speaking King James English.

But we agreed on this iconic pet peeve.

The word means “pertaining to, or having the characteristics of an icon.”  It’s representative of something. I get that. But once again, a really great word has been cheapened by overuse.

Maybe I’m too much of a literalist. And as long as we’re talking about icons… When I was in second grade I took my new doll to school and a couple of big girls from the fourth grade admired her.  “Oh she’s adorable!” they gushed.  I was troubled about that for days, literally for days – my little Catholic schoolgirl mind could not grasp how a doll could be adorable.

But now, half a century later I think that’s kind of an adorable memory. Dare I say it’s an iconic memory?

One morning not too long ago another picture on the computer caught my eye. It shows a beautiful woman strolling  along a street in Italy. She was being ogled by about 15 Italian men lounging nearby. It’s an amazing picture. The lights and shadows are perfect, and the photographer captured the decisive moment. I was completely caught up in it – the happy self-confidence of the young woman’s stride, and the varied expressions on each face. My mind filled with “stories” that picture could tell! But then I saw the word “iconic” and I just wanted to scream.

Iconic? Why????

I put the word “iconic” into my search engine and found iconic motorcycles, iconic desks, iconic songs, books, dresses, hairstyles. Every single thing in the world can not be iconic! 

I went into the bedroom where John was doing his morning stretches. I leaned against the doorway, “Say three words.”


“Just say any three words that come to your mind.” I urged him, “Nouns.”

My sweet husband just gave me one of those looks and shook his head and laughed, “Okay…uh, kickballs, clothespins and chainsaws.”

I returned to my computer.

There were no iconic chainsaws, although right away I found a “iconic scene” from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

I couldn’t find an iconic clothespin, however there  is a so-called iconic sculpture of a clothespin  near the city hall in Philadelphia.

But there was no sign of iconic kickballs.  Hmmm, it’s probably just a matter of time.



The Advent of The Grammar Grouch

Today I’d like to introduce a guest author who may be writing on this blog from time to time. Please make the acquaintance of The Grammar Grouch.

She lives inside my head, keeping up a constant mumbling monologue about the decline of the English language – “lol, thx FB!”

She laughs at the stupidity of misused homophones – “We got a peak at the peek as we thru a glance threw the window.”

(And we’re not even going to talk about how and when, thru threw out through!)

She is most irritated at ignorance of basic punctuation. I usually try to keep her at bay, but sometimes she will not be silenced. Up she jumps, with teeth bared, screaming, “You never, never, never, use an apostrophe to pluralize!”

I’d like to say she is my alter ego, but in reality maybe she’s my ego. I know there can be a good deal of smug pride in believing you know something better than someone else. And I also know that “pride goes before destruction.”

I make typos every day on my Facebook comments, and when I’m texting. And in a recent blog post I noticed several mistakes minutes after I hit the publish button. (Don’t these people know how to proofread their work?)

And I know very well that the rules of grammar don’t allow for a sentence to begin with And.

Or how about ending a sentence with those three ellipsis-ish dots…

By the way, when did ish become a word?

And so The Grammar Grouch will come with tongue in cheek, and fun in her heart, but holding up a tiny little standard of hope for the preservation of our beautiful language.

“She who the pen of heaven will bear / Should be as careful as severe / Pattern in herself to know / when to stand, and what to let go.” (Thanks, Will!)