Monday, June 23, 2008

What CAN'T You Say?

We've lost Another Great One. As a cub newspaper reporter at Dallas' Hillcrest High School in the 1970s, Your Humble Scribe reviewed George Carlin's album that contained "The Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television." Had a little bit of trouble finding something appropriate to say for a high school publication. The fact remains, however: Carlin was hilarious then, and his satire still holds up, more than 30 years later.

Carlin hated pretension, & he detested frauds. He commented on quirks in the English language, & not all of his rants were obscene: "Why is it that we drive on the parkway but park in the driveway?" We often use Carlin's schtick in our AP Lang classes. He had some pretty silly questions for his audiences: "Why do they lock gas station bathrooms," he queried. "Are they afraid someone will clean them?" And his routine on Airline Euphemisms was a classic.

Thru 22 comedy albums, 14 HBO specials, 3 books, several TV comedy shows & movies, including "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure," Carlin ridiculed the fool in all of us. The Kennedy Center had just announced that this Master of Satire would receive the prestigious Mark Twain Humor Award--an honor to be conferred during a KenCen gala in November, & later broadcast on PBS.

“‘Older’ sounds a little better than ‘old,’ doesn’t it?,” Carlin once said, in one of his diatribes (a euphemism itself, we suppose) on euphemisms. “Sounds like it might even last a little longer. I’m getting old. And it’s OK. Because thanks to our fear of death in this country I won’t have to die--I’ll ‘pass away.’ Or I’ll ‘expire,’ like a magazine subscription. If it happens in the hospital they’ll call it a ‘terminal episode.’ The insurance company will refer to it as ‘negative patient care outcome.’ And if it’s the result of malpractice they’ll say it was a ‘therapeutic misadventure.’"

George Carlin suffered a "terminal episode of the cardiac variety" late yesterday in Santa Monica. He was 71. Old, but hardly "older."

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