I just want to talk about the mangled cliché "one of the biggest shoes I've seen drop" — because we had so much fun 3 days ago talking about "he is a bull looking for a china shop" (a NY Post description of Donald Trump). I'd said if you'd just avoid clichés, you'd escape the danger of screwing them up. The phrase is "a bull in a china shop," not "bull looking for a china shop" and:
Bulls aren't hot to relocate to china shops! They're not on a mission to break china. They just would break a lot of china if they ever were in a china shop, which never happens.I enjoyed the conversation in the comments, especially the pointer to the episode of "Mythbusters" where they showed that a bull in a china shop would not break a lot of china but would actually move about with agility and avoid hitting anything:
And here's a follow-up I found on my own:
So, I love stuff like that. It's overriding my Russia paranoia right now. I want to talk about Josh Marshall's phrase "one of the biggest shoes I've seen drop." Shoes of different sizes don't randomly drop. The shoe cliché is about 2 shoes of the same size — a pair of shoes — where one has already dropped so you are waiting for the other shoe to drop.
The idea isn't that shoes are important news and here comes another shoe and wow this one is really big. It's just predictability. Where one shoe has dropped, you know there is a second shoe:
A common experience of tenement living in apartment-style housing in New York City, and other large cities, during the manufacturing boom of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Apartments were built, similar in design, with the bedrooms located directly above and underneath one another. Thus, it was normal to hear a neighbor removing their shoes in the apartment above. As one shoe made a sound hitting the floor, the expectation for the other shoe to make a similar disturbance was created.You never see these shoes. You only hear them. That's why waiting for the other shoe to drop involves distinct anticipation: You're not seeing the person unlace the shoe and reach the point where he will drop the shoe. You know he will, but you don't know exactly when, not until you hear the shoe hit the floor. And that goes to show just how badly Josh Marshall mangled the cliché when he wrote "one of the biggest shoes I've seen drop."*
You shouldn't be using clichés anyway, so why expose yourself to the lampooning you're going to get here at Althouse if you get them wrong?
* And I don't even want to talk about Marshall's image of shoe dropping on the Trump story. The shoe-dropping cliché is about the need to endure the sound of the shoe hitting the floor. The floor isn't hurt or changed in any significant way by the shoe.