February 20, 2017

"But the appearance of the name of Felix Sater in this new article in the Times is one of the biggest shoes I've seen drop on the Trump story in some time."

Okay, you can go over here if you want to know what Josh Marshall is so exercised about. And here for the underlying NYT article, "A Back-Channel Plan for Ukraine and Russia, Courtesy of Trump Associates."

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.

65 comments:

Laslo Spatula said...

Maybe Marshall's shoe is on the other foot.

I am Laslo.

chickelit said...

"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"

Suppose that Marshall likes exposing himself?

Laslo Spatula said...

Maybe Marshall needs to Walk a Mile in a Russian's Moccasins.

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

Maybe we can agree that, with his tortured use of clichés, Marshall shot himself in the foot?

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

Maybe we can agree that, with his tortured use of clichés, Marshall is dancing with two left feet?

I am Laslo.

MisterBuddwing said...

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?

I think there's something to be said for deliberately mangling a cliche so it's not so much of a cliche. (Now, if I could only come up with a charming example... )

Laslo Spatula said...

Maybe we can agree that, with his tortured use of clichés, Marshall's writing is Footloose and fancy free?

I am Laslo.

Known Unknown said...

I need some illumination. Why are we supposed to be diametrically opposed to Russia?

Laslo Spatula said...

Maybe we can agree that, with his tortured use of clichés, Marshall's writing does NOT put its best foot forward?

I am Laslo.

EDH said...

This week's episode of John Oliver's LastWeekTonite last night featured a 20 minute go nowhere piece on Trump and Russia.

Sounded to me like the barking seal audience and even Oliver knew it, too.

traditionalguy said...

Russia is the enemy because Russia has blockaded Berlin and we are forced to use an Airlift to save the Germans...and...and Joe McCarthy says he has secret rumors in his briefcase.

Dr Weevil said...

You can also mangle a cliche in real life. My college roommate always dropped one shoe, then the other, then quietly picked up one and dropped it again. Whether the guys in the dorm room below ever noticed, I do not know.

Laslo Spatula said...

When questioning his tortured use of clichés, Marshall shows us that if the shoe fits...

I am Laslo.

Mr. Forward said...

I learned patience living downstairs from a one legged man.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

China Shop always brings this to mind:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmTvAZvJ5Mc

Bob Ellison said...

I smelled a shoe dropping the other day. I'm part dog.

Laslo Spatula said...

When using clichés to illustrate Marshall's tortured use of clichés, is the shoe then on the other foot?

I am Laslo.

JAORE said...

Bravo, Mr. Forward.

Bob Ellison said...

Laslo Spatula, you're footing lively today.

tomaig said...

Professor, you ought to collaborate with James Taranto to pen (type? click?) a modern-day "on Language" column.

William Safire died seven years ago; you and JT would be outstanding picks to carry on his love-of-language legacy.

Bob Boyd said...

Marshall won't be hearing the other shoe drop because Althouse has beaten him unconscious with the first one.
On Althouse Blog, shoe drops you.

khesanh0802 said...

First the article deserves the Bull Shit tag. Second, the article is is about a bunch of guys who independent of any thing are trying to figure out how to make a deal in Ukraine, or Russia or somewhere - the NYT is honest enough to mention that none of these guys have ever talked with Trump about their "proposal"(?). Third, the NYT has to rehash every rumor and "investigation" that has a whiff of the Russians about it. I realize that they are writing for their captive audience on the upper west side and that I should know better than to make the effort to read this stuff, but when Ann makes a link I respect her enough to try to follow what she's commenting on.

I thought Trump's comment at his Florida rally was the most cogent regarding Russia. He said something along the lines that it would probably be a good idea to work out a deal with the Russians, but that the press/Dems are making that more and more difficult. I guess I would ask why we should be so fearful of the Russians when we can be reasonably sure that they will act rationally - competitively, but rationally. On the other hand we have the Norks who I don't think are rational, and the Chinese who will act only in their own interest as seen from inside the party structure.

Livermoron said...

Changing a cliché is legitimate. 'A bull looking for a china shop' is a fine way to state that someone is out to create trouble. And it isn't about 'enduring' the drop of a shoe, it is about [I]anticipating and waiting for the other shoe to drop[/I].

None of this should be construed as support for the NYT.

Earnest Prole said...

Suppose that Marshall likes exposing himself?

Close. Josh Marshall likes Angela & Strawberry Kissing Teasing Licking — though in all fairness, who doesn’t?

dreams said...

I guess a blind bull in a china shop would probably do a lot of damage.

rhhardin said...

Pushing the envelope is the most misused cliche.

AllenS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Yancey Ward said...

Reading Josh Marshall is like listening to a turd drop in a toilet.

AllenS said...

Walk softly and wear big shoes.

Bob Ellison said...

As long as we're ragging on cliches, can we please retire "beg the question"? That's the most god-awfully-written cliche in the history of bad English.

Michael K said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael K said...

Doctor to patient: I have good news and bad news.

Patient: Tell me the bad news first.

Doctor: We have to amputate both your legs.

Patient: Good Grief! What's the good news ?

Doctor: The guy in the next bed wants to buy your shoes.

MikeR said...

I _like_ it when people play with tired old metaphors.

MikeR said...

Trying to read these articles, but I have trouble following. Sounds like Trump is working his communications channels to deal with Russia. Well, good.

Bob Boyd said...

An ER doctor comes into the waiting room and tells the wife of a car crash victim, "I have some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that your husband has extensive, serious injuries. You'll have to feed him, bath him, even wipe his ass for him for weeks."

The wife says, "Oh my God! What's the good news?"

The doctor says, "I'm only kidding. He's dead."

Ann Althouse said...

Mangling clichés is associated with Archie Bunker. Examples:

One man's goose is another man's dander.

Like ships that clash in the night.

I got bigger fish to fly.

You want people to think you live in a pig's eye?

The dent in his car is hardly cold and he's coming over here to claim his pound of fish.

We better not, ya know, kill our chickens before they cross the road.

Hangin' around her neck like an albacore.

Like the old adverb "you can lead a gift horse to the water but ya can't look in his mouth."

You painted us into a corner, then you threw away the key.

Sleeping dogs bark the loudest.

One good egg in a barrel of rotten apples.

Too long they've been gettin' the short end of the totem pole.

Etc. etc.

dreams said...

As to Josh Marshall, it helps to remember that liberals are actually very ignorant people and just not as smart as they think they are. However, they are very selfish and elitist.

Bob Ellison said...

Don't know why
There's no sun up in the sky
Stormy weather

buwaya said...

You could import some new cliches and figures of speech.
Simplest is to import some foreign ones.
My granny's favorites- many seem useful for modern circumstances.

tocando el violon - literally "playing the violin" - to be confused, to babble, to speak of irrelevancies.

como dios manda - as God commands - used as an intensifier and unanswerable argument, to do something properly. Eat your vegetables como dios manda; set the table como dios manda; do your homework como dios manda.

bicho malo nunca muere - a bad/evil/troublesome critter never dies. Used as exasperated or fatalist comment.

hay moros en la costa - literal - there are moors on the coast - there may be danger; we are being overheard, speak prudently.

monos en seda - literal - monkeys in silk - those who presume above their station; fools in power.

Drago said...

Coming this Summer: "Six Degrees of Vladimir Putin!d"

The fun new game from Milton-Bradley!

The NYT is still pushing all the discredited blurbs from months ago.

Hilarious.

The #DemDeadEnders can't let it go or else they would have to confront some difficult truths about themselves and their policies. And we have garnered ample evidence that the Snowflake/SafeSpace crowd is utterly incapable of such introspection.

traditionalguy said...

Bulls are famous as being confrontational beasts. They will charge when they see you and gut you with their sharp horns.
Calling someone bad for acting like Bull may be a sneaky compliment on President's Day. That is what the British Army in 1780 called the over mountain men from East Tennessee that they had been seeking to kill, but had started chasing them in return until the Brits stopped running away on a wooded hill outside Charlotte, NC called King's Mountain.

After that slaughter, the Brits gave up Bull Fighting with Presbyterians and ran for cover to Yorktown where the French Fleet and George Washington, blessed be his name, trapped the Aristocratic Murdrers.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy:

Cliche Finder (website)

Amazon: The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms

Amazon: The Dictionary of Cliches (w/origins)

Be sure to use the Althouse portal for your Amazon purchases--it doesn't cost you anything and it helps support wonderful posts like the one you just read.

Livermoron said...

I had relatives at King's Mountain (on both sides). It was the only battle of the American Revolution fought entirely by Americans; Loyalists (commanded by a Brit Army officer) vs. Patriots. So it wasn't the Brits that were marauding through the countryside. Also, the Overmountain Men came from the other side of the Appalachian range and included Virginians, South Carolinians as well as those from what would later become the State of Franklin and subsequently Eastern Tennessee.

Some of the Overmountain Men remained behind to further drive the Brits and Loyalists from the country. They would play an important role in the battles of '96' and at the Cowpens. Those that returned to their homes directly after King's Mountain found themselves gathering up their arms again. This time they were fighting off attacks of the Chickamauga, Shawnees, and other tribes.

I bet Lewis Wetzel knows a fair amount about this subject. I have ancestors who were also 'long hunters' and must've known the historical Lewis Wetzel.

traditionalguy said...

Livermoron is correct that the British at Kings Mountain were mostly South Carolina Loyalist Militia armed with British weapons and Bayonette Charge Tactics, and commanded by a unit of Redcoat Army officers under Major Patrick Ferguson. That unit had become famous locally for looting of the homes of their Rebel neighbors. But this battle proved that a reliance on Tory Militia in the Carolinas to fight an organized force was not a good strategy for Cornwallis.

Lewis Wetzel said...

The first frontier:
https://archive.org/details/heroesandhunters00frosrich

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Livermoron: I had relatives at King's Mountain (on both sides). It was the only battle of the American Revolution fought entirely by Americans; Loyalists (commanded by a Brit Army officer) vs. Patriots.

That's neat--did they all survive the battle? King's Mountain was when the Patriots gave "Tarelton's Quarter" back, to the Loyalists, after Waxhaws. The groups were relatively separated when the Loyalists first tried to surrender, though, so the killing wasn't as severe.

roesch/voltaire said...

How about Sater is just another drop in the bucket of murky Russian deals with surround Trump?

Robert Cook said...

"As long as we're ragging on cliches, can we please retire 'beg the question?' That's the most god-awfully-written cliche in the history of bad English."

"Beg the question" is not a cliche; it's a misuse of the name for a logical fallacy. Typically, it's used to mean "raises the question." "Beg the question" means to assume the conclusion is true as a premise of the argument.

Bill: "God must exist."
Jill: "How do you know."
Bill: "Because the Bible says so."
Jill: "Why should I believe the Bible?"
Bill: "Because the Bible was written by God."


(I took this example from here.)

Robert Cook said...

"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'...."

I'm pretty certain the writer knows the actual cliche, and he is purposely writing a variation of it for intended humorous or rhetorical effect.

Bob Ellison said...

Yes, Robert Cook, you're correct. As am I. You've got the cliche correct in meaning. I'm saying it's badly phrased, poorly written, crapley done. It makes no sense in English.

And while you raise the term "logical fallacy", please, let's retire that as well. People who know logic don't have a problem identifying fallacies.

Lewis Wetzel said...

My Revolutionary War ancestors were Pennsylvania Dutch, AKA Quakers and Mennonites.
The Quakers and Mennonites generally favored British rule because they did not want to be ruled by the New England Puritans. There was no First Amendment in 1776.

Livermoron said...

traditional : I've seen no support that the Loyalists under Maj. Ferguson were led by a group of British officers. The 2nd in command was a Captain DePeyser (IIRC) who was from New York. The bayonet charge tactics were committed by a New York Loyalist unit (trained in the British tactics) which DePeyser had brought with him to join with the Loyalist militia. I have also not found any record that the Loyalists were given British weapons. Only those NY army Loyalists (99 officers and men out of the 1200 Loyalists) were equipped with muskets built to carry a bayonet. Ferguson's role was to recruit Loyalists (who brought their own weapons, rations and horses) from the South Carolina backcountry and use them to root out and destroy the Patriots. Per Ferguson:'to lay waste to your country with fire and sword.'

Hoodlum: Yes, they all survived. The Loyalist ancestor remained in S.Carolina and died in his 80s. "Tarleton's Quarter" was also known as 'Buford's Play'. My ancestors came over in 1636 (Jamestown) and rode the cresting wave of Americanism across the country, moving with the ever-expanding frontier. I have found many interesting stories where my ancestors were involved.

Fernandinande said...

Sounds like bullshoes.

SukieTawdry said...

That Myth Busters thing was silly. That's not in the least what a china shop looks like. In a real china shop, a woman carrying a purse has trouble enough.

People rework cliches for effect. Sometimes the rework works, sometimes it doesn't.

Mr. Forward said...I learned patience living downstairs from a one legged man.

Well played! Did you ever see the episode of The Big Bang Theory where Amy is trying to cure Sheldon of his compulsive need for closure and won't let him finish anything? Even I was frustrated.

Roy Lofquist said...

He was just throwing spaghetti against the wall to see if anyone would salute.

If that doesn't shut this thread down then I don't know what to do.

StephenFearby said...

From the Times article:

"...Mr. Cohen and Mr. Sater said they had not spoken to Mr. Trump about the proposal, and have no experience in foreign policy. Mr. Cohen is one of several Trump associates under scrutiny in an F.B.I. counterintelligence examination of links with Russia, according to law enforcement officials; he has denied any illicit connections."

OK, the Times manages to squeeze this farce into their continuing meme. That the Hildabeast lost the election because Trump (or his campaign) conspired with the Russians to take her down. Sounds right. But you have to have some reliable evidence to prove it. The Times works very hard to be a dubious manufacturer of same.

One of the players in this farce (Mel Brooks would have a ball writing about this cast of characters) is:

From Wikipedia:

Haim Felix Sater (He dropped the Haim at some point.)

"Felix Sater was born in Moscow, Soviet Union on March 2, 1966 to parents Mikhail and Rachel Sater. A Jewish family, the Saters emigrated to Israel when Sater was eight years old to avoid religious persecution in the Soviet Union, and eventually came to the United States, living in Baltimore, Maryland before settling in Brighton Beach, New York in 1974.[1]"


"...In 1991, Sater got into an argument with a commodities broker at the El Rio Grande restaurant and bar in Midtown. He stabbed the man's cheek and neck with the stem of a margarita glass, breaking his jaw, lacerating his face, and severing nerves.[10][1] Sater was convicted of first degree assault in 1993 and served a year in prison.[2][11] This resulted in Sater being barred from selling securities on the National Association of Securities Dealers (now called the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority).[1]

In 1998, Sater was convicted of charges of fraud in connection to a $7.9 million penny stock pump and dump scheme through his employer, White Rock Partners. In return for a guilty plea, Sater agreed to assist the US government in issues of national security, working in Asia for the CIA.[12] [Another source says it was the FBI. Who knows.] He was ultimately sentenced to a $25,000 fine, and no prison time as a result of gratitude for service to his country."

Smells like this was inserted into his Wikipedia bio by Sater himself.

The interesting thing about this farce is that the Times received the details...from someone.

First thought: one of the moles in the national security apparatus. If the information was closely held, it could well be a gift to successfully track down the leaker(s).

The Artemenko plan actually makes a lot of sense as a compromise to defuse the Ukrainian impasse. This is supported by the fact that since the details have been made public, both Russia and Ukraine have denounced it. Artemenko has also been ejected from his right-wing Ukranian political party

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Livermoron said... Yes, they all survived. The Loyalist ancestor remained in S.Carolina and died in his 80s. "Tarleton's Quarter" was also known as 'Buford's Play'. My ancestors came over in 1636 (Jamestown) and rode the cresting wave of Americanism across the country, moving with the ever-expanding frontier. I have found many interesting stories where my ancestors were involved.

That's really neat, thank you for sharing.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Robert Cook said...I'm pretty certain the writer knows the actual cliche, and he is purposely writing a variation of it for intended humorous or rhetorical effect.

That was my argument as well, Robert Cook, and that it wasn't a dead metaphor because it was alluding to the well-known cliche/metaphor but using it in a new way...but I don't think the Professor was at all persuaded.

JaimeRoberto said...

"Why are we supposed to be diametrically opposed to Russia?"

Because Russia is white and Christian and Putin hates gays, so they rise to the top of the oppression pyramid. I think it's the SJW three strikes law.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

I hope this cliche abuse is just a one-off-a-kind.

RichardS said...

Remember the Merrill Lynch Bull in a China shop commercial?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMKd1NkTEB8

Robert Cook said...

"Why are we supposed to be diametrically opposed to Russia?"

Because they provide an excuse for us to continue expansion of our War Department budget and influence over policy, (which not coincidentally enriches the parasitic arms merchants). Also, they present an impediment to our domination of the entire globe, (as do China).

JaimeRoberto said...

"Because they provide an excuse for us to continue expansion of our War Department budget and influence over policy..."

There's that too. It's probably a Bootleggers and Baptists scenario.

Darrell said...

The Eagle and the Bear will unite to defeat the Dragon.

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