Once upon a time that oftentimes seems a fillip into yesterday, my boys, Baron and Travers, respectively 13 and 10, had a t-shirt company. And what a glorious time that was! Both boys were Regina wood-riders (skateboarders) and Beatnik Apparel was their favorite skate shop, owned and operated by an extraordinaire gentleman, Pierre Cato.
The boys named their t-shirt company, GHOTI (FISH) T-SHIRTS. GHOTI and FISH were homonyms, both pronounced as “fish” -- the phonetic explanation as follows: For GHOTI, the gh is like the f sound in enough; the o is like the short i sound in women; the ti is the sh sound as in station.
The boys sold their t-shirts to skate shops mainly situated in Western Canada: Kamloops (British Columbia), Medicine Hat (Alberta), Swift Current, Regina, and Saskatoon (Saskatchewan), and Brandon and Winnipeg (Manitoba). Typically we’d go on a selling road trip each summer, and during these road trips, I remember the boys counting their sales money with glee, whilst I wondered how we were going to make the credit card payments for the petrol, hotel, and meals.
The key to the GHOTI sales seemed to be noetic logos printed on quality 100% cotton tees. I remember, especially, the GHOTI HIGHWAY issue, inspired by the t-shirt in Pierre’s shop which read, Cars are People Too. Pickles are People Too (a dozen or so people squashed inside a pickle jar) and DEKREPIT (skyscrapers with smashed windows and a jungle of trees wildly growing), too, are Ghoti issues that are fixed in my memory. From a corporate sales perspective, the GHOTI enterprise was really a small fish with big talk in a small pond.
In Corporate America snappy headlines and taglines transcend to bigger fish and bigger ponds, America runs on Dunkin (Dunkin Donuts) and Just Do It (Nike) being a couple examples. And my favorite example just happens to be the wordswords in my blog title. Is it meant to be words words? Or word swords?
No matter the meaning, wordswords is but one phrase amongst the millions on the conversation continuum of phatic chats, sound bytes, shaggy dogs, and word salads.
Phatic chats are those thin and wispy weather clouds having the simple social function of acknowledgement, employed sometimes to predict whether or not the person directly addressed wants to engage in thicker and richer discussions. Generally speaking, such salutations (How ya doin’, How’s it goin’) are not solicitations for a longer response.
Usually for the media, a sound byte is a synonym for that pithy bit of spoken prose that is metaphorically representative of the current computer bit lingo of today. The punchy, Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee (Mohammad Ali), and the catchy, If you come to a fork in the road, take it (Yogi Berra), are a couple of doggerel examples -- with both puns intended. Alas, Ali and Berra are legendary ... as literary poetasters.
We all know people who never seem to shut-up, and at every opportunity perturbingly nose in and take over every conversation, and specifically link and layer topic upon topic. Such oneversational diatribes are referred to as Shaggy Dogs, so labeled because they go on and on about nothing in particular, as did that 1959 Disney flick, The Shaggy Dog, starring Fred MacMurray. (There has been a 2006 re-make starring Tim Allen!)
A Shaggy Dog example: You talk about peanuts … when my uncle from Nebraska came to visit us one Christmas he brought a bag of peanuts not knowing that my sister was allergic to peanuts, and she’s 40 years old now and you know she has three kids, two from one marriage and the other as a single parent and those kids, my oh my, all three are allergic to peanuts … when the youngest, Sam, first started kindergarten my sister got a call from the school saying that Sam had to be taken to emergency … who would have thought … and the hospital there was one of those small town hospitals … one nurse and no doctor and …
Word salads (Schizophasia) are those confusing jumbled sentences, oftentimes regarded as a positive symptom of persons with Schizophrenia. Here is a not-made-up macadoine example:
… the icy universe kerplunks the infinity of my powerful being of nothingness …
Strangely, I’ve heard and read enough of these seemingly nonsensical word salads to wonder if they are not really brilliant pieces of poetry, especially with the common themes of power and infinity and grandeur. These notions are always expelled, unfortunately, whenever I witness the actual person delivering these rant and roar word salads.
Being a registered buskologist, I love to talk in tee shirts. My goal for next summer is to create a GHOTI busker line of tees and actually strut along the concrete wearing the following epigrams:
- I’M A PLAYER
-I PRACTICE – YOU PAY
-I DOO STAND-UP
-I’M A NUMISMATIST (COIN COLLECTOR)
-I STAND ‘N DELIVER
- DOUBLE HAPPINESS = CLINK CLINK
-MY SWEETSPOT IS MY BUSKPOT
-I’M YOURS – STRINGS ATTACHED
-I’M IN SIDEWALK SALES
-I’M ON BUSKATION
-I’M A SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR
-HAVE GUITAR – WILL TRAVEL
-BORN TO BUSK
-SINGIN’ FOR MY SUPPER
-LIVIN’ THE DREAM
-BOBBY DYLAN I AIN’T
-HOME STREET HOME
In closing, I must mention the troupe of characters who marched in my CHAUCERIAN PARADE this week:
· -The KAWACATOOSE BOYS -- who allowed me with my didge to join their drum song (a picture of me playing my didgeridoo taken by my friend, Bill, is atop this blog entry).
Fellow buskers, our station being the sidewalk minstrels of the hoi polloi (physical presence aside) we are judged significantly by the words we speak, the sentences we construct, the paragraphs we put together. Our listeners/customers can readily determine from our spoken word whether we are logical or scattered, coherant or crazy. Because people really see who we are through language, I leave you with the following talking t-shirt:
Muster the consumers ...
Master the small talk!
Master the small talk!