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Posts Tagged ‘Kansas City Star’

Jay Driving

Posted by Admin on April 2, 2015

On Tuesday, Idiomation researched the history of jaywalking, and, in the process, learned that there was such a term as jay driving!  Rather than just leave the discovery at that, Idiomation decided to delve a little more into the history of the expression.

Jay drivers, as you know are drivers who don’t keep their vehicles in their proper lanes, wandering all over the road, putting everyone else in peril.  The term didn’t disappear in the early 1900s once traffic laws were in place and jay walkers were being cited and fined for crossing the street where they weren’t supposed to be crossing, and it didn’t appear at the turn of the century and make a quick exit either!

The St. Petersburg Times edition of December 10, 1948 talked about jay drivers by posting this amusing cartoon and important public service announcement in the newspaper.

JERKO THE JAY DRIVER_IMAGE 1
The problem of jay drivers plagued Miami during the 1930s which undoubtedly prompted the Miami Daily News — dubbed the oldest paper in Miami — to published this article on August 3, 1937.

MIAMI NEWS_IMAGE 2
Things were so impossible between jay walkers and jay drivers, that the National Safety Council honed four important rules for those interested in being good jay walkers.  Published in the December 28, 1934 edition of the Gazette and Bulletin newspaper of Williamsport (PA), the last rule (of which there were only four) shared this bit of insight.

Let the motorist do the worrying.  It’s his privilege as a driver.  If you’re not hit the first time, don’t get discouraged.  There’s a jay-driver on almost every street and it’s only a matter of time before the two of you will meet.

Jay drivers and jay walkers seem to have been the bane of most people’s existence during the Roaring Twenties.  The Eugene Register-Guard voiced its displeasure over the two with this simple comment in their August 11, 1924 edition that read:

The penalty for jay-walking and jay-driving should be made so severe that those brainless individuals would learn to obey the traffic laws.

On September 7, 1923, The Evening Independent newspaper published an article that hailed a novel suggestion, as they called it, that was made by Mr. Horrigan that addressed the conditions and needs of St. Petersburg as a tourist resort.  The fact of the matter was, as was pointed out “there are regular universal standard rules adopted by the A.A.A. that are used by almost every city, and certain laws passed by cities regulating traffic which are almost all alike so nothing need be said of them.  It is merely up to our officers to enforce them.”  The article included this commentary about jay drivers.

The trouble is with the drivers, and you will always have jay drivers, and no matter what rules you put into effect, the jay driver will not carry them out, or does not want to.

Yes, jay drivers had everyone up in arms with their dangerous jay driving.  Even columnist Richard Lloyd Jones of the Roundup Record-Tribune and Winnett Times (in Montana) commented on jay drivers and the “Safety First” movement that was meant to lessen danger everywhere except on streets and roads.  The  “Safety First” movement focused on making it safe for automobile owners to drive their vehicles, even if it came at the expense of pedestrian safety.  His comments included this paragraph.

Unless jay-driving is promptly stopped — unless every jay-driver is promptly jerked out of his seat and not allowed to return to the wheel, we are all going to be compelled to take our bumpers off and put on baskets.

One of the more unintentionally humorous comments included in the column was that every speedometer should be made to town-clock size (in other words, the size of the car’s tire) and mounted on the back of the vehicle so that everybody would be able to read the speed at which the vehicle was traveling.

An interesting statistic that was included in this story was this:  In 1920 there were 10,007 deaths due to influenza, and 10,163 deaths due to automobiles!

The Kansas City Star newspaper published on October 6, 1915 warned of an unusual number of motor car accidents over the days leading up to the article in their newspaper.  Not only were there a number of collisions, but the newspaper reported that in one instance, a car “skidded on a sharp curve and turned over.”  The newspaper wagged its editorial finger by ending the article with this remark:  Caution marks the competent driver; Recklessness belongs only to the jay.”  The article was aptly entitled, “Don’t Be A Jay Driver.”

Were pedestrians killed by horse-drawn vehicles before automobiles became popular? Of course they were, and at an alarmingly high rate to boot!  But this was because horses were easily spooked, and when panicked, oftentimes they would bolt into panicked crowds dragging their carriage or wagon behind them.  However, reporters for the New York Times back in 1888 wrote about horse-drawn carriages who seemed to “think that they own the [pedestrian] crossings.”  One reporter went as far as to point out:  “Pedestrian have right of way over crossings, and drivers are bound to respect that right, if the city authorities would only enforce the law.”

Is it any wonder that the same attitude carried over to automobiles?

In any case, the unfortunate reality of jay drivers is that Henry Hale Bliss (June 13, 1830 – September 14, 1899) is the first person in history to have been killed in an automobile fatality.

INTERESTING SIDE NOTE:  On the 100th anniversary of this sad event, a commemorative plaque was placed on this site on September 13, 1999.  It’s said that the plaque was erected to promote safety on streets and highways.

The New York Times reported the story in great detail.  In the end, the driver was acquitted of manslaughter charges on the grounds that it was unintentional even though the driver’s car had crushed the victim’s head and chest the day before he died from his injuries.

FIRST FATAL AUTO ACCIDENT_IMAGE 4
So sometime between 1899 when the first ever fatal automobile accident happened and 1905 when the Albuquerque Evening Citizen newspaper edition of June 29, 1907 made mention of jay drivers, the words jay driver and jay driving were coined and quickly became known in English-speaking countries.

Now to find out what a jay really is, other than a bird or a baseball player in Toronto.

Posted in Idioms from the 20th Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Brick And Click

Posted by Admin on April 15, 2013

With the clear separation between online shopping and brick-and-mortar store shopping, it wasn’t long before the expression brick and click was heard more and more in business conversations. Offline (brick) shopping and online (click) shopping meant that corporations and entrepreneurs had to pay attention to the way they marketed their brand to their customers, since those who preferred brick shopping appeared to have a different mindset than those who preferred click shopping.

Now, not every business is click-friendly just like not every business is brick-friendly. When reporter Randall Stross wrote his news story “Why Bricks And Clicks Don’t Always Mix” for the September 18, 2010 edition of the New York Times, he wrote in part:

Blockbuster’s experience shows that executing a bricks-and-clicks strategy entails a high degree of difficulty, managing not just two very different kinds of businesses, with dissimilar domains of expertise, but also a third challenge: integrating two separate systems. An online-only service can remain a best-in-class operation because its executives focus, focus, focus on just the online business.

This was clear back in July 2001 when the eCommerce Times online magazine edition of July 7, 2001 published their story entitled, “Brick-and-Click Does Not Mean Overnight Success.” Of special interest in the article was mention that not every brick-and-mortar store should become a brick-and-click store as evidenced by this tidbit:

While Federated is only going to narrow its offerings and eliminate less popular categories on Macys.com, the company is shutting down the e-commerce aspects of its Bloomingdales.com operation. From now on, Bloomingdales.com will be nothing more than an informational and marketing site for the company’s brick-and-mortar department stores.

Now Chris Lester, Assistant Managing Editor for the Kansas City Star newspaper reported on February 1, 2000 reported on the struggle to create a term for shopping online. The article, entitled, “Not Brick, But Click And Mortar” it was clear that no one was sure what the expression would be. The article began with this insight:

Here’s a new equation for retail and real estate at the dawn of the Internet epoch.

Brick and mortar + click and order = click and mortar.

That’s the hopeful word coming from retailers, vendors, brokers and developers who gathered last week at the Ritz-Carlton for a day of brainstorming sponsored by the International Council of Shopping Centers.

Sometime between February 2000 and July 2001, all that was worked out and the accepted term for stores that had both offline and online shopping for customers became known as brick and click.

Posted in Idioms from the 21st Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Hug The Cactus

Posted by Admin on February 11, 2013

During the 25th Annual American Cinematheque Awards Ceremony, one of the recipients stated that one of the presenters had hugged the cactus long enough. The expression was vivid and visual, and put forth the concept that surely someone who hugs a cactus — regardless of whether it’s voluntary or involuntary — earns forgiveness and a second chance.

Gina Holmes, author of such books as “Crossing Oceans” and “Wings Of Glass” used the expression in a blog article she wrote and published online on July 18, 2005. She shared her top advice for prospective authors, and one of the many valuable pieces of information shared was this:

So, to recap, my advice: Join the toughest writer critique group you can find and hug the cactus. (That means embrace the painful critiques).

This concept is one that’s found in only a handful of newspaper articles such as the article entitled, “Taking A Chance On Dare” in the Kansas City Star edition of July 2, 2004. The dare in question was the movie “Love Me If You Dare” — the romantic and yet continuously platonic relationship that lasts three decades, from childhood through to adulthood. The reviewer felt the movie was beautifully made, and gave the actors kudos for their works, however, he indirectly referenced the expression when he wrote:

One may admire a cactus, after all, but nobody wants to hug it.

While it seems to be a rarely used idiom, when it is used, it an idiom that’s immediately understood. The expression impacted on family life educators and authors, David and Claudia Arp in 1999 and included it in the title of their bookSuddenly They’re 13 or The Art of Hugging a Cactus: A Parent’s Survival Guide for the Adolescent Years.”

In trying to track down the history of this expression, a Friend of Idiomation living in Texas claimed that it’s been around Texas for generations and refers to an individual going through hard times. To hug the cactus means the individual confronts life’s hard knocks head for the purpose of getting over them as quickly as possible and move on.  The meaning attributed to this saying in Texas is consistent with how Robert Downey, Jr. used it when speaking about Mel Gibson.

Even with that bit of information to go on, Idiomation was unable to make much headway in tracking down the history of this expression.

If anyone out there knows a bit of the story, please feel free to share what you know in the Comments section. We’d all love to get the inside story on where this idiom came from, or at least, the journey it took to make it onstage at the 25th Annual American Cinematheque Awards Ceremony.

Posted in Idioms from the 20th Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Mouse Potato

Posted by Admin on April 11, 2011

ArwBlu3d This entry was mentioned in an article at Bon Appetit magazine.  Click HERE to read more

ArwBlu3d This entry was mentioned in an article at Enjoy Your Meal website.  Click HERE to read more.

This term “mouse potato” is a hybrid expression that sews together “couch potato” and “computer mouse.”

For those who aren’t in the loop, a couch potato springs forth under certain conditions, those conditions being the presence of a couch, at least one bag of potato chips, and a television that seems to have no “off” button. In recent years, couch potatoes have evolved and now Internet communities are seeing the emergence of a new being known as the “mouse potato.”

The Bahrain Gulf Daily News published an article on April 13, 2011, written by B. Comber entitled “Recycling of Used Words.”  In his news story, he wrote:

No longer can we refer to anyone with literary or bookish pretensions as ‘booksy’, nor can we use the term ‘mouse potato’ for someone who wastes a lot of time on the computer. ‘Cheque cards’ and ‘cassette decks’ have been left behind by the rapid growth of technology, while for some reason OUP will no longer allow us to roast a chicken in a ‘chicken brick’.  I suppose we are meant to use a turducken brick instead, in these enlightened engastricated days.

On August 2, 2006 Nestor E. Arellano wrote an article for IT World Canada entitled, “Heavy Net Users Log Off From Family, Friends, Says StatsCan.”  He reported in part:

Behold the mouse potato — heavy Internet users who spend hours on end in front of the computer tapping and scrolling away their time for no apparent financial reward. Statistics Canada tracked the nature and habits of this creature last year and their findings reveal that people who spend time on the Internet for more than an hour each day are logging off from their spouses or partners as well as their children and friends.

And back on May 8, 2001, Carol Braham, one a number of senior editor at Random House, was quoted in a story by freelance writer, Jacqueline Rivkin for Long Island Newsday.  In the article which dealt with the latest updates in the 2001 edition of the Random House Webster’s College Dictionary, Ms. Braham stated that more than 300 new words and meanings had been added to the modern dictionary, including slang.  It read in part:

Some words which made it into the dictionary: gaydar (the ability to recognize that another person is gay), my bad (my fault), mouse potato (a person who spends much leisure time at a computer), senior moment (a lapse or moment of confusion) and 24/7 (an abbreviation for 24 hours a day seven days a week.)

Back on December 31, 1995 the Associated Press ran a story entitled, “New Words Change Our Conversations and Our Dictionaries.”  It began by stating:

Among this year’s new or newly prominent words and phrases are World Wide Web, the portion of the Internet where computers users call up information; “mouse potato,” a person hooked on computers; and “nastygram,” an unwelcome message on the Internet.

Almost 2 years before that, on March 4, 1994 James Fussell, staff writer for the Kansas City Star newspaper wrote an article entitled, “Talk Nerdy To Me: Computer Jargon Moves From Savvy Online Users To Everyday Language.”  The article began with:

For most people, especially those of you too computer illiterate to page your sysop, the idea of “meeting Ed” probably doesn’t sound all that bad.  It all depends on whether Ed is your kind of guy, right?   There’s just one problem. Ed isn’t a guy. Ed’s not even human. And frankly, you really don’t want to meet Ed, although you probably have hundreds of times.

Don’t go postal on us. You’re probably just a clueless newbie. Go hang around a mouse potato and see if you can get him to geek out and do a brain dump. The seeming drivel you are reading actually is just a new way to communicate It is the jargon of the truly computer literate.

The expression “couch potato” — the mouse potato predecessor — dates back to 1976, according to the trademark registration.  Tom Iacino of Pasadena pictured where a potato might sit if it was watching television, and came up with the term “couch potato.”  Once the expression was registered, Tom Iacino‘s  friend Bob Armstrong drew a cartoon of a potato on a couch and made money selling couch potato T-shirts, books and newsletters.

Posted in Idioms from the 20th Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »