Jewish World Review March 21, 2002 / 8 Nisan, 5762

Ian Shoales

Ian Shoales
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Consumer Reports

You did it your way? I have to kill you now! | You never know what's going to set people off. A story from the Associated Press this February informed me that a Texas man shot his girlfriend because he thought she was about to say, "New Jersey." His relatives told the jury that certain words just made the defendant angry, including "New Jersey," "Snickers," "Mars," and "Wisconsin." Unimpressed, the jury gave him twenty years. Curiously, when spoken, the verdict did NOT make the defendant angry.

I haven't gone on a shooting spree lately, but certain words and phrases also set my teeth on edge, as well. When somebody is said to be "tapped" for a position, or has gotten the "nod" for a position, when I read that some event "trumps" another event, or when a critic describes an independent film as "quirky," well, I could just spit. Factor in when a pundit says "Factor in," and the terms, value-added, proactive, win-win, outside the box, at the end of the day, ball park, game face, and leverage, well, it's a wonder I've stayed out of prison as long as I have.

Meanwhile, according to Reuters, over in the Philippines more mayhem ensued, when two friends "sarcastically applauded a student for singing Frank Sinatra's classic 'My Way' off-key." The singer felt insulted, and ambushed his mockers outside the karaoke bar where the incident took place, killing one and wounding the other.

Now, I didn't know this, but it seems that the singing of "My Way" in the Philippines often leads to trouble. Newspapers there claim that the song has driven "many drunken men to commit anything from slight physical injuries to homicide."

I don't if this is some kind of Filipino vendetta against Sinatra, or just a resistance to the idea of somebody doing it his way when he's doing it wrong. I also have no idea-- and no data really-- to indicate whether this trigger effect occurs in the United States from songs like "Feelings," or "I'm Like a Bird," or "Who Let the Dogs Out."

Luckily, there ARE no songs called "New Jersey," "Wisconsin," or "Mars." Who knows what violence that could unleash? Especially if Frank Sinatra had recorded them. Off-key. And, of course, outside the box.

JWR contributor Ian Shoales is the author of, among others, Not Wet Yet: An Anthology of Commentary. Comment by clicking here.


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© 2001, Ian Shoales