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Jewish World Review
July 6, 2007
/ 20 Tamuz 5767
Call it Quits
The Sopranos are off the air (as far as new episodes are concerned, of course reruns will go on for centuries) and Martin Scorsese hasn't made any new Italian crime family pictures in awhile, which is to say that many fans are probably going through Mafia withdrawal pains. To easy the pain a bit, here's a list of hit-man terms for killing a person. See how many you know. Whack, Hit, Clock, Nail, Cap, Clop, Stiff, Snuff, Clip, Waste, Ice, Pop, Do, Off, Croak. Then we have the "down" terms; Cut down and Blow down. Followed by the "out" terms; Take out and Rub out. Then the ever-popular "off" terms; Knock off, Bump off, Blip off, and Chill off. So many ways to say, "kill" and so little time.
And while we're on the morbid subject of death think of all the expressions with the word "dead" in them that we use in our daily lives. "Dead to rights," dead tired," "deadbeat," "dead as a doornail," "dead duck," dead-end," "dead between the ears," dead giveaway," "dead to the world," "dead shot,' "dead time," "deadhead," deadpan," "deadeye," "dead ringer" "dead letter," "dead of night,"
For many decades, actors have used terms of death to describe audience reactions to their performances. "I killed them last night." "The show bombed." "They were laid out in the aisles." "His routine died." "Dead air." "This will really slay "em." "This joke will kill ya."
Lots of people don't like using the word "death" or died," it upsets them. Maybe the word is a bit too final. A little too graphically frank. Euphemisms for death are many and used all the time, used possibly more than the word death itself. Raymond Chandler used a couple for two of his novels, "The Big Sleep," and "The Long Goodbye." "Pass away" is the term most used, I would imagine, although I don't like it myself it sounds too much like what it is, a cute inoffensive way of avoiding the word die. Recently I saw a show where a character said, in response to someone who had referred to a person as having "passed away," "He didn't pass away, he didn't pass on, he didn't pass over, he didn't pass through, he didn't pass out, he DIED!"
"Going to one's reward" assumes that one did something wonderful which would entitle them to a reward of some kind. How many of us really deserve an award for simply being born? "Kicking the bucket" or "kicked off" is too crude. "Buying the farm" "bite the dust," "cash in one's chips," are all too glib. And just saying "gone," is too obscure. "Expired" isn't too bad, I suppose, except for the fact that it reduces the death of a human being to the fate of a parking meter. For better or worse, died is the word to use, I think.
Google the word "die" on the Internet and you get 1,680,000,000 results. Google "death" and you get 369,000,000 results. This tells me that someone could probably spend the rest their life just looking up death on the web.
The Internet has a web site called Death Clock which is, as they state, "The internet's friendly reminder that life is slipping away." On the home page of the thing there is a way to determine how much time you have left to live. You give them your day, month, and year of birth, your sex, whether you smoke or not, your mental outlook, and your body mass index and presto they will tell you the day you will die. In my case it is October 24th, 2022. They even give how many seconds of life you have left. I had, at the time I did this, exactly 484,200,976 seconds to go. The scary thing is that you actually watch the seconds of your life tick off on the little tote board gizmo. Weird. Yes, you can find out anything on the Internet.
Okay, here's a last laugh for you. A waiter dies and his wife is understandably distressed. One day she encounters someone who assures her that she can speak to her beloved husband through a medium. She is, of course, delighted with the prospect, and an appointment is made. The wife visits the medium and the sťance begins. She presses both hands on the table and calls out, "Sam Ö Sam, speak to me!" A haunting breeze blows through, a whistling noise follows and then a faint voice cries out, "I can't it's not my table!"
Live and be well until next week.
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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.
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© 2006, Greg Crosby