Wednesday, September 07, 2005


Who uses it: Poets, professors of rhetoric, English teachers
What it means: Using an attribute or connected item to describe a larger entity -- for example, "the Crown" to mean the British monarchy, or "the bounding main" to describe the ocean. Similar to synecdoche, which means to describe something by mentioning a single part of the whole ("to lend a hand").
How to use it: To criticize indirect speaking, and make people think you're a poet or a literary critic. Sportscasters, for instance, tend to be a little too fond of metonymy, so you could spout this one during a Monday Night Football broadcast.

I'm a little scattered this morning, trying to collect myself and get a few last things done before leaving again for a trip that will keep Dizzy and me on the road until September 25.

And it seems a little silly, but I did want to mention the passing of Bob Denver, who will live forever in reruns of "Gilligan's Island" all over the planet.

Any random group of people, anywhere in the world, can discuss "Gilligan's Island." My 33rd birthday dinner was at Lucy's El Adobe in Hollywood, and my friends and I spent the evening talking about the idea that each of the characters in "Gilligan's Island" is supposed to represent one of the Seven Deadly Sins.

It's great discussion fodder -- especially after a few margaritas -- because it doesn't quite work, but it's so close. Gilligan is Sloth, of course. Mr. Howell is Greed, The Professor is Pride, Ginger is Lust, and Mary Ann is Envy. But is The Skipper Anger or Gluttony? And what does that leave for Lovey? Somewhere in there is a terrific idea for an undergraduate semiotics course.

The bright and shining Gregg Hurwitz signs Troubleshooter tonight at 7:00 at Kate's Mystery Books, in Cambridge. I'll be there, and it's possible that Dizzy will be with me, depending on how late I'm running.

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