Actually, again

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 30 views 

“We are actually currently considering all options at this point in time.”

That’s the statement — or darn close to it — of some fella with one of the Gulf states dealing with the destructive arrival on their shores of oil and tarballs and federal bureaucrats.

His name is not used here because he is probably busting his backside 18 hours a day helping minimize damage from the Gulf oil spill and doesn’t need or deserve some smart-alecky and alleged journalist in Fort Smith to critique his choice of words.

But we are going to briefly issue such a critique.

First, you should know that as a product of the Arkansas public school system, my grammar is far from perfect. I dangle or don’t dangle participles — or whichever it is that you’re not supposed to do with your participle, that’s what I do with them. And I probably just used “whichever” in an inappropriate manner, and probably violated some rule about the number of clauses one can include in a sentence.

I remember the rules for prepositions about as clear as I remember anything past the fourth hour of my 21st birthday party. That folks once let me work as a newspaper editor is yet another of the thousands of reasons that business is in trouble.

Grandiloquence is where I draw the line. Not a fine line, mind you, because if it where a fine line I would have not used the “draw the line” phrase and merely noted: Grandiloquence ain’t for me. (All you “ain’t” haters out there can kiss my Merriam-Webster.)

Sure, “Grandiloquence” is a big word for a Johnson County boy who didn’t know what tortellini was until well after he was old enough to vote. But the overuse of words gets more on my nerves during my ongoing metamorphosis into a cranky old man.

The three words/phrases that really catch and bend backward the ear are: “actually,” “currently” and “at this point in time.” All unnecessary. (Sentence fragment. And ain’t it funny that “sentence fragment” used by itself is a sentence fragment?)

Television reporters like to use the word, “actually.”

“The Sheriff said the burglar actually broke into the window of the bank.”

As opposed to he “virtually” broke into the bank? Has this been a problem? Have folks been Matrix-ing their asses into banks and Matrix-ing back out? Just say he broke into the bank. We’ll assume it was actual and not theoretical or mystical or electronic.

Television reporters also love to say, “currently.”

“The Sheriff said the burglar actually broke into the window of the bank, but authorities do not currently have any idea how much money was taken.”

Just say there is no info on how much money was taken. Again, we folks in the listening audience waiting for “Wheel of Fortune” will assume you are giving us the current info and not info you got at 4:09 p.m. and for some reason decided to share that with us instead of the more current info you got at 5:16 p.m. before you breathlessly cue’d up for the live report.

Television reporters love the phrase, “at this point in time.”

“The Sheriff said the burglar actually broke into the window of the bank, but authorities do not currently have any idea how much money was taken at this point in time.”

Someone forgot to tell me about this time machine, because, like “currently,” I’m assuming the TV report of the burglary is related to an event at this particular point in time.

If you get paid by the word, then by all means, please include “at this point in time” and we’ll check it with the atomic clock the United States operates at the U.S. Naval Observatory and with past and future news reports to make sure you haven’t jumped time to report on some event that may have happened in another point in time.

And as to the obvious question raised after reading the above, the answer is: “Yes, this is currently all I could actually come up with for a weekly essay at this point in time.”