Tuesday, November 29, 2005

It's Like a Gumbo...

So Mary T. came over last night and made turkey gumbo with the Thanksgiving leftovers. It was so good (she's from Ville Platte; you know I speak the truth).

And it gives me a perfect opportunity to make a really bad gumbo metaphor.* For you see, this turkey gumbo is a symbol of rebirth. From the carcass of the old comes new life, undeniably different from before, but very delicious, perhaps even more delicious. And similarly, from the demise of the old New Orleans comes... well, you get the idea.

So what's the moral of today's story? From bad turkey carcasses comes good gumbo. From good gumbo come bad literary constructs.** Bad. Good. Good. Bad. O bla di. O bla da. "If I was a bird and you was a fish...". Phoenix. Shiva. La ti da.

Got it?

* Gumbo metaphors are a pet peeve of mine. Everything around here that's any kind of mix of anything gets compared to a gumbo ("it's a gumbo of cultural influences...", "... a jazz, funk, hip-hop, fusion gumbo...", etc.). It was undoubtedly quite effective the first several thousand times it was used, but now it's wearing kind of thin.

** Actually I really had to restrain myself. I could have made the metaphor far, far worse - floodwaters, rouxs, on and on - there was really no limit to the potential awfulness other than my slightly dodgy sense of propriety.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Yeah, he's great. I think sometimes he get's underrated because he's pretty darn goofy, but his record was in heavy rotation during my childhood, and I will always have a very strong soft spot for him.

  3. Anonymous6:42 PM

    "Melting pot keeps city's gumbo warm" by Lolis Elie in yesterday's Times Picayune.

    It made my eyes burn when I saw it. Did he pull it out of the book of tired New Orleans metaphors? It is special because it combines two annoying metaphors. The gumbo and the melting pot. I actually remember in history class in NY having a teacher explain that America was less like a melting pot and more like a gumbo because in a gumbo the ingredients retain their integrity but lend to the flavor of the whole. I can just imagine the genius up in Albany developing this culturally sensitive, corrective metaphor for a bunch of kids who had no idea what fucking gumbo was! Great. We are no longer politically incorrect. Now we are simply confused by a culinary metaphor that none of our Long Island, blue color families had equiped us for.

    In the end, Orwell's rules on writing are the best and prevent this, and other, problems:

    1. Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
    2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
    3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
    4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
    5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
    6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.


    Orwell has been thought of as le creme de le creme. He is transcendent. In short, he's like red beans and rice.

    I digress.

  4. He's like the sausage in the gumbo...