January 2011

Cramp One’s Style

by Joanne Mason on January 30, 2011

Years ago, a friend and I decided to take a beginning French class.  We invited my mother to join us. She wanted to take the class, too, but hesitated.  ”Are you sure I wouldn’t be cramping your style?” she asked. “What style?” my friend replied, smiling. And the three of us went to French class. […]


Herding Cats

by Joanne Mason on January 28, 2011

Wednesday’s post on wild goose chase reminded a reader named Brian about another term:  herding cats. I’d never heard of it until a few years ago, when a friend sent me this video, a 2000 Super Bowl ad from Electronic Data Systems (Now HP Enterprise Services). He had first seen it at a business seminar. […]


Wild Goose Chase

by Joanne Mason on January 26, 2011

When was the last time you went on a wild goose chase? A wild goose chase is a search or quest for something that is unlikely to be found. Example 1 Dan is looking for the perfect woman, but I think he’s on a wild goose chase.  Nobody is perfect. Example 2 We went on […]


Pass Muster

by Joanne Mason on January 16, 2011

A reader named JT asked about this phrase:  to pass muster. When something passes muster, it meets expectations.  It’s considered acceptable by those in command.  You can also pass muster with someone you want to impress. Example 1 I worry that my presentation won’t pass muster with the executive board. Example 2 Carole’s mother-in-law is […]


Comfort Food

by Joanne Mason on January 15, 2011

When I turned 30, my oldest friend Laurie – we had literally known each other since we were infants – threw me a “this is your life” themed birthday party.  After friends were introduced one-by-one and I guessed their identities, we had a wonderful meal of comfort food.  Or, as Laurie put it, “everything you […]


Worth One’s Salt

by Joanne Mason on January 12, 2011

“Options for melting winter ice worth their salt” read a recent headline in the Chicago Tribune.  We’re having another heavy snowstorm in my neck of the woods and I wanted to know the best way to make my icy driveway safer for everyone. When something is worth its salt, it’s worth the money we paid […]


Crocodile Tears

by Joanne Mason on January 10, 2011

Awww..isn’t this guy cute?  He has such a friendly smile, doesn’t he?  I wonder if he ever sheds crocodile tears. Someone who cries crocodile tears really isn’t sad.  He or she is just pretending to feel sorrow or remorse.  Or, the person just wants to get attention. Example 1 The convicted murderer cried as his […]


Name is Mud

by Joanne Mason on January 5, 2011

Here’s another phrase that has more to its story…and gives us a reminder to check multiple sources. I always thought the insult name is mud had its roots in actual mud – that dirt-and-water concoction that makes up so many children’s mud pies.  So I was surprised to read about an American history connection, which […]


Pull Out All The Stops

by Joanne Mason on January 3, 2011

Happy New Year! What are your plans for 2011?  Will you be pulling out all the stops?  In other words, will you be doing everything you can to accomplish your goals, using all the resources available to you? Example 1 I’m pulling out all the stops so I’ll pass chemistry this semester.  I’m studying two […]