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Between Iraq and a Hard Place........
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bnix



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 645

PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2003 3:59 am    Post subject: Between Iraq and a Hard Place........ Reply with quote

I heard this "zinger" on the news several times,most notably from newscasters(Hey!Who said we are humorless ?Newscasters can be humorous,too!)

Brings to mind several other idioms expressing a dilemma beteeen two choices,neither one very acceptable.The old"caught between the Devil and the dark blue sea" is heard sometimes...but since people don't put much stock in Old Scratch much any more,it has lost some of its original sting.

There is the classical"caught between Scylla and Charybdis(I am NOT sure of the spelling...one was a whirlpool...the other some kind of a seamonster...maybe you classical enthusiasts can help me out on that one...I can never remember which is which.After all.it is not something that comes up in everyday conversations.) Rolling Eyes

Then of course,there is getting caught up that FAMOUS(s--t) creek without a paddle.What a predicament.Sometimes it is bowlderized(?) to "up the creek".

Then of course,there are the idioms which have become either politically incorrect or otherwise socially unacceptable.One of the more obscure ones is"Now,wouldn't that harelip the Devil?".... a more colorful example of "Well,don't that(or even better""thet") beat all"? I believe the medical term for harelip is "cleft palate"...could be mistaken on that one...though...so don't all hurl your brickbats at once Smile I will not mention the state where I have heard this one most of the time,except to say,no it is NOT New Jersey.I think the state in question has already suffered enough opprobrium,outrageous slings and arrows,etc.on this forum and others.But I bet you can narrow it down pretty well. Smile
And of course,people who do not have the facility of speech are now referred to as "mute("deaf and mute") while at one time they were referred to as "deaf and dumb".and there was that old childhood choosing chant that began"Eeny-meeny miney mo...."...wonder if they have "cleaned "that one up to make it more politically acceptable?

Have fun,guys.Remember to have at least one non-TESOL option to fall back on... Smile .And watch out for those "cranberry merchants"(conmen).There are "cranberry merchants"galore in this business... Smile
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Roger



Joined: 19 Jan 2003
Posts: 9138

PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2003 4:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bnix,
"between Iraq and a hard place...", a new coinage, not a very intelligent one, to my way ofthinking! Maybe there was a Hard Rock Cafe in Baghdad before the war?

Scylla was a six-headed monster, indeed, and Charybdis (correct spelling!) was a whirlpool.

- Up a reek without a paddle - those navigators must be in
a tight spot indeed! -
- Caught between the Devil and the deep blue sea makes more sense
caught between the Devil and the "dar" blue sea...

How about "up a gum tree"? Very sticky!
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bnix



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 645

PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2003 5:01 am    Post subject: "All Gummed Up? Reply with quote

Roger.I have never heard"up a gum tree"...but maybe that is because the expression is in use where there a lot of gum trees?Australia?
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omar805



Joined: 18 Jan 2003
Posts: 69
Location: Thailand

PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2003 5:15 am    Post subject: more than a koala can "bare"! Reply with quote

Is there more to that "up a gum tree" one?
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12853
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2003 5:23 am    Post subject: horny Reply with quote

Dear bxix et al,
Let's not forget - " On the horns of a dilemma " and " Hobson's choice ". Maybe even " Six of one, half-a-dozen of another ".
Regards,
John
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bnix



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 645

PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2003 5:33 am    Post subject: Dilemma.... Reply with quote

Ah,yes,and "IMPALED on the horns of a dilemma".

I am unfamiliar with the Hobson's Choice one.Sounds like there might be an interesting story behind it. Was there a particular Hobson who prompted this idiom?

Let's not forget "Catch 22."I have read that Joseph Heller originally intended to call it "Catch 18"....but there was already a novel out by Leon Uris called "Mila 18." And did anyone see the WEIRD movie version of Catch 22?...among other people in it....Art Garfunkel(?)
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Roger



Joined: 19 Jan 2003
Posts: 9138

PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2003 5:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Up a gum tree", seems to be less well-known these days. Probably coined during Britain's colonial days. I can imagine a British civil servant somewhere in Malaya, running from a lion and seeing a gum tree...
I just checked it in my Cobuild Dictionary of Idioms. It's there, but listed as "old-fashioned".
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12853
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2003 6:39 am    Post subject: Here's the catch Reply with quote

Dear bnix,
Hobson's choice " arises from a "hostler" (one who rents horses) named "Hobson" who forbad renters from reserving a particular horse. Instead, renters had to accept the next horse available. Hence "Hobson's choice" means no choice at all. ". Got that off the Net - to be honest I'd had no idea how the phrase originated. " Catch-22 " - now there's a coincidence. I just mentioned that novel ( along with " Alice in Wonderland " ) in the Saudi Arabia forum as suggested reading for anyone thinking of coming to that country. Both books might help prepare the reader for immersion into an environment that ( to us ) often seems absurd and weird. And yes - I saw the movie, many moons ago. Directed by Mike Nichols, as I recall - also with Alan Arkin, John Voigt, Martin Sheen and a cameo by Orson Wells. Actually, I liked the film, but it certainly wasn't the book. By the way, do you remember just what " Catch-22 " was:

" There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.
"That's some catch, that Catch-22," he observed.
"It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka agreed. "

Also taken from the Net.
Regards,
John
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bnix



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 645

PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2003 7:04 am    Post subject: Okay..Johnslat...Very Interesting Reply with quote

Ok.Thanks.I thought it would probably be an interesting story.And now I know what a hostler is ,too.A few other occupations one does not hear much about any more:

Fletcher--he "fletched" the arrow shafts...with feathers

Cooper-A barrel maker

Luthier a maker of stringed instruments(I believe)

Chandler(?)

As for the books you mentioned,"Alice in Wonderland",and "Catch 22"....great for preparing for the Kingdom.If memory serves right,some character(maybe the Red Queen?) in "Alice" yells "Off with her head!" Yeah...Saudi...and then of course there is that mythical(although apocryphal) book...'Fun in the Magic Kingdom"(500 blank pages).

So,anyway,thanks for the interesting information.
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rogan



Joined: 03 Mar 2003
Posts: 416
Location: at home, in France

PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2003 7:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chandler - supplied sailing ships with goods, food and equipment.
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arioch36



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 3589

PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2003 1:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Caught betwen Iraq and a hard place..thanx, I hadn't heard. Of course, I think that's where America Russia, and especially france are right now.

Never heard of the Luthier. Now I will have to try to look it up.

Johnslat, thanx, it was so good reading that, that takes me back to places I haven't been for a while. Of course, you aren't allowed to buy any books in China except books about Jack Welch and Bill gates. Dare I ask...I was a delinquent high school/college boy...did any one take any side excursions, uh, intersting trips while watching some of these movies. Ever watch Mary Poppins in an altered state? Heston had some non-BenHur movies.
Argh!! You terrible people. Know I am thinking I need to read some real books and watch a intersting movie!!! What country can I find such wonderful things???
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12853
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2003 1:27 pm    Post subject: Altered states and M bags Reply with quote

Dear arioch36,
Saw 2001 in an " altered state " back in the late 60s. Don't know if I'd dare to do that with Mary Poppins - way too freaky a concept. I'd never hack it in China with that book situation. It was about that bad here when
I first arrived in '80, but I used to ship an " M " bag of books to myself every summer. Can you do that in China? You buy your books and then go to a post office in the States. Ask for an " M " bag and they'll give you this duffel bag/seabag thing. Mail it to yourself - it goes by ship ( so it's cheap, used to cost me about $30 to send ) so it takes a while to arrive, about 2 1/2 to 3 months here. But, it just occurred to me - are you from the States? And, if so, do you get to go there on holiday? Maybe all this advice is useless.
Regards,
John
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SueH



Joined: 01 Feb 2003
Posts: 1022
Location: Northern Italy

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2003 12:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

'between the Devil and the deep blue sea'...
if I recall correctly 'the devil' was a seam between the planks in old wooden sailing vessels, just above the waterline. In an era without lifejackets or sailors with swimming ability it was not a place to be!

No. 99 in a series of 1000 not very useful bits of information....
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arioch36



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 3589

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2003 1:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sue, thanx, I never heard that. This thread has been some of the best education I have gotten in China. Yeah, I mailed me a duffle bag, but I've used it up, and many of the books were for my students. Trying to hold out 'til the summer vacation, which in China will come one week early. They cancelled the week long May holiday due to the SARS scare. eight people died this week. 1,000's died from other pneumonias during the same time frame. They are are spraying every classroom with nice toxic chemicals. So maybe I will be to brain-dead to read any books other then the Cat in the Hat
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bnix



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 645

PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2003 1:45 am    Post subject: The Devil You Say! Reply with quote

Thanks to Sue H.for setting me straight on the meaning of "devil"("a seam between the planks in wooden sailing vessels") in the term "between the devil and the dark(deep?) blue sea".The info is not uselesss at all.I had always thought the devil referred to was literally THE DEVIL...the EVIL ONE.Old Scratch.

Another one involving the devil:"Speak of the Devil and he will appear"(said when you are talking about a person,and that person suddenly shows up unexpectedly)...in Korea...there is a different twist on the expression:"Speak of the tiger and he will appear."

And then there was the person known as the "printer's devil"...an apprentice in the printing(typsetting ) trade...I believe...and there is also an expression"May the Devil take the hindmost"..I am not exactly sure what that one means....maybe"everyone for himself"?

As for Arioch's post, it is good to hear the UNVARNISHED truth about the SARS thing in China from one who is actually there.I have been receiving a few job offers from places in China,that try to play down the SARS thing, of course.Sorry,guys,but uh,probably not.Arioch...take care of your health.Thanks for the info.
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