Now is the time . . . Eric Zorn's column of yesterday was a brave effort to fill space. Too much space, I think. But I'll be darned, I count them and find it's only 725 words. Then today Neil Steinberg got it done in -- say wha'? -- 1165 words! Then why should Zorn's seem longer? One reason is he was trying too hard to convert sow's ear to silk purse. His was a brave attempt, I say. He remained effervescent in the face of a scripted largely news-free convention. Wait. Not so. If there are a million stories in the naked city, there have to be a hundred in a political convention, no matter how scripted.
Whether the earnest, hard-working Zorn found them is another question. On this day at least, it seems he did not. (I can hear him expostulating: "It seems"? What do you mean "it seems"? You're not going to go on how things "seem," are you?) He made one point very clear: The word "great" gets overused by enthusiastic public figures. This is something a few of us may not have noticed, and maybe we haven't seen the Joan Cusack commercial for DIRECTV, she weighing and balancing "great" and other adjectival possibilities.
Never mind. We read on and find there's something Zorn wants to say. There's another word. Barack Obama used "serious" when Z. asked him if the Ditka candidacy ever had him worried (it didn't) and so did Hillary C. , about Kerry -- "a serious man for a serious job at a serious time." Yess! Slam-dunk time! That's the word for Z. That "serious" (not "great," for God's sake!) sums it up in this "fraught and perilous" time.
But here the literacy alarm goes off. Eric has to hit the old dictionary. He has to see "fraught" as going "with" something, as in "fraught with peril." Fraught and perilous, on the other hand, veers close to Michael Sneed malaprop land. Eric does not want to go there.
He makes his point, however. Throw enough words up there in the more or less right direction, and we get it, somehow. We can even picture that "security [tea] cozy" he sees covering Boston, because we saw one once in a roadside antiques store and another in an old movie (the best kind). It's quite an image, the sort that comes to mind in the middle of the night -- the city of Boston, 700,000 people, under a tea cozy -- causing dismay or maybe a chuckle if nothing you ate disagrees with you. It stays with the reader when the column, serious though it may be, is long forgotten.
And Zorn gets serious, yea sober, at the end. He even waxes enthusiastic, proclaiming that it was "great, truly great" to be at this convention, "despite all the surface frivolity, phoniness, pointless ritual and sandbox fighting." (Oh that sandox fighting. Don't you just hate it?) It's a moral, by gum, with maybe a slight catch in the throat. Go, Eric. You've lumbered along and got through it, and you have your 725 words, and a happy ending to boot.