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Tie the tea leaves together

.This was heard on NPR’s “Here and Now” show.  A pundit was talking about trying to predict what the Mueller investigation report will be like, based on all the information that has been released so far.  It is a mashup of “reading the tea leaves” (predicting on little bits of information) and “tie it all together” (finish it up neatly).  “Tie up loose ends” (resolve some issues at the end that are not critical) might also be in the mix.  Tea leaves seem to confuse folks.  Previous malaphors have included “reading between the tea leaves” https://malaphors.com/2017/03/27/reading-between-the-tea-leaves/ and “read between the tea lines” https://malaphors.com/2019/01/24/i-wish-i-could-read-between-the-tea-lines/.  A tip of the hat to John Costello for hearing this one!

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This is the big, 40,000 foot question

Tim Mak, NPR political reporter on the NPR radio show, Here and Now, was discussing the recent indictment of Roger Stone.  He was retelling what was in the indictment, but questioning what evidence Special Counsel Robert Mueller has in his possession.  This gem can be heard at 5:15 of the following:

https://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2019/01/25/roger-stone-indicted

This is a wonderful conflation of “the 64,000 dollar question” (a question very important and/or difficult to answer) and “the 10,000 (or sometimes 20, 30, or 40,000) foot view” (a description of a problem or issue that provides general information, but short on details).  Idioms containing numbers are often jumbled.  I have posted some other great ones, such as “hindsight is 50/50” (https://malaphors.com/2016/12/20/hindsight-is-5050/) and “we were 3 sheets passing in the night” (https://malaphors.com/2016/10/25/we-were-3-sheets-passing-in-the-night/).  A big thanks to Tom Justice for hearing this one and sending it in!


Sitting behind the driver’s seat

This one has to be read in context.  On the December 10, 2018 “On Point” NPR podcast, a person was discussing self-driving cars.  “I felt safer sitting in the back seat of that driver-less vehicle than I did sitting behind the driver’s seat of my own car’.  https://www.npr.org/podcasts/510053/on-point

This is a mashup of “in the driver’s seat” and “behind the wheel”, both meaning to take charge. The speaker wasn’t thinking of either idiom, but was certainly confusing his words.  If you are in the back seat of one car, how is that different than being behind the driver’s seat of the other car?  A big thanks to Alan “Moose” Richardson for hearing this one.


Facebook is the 10,000 pound canary in the coal mine

Tom Merritt of APR’s Marketplace on NPR Morning Edition, Daily Tech News uttered this one.  One of the criteria for a malaphor is that it is unintentionally said; a mental mishap so to speak.  However, I have made an exception with this one as it is very clever.  It appears Mr. Merritt was saying this intentionally, as he was talking about Facebook policing its advertising, and whether the latest transparency move was significant. They don’t want to talk about it; they’re being forced to talk about it. We don’t have a clear way of knowing whether our privacy is being protected..

It is a mashup of “canary in a coal mine” (early warning of possible adverse conditions or danger), “the 800 pound gorilla” (a person or group so powerful it does not need to heed to the rules) and “the elephant in the room” (a problem that everyone is aware but choose to ignore and not mention).  Elephants, gorillas, and canaries all in one phrase!  A huge thanks to Sally Adler for hearing this one and passing it on!


Anybody worth their weight in salt

This beauty was uttered on NPR’s All Things Considered yesterday.  The discussion centered around sexual harassment, and what Human Resources divisions should do about it.  The speaker said, “Anybody worth their weight in salt would take allegations of sexual harassment seriously”.  This is a mashup of “worth one’s weight in gold” (very valuable, useful, or important) and “worth one’s salt” (deserving respect, especially because you do your job well).  This malaphor is a great one as the two expressions are very similar in sound and in meaning.  The word “weight” is the only distinguishing factor.  Regarding the salt idiom, it is believed that it refers to the fact that in Roman times soldiers were given an allowance of salt as part of their pay. The Latin word salarium (= the money given to Roman soldiers to buy salt) is the origin of the word ‘salary’.   A big thanks to loyal malaphor follower Paul Nance for hearing this one and sharing it.


The hair was standing on our backs

This beauty was uttered on National Public Radio’s 99 Percent Invisible by Janet Marie Smith, an Orioles design director when Oriole Park at Camden Yards opened.  She was talking about how nervous they were on opening day.  This is a nice mash up of “hair standing on end” and “getting our backs up” (to make angry).  Perhaps she was thinking of someone with a hairy back?  This malaphor is heard on Episode 262 air date 6/13/17.  A big thanks to Erin Powers who heard this one and passed it on!
http://99percentinvisible.org/episode/in-the-same-ballpark/#playlist

If the shoe was turned

Had to post this one immediately.  Today on NPR’s “Morning Edition”  Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah),  responding to a question about him refusing to act on Obama’s Supreme Court nomination, implied the Democrats would do the same thing “If the shoe was turned”.  This is a wonderful congruent conflation of “if the tables were turned” and “if the shoe was on the other foot”, both meaning to experience or cause the opposite situation.  See also the link: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/03/orrin-hatch-merrick-garland-democrats-220914.   A big thank you to Paula Garrety for hearing this gem and passing it along!

orrin hatch