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Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo
Posted Oct. 2, 2006

Is school over yet? I mean, come on. What's with this thing? It's like one of those anti-drug commercials with the eggs in the frying pan. “This is your brain on drugs.”

Someone needs to make a similar commercial, but with the eggs scrambled and bloodied by ketchup. “This is your brain on school.”

And what happens after the undergraduate experience? More school! For me, at least. Two more years for a masters and then even more for a doctorate. It's too bad I didn't want to be a bad actor when I grew up; I'm sure I'd be a much better bad actor than Ashton Kutcher. I'd be rich!

Ashton Kutcher. You break my record. Now I break you, like I break your friend.

If you haven't seen Jean-Claude Van Damme's masterpiece “Bloodsport,” my soul cries for you. It's hard to believe that the only award “Bloodsport” was nominated for was a Razzie for Van Damme as worst new star. It wasn't even nominated for best picture. But “The Last Emperor” won that year, and that was a decent flick, so I can't be too mad. But Michael Douglas as best actor? Come on. And Bolo didn't get nominated as best supporting actor over Sean Connery? Well, that was nearly 20 years ago. Maybe the Academy got a hold of itself.

If the Academy wasn't awarding crappy movies 20 years ago, it sure is today. I'm still not over the fact that “Crash” won any Oscars, let alone best picture. “Crash” was probably the worst movie I ever sat through. And I live for horrible movies. It was beyond bad. Usually, I can laugh at bad movies and joke with them about being so bad. But “Crash”? It had me wanting to gouge my own eyeballs out and stab my eardrums. That may be unfair, but so is thinking that Arnold Schwarzenegger has never been in a good movie.

So, what about the governator? Where are his Oscars? “Predator,” “Commando,” “Conan the Barbarian,” “Conan the Destroyer,” “Terminator,” “Terminator 2,” and uh... “Total Recall,” were all Oscar-worthy. “T-2” did win a few Oscars for effects and sound, but Arnold's acting was superb. He played the most believable machine ever. His literal acting literally blew me away.

Literally is literally the most literally misused word, literally. According to Merriam-Webster, literally means in a literal or strict sense. I literally stole that definition from Merriam-Webster. The second definition for the word is in effect; virtually; very nearly. This means that the word is used as an intensifier in sentences.

If I say, “Don't take me literally,” that clearly means: “Don't believe what I say.”

But if I say, “That was literally the worst song I have ever heard,” the meaning isn't as clear. If you use the second sense of the word, as in, virtually or very nearly, that sentence means that the song was very nearly the worst I had ever heard.

But when you hear a sportscaster say that angels literally flew down from heaven, picked up Michael Jordan and carried him from the free-throw line to the basket, you know they aren't being serious.

So why the confusion?

I'll tell you why. Because people frequently use the word literally in sentences where its meaning is ambiguous.

“Lunch was so bad, I literally threw up right after.”

“My professor literally bit my head off when I started laughing during her lecture.”

My point? Stop using literally, literally.

If you thought literally was a cool word, try buffalo.

“Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.”

It means that buffalo (noun), the big furry animals, intimidate, or buffalo (verb), other buffalo who happen to be from Buffalo, N.Y.

The sentence can be extended to include more buffalo from Buffalo, N.Y., and other variations of the verb to buffalo. Thanks to Wikipedia for teaching me about the magic of buffalo.

Eric Iberi can be reached at eiberri@ulv.edu.