• Number of Beacon Journal stories containing the phrase “fiscal cliff” during the 27-year period from January 1985 through April 2012: zero.
• Number of Beacon Journal stories containing the phrase “fiscal cliff” since May of this year: 128.
Now, surely we have faced economic crises before, some of them with a looming deadline. So how come everybody on the planet is suddenly enamored with this phrase?
Our first story about impending cliffdom was published May 31 in a syndicated guest commentary by Citigroup’s Peter Orszag, a former director of the Office of Management and Budget for the Obama administration.
CNN Money claims the expression “has been thrown around for decades with a variety of meanings. The earliest reference we could find was in [a] New York Times article about homeownership in 1957. Since then, the phrase has been used often by Republicans and Democrats alike in budget disagreements.”
Well, that may be, but, as my library search shows, the term wasn’t exactly a household phrase before 2012.
By most accounts, the first use of “fiscal cliff” to specifically address the Jan. 1 expiration of tax cuts and implementation of spending cuts was made in February by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
Too bad Bernanke didn’t try to trademark his phrase, like basketball coach Pat Riley.
You may recall that in 1988, when his Los Angeles Lakers had a chance to win a third consecutive championship the following year, Riley formally trademarked the term “threepeat.”
It became a moot point the following season, when the Lakers lost to Detroit, and it has continued to be a non-issue because no other team has threepeated, either.
But if anyone finally hits the trifecta, merchandisers who print the phrase on a T-shirt, jacket or cap will have to send money Riley’s way.
Now that I think about all of this, perhaps I should attempt to trademark a phrase myself.
I hereby claim credit for the term “Left-Lane Hogs,” which I first used in 2003 to describe those cretins who tool along at 6 mph below the speed limit in the far-left lane — aka “the passing lane” — totally oblivious to the 37 cars locked in behind them, piloted by 37 motorists who are absolutely seething and would like to push the Left-Lane Hogs over a cliff — fiscal or otherwise.
As you may have read, Archie the Talking Snowman has been exhumed after dying an ignominious death in 2004.
The local icon, relegated to the Dumpster by the new owners of Chapel Hill Mall after having thrilled wide-eyed kids for 35 years, has returned, a bit shorter and lighter than his predecessor but still imposing at 15 feet tall and 1,200 pounds.
Archie has been doing his holiday thing in the basement of the former O’Neil’s department store next to Lock 3 park in downtown Akron.
This is inspiring to many people, not the least of whom is Hal Walker of Kent.
After visiting Archie early this month, Walker, a longtime music teacher, performer and composer, was so filled with the Archie spirit that he started to put his feelings to music.
Walker teamed up with Adrian D’Alessio to hone the lyrics and will debut the song Dec. 22, when Walker’s “harmonica flash mob” assembles at Archie’s feet.
Walker says his “intergenerational mob of beginning harmonica players” will march from Lock 3 to the atrium of Children’s Hospital, where they will give a full performance.
Walker and D’Alessio’s A Song for Archie has three verses. Here’s the first:
Along the Cuyahoga we’re in Archie Land
We’ve known him like a brother and we’re his biggest fans
Archie is a friend, his kindness never ends
Singing all together now well, ain’t life Grand
Ain’t life Grand with Archie standing tall before us
Ain’t life Wonderful, a snowman is leading us in chorus
With memories and lights shining all through the night.
Enough to bring a tear to the eye, ain’t it?
Bob Dyer can be reached at 330-996-3580 or firstname.lastname@example.org.