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Elliot: How life imitates screwballs

BY BEAU ELLIOT | APRIL 23, 2013 5:00 AM

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Sometimes, the world throws you such a screwball that you don’t know which way is down except that you’re there.

(Full disclosure: by down, I do not mean depressed. By “down,” I mean it’s just an expression. Of course, you can say “It’s just an expression,” and your friends look at you calmly and nod their heads — of course, each friend has only one head, at least in my universe; I can’t speak for your universe — and their expression tells you they don’t believe a word of “It’s just an expression.” Which leads us into the whole morass of expressions, and pretty soon, we have to call the 1-800-linguists hotline.)

When I was a very young — and then, not so very young — pitcher, I threw a lot of screwballs, because nobody could hit it. The adults warned me against it — it’ll ruin your arm, they said — but nobody could touch it, so I kept throwing screwballs.

Now, one or two decades later (if you’re counting at home and using the Dewey Decimal System, not that anybody does anymore), my left elbow is a mess, and I can’t lift anything heavier than a glass of pomegranate juice with my left arm. So kids, once in a great while, adults know what they’re talking about.

Not very often. But.

The whole Boston mess last week was a series of screwballs, to put it politely. If you forgot which direction was up, you could be excused, because nobody seemed to know which direction was up.

Especially last Thursday night blending seamlessly into the wee hours of Friday morning, with the slaying of a MIT police officer, a carjacking, a car chase, some explosive devices, a shootout or two.

It was like some movie, except that it was real.

I have to admit, I was glued to my computer, listening to the live WBUR radio stream (those folks did a great job, by the way) long into those wee hours, so wee that I was almost late for work Friday.

It was wicked weird, as my friend Sean from Southie used to say all the time (Southie is South Boston, for those of you not from there). A shootout in Watertown? It’s like Manville Heights, only bigger. Nothing ever happens in Watertown. (I used to live out there, although “out there” is an expression that people out there use all the time about Iowa. Not to dive back into expressions, though we do all the time.)

The screwballness (yes, I realize that’s not a word) blended seamlessly into this week, with Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, getting into verbal fisticuffs with Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., over the immigration-reform bill the Senate is considering or debating, to use the polite word. Grassley was upset because the two brothers accused in the Boston bombing were immigrants.

Also, some (we won’t say which party, because now is not the time for partying) want suspected Boston Marathon bomber and Cambridge/Watertown shooter/explosive tosser Jahar Tsarnaev questioned without the benefit of that whole Miranda thing.

That whole Miranda thing is messy and slow and loved by liberals who don’t know how to treat criminals. That those criminals have yet to be convicted and thus are not, technically, criminals, is merely a technicality, according to some. So many “criminals,” according to the same some, get “off” on such technicalities. Especially the whole Miranda thing.

(We’ll note, quietly, that those same some raised no objections when Oliver North and John Poindexter got “off” on legal “technicalities” in the Iran-Contra affair. Apparently, you have your technicalities, and the same some have their technicalities. I don’t have technicalities; I’m still wondering about the dancer who lost a foot in the bombing. I wonder if that’s a technicality.)

B strong. And don’t swing at screwballs.


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