- On November 12, 2014
“That’s what I call being shot out of the cannon.” “To be shot out of the cannon like that is just so exciting.”
Michael Kors, the quick-witted fashion designer, was quoted as having said both, the first by The New York Times, and the second, a slight variation, by The Wall Street Journal. Kors had just seen the Broadway premiere of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” in which a dog gets stabbed to death with a pitchfork and an autistic boy solves the mystery of the killing.
The reporters wrote different stories based on their differing interpretations of Kors’s remark, with one pegging it to the drama’s intensity, and the other to the star turn of the young actor who plays the boy. (I wasn’t sure what Kors meant but was fascinated by how a single comment could produce two such different accounts of the same event.)
Not so serious—these were the party pages—but this was an example of something I frequently see over on the business pages to much worse effect: executives who use unfamiliar idioms and as a result, don’t fully connect with the people they want to engage (and worse, make them feel dumb).
I just read a blog post about the demise of white papers in which the author wrote, “White papers jumped the shark when they became paid content.” Jumped the shark? What’s that mean? Turns out it means to decline in quality and stems from an episode of that long-ago show “Happy Days” in which The Fonz (Do Millennials know The Fonz?) jumped a shark on water skis. Apparently, that stunt marked the show’s decline. Who knew?
Here are two more cases where I didn’t get the reference.
The “horses” phrase, I subsequently learned, means it’s important to choose suitable people for individual activities because everyone has different skills. (It’s primarily a British and Australian expression, which could further explain why I didn’t know it.)
This is a wacky turn on priming the pump—to spend money to make something succeed. The publication was generous enough to explain what the executive meant. But be careful; that’s not always the case.