Columnist vs. calumnist

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One of our regular contributors, Bob Sullivan, is an inveterate, incorrigible word-lover. You might have seen Bob if you patronize the Oak Park Public Library. He shelves books part-time and is well worth engaging in conversation.

Bob writes a column in our Forest Park paper, so he's around the office some, looking through back issues (it's a local history column). An active reader, he loves to scribble in the margins of whatever he's reading (not library books presumably), and most of the writers around here look forward to receiving his reactions, which are, literally, noteworthy.

He also tips me off when Milt Rosenberg has an intriguing topic or guest on his WGN talk show or when PBS has something watchworthy on Channel 11. He's in his 70s, but has a more active mind than most people half his age.

The other day he put a sticky note on my desk, pointing out the similarity between the word "columnist" (one who writes columns) and "calumnist" (one who commits slander). Some people might think they're synonymous (depending on the columnist or their biases), but Bob made a distinction between myself (columnist) and Rush Limbaugh (calumnist), which I admit seems right on target (of course, I'm biased). He also said I might want to make use of this two-fer for a little wordplay at some point.

I just did. Thanks, Bob.

By the way, Bob's latest recommendation was a good one -- re-reading Matthew Arnold's "Dover Beach." I haven't read it since my English major days in Victorian Lit at Loyola in 1974, but I recall being impressed. When Bob Sullivan suggests something, I find it's usually worth checking out.

Meanwhile, I'm still on the hunt for a new barber. My first one was John Grabowski on Madison. When he retired, I took up with Frank Limentato just a couple doors up the street from Wednesday Journal on Oak Park Avenue. Then the village, showing remarkable rigidity, turned down Frank's attempt to rent a storefront on Madison, so he moved to Elmwood Park instead (thanks, village hall).

Recently, I listed all the "barber shops" in the Yellow Pages and expressed some skepticism about those that mentioned "salon" in the name. Can you be both a barber shop and a salon, I wondered? Emil's, in the Oak Park Arms, was one of those. Shortly after, I received a gift certificate for a free haircut and a note from Jill Wagner, the communications specialist at the Arms.

"Don't be so skeptical," she wrote. "Emil was born a barber. He has been cutting hair since he was a boy. He cut hair for the MPs in Italy during WWII. They would trade with him for a trim."

Well, I can hardly pass that invitation up. The good news is Emil sounds like a character with good stories. The bad news is he must be along in years, which means I could get attached just in time for yet another barber to retire on me. Alas.

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Reader Comments

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Posted: December 28th, 2012 5:44 PM

Tom - O has been and will continue to be a total disaster & embarrassment. Unfortunately it will take you another 4 yrs to see it. Taking full responsibility for everything in ones life probably rings hollow to you. Quite presumptuous & typical of you to deem someone's existence 'sorry' based on your inability to recognize fact vs fiction. That's what's 'sorry'.

Tom from River Forest  

Posted: December 28th, 2012 4:57 PM

Dude, please, You have spent the last four years blaming President Obama for everything you don't like in your sorry existence and now you are taking personal responsibility for misspellings? That is rich.


Posted: December 28th, 2012 4:44 PM

Uh Tom, I'm not a liberal - therefore I'm not blaming my IPad. Deciphering someone's comments correctly just as important as spelling. Maybe you should proof read before you 'send'. Devices can only do so much.

Tom from River Forest  

Posted: December 28th, 2012 4:32 PM

It is the poor carpenter who blames his tools...any my Ipad came with spell check.


Posted: December 28th, 2012 4:29 PM

Thanks for the spelling tutorial Tom. If a were a liberal I could blame the misspelling solely on my iPad.

Tom from River Forest  

Posted: December 28th, 2012 2:27 PM

rj that would be actionable as well. And it is spelled "hypocrisy."


Posted: December 28th, 2012 1:30 PM

Hypocracy on the left thicker than jello - Ed Schultz MSNBC -"that right wing talk slut Laura Ingraham."

Tom from River Forest  

Posted: December 28th, 2012 11:04 AM

You are wrong Mr. Cooper. When Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a slut and a prostitute, he committed what is now referred to as defamation per se, but under the older terms, it would be slander per se because it was spoken as opposed to written.

derick Cooper from columbus  

Posted: December 28th, 2012 9:21 AM

Limbaugh doesn't commit slander you jack ass.

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