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Jeb Bladine: Can’t stop thinking about the chickens

Most writing guides provide clear advice about clichés: Don’t use them; be creative, not trite.

Admittedly, I’ve strayed from that clearly-marked path. I’ve described chickens coming home to roost at least four times, most recently related to health insurance and the Public Employees Retirement System.

Each time I felt a mild tinge of writer’s guilt. But then I found a website article that eased my conscience with a spirited defense of using an appropriate cliché.
A cliché, the argument goes, can be the best way to describe something as an instantly understood image to the audience, sometimes making a complicated issue more understandable.

This defense of clichés did urge caution in choosing words wisely and knowingly. But in grand cliché style, it concluded with this advice: “Don’t be a worry wart ... A little discernment and some careful choices are all the doctor ordered.”

Whatchamacolumn

Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

> See his column

And so, unshackled from fear of the cliché police, I now feel more free to note that love is blind, ignorance is bliss and actions speak louder than words; that the grass is always greener on the other side, and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. If you don’t agree, well, all I can say is, you can’t please everyone.

Still, I will try to avoid crying over spilled milk, chomping at the bit or selling like hot cakes. Besides, just like those roosters, the best clichés are all about animals.
Is there really more than one way to skin a cat? Can it actually rain cats and dogs? How many people do you know whose bark is worse then their bite?

You can hold your horses or change horses in mid-stream; you can be stubborn as a mule, strong as an ox, proud as a peacock or mad as a wet hen; you can be a sitting duck, a dead duck or just crazy as a loon.

It goes on and on; when it comes to animal clichés, there are many more fish in the sea. If I tried to fully open that can of worms, we could spend all day imagining snakes and snails, goats and sheep, lions and elephants, bugs, bees, bears and bats. We would all be busy as beavers.

But for right now — with Donald Trump headed to the White House and the Oregon Legislature going back into session — I just can’t stop thinking about those chickens.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com or 503687-1223.

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