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The silly season

Posted by Smokey Stover on August 08, 2009 at 03:32

In Reply to: The silly season posted by Victoria S Dennis on August 07, 2009 at 20:44:

: : : I thought this phrase was coined by U.S. talk show host Johnny Carson. The silly season -- in the northern hemisphere, mid to late summer when frivolous news is rampant. (Of course, now that's year-round.) One of my phrase scouts just sent me the link to an article that says "silly season" is older than Mr. Carson's show. wiki/Silly_season

: : The Wikipedia article which ESC has cited is pretty comprehensive. The OED offers a few specific citations from the 19th century on, as well as a definition, s.v. season:

: : "silly season, the months of August and September, when newspapers supply the lack of real news by articles or discussions on trivial topics; also transf. and attrib. . . .

: : [Examples:] "1861 Sat. Rev. 13 July 37/2 We have, however, observed this year very strong symptoms of the Silly Season of 1861 setting in a month or two before its time. 1871 Punch 9 Sept. 102/2 The present time of the year has been named 'the silly season'. . . . "

: : These definitions have newspapers in mind. Now that most people get their information about the world from television, is the term still appropriate? Isn't every season the silly season on television? Perhaps the season, at least in entertainment programs (as opposed to what else? commercials?), runs between what is now called the "summer finale" and the fall reruns and copycats.
: : SS

: Yes, the silly season is alive and kicking; the trivial news stories have just migrated on to the internet news sites. E.g. this story from last Monday, notable for its triviality but also for the fact that *everybody* concerned is talking out of their backsides:

Once again Victoria has confirmed both her acute insight and her delicacy of phrase. The story to which the URL takes us is about the origin of haggis. She might just as well have picked, for her example, another story on the same page: "Michael Jackson's Brain Returned to Family." (I think the passive voice is to be understood, although personally, I think the active voice would suggest something much more interesting.) Anything for a frisson during the dog days.