Burning the Axe Handle

Strangled syllabus

"The most merciful thing in the world is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents." -- H.P. Lovecraft

On Friday the 13th I might have an idea that is just as scary. Want it? Take if, if you dare. In Burning The Axe Handle, the entire syllabus is on-limits.

(Why do we never say on-limits? Perhaps it should be in-limits. But then, the familiar corollary would be out-limits, but we never say out-limits. Too much like Outer Limits, which was an old TV-show that always tried to out-Serling Rod and his Twilight Zone, but lacked that punchy title, and quite a bit else. We all knew "outer limits" was a bit of an oxymoron, or redundancy, or both. Inner limits would be silly, right?

Then again when standing in the outer limits of town we say outskirts, but no one ambling around downtown says they are in the in-skirts. Well, that could have a double meaning, but still .... I mean, we say "whereabouts" all the time, and it's a pretty crude portmanteau -- but we never say "whenabouts". Someone's ETA could be his whenabouts.

I am fascinated at the lack of consistency in how these prefixed things are assembled, and will likely comment on it again.

For now, a fable of sorts. Like it? Take it. Just let me know.

Jan. 12

A high school football coach laments his students' poor test scores, and makes a deal: if grades pick up, he will cut two hours of practice per week -- if the players formally agree to use the extra time for homework.

One player misses a Wednesday night Bible study -- he instead used the time to spend studying for his Literature class, which is taught by the football coach, and readings involving the occult are part of the class. His pastor protests, leading to a restriction of subjects that can and cannot be studied in coach's class. No other teachers back the teacher up; that side of the syllabus is off-limits.

The coach responds by not coaching the passing game. For three weeks the players do no passing drills and run no pass plays in games. They lose three straight. That part of the strategy is off limits.


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