Sunday, November 02, 2008

Crix nix fork foes' hed sked

Sometimes, all the bizarre shortenings, transfers of meaning, elisions and assumptions that go into headline writing produce something really fun, as in today's nominee for Hed of the Week:

Frank calls fork
As with "Stix nix hick pix," the hed writer is counting on your showing up with a little background (this is from Talking Points Memo, so the assumption is that you're keeping up with politics and the election and that you'll recognize many of the Major and Minor Pundits). "Frank," in this case, is short for "Republican pollster Frank Luntz." "Call" isn't much of a stretch at all. It's in the neighborhood of "call foul" (not "call a foul"), to declare out of bounds, which we can get in heds with or without the prepositional complement:
Critics call foul over LA exhibition
Media call foul, but Palin sticks with bridge claim

... but it may be closer to "call bullshit": "I declare (that this meets the conditions of) fork." And that leaves us with "fork" to solve. It's clearly not "call fork," which looks like some sort of programming term, or a euphemism like "Oh, fork," or any of the other unlikely alternatives. My vote is for "stick a fork in it," meaning "it's done," yielding:

Frank calls fork
Frank Luntz: "I cannot foresee a scenario that John McCain is elected the President of the United States."

Let it never be said that the tabloid hed has vanished into the mists of time.


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