John Wesley Hall noticed the slogan displayed on The Hatcher Agency building in downtown Little Rock: "The Home of Outrageous Service." Hall writes: "Crimes are outrageous. Things the government does are outrageous. What the hell is outrageous service? Is it really that bad? If so, why brag?"
I relayed Hall's concerns to Challis Muniz of The Hatcher Agency. She said the owner of the company, Greg Hatcher, had written a book, "55 Steps to Outrageous Service," in which he defined "outrageous service" as "service that is so above and beyond the ordinary that people will talk about it."
Muniz continues: "Has Mr. Hall never heard of anything being outrageously funny? It doesn't have to be all negative!"
At one time, when Mr. Hall and I were young, "outrageous" always had a negative connotation. Times change.
The first definition of "outrageous" in the on-line Merriam-Webster is "exceeding the limits of what is usual." That's followed by "not conventional or matter-of-fact: fantastic." Only then, does the dark side come into view: "Violent, unrestrained"; "going beyond all standards of what is right or decent"; "deficient in propriety or good taste."
Those who deem this new usage outrageous are free to say so, of course. I have an idea Mr. Hall will not be easily moved.
"Tony Abbott, the Australian opposition leader and Rhodes scholar whose coalition is favored to win the Sept. 7 elections, provoked some titters among attendees as he told a gathering of conservative party faithful that no one is 'the suppository of all wisdom.' "
An Arkansas Travelers fan steps to the plate:
"The second-string radio announcer just said, and I heard it on the radio playing in the bathroom, that the batter 'has flown out twice tonight.' 'Flied out twice' is also cumbersome but it's sure better than 'flown out twice.' "
On the ballfield, the verb fly means "To bat a ball high into the air that is caught by a fielder before it touches the ground." The past tense is flied.
The noun fly, short for fly ball, has been around since the 1860s, but the verb didn't appear in print until 1908, according to Dickson's Baseball Dictionary.