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March 2, 2006 |

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The other night my boyfriend and I walked down to Lee's Liquor Lounge to watch "Cash-A-Roke", a Monday night Johnny Cash event which allows anyone off the street to belt Cash tunes with a live band. Singers of every stripe were ably backed by The Al Subola Trio, supplemented by Lazy Ike (of the honky-tonk group Lazy Ike & the Daredevils). Greg Huff, whom I know to be an English major and former newspaper reporter, sports a cowboy hat and country duds as Lazy Ike, and sings with the requisite twang.

During their second set, I was reminded of both "The Lives of the Cowboys" and "Bob the English Major", when Lazy Ike revealed his true English major colors. He referred to a Cash-singer as "champing at the bit to get on stage." Although "champing" is correct, I think a cowboy would be more likely to use "chomping" or "chompin'". Think of the huge inner conflict involved in being a grammarian in a hillbilly band!

Jana Stow
Minneapolis

It's not easy being an English major, Jana, and then to lay cowboyhood on top of it, there are going to be conflicts. And there's a classic one: champing or chomping correctness of grammar or correctness of style. A person just has to take that step on faith.

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