when gift horses go verbal (also a curious "moose" and "yin")

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Mar 19 23:32:24 UTC 2013

Just catching up on the newspapers that accumulated during a recent trip away, I found this in the March 13 NYT ("Too Close for Comfort", by Joe Drape, an article about last second losses to the spread by basketball gamblers:


The day after Manhattan hung a moose, Lawless — a new resident of Las Vegas (he moved there five months ago from Houston) — discovered the yin to the bad-beat’s yang. After posting his losing ticket on Twitter, he gained a couple hundred more followers and saw his predicament bemoaned on gambling forums.

But there was one faction that met him with deafening silence. “I haven’t heard a peep from anyone who had Manhattan,” he said.

The professionals, of course, are not surprised that while misery might love company, those who have been gift-horsed really do not have much to say.

“You rarely hear anyone talk about the lucky win,” said Marty Otto, a handicapper and general manager of the Sports Memo gambling site. “Psychologically, they pass it off as ‘I was right all along.’ ”
The reference to "those who have been gift-horsed" was picked up later in the piece by a reference to how Lawless, after his "moose" (the new "hipper term for being beat in impossible fashion") "got right back on that horse".  It's probably relevant that Drape is usually the Times's analyst for horse racing, not basketball.

And yes, Drape's use of "yin" in the first paragraph treats it as the positive counterpart of "yang" (here meaning the upside or silver lining) rather than, as Confucius intended, the other way around.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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