Wednesday, May 7, 2008


I'll confess: I am a bit of a know-it-all. But I'm generally not big on showing off with 4-bit words when I can sling the 2-bit variety.

That's why I was shocked when I tossed off the word "chicane" this morning and my KCBS colleagues didn't know it. I used the word to describe a mess on the Bay Bridge, where a traffic accident had blocked a couple of lanes and forced drivers to do a little right-left-right evasive maneuver. (If you, like my colleagues, are baffled by the word, here's a full write-up.)

To me, "chicane" is just part of the sporting landscape. As a kid, I was always captivated by the exotic drama of Formula One racing, where chicanes are commonplace. It's not just F1, though--you'll find chicanes on all sorts of racetracks as a way to keep speed under control.

Check out the photo I borrowed from a sports-car racing club--the Corvette is leading the Audi through the chicane.

To those who say being a sports fan is a waste of time, I say, "never!" Imagine what it can do for your vocabulary.

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