"Muscular"

Newspaper and MagazineChinaRussell CroweThe Washington PostJose Canseco

Politicians, pundits and critics — hardly nature's athletes — are demanding things be "muscular." But maybe butterball bloviators should exercise their vocabularies instead of reaching for this stale bon not.

A LexisNexis search shows major newspapers and magazines strained "muscular" over 3,700 times in the last year. Pumped-up puffery increased 18% over the last five years but decreased 9% from a year ago, when John Kerry was modeling wetsuits for the press corps. In the last year, New York Times writers juiced their copy 137 times, which pounds the Washington Post (86) and the Los Angeles Times (71).

The word is a book reviewer's staple — it seems muscular prose is written by everyone but Jose Canseco. It's been applied to meatless subjects such as Chicago's architecture, mid-tempo '70s rock, China's navy, Russell Crowe's sensitivity, a Lexus' lines and a Spanish wine.

The next guy to pull a "muscular" ought to be subjected to physical therapy by someone who can lift more than a finger.

— BRENDAN BUHLER

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