No, It’s Not Ironic. Because There is Zero Expectation and No Paradox, Alanis

Best Experienced With:          Alanis Morissette;             Isn’t It Ironic

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Y1IqdpQls4

An English exercise for all of us to work on this evening.  While somewhat subtle to most of us, there is a significant difference between irony and coincidence or bad luck.  Please pull out your Sharpie marker and circle your choice in the lyrics below.   Your choices are (I, BL, C, TIHLI)

Circle “I” if it is true “irony”

Circle “BL” if it is just “bad luck”

Circle “C” if it’s just “coincidence”

Circle “TIHLI” if it’s ”That Is How Life Is”

When you are finished, please place your computer screen face down on your desk and wait for the rest of us to finish.  No, you may not have a hall pass.  Please do not tease the strange, new kid in the back corner:  we do not choose our families.  If English is your second language, please use the Spanish translation on the video.  Please cue it up and…..go.   You have sixteen minutes.  Please show all your work.

An old man turned ninety-eight
He won the lottery and died the next day
(I, BL, C, TIHLI)
It’s a black fly in your Chardonnay
(I, BL, C, TIHLI)
It’s a death row pardon two minutes too late
(I, BL, C, TIHLI)
And isn’t it ironic…dontcha think

It’s like rain on your wedding day (I, BL, C, TIHLI)
It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid
(I, BL, C, TIHLI)
It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take
(I, BL, C, TIHLI)
Who would’ve thought…it figures

Mr. Play It Safe was afraid to fly
He packed his suitcase and kissed his kids goodbye
He waited his whole damn life to take that flight
And as the plane crashed down he thought
“Well isn’t this nice…”
(I, BL, C, TIHLI)
And isn’t it ironic…dontcha think

It’s like rain on your wedding day
It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid
It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take
Who would’ve thought…it figures

Well life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
When you think everything’s okay and everything’s going right
(I, BL, C, TIHLI)
And life has a funny way of helping you out when
You think everything’s gone wrong and everything blows up
In your face
(I, BL, C, TIHLI)

A traffic jam when you’re already late (I, BL, C, TIHLI)
A no-smoking sign on your cigarette break
(I, BL, C, TIHLI)
It’s like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife
(I, BL, C, TIHLI)
It’s meeting the man of my dreams
And then meeting his beautiful wife
(I, BL, C, TIHLI)
And isn’t it ironic…dontcha think
A little too ironic…and yeah I really do think…

It’s like rain on your wedding day
It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid
It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take
Who would’ve thought…it figures

Life has a funny way of sneaking up on you (I, BL, C, TIHLI)
Life has a funny, funny way of helping you out
(I, BL, C, TIHLI)
Helping you out

Favorite definition of irony is:  poignantly contrary to what was expected or intended.  We need a paradox to have true irony and no paradoxical conditions are listed in the song.  None of the “I”’s should be circled because no irony exists in the song.  Below is an excerpt from Webster’s that is a very clear ‘splanation of why none of Ms. Morissette’s song is, in fact, ironic.

Usage Note: The words ironic, irony, and ironically are sometimes used of events and circumstances that might better be described as simply “coincidental” or “improbable,” in that they suggest no particular lessons about human vanity or folly. Thus 78 percent of the Usage Panel rejects the use of ironically in the sentence In 1969 Susie moved from Ithaca to California where she met her husband-to-be, who, ironically, also came from upstate New York. Some Panelists noted that this particular usage might be acceptable if Susie had in fact moved to California in order to find a husband, in which case the story could be taken as exemplifying the folly of supposing that we can know what fate has in store for us. By contrast, 73 percent accepted the sentence Ironically, even as the government was fulminating against American policy, American jeans and videocassettes were the hottest items in the stalls of the market, where the incongruity can be seen as an example of human inconsistency.

PS:  Alanis.  You can come back now.  I’m divorced, she is gone, and flattery will get you everywhere.

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