how do you pronounce detritus?

detritus diˈtrītəs

That's how I've always said it, but in a recent NYT article the writer said she heard it three different ways.

There are way more than three different ways to get rid of it and there are a lot of different categories of detritus. For some reason I am reminded of a line by a long-gone writer called Carolyn Wells:

"One man's meat is another man's poisson." Yes, one's person's detritus is another person's treasure, including that old pun littering up my mind.

Well, what can I say? I was thinking, as I woke up, about the junk in my memory, all the out-moded, unfashionable, behind the times, obsolete, untrendy - in short - uncool words and phrases and references that have no relevance to others' experiences and knowledge. This began with two references I have used in my screenplay that got an argument from my partner.

The time is late 1941. One young woman has no acquaintance with Ovaltine, and her slightly older friend explains her lapse to others saying that she never read Li'l Orphan Annie. See, I had a Li'l Orphan Annie mug for my Ovaltine, her sponsor on a radio show based on the comic strip by the American cartoonist, Harold Gray (1894-1968). Later audiences know the heroine because of a musical based on her. It opened in 1977 and ran for six years on Broadway and there was a movie and so on. I checked dates and the strip was running and the sponsor was active in 1941. I still want to keep the line.

Another one: My characters have very few clothes, and the young one is wondering what to wear to a party. The older one says we haven't any green velvet curtains. My partner doesn't think anyone will recognize that reference. Well, I checked. The novel (Gone With the Wind) was published in 1936 and the movie released in 1939. At the Academy Awards event in 1940 it won eight Oscars, including best picture, best direction, best actor and actress and so on. And the film is seen regularly on TV. I still want to keep the line.

Well, so, I was thinking of references and of what people remember or know. I had a friend who kept on looking young long after the rest of us succumbed to sags and wrinkles. Someone commented on how young he still looked and he said, "I have this picture at home". Did anyone recognize his reference to The Picture of Dorian Gray?

I have read that the audience is so dispersed now among television, Netflix, Shomi, and other venues, and on giant screens, home screens, iScreens, e-readers and so on, that common knowledge is not as common as it was, not even advertising. Remember "Where's the beef?". Remember Big Mac Attack? Now it's "I'm lovin' it". (Is it still? Things change fast these days.)

People in the Western world no longer know the Bible, or Greek (or Norse) mythology. Who was Aesop, anyway? What did Icarus do? I guess some fans know Odin's Hammer from the movie hero and Kryptonite is probably better known than Pandora's box or Medusa's snakes. Two of my granddaughters in their mid-twenties noticed a book some one had lent me called Pilate's Daughter.  They wondered if it was an exercise book using the big ball.  

Perhaps movies offer the closest thing we have to a common denominator of knowledge. What has happened to lore?

Lore: mythology, myths, legends, stories, traditions, folklore, fables, oral tradition, mythos. (Dictionary synonyms)

I have gone far astray from what I originally wanted to discuss. More tomorrow.