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BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??

McGrath of Harlow 26 Nov 04 - 04:37 PM
mousethief 26 Nov 04 - 04:43 PM
Blissfully Ignorant 26 Nov 04 - 04:46 PM
artbrooks 26 Nov 04 - 05:00 PM
PoppaGator 26 Nov 04 - 05:10 PM
Thomas the Rhymer 26 Nov 04 - 06:48 PM
Blissfully Ignorant 26 Nov 04 - 06:52 PM
McGrath of Harlow 26 Nov 04 - 07:06 PM
Bill D 26 Nov 04 - 07:20 PM
mack/misophist 26 Nov 04 - 08:08 PM
McGrath of Harlow 26 Nov 04 - 08:16 PM
Bill D 26 Nov 04 - 08:31 PM
Mooh 26 Nov 04 - 09:15 PM
Rapparee 26 Nov 04 - 10:36 PM
PoppaGator 26 Nov 04 - 10:56 PM
Billy the Bus 27 Nov 04 - 02:09 AM
Boab 27 Nov 04 - 03:00 AM
Boab 27 Nov 04 - 03:06 AM
gnomad 27 Nov 04 - 06:50 AM
GUEST,Beetle 27 Nov 04 - 10:49 AM
McGrath of Harlow 27 Nov 04 - 01:18 PM
The Fooles Troupe 27 Nov 04 - 07:23 PM
McGrath of Harlow 27 Nov 04 - 07:35 PM
The Fooles Troupe 28 Nov 04 - 07:36 AM
GUEST,Carp in a Cobbler 28 Nov 04 - 08:21 AM
GUEST,Izaak Walton 28 Nov 04 - 09:57 AM
GUEST,Carp in a Cobbler 28 Nov 04 - 10:50 AM
McGrath of Harlow 28 Nov 04 - 11:21 AM
GUEST,Carp in a Cobbler 28 Nov 04 - 11:50 AM
*Laura* 28 Nov 04 - 02:22 PM
The Fooles Troupe 28 Nov 04 - 07:23 PM
CarolC 28 Nov 04 - 07:39 PM
CarolC 28 Nov 04 - 07:46 PM
Cluin 28 Nov 04 - 07:48 PM
CarolC 28 Nov 04 - 07:50 PM
Cluin 28 Nov 04 - 08:13 PM
The Fooles Troupe 28 Nov 04 - 08:32 PM
Bill D 28 Nov 04 - 08:32 PM
Bill D 28 Nov 04 - 08:37 PM
The Fooles Troupe 29 Nov 04 - 02:46 AM
GUEST 29 Nov 04 - 04:34 AM
Rapparee 29 Nov 04 - 09:09 AM
Paco Rabanne 29 Nov 04 - 09:59 AM
CarolC 29 Nov 04 - 11:40 AM
GUEST 29 Nov 04 - 01:59 PM
McGrath of Harlow 29 Nov 04 - 02:27 PM
PoppaGator 29 Nov 04 - 02:56 PM
GUEST,Fish ado about nothing 29 Nov 04 - 04:22 PM
GUEST 29 Nov 04 - 04:50 PM
Charley Noble 29 Nov 04 - 05:25 PM
McGrath of Harlow 29 Nov 04 - 05:32 PM
CarolC 29 Nov 04 - 05:46 PM
Cluin 29 Nov 04 - 05:59 PM
JohnInKansas 30 Nov 04 - 12:43 PM
The Fooles Troupe 30 Nov 04 - 07:35 PM
McGrath of Harlow 30 Nov 04 - 07:40 PM
GUEST,heric 30 Nov 04 - 10:09 PM
GUEST 01 Dec 04 - 08:28 AM
The Fooles Troupe 01 Dec 04 - 09:10 AM
McGrath of Harlow 01 Dec 04 - 09:21 AM
The Fooles Troupe 01 Dec 04 - 07:04 PM
GUEST,heric 02 Dec 04 - 01:18 AM
The Fooles Troupe 02 Dec 04 - 08:48 AM
GUEST,heric 02 Dec 04 - 09:41 AM
GUEST 02 Dec 04 - 12:27 PM
GUEST,Norton1 03 Dec 04 - 11:13 AM
Cluin 03 Dec 04 - 11:20 AM
GUEST,heric 03 Dec 04 - 11:36 AM
GUEST,Norton1 03 Dec 04 - 04:14 PM
The Fooles Troupe 03 Dec 04 - 07:36 PM
GUEST,heric 03 Dec 04 - 08:17 PM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Dec 04 - 08:29 PM

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Subject: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 26 Nov 04 - 04:37 PM

This expression came up in another thread, as it does from tine to time, and it suddenly occurred to me to wonder where the hell the phrase comes from.

More to the point, how has it come to be used to mean doing something which is very easy, or picking on targets impossible to miss? For in reality "shooting at fish in a barrel" would surely be remarkably hard to do, and you'd very likely end up killing yourself or someone else.

With a wooden bucket you'd shoot straight through, with a metal bucket the bullet would likely bounce out agauin - and even if you used a pea-shooter, hitting a fish would be extraordinarily difficult, given the way water refracts light.

Normally, when curiosity gets awoken by a phrase in this manner, it's an easy matter to solve the riddle through Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase or Fable, or via Google. But this time, no luck. Plenty of people using the phrase, but no indication could I find as to where it comes from, and how it can possibly make any kind of sense.

So can anybody out there throw any light on it?


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: mousethief
Date: 26 Nov 04 - 04:43 PM

I think that it's a corruption of "Shooting Phish in a barrel" which is a much simpler thing. If you got all the band members of Phish into a small barrel, shooting them would be easy.

I'll get me coat.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: Blissfully Ignorant
Date: 26 Nov 04 - 04:46 PM

Maybe it's a corruption of 'shooting pish into a barrel'? Lower pants, take aim... and.....fire!


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: artbrooks
Date: 26 Nov 04 - 05:00 PM

Use a shotgun in a very shallow barrel...or even better a 1/4 pound stick of dynamite. No problem.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: PoppaGator
Date: 26 Nov 04 - 05:10 PM

If the fish is in the barrel of your gun (as opposed to residing in a cask of some sort), I'm sure it would be hard to miss.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 26 Nov 04 - 06:48 PM

If you were using a bow and arrow... it would be alot easier than sneaking up on the slimy buggers out in the wild... and you could retrieve your arrows with scarsely an effort!


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: Blissfully Ignorant
Date: 26 Nov 04 - 06:52 PM

Ah...but how would you get them into the barrel in the first place?


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 26 Nov 04 - 07:06 PM

Even with a bow and arrow it'd require a great deal of skill, because of the refraction of light. But the implication when the expression is used is that it would be simple. I suppose if it were a very big fish and a small barrel it would be easier.

It sounds as if it must come from some kind of story. I'm still hoping that someone will be able to come up with some reference.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: Bill D
Date: 26 Nov 04 - 07:20 PM

well, I figured that finding learned dissertations on the would be like stealing candy from a baby, but I guess not...

most of the site which usually know the answer have missed it....maybe it's too common to trace.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: mack/misophist
Date: 26 Nov 04 - 08:08 PM

I think it's akin to "can't hit the broad side of a barn". ie. It's not something any one is really going to try, it just sounds good. A bit like "a boar hog in a peach orchard"; it won't happen if you've got any sense.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 26 Nov 04 - 08:16 PM

But someone must have said it in some part of the world.

And unlike the other examples you gave, mack, this one doesn't seem to make much sense.

One parallel is Simple Simon -

Simple Simon went a-fishing
For to catch a whale:
All the water he had got
Was in his mother's pail!


However the implication of this is that the fishing expedition was not a great success.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: Bill D
Date: 26 Nov 04 - 08:31 PM

if this site doesn't have any info, it is hard to know who would... Oh, there are LOTS of explanations about what it means, but virtually no information about possible origins except this note from the listserv of the American Dialect Society which finds an entry in a newspaper from 1911.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: Mooh
Date: 26 Nov 04 - 09:15 PM

In a barrel there is virtually no light refraction because one is supposedly looking straight down. A shot gun would nail nearly anything in a barrel, and exactly what's it made of that it would reflect shot? Water also slows the shot a bit, especially on rebound, doesn't it?

Just supposing.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: Rapparee
Date: 26 Nov 04 - 10:36 PM

I haven't worked out the math or anything, but if you did have a gun muzzle perpendicular to and close to the surface of liquid in a barrel -- water, I assume, in this case -- the blast from the firing could cause any fish in the barrel to float to the surface, concussed and unconcious. But you'd need a pretty powerful gun, perhaps a 12 or 10 gauge shotgun, and it would be a good idea NOT to stick the muzzle into the water.

I also haven't tried this, and don't really want to.

Shooting fish in the wild used to be legal in, I believe, Vermont.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: PoppaGator
Date: 26 Nov 04 - 10:56 PM

It never occurred to me that anyone would ever have the slightest difficulty shoting fish in a barrel. Now we're dealing with questions about physics!

I think it only seems problematic if you're picturing *one* fish in a barrel. If you understand the word "fish" as plural, you can see that the barrel is chock full of fish, piled on top of each other -- sitting ducks,in other words, to mix a metaphor.

See -- it's all the fault of that dang English language, failing to diffrentiate between singluar and plural for one particular word, the noun "fish."-- like "deer."


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: Billy the Bus
Date: 27 Nov 04 - 02:09 AM

G'day McGrath,

Mi braincell is working overtime, trying to recall the 'Shooting Ballery' in the cicus sideshow, when I was a kid. You got a pea-rifle to shoot at fixed targets, or rows of moving tagets that flipped over when you hit them. One I recall also had a tub of turbulent water, with numbered ducks bobbing about on the surface. That was thetricki one.

Maybe the expression refers to an early variant, with a barrel?

Cheers - Sa,


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: Boab
Date: 27 Nov 04 - 03:00 AM

Akin to the Scots "


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: Boab
Date: 27 Nov 04 - 03:06 AM

Dunno what that Boab guy's on about; maybe he's been on the piss or something. I think he was trying to say --akin to the Scots "couldnae hit doors at Hall'een" . Or couldnae hit the right key on the keyboard even when he's sober----


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: gnomad
Date: 27 Nov 04 - 06:50 AM

I've never thought about this one before, but I wonder whether PoppaGator could be on to something.

The line says fish in a barrel, not in a barrel full of water. This makes me think in terms of barrels of herring, pilchards, or similar. Fish used to be shipped in this fashion, packed in so tight that if you had the means to shoot the barrel at all, you could hardly fail to hit a fish.

I have no grounds to support the theory, it's just an idea.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: GUEST,Beetle
Date: 27 Nov 04 - 10:49 AM

My helicopter outfit in Viet Nam had a door-gunner's joke -- like shooting fish in a barrel EXCEPT that the fish get to shoot back!


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 27 Nov 04 - 01:18 PM

That's an idea - a barrel full of fish, but not full of water. Though I can't see people saying "fish in a barrel", not in English - they'd be likely to say something like "a barrelfull of fish", the same way they say " a barrelfull of monkeys".

Unless the original phrase might not have been English at all, but imported along with the fish from some country where that way of putting it might be more natural. Norway? The Netherlands? Germnay? Or some community in the USA where that speech pattern might have been carried over at he start of the last century.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 27 Nov 04 - 07:23 PM

McGrath

Depends on what the emphasised object English people are thinking about when they start a phrase - if you are thinking about the 'fish' then it is a more natural way to think - if you are talking about 'the barrel' then 'barrel full of fish' is the more appropriate phrase. So depends on whether you are primarily interested in shooting barrels or fish.....


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 27 Nov 04 - 07:35 PM

Possibly, foolestroupe - but the analogous expressions "a barrel full of monkeys" and "a cartload of monkeys", where in both cases the emphasis is on the monkeys, suggests not.   But my point was that the expression might not be an English (language) one at all.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 28 Nov 04 - 07:36 AM

But the expression was Fish _IN_ a Barrel... so the emphasis is as I was suggesting on the Fish, so I think in all politeness, that you may have strayed, perhaps understandably so... :-), as I do not think that the 'monkeys' are analogous to fish.... ;-) being mischevious.... I agree, that it may not have originated in Modern English. About 50 languages have contributed to English.

Did you know that in that famous oft quoted stirring fragment of Churchill's famous 'Fight them on the beaches' speech - all the words are descended from Old English - Saxon, except for one word - 'surrender' - which is (amusingly enough - taking into account centuries of English/French Political Interaction!) from the French.... :-)


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: GUEST,Carp in a Cobbler
Date: 28 Nov 04 - 08:21 AM

"I think in all politeness, that you may have strayed..."

Brilliant understatement, that.

McGrath is just being his usual argumentative, stubborn and thick self here. He carries on like this to prove to himself that he couldn't possibly be one of the easiest targets in the tub. He believes himself to be much too brilliant for it.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: GUEST,Izaak Walton
Date: 28 Nov 04 - 09:57 AM

Fish were (and still are in some ports) delivered to the quayside in barrels to be gutted by the fishwives. They are not humanely killed before this process is carried out, they are still wriggling in their final death throes. Obviously it would be extremely easy to shoot a fish in this condition, to put it out of its misery, but it would probably be prohibitively expensive ...


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: GUEST,Carp in a Cobbler
Date: 28 Nov 04 - 10:50 AM

I believe we've already covered this. The saying is a euphemism/idiom for doing something so easy that success is guaranteed.

The phrase 'sitting ducks' refers to an easy target. That isn't what the idiom being discussed here means. The saying 'shooting fish...' is about the ease with which something can be accomplished successfully. Another American phrase similar in meaning would be 'slam dunk'.

This is the sort of thread that takes the joy right out of creative language use...


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Nov 04 - 11:21 AM

"Shooting sitting ducks", "hitting the barn wall", "falling off a log" - those are easy things to do. Shooting fish swimming around in a barrel - that would be remarkably difficult.

So, the puzzle is, how come the fanciful image for doing something very easy is to do something that would probably be extremely hard to do? It seems to me there must be a story behind this.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: GUEST,Carp in a Cobbler
Date: 28 Nov 04 - 11:50 AM

Here is one that applies especially to you McGrath:

'One cannot put a quart in a pint cup.'


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: *Laura*
Date: 28 Nov 04 - 02:22 PM

someone mentioned the 'taking candy from a baby' thing.
Have you ever tried to take candy from a baby?
Obviously the person who made up the expression hadn't!!!


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 28 Nov 04 - 07:23 PM

Actually, the concussion produced by the shot (shotgun, or any calibre rifle except maybe something of a very light load like a .22 'cap') hitting the water at a distance of a couple of feet above the water would most likely kill any and all fish in the barrel, no matter how fast they were swimming. If we were talking about a half inch or larger old fashioned calibre musket or pistol, game over... Of course if you are only thinking of a bow and arrow.... but I have always associated this expression with firearms.

Navy Mine Clearance Divers know that only James Bond can swim fast enough to get far enough away from the explosion to survive... Dropping standard hand grenades over the side of a warship will seriously upset any divers trying to lay mines under the keel... :-)

Keep it up McGrath, I'm on your side... :-) Always enjoy the intellectual stimulation. Obviously some of the GUEST contributors to this thread are w*****s...


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: CarolC
Date: 28 Nov 04 - 07:39 PM

I think if you have a barrel with water and enough fish in it that the fish are crowded but still swimming, it would be pretty easy to hit more than one fish with each shot, even if you were using bullets and not shot pellets. So in that case, the phrase would be an apt one, I think.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: CarolC
Date: 28 Nov 04 - 07:46 PM

...and of course, if you just had one or two relatively large fish in the barrel, not so big that they couldn't swim, but maybe large enough that they wouldn't be inclined to want to swim, taking aim and shooting them while they remained relatively still would probably produce successful results fairly easily.

I would be almost willing to bet that someone, somewhere has tried this at least once.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: Cluin
Date: 28 Nov 04 - 07:48 PM

Water makes a pretty good bullet-stopper though. If the fish were on the bottom...


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: CarolC
Date: 28 Nov 04 - 07:50 PM

What if you shoot them with a harpoon?

;-)


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: Cluin
Date: 28 Nov 04 - 08:13 PM

Or a Howitzer?

Or a camera?


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 28 Nov 04 - 08:32 PM

This thread is getting silly....


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: Bill D
Date: 28 Nov 04 - 08:32 PM

ya' gotta be VERY careful


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: Bill D
Date: 28 Nov 04 - 08:37 PM

how to do it if the FISH are not armed


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 29 Nov 04 - 02:46 AM

This thread is getting VERY silly indeed...


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Nov 04 - 04:34 AM

I thought it was about Marillion


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: Rapparee
Date: 29 Nov 04 - 09:09 AM

Far more than you ever wanted to know about the word "barrel."

Could it be that the expression has nothing at all to do with guns, but refers to "shooting" fish into a barrel? That is, perhaps sliding them quickly down a chute and into a barrel where the fish were salted or packed? I don't know, but this usage would go along with "shooting pool" or "shooting golf" and it would be a simple task to do.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: Paco Rabanne
Date: 29 Nov 04 - 09:59 AM

I would prefer to hunt them with hounds.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: CarolC
Date: 29 Nov 04 - 11:40 AM

...and then send the marmoset after them when they get treed, super ted?


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Nov 04 - 01:59 PM

God, save us from the literal minded.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 29 Nov 04 - 02:27 PM

The speculation continues, with occasional rude noises off.

"Taking candy from a baby" - that's a good point Laura made. But at least that sounds easy, to people who haven't had much to do with babies.

The image of shooting fish in a barrel is so strange that I am sure it must come from some specific source, for example a story, or some daft local activity. Perhaps a sideshow at a fair? Like the sideshow Billy the Bus reminded us of - "One I recall also had a tub of turbulent water, with numbered ducks bobbing about on the surface. That was the tricky one."

As he said, that's something that is very tricky, but it might look easy to many people. Like shooting fish in a barrel, indeed. If you ran a stall at a fair like that you'd probably get quite a lot of takers, and take quite a lot of their money.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: PoppaGator
Date: 29 Nov 04 - 02:56 PM

At the risk of repeating myself, I *never* pictured water in the barrel when I heard this common expression (which includes no mention of water, BTW) -- nor did I envision a single fish. I always pictured a barrel full of fish, just as described by "Isaac Walton" yesterday morning at 9:57.

Is this somehow related to my native language being American English? So it would seem.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: GUEST,Fish ado about nothing
Date: 29 Nov 04 - 04:22 PM

I don't get what McGrath is on about either. Why would it be difficult again? Because you'd make a hole in the wooden barrel? So what? The phrase is not "like shooting fish in a barrel without making a hole in the barrel."

The point is, there are several easy images (like Mr. Walton's) that adequately explain why shooting fish in a barrel would be easy. McGrath just dismisses or ignores them all. Similarly, it would be really easy to tke candy from a baby, if you don't care about hurting the baby. Not that I'm cruel, just that I can easily see the logic in this expression.

And what has this got to do with a "barrel of monkeys"? In the latter case, it's the great number of monkeys that makes it fun (which I never quite understood, by the way). So it's the fact that it's a whole barrel of monkeys that makes it fun. With fish in a barrel, whether you have one fish in the bottom of an empty barrel, or a barrel chock full of fish, it would be easy to shoot the fish, if you don't worry about making a hole in the barrel. Thus it is shooting fish (one or many), not shooting the barrel of fish, that is easy. But it is the quantity of monkeys (a barrel of them) that is fun.

Got it, people? Good!


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Nov 04 - 04:50 PM

But you COULD, if you were so inclined, actually make it difficult to shoot fish in a barrel. Ahhh, therein lies the rub. What if the guy who first used the expression as if it were easy, actually had ulterior motives to make it difficult?? Gotcha there!!


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: Charley Noble
Date: 29 Nov 04 - 05:25 PM

I think the question that McGrath poses is "a barrel of fun." Now some may think he's got us "over a barrel" but I'm sure someone can put a stopper to it or bung it up, so to speak.

I vote for the carnival origin.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 29 Nov 04 - 05:32 PM

Here's an extract from this site, on a passage about makingthe filk Deliverance - 'Summer of Deliverance' By Christopher Dickey

"I was supposed to know how to shoot a bow, one of the assistant directors asked me to shoot one of the trout they'd put in a little makeshift pond at the edge of the river. They needed a close-up miss and a close-up hit. I'd never shot a trout. But, hey, this was going to be like -- this was -- shooting fish in a barrel.

Just to get the feel of it, I took aim at one of the trout, steadied the shaft, aiming low to compensate for the refraction of light, and released. The arrow went right into it, just the way it was supposed to. Now the cameras rolled. And rolled. And rolled...and rolled. I could not hit another fish. We joked. We laughed a lot. I made excuses. The sun was going down and we were losing light. This whole little sideshow was turning into an embarrassment, then a humiliation, as people came over to see why we were taking so long. "I thought you knew how to do this?" said the assistant cameraman. Even fish in a barrel are hard to hit with an arrow. Anyone might have made an equal fool of himself.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: CarolC
Date: 29 Nov 04 - 05:46 PM

I also vote for the carnival organ.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: Cluin
Date: 29 Nov 04 - 05:59 PM

Just goes to show you that Mudcatters can debate the crap out of anything.


Wasn't there a story here not too long ago about discharging a gun in an outhouse?


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 30 Nov 04 - 12:43 PM

While there is no doubt that the "common meaning" now is just anything that's very easy, among the locals I grew up with the term "shooting fish in a barrel" nearly always implied a strong condemnation of "unsportsmanlike" conduct of some sort. Anything compared to "shooting fish in a barrel" was likely something it was understood that "you just don't do."

I suspect that that meaning has pretty much faded out of use - the modern generation seems to like everything as easy as possible...(?)
but it might be of help if someone really wants to look into origins of the term. Comparable, but less used, terms were "hunting chickens/duck/birds in a pen," "shooting pigs in the barnyard" and/or "fishing with dynamite."

The usual connotation of any of these terms was that only an "incompetent" would take pleasure from any such "contrived" situation. There apparently is no shortage of such "incompetents," since the major game law convictions in my area recently have been for things - all illegal here - like "herding" game to the "hunters(?)" using aircraft, 4WD, or ATV vehicles, using radio/cb/cellphone communications while hunting, and/or "shining" - using spotlights (or headlights) to blind the game at night. All much like "shooting fish in a barrel" - in the older sense as I learned it.

John


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 30 Nov 04 - 07:35 PM

You are right JiK - that's what it menat when I first heard it too..


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 30 Nov 04 - 07:40 PM

That's how I've always understood it - something supposedly so easy it's cheating and not sporting. Like shooting a sitting bird.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: GUEST,heric
Date: 30 Nov 04 - 10:09 PM

A friend of mine, as a wee lad, used to go hunting with his father on a pheasant ranch, or farm, or some such thing. The dog would point, and then my friend's job was to put his lollipop in his pocket, run out, kick the bird in the ass so it would fly, and then his dad would shoot it (the bird.)


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Dec 04 - 08:28 AM

I'm a Midwesterner, and have never heard of a connotation for this phrase that associates it with unsportsmanlike conduct. Only that it is something that is so easy, the outcome is guaranteed.

It isn't the least bit uncommon for euphemisms to not make literal sense. That is probably why we have a thing called figurative speech.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 01 Dec 04 - 09:10 AM

Duck, McGrath!


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Dec 04 - 09:21 AM

Only that it is something that is so easy, the outcome is guaranteed.

I'd have thought that, in the context of sport, that in itself would be likely to mean unsportsmanlike. Surely the idea of overcoming some kind of difficulty is central to the whole notion of sport?

Obviously it's figurative laguagen, but it seems the wrong way round. It's a bit as if people were using "walking a tightrope" as a figurative way of saying how easy it was to do something, or "walking in a straight line" as a way of saying how hard it was.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 01 Dec 04 - 07:04 PM

Such a thing IS a very 'English' thing in the English sense of humour - also very Australia too. It's also known as irony - and only those in on the joke know it to be funny.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: GUEST,heric
Date: 02 Dec 04 - 01:18 AM

oh.





You mean, like, everything McGrath wrote above is, like, really, really funny?


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 02 Dec 04 - 08:48 AM

Now you're with the program, Citizen!


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: GUEST,heric
Date: 02 Dec 04 - 09:41 AM

Well, dang, that's exciting! Now I'll have to go back and re-read all of his posts on mudcat. ;)


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Dec 04 - 12:27 PM

FOR FUCKS SAKE


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: GUEST,Norton1
Date: 03 Dec 04 - 11:13 AM

Never shot a fish IN a barrel but shot a pistol into a metal bucket once. It was a little .25 caliber automatic pistol and I wanted to see how the hollow point bullets expaded. Bullet expanded nicely and then went through the bottom of the bucket. Dang - it was a real nice older heavy metal bucket. I welded the hole up - but it looks like a wart on the bottom now!

Had there been a fish in it the fish would have died. :-)

We used to shoot carp out at Lake Lowell when I was a kid. 22s and bows and arrows both. It was pretty easy once you got the hang of the water refraction.

Hee hee hah hah - and yes - Mudcatters can debate anything - :-)


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: Cluin
Date: 03 Dec 04 - 11:20 AM

Ha! And they used to tell us to avoid shooting at the water, especially with low-velocity bullets like .22s. Said the danger of ricochet was higher with those.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: GUEST,heric
Date: 03 Dec 04 - 11:36 AM

I, for one, won't accept Norton1's mere conclusion as to hypothetical fish vitality. Upon inspection, it amounts to no more than conjecture and surmise. There were no controls whatsoever, and the "data" (for want of a better word) is entirely inadequate for statistcal analysis. If we are going to maintain appropriate standards in this peer review process, I submit to you that further research is obligatory. What we have achieved is simply inadequate if mudcat intends to maintain its respect as a deliberative body.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: GUEST,Norton1
Date: 03 Dec 04 - 04:14 PM

Wellll Cluin - at a bit of TOO much of an angle they do ricochet. Part of getting the hang of it was how much angle you could get away with.

Heric - entirely correct - next time I'm out farting around I'll try again and post the statistical portion for review - and I was most likely out of controls, or is that out of control??

Hmmm - I'll try to do better in the future :-)

[i]hanging head and walking away with a shucky darns sort of look[/i]


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 03 Dec 04 - 07:36 PM

Looks like 'GUEST' doesn't really get what the whole point of the Mudcat BS section is all about - probably not much of a muso either...

Obviously not spent much time in the 'Green Room'# during gigs...

Now back to the serious stuff - Carry On, Mudcatters!

(and they DO carry on....)


# The Green Room is the Traditional Theatre term for the place where the cast of a show hang out before, during and after a show, when they are not actually on stage...


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: GUEST,heric
Date: 03 Dec 04 - 08:17 PM

Thank you for that, Norton1. Data on fish-brain splatter patterns may suffice for our purposes.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'Shooting fish in a barrel'??
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Dec 04 - 08:29 PM

Maybe someone could get a research grant to look into all this, with experiments with differerent calibre guns and different size barrels and different sorts of fish.


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