American daily newspapers such as Washington Post and New York Times provide a treasure trove of interesting words and idioms to foreign learners of English language like me. For example, an article of January 29 the New York Times titled We Never Got Down to Blue begins with the following copy. It provides me with a set of interesting phrases in only the following few lines, such as Erode into a macabre laugh line, stand beltless in one’s socks and survival biscuits.
Among these phrases new to me, I’m particularly interested in the expression erode into a macabre laugh line. Why can macabre, which I understand meaning chilling, dreadful, can marry with the word laugh line that does not seem to necessarily fit gruesome connotation of macabre? So, What does erode into a macabre laugh line. mean? Can anybody tell me?
Well before the end, the government’s color-coded alert system was eroding into a macabre laugh line for the modern age of terrorism. Were people standing beltless in their socks actually hearing the airport announcements when the risk estimate mostly shuttled between yellow (Elevated) and orange (High)? The five-color code is going the way of cold war survival biscuits. Homeland Security officials decided that it ultimately lacked credibility and clarity to the point of sapping rather than bolstering public confidence.