The other day a coworker called me on the speaker phone and said, "We were just talking about you. Are your ears burning?"
I replied, "My ears are sizzlin'."
The people on the call laughed and giggled. Why? Because I took a cliché, its corners of meaning rounded and smoothed through decades of use, and gave it an edge. An unexpected twist.
I remember seeing Stephen King write in one of his books, "The smooch of death." What caused Stephen to skip the stock phrase, "Kiss of death"?
He understands that clichés are the kiss of death when trying to arrest your audience's attention.