I never met Rex Gooch in person, but I got to know him via email over
the past few years. He truly had his own vision of language, and his articles were brilliant, thorough, and detailed. When a Kickshaw item invited readers to find other examples of a specific form of wordplay, Rex often would send a bountiful supply of words. He was fortunate to have an equally talented comrade-in-words, Susan Thorpe, with whom he could share ideas. He was especially intrigued by word squares, the bigger the better. In the last issue of Word Ways, he wrote jokingly: "I fear to lose my reputation as the guru of large squares." I imagine Rex the Guru sitting at the top of a mountain of words, welcoming visitors to the summit, where he shows them his latest 10-square.
SINGLE-LETTER SYMBOLS FOR CHEMICAL ELEMENTS
Darryl Francis notes that there are 13 chemical elements which have single-letter symbols:
B boron C carbon F fluorine I iodine K potassium N nitrogen O oxygen P phosphorus S sulfur (sulphur) U uranium V vanadium W tungsten Y yttrium
Q1: What are the longest words which can be spelt out using some or all of these letters, no more than once?
Q2: What is the longest word which can be spelt out using these letters, allowing repeated occurrences?
The symbols for most of the remaining chemical elements have two-letter symbols, running from Ac (actinium) to Zr (zirconium). There are a few element symbols using three-letter symbols, beginning Uu-, for the chemical elements with atomic numbers 110-119.
Q3: Sticking with the two-letter symbols, what is the longest word which can be spelled out using two-letter symbols, with no rearrangement of the letters? Te-Th-Er (tellurium--thorium--erbium) is a three-symbol example. Can you find longer ones?
EXTRA: READ ALL ABOUT IT
The last Kickshaws began with discussing a photograph of a man protesting immigration with a sign saying "Speak English in ARE country!" Anil suggests that "By 'ARE country' they obviously meant Albert Ross Eckler country, right?" Right you is, Anil.
THE LATEST DOPE
"I have an old collection of punny 'Dope Brands,'" Anil says. They were composed in those naive days over three decades ago when it looked loike cannabis might one day be legalized. I was all set to patent, copyright or trademark them, whichever is applicable. Unlike Ove's downer poem, mine are mostly upbeat. Here are a sampling of my favorites: I have dozens more."
Saturday Evening Pot
Great Barrier Reefers
Puff the Magic Drag
Below Your Mind
"You might have added that the list of RE-words included 5-6 pairs that were actually opposites of sorts: refuse, resign, retreat, return, release and arguably reprove."--Anil
"This item in the last Kickshaws reminds me a curious (apparent) oversight. The Bible Fundamentalists missed a very auspicious occasion at 9:00 AM on October 21, 1996 (I think I remember the date right). At that moment, according to Bishop Ussher, the Universe (or the Earth? Or mankind?) was exactly 6000 years old!"--Anil
TWO OF A KIND
The two left-handed names don't surprise me all that much. As I complained about it in the article "Towards a More Logical Keyboard" (06-142), there are far too many left-handed words, which slows down my typing considerably of late. I or someone should compile a list of them. I bet it would be a very loing list, almost a book's worth. Sounds like something that would've been done in an early Word Ways."--Anil
"Continuing on the right-left subject, I've noted that, of the prominent right-wingers Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Goldwater, Nixon, Thatcher, Reagan, Bush and Bush, only Benito Mussolini and Richard Milhous Nixon were true right-wingers with a majority of the letters in their names spelled with the right hand (67 and 63% respectively). Adolf Hitrler was only 45% right, Francisco Franco and George H.W. Bush 33%, George W. Bush 27%, Ronald Reagan 25%, and Barry Goldwater 21%. Margaret Thatcher is the biggest phony of all, being only 19% right."--Anil
LEFT AND RIGHT AT IT AGAIN
"Pursuant to our earlier discussion of L and R, they're also the only phonic 'loners' among the consonants, both having no homophone or near homophone buddy. The rest all have buddy letters: b-p; soft c-z-s; hard c-k-hard ch; d-t' f-ph-v-vh; soft g-j-soft ch; hard g-k; aspirated h-hard ach-ah; unaspirated h-soft ach or uh-schwa; m-n; q-kiu-k2; w-uh'oo-half u or oo; x-ks. J is a world traveler, having different buddies in different countries: y in Germany, w in spain, zh in France, soft ch or g in English. (HJ has the weakest buddy-bonds: Some might call it, too, a loner.)"--Anil
"What is odd about this definition of protractor: 'something that draws out by up to around 180 degrees'? Answer: While it awkwardly combines definitions for two different (but related) meanings of protractor, my main point was to be that it contains five prepositions in a row. But is it only four? It's not at all clear whether 'around' meaning approximately is a preposition. Random House and Macquerie dictionaries say it is, yet say that 'about' meaning approximately is an adverb! Oxford American agrees about about, but it says around is an adverb for approximate amount but a preposition for approximate time! Web3 says both words are adverbs for amount or time. What's going on? Can we take our pick willy-nilly? Intuitively I favour the adverbs and Web3, but why do the others say (partly) otherwise?"--Anil
MY BACKWARD FRIENDS
"I have a friend named John Mulgrave. His surname, he noticed, is a phonetic reversal of 'ever glum'. Since he isn't always glum he took a logological liberty and reversed his first name as well, abbreviated it to N(hoj) and appended it to the reversed surname to become 'Never Glum!' My other backward 'friend' I've never met but would love to. She is China's #1 tennis player, the lovely Li Na. Surely we were made for each other! (Sorry, aNiL, she's already married.)
Can you think of other names that (phonetically if necessary) reverse to a meaningful if not apt word or phrase or name? Without looking beyond WW, the only remotely reasonable one I found was for everybody's fave, Martin Gardner: 'Rend rag; nit ram.' (He 'shreds' junk science books and 'but[t]s their nitwit authors.) I checked the 2006 Word Ways author list and found no other examples. Not daunted, I squeezed out a dozen desperate, dreadful but fun phonic reversals therefrom (plus what they reveal as Letterological 'to rat' readings). The second and ninth are accurate. Are any of the others? RSVP (The list is alphabetical by last letter.)
E ci rom evad ('He see ROM, evade.' Dave is a technophobe.) [Correct!--Dave]
Ep roh tnasus ('heap row tenacious' Susan is a fiercely dedicated word row person. [and oarsperson?])
Nam t pu ah nod ('Nam to pooh? Ah, nod!' Don was against the Vietnam war.)
N nam tug x am ('An Nam tug 'ex' am.' Max is a Vietnam veteran.)
No sugr ef nho j ('No sugar if no J!' John's 'dates' demand joints before putting out.)
Red up mij ('read-up midge' Jim is a book 'worm' of small stature.)
Regrab hs rah cire ('Regrab-his [high school?]-cheer sigher." Eric is hopelessly nostalgic.)
Relk cessor trebl, a ('Triple [or terrible?] relic assessor, eh?' So is or isn't Ross an antiques expert?)
Re-red eldr ah cir ('Re-read elder? Ah, sir!' Richard the Old is often re-read.)
Sic nar fly'r tad ('sick nayer-flier rad)' Darryl is pathologically afraid of airplanes.)
Snommen Iw ('Snowman, Iowa' Win is the frigid [or rotound? Or carrot-nosed?] type, originally from Iowa.)
Ye grei smij ('You grey (a) smidge.' Jim is beginning to show his age a bit).
(If you think these are disgraceful you should see what all the other backward authors said.)"--Anil
SIGNATURE PUNS STRIKE HOME
"Speaking of contributors, I included puns on two of us in my recent Signature Puns quiz (06-222): "albatross heckler' and "An ill? A nil!' Here are homophonic puns on another swindler's dozen of us, but mostly not 'signatures.' Can you read them all? Remember to play around with syllable emphases.
'M art in card, dinner. Dim eatery pork man How heard burger's on? Day fed more ease. Rich, hard letterer There old friends is. Chef grand John-hole gait Shames pewter Stew word, kid! Wrecks couch.--Anil
"Pursuant to my four sentence word (fluke) in 07-63, here's the flip-side. It involves weaving several different meanings of a word or phrase into a single sentence. Here are three examples:
1. 'Raise your hands,' the armed robber said, leaning against one of the columns that support the building, 'or I'll lift this gun and you'll be Swiss Cheese!'--until a glitch caused him to stop in his tracks at the unexpected delay, thus ending seven HOLD Ups. [Well, six hold ups and one holed up.]
2. Kick your boat into the lottery--in fact take three PUNTs.
3. A ladder in her stocking made her available time expire so she had to jog to work to manage a dilapidated office which couldn't operate without her, nearly getting in traffic on the bus route by a distracted politician who'd just decided to be a candidate while watching a score at a baseball game--ten RUNs in fact.--Anil
AN ICKY LIMERICK WITH A CHARADE CHASER
Out of those poems limerickey I propose to take the mickey: Their authors have sunk To a low level--drunk? I say blame that thirteenth lime rickey!--Anil
Q-fans, here is a spectacular word to contemplate. According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia on the web: Qwghlm is a fictional location, featured in the books Cryptonomicon and The Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson. Qwghlm consists of a pair of islands, Inner Qwghlm and Outer Qwghlm, off the northwestern coast of Great Britain; they have become victims of English imperialism. The islands are geographically similar to the Hebrides. It is somewhat of a parody of Ireland and Northern Ireland, and their mutual dislike for the others' way of life and religion. According to Stephenson, a very approximate pronunciation of "Qwghlm" is Taggum.
Inner Qwghlm is "hardly an island", being joined to Britain by a sandbar that comes and goes with the tide. By the time of World War II (as depicted in Cryptonomicon), this sandbar has been "beefed up with a causeway that carries a road and the railway line." Outer Qwghlm is about 20 miles off the coast. Qwghlmians are renowned among British mariners for their skill as navigators, a skill they acquired while dodging the treacherous reefs that surround the islands.
HOMOPHONIC PAIRS EXPANDED
"Regarding the item by Rich Lederer on Homophonic Pairs (p48)," says Jeff Grant, "by coincidence I looked at this very problem recently but hadn't got around to writing anything. The examples cited by Rich are undoubtedly some of the best, particularly you/ewe. Here are some others I found. Most include a capitalized, obsolete or 'foreign' term, and in some cases the pronunciation may not be quite the same. All words in Web2 or Web3 unless noted.
quay-ki phi-fy qi-chee sigh-Cy (Cyrus) jeez-gis (pl. of gi) phoo-fu core-kaw cee-si coo-khu orc-auk (one of my favorites!)
A couple of trivial ones: a- uh a- eh (depending on pronunciation)
A 4-letter pair: faux-phoh
Homophonic Triplets: u-ewe-yoo, KEW (Gardens), cu (short for 'cucumbers" Maquarie Dictionary), q
2-syllable attempts: Uzi-oosy (Scots for 'oozy' in Chambers Dict., but may be pronounced differently.) cipher-Syfa (a fantasy name on the Net; also SYFA, an acronym for various 'Youth Football Associations', particularly the Scottish one.)
On the subject of homophones, does a unicorn have a unique horn?
According to Jeff, "There are currently 416 eight-letter words allowable in international Scrabble containing at least five vowels. The list runs from aboideau to zoonomia, and includes terms such as azotemia, banlieue, etouffee, ibogaine, mazaedia, oceanaut, pahoehoe, retiarii, thiourea and uxorious. An interesting feature of this list is that the midpoint comes at eulogise."
FOLLOW-UP ON-MT WORDS
"Brilliant Kickshaws in the latest Word Ways! ('Long is good')," Jeff writes. "This is the original email I sent to Ross re the-mt ending back in August. Sorry, it looks like I forgot to forward a copy to you. Ross replied a few days later, and I replied to him (I'll send you that too). Maybe an interesting little follow-up Kickshaw there (see next paragraph)? Of course there are also derivatives of "dreamt", such as undreamt, redreamt and outdreamt, but these are trivial. I've been having a look at some of the old word myths for our Scrabble magazine, eg "there are no words rhyming with orange, silver, purple or month". Another is that "dreamt" is the only word ending in "-mt". I think this has been discussed in "Word Ways" but not sure when. I've found "attemt", "kemt", "promt" and "temt" in OED as early spellings of attempt, kempt, prompt and tempt. Also, the Scottish National Dictionary contains citations for "creator" (creamed) and "screamt" (screamed), which seem reasonable by analogy with "dreamt". Do you know of any other modern words ending in "-mt"? I'll have some other things to write to you about too (inspired by 'Kickshaws"!), so you'll be hearing from me again soon.
I'm well on the way to completing the Festschrift issue. There are lots of excellent contributions, and the tributes are richly deserved by Ross and Faith. Well done on all your efforts. I'll be emailing Jerry to congratulate him too on a fine first-up edition. I see he put my eponyms article in straight away--that was a pleasant surprise! Keep up the good work. And here's the--MT follow-up:
According to Ross Eckler, "DREAMT is the only word ending in--MT. But isn't there a painter named Gustav KLIMT?" Jeffs reply: "Yes, he once did a painting of himself at an Austrian dairy factory titled 'GUSTAV KLIMT AT MILK VATS (UG!)'"
AEIOU WORD UPDATE
There has been lots of research done on words containing the five vowels AEIOU. The shortest dictionary word containing all the vowels (not necessarily in order) appears to be EUNOIA, defined in Dorland's Medical Dictionary as 'alertness of mind and will'. As far as I'm aware, this rare medical term isn't listed in any standard (ie general) English Dictionary'.
I recently acquired a facsimile copy of Robert Cawdrey's A Table Alphabeticall Of Hard Usual English Words, published in 1604. This is considered to be the first 'English dictionary'. It contains only around 2,500 headwords, but one of them is IEHOUA, an early form of 'Jehovah' (at that time the letters I/J and U/V were interchangeable). This spelling is also recorded in a couple of OED citations. Wouldn't it be strange if the only six-letter word containing the five vowels AEIOU, listed as a headword in a general English dictionary, appears in the very first such dictionary published over 400 years ago?"--Jeff Grant
Trying to make sense of absolute zero, Jeff resorted to an anagram:.
Zero F. = froze.
JONATHAN SWIFT'S RIDDLE
On one website, Riddleman posted the following: "Did you know Jonathan Swift was a bit of a riddler? This riddle is one of his: We are all very little creatures; all of us have different features. One of us in glass is set; One of us you'll find in jet. Another you may see in tin, And a fourth is boxed within. If the fifth you should pursue, It can never fly from you. What are we?" Unfortunately, no answer was provided. Can you figure out?
The trouble with literature is that authors write the wrong books. Sure, Ginsberg's HOWL is a great poem, but it should have been written by Saul Bellow. Then the book jacket would've read: HOWL by BELLOW. Here are a few more appropriate match-ups:
1. MAGGIE, A GIRL OF THE STREETS by TROLLOPE
2. FINNEGANS WAKE by COFFIN
3. THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE by COWARD
4. FAHRENHEIT 451 by FRY
5. HOTEL by HILTON
6. BIG MONEY by SPENDER
7. ELEGY: WRITTEN IN A COUNTRY CHURCHYARD by SEXTON
8. THE SOLD GOLD CADILLAC by CARR
9. THE IDIOT by SMART
10. GOAT SONG by KYD
11. ROBIN HOOD by SHERWOOD
THE RETURN OF THE SON OF APPLESAUCE--MAY 2006
Louis Phillips puts out an occasional samisdat containing wordplay of many colors. These are from his most recent collection.
** I = Hairpiece RH YT HM--rhythm sections
Are Jack and Jill well remembered?
Henry is Ford; Gerald R. Ford.
THE ANSWER IS: WARD BOND THE QUESTION IS: What's another name for a strait jacket?
COUPLET FOR ARCHY
It's embarrassing. There's a cockroach Who writes better than I do. Ouch!
I can't talk to Lizzie Borden. She always has an axe to grind.
Some sentences have to be read to be appreciated.
SEW O BRO JAM MAJOR BOWES.
ONE OF THE SEVEN DWARVES TAKES UP PHILOSOPHY
"I fear we are not born to be happy."--Nietzsche "I fear we are not born to be Nietzsche."--Happy
GROAN, GROAN, GROAN, THE PUNS ARE MARCHING:
For Christmas, the noted financier and art collector Andrew Mellon was given a purebred Collie whom he promptly named Baby. Thus, it was common for people on his estate to sing--"Come to me, my Mellon collie, Baby!"
When dad leaves town, the drinking parties begin, or:
POP GOES, THE WASSAIL!
When singer Bessie Love was asked to star in a remark of a 1950s horror film classer, people started to sing: LOVE IS A MANY SPENDOURED THING
Song from a musical about a thief who steels sheep and carries them away in a seal-skin sack: I'VE GOT EWES UNDER MY SKIN. The skin then rips, and the thief sings: IT AIN'T NECESSARILY SEWED.
When a horse called My Bonnie was running at Santa Anita, singer Mel Torme wired Bing Crosby: "Bring back My Bonnie, Torme.
What did Moses sing in the dessert? I'm going to was that Manna right out of my hair.
A BRIEF OBSERVATION ABOUT SWORD PLAY BY PIRATES
Cutlasses Cut lasses
PLOT SYNOPSIS OF AN I LOVE LUCY EPISODE
Desi late? Desolate.
If Aretha Franklin had married Richard Benjamin, we would have had a Franklin-Benjamin.
NO I NO ONION is not only a palindrome, but it reads the same upside down. Also it is true for anything that is not an onion. But perhaps you know this.
** Problem: b or d--which gets up on the wrong side of the bed? **
THE NEW GRAMMAR:
Remember: Henry is Ford, but Gerald R. Ford.
** What does a man who desires to make love to the old movie actress Wanda Hendrix have in common with person who experiences an unconquerable desire to go traveling?
The first suffers from Wanda lust; the second, wanderlust.
THE AUDIENCE BOOK OF THEATRE QUOTATIONS (REVIEW)
Louis wrote this review of an unusual and funny book: "A compilation of the wisest and wittiest thoughts about theatre. Arranged by category (horses on stage, acting, things going wrong, playwrighting, reviewing, actors, actresses, opening nights, curtains, etc. Quotes from Groucho Marx, George S. Kaufman, George Jean Nathan, Ethel Barrymore, Tom Stoppard, Tennessee Williams, et. al. ISBN: 978-1-934209-28-8. Pay by paypal to:email@example.com or send a check ($16.99) to: World Audience, Inc., 25 Sickles Street, #6E, New York, NY 10040."
THE RED SCARE AND BEYOND
"What is that weird thumping sound we all hear every now and then?" Mikey Kline asks. "I believe it to be the body of Joe McCarthy spinning in his grave, every time he hears that nearly every word in the English language is followed by the suffix .com. As an aside, I always wanted to register the domain name choo.com, so when ever I sent an email, it would have the suffix @choo.com (maybe it would have benefited an Ear, Nose & Throat person better). And something I would do whenever sending out email introductory manuscripts to publishers ... I would use the letters JECTED in the subject line. They would always come back as Re:JECTED. It works well with FUSED, too."
FROM THE LITERARY DETECTIVE'S CASEBOOK
Here is a case I call "The Double Dactyl Literary Mystery." It begins with James Whitcomb Riley writing a poem titled "Wrangdillon" (ca 1873). According to the Mentor (July 15, 1916), "The verse is rhythmical nonsense and is not intended to be anything else." It doesn't say whether Riley wrote any more poems like these. Flash-forward about 90 years Anthony Hecth wrote a poem is titled "Paradise Loset Book Five: An Epitome" (ca 1960s) in a form that he and his partner Paul Pascal He and Pascal wrote numerous double dactyls. Although Riley's and Hecht forms have distinct differences, there are a strong similarities between them. Perhaps Hecht and Pascal smoothed out the structure of Riley's poem to create theirs. Poetic forms do evolve. Though it isn't necessary to cite the inspiration for one's work, it would've been interesting if Hecht and Pascal had mentioned, if they actually did it, that they were influenced by Riley's unique, almost-forgotten poem. Or did they come up with the form without knowing about Riley's original? Here are some comparisons of the two, followed by my own rewrite of "Wrangdillon" to show how it could be updated to fit the double dactyl form. Note that "Wrangdillon" originally appeared as a quatrain, with the four lines beginning "Dethery," "Under," Nestles," and "Bubblering." They are divided into eight lines to compare to the double dactyl. The biggest difference is that "Wrangdillon's" last line has only lamb, thus losing the genereal beat of the other.
"Wrangdillon" by Riley Dethery-tethery! dd Down in the dike d + one beat Under the--under the dd Ooze and the slime, d + one beat Nestles the wraith d + one beat Of a reticent Gryke aa "Bubblering bubbles d + lamb Of rhyme iamb Lines 1 and 3 are double dactyls Lines 2,4, 5 have a double dactyl + one beat Line 6 are two anapests Line 8 is an lamb Paradise Lost Book Five: An Epitome" by Hecht Higgledy piggledy dd Archangel Rafael, dd Speaking of Satan's re- dd Bellion from God: d + one beat "Chap was decidedly dd Turgiversational, dd Given to lewdness and dd Rodomontade." d + one beat Lines 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 are double dactyls Lines 4 and 8 have a double dactyls + one beat No anapests No iambs
The two poems begin with a nonsense line that repeats the sound in each half. The character (Gryke) appears in the 6th line. The Archangel Rafael appears in the second. The 6th line doesn't have a dactyl at all. The 6th line has a double dactyl word. The last line has only one beat. The last line has a double dactyl + one beat in one word. The two poems have the same rhyming lines--2 and 6, 4 and 8.
My rewrite of "Wrangdillon" in double dactyl form:
Dethery-tethery! Beelzebub Grykabal Under the--under the Ooze and the slime: Demon was nestling there Uninspirational Blubbering bubbles of Rhythm and rhyme.
Richard Lederer writes: "The Farrells were kind enough to send me the current issue of WORD WAYS, with all those wonderful tributes to Ross. I had great fun with your epoch Kickshaws, but I question your contention that the NG in CHANGER-HANGER-ANGER is in each ease pronounced differently. To my ear HANGER and ANGER rhyme and there is no change in the sounding of NG in these two words. Related to this concept, note the change in the sounding of C in ELECTRICAL-ELECTRICITY-ELECTRICIAN. And in the second sentence that follows, IS is pronounced three different ways: Who is the most important goddess in Egyptian mythology? Isis is. My reply: "I think that our differing pronunciations may be regional. My ANGER has the G harder than HANGER. One way to emphasize the difference between the G in ANGER and HANGER is comparing it to the middle G's in GOING ON and GOING GONE. Does that work?"
Anil asks: "In what dialect do HANGER and ANGER differ in the NG pronunciation?"
My reply: "Help me, somebody!"
FRESH AIR ON ASTHMA WORDS
"Thanks for Giant Kickshaws," Jeremy Morse says. "Two further thoughts on Asthma Words: (1) Ross Eckler was surely right to offer ARCHLY. There is no reason to exclude Y, provided that its consonantal and vocalic forms are properly distinghished. (2) ASTHMA is a thin-crusted symmetrical VCV sandwich. For the same illing with a slightly thicker crust, but still symmetrical, try OUTSTRAY (Webster's 2nd). For an even richer filling without symmetry, there is EIGHTHLY. A CVC counterpart of ASTHMA would be QUEUES, but MIAOUED (W2) is richer. Even bigger, but indigestible, are STRAIGHTS and STRENGTHS.
TOWN NAMES WITH ROMAN NUMERALS IN SUCCESSION
"Dixville Notch is located in Coos County in northgern New Hampshire," Rich points out. "In the middle of the word DIXVILLE repose six Roman numerals in succession. Does any other word contain more?"
My reply: "Good question. DIXVILLE has 7 in succesion, which ties with Iowa's SPILLVILLE. Borgmann has some odd words that go beyond this, but these are place names, and they're worth checking out. If you found a word or name with 5 or more different Roman numerals in a row, that would be something. CLIMB has four. EXCLIMB (which doesn't exist) has five."
LARRY THE CABLE GUY
If you haven't heard of Larry the Cable Guy, then you'll just have to "Git 'er done!" Larry' s one of the redneck-whitesock-bluecollar comedians who are making it big in the land of the free. Here is some of Larry's witty wisdom, courtesy of Richard Chenard:
1. A day without sunshine is like night.
2. On the other hand, you have different fingers.
3. 42.7 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot.
4. 99 percent of lawyers give the rest a bad name.
5. Remember, half the people you know are below average.
6. He who laughs last, thinks slowest.
7. Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.
8. The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese in the trap.
9. Support bacteria. They're the only culture some people have.
10. A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
11. Change is inevitable, except from vending machines.
12. If you think nobody cares, try missing a couple of payments.
13. How many of you believe in psycho-kinesis? Raise my hand.
14. OK, so what's the speed of dark?
15. When everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.
16. Hard work pays off in the future. Laziness pays off now.
17. How much deeper would the ocean be without sponges?
18. Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines
19. What happens if you get scared half to death, twice?
20. Why do psychics have to ask you for your name?
21. Inside every older person is a younger person wondering, "What the heck happened?"
22. Just remember--if the world didn't suck, we would all fall off
23. Light travels faster than sound. That's why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
24. Life isn't like a box of chocolates, it's more like ajar of jalapenos. What you do today, might burn your butt tomorrow.
LETTERPLAY FORM LOOKING FOR A NAME
According to Daniel G. "Govende" McGrath, "A popular saying these days on the Internet is ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US. This phrase originated from the English translation of a Japanese video game. If you're not already familiar with the phrase, you can read more about it at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_yourbase are belong_ to us
What no one else ever seems to have noticed about it is that when you take the frequencies of the letters, you get a very symmetrical pattern:
A=3, B=2, E=3, G= 1, L=3, N=1, 0=3, R=2, S=2, T=1, U=2, Y=1
If you look carefully, you will see that exactly four letters occur once (GNTY), exactly four letters occur twice (BRSU), and exactly four letters occur three times (AELO). I don't think there are too many 24-letter phrases and sentences that one can make that are like this. I wonder if we could have a name for these kinds of words or phrases, which no one seems to have ever studied before. I know that a word in which all of the letters have the same frequency is called an isogram. But something in which all of the letter *frequencies* have the same frequency, so to speak?! Well, a very simple example is the word INTERPRET. Three of the letters (I, N, P) occur once, and three of the letters (E, R, T) occur twice.
Darryl Frances has found a rare word: "Collins English Dictionary (7th and 8th editions, published 2005 and 2006) contains the word SHWESHWE, a South African word for an African cotton print fabric. This is of interest to logologists as it contains two each of the letters E, H, S and W.
BIZARRE MESSAGE FOLLOW-UPS
David Wineberger provides a spammy answer to the strange email quoted on page 43 of the last issue: "The bizarre message you ran in the recent Kickshaws very likely was spam designed to slip through filters that inspect a message's pattern of word usage. These are called Bayesian filters. The idea, first proposed by geek, entrepreneur and superb essayist Paul Graham, is that while spam can fake just about everything in its attempt to look legit, it has to contain an actual message that offers you something for sale. So, Graham manually separated his email archive into a pile of spam and a pile of not-spam and analyzed the words used in each. He discovered that, for example, a message containing 'madam' has a high probability of being spam ('Dear Sir or Madam'), whereas one containing 'shortest' is unlikely to be spam. Other likely spam words include 'valuable,' 'very,' 'enter' and 'quality.' These filters work by constantly monitoring your email, so if new spam-trigger words show up, they automatically adjust. By looking at the combination of likely spam words and non-spam words, an email filter can be quite accurate in keeping the spam from your inbox. Bayesian filters are now used widely. Paul Graham's article is here: www.paulgraham.com/spam.html
Spammers constantly try to design messages that slip past the filters. For example, they ill misspell trigger terms, such as substituting a zero for the 'o' in 'porn.' But Bayesian filters automatically adjust to these changes. So, spammers try different techniques. In his article, Graham wrote: 'To beat Bayesian filters, it would not be enough for spammers to make their emails unique or to stop using individual naughty words. They'd have to make their mails indistinguishable from your ordinary mail.' So, spammers have started grabbing random bits of text, frequently from blogs, and sticking them into their messages, in order to up the percentage of non-trigger words. And that's what I think was going on in the message you ran. (Very interesting!--DM) I once was startled to find a few sentences from my own blog included in a spam message broadcast into my own inbox. I was, in a quite odd way, sort of proud:)"
Jeff Grant provided a similar answer to the strange email message: "This seems to be a phony stock tip--an Internet 'pump and dump' fraud. Evil people send out tons of e-mail to encourage people to buy a stock they have already purchased. When the sudden mass buying pushes up the price, they sell. This is illegal as well as unethical.
As for the surrounding text, it's most likely a device to fool the computer filters that screen out such advertising messages based on content. By adding arbitrary text, the message no longer looks like an ad and the filtering software may be deceived. Previously, lists of unrelated words were used, but now that such ploys are known, the bad guys may have switched to text that appears legitimate. Thus, from the viewpoint of the hapless victim, it's a spam scam slam."
The clerihew, a four-line poem with an AABB rhyme scheme, usually begins with the name of a famous person on the first line. The next three lines tell something biographically true or false about that person. The rhythm can be variable, and it can add to the humor. The following is a mini-anthology of clerihews based on the names of famous writers:
Dante Alighieri Was feeling quite merry Till he drank some sterno And wound up in the Inferno. T.S. Eliot Wrote on his belly at A bridge on the Thames While others just played games. William Blake Wrote poems for his own sake. He also drew well enough And had weird visions and stuff. John Donne Had a whole lot of fun. He wrote more as he got dafter, And that increased his laughter. William Butler Yeats Liked to exercise and lift weights. He started writing poems one day, And that's when his manly strength went away. Elizabeth Barrett Browning Constantly wrote while frowning. Her English skills seemed to decrease When she wrote Sonnets from the Portuguese. Robert Browning Was always clowning Around in bed like a nervous ferret With his Portuguese wife Elizabeth Barrett. D.H. Lawrence, To everyone's abhorrence, Didn't know it was rude To jump up and down in the nude. Robert Frost Went into a woods and got lost. It was snowy, of course, And his only companion was a horse. Walt Whitman Was a big and round and fit man. He'd sit on the lawn and read Leaves of Grass, But when he stood up some leaves always stuck to his ass.
So as not to be outdone by all the redneck, hillbilly, and Texan jokes, somebody had to come up with this collection from the web. You know you're from California if:
Your coworker has 8 body piercing's and none are visible.
You make over $300,000 and still can't afford a house.
You take a bus and are shocked at two people carrying on a conversation In English.
Your child's 3rd-grade teacher has purple hair, a nose ring, and is named Flower.
You've been to a baby shower that has two mothers and a sperm donor.
You have a very strong opinion about where your coffee beans are grown, and you can taste the difference between Sumatran and Ethiopian.
A really great parking space can totally move you to tears.
Gas costs $1.00 per gallon more than anywhere else in the U.S.
Unlike back home, the guy at 8:30 am at Starbucks wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses who looks like George Clooney really IS George Clooney.
Your car insurance costs as much as your house payment.
It's barely sprinkling rain and there's a report on every news station: "STORM WATCH."
You pass an elementary school playground and the children are all busy with their cells or pagers.
You AND your dog have therapists, psychics, personal trainers, and cosmetic surgeons.
The Terminator is your governor.
If you drive illegally, they take your driver's license. If you're here illegally, they want to give you one.
Peter Newby sent this anagrammatical ode in which each line has an end-rhyme that does something else, too.
The Fates had us bewitched, The web itched. Consequently, we bitched!
Peter defines this form as "Identical pairs of Sotadic statements, differing only in punctuation. This initial submission has a remark in Spanish idiomatic English, followed by a Spaniard's reply to a question. He challenged me to come up with one that doesn't rely on foreign words. Mine, on the right, is simply a take-off on a famous old palindrome. And now it's your turn.
"Is mega gem, si." Madam, I'm Adam. "Is Meg a gem?" "Si." Mad am I, Madam.
HANDY ENGINEERING CONVERSIONS
If you don't know metric, don't worry. The following measurements, found on the web, are much easier to remember.
* Ratio of an igloo's circumference to its diameter: Eskimo Pi
* 2000 pounds of Chinese soup: Won ton
* 1 millionth of a mouthwash: 1 microscope
* Time between slipping on a peel and smacking the pavement: 1 bananosecond
* Weight an evangelist carries with God: 1 billigram
* Time it takes to sail 220 yards at 1 nautical mile per hour: Knot-furlong
* 365.25 days of drinking low-calorie beer because it's less filling: 1 lite year
* 16.5 feet in the Twilight Zone: 1 Rod Serling
* Half of a large intestine: 1 semicolon
* 1000 aches: 1 kilohurtz
* Basic unit of laryngitis: 1 hoarsepower
* Shortest distance between two jokes: A straight line
* 453.6 graham crackers: 1 pound cake
* 1 million microphones: 1 megaphone
* 1 million bicycles: 2 megacycles
* 2000 mockingbirds: two kilomockingbirds
* 10 cards: 1 decacards
* 1 kilogram of falling figs: 1 Fig Newton
* 1000 cubic centimeters of wet socks: 1 literhosen
* 1 millionth of a fish: 1 microfiche
* 1 trillion pins: 1 terrapin
* 10 rations: 1 decoration
* 100 rations: 1 C-ration
* 2 monograms: 1 diagram
* 8 nickels: 2 paradigms
* 3 statute miles of intravenous surgical tubing at Yale University Hospital: 1 I.V. League
* 6 inches =.... definition varies with gender
And remember: There are 10 kinds of people. Those who understand binary and those who don't.
Doug Holyman spliced two familiar short forms of poetry and came up with this little hybrid:
There was a young man from Honshu Who tried limericks in haiku, But
THE TREASURE MAP
After reading about words rarely used in their positive form, Bill Brandt was inspired to write the following story. The story includes 40 such words. It's a keeper!
One day a stranger who walked in a canny manner and was dressed cognito came into my shop and asked if I was communicado. Since he looked sheveled and kempt I decided to hear what he had to say. When he asked me if I wanted to become poverished I checked his breath to see if he was toxicated. He then became chalant and chievous, which nerved me and prompted me to ask him to continue. He pulled out a mense treasure map that was eptly drawn in delible ink. He said many years ago an astrous event put the map in his possession. It had been torn into several pieces but he was able to mantle it. The map looked descript and the text on the map was scrutable, which gave me serious givings about it. He soon suaded me to join him on his quest. We left mediately after getting combobulated. I was in a gruntled mood and gusted with the idea of going on a treasure hunt with such a cuth person. We advertantly took apetuous approach and along the way we puted how to divide up whatever we found. It was a defatigable journey and by now the map was becoming maculate which was a provement on what it had been before. Our clothes were nowpeccable and we were nearlyflappable. Later we became consulate after the path became tractable. Despite the hardships both of us were corrigible and conserted. We finally found the treasure in apregnable chest and with wieldy tools were able to open it. We divided up the treasure in a conscionable manner and went home. Ever since that day I have always paraged the stranger and his map.
Picassoid, Kafkaesque, and other words convert names to adjectives. It must be a special honor acknowledging the person's importance and influence on others. Ore Michaelsen coined such a word in the 1970s: Dostoyevskyesque. He says: "When the word came to me, it didn't cross my mind that I originated it--the word seemed too obvious. But it WAS in the early '70s." According to a Google search, the word has been coined since Ove's first coinage. None of the Google writers seemed to be doing it for logological reasons. A suggestion: Make up a word and do a Google search. You'll be surprised how many words have been discovered by others.
Ove emailed me a musical limerick. Being a fan of the alphabet, I couldn't resist writing a reply. Ove's limerick is on the left, mine on the right:
I paid their affordable fees, But the band couldn't handle my keys. Refusing to play In B flat or in A, It was mutiny on the high Cs. The music was lacking a G And an E and an F and a C. The sound drove me mad. It was terribly bad With a B and an A and a D.
PAIRAGRAMS (TRANSPOSED COUPLETS)
acred cedar--"Odd Knots," The Independent, April 18, 1895
Actors costar--Viking (Erik Bodin), Norfolk, VA, The Enigma, Feb. 1972
American Cinerama--Sol, Jr. The Enigma, May 1954
bedroom boredom (or robedom)
cheap peach--Masquerade, 1799
cited edict--Arcanus (Jacob E. Reisenstein), Iowa City, Iowa; The Eastern (Enigma, Dec. 1914)
(L.M.N. Terry (Charles Newton Crowder), Baltimore, MD, The Ardmore Puzzler, Dec. 1, 1900)
(M.C.S. (Mary C. Snyder), Springfield, Illinois; "Obscurities," Scranton News, late 1893)
demoniac comedian (Don Emmerson, Word Ways, Feb. 1984)
Denied, indeed! (Tom A. Hawk [Charles A. KJzer], Springfield, OH; AP, May 5, 1900)
dusty study ("Complications," The Chicago Inter-Ocean, May 29, 1896)
Enterprises intersperse. (John O'London's Weekly, March 25, 1938)
(Nelsonian [James McKinstry], Nelson, IL; "Enigmatic Oddities," Pittsburgh
Post, May 18, 1902)
Float aloft (Dauntless [Harry P. Leonard], New York, NY, "The Newark Puzzler," the Newark Advertiser, Jan. 27, 1906) grown wrong (R.O. Chester [Charles H. Coons], Washington, DC; "Complications,"
Feb. 7, 1897) harmonic choirman (Susan Thorpe, Great Missendon, Buckinghamshire,
England; WW, Aug.05) horse/sheer (one word) (Medius [unknown], Farmington, CT,
Pittsburgh Post, March 16, 1902) Hustle, sleuth!
insatiable banalities (Don Emmerson, WW, Feb. 1984)
latent talent (Nyas [William S. Clarke], Washington, D.C., "Mystery," the National Tribune, Nov. 29, 1894)
marine airmen (oxymoronic)
married admirer (Molemi [Morton Lewis Mitchell], St. Louis, MO, B&O Magazine, April 1928
Menorca romance (Susan Thorpe, WW, Aug. 2005)
ocean canoe (Merry's Book of Puzzles, 1856)
Oriental relation (N. O'Body [Herman C. Boehme], New York, NY, The Enigma, April 1931)
outer route (John O'London's Weekly, Oct. 27, 1934)
piton point (Susan Thorpe, VWV, Aug. 2005)
plane panel (Susan Thorpe, WW, Aug. 2005)
pleasant seaplant (Aspiro [Mark Durant], Centralia, IL; "Puz.," Dec. 10, 1904)
quite quiet (Balmar [Frank T. Koons], Washington, DC; "Puzzle Calls," The Newark Call, May 24 1891
Scat, cats! (R., St. Nicholas, May 1875)
Silent! Listen. (Delian [Daniel F. Savage], Hopkinsville, KY; The Study, Nov. 15, 1893)
stayed steady (Primrose [John Q. Boyer], Baltimore, MD, Somerset Messenger, Sept. 23, 1896
streaming emigrants (Miss H. Selway, John O'London's Weekly, Nov. 30, 1929)
stunted student (Coxy [unknown], Newark, N J, "Newark Puzzler" Newark Advertiser, June 9, 1906
team mate (also written as one word) (Seer [Mrs. H. P. Leonard], New York, NY, Newark Advertiser, June 11, 1904
tearing granite (J.L.P., "Odd Knots," The Independent, Sept. 12, 1895
versatile relatives (L'Allegro [Joseph McClintock Garrison], Pittsburgh, PA; "Enigmatic Odditites," May 5, 1901
veto vote (Swamp Angel [M. Victor Goodrich], Rock Falls, IL, Chicago Inter-Ocean, March 17 1895
waste sweat (Susan Thorpe, WW, Aug. 2005)
A BAKER'S DOZEN
Ove, who comes from the wonderland of Berkeley, CA, has this to say about his home town:
Berkeley, California ... Any NORMAL person would be NUTS to move there.
Socializing is my least favorite form of solitude.
We're dumbing down from the bottom up.
When I said I'm a liar, I wasn't being truthful.
They wouldn't know subtlety if it clubbed them.
The store had nothing, and at twice the price.
For me, feeling good is not conducive to creativity. It's depressing.
"Paradise" would kill me with boredom. Imagine having to die for it. Talk about a living hell.
If you're going to write badly, do it well.
I prefer my women in the singular.
"Incompetence, all the way down to the top."
Someone should inform the public of my fame.
But seriously, this is all in fun.
Here is a "Gunga Din" story, by Bill Brandt, created with names. (It could have been inspired by the time I was locked out and Gunga Din.)
Mia N. DeVife
Theodore S. Locked
S. Annie Wunhome
Ferris D. Key
Ken U. Getter
Elsie F. Icon
Luke N. DeKarr
D. Vernon Dare
Annie Moore Adeeas
Harris A. Key
Yuri N. Luck
SO YOUR RIGHT HAND DOESN'T KNOW WHAT YOUR LEFT HAND IS DOING?
I've got a solution to that age old problem. Here's what to do: Hold your right hand up. Tell it, "I'm going to show you what the left hand is doing." Then take your right hand over to your left hand. Your left hand will jump nervoulsly, but that's normal. Just say to it, "Calm down, lefty." Then say to the right hand, "There, that's what the left hand is doing. It's minding its own business. Now don't bother me about it any more." Your right hand might respond in some way. It might point to the left hand. It might wave to it. It might make a fist and shake it at the left hand. And the left hand might start trembling in fear. It might try hiding behind your back. The right hand might go behind your back to chase after the left hand, and the left hand might scurry up to your shoulder and pull on your ear to get your attention. And the right hand might dart over to your left shoulder in the hope of catching the left hand. The left hand might dive over your shoulder, swing around to the left side of your face, and accidently punch you in the jaw. The right hand might swing around to the right side of your face and do the same, landing an even harder blow on your jaw. Your jaw will turn to the left, where the left hand will land an uppercut our jaw will twist to the right, and the fight hand will give it a roundhouse. And before you know it, it's a left, right, left, right, Battle of the Hands, with your jaw the punching bag. You'll be stunned. You'll reel backwards and forwards. And then the right hand will pull out away from you and then come flying back, striking you in the nose with a mighty blow. You'll spin around two or three times and then crash to the ground. You'll lie there completely unconscious. Your right hand will raise itself up in victory, and your left hand will raise itself up and give the finger to the right hand, but unconsciousness will soon reach both hands, and they will topple to the ground, one on each side of you. It's a lose-lose situation. There are no winners here. Perhaps it is best that the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing. And your right hand won't keep hassling you to show it what the left hand is doing, and the left hand won't be so nervous about being watched over by Big Brother. Life is simple when the left hand knows what the right hand is doing.
What, you ask, is "Butt Dust"? Read on and you'll discover the joy in a child's sincere originality. Or could made up by those who labor intensely in the cold light of the web just to get laughs they'll never hear?
JACK (age 3) was watching his Mom breast-feeding his new baby sister. After a while he asked: "Mom why have you got two? Is one for hot and one for cold milk?"
MELANIE (age 5) asked her Granny how old she was. Granny replied she was so old she didn't remember any more. Melanie said, "If you don't remember you must look in the back of your panties. Mine say five to six."
STEVEN (age 3) hugged and kissed his Mom good night. "I love you so much that when you die I'm going to bury you outside my bedroom window."
BRITTANY (age 4) had an earache and wanted a pain killer. She tried in vain to take the lid off the bottle. Seeing her frustration, her Mom explained it was a child-proof cap and she'd have to open it for her. Eyes wide with wonder, the little girl asked: "How does it know it's me?"
SUSAN (age 4) was drinking juice when she got the hiccups. "Please don't give me this juice again," she said, "It makes my teeth cough."
DJ (age 4) stepped onto the bathroom scale and asked: "How much do I cost?"
MARC (age 4) was engrossed in a young couple that were hugging and kissing in a restaurant. Without taking his eyes off them, he asked his dad: "Why is he whispering in her mouth?"
CLINTON (age 5) was in his bedroom looking worried. When his Mom asked what was troubling him, he replied, "I don't know what'll happen with this bed when I get married. How will my wife fit in?"
JAMES (age 4) was listening to a Bible story. His dad read: "The man named Lot was warned to take his wife and flee out of the city but his wife looked back and was turned to salt." Concerned, James asked: "What happened to the flea?"
TAMMY (age 4) was with her mother when they met an elderly, rather wrinkled woman her Mom knew. Tammy looked at her for a while and then asked, "why doesn't your skin fit your face?"
Finally, to answer the question at the beginning of this kickshaw, let's listen to a Sunday sermon ... "Dear Lord," the minister began, with arms extended toward heaven and a rapturous look on his upturned face. "Without you, we are but dust ..." He would have continued but at that moment a woman's four-year old daughter who was listening leaned over to her mother and asked quite loudly, "Mommy, what is butt dust?"
PLANTS (Kilmer's "Trees" without the letter E)
To my grandmother, TREES was the best poem in the English language. Because of that, I value TREES more than some better poems. Here is a new version without the ease of E's.
I think that I shall not now chant A haiku ugly as a plant. A plant with hungry mouth that bit Against our tart world's flowing tit; A plant that looks at God all day And lifts its horrid bark to pray; A plant that may in autumn stow A bunch of robins in its 'fro; Upon whose bosom snow has lain; Who arrogantly drinks our rain. A haiku's writ by fools who rant, But only God can damn a plant.
THE DISCOVERY OF BUSHCRONIUM
Bulletin! The following news was sent by Chuck Hill. It's a scientific breakthrough of the highest order. Remember, you read it first in Word Ways!
A major research institution has just announced the discovery of the densest element yet known to science. The new element has been named "bushcronium." Bushcronium has one neutron, 12 assistant neutrons, 75 deputy neutrons and 224 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 311.
These particles are held together by dark forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.
The symbol for bushcronium is "w." Bushcronium's mass actually increases over time, as morons randomly interact with various elements in the atmosphere and become assistant deputy neutrons in a bushcronium molecule, forming isodopes. This characteristic of moron-promotion leads some scientists to believe that bushcronium is formed when morons reach a certain quantity in concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as "critical morass." When catalyzed with money, bushcronium activates foxnewsium, an element that radiates orders of magnitude and more energy, albeit as incoherent noise. Foxnewsium has 1/2 as many peons but twice as many morons.
I'M AN OKIE FROM MUSCOGEE
"Oklahoma is the only U.S. state name whose letters in prime positions are all consonants."--G.L. Honaker
"My 13-year-old son recently made an interesting observation regarding the relationship the letter S has with our feet," Paul Steward reports. "Most of the things we wear on our feet start with the letter S: Shoes, Sneakers, Sandals, Slippers, Socks, and Stockings. An athlete might wear: Skies or Skates, and use a Skateboard, Surfboard, Snowboard or Snowshoes. And, of course, the game of Soccer uses only feet. The Sole is the most important part of the foot. While you are on your feet you can Stand, Stalk, Strut, Skip, Slip, and Slide. And if you injure your feet you can always call Dr. Shoal."
ANSWERS AND SOLUTIONS
Q1: BIOPSY, BOUNCY, COUSIN, FUSION, SPUNKY and UNPICKS are among the common six-letter words with no repeated letters, though the longest seems to be the eight-letter WICKYUPS, courtesy of Webster's Second.
Q2: Allowing repeated letters, the longest seems to be INCONSPICUOUS.
Q3: Pr-Os-Ti-Es is a four-symbol example; and Th-Er-Mo-Cl-In-Es is a six-symbol example.
ANSWERS AND SOLUTIONS
In order reading across: Martin Gardner, Dmitri Borgmann, Howard Bergerson, David Morice, Richard Lederer, Darryl Francis, Jeff Grant, John Holgate, James Puder, Stuart Kidd, Rex Gooch
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|Date:||May 1, 2007|
|Previous Article:||Dictionary Limericks 3.|
|Next Article:||New York Times crossword goofs: (continued from Vol. 40, February 2007).|
|Investment tips for 2008.|
|Another Washington Post word contest, and more.|
|Somebody heard somebody's song wrong.|
|Misheard song titles.|
|When words don't fail us.|