Category Archives: Wordplay

Very punny

Why does Halloween bring out more puns than any other holiday in the year?  Seen already, and it’s two weeks before the holiday:  (in a magazine article about Halloween costumes for dogs) “Haunt Couture”; and  (in an airline frequent-flyer e-mail touting upcoming travel bargains)  “Unboo-lievable deals on fall travel.”

Central Castling

Overheard at ArmadilloCon:  “So-and-so wrote a good book, but I thought the castle in it was kind of generic.  It was like he got it from an old MGM movie.”  Whereupon somebody else chimed in:  “From Central Casting?”  What came to my mind was:  “Central Castling?  Please send over one castle for a gig in a novel under deadline, paying union scale.”

Longneck Event

I was proofing a professor’s  journal article about statistical analysis of the evolution of populations.  The article stated that populations and their genes can experience bottleneck events in which the population gets knocked way back. There are at least two subtypes of bottleneck event. The hourglass is when they rebound right away.  If, however, something keeps the population constricted for a time – it’s a longneck event!  What a metaphor.

No Rain

Yesterday it looked like rain, but only a little mist came down even though it was warm and muggy and dim like the moments before rain.  Those fat gray clouds just didn’t have anything to give us.  A Library colleague from the IT Department came in the West entrance pushing a cart full of computer equipment.  When asked, in bright hopeful tones, “Is it raining?”  he answered with a pitch-perfect bad news report. “No.  It’s constipated.”

Appellation Oysters

This isn’t what you’re thinking if you’re sounding it out and getting “Appalachian” oysters and then thinking “Rocky Mountain oysters,” which are parts of a bull’s anatomy that supposedly taste like rubber bands and must be the definitional acquired taste. . . .  Appellation oysters are  shellfish from a single reef or other watery landmark.   They may be bigger than common commercial oysters;  that way they’ve steeped in their home water for longer. It’s like wines from a single vineyard or peaches from a single orchard.  Anyway, Galveston Bay has appellation oysters.  The newspaper’s food critic recently raved about them, calling Ladies Pass oysters delicate and creamy with a beautiful crisp salinity and a sweet finish; Elm Grove oysters balanced between salt and sweet with a big mineral tang on a long finish; and the Whitehead Reef oyster one that goes from a salty blast to rich creaminess to a gently salty finish.  Sounds wonderful, but alas, all of this goodness is lost on me.  I like oysters cooked.  Either fried with a light cornmeal batter, or if at an oyster roast, I’ll take the ones that have languished on the hot steel long enough to start turning to rubber, thank you very much.

He, she and it

In modern English usage, pronouns have  a certain elasticity that makes them fun to play with. For instance:

The new editor of Southern Living, in his column in the February issue, tells us he’s bought a charming old fixer-upper house, like many of that magazine’s readers.   He uncovered a few surprises.  These include “a squirrel (or two?) on the other side of the wall next to my desk.  It sounds as if he or she is trying to scratch its way into the room, presumably to make good use of the mohair on the sofa I saved up for years to buy.  No way is one thread of that fabric going into someone else’s nest. This is war!”

End result of fun with pronouns:  a vivid tongue-in-cheek vignette.

Accident Wall

So I was in the dentist’s chair watching cable television.  My dentist takes pains to enable his patients to relax, offering the distraction of cable TV complete with a channel clicker and headphones.  I don’t suffer from dentist-anxiety, but I don’t mind channel surfing.  There was a DIY show that proved quite interesting.  A nice gay couple wanted to sell their house and needed to remodel on a tight budget, which was going to be a challenge, but the show’s consultants were there to help.  It all started with the couple watching a real estate agent on closed-circuit TV as she gave the “before” a critical once-over.  The real estate agent took one look at a wide red wall in the living room and pronounced, “We all know about accent walls, but that’s an accident wall.  That bright red just hits you in the face!”

The accident wall was done away with.  Happily, the entire house was remodeled and refreshed, for less than $2,000, in such a way that the inhabitants still felt at home.

There be dragons

In the Jan-Feb 2011 issue of Audubon, we find an article about California and Oregon vintners hiring falconers to get rid of grape-stealing starlings “faster than you can say ‘nonnative species run amok’.”   Conventional methods of starling control are firing loud propane cannons or spraying chemical repellents.   Falconer Tom Savory says that because a flock of flying starlings stretches and contracts like a Chinese dragon, the falconers call such a flock a “dragon.”  A falcon can drive a thousand-starling dragon away in less than a minute:  Dragon 0,  Falcon 1.    If this happens repeatedly the starlings become reluctant to visit the vineyard at all.   The falcons, the vintners and the environment all win.

Brave New Words 2011

Dictionary-approved new words from a list published in the January-Febuary AARP bulletin – out of a much longer list, these strike my fancy:

automagically, adv., automatically in a way that seems magical.  What a perfect word – maybe everybody else in the Western world has been saying it for years but it’s new to me.

cheeseball adj. tasteless or out of style.  Well, according to the food section in the local paper, actual cheeseballs are still going strong every holiday season.

green-collar adj. having  to do with work in the environmental or green business sector.  Blue-collar, white-collar, pink-collar, green-collar….  all have to do with the actual shirts worker wear.  Some green companies (as well as plant nurseries) do put their hands-on people in green polo shirts.

home-shoring n., moving jobs, like offshoring, but to employees’ homes.  It can be a great deal for the employee or not, but bound to be better than your job going to somebody in India  and you are asked to train them.

paywall n. a mechanism that restricts Website access to paying users only.  They’re everywhere.  An indicator is that phrase “go premium!” i.e., “now that you like this Website/tool, let’s get you to pay for it.”

sheeple n. unquestioning, sheeplike followers.  It might be insultingly used of followers of religious movements, but seems to me a lot of us are sheeple consumers.  The ad says buy, we say how many?