Welcome John Pollack, and Host Punaise.

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book. Please take other conversations to a previous thread. -bev]

The Pun Also Rises: How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History, and Made Wordplay More Than Some Antics

Punaise, Host:

“I can’t define punography, but I know it when I see it.”

Just as Potter Stewart might say, folks, this is “it.” A contemporary reader might be surprised to learn of the role that punning has played throughout the development of human communication, but this book’s ambitious subtitle stakes a claim that journalist and champion punster John Pollack amply delivers upon in The Pun Also Rises: How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History, and Made Wordplay More than Some Antics. Part punatomy lesson, part historical treatise, and all fun, this work encompasses a wide punorama of the field.

As an undisciplined but devoted (some would say afflicted) aficionado of the genre, I was fascinated by the depth and breadth of John’s scholarly, yet eminently readable, publication. At once entertaining and educational, this engaging book answers fundamental questions: Just what is a pun, and why do people make them? How did punning impact the development of human language, and how did that drive creativity and progress? And why, after centuries of decline, does the pun still matter?

The simplest definition of a pun is:

“to use a word (or words) in such a way as to suggest different interpretations, by exploiting the fact that some words have similar or identical sounds, but different meanings. “

The pun can take many different forms: knock-knock jokes, Spoonerisms, shaggy dog stories, daffynitions, porte-manteaux, transpositions, Wellerisms, visual puns and so forth. The typology includes homophonic (sounds the same: “the excitement at the circus was in tents”), and homographic (same spelling, different meanings: “rumors about sex orgies aboard the ship are all bunk”). Further distinctions include the paradigmatic – contextual knowledge required – and the syntagmatic or self-contained pun.

Many people think of puns as low humor, but such unappreciative attitudes are relatively recent developments. Consider:

Punning both revolutionized language and played a pivotal role in making the modern world possible. In Egypt and ancient. Sumeria it enabled the development of the alphabet and linguistics by linking sound, symbol, and meaning(s). There is even punning in the Rosetta Stone.

Punning once occupied a place of honor and respect in literate society, such as in the literary coffee houses of 17th century London.

Puns enable people to subversively criticize authoritarian regimes while maintaining plausible deniability.

Punning fosters and reflects creativity, and its unlikely associations between disparate things are the essence of human progress – seeing and revealing new connections. You can thank puns for the invention of your iPhone.

Wordplay is a practice that is common, in one form or another, to virtually every language on earth. There is something fundamentally human about our inclination to pun.

Punning is a renegade activity that challenges the status quo by playing on ambiguity and breaking the rules.

Speaking of smart phones, did you hear that Apple has come out with a model that is customized for sailors? It works best for responding in the affirmative: “sent from aye-aye Phone.”

For better and for worse, puns are ubiquitous, appearing in advertising and the media, cute shop names, movie and song titles. Two recent examples of local headlines range from the nuanced (“Raft of Agencies to Pull Junk from… River”) to the heavy-handed (“Dental School Fills Downtown Cavity: Brushes Off Pacific Heights, Chomps Down on 155 Fifth Street”). They’ve flossed their minds!

The urge to pun can be irresistible and often in questionable taste. You start to see them everywhere. At a recent professional seminar on disability access in the built environment, I was secretly wishing the speaker would mention that a person using a wheelchair couldn’t sue an establishment due to lack of standing.

And seriously, who would have predicted a career as a baseball pitcher, rather than a perfectly monikered umpire, for Grant Balfour?

The FDL pun culture, an aside:

A punny thing happened on the way to this forum: I took a stroll down memory lane. Over the years FDL has promoted creative wordplay via such avenues as the Dick Cheney shotgun poetry fests and Michelle Malkin rap competitions, here and here. Firedoglake has offered a safe haven for irreverent punning, although not without occasional groan pains. Blogspot-era old-timers may recall the rollicking Fitz-era pun fests that would occasionally break out in the comment threads. Mea culpa and no lo compundere. (Stalwart FDL contributor Eli was also among the usual suspects, although he may try to deny it: being all serious ‘n stuff now, he rarely takes the bait).

The moments of shared hilarity were epic. It would start innocently enough – usually a reflection on the subject of the blog post at hand or on current events. A couple of parries would establish a theme, “covering” such random, varied and spontaneous topics as foot-ware, boats, dental care, hand tools, body parts, baseball, famous philosophers, vegetables, sewing and garments, mollusks, fish and many more. Classical mythology, historical events, literary references, pop culture, parables, and idioms were all fair game. Of course, it often veered into silliness, but these weren’t necessarily empty calories consumed along the way. Good times.

Back to the present and The Pun Also Rises. Subtle puns appear lightly sprinkled throughout its chapters; if you get thorough a few pages without noticing one you have to pause and wonder if you haven’t missed a well-placed gem. (As a francophone, I was delighted to encounter mention of the contrepèterie, a complex version of the Spoonerism. I’ll note my all-time favorite classic in the comments section).

This overview barely scratches the surface of the richness and variety that John brings to his (p)undertaking. It is truly the redolent work of a pun-gent author. Please join us downstairs where he will further puntificate on the subject.

The pun is mightier than thus: word. Well be here, all afternoon, folks. Try the veal.

John Pollack is a former presidential speechwriter for Bill Clinton. He won the 1995 O. Henry World Championship Pun-Off. Earlier in his career, he wrote for The Hartford Courant and spent three years in Spain as a freelance foreign correspondent writing for many national publications. His previous books include Cork Boat and The World on a String: How to Become a Freelance Foreign Correspondent. He lives in New York City and currently works as a speechwriter and consultant.

284 Responses to “FDL Book Salon Welcomes John Pollack, The Pun Also Rises: How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History, and Made Wordplay More Than Some Antics”

BevW May 28th, 2011 at 1:57 pm

John, Welcome to the Lake.

Punaise, Thank you for Hosting today’s Book Salon.

JP May 28th, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Thank you. I’m happy to participate.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 2:00 pm

“I coulda been a pun-tender.”

Thanks, Bev. OK, let’s fire this this puppy up and take it out for a spin. Welcome, John, to the pun-friendly waters of Firedoglake.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 2:00 pm

As you recount in the first chapter, you really had to thread the needle to win the Pun-Off. Feel free to needle this thread if things gets out of hand…

Fundamental question: why do people like puns?

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Welcome, John! It’s a subject that is very near and dear to my art.

Tammany Tiger May 28th, 2011 at 2:03 pm

My group of high school friends (yes, we were a nerdy bunch) used the phrase “Bore War” to describe our bad pun competitions. Forty years later, I’m still pun-ishing my poor wife, friends, and co-workers. Can’t wait to read your book, John.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Your book begins with a harrowing event in which you nearly perished in an aviation scare during your flight to Austin to participate in 1995 O. Henry World Championship Pun-Off that you semi-“crashed” and ultimately won. Did any puns flash before your mind as you contemplated your demise?

Peterr May 28th, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Oh, what a book, and what a place to talk about it!

Thanks, John, for writing it and giving us an opportunity to revel in the power of words.

JP May 28th, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Different people like puns for different reasons. Some, because they pack more meaning into fewer words. That is at once elegant and efficient. Others like them because they find them funny. Still others because they are subversive and therefore useful (as in China today, where bloggers pun to evade censorship).

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 2:04 pm

John, is there such a thing as a pun pre-processor? Sometimes I get this little tickle that alerts me that a golden pun opportunity is present, and 7 or 8 times out of 10 it’s correct.

BooRadley May 28th, 2011 at 2:04 pm

John, I only got about 1/5 of the millions of puns that punaise and many others created here at FDL. But I was a witness to the creativity, fun, wisdom that punaise especially brought to this community. As he knows, because I repeat it so frequently, he is a great gift to this community.

I have your book on my buy list.

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 2:05 pm
In response to JP @ 9

Some of mine are in fact born out of efforts to pack information more efficiently, i.e., “government takeoverreach”.

JP May 28th, 2011 at 2:06 pm
In response to punaise @ 7

Thanks for your concern. The plane depressurized, the masks dropped and the pilot descended rapidly to depressurize. But we only dropped to 10,000 feet and it felt relatively controlled. So, no, puns didn’t flash through my mind in those moments of drama.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 2:07 pm

You make a compelling case for punning as a key to human progress, playing a critical role in the development of modern civilization. Care to elaborate for our readers?

JP May 28th, 2011 at 2:08 pm
In response to Eli @ 10

Eli, there are still a lot of mysteries as to how the brain processes the inputs and turns around a pun. It doesn’t surprise me that you get a sense of an impending pun, as your subconscious mind is working faster than you can consciously think. So it makes sense that you have some sense, but not an articulate one, of wit on its way.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 2:09 pm
In response to Eli @ 12

I believe that is an example of a portemanteau, as John describes in his book.

emptywheel May 28th, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Oh, I’ve been looking forward to this book salon, if only to see the punsters duke it out in comments.

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 2:10 pm
In response to punaise @ 16

Yes, I’m rather fond of those.

ThingsComeUndone May 28th, 2011 at 2:11 pm

“to use a word (or words) in such a way as to suggest different interpretations, by exploiting the fact that some words have similar or identical sounds, but different meanings. “

These similar sounds but different meanings aid memory by making the brain work more to tell the difference between the similar words but different meanings.

JP May 28th, 2011 at 2:11 pm
In response to punaise @ 14

One of the key inventions in human history that allowed knowledge to accumulate and progress to accelerate was the phonetic alphabet. But how did people move from literal pictures on cave walls to a strictly phonetic alphabet? The transition was gradual, and took tens of thousands of years. But the big progress came when punning scribes in Mesopotamia and Egypt realized that they could break apart a pictogram into its component sounds, much as we might break the name Isabelle into is a bell. Once you strip away meaning from a word and salvage its sounds, you can recombine them to make new words and meanings. This novel realization led to the invention of the alphabet and the rise of civilization.

Peterr May 28th, 2011 at 2:12 pm

John, I was taken by the discussion of gender in the book, particularly the section on medical researchers who noted differences between men and women when it comes to processing humor. From the book (p. 47):

Three divergent results emerged. First, women were quicker to decide if a cartoon as not funny. Second, women were less apt to expect a cartoon to be funny. In other words, they had lower expectations than men. Third, the dopamine rewards they experienced when a cartoon actually did seem funny were higher. . . .

As soon as I read this, I laughed out loud. It sounds to me as if this is the evolutionary result of years of women listening to men trying to pick them up in bars with bad pickup lines. Upon hearing the opening “Hey, darling . . .” women are quick to decide if a line is any good, and less apt to expect it to be worth hearing at all. But when it actually *is* a good line, the . . . ahem . . . rewards can indeed be higher.

JP May 28th, 2011 at 2:13 pm
In response to BooRadley @ 11

BooRadley:
Thanks — we all miss puns sometimes. But the more we listen to them, the more accustomed our minds become to hearing words for their phonetic components, rather than the superficial meaning. In time, our punning abilities grow. Thanks for adding The Pun Also Rises to your list.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 2:13 pm
In response to emptywheel @ 17

I warned Jane that we’d be running a tight ship to stay on topic. Since the topic is puns, all bets are off!

But seriously, John’s book is highly worthy of our scholarly focus.

Peterr May 28th, 2011 at 2:14 pm
In response to Eli @ 12

News headlines are filled with puns (especially here at FDL), often for both brevity and also as attention getters.

JP May 28th, 2011 at 2:14 pm
In response to Eli @ 12

Or what some GOP members of congress call Mediscare…

willf May 28th, 2011 at 2:14 pm
In response to JP @ 13

So, no, puns didn’t flash through my mind in those moments of drama.

Sounds scary, indeed. But at least you didn’t have any poetry suddenly jump into your head.

That would be going from bad to verse.

ThingsComeUndone May 28th, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Firedoglake has offered a safe haven for irreverent punning, although not without occasional groan pains.

I think Suz coined the term Brain Bleach alert for puns or any comment that has a visual image some people would rather not see.

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 2:15 pm

So, given that punning is often an expression of creativity, flexibility, and a bit of subversion, does that help explain why conservatives are so damn unfunny?

Or do we progressives only *think* that conservatives are unfunny?

JP May 28th, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Ah, your mind is so versatile

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Did punning get a bad rap in the last century or so? Puns often elicit a “ritual groan of disapproval”, but you state that this “universal response…is a cultural myth”. Please elaborate. Are we indeed witnessing the rehabilitation of punning?

JP May 28th, 2011 at 2:17 pm
In response to tammanytiger @ 6

de klerk would have written that one down.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 2:17 pm
In response to Peterr @ 21

building upon Peterr’s comment, from your experience is punning an equal opportumity field, or is there a noticeable gender tilt?

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 2:18 pm
In response to punaise @ 23

Yes, we shall sea. Perhaps we can boat on whether we want to wave the on-topic strictures. (Hopefully without any rigging)

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 2:18 pm
In response to JP @ 31

with Mandela bull ink.

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 2:19 pm
In response to punaise @ 34

On what kind of parchment? Part hide, perhaps?

JP May 28th, 2011 at 2:20 pm
In response to Peterr @ 21

Nice observation. I’ll have to pass that along to others. What is also interesting is that women apparently have a larger Broca’s area in the mind, which is involved in the processing of language, so may have more highly attuned minds when it comes to speech.

Peterr May 28th, 2011 at 2:20 pm
In response to Eli @ 28

I was struck in the book by the attempts of The Powers That Be in various eras to stamp out puns as somehow vulgar or a sign of poor breeding or otherwise make then socially unacceptable. Subversiveness is not to be tolerated.

(See also John’s comment above @9 and discussion in the book about Chinese punsters doing so to avoid the censors.)

To the extent that conservatives try to be the arbiters of acceptable social behavior, then yes, they are not going to be very punny.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 2:21 pm
In response to Eli @ 33

I’m pretty sure we’ll not find ourselves in the doldrums, although if shouting watch out for hoarse attitudes.

Peterr May 28th, 2011 at 2:21 pm
In response to punaise @ 30

To borrow from Spider Robinson, the power (or strength, or beauty) of a pun is in the oy of the beholder.

JP May 28th, 2011 at 2:21 pm
In response to punaise @ 32

There are great punsters of both genders, and both men and women have won the O. Henry Pun-Off World Championships. Youtube Gracie Deegan, this year’s “Punniest of Show” winner for some good puns.

ThingsComeUndone May 28th, 2011 at 2:21 pm

I think a major difference between Lefty Humor and Righty Humor is the Left points out the differences between what actually is and what is said by people in power.
The Right uses put down humor to put others down and keep power. There are exceptions of course but do these trends continue into the pun world?
Or are puns to sophisticated for most GOPers I think Hate Radio can use rhymes but that might be as far as they go.

JP May 28th, 2011 at 2:22 pm
In response to Peterr @ 37

Interestingly, one factor that led to the pun’s decline in status in England was the mixing of social classes in coffeehouses. When the aristocrats found that the commoner could pun with the best, suddenly they didn’t think punning was such a mark of wit anymore.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 2:23 pm
In response to JP @ 42

oh, how the “my tea!” have fallen.

ThingsComeUndone May 28th, 2011 at 2:23 pm
In response to punaise @ 14

Seconded!

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 2:24 pm
In response to punaise @ 38

I will try not to assail your ears, I know you have a delicate Constitution.

JP May 28th, 2011 at 2:25 pm

That’s an interesting observation. Humor tends to be subversive, and generally doesn’t favor the powerful. As for puns, Wiliam Safire was a great punster, and he was conservative’s conservative…. though perhaps not by today’s a-Paul-ing standards.

Peterr May 28th, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Punaise, thanks for the link to the Dick Cheney stuff. It brought to mind a similar FDL Ted Stevens poetry contest.

The winner in the limerick category was egregious:

Of all the congressional critters
Ted sure knows his Toobz and transmitters
His scandals are breakin
His booze, getting taken
And now there’s no wine-ing and bitters.

The combination of rhyme, rhythm, and ooze at the end makes it particularly powerful.

[And for the record, egregious is a woman.]

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 2:25 pm
In response to Eli @ 45

such bonhomie, Richard!

CTuttle May 28th, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Aloha, John and Punaise, Mahalo for this Book Salon…!

Let me dispense with the obligatory *groan*, as I’m so wont to do over the years to the Pun Meister’s many fine ministrations…! ;-)

JP May 28th, 2011 at 2:26 pm
In response to punaise @ 38

That would make you the current champ, almost.

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 2:26 pm
In response to JP @ 46

Have-nots making fun of haves can be cheeky and amusing, haves making fun of have-nots just seems mean (see also: Rush Limbaugh).

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Not sure I understand the distinction between puns and word play in general. Are there any rules of thumb, and does it matter?

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 2:28 pm
In response to punaise @ 48

It’s an admirable quality, I reckon.

AdamPDX May 28th, 2011 at 2:28 pm

The Tea Party and puns go together like Diet Coke and Mentos.

http://www.boingboing.net/2011/05/28/facebook-updates-fro.html

What do you do when a significant portion of the population believes subtlety is evidence of communism.

DWBartoo May 28th, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Punny, meeting you all at dis plays…I’m all hears.

;~DW

JP May 28th, 2011 at 2:29 pm
In response to Peterr @ 24

I was talking with an ad sales supervisor for the NY Post this morning. The Post is hands-down the most punning tabloid in America. This person said that 75% of the paper’s daily sales come from newsstands, so catchy headlines are absolutely essential. Hence, the puns.

Peterr May 28th, 2011 at 2:29 pm
In response to JP @ 46

Safire is also evidence that you have to really know language — with all its twists and multiple meanings — to be a great punster.

Ages ago, I was an exchange student in Germany. Early on, I realized that if you can “get” puns and humor in a foreign language, you have truly become fluent in that language.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 2:29 pm
In response to Eli @ 53

indeed, unassailable.

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 2:30 pm
In response to JP @ 56

So much for conservatives not being punny. Maybe they have liberal copy editors…

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Everyone has probably encountered a cleverly (or not so cleverly) named hair salon or pet grooming boutique, coffee shop or deli. Somewhere out there must a pizza joint run by pacifist monks: Give Pizza Chants.

Do you have some examples of your favorite puns in business names and products?

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 2:31 pm
In response to punaise @ 58

No one’s decked me yet.

Peterr May 28th, 2011 at 2:31 pm
In response to JP @ 56

Among online news and commentary sites, puns serve the same purpose. Do you see any counterparts in the online media world in that respect?

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 2:32 pm
In response to punaise @ 60

When I worked as a data entry clerk ages ago, I saw a check from a store in San Francisco called Stormy Leathers.

JP May 28th, 2011 at 2:32 pm
In response to Eli @ 28

There are funny liberals and funny conservatives. But conservatives are by their nature uncomfortable with ambiguity, and humor usually turns on it.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 2:32 pm
In response to Peterr @ 47

egregious, FTW!

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 2:32 pm
In response to Eli @ 63

(There was also a “Rickey’s Steel Erection”, but I don’t *think* it was supposed to be funny…)

ThingsComeUndone May 28th, 2011 at 2:32 pm

The Chinese historically have often put criticism’s of their government in the history of a former dynasty. America well Asmiov’s Sci Fi Foundation series and Herbert’s Dune Series both do the same thing but set the arguments into the future.
But I wonder if the Puns all cultures use are universal and have themes Campbell’s myths would recognize. Which of the 12 Caesars would a Roman Punster most associate Bush with?

JP May 28th, 2011 at 2:33 pm
In response to Peterr @ 57

Punning in another language is an art. At a reading recently, my high school Spanish teacher showed up. I hadn’t seen him in at least 25 years. I was able to make a pun in Spanish, though, and he laughed. So clearly he had done his job well.

DWBartoo May 28th, 2011 at 2:33 pm
In response to punaise @ 60

Eh, punaise, who canz be topping that pizza mind?

Suzanne May 28th, 2011 at 2:33 pm

this is a great book! what inspired you to write it?

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Jocktavian?

Peterr May 28th, 2011 at 2:34 pm
In response to JP @ 56

And then there’s the New Yorker.

I loved your discussion of puns being outlawed there. It strikes me as a case of the New Yorker wanting to clearly separate themselves from the riff-raff at The Post.

JP May 28th, 2011 at 2:34 pm

I give up, which one?

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 2:34 pm
In response to Eli @ 61

we’re gunwhale have to put a stop to this…

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 2:36 pm
In response to punaise @ 74

Knot if aye can help it.

JP May 28th, 2011 at 2:37 pm
In response to Suzanne @ 70

An editor, who saw that I had won the O. Henry championship, suggested a book on that topic. I felt the topic was too narrow for an entire book, but decided to see what had been written about punning in general. I discovered that pun books fell into two categories: academic writing and joke books. I saw an opportunity to write a book about punning that would be engaging and accessible to a wider audience, one with a rich appreciation for language in general. And so I developed a proposal on that, which led to The Pun Also Rises.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 2:37 pm
In response to Eli @ 75

will you sue? not me.

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 2:38 pm
In response to JP @ 76

My father will be very grateful. Whether nature or nurture, he is largely responsible for the way I am today…

ThingsComeUndone May 28th, 2011 at 2:38 pm
In response to JP @ 46

Ah but I liked Will Could the GOP as it has gotten more nuts and power mad have shown their mental degeneracy by preferring Rush Limbaugh to Will Safire’s puns?
Or lets put it another way when was the last time a Lefty could say they disagreed with but respected a GOPer Zbigniew Brzezinsk might be the last GOPer alive who I disagree with but think is smart.
P. J. O’Rourke might be the last GOPer who had a sense of humor.

DWBartoo May 28th, 2011 at 2:39 pm
In response to Eli @ 75

Well, that’s nautical, but nighs, Eli.

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 2:39 pm
In response to punaise @ 77

Not unless you wind me up.

JP May 28th, 2011 at 2:39 pm
In response to Eli @ 78

Clearly he must have imbued in you a love of language…

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 2:40 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 80

Plank you. Plank you very much.

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 2:41 pm
In response to JP @ 82

A lifetime of puns, and my stepmother was right there with him.

Suzanne May 28th, 2011 at 2:41 pm
In response to JP @ 76

thanks. i love how you weave the history of puns through the ages — what was the hardest part to research? trying to find the first pun?

JP May 28th, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Humor is so highly personal, that everyone must find someone funny, even if most of us don’t.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 2:43 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 80

like a sea-going Sartre, he’s a sextant sensualist.

Petrocelli May 28th, 2011 at 2:44 pm

The major difference between Lefty and Righty humor is, the Right elect theirs !

I’ve been waiting all week to say … “Gentlemen, start your enjoins !”

Welcome John … *Bows To The Master* !

DWBartoo May 28th, 2011 at 2:44 pm
In response to Eli @ 83

Ah ha, you high sieze me with swell tidings, then, wood ya, Eli?

JP May 28th, 2011 at 2:44 pm
In response to Suzanne @ 85

The hardest part of the research was untangling all the different factors that led to the decline of the pun’s status in western culture. Doing so required a tremendous amount of reading.

Another challenging part was learning how the brain processes sound and language, and translating that from scientific language into plain English.

Peterr May 28th, 2011 at 2:44 pm

When I think about where I got my love of language, I put Dr. Seuss right up there with my parents.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 2:45 pm
In response to JP @ 86

it’s a fine line between a well-placed zinger and the stream-of-consciousness patter that tries to make random but obscure connections… often falling flat.

speaking from experience, of course…

ThingsComeUndone May 28th, 2011 at 2:45 pm
In response to Eli @ 71

I was thinking Claudius a stutterer, widely considered stupid and a coward during the Coup against the last emperor he hid. However Claudius was somewhat competent.

ThingsComeUndone May 28th, 2011 at 2:45 pm
In response to JP @ 73

I was hoping you could tell me:)

ThingsComeUndone May 28th, 2011 at 2:46 pm
In response to Petrocelli @ 88

Nice:)

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 2:46 pm
In response to punaise @ 87

That would explain the masturbation…

JP May 28th, 2011 at 2:47 pm
In response to punaise @ 30

The decline of the pun in western civilization took place in England during the 17th-18th centuries, primarily. It happened in the USA only after WWII, when comedy became more free-form and open about sex, drugs, dysfunction, etc.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Nero, my heart, toothy.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 2:47 pm
In response to Eli @ 96

uh-oh, here we go…

Oilfieldguy May 28th, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Late to the party. I’ll try to be nice and sit over here.

ThingsComeUndone May 28th, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Everyone must find someone funny? Bush’s joke about that woman he executted on death row her last words Please… please don’t kill me? Someone found that funny?
Er someone not John Woo or dick Cheney.

JP May 28th, 2011 at 2:48 pm
In response to punaise @ 92

Most scientific ideas fall flat. So does most art. So do most evolutionary mutations. That’s the nature of progress; true and useful connections are the few that survive, in any field. Including punning.

ThingsComeUndone May 28th, 2011 at 2:49 pm
In response to punaise @ 98

Nero ok :)

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 2:49 pm
In response to JP @ 102

Your book illustrates the intrinsic link between puns and human creativity. In a nutshell I guess you could say it’s a product of thinking outside the box and celebrating ambiguity. Your thoughts?

emptywheel May 28th, 2011 at 2:49 pm
In response to Peterr @ 37

I once had this wonderful conversation w/an IBM researcher who had idolized my dad about narratives. IBM was doing a bunch of consulting w/corporations using narratives to drive process change. All their “experts” were in the sciences (psychologists, for example).

I asked how they were dealing w/irony.

The jaw dropped. They hadn’t thought about it.

I noted that the comments about the VP they were boasting about might not be worth boasting about.

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 2:49 pm
In response to JP @ 102

Survival of the wittiest?

emptywheel May 28th, 2011 at 2:51 pm
In response to JP @ 42

That strikes me as a comment about oral culture. It seems to be a good punster you need to live well in oral culture. Highly schooled people aren’t necessarily good at that–less well educated people often are.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 2:51 pm

A successful pun depends on the listener being able to “get it”. This implies shared linguistic and, to some degree, cultural references. Thus the puns you cited form the Pun-Off were fairly universal (although you did have to spell out your first response – the “Wright flying machine”.).

Here in blog-land the puns tend to flow from specific conversations about current events. A pun that makes sense in a particular context may not age well, losing all relevance without knowledge of the specific people and events referred to.

Case in point: a few years ago televangelist Ted Haggard was caught up in a scandal involving male companions and a package of drugs that was hastily discarded into a trash can. Without that context, this legacy pun retains little meaning: “There’s a meth-thud to his man-ness”.

Has the internet affected punning?

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 2:53 pm

I was particularly intrigued by the link between punning and oppression, although it does seem pretty inevitable. You talked about how language and textual analysis is a part of Jewish culture, but oppression is also a large part of Jewish history. It makes for kind of a perfect storm for punniness and humor.

JP May 28th, 2011 at 2:54 pm
In response to punaise @ 104

You’re correct. The Pun Also Rises is a book celebrating creativity and its fuel, ambiguity/uncertainty. Without uncertainty, we would not be forced to experiment. And without experimentation, there would be no progress. Yes, we make mistakes. But hopefully we learn from them. So we should embrace ambiguity and uncertainty as positive forces, generally.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 2:54 pm

You recount how punning was used to settle duels. If this occurred in India would it constitute a Punjab?

emptywheel May 28th, 2011 at 2:54 pm
In response to JP @ 56

Ah, but their “DSK arrested in sodomy probe” headline, which will long be remembered also led to a lot of confusion about the actual offense.

JP May 28th, 2011 at 2:55 pm
In response to emptywheel @ 107

Yes, being articulate isn’t about education. Think of all the poetry and rap that flows from sources other than traditional education.

JP May 28th, 2011 at 2:55 pm
In response to punaise @ 111

Sikh trouble and you’ll find it.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 2:55 pm
In response to emptywheel @ 112

he gave at the orifice.

emptywheel May 28th, 2011 at 2:56 pm
In response to punaise @ 60

Just walked by a tool store owned by a guy named Flanagan–it was called “O’Tools.”

And if I ever open a restaurant, it will be a mostly stews restaurant named “Braise” which is a play on my hubby’s last name.

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 2:57 pm
In response to JP @ 114

Raja that.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 2:58 pm
In response to Eli @ 117

it’s part of my Delhi ritual.

emptywheel May 28th, 2011 at 2:58 pm
In response to JP @ 97

What about in other cultures? Or are they still punnier than their Anglo-American banksters?

Oilfieldguy May 28th, 2011 at 2:58 pm
In response to punaise @ 108

Ah, yes, the Crystal Methodist.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 2:59 pm
In response to emptywheel @ 116

I recall making an oblique pun re Mr. EW that drew a chuckle from you, but can’t for the life of me recall what it was.

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 2:59 pm
In response to punaise @ 118

I try not to release too many calcutting remarks from my verbal Bombay.

JP May 28th, 2011 at 3:00 pm
In response to Eli @ 117

Are you india own puns?

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 3:00 pm
In response to Eli @ 122

Ceylon into the sunset?

JP May 28th, 2011 at 3:01 pm
In response to emptywheel @ 119

Other cultures pun, too. Most don’t survive translation, though. From speakers of Pitjantjatjara (I may have missed a letter there!) to speakers of Tzotzil, people pun. It’s endemic to the human condition.

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 3:01 pm
In response to JP @ 123

I’m usually pretty Hindu them, but that means sometimes I just Bengal them terribly.

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 3:02 pm
In response to punaise @ 124

Yes, it’s very Buddhaful.

JP May 28th, 2011 at 3:02 pm
In response to punaise @ 124

I respond ta millions of puns every day…

emptywheel May 28th, 2011 at 3:02 pm
In response to punaise @ 121

Might it have had something to do with bogs?

Oilfieldguy May 28th, 2011 at 3:03 pm

When Buckwheat converted to Muslim he changed his name to Kareem O’wheat.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 3:03 pm
In response to emptywheel @ 129

oh, for peat’s sake, that does ring a bell.

JP May 28th, 2011 at 3:04 pm
In response to Oilfieldguy @ 130

That’s nearly oat of bounds

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 3:04 pm

You recount a shaggy dog story on pages 20-21. I have to sheep(dog)ishly admit to not really getting it. Was the punch line itself a self-referential inside joke about the structure of shaggy dog stories?

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 3:04 pm
In response to Oilfieldguy @ 130

That sounds more Mueslim to me.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 3:04 pm
In response to JP @ 132

it goes against the grain.

DWBartoo May 28th, 2011 at 3:05 pm
In response to punaise @ 124

Someone is trying to curry flavor amongst us.

Starbuck May 28th, 2011 at 3:05 pm

I once came across a hooker named “Tulips”

Peterr May 28th, 2011 at 3:05 pm

JP, I’m a Lutheran pastor, and I enjoyed your comments about puns in the Bible. Over the years, I’ve been stunned by people who can’t believe that the Bible has puns and humor to it, starting with Genesis and going right on through to Revelation.

But if, as the Psalmist says, God sits in heaven and laughs at humanity’s puny attempts to play God, surely we can do the same with one another.

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 3:06 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 136

Care Tibet on that?

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 3:06 pm
In response to Starbuck @ 137

what was she petalling?

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 3:06 pm
In response to Peterr @ 138

I think it’s spelled with two Ns, Peterr.

Peterr May 28th, 2011 at 3:07 pm
In response to punaise @ 135

Sounds flaky to me.

Oilfieldguy May 28th, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Was Yogi Berra mentioned in your book?

Tammany Tiger May 28th, 2011 at 3:08 pm
In response to emptywheel @ 112

It’s governed by the “arising under” clause.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 3:09 pm
In response to Peterr @ 142

that’ll take the starch out of your caller, pastor.

JP May 28th, 2011 at 3:10 pm
In response to Peterr @ 138

I think that much of the humor, of course, was probably lost in translation. Why do you suppose that many people think that religion and humor are at odds, while embracing both in their lives?

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 3:10 pm

A French variation of the knock-knock joke is the “Monsieur et Madame ____ ont un fils (ou une fille)”. Have you encountered these in the English language?

Starbuck May 28th, 2011 at 3:10 pm
In response to punaise @ 140

A women’s hygiene spray. The slogan was “If it ain’t fresh, I’m out of business”.

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 3:11 pm
In response to Oilfieldguy @ 143

Sports could probably be a chapter unto itself. Like when a sports reporter asked John McKay what he thought about his team’s execution and he said “I’m all for it.”

Or when another one asked Tug McGraw (IIRC) about whether he preferred grass or astroturf and he said, “I dunno, I’ve never smoked astroturf.”

Tammany Tiger May 28th, 2011 at 3:11 pm
In response to Starbuck @ 137

Reminds me of a Tom Robbins novel in which the narrator mentions the town of Humptulips, Washington, then says that he gets an erection every time he sees a wedge of Gouda.

Peterr May 28th, 2011 at 3:12 pm
In response to JP @ 110

Which brings us back to the discussion of humor and punning as practiced by liberals and conservatives.

“Embrac[ing] ambiguity and uncertainty as positive forces” is not something conservatives are particularly known for.

DWBartoo May 28th, 2011 at 3:12 pm
In response to punaise @ 135

Ah, winnowing chaff, a genuine thesher jest; the pun as the one true coin of the realm?

JP May 28th, 2011 at 3:12 pm
In response to Oilfieldguy @ 143

Yogi Berra’s was generally known for misspeaking more than deliberate punning. So he didn’t make it into the book. But I enjoy his twisting of language.

JP May 28th, 2011 at 3:13 pm
In response to punaise @ 147

I am unfamiliar with those. Can you elaborate?

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 3:13 pm
In response to Peterr @ 151

On the other hand, they *do* require a Herculean capacity for cognitive dissonance.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 3:13 pm

John, are you an omni-punner or do you have a preferred specialty or strong suit?

Starbuck May 28th, 2011 at 3:14 pm
In response to tammanytiger @ 150

Excellent gouda would best come from a cheese factory in Nazareth.

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 3:15 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 152

I think it’s just barley the germ of a possibility right now, but maybe someday. At least I hope sow.

john in sacramento May 28th, 2011 at 3:15 pm

An example for your next book

King Arthur’s Table – or Knot?

http://www.stirlingobserver.co.uk/lifestyle/2011/05/18/king-arthur-s-table-or-knot-51226-28709791/

JP May 28th, 2011 at 3:15 pm
In response to punaise @ 156

Omni, definitely. When it comes to wordplay, my strong suit would be chain mail.

Oilfieldguy May 28th, 2011 at 3:15 pm
In response to JP @ 153

That was the actual gist of my question–I wasn’t sure if anything he said was a pun, but it was a twist on language. “if you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

DWBartoo May 28th, 2011 at 3:16 pm
In response to Eli @ 155

Appealing to the sort of person who thumbs through the card catalogue at the library appreciating (and even anticpating) the unintended juxtaposition? And, as well, the “new” word?

Hmmm …

Oilfieldguy May 28th, 2011 at 3:17 pm

JP, do you have a favorite pun? If so, what is it.

Tammany Tiger May 28th, 2011 at 3:17 pm
In response to Starbuck @ 157

Nazareth? Gouda thunk it?

DWBartoo May 28th, 2011 at 3:17 pm
In response to Eli @ 158

Eh?

Sew???

(What has happened to the thread??)

JP May 28th, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Ghost-written by Mark Twine?

Starbuck May 28th, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Someone showed me a drawing of a complicated knot and asked me what I thought of it. I said “Knot Nice” which when spoken instead of writing is even punnier!

JP May 28th, 2011 at 3:18 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 162

Ah, the card catalog. I love the smooth pull of those drawers…

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 3:18 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 165

Now you’re just needling me…

Peterr May 28th, 2011 at 3:19 pm
In response to JP @ 146

For lots of folks, they have had it drummed into them that the Bible is A Sacred Book, and church is A Sacred Place, to be taken Seriously with a capital S.

“Don’t laugh — this is important stuff” say generations of parents to their kids.

But honestly, you can’t read the book of Jonah — even in translation — and not realize that God has a sense of humor. Those who read Jonah in worship with solemn faces and somber tones of voice do violence to the story.

DWBartoo May 28th, 2011 at 3:19 pm
In response to Eli @ 169

Eye am NOT!

Starbuck May 28th, 2011 at 3:19 pm
In response to tammanytiger @ 164

Cheeses of Nazareth are at their blessed best!

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 3:19 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 171

Then what’s your point?

JP May 28th, 2011 at 3:19 pm
In response to Oilfieldguy @ 163

My favorite pun is always of the moment. Spontaneous puns are the best, in context, at the split second of delivery. While some puns hold up over time, they’re never quite as funny.

DWBartoo May 28th, 2011 at 3:20 pm
In response to JP @ 168

Heh, heh, heh …

:~DW

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 3:20 pm
In response to JP @ 154

Here’s a site with many examples. It requires a pretty good knowledge of French pronunciation. Some are just plain silly, others are sublime.

Q. Monsieur et Madame Tontuyau ont un fils. Coomnet s-appelle-t’il?

A. Ramon.

Mr. and Mrs. Tontuyau have a son. What is his name?
Ramon.

Ramone ton tuyau means clean your pipe, or have your chimney swept.

JP May 28th, 2011 at 3:20 pm
In response to Peterr @ 170

And laughter is serious stuff, too. Where would we be without it?

Tammany Tiger May 28th, 2011 at 3:21 pm
In response to Peterr @ 170

Jonah is, of course, interred in the Whaling Wall.

DWBartoo May 28th, 2011 at 3:21 pm
In response to Eli @ 173

Just the nature of notions, thread-bare, or utter wise.

JP May 28th, 2011 at 3:22 pm
In response to punaise @ 176

Oh, yes, those exist in English. And they’re similar to the authors/book title jokes:
The Yellow Stream, by I P Daly
The Tiger’s Revenge, by Claude Bawls
Etc.

DWBartoo May 28th, 2011 at 3:23 pm
In response to JP @ 180

The Human Race

by Willie Maykit and Betty Whoant

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 3:23 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 179

I hope weave knit strayed too far from discussing Mr. Pollack’s yarn.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Not to get sidetracked, but are you a fan of Car Talk’s running list of staff credits? (represented by the celebrated law firm of Dewey, Cheetham, & Howe). They range from the sublime (Brake Adjuster: Schlomo Quigley) to overwrought (Air Traffic Controller: Ulanda U. Lucky), with lots of silly in between.

DWBartoo May 28th, 2011 at 3:24 pm
In response to Eli @ 182

We is warped!

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 3:24 pm
In response to Eli @ 182

now you’ve got me in stitches.

JP May 28th, 2011 at 3:25 pm
In response to Eli @ 182

…lest the discussion spin out.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 3:25 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 184

looming is trouble.

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Is there a name for the “Show me a happening city in the Sudan, and I’ll show you an animated Khartoum” formulation? My dad has a particular fondness for those. (And that is one of his…)

Starbuck May 28th, 2011 at 3:25 pm
In response to JP @ 180

Seriously I knew a fellow whose last name was Porn.

His first is Richard.

DWBartoo May 28th, 2011 at 3:25 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 184

(And, likely, woofed …)

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 3:26 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 184

Don’t sweat it.

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 3:26 pm
In response to Starbuck @ 189

I actually knew a kid named Richard Wacker.

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 3:26 pm
In response to punaise @ 187

And very shirtly, I imagine.

Starbuck May 28th, 2011 at 3:27 pm
In response to punaise @ 183

They haven’t got my credit manger yet Helen Waite. You want credit? go to Helen Waite.

nahant May 28th, 2011 at 3:28 pm
In response to JP @ 174

So true so true.. a pun is when the pregnant moment just happens and it just spills out to the open.. Have fallen on the floor at some of my own, course my daughters panicked when it happens.. but shit they were good at that instant, never to be as good as it was as uddered!

Starbuck May 28th, 2011 at 3:28 pm
In response to Eli @ 192

Dick was the nicest fellow I ever knew.

JP May 28th, 2011 at 3:28 pm
In response to Eli @ 188

I know the genre, but don’t know if it has a name. Interesting question…

Peterr May 28th, 2011 at 3:28 pm
In response to JP @ 177

Amen.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 3:28 pm
In response to Eli @ 192

then there is the sad story of poor old Harry Baals, who couldn’t get a building named after him.

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 3:29 pm

From the Marx Brothers radio play, Flywheel, Shyster, and Flywheel: “Hey Ravelli, stop berating that car! What do you think you are, a car berater?”

Peterr May 28th, 2011 at 3:29 pm
In response to Starbuck @ 172

Blessed are the cheesemakers . . .

DWBartoo May 28th, 2011 at 3:29 pm
In response to punaise @ 187

We shuttle done sumthin different, punaise, but wool have ta spin it outta hole-cloth, however baaahdly we haf to fleece the herd of that …

JP May 28th, 2011 at 3:30 pm
In response to punaise @ 199

Because he was a crotchety old man?

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 3:30 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 202

hey, that’s piling on.

ThingsComeUndone May 28th, 2011 at 3:30 pm

So puns seem to arise from subconscious connections we make between words with similar sounds and different meanings. They seem to indicate a mastery of language you can’t be fluent in a foreign language unless you master its puns.
In a broader scope our humor depends on the difference between what is said and what is actually done by people in power and requires empathy for others.
GOPer power based put others down to build yourself up humor suggests they are trapped at the survival first stage of Maslow’s pyramid and or they are Double High Authoritarians/ Psychopaths and have no empathy for others.
There are exceptions William Safire but I postulate you can’t be Hitler, Sarah Palin, Bush level crazy with hate, power etc and still do puns….well not intentionally Capt Kirk from Star Trek reading Sarah Palin like a beat poet shows that GOPers create material for puns.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 3:31 pm
In response to JP @ 203

or a former jock.

Lisa Derrick May 28th, 2011 at 3:31 pm
In response to Eli @ 192

I knew both Anita Wacker and her brother Chuck Wacker.

I frequently employ puns in fiction. I had a law firm Heiney Bollax and Keister in a serial that was on AOL for a while.

JP May 28th, 2011 at 3:32 pm
In response to punaise @ 206

In his youth, was he strapping?

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 3:32 pm
In response to punaise @ 206

He’ll have his day eventually – he’s still groin’ on them.

Starbuck May 28th, 2011 at 3:32 pm

One day I showed up at my daughter’s new house to help them move in. A fellow there who considered himself erudite hated puns, and something about the move gave rise to one. (I seem to recall it was something along the lines of a Rise in your levi’s). He gave me this horrid look, got up, walked out, never came back.

I didn’t like him either so I resolved to find another pun should he ever show up…

He left his girlfriend there as well.

ThingsComeUndone May 28th, 2011 at 3:33 pm

A psychological study of what Puners have in common and a look at their brains would be interesting. If the only way man has left to evolve is moral humor might be an indication of moral and mental development.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 3:33 pm

A beutifuly crafted, all-time classic contrepeterie, via my sister-in-law, goes like this:

Il vaut mieux la philanthropie d’un ouvrier charpentier que les tripes en folie d’un ouvrier partant chier.

Alas, it’s not quite as fluid in English: “Better to have the charitable donations of a working carpenter than to have the guts in turmoil of a worker urgently leaving to to take a shit”.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 3:34 pm
In response to JP @ 208

low hanging fruit of the loom.

it was a softball, and you hit it out of the park.

JP May 28th, 2011 at 3:34 pm
In response to Starbuck @ 210

A rise in your Levi’s drove him off? Maybe he was just tired of lifting boxers.

Peterr May 28th, 2011 at 3:35 pm
In response to punaise @ 212

The English version is a bit more constipated.

JP May 28th, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Our brains are remarkably similar. But we use them quite differently.

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 3:35 pm
In response to JP @ 214

Or he doesn’t like comedians who work blue.

ThingsComeUndone May 28th, 2011 at 3:35 pm
In response to Starbuck @ 210

That much hate is well an emotional reaction people who hate puns should be studied…by pet psychologists.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 3:35 pm
In response to JP @ 214

must have been a tighty whitey.

JP May 28th, 2011 at 3:36 pm
In response to Eli @ 217

One way or another, he wasn’t having a ball.

ThingsComeUndone May 28th, 2011 at 3:37 pm
In response to JP @ 216

Neuron pathways to different areas of the brain should be more developed in the language and I suspect logic centers.

ThingsComeUndone May 28th, 2011 at 3:37 pm

Right Left brain communication in Punsters should be higher.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 3:37 pm
In response to JP @ 220

his grammar teacher had issues with his dangling modifier.

Teddy Partridge May 28th, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Late to this chat — what a terrific book, and a wonderful introduction to it, thanks so much Punaise! After knowing Punaise on the blog for a couple of years and marveling at his punitude, I recall our meetup in Boulder Creek for the Bay Area Firepups, where I explained to Mrs Punaise that I would like to open up the back of her husband’s head to see how it works.

Which made the sections of John Pollack’s book on neuro-studies of punning very worthy to me: there’s something about the innards of a true punster’s brain that works differently, or better, or more smoothly, than the rest of ours. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, expecting something much lighter and frothier. It was one of those “little books,” along with Strunk & White and Eats, Shoots and Leaves, that will always have a place of honor on my shelves.

Thanks to both of you for being here today.

findog May 28th, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Such a fun sounding book!

Love using puns and hearing them.

Two friends and I used to challenge each other with puns. We went at it at the tail end of a 2 hour hike, laughing at each others attempts, some of which were stellar and others were as painful as the black fly bites.

One friend’s 7 year old son took it all in as we walked. Finally as we neared the top of the mountain, he pointed to the side of the trail and said “Hey, look! A high alti-toad!”

The three adults looked at each other, laughed and decided that the boy had trumped us all!

JP May 28th, 2011 at 3:39 pm

We do get better with practice, it’s true…

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Q. Monsieur et Madame Remords ont un fils. Comment s-appelle-t’il?

A. Yves.

Yves Remords = ivre mort (dead drunk).

bonus points since remords means regret, remorse.

JP May 28th, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Teddy:
Thanks so much for reading it, and I’m glad you enjoyed it. I too love books that make me take a closer look at something I think I know. So thanks again for adding it to your library, and I hope you’ll spread the word(s).
John

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Teddy!

JP May 28th, 2011 at 3:42 pm
In response to punaise @ 227

RE:mords. Well done.

perris May 28th, 2011 at 3:43 pm

I have two puns I lay claim to inventing;

they close cemeteries at night because they want you to go in “mourning”

and after all those beef puns (I don’t want to “steer” you wrong and their’s not much at “steak”) I added;

and if you don’t eat yours the “cattle”

anyway, sorry I was late to this thread, I miss punaise

Starbuck May 28th, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Ok. In googling a pun line for it’s author, I ran across this:

http://www.alphadictionary.com/fun/pun.html

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 3:43 pm
In response to JP @ 226

I don’t know. Sometimes I liken it to random synapses firing off and connecting subconsciously. Hard to articulate.

JP May 28th, 2011 at 3:43 pm
In response to perris @ 231

Late, but uncowed, I see.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 3:44 pm
In response to JP @ 234

flankly, my dear…

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 3:45 pm

Would you consider the oft-cited ‘707’ to be a visual pun? It signifies LOL fallen backwards in its chair. Or is it just another emoticon?

JP May 28th, 2011 at 3:45 pm

…I don’t give a dam?

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 3:46 pm
In response to punaise @ 235

Meat puns are veally rare.

Lisa Derrick May 28th, 2011 at 3:46 pm

Two of my fave puns: Why was Six sad? Because Seven ate Nine.

And cartoon where a child points at a lake, captioned, “Maman, quatre cinq!”

Weirdly, though I dislike math, these never fail to make me giggle.

siosal May 28th, 2011 at 3:46 pm
In response to punaise @ 223

Why? Because it was past participletating?

JP May 28th, 2011 at 3:46 pm
In response to punaise @ 236

A lot of emoticons are visual puns, so I suppose that would qualify on the margins. If it takes such explanation, though, it probably isn’t as strong as others:)

perris May 28th, 2011 at 3:47 pm
In response to JP @ 234

utter nonsense!

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 3:47 pm
In response to JP @ 237

it’s a beau-vyin’ matter, Scarlett.

JP May 28th, 2011 at 3:48 pm
In response to punaise @ 243

Rhetchingly bad… or tarable, I’m not sure which.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 3:49 pm
In response to JP @ 244

Sure, man. Tanked.

JP May 28th, 2011 at 3:50 pm
In response to punaise @ 245

I see.

Starbuck May 28th, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Euclid was a dreamer. Always thinking of the pi in the sky.

JP May 28th, 2011 at 3:51 pm
In response to punaise @ 245

You expect me to be patton you on the back for that one?

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 3:51 pm
In response to JP @ 246

Atlanta hand, but I’m kinda busy right now.

Starbuck May 28th, 2011 at 3:52 pm
In response to JP @ 246

..said the blind man to his deaf son as he picked up his hammer and saw.

JP May 28th, 2011 at 3:53 pm
In response to punaise @ 249

You keep linkin’ these together, don’t you?

Peterr May 28th, 2011 at 3:54 pm
In response to punaise @ 236

Speaking of visual puns, back in the day, there was a commenter around these parts who went by the moniker “3sivund” . . .

On reflection, maybe that’s closer to a palindrome.

BevW May 28th, 2011 at 3:54 pm

As we come to the end of this great Book Salon,

JP, Thank you for stopping by the Lake and spending the afternoon with us discussing your new book and punning around.

Punaise, Thank you very much for Hosting this great Book Salon.

Everyone, if you would like more information:

JP’s website and book

Just quick reminder:
Membership drive! Are you an FDL member? If not, please join and help keep FDL delivering kick ass activism and independent journalism – and puns. You can join HERE.

Thanks all,
Have a great evening and Holiday!

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 3:54 pm
In response to JP @ 248

Big Bertha vanne Nation?

Starbuck May 28th, 2011 at 3:55 pm
In response to JP @ 251

He’s the linkin’ memorial.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 3:55 pm
In response to JP @ 251

I’ll grant you that.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 3:56 pm
In response to Peterr @ 252

yeah, whatever happened to that guy? he was kind of upside down and backwards.

JP May 28th, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Thank you everyone, for your puns and perspectives. I hope you will like “The Pun Also Rises” on Facebook, too, and spread the word. Always remember, Pun with Pride!

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Thanks, John! This was great pun!

And thank you too, punaise!

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 3:57 pm

An upstream landslide suddenly altered the course of a river, creating a cascade that brought water pouring down onto a fragile but important stone formation at the base of a cliff. Townsfolk called in expert geologists and hydrologists to devise a fix, but ultimately they concluded that this was impossible. Their report to the town council: “Let the falls chip where they may.”

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Thanks, John! Excellent to have you here.

Starbuck May 28th, 2011 at 3:59 pm
In response to punaise @ 260

Hence Chippeway Falls.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Well, that was fun. I don’t even smoke, but I think I need a cigarette. Thanks to everyone for pitching in.

I really do recommend reading The Pun Also Rises.

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Great job keeping the conversation civil at the end there, guys.

Peterr May 28th, 2011 at 4:05 pm
In response to punaise @ 263

Amen.

And also a big thanks to you, punaise, for agreeing to host the salon.

Really, who else could have done it justice?

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 4:06 pm
In response to JP @ 258

Always remember, Pun with Pride!

my three blog-punning/snark rules:

1. never apologize.
2. never explain.
3. there are only two rules.

In any event, my contempt for Joe Lieberman will never subside.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 4:07 pm
In response to Eli @ 264

yeah, we nearly got sacked.

CTuttle May 28th, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Mahalo Nui Loa, JP and Punaise for this great groan fest…! *g*

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 4:11 pm

Eli – glad we could lure you back into pun-land. You’re quite the talented interlocutor.

Eli May 28th, 2011 at 4:15 pm
In response to punaise @ 269

Thanks, and right back atcha. It’s good to be back, if only for a little while.

DWBartoo May 28th, 2011 at 4:16 pm

Great meeting of the twisted minds.

Thank you JP, punasie, Eli, Bev, and all …

;~DW

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 4:17 pm
In response to Eli @ 270

you blew your cover, dude.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 4:17 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 271

DW! Glad you could make it.

DWBartoo May 28th, 2011 at 4:24 pm
In response to punaise @ 273

Couldna miss the Punnic Warz, punaise …

Teddy Partridge May 28th, 2011 at 4:26 pm

Thanks so much to all, can’t wait to re-read this whole thread!

And, folks, please buy this book. Or two copies — give one to a pun-hating friend. S/he will come around, believe me.

It’s just that good.

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 4:41 pm
In response to Petrocelli @ 88

Petro!

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 4:57 pm

A bit of housekeeping. In addition to the serious conversation with John on the subject of his book, by my count we had pun-threads covering:

South Africa

ships and seafaring

Roman emperors

India

Oats and other grains

flowers

cheese

sewing and weaving

scrota

cows and meat

Gone with the Wind

WW II

in other words, par for the course. cheers!

Jane Hamsher May 28th, 2011 at 5:18 pm

277 comments, punaise. That’s quite an accomplishment.

Thanks so much!

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 5:24 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 278

It was a lot of fun. Glad to have been invited!

I can only imagine how challenging it must have been for John to juggle several different “serious” questions while trying to parry the puns in rapid-fire sequence.

Starbuck May 28th, 2011 at 5:31 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 278

It was a blast, Jane. I took a bath after participating and the number “of if only” items popped up that were better than what I wrote as I soaked, ah well! Next time.

Just glad I didn’t take a bath in this thread!

punaise May 28th, 2011 at 5:33 pm
In response to Starbuck @ 280

it soak, eh…

newdealfarmgrrrlll May 28th, 2011 at 6:33 pm
In response to Starbuck @ 280

so great to be awash in puns!

great thread! I think i needle re-read it and order the book.

Pyre May 28th, 2011 at 7:33 pm

May I commend all here for their execution of wordplay? Capital punnishment!

CTuttle May 28th, 2011 at 7:54 pm
In response to Pyre @ 283

…Capital punnishment!…

Indeedy…! ;-)

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