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Too much sugar for a dime
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2010/12/28
4:02pm
donkirkby
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Here’s an alternate answer for one of the Travel Quiz questions:
The question was, “Name an African country that becomes a woman’s name when you remove the first letter.” My answer was Kenya that becomes Enya. It’s not a common name, but there’s a famous Irish singer with that name.

2010/12/28
8:44pm
Ron Draney
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There’s also “Mali”, “Ghana”, and I can’t entirely convince myself I’ve never heard of a woman named “Omalia”.

2010/12/30
7:30am
Glenn
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Too bad it had to be the first letter: Cameron.

2010/12/31
9:48pm
johng423
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PARAPROSDOKIAN – beside or beyond expectations

Martha: Groucho Marx said, “I have had a pleasant evening… but this isn’t it.”
The Groucho quote I thought of was:
Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend… Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.

Martha: Always borrow money from a pessimist – he won’t expect it back.
Doesn’t seem to “turn the corner” as sharply (not expecting repayment is within the nature of a pessimist).
Contrasting best and worst, here’s one I’ve read where the wording is unexpected:
An optimist thinks this is the best of all worlds. A pessimist… fears this is so.

As a parallel to Grant’s story about Rich Little impersonating Ronald Reagan (“Well…”):
Speaking at a business dinner, a millionaire told his audience, “There are two secrets to success. One: Never tell everything you know.” … [Then he sat down.]

Without stealing material from current stand-up comedians, here are few more:

  • We can complain that roses have thorns, or we can be glad that… thorns smell so good.
  • I used to snort coke… but the ice cubes kept getting stuck in my nose.
  • Rose are red, violets are blue, I’m schizophrenic… and so am I!

Sonic example: Prokofiev’s Symphony No 1, movement 3 Gavotta – The cadence at the end of some phrases seem to take off at an unexpected, and somewhat humorous, angle.
(from beginning to approximately 1:30)

2010/12/31
9:52pm
johng423
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supercalifragilisticexpialidocious – I think we were all surprised that the caller was able to spell the word so quickly.
In the other direction, Big Bird (Sesame Street) sang the alphabet – not the song, but the entire alphabet as if it were one long word. (ROTFL the first time I heard this.)
(song begins at approximately 1:20)

2010/12/31
9:56pm
johng423
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“Oriental” – Have you ever heard someone referred to as an “Occidental” in a similar way? I haven’t.

Grant commented that in the US, “Asian” usually refers to people from the Far East ONLY, whereas in the UK it could refer to anywhere in Asia.

Similarly, “American” is often used to refer to people in the United States ONLY. Some people who live elsewhere in North or South America are offended by this. (I’m sure this topic has been discussed on these forums previously.)

2010/12/31
9:56pm
johng423
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blueberry “buckle” – For similar terms, definitions, and distinctions, see
http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/CobblerHistory.htm

2011/01/01
6:03pm
Rick Reid
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RE: Learning Curve. I used to work for a company that manufactured aircraft parts for Boeing et al. When quoting for a contract to build a large batch of parts we would estimate how long to make the first few, and as our experience and expertise grew how much quicker we could make subsequent parts. We would plot time to make each part on the vertical axis (the ordinate) and successive part numbers on the horizontal axis (the abscissa). The resulting curve was referred to as the learning curve. A steep learning curve indicated that the process was easy to learn. These days “steep learning curve” seems to mean that the learning experience is difficult or must be learnt quickly, through extra effort.

On a completely different topic, Grant commented on Dick Van Dyke’s less than perfect cockney accent in the Mary Poppins movie. On a recent (repeated) episode of “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” Mr Van Dyke responded to this by saying he was given an Irish accent coach whose cockney was no better than his.

Rick Reid

2011/01/04
2:06pm
mcmc
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I agree with Rick Reid here. As such, I disagree with Grant in several different dimensions. Grant didn’t really provide any foundation for his view, other than labeling axes on a graph. Even at that, one of the axes seemed to have a rather suspect description (“amount of practice” ???). Anyway, in the areas of cost accounting and engineering, the axes for a learning curve would be an x-axis of time and a y-axis of “cost per unit”, “labor hours per unit”, or something like that. As such, a steep learning curve would describe a process in which each succeeding unit cost less to make (or took less time to make). So each succeeding unit becomes easier or cheaper (steep curve = learning is fast and/or easy). This is pretty standard in the literature from Gilbreth on down. I would be interested to learn what sources Grant was speaking of in his version.

2011/01/09
4:44pm
Geoff in England
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As I heard Martha and Grant quote example paraprosdokians, I remembered this:

The American folk singer and erstwhile hobo, Seasick Steve, first came to the UK a few years ago. He did the usual circuit of radio and TV chat shows and said in more than one interview: “I came into this world with nothing and I’ve still got most of it left”.

Would Sam Goldwin’s funny turns of phrase count as paraprosdokians? For example, “A verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on”. I especially like: “Now listen to me very slowly”.

2011/01/11
11:58am
frandiam
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I’m catching up on shows from December, and enjoyed the discussion of “iota” which I’ve used since I was a kid. (I think the Hebrew equivalent might be “yud” which looks like this: ‘. Although I’ve never heard a Hebrew phrase of “not one ‘yud'” but I’m not a native speaker!)

Anyhow, I saw this article today in the Washington Post: “Palin caught in crosshairs map controversy after Tucson shootings”, and later down in the article was this quote from a Republican advisor:

He said Palin needs allies who can “point out repeatedly that the cross hairs are irrelevant. The only thing that’s relevant is what Jared Loughner was influenced by, and according to his posting and his videos, there’s not an iota of evidence that he was even aware of these things. So you need allies out there saying that.”

2011/01/11
2:08pm
Ron Draney
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I came to realize a few years ago that most of my sense of humor revolves around paraprosdokians, either verbal (“Motto of the security guards at the sewage treatment plant: ‘Waste is a terrible thing to mind'”) or conceptual (“Some day I’d like to visit the Great Wall of China; I want to see if the moon is visible from there”).

It’s been the basis of many of my online .sig files (“It ain’t over till the fat lady chokes on a chicken bone”), and seems to have been encouraged by the influence of Steve Allen (“When I saw the angry cobra slithering towards me I drew back in panicky haste, knowing that the single touch of its dripping fangs meant instant coffee!”).

Basically, if I can turn some familiar phrase or idea on its head, I’ll do it.

2011/01/11
2:36pm
telemath
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Ron Draney said:
Basically, if I can turn some familiar phrase or idea on its head, I’ll do it.


I like to call that “turning a phrase against itself.”

2011/01/12
6:41am
Christopher Murray
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In Ireland, there was a political party which changed its name several times from Official Sinn Féin, to Sinn Féin the Workers’ Party, to The Workers’ Party, then to Democratic Left. With the latter name, news reports and general conversation commonly referred to it as the Democratic Left, wrongly suggesting that it was the only democratic party in that portion of the political spectrum.

2011/01/12
10:43am
New River, AZ, USA
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Ron Draney said:

I came to realize a few years ago that most of my sense of humor revolves around paraprosdokians, either verbal (“Motto of the security guards at the sewage treatment plant: ‘Waste is a terrible thing to mind'”) or conceptual (“Some day I’d like to visit the Great Wall of China; I want to see if the moon is visible from there”).

It’s been the basis of many of my online .sig files (“It ain’t over till the fat lady chokes on a chicken bone”), and seems to have been encouraged by the influence of Steve Allen (“When I saw the angry cobra slithering towards me I drew back in panicky haste, knowing that the single touch of its dripping fangs meant instant coffee!”).

Basically, if I can turn some familiar phrase or idea on its head, I’ll do it.


Well, the one about “seeing the Moon from the Great Wall” just cracked me up. Not sure if I followed the “instant coffee” example, and I did spend some time trying to figure out the joke, but no joy. And I’m a big fan of Steve Allen.

It did remind of of a classic Steven Wright one-liner though … “If you put instant coffee in a microwave, does it go back in time?”

2011/01/13
1:28am
tunawrites
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To Ron Draney and Heimhenge: I assume that if you found Ron’s (I hope you don’t mind my calling you by the first name) entry funny, you are fans of Groucho Marx. I may have been born a couple generations after Groucho Marx had died, but, for my money, there is nobody, nobody, who could turn a phrase or use a pun like that man. There have been many people who could spin the English language humorously since (I think of, recently, old Steven Wright, the late Mitch Hedberg, and the on-time Demetri Martin, to name a few), but there will never be anyone as good as Groucho in his prime.

My favorite Groucho quote — the one I often use — is: “I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.”

Any others?

2011/01/13
9:44am
telemath
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tunawrites said:

My favorite Groucho quote — the one I often use — is: “I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.”

Any others?


“I never forget a face, but in your case, I’ll make an exception.”

2011/01/13
6:28pm
New River, AZ, USA
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One Grouchoism I especially like, and have used as a sig-file on occasion, is this classic:

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” — Groucho Marx

2011/01/13
11:51pm
tunawrites
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I lied a bit about my most-used Groucho quote. It’s actually

“I would never join any club that would accept me as a member.”

2011/01/15
7:19pm
PeteyTheHoser
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How’s this? “I don’t believe in reincarnation. I used to, but that was in a previous life”. Not sure if it qualifies as a paraprosdokian though.

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