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Lunatic Fringe

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In this week’s episode, “It was bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen.” Martha and Grant discuss their favorite first lines from novels. Also this week, palmer-housing, beanplating, meeting cute, bad billboard grammar, and what it means when someone says you look like a tree full of owls. And which is correct: another thing coming or another think coming? This episode first aired October 24, 2010.

Favorite First Lines

 Some novels grab you from the get-go. “I am an invisible man.” “Call me Ishmael.” “The cold passed reluctantly from the earth, and the retiring fogs revealed an army stretched out on the hills, resting.” Martha and Grant discuss some of their favorite first lines.

Hypnagogic Startle

 You’re falling asleep, then suddenly snap awake. There’s a term for that: hypnagogic startle or hypnic jerk.

Bad Billboard Grammar

 A North Carolina listener reports seeing a billboard that read, “Be Stronger Connected to Your Son.” Bad grammar or good advertising?

Golden Birthday

 When is your golden birthday? It’s when your age and the date match, such as turning 23 years old on the 23rd day of the month.

Turn the Worm Puzzle

 Quiz Guy John Chaneski presents a puzzle involving inverted M’s and W’s called “Turn the Worm.”


 Among some African-Americans, the term palmer-housing means, “walking with an unusual gait.” A screenwriter connects some dots in his own family’s history when he asks about the origin.

Meet Cute

 In the film industry, the expression meet cute refers to “an overly precious first encounter between the romantic leads.”


 A man named Kris wants to name his son Qhristopher. Have a problem with that?

Bad First Lines

 Grant shares some favorite bad first lines from novels.


 The hosts tackle a longstanding mystery about the word shoshabong.

George Eliot Quotation

 A favorite quotation from George Eliot: “Blessed is the man, who having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.”

Another Thing vs. Another Think

 Is the correct phrase another think coming or another thing coming?

Origin of Lunatic Fringe

 Grant reveals the surprising origin of the term lunatic fringe.

Tree Full of Owls

 The term like a tree full of owls describes someone’s appearance. What does it mean, exactly? And why owls?


 Need a great synonym for “overthinking”? Try beanplating.

This episode is hosted by Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett, and produced by Stefanie Levine.

Photo by Ken Janes. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Books Mentioned in the Episode

1984 by George Orwell
Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Music Used in the Episode

No AnswerIkebe ShakedownHard Steppin’Colemine Records
ButtercupCarl AndersonAbsence Without LoveCBS
Hard Steppin’Ikebe ShakedownHard Steppin’Colemine Records
PicturesMcCoy TynerThe GreetingFantasy Records
Ride Or DieBudos BandBudos Band IIDaptone Records
NaimaMcCoy TynerThe GreetingFantasy Records
HappyThe BamboosRawvilleTru Thoughts
Keep Me In MindThe Bamboos4Tru Thoughts
Walking Through Tomorrow (Super 8 Part 3)Quantic Soul OrchestraStampedeTru Thoughts
Let’s Call The Whole Thing OffBillie HolidayAll Or Nothing At AllThe Island Def Jam Music Group

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