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Episode 1584

Sleepy Winks

It was a dark and stormy night. So begins the long and increasingly convoluted prose of Edwards Bulwer-Lytton’s best-known novel. Today the annual Bulwer-Lytton Contest asks contestants for fanciful first sentences that are similarly...

The Best Worst Opening Lines

English writer Edward Bulwer-Lytton is best remembered for the first line of his 1830 novel Paul Clifford (Bookshop|Amazon). The novel opens with “It was a dark and stormy night …” followed by many twists and turns in a long...

Throw Your Hat Into the Room

To throw your hat into the room is to ascertain whether someone’s angry with you, perhaps stemming from the idea of tossing your hat in ahead of to see if someone shoots at it. Ronald Reagan used the expression this way when apologizing to...

Bumpkin Talk

Our American Cousin, the farce being performed when President Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theatre, had some choice lines of bumpkin talk. One of them, “You sockdologizing old man-trap!,” was the play’s biggest laugh line...