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Guitars as Axes and Woodshedding

Johanna in Munising, Michigan, has a funny story about a childhood misunderstanding. Guitarists sometimes refer to their instrument as an ax. But at least as early as the 1940s, the slang term ax referred to other instruments, including trombones...

Bob Marley Quote

Regarding suffering caused by others, singer Bob Marley had this to say: “The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for.” This is part of a complete episode.

Lyrical Dissonance

A fan of Bruce Springsteen’s song “Dancing in the Dark” called to say that she’s noticed the lyrics are awfully sad for such a peppy tune, and wonders if there’s a word for this phenomenon. Lyrical dissonance would do the...

A Murphy, a Melvin, and a Wedgie

When it comes to joining Facebook affinity groups, grammar lovers have lots of choices. Take, for example, the group whose motto is “Punctuation saves lives.” It’s called “Let’s Eat Grandma!” or “Let’s...

Too Much Sugar

“Too much sugar for a dime” can mean either “too good to be true,” or “more trouble than it’s worth.” Merle Travis and Judy Hayden sing about it. This is part of a complete episode.

Serial Commas

Martha argues in favor of the serial comma, citing a recent newspaper caption: “The documentary was filmed over three years. Among those interviewed were his ex-wives, Kris Kristofferson and Robert Duvall.” How’s that again? This...