Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Punny Thing Happened to Me On My Way to The Blog

I'm sure that my students think that when two or more English teachers get together they must spend their time in parsing verbs or in lofty discussions of contra themes in Shakespeare. We're actually pretty much like everyone else, except we do have a bit of appreciation for clever writing. I share the following, sent to me by a fellow teacher, to perhaps lighten your day.

To be read on an empty stomach! :)
(1) Evidence has been found that William Tell and his family were avid bowlers. However, all the Swiss league records were unfortunately destroyed in a fire, and we'll never know for whom the Tells bowled.
(2) King Ozymandias of Assyria was running low on cash after years of war with the Hittites. His last great possession was the Star of the Euphrates , the most valuable diamond in the ancient world. Desperate, he went to Croesus, the pawnbroker, to ask for a loan. Croesus said, "I'll give you 100,000 dinars for it." "But I paid a million dinars for it," the King protested. "Don't you know who I am? I am the king!" Croesus replied, "When you wish to pawn a Star, makes no difference who you are."
( 3) A man rushed into a busy doctor's office and shouted "Doctor! I think I'm shrinking!!" The doctor calmly responded, "Now, settle down. You'll just have to be a little patient."
(4) A marine biologist developed a race of genetically engineered dolphins that could live forever if they were fed a steady diet of seagulls. One day, his supply of the birds ran out so he had to go out and trap some more. On the way back, he spied two lions asleep on the road. Afraid to wake them, he gingerly stepped over them. Immediately, he was arrested and charged with transporting gulls across sedate lions for immortal porpoises.
(5) Back in the 1800s the Tates Watch Company of Massachusetts wanted to produce other products and, since they already made the cases for watches, they used them to produce compasses. The new compasses were so bad that people often ended up in Canada or Mexico rather than California . This, of course, is the origin of the expression, "He who has a Tates is lost!"
(6) A thief broke into the local police station and stole all the toilets and urinals, leaving no clues. A spokesperson was quoted as saying, "We have absolutely nothing to go on."
(7) An Indian chief was feeling very sick, so he summoned the medicine man. After a brief examination, the medicine man took out a long, thin strip of elk rawhide and gave it to the chief, telling him to bite off, chew, and swallow one inch of the leather every day. After a month, the medicine man returned to see how the chief was feeling. The chief shrugged and said, "The thong is ended, but the malady lingers> on."
(8) A famous Viking explorer returned home from a voyage and found his name missing from the town register. His wife insisted on complaining to the local civic official who apologized profusely saying, "I must have taken Leif off my census."
(9) There were three Indian squaws. One slept on a deer skin, one slept on an elk skin, and the third slept on a hippopotamus skin. A ll three became pregnant, and the first two each had a baby boy. The one who slept on the hippopotamus skin had twin boys. This goes to prove that the squaw of the hippopotamus is equal to the sons of the squaws of the other two hides.
(10) A skeptical anthropologist was cataloging South American folk remedies with the assistance of a tribal brujo who indicated that the leaves of a particular fern were a sure cure for any case of constipation. When the anthropologist expressed his doubts, the brujo looked him in the eye and said, "Let me tell you, with fronds like these, who needs enemas?"
(By the way, the guy who wrote these 10 puns entered them in a contest. He figured with 10 entries, he couldn't lose. As they were reading the list of winners, he was really hoping one of his puns would win, but unfortunately, no pun in ten did.)


Jack Steiner said...


G said...

I'll see your Oy and raise you a Vey.

Anonymous said...

I'll see your oys and veys and raise you a gevald.

I missed the warning about reading on an empty stomache and I don't think my breakfast has settled down yet--thanks a lot!

Anonymous said...

Anything that doesn't mention the dreaded "P" word would lighten my day. This worked too.

miriamp said...

Very cute... except I don't think #9 works at all. The squaw isn't equal to the sons of the squaws, her sons are, or else she's equal to the *sum* of the other two squaws, not their sons. (I get the pun, of course, I just think the logic doesn't quite work, so it all falls flat somehow.)

I know, I think too hard.

Bas~Melech said...

Those were good. Some really good.
I wanted to comment in the form of a pun but I'm drawing a blank :-P

Anonymous said...

My 16 year old has an aversion to English teachers. She says their job is to destroy good books by overly analyzing them.

ProfK said...

I subscribe to the artichoke theory of literary analysis. It goes like this. Steam an artichoke. Take off one of the outer leaves and scrape the end where the soft material is. Take another leaf and do the same. Take even a dozen leaves and do so. If you walk away from the table at this point you have had artichoke. The taste of the artichoke is in your mouth. You aren't missing anything that you believe is requisite to artichoke enjoyment. In fact, you are pretty darn happy with what you have had. Chewing any more leaves would be overkill and why ruin what has been a good experience so far.

Now sit back down at the table. Continue removing those artichoke leaves and you start to uncover hidden layers. The leaves are smaller and more succulent. There is more artichoke to scrape off them. Eat some more and suddenly the "choke" is revealed. And what substance there is. No more little scrapes to get the artichoke flavor--you can take bites that fill your mouth.

Books are like that artichoke. The outer leaves can be very satisfying and can give you what you are looking for. But it is when you peel away the layers in a book, when you expose what was hidden, that you can get to the "choke."

Your daughter is not uncommon in wanting just the outer leaves. It takes time to become a book gourmand. Some people never make it to that point; others, having once tasted the "choke" refuse to settle for anything less.

Bas~Melech said...

Hm. Interesting analogy. Don't know if I go for it. I don't think that the surface value of a book is any "less;" rather, I see it as different levels: I can take the same book and enjoy it as an entertaining read, as a work of art, as a philosophical muse, as a political commentary, and more at different times. Take whichever shoe fits.

It must be said, though, that certain books fit certain roles better than others. Books that are clearly meant to be political satire, for example, can't be appreciated nearly as well if you're reading for entertainment. But a true work of literature can be really appreciated from several angles.

And I can definitely relate to the teenager's sentiments, because many teachers have a tendency to completely ignore some levels and cut straight to the nitpicking. A good teacher will respect all the levels in the book. A nitpicky teacher will analyze Shakespeare's use of certain words in certain lines without first taking the time to appreciate the overall themes and flavor of the work. So annoying, those...

Anonymous said...

But I think it also has to do with your personality, your mood and your stage in life.

Both of my girls read Pride and Prejudice. The older one (14 at the time) saw it as a comparison between shidduch scenes of today's frum world and Regency England.

My younger one (16 at the time) saw it as a message of how one should not settle in life, but strife for more.

I read this book later in life (30 something) and thought the message was to give benefit of a doubt, avoid gossip, and that there is more to life than what meets an eye.

ProfK said...

"But I think it also has to do with your personality, your mood and your stage in life." I definitely agree with you on these. It's also why a book you go back and reread many years later seems so different. It's not that the book is different; we are.

Anonymous said...