Tom Swifty for April Fools Day

“A Tom Swifty is a Wellerism in which an adverb relates both properly and punningly to a sentence of reported speech.” An example: “Your Honour, you’re crazy!” said Tom judgementally.”


I love a good Tom Swifty. No,that not a real person, but linguistic joke based on a fictional character.

As this link explains, Tom Swifties are a special kind of pun. “Sam Weller in Charles Dickens’ “Pickwick Papers” (1836-7) was prone to producing punning sentences such as: ‘Out with it, as the father said to the child when he swallowed a farden [farthing]'” I’d never heard of a Wellerism.

“A Tom Swifty is a Wellerism in which an adverb relates both properly and punningly to a sentence of reported speech.” An example: “Your Honour, you’re crazy!” said Tom judgementally.” [Judge (= your honour) + mental (= crazy) + ly)].

“The quip takes its name from Tom Swift, a boy’s adventure hero created by the prolific American writer Edward L. Stratemeyer, under the pseudonym Victor Appleton… Tom Swift rarely passed a remark without a qualifying adverb as ‘Tom added eagerly’ or ‘Tom said jokingly’. The play on words… arose as a pastiche of this, coming to be known by the term Tom Swifty.

“In a true Tom Swifty, it is an adverb (word specifying the mode of action of the verb) that provides the pun.”
“I swallowed some of the glass from that broken window,” Tom said painfully.” [Pain (like ‘pane’ = window glass) + full (= full stomach) + y.]

“But frequently the pun occurs in the verb, and there may not be an adverb at all. Strictly speaking such puns are not Tom Swifties, but they are generally included in the term.”
“My garden needs another layer of mulch,” Tom repeated. [Re (= again / another) + peat (= mulch) + ed.]

“And sometimes it is neither a verb, nor an adverb, but a short phrase (usually acting like an adverb in modifying the verb.”
“Don’t let me drown in Egypt!” pleaded Tom, deep in denial. [Denial (like ‘the Nile’). The Nile is a river in Egypt]

“Traditionally Tom is the speaker, but this is by no means necessary for the pun to classify as a Tom Swifty. Sometimes the pun lies in the name, in which case it will usually not be Tom speaking.”
“Who discovered radium?” asked Marie curiously. [Marie curi (like ‘Marie Curie’) + ously. Marie Curie discovered radium]

“Many – probably most – Tom Swifties are morphological; i.e. the words must be broken down into morphemes (smaller components) to understand the pun.”
“This is the real male goose,” said Tom producing the propaganda.” [Propa (like ‘proper’ = real) + ganda (like ‘gander’ = male goose)].

“Often the adverb (or whatever) has a homonym (a word which is pronounced, and perhaps spelled, the same, but has a different meaning) which leads to the punning meaning of the sentence.”
“I love hot dogs,” said Tom with relish. [Relish (= delight, sauce)]

“There is a special kind of homonym called a homophone. Homophones are homonyms which are spelled differently.”
“I won’t finish in fifth place,” Tom held forth. [Forth (like ‘fourth’).

Fun with Words has collected about 400 of “the wittiest and funniest Tom Swifties.” Or most groan-worthy, depending on how you think of these. Or create your own and irritate your friends.


A Sinister Hamburger

Graphic stolen from Mr. Brunelle

Easter AND April Fool’s Day

One-in-five express an opposition to organized religion in general.

There’s probably some sort of theological joke I should make here, how, after Easter, when most of the disciples saw Jesus, doubting Thomas, who was not present, said, “You’re kidding me!”

The last time Easter was on April 1 was in 1956; no wonder I don’t remember it. But before that, it was in 1945, 1934, and 1923, each eleven years apart. There was another wave in the 19th century: 1888, 1877, 1866, eleven years apart.

After 2018, it’ll happen again in 2029 and 2040. Yup, 11 years. This kind of thing fascinates me.

So why is it that modern Christianity isn’t appealing to more people? Is it that secularism is “winning”?

Or is it that some folks, purporting to lift the Christian banner, foolishly embrace concepts that do not seem to be consistent with Jesus’ teachings of feeding the hungry and welcoming the outcast? Those looking from the outside may think, understandably, “If THAT is Christianity, to hell what that!”

Interesting results of some Pew Research polling in the last couple years:

The term “spiritual but not religious” label applies to a growing share of Americans. And the methodology was fascinating – The survey “asked two separate questions: ‘Do you think of yourself as a religious person, or not?’ and ‘Do you think of yourself as a spiritual person, or not?’ The results presented here are the product of combining responses to those two questions.”

A growing share of Americans say it’s not necessary to believe in God to be moral. Interestingly, “attitudes about the necessity of belief in God for morality have also changed among those who do identify with a religion.”

And the vast majority of these religious “nones” (78%) say they were raised as a member of a particular religion before shedding their religious identity in adulthood. “One-in-five express an opposition to organized religion in general. This share includes some who do not like the hierarchical nature of religious groups, several people who think religion is too much like a business and others who mention clergy sexual abuse scandals as reasons for their stance.”

Having gone about 360 degrees in my own religious quest – no, that’s not correct, since I didn’t end up in the same place as I started – I understand more than most the feelings of those who believe in God and those who don’t.

I DO wish each side could find a way to hear the other’s point of view. But perhaps that’s my own foolishness.

April Fools, but apparently real signs

Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers

Did I read that sign right?
TOILET OUT OF ORDER. PLEASE USE FLOOR BELOW
In a Laundromat:
AUTOMATIC WASHING MACHINES: PLEASE REMOVE ALL YOUR CLOTHES WHEN THE LIGHT GOES OUT
In a London department store:
BARGAIN BASEMENT UPSTAIRS 
In an office:
WOULD THE PERSON WHO TOOK THE STEP LADDER YESTERDAY PLEASE BRING IT BACK OR FURTHER STEPS WILL BE TAKEN
In an office:
AFTER TEA BREAK STAFF SHOULD EMPTY THE TEAPOT AND STAND UPSIDE DOWN ON THE DRAINING BOARD
Outside a secondhand shop: 
WE EXCHANGE ANYTHING – BICYCLES, WASHING MACHINES, ETC. WHY NOT BRING YOUR WIFE ALONG AND GET A WONDERFUL BARGAIN?
Notice in health food shop window:
CLOSED DUE TO ILLNESS
Spotted in a safari park:(I sure hope so)
ELEPHANTS PLEASE STAY IN YOUR CAR
Seen during a conference:
FOR ANYONE WHO HAS CHILDREN AND DOESN’T KNOW IT, THERE IS A DAY CARE ON THE 1ST FLOOR
Notice in a farmer’s field:
THE FARMER ALLOWS WALKERS TO CROSS THE FIELD FOR FREE, BUT THE BULL CHARGES.
Message on a leaflet:
IF YOU CANNOT READ, THIS LEAFLET WILL TELL YOU HOW TO GET LESSONS
On a repair shop door:
WE CAN REPAIR ANYTHING. (PLEASE KNOCK HARD ON THE DOOR – THE BELL DOESN’T WORK)

Continue reading “April Fools, but apparently real signs”

Twelve coins and other tricks

7 Ways to Fool the Brain

magicFor me, there are tricks that involve mental gymnastics, and then there are those that involve sleight of hand. I’m pretty good with the former, not so hot with the latter.

Twelve Coins. It’s a puzzle. The question is in two parts. The first part is very easy, the second part is very, very hard.

Now THAT I can ponder.

But the magic stuff, while I find it quite interesting, I have NO skills for.
Continue reading “Twelve coins and other tricks”

Don’t cry for me, Art and Tina

It’s April 1, and, as usual, I got nuthin’. I usually find the stuff that people pull on others, such as this list from PARADE magazine, are, at best, unfunny, and at worst, really annoying. Though I rather liked this one.

I’m reminded again that I can be funny, but that it’s situational. Just yesterday, I was in a convenience store and some government agency guy wanted to take pictures of the cigarettes, which I noted to the clerk was was one of the worst pickup lines ever; she laughed, and it WAS funny (especially with the delivery and voice), but ya had to be there…

Punography