Showing posts with label puns. Show all posts
Showing posts with label puns. Show all posts

16 December 2017

A Punny Thing Happened on the Way to the Title

How important are titles of novels/stories, etc.? According to my publisher and most editors, VERY. As a result, I try hard to come up with story titles that are interesting or appropriate or--hopefully--a little mysterious. I especially like a play on words or a double meaning.

We've talked at this blog about titles and their importance before, and the fact that some are truly unique and memorable: East of Eden, Atlas Shrugged, To Kill a Mockingbird, Watership Down, No Country for Old Men, Gone With the Wind, A Walk Among the Tombstones, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Red Badge of Courage, From Here to Eternity, Jaws, The Guns of Navarone, Cool Hand Luke, The High and the Mighty, Peyton Place, Presumed Innocent, The Grapes of Wrath, The Eagle Has Landed, The Sound and the Fury, Fahrenheit 451, The Color Purple, The Silence of the Lambs, Of Mice and Men, The Maltese Falcon, The Hunt for Red October, Cannery Row, Dances With Wolves, The Caine Mutiny, and so on and so on.

But today I'd like to talk about some of the wittiest (not the best, just the wittiest and cleverest) book titles I can remember. Confession time: I wound up buying many of these books, mainly because of their names. What can I say?--I couldn't resist.

NOTE: I've started out with some of my all-time favorites and ended with the merely amusing. (And yes, I know, I'm easily amused.) I like 'em all.

1. Let's Hear It for the Deaf Man -- Ed McBain

2. The Sidelong Glances of a Pigeon Kicker -- Ron White

3. Shoot Low, Boys--They're Riding Shetland Ponies -- Lewis Grizzard

4. Here's Looking at Euclid -- Alex Bellos

5. Florence of Arabia -- Christopher Buckley

6. How to Win Friends and Influenza -- Edward Kurtz

7. Midnight in the Garden of Evel Knievel -- Giles Smith

8. A Hearse of a Different Color -- Tim Cockey

9. The Canceled Czech -- Lawrence Block

10. The Scoreless Thai -- Lawrence Block

11. Bleak Expectations -- Mark Evans

12. Lapsing Into a Comma -- Bob Walsh

13. How to Raise Your IQ by Eating Gifted Children -- Lewis B. Frumkeys

14. I Still Miss My Man but My Aim Is Getting Better -- Sarah Shankman 

15. I Lost Everything in the Post-Natal Depression -- Erma Bombeck

16. Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea -- Chelsea Handler

17. Tequila Mockingbird -- Tim Federle

18. Chose the Wrong Guy, Gave Him the Wrong Finger -- Beth Harbison

19. Don't Pee on My Leg and Tell Me It's Raining -- Judy Sheindlin

20. No Way to Treat a First Lady -- Christopher Buckley

21. From Here to Maternity -- Sinead Moriarty

22. The War Between the Tates -- Alison Lurie

23. Up From Down Under -- Jeff Apter

24. Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies -- June Casagrande

25. If at Birth You Don't Succeed -- Zach Anner 

26. The Elephants of Style -- Bob Walsh

27. Gladly the Cross-Eyed Bear -- Ed McBain

28. A Quiche Before Dying -- Jill Churchill 

29. Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead -- screenplay by Neil Landau and Tara Ison 

30. Surviving Your Stupid, Stupid Decision to Go to Grad School -- Adam Ruben 

I'm not sure how these writers came up with these delightful titles, but I'm fairly sure that when they did, they were delighted also. A word of caution, though. This kind of thing is like similes and metaphors; when they work they're pure gold, and when they don't they can be exploding cigars. Just think of all those cozy cat mysteries or cooking mysteries that are usually pretty darn good once you get into them . . .  but I suspect some of their pun-based titles keep readers from getting into them.

What are some clever titles that you've seen (of books, stories, movies, TV shows, etc.)? And have you come up with any yourself? If you're like me, you might dream up one you think is brilliant, and then your editor/publisher decides to change it. (Sigh.) I did a SleuthSayers post on that very subject, almost a year ago.

Okay, back to my favorites. I've saved the best for last. At a library sale I once saw a book whose title made me stop and laugh out loud. It was Apocalypse Pretty Soon, by Alex Heard. How could I not buy that book? (Besides, it was only a dollar.)

I wish I'd thought of it first.

02 April 2017

Nothing to Crow About

April Fool's Day has passed, but…

Attempted Murder

attempted murder of crows
Attempted Murder

21 September 2014

Hair Raid

I was contemplating articles for today such as this disarming but hairy crime story in the wonderful city of Boise, Idaho when this came across my desk:
It was a scene right out of a Hollywood movie. On August 21, 2010, after more than a month of planning, teams from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office descended on multiple target locations. They blocked the entrances and exits to the parking lots so no one could leave and no one could enter. With some team members dressed in ballistic vests and masks, and with guns drawn, the deputies rushed into their target destinations, handcuffed the stunned occupants—and demanded to see their barbers’ licenses.
This isn't a script or even a novel. It's from this week's 11th Circuit Court decision right here in Florida. I reported this incident four years ago in Criminal Brief when a masked SWAT team with guns drawn raided six Orlando barbershops to reinspect licenses inspected two days earlier. I highly recommend reading the decision, which is educational, entertaining and a bit hair-raising.

Let down your hair and enjoy the show:

H'air Raids

    “We’ve got a big ’do in Orlando, quite a hairy situation,” said Police Captain Crimp. “Barbershops in Orlando involved in the fur trade, scalping customers, veritable beehives of criminal activity. It’s enough to make your hair curl.”
    “Who’s involved?” asked Inspector Mullet.
    “The Hirsute gang, Moe, Curly, and …”
    “And Larry?”
    “No, he's a pageboy and hasn’t had a brush with the law. It’s Shaggy Bush; he hates the fuzz.”
    “Had a close shave with him. Clipped me, he did, then pelted me with abuse.”
    “I knew he kept a bit on the side, but not that. You can’t afford to let your hair down around him.”
    “Missed by a whisker, but that one’s got a hair trigger.”
    “Hair-raising driver. He gave a hitchhiker on the berm a shave.”
    “How do these clip joints operate?”
    “They take a bit off the top before everyone gets their cut.”
    “That’s a bald lie!”
    “Relax, Mullet. It’s a shock, but sharp practice is the way they fleece customers and shave profits. Quite a payout.”
    “They’re Jewish?”
    “No, payout with a U. I'm ready to pull my hair out.”
    “I’m sorry I bristled, but that frosts me, even with razor thin margins.”
    “I dread dealing with fringe elements. We want you to beard their den. Our informant says they operate out of the Hair Moose Club.”
    “Where they keep the Moose stash?”
    “Yes. We learned about it from a mole.”
    “These crime rings… nothing worse than a ring worm. Who else is on the barbershop case?”
    “I wanted a quartet, but I sent in Harry Callahan.”
    “Isn’t Dirty Hairy underarmed?”
    “’Fraid so, but I want you and Tress to roll on this one.”
    “Er, sir, she was killed in the last episode.”
    “I forgot. Wasn't the crew cut short?”
    “Yes, Al O'peesha and the whole she-bang, Tress along with them. Snippy thing she was.”
    “Well, too late to upbraid her. Go with Dee Foliate and Dan Ruff, then.”
    “No one likes Dan Ruff, sir. He’s a tad highbrow and a bit, well, flaky. That patch of his …”
    “Sore eye is it? Don't split hairs or pick nits. He stands head and shoulders above the others.”
    “The boys will queue to mop up that gang. What do you want me to do, sir?”
    “Get to the root. Pull the rug from under them. Comb Main Street down by the locks where the split ends. Find Moe Hirsute and his gang. Make a clean sweep of every barbershop on the Strand and see no one dies.”
    “I’d love to clap Curly in irons.”
    “That gang’s a public nuisance.”
    “I’m so glad Criminal Brief now uses ‘L’s, sir.”

Note: Don't expect reprints! Shortly after working on the article, the internet went out for a couple of hours, which caused a scramble cutting the news portion short. We're back on-line after that brief break and may you enjoy this reprise.

14 April 2014

Curled Up In a Feeble Position

by Fran Rizer

Did you catch all the words that were misused?  I thought I did, but when I went back to read it again, I found two more.  I disagree with the thought at the beginning that misuse might be the result of someone wishing to sound more elite or educated though I believe that's the cause of those people who use "I" as the object of a compound pronoun.  

Somehow they seem to think "me" is an inferior pronoun, so they say such things as "Between you and I..." which is incorrect since "I" is the nominative form and "me" is objective. As you writers know, "Between you and me" is correct.  Another one that is heard sometimes is "for you and I."  Once again, as the object of the preposition "for," the correct choice is "me."  When I taught, I told my students on those compound objects of prepositions, they could find the right word by leaving out the "you."  As they used to tell me, "You're right, Ms. Rizer, I wouldn't say 'for I.'"

Nobody confesses to ever watching "Honey Boo Boo," so this will be news to everyone--Mama June and her girls constantly misuse words, sometimes homophones, sometimes just words that sound similar in their speech. The problem here is that while they do it to appear hopelessly stupid rednecks, it's very obvious that those bits are scripted.

I had a character who did that in one of the Callie books.  Among other misused words, she didn't want to stay out in the night air very long because she was afraid of catching "ammonia." I think she was the young wife of the old pharmacist found dead in the hot tub in Casket Case, but I'm not positive.

I can be amused by such language, but I recently sent out a manuscript where the protagonist swiped her bank debit card and entered her "pen" instead of her PIN....just wasn't being careful in my writing.  Nothing wrong with writing it that way (we all make mistakes), but I should have caught it in proofing. The problem is that I SENT IT TO MY AGENT.  Maybe it will work more like the cartoon below than like him thinking I'm losing it.

This gives me the idea for another contest.  Somewhere in this blog is a mispelled word. The first one to point it out on comments will get a prize.

Now, for my favorite:

Since this blog has just been playing around with words anyway and Leigh loves puns, I'll add this:

That's enough foolishness for one day.  Have a great one, and 

Until we meet again, take care of… you.

13 May 2012

Crime and PUNishment

ghost writer
ghost writer
by Leigh Lundin

SleuthSayers and Criminal Briefers are known for their love of word play. Last Tuesday Dale Andrews brought us The Devil's Dictionary and two weeks before that an article on paraprosdokia, bracketing humor by Rob Lopresti, Neil Schofield, and others.

At Criminal Brief's Corporate Headquarters, puns surfaced early and often. Today's contribution comes to us from South Africa, thanks to friends Michael Forsyth and his wife Cherri. You'll find new jeux de mots and a few old favorites. The visual puns are copyrighted by their creators, including the very clever thievery at the end from

Are We Having Pun Yet?
  • I'm reading a book about anti-gravity. I just can't put it down.
  • I did a theatrical performance about puns. It was a play on words.
  • He often broke into song because he couldn't find the key.
  • I changed my iPod's name to Titanic. It's syncing now.
  • When chemists die, they barium.
  • Jokes about German sausage are the wurst.
  • How does Moses make his tea? Hebrews it.
  • I stayed up all night to see where the sun went. Then it dawned on me.
  • This girl said she recognised me from the vegetarian club, but I'd never met herbivore.
  • They told me I had type-A blood, but it was a type-O.
  • PMS jokes aren't funny. Period.
  • Why were the Indians here first? They had reservations.
  • We are going on a class trip to the Coca-Cola factory. I hope there's no pop quiz.
  • row versus wade
    not-so-dry humor
  • Did you hear about the cross-eyed teacher who lost her job because she couldn't control her pupils?
  • When you get a bladder infection urine trouble.
  • Broken pencils are pointless.
  • I tried to catch some fog, but I mist.
  • What do you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary? A thesaurus.
  • England has no kidney bank, but it does have a Liverpool.
  • I used to be a banker, but I lost interest.
  • I dropped out of communism class because of lousy Marx.
  • I got a job at a bakery because I kneaded dough.
  • Haunted French pancakes give me the crepes.
  • Velcro, what a rip off!
  • A cartoonist was found dead in his home. Details are sketchy.
  • Venison for dinner again? Oh deer!
  • What is the purpose of reindeer? It makes the grass grow, sweetie.
  • The earthquake in Washington obviously was the government's fault.
  • Be kind to your dentist. He has fillings, too.
  • When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds.
  • I used to work in a blanket factory, but it folded.
  • Marriage is the mourning after the knot before.
  • Corduroy pillows are making headlines.
  • Is a book on voyeurism a peeping tome?
  • sturgeon general: smoking is dangerous to your health
    hooked on smoking
  • Sea captains don't like crew cuts.
  • A successful diet is the triumph of mind over platter.
  • A gossip is someone with a great sense of rumour.
  • Without geometry, life is pointless.
  • When you dream in colour, it's a pigment of your imagination.
  • Reading while sunbathing makes you well-red.
  • A man's home is his castle, in a manor of speaking.
  • Dijon vu - the same mustard as before.
  • What's the definition of a will? (Come on, it's a dead giveaway!)
  • A backwards poet writes inverse.
  • In democracy your vote counts. In feudalism, your count votes.
  • With her marriage, she got a new name and a dress.
  • Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead-to-know basis.
  • Doctors tell us there are over seven million people who are overweight. These, of course, are only round figures.
  • There were two ships. One had red paint, one had blue paint. They collided. At last report, the survivors were marooned.
  • The other day I sent my girlfriend a huge pile of snow. I rang her up and asked, "Did you get my drift?"
  • Where do you find giant snails? On the ends of giant's fingers.
  • Why is Saudi Arabia free of mental illness? There are nomad people there.
  • robber with lute
    a robber's toon
  • When I was in the supermarket I saw a man and a woman wrapped in a barcode. I asked "Are you two an item?"
  • When she told me I was average, she was just being mean.
  • A duck walks into a bar and orders a beer. "Four bucks," says the bartender. "Put it on my bill," says the duck (sadder Budweiser).
  • A dog with his leg wrapped in bandages hobbles into a saloon. He sidles up to the bar and announces "I'm lookin' fer the man who shot my paw."
  • A termite walks into a bar and says "Is the bar tender here?"
  • Four fonts walk into a bar. The barman says "Hey get out! We don't want your type in here!"
Renderings of the picture puns are the copyright or intellectual property of their respective owners.