Though we all share language, words can mean slightly different things to each of us. Some revel in the sound of a word itself, others in the meaning or picture it suggests. Some can appreciate the flow of a sentence, some like the worlds conjured up by swapping words around. Some like the story, some like the music.
Me, I’m a word nerd. I was brought up in a reading household but I also have hearing problems-an audio processing disorder and ear damage. I often find my brain interprets random sounds as speech(which is not the same as hearing voices in my head I swear) and it is no real stretch to match up similar sounding words so wordplay and punning have become automatic for me.
I like the way changing words around can shake you out of complacency with the world by eliciting crazy images and occasionally even dislodging a great idea for some future project in the same way an artist who is stuck on a painting might find a whole new way forward by turning the painting sideways.
My hearing problems make life difficult and though I do go out and see friends, groups and nights out are tiring and so the internet has been a great thing for me. I have been criticised quite a lot and even, ironically, lost a friend or two, because I have been ‘spending too much time online’ but real world communications will always be a little hard and I am much more tentative than I’d like to be in speaking. Online I can relax.
So when I found group of friends online who liked to play with words it was a boon. It happened maybe three years ago on FaceBook when I took a chance and friended someone with whom I had bantered on a public page.
He, a playwright, in turn and over the course of a few conversations introduced me to Sean, Melissa and Struan and from there the threads spontaneously and joyously erupted sometimes lasting hours sometimes days with other friends dipping in and out as time and inspiration allowed,
The pun is probably the most popular type of wordplay used in these conversations. A pun, according to Wikipedia says, is a form of word play that suggests two or more meanings, by exploiting multiple meanings of words, or of similar-sounding words an example being this from George Carlin…”Atheism is a non-prophet institution.”
Our conversations have been based on Countries, Trees, Greek Mythology, Animals and Birds amongst other subjects with Fish turning up repeatedly probably because words like sole and plaice can be eelsy fitted into a sentence…
There is also still the challenge of finding a ‘difficult’ fish with which to impress everyone though if you flounder too long you might find salmon else beats you to it. It is to my eternal regret that I could never could get a Dagger Tooth Pike Conger into a sentence.
It is a challenge too to make the conversation make actual sense. One of my favourites was a thread based on African countries…”When are you Ghana Cameroon for a cup of coffee and a Chad?” “I Congo out today, Kenya come around here now or is that too Sudan?”
Not only have I fond memories of desperately trying to fit Archimedes or Sycamore into a sentence but also feel I have managed to learn quite a lot too though what exactly I am not sure but I certainly have the sensation that my brain has been stretched a little. The mythology was most probably the most difficult, not being familiar with it but I can’t say I hades it and I found if you styx with it you’ll have nothing apollogise for.
In the last year or two the threads have slowed, people are leaving FaceBook or are quite rightly being consumed by real life and now it is rare for them to happen at all so when Sean posted a link to an image of Thomas Hardys Book Far From the Madding Crowd minus the last letter and featuring the picture of a crow I was pleased to suggest Madame Ovary.
From there the thread took flight producing suggestions of books and plots that elicited laughter and wonderment at the quickness and quirkiness of the human brain and how vastly a words meaning can be changed by the removal of just one letter. This thread also introduced me to a new word buddy Len and so I have decided, despite the fact that it is not the classic pun thread, to save it for posterity and make it into a post as a tribute to the fun I have had over the last few years with my online friends.
The main contributors to this thread at the time were Len and Sean but James and David took part too and other suggestions were forwarded by Lisa, Jean and Melissa after the fact. If you want to join in just comment below the post.
A couple of these books are cheats(and the cheats are all mine)in the sense that on one I have changed a letter rather than remove it and in another I have removed two letters.
The illustrations are mostly true to the thread though I did childishly put a cow pat on the cover of Prousts Remembrance of Things Pat….
I have not met many of my word pals in real life but I cherish them as friends joined across the ether by a curiosity about words, a love of humour and a need to find different ways of looking at this perplexing life of ours. Thank you and enjoy.
The Big Seep?
Was tempted to offer that famous Alexandre Dumas novel about yer man from Monte Cristo but thought better of it…
The Fanny of Monte Cristo…
One With the Wind.
The Goo Soldier.
The Golden Owl.
The Ginger Ma.
MiddleMach(The Diary of Chuck Yeagers Failures)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Net.
Mater and Commander.
A Christmas Carl
Special porn collection:
A Midsummer Night’s Ream.
On the Rod.
The Amber Spy Ass
In Old Blood(historic serial killers)
The Princess Ride(Dianas lovers)
The Little Rince(short Irish dances)
Fear and Lathing in Las Vegas(future of American woodworkers)
Rear and Loathing in Las Vegas(tales of homophobic gamblers)
Death of an Alesman(story of a landlords demise)
A Dolls Hose(dressing medieval mannikins)
Huckleberry Fin (shark journeys up Mississippi)
Geat Expectations (Beowulf’s autobiography)
10 Years of Solitude (not much solitude.)
The Telltale Heat (how to know when your kid has a fever)
Mansfield Ark (Regency family prepares for heavy rain)
Ender’s Gam (boy genius with one remarkable leg)
Tristram Shady (Eminem’s favorite novel)
The Bile (Holy- but very bitter- book)
Aws (pictures of kittens, mostly)
E-Loved (Toni Morrison’s cybersex novel)
The Prince and the Paper (Royal scion vs. paparazzi)
O,Hello (I didn’t notice you.)
Lord of the Fies (best giant sloganeers)
The Wo Towers(a novel of angst and sorrow set in a Chinese restaurant)
Withering Heights (the effects of mountaineering on the skin)
Emm (a girls hesitates and loses love)
The Rave (man imagines he is visited by talking bird then realises its just the drugs)
The Little Hose on the Prairie (essays on the futility of irrigating large open spaces with small rubber tubes)
Lice in Wonderland(dissertation on the ability of humans to locate the serpent in Paradise)
The Old Ma and the Sea(an old woman goes looking for her elderly husband who was lost at sea, falls in love with young boy in a boat with a tiger)
Lack Beauty (a black horse gets shot early on in life because its ugly, doing a way with the need for a book about it, which is why you haven’t heard of it)
The Pilgrims Ogress(a man on a pilgrimmage falls for a large woman somewhere in Macedonia)
Moby Ick (dictionary of male uro-genitary diseases)
OverKill(a thriller in the style of Robert Ludlum about a woman who gets carried away playing word games and has to pay the price…)
The Asp Factory(A spy thriller set in Cleopatras Egypt)
Ben Her (a charioteers struggle to have his gender change recognised)
Gullivers Ravels(A large man has a breakdown in Asia, is redeemed by classical music)
For Hom the Bell Tolls(Chinese man opens up an ill-fated takeaway during in the Spanish Civil War)
White Fan(post modern nail biter in which a black rap star, on being the sole survivor of a crash in Alaska, is stalked by a lone caucasian female trapper musician)
The Tale of Peter Rabbi(A Jewish Master wakes up one morning to find he has grown a scut.)
The Turn of the Crew(A below spar…sorry par…rehash of Mutiny on the Bounty)
A Remembrance of Things Pat (a memoir of complacency)
Stranger in a Strange Lad (gay young weirdo, anonymous hookups)
Weeny Todd (midget barber enacts revenge)
Fight Cub (bio of world’s youngest bear baiting superstar)
The iDot (Absurdist parable of consumer technology)
The Huger Games (dystopian tale of competitive weight gain)
The Gospel According to Uke (Bringing the Good News to Oahu)
Lady Chatterly’s Over (Has-been seduces gardener)
The Re:Pubic (Plato’s dialog about all things genital)
Haroun and the Sea of Tories (these days, the wrong place for Haroun)
Due (On a desert plant, space messiah leads jihad to return library books promptly.)
Farewell, Mr. Hips (chubby teacher goes on diet during WWI)
Gags of New York (guide to the Manhattan S&M scene)
Ra Time (Emma Goldman and Harry Houdini lead revival of ancient Egyptian Cult)
The Little Merm Ad (child answers call for 6 year old Ethel Merman impersonators)
Lie of Pi (no fucking tiger.)
Our Mutual Fiend (A light-hearted demonic caper)
The Dirty Doze (A sleepover goes scatalogically wrong)
Snow White and the even Dwarfs ( A teenage runaway is befriended by a group of very mellow midgets)
The Secret Gent (In public, he was a dick)
The Forsyte Sag (Interminable chronicle of some upper class scions that gets even more boring in the middle)
The Potman Always Rings Twice (The story of a solicitous snug attendant)
The Road to Wigan Pie (An heroic proletarian epic with a Lancashire pastry at the end of it)
You Can Go Home Again (Turns out Thomas Wolfe was wrong)
The Log Goodbye (It’s like Brokeback Mountain for lumberjacks)
The Power and the Gory (Robert Rodriguez reimagines the Greene original)
Laughterhouse Five (A Stalag-laff riot)
The Remains of the Da (A heart-warming comedy a la Weekend at Bernies where the sons lose their father’s body on the way to the wake)
Death in Enice (A misspelled paen to lost youth set in the Clare County town)
The Rhyme of the Ancient Mainer (long poem about long-ago lobsters, blueberries)
A Sent Mental Education (Schooling drives Flaubert mad)
The Fairy Tales of Oscar Wide (Efforts of pudgy fabulist)
Cori O’Anus (bio of Irish porn star; noteworthy works include the Portrait of Dorian Gay)
The Taming of the Shew (How Ed Sullivan conquered variety TV)
The Book of Thee (Elizabethan Self-help Manual)
Civilization and Its Disco Tents (Burning Man dance scene)
“‘Alo,” Sprach Zarathrustra (Nietzschean hero teaches in comical French accent)
Jonathan “Living Ton”Seagull (Big Bird)
The Git of the Magi (two were fine; one was a real jerk)
Infinite EST (hero gets hooked on self-improvement cult)
A Solder of the Great War (WWI prompts metallurgical innovation)
Saint Jon (Vatican acknowledges the difficulties of owning Garfield)
Danny, Campion of the World (Director of The Piano surpasses his mother in international appeal)
A Tree Rows in Brooklyn (Tolkien creature joins Park Slope sculling team. Adapted into musical ENT
A Clockwork Range (steampunkish stove excites controversy)
The Pirates of Penance (conflicted sea-dogs never stop apologizing)
Neverhere (History of NIMBY ethos)
You’re a God-Man Charlie Brown (Cartoon character becomes omnipotent, omniscient)
All Quiet on the Western Font (designer creates new cowboy-themed letterset; no one even mentions it.)
Later additions from
Jean:Mob Dick, history of a mafioso
Lisa:Jane Eye, How to be God
Melissa:The Hose of Mirth, Invisible Ma, The Rapes of Wrath, A Town Like Lice.