Words & Stuff

PP: Party Boobytrap (Reader Comments and Addenda)

(20 April 1999)

Elliott notes that he was the one who quoted "A plan, a man, a canam: analpa!" to me, but that he heard it from Geoff Hopcraft, who he thinks originated it.

Ranjit writes, "By far the best palindrome book I've found, for its clever original palindromes and quirky drawings, is Ana, Nab a Banana by Craig Hansen."

O. V. Michaelsen (author of Words at Play: Quips, Quirks & Oddities) provides a history of a palindrome:

An earlier form of "A man, a plan, a canal, Panama!" (Leigh Mercer, Notes & Queries, London, Nov. 13, 1948) was "A mar on a panorama" (T.H., Moscow, Idaho, The Ardmore Puzzler, a privately issued puzzle magazine, July 1899). Thirty years later, a wordsmith named Lubin came up with "A dog, a panic in a pagoda" (Everyman, London, Nov. 28, 1929). Around 1970 (probably in Word Ways), Englishman James A. Lindon penned "A dog, a pant, a panic in a patna pagoda"; and more recently, Edward Wolpow put his twist on it with "A man appals -- I slap Panama," in reference to Ortega (The Enigma, March 1990). George Bush's invasion of that country in 1989 inspired "a man, a pain, a mania, Panama"; and Jon Agee in his book Go Hang a Salami -- I'm a Lasagna Hog, rephrased it with "A car, a man, a maraca" (1991).

Stewart Evans asks for information on a palindrome book that he failed to buy some years back, which included an "illustration of two men being menaced by drunkards whose heads are shaven into monk's tonsures. The caption: 'Stop! Murder us not, tonsured rumpots!'" I like that one a lot. Stewart adds, "The illustrations were black & white line drawings, and the book itself I remember as being a small hardback of of conventional bookly shape (that is, not the wider-than-tall shape common to cartoon collections)." If this rings any bells, drop me a line and I'll pass the info along. (I wonder if this is the abovementioned Craig Hansen book? I'll have to keep an eye out for that.)

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Jed Hartman <logophilia@kith.org>