u: Ubbi Dubbi, You’re the One

A lot of people from my generation will never forget one of Boston's ZIP codes. If you aren't in your late twenties to mid-thirties but know someone who is, try telling such a person, "Send it to ZOOM!" Chances are fairly good that they'll chant, "Box three five oh, Bos-ton Mass, ohhh, two oooone, three […]

t: Twiddling While Rome Burns (Reader Comments)

Stacey Kraemer points out that John Gorka's song "Out of My Mind" starts out: You're out of my mind. Guess that makes two of us... Pierre Abbat provides a line from Art. Moger's The Complete Pun Book (p. 160): After vigorously massaging the patient's back, the chiropractor said, "By golly, it's going to rain." The […]

t: Twiddling While Rome Burns

It was sometime in the spring of 1990. We were sitting in a van, riding back to our dorm, when Karen suddenly said, "Have you ever twiddled somebody else's thumbs?" We tried it; it worked about as well as twiddling one's own thumbs. Someone said "He twiddled her thumbs," which besides not being the usual […]

s: Beware of Greeks Bearing Poems

Recall from column d that a double dactyl is a poem of roughly this form: Higgledy Piggledy First name and last name here, Then something clever on What he/she did. Stanza two uses a Hexasyllabicword; Finish it up with a Topper or lid. —JEH The word "dactyl" derives from the Greek word meaning "finger" (as […]

r: Say What I Mean (Reader Comments)

Angie Thieriot writes to ask for information on the intriguing-sounding topic of "Persian Enigmatists." If anyone has pointers to such information, send them to me and I'll pass them along. Also, I note that column r is by far the most-accessed column I've written; it's received about four times as many hits as any other […]

r: Say What I Mean

"What goes up a chimney down, but can't go down a chimney up?" Nearly everyone knows a few modern-style riddles—questions with humorous answers to be guessed by listeners, often involving a pun but sometimes consisting of sheer nonsensical silliness. Modern riddles are often collected in volumes with humorous illustrations, and evocative titles like 1001 Riddles. […]

q: Off With Their Heads (Reader Comments)

Dobe suggests "are <— share," which brings up an extension or variation of the Queen's Game: beheading by two letters to produce a non-rhyming word. I'm not certain yet whether such two-letter beheadments are significantly more common than the one-letter version; so far I've only found a few: at <— beat/heat cord <— record eat […]

q: Off With Their Heads

Every book about wordplay is required (by a little-known law) to contain at least one section pertaining to words which turn into other words when you remove letters. The goal can be to find curtailable words (which you can remove the last letter from and still have a valid word), beheadable words (removing the first […]