THE PRODIGAL SON  (Paraphrased)

Francis the Foolish felt a filial fondness for his flawless, fastidious

father, Ferdinand the Fourth. Following one February fortnight, Francis,

feeling footloose and frisky, forced his fond father to fork over five

hundred forty-five farthings, then fled his father's fertile fief.

Fleeing to foreign fields, Francis finally frittered away his fortune on

fickle females, firkins of foaming ale, freeloading friends, and feasting.

Fleeced by those fiendish fellows of the fleshpots, and facing fateful

failure and famine, Francis finally found himself flinging foul feed to the

swine in a filthy farmyard as a forlorn farmhand.  Footsore and famished, he

fain would have filled his flaccid frame with filched food but found it fit

for only a footman.

"Fie!" flared Francis, "My Father's flunkies fare far finer." Fortunately the

frazzled fugitive had finally faced the facts. Frustrated from failure and

fulfilled foreboding, he fled forthwith to his faraway family.

Falling fatigued at his father's feet, Francis feebly phrased his feelings:

"Father," he fumbled, "I've flunked - and fruitlessly forfeited family

favor....forgive me."  The far-sighted father, forestalling future family

fissures, flagged his flunkies. "Fetch a fatling from the flock and fix a

feast for Francis. Forthwith. Fall to! Faster!"

Frederic the Feculent, Francis' feisty, fault-finding brother, frowned upon

his father's forgiveness of Francis' former philandering. "Flog the

Flounder!" he fumed. But the faithful felt that Francis' former foibles

should be freely forgiven. "Filial fidelity is what fathers are for,

Frederick," said Ferdinand with feelings flowing. "Forsooth, the fugitive is

found, so what forbids festivity? Fly the flags freely, amid fifes, fiddles

and fanfares...FLING A FEAST!"

Francis, face flushed, foreswore frippery forevermore by forcing his frame

into a friar's frock.

"I can't believe I ate that whole pineapple!" Tom said, dolefully.

"That's the last time I'll ever pet a lion," Tom said, offhandedly.

"I'll never sleep on the railroad tracks again!" Tom said, beside himself.

"That's the third electric shock I've gotten this week!" Tom said, revolted.

"I'm never anywhere on time," Tom related.

"I won't let a flat tire get me down," Tom said, without despair.

"That car you sold me has defective steering!" Tom said, straightforwardly.

"I've been on a diet," Tom expounded.

"I'll have to send that telegram again," Tom said, remorsefully.

"I keep banging my head on things," Tom said, bashfully.

"Look at that jailbird climb down that wall," Tom observed with condescension.

"I remember the Midwest being flatter than this," Tom explained.

"That's the third time my teacher changed my grade," Tom remarked.

"I'll have to dig another ditch around that castle," Tom sighed, remotely.

"I've lived through a lot of windstorms," Tom regaled.

"I haven't caught a fish all day!" Tom said, without debate.

"That mink coat is on wrong side out," Tom inferred.

Larry adds:

“A flat tire was the last thing I needed!” Tom said, deflated.

The challenge:

Without changing the order of the words, punctuate the following into one or more sentences, so that it makes grammatical sense:

Smith where Jones had had had had had had had had had had had the proofreaders approval

(There are 11 hads.)

The solution is at the very bottom of this page. Scroll, scroll, scroll... or just wait till you get there. But first, at least try to solve it!

Note: this page is about playing with words and the English language, not making jokes; but there can be a fine line between a joke and observation of a strange or clever usage. So bear with me on some of these....

Why isn't 11 pronounced onety-one?

Why do we park on driveways and drive on parkways?

Why is a person who plays the piano called a pianist, but a person who drives a race car not called a racist?

If a pig loses its voice, is it disgruntled?

Why do women wear evening gowns to nightclubs? Shouldn't they be wearing night gowns?

If love is blind, why is lingerie so popular?

When someone asks you, "A penny for your thoughts," and you put your two cents in, what happens to the other penny?

Why is the man who invests all your money called a broker?

Why do we say something is out of whack?  What is a "whack"?

"I am" is reportedly the shortest sentence in the English language. Could it be that "I do" is sometimes the longest sentence?

If lawyers are disbarred and clergymen defrocked, doesn't it follow that electricians can be delighted, musicians denoted, cowboys deranged, models deposed, tree surgeons debarked and dry cleaners depressed?

Do Roman paramedics refer to IV's as "4's"?

Why is it that if someone tells you that there are 1 billion stars in the universe you will believe them, but if they tell you that a wall has wet paint you will have to touch it to be sure?

It is said that time flies like an arrow. Is it also true that fruit flies like a banana?


Why are a wise man and a wise guy opposites?

Why do overlook and oversee mean opposite things?

If horrific means to make horrible, does terrific mean to make terrible? (Actually, until recently, it did; only in the last four decades has it come to mean something positive due to misuse.)


I’ve always liked them! They are words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs or complete stories spelled the same, forwards and backwards.

A man, a plan, a canal, Panama.

A slut nixes sex in Tulsa.

A Toyota.

[Napoleon said:]

Able was I, ere I saw Elba.

Are we not drawn onward, we few, drawn onward to new era?

Cain: A maniac.

Cigar? Toss it in a can. It is so tragic.

Dennis and Edna sinned.

Dennis, Nell, Edna, Leon, Nedra, Anita, Rolf, Nora, Alice, Carol, Leo, Jane, Reed, Dena, Dale, Basil, Rae, Penny, Lana, Dave, Denny, Lena, Ida, Bernadette, Ben, Ray, Lila, Nina, Jo, Ira, Mara, Sara, Mario, Jan, Ina, Lily, Arne, Bette, Dan, Reba, Diane, Lynn, Ed, Eva, Dana, Lynne, Pearl, Isabel, Ada, Ned, Dee, Rena, Joel, Lora, Cecil, Aaron, Flora, Tina, Arden, Noel, and Ellen sinned.

Did I draw Della too tall, Edward? I did?

Do geese see god?

"Do nine men interpret?" "Nine men," I nod.

Dogma? I am God.

Eda Nomel's lemonade.

Eros? Sidney, my end is sore.

Evil I did dwell, lewd did I live.

God damn mad dog.

Golf? No sir, prefer prison flog.

He did, eh?


Kay, a red nude, peeped under a yak.

Live not on evil, madam, live not on evil.

Madam in Eden, I'm Adam.

Man, Oprah's sharp on A.M.

Marge lets Norah see Sharon's telegram.

Name now one man.

Never odd or even.

Niagara, O roar again.

No lemons, no melon.

No, sir, prefer prison.

No, son! Onanism's a gross orgasm sin -- a no-no, son.

No stetson.

Nosegay ages on.

Not New York, Roy went on.

Now, Ned, I am a maiden nun. Ned, I am a maiden won.

Oh, no! Don Ho.

Reviled did I live, said I, as evil I did deliver.

Rise to vote, sir.

Sex at noon taxes.

Sis, ask Costner to not rent socks "as is".

Sit on a potato pan, Otis.

So, Ida, adios.

Star comedy by Democrats.

Step on no pets.

Sup not on pus.

To Idi Amin: I'm a idiot.

Was it a bat I saw?

Was it a car or a cat I saw?

Was it a cat I saw?

Was it a rat I saw?

Was it Eliot's toilet I saw?

We panic in a pew.

Won't cat lovers revolt? Act now!

Wontons? Not now.

Yo! Banana Boy.

Young Ada had a gnu. Oy!

A man, a plan, a canal - Panama!

A man, a plan, a cat, a canal - Panama!

A man, a plan, a cat, a ham, a yak, a yam, a hat, a canal - Panama!

A man, a plan, a canoe, pasta, heros' rajahs, a coloratura, maps, snipe, percale, macaroni, a gag, a banana bag, a tan, a tag, a banana bag again (or a camel), a crepe, pins, Spam, a rut, a Rolo, cash, a jar, sore hats, a peon, a canal - Panama!

A man, a plan, a caret, a ban, a myriad, a sum, a lac, a liar, a hoop, a pint, a catalpa, a gas, an oil, a bird, a yell, a vat, a caw, a pax, a wag, a tax, a nay, a ram, a cap, a yam, a gay, a tsar, a wall, a car, a luger, a ward, a bin, a woman, a vassal, a wolf, a tuna, a nit, a pall, a fret, a watt, a bay, a daub, a tan, a cab, a datum, a gall, a hat, a fag, a zap, a say, a jaw, a lay, a wet, a gallop, a tug, a trot, a trap, a tram, a torr, a caper, a top, a tonk, a toll, a ball, a fair, a sax, a minim, a tenor, a bass, a passer, a capital, a rut, an amen, a ted, a cabal, a tang, a sun, an ass, a maw, a sag, a jam, a dam, a sub, a salt, an axon, a sail, an ad, a wadi, a radian, a room, a rood, a rip, a tad, a pariah, a revel, a reel, a reed, a pool, a plug, a pin, a peek, a parabola, a dog, a pat, a cud, a nu, a fan, a pal, a rum, a nod, an eta, a lag, an eel, a batik, a mug, a mot, a nap, a maxim, a mood, a leek, a grub, a gob, a gel, a drab, a citadel, a total, a cedar, a tap, a gag, a rat, a manor, a bar, a gal, a cola, a pap, a yaw, a tab, a raj, a gab, a nag, a pagan, a bag, a jar, a bat, a way, a papa, a local, a gar, a baron, a mat, a rag, a gap, a tar, a decal, a tot, a led, a tic, a bard, a leg, a bog, a burg, a keel, a doom, a mix, a map, an atom, a gum, a kit, a baleen, a gala, a ten, a don, a mural, a pan, a faun, a ducat, a pagoda, a lob, a rap, a keep, a nip, a gulp, a loop, a deer, a leer, a lever, a hair, a pad, a tapir, a door, a moor, an aid, a raid, a wad, an alias, an ox, an atlas, a bus, a madam, a jag, a saw, a mass, an anus, a gnat, a lab, a cadet, an em, a natural, a tip, a caress, a pass, a baronet, a minimax, a sari, a fall, a ballot, a knot, a pot, a rep, a carrot, a mart, a part, a tort, a gut, a poll, a gateway, a law, a jay, a sap, a zag, a fat, a hall, a gamut, a dab, a can, a tabu, a day, a batt, a waterfall, a patina, a nut, a flow, a lass, a van, a mow, a nib, a draw, a regular, a call, a war, a stay, a gam, a yap, a cam, a ray, an ax, a tag, a wax, a paw, a cat, a valley, a drib, a lion, a saga, a plat, a catnip, a pooh, a rail, a calamus, a dairyman, a bater, a canal - Panama!

[That 543-word palindrome was created in 1984 by Dan Hoey with help of a computer program he wrote. I’m not all that impressed, given that it’s just a list and doesn’t say anything.]

Here’s a word palindrome:

You can cage a swallow, can't you, but you can't swallow a cage, can you?

Effusive Elocution

In promulgating your esoteric cogitations and articulating your

superficial, sentimental, and psychological observations, beware of

platitudinous ponderosity.  Let your conversational communications,

extemporaneous decantations, and unpremeditated expatiations demonstrate

a clarified conciseness, a compact comprehensibleness, sans coalescent

conglomerations of precocious garrulity, jejune bafflement, asinine

affectations, rhetorical rodomontade, and thrasonical bombast.  In your

calligraphic communications, let your verbal evaporations and

expatiations have lucidity, intelligibility, and veracious vivacity.

Sedulously shun all polysyllabic profundity, obnoxious jocosity, pompous

propensities, pusillanimous vacuity, pestiferous profanity, ventriloquial

verbosity, elaborate eloquence, and similar transgressions, observable or


Employee Recommendations

If you have to write a letter of recommendation for an employee, here are some suggested phrases:

For the chronically absent:

"A man like him is hard to find."

"It seems her career is really taking off."

For the office drunk:

"We generally found him loaded with work to do."

"Every hour with him was a happy hour."

For the employee with no ambition:

"You would be fortunate to get this person to work for you."

"He could care less about the number of hours he had to put in"

For the employee who is so unproductive that the job was better left unfilled:

"I can assure you that no person would be better for the job."

For an employee who is not worth further consideration as a job candidate:

"I would urge you to waste no time in making this candidate an offer of employment."

"All in all, I cannot say enough good things about this candidate, or recommend him too highly."

For the stupid employee:

"There is nothing you can teach a man like this."

"I most enthusiastically recommend this candidate with no qualifications whatsoever."

For the dishonest employee:

"Her true ability was deceiving."

"He's an unbelievable worker."


There must be hundreds of these. Here are just a few:

AQUADEXTROUS (ak wa deks' trus) adj.  Possessing the ability to turn the

bathtub faucet on and off with your toes.

AQUALIBRIUM (ak wa lib' re um) n.  The point where the stream of drinking

fountain water is at its perfect height, thus relieving the drinker from (a)

having to suck the nozzle, or (b) squirting themselves in the eye.

BURGACIDE (burg' uh side) n.  When a hamburger can't take any more torture

and hurls itself through the grill into the coals.

CARPERPETUATION (kar' pur pet u a shun) n.  The act, when vacuuming, of

running over a string or a piece of lint at least a dozen times, reaching

over and picking it up, examining it, then putting it back down to give the

vacuum one more chance.

DISCONFECT (dis kon fekt') v.  To sterilize the piece of candy you dropped on

the floor by blowing on it, somehow assuming this will "remove" all the


ECNALUBMA (ek na lub' ma) n.  A rescue vehicle which can only be seen in the

rearview mirror.

EIFFELITES (eye' ful eyetz) n.  Gangly people sitting in front of you at the

movies who, no matter what direction you lean in, follow suit.

ELBONICS (el bon' iks) n.  The actions of two people maneuvering for one

armrest in a movie theater.

ELECELLERATION (el a cel er ay' shun) n.  The mistaken notion that the more

you press an elevator button the faster it will arrive.

FRUST (frust) n.  The small line of debris that refuses to be swept onto the

dust pan and keeps backing a person across the room until he finally decides

to give up and sweep it under the rug.

LACTOMANGULATION (lak' to man gyu lay' shun) n.  Manhandling the "open here"

spout on a milk container so badly that one has to resort to the "illegal"


NEONPHANCY (ne on' fan see) n.  A fluorescent light bulb struggling to come

to life.

PEPPIER (pehp ee ay') n.  The waiter at a fancy restaurant whose sole purpose

seems to be walking around asking diners if they want ground pepper.

PETONIC (peh ton' ik) adj.  One who is embarrassed to undress in front of a

household pet.

PHONESIA (fo nee' zhuh) n.  The affliction of dialing a phone number and

forgetting whom you were calling just as they answer.

PUPKUS (pup' kus) n.  The moist residue left on a window after a dog presses

its nose to it.

TELECRASTINATION (tel e kras tin ay' shun) n.  The act of always letting the

phone ring at least twice before you pick it up, even when you're only six

inches away.

Dumb Statements People Wish They Hadn't Made

"I haven't committed a crime.  What I did was fail to comply with the law"

-- David Dinkins, New York City Mayor, answering accusations that

   he failed to pay his taxes.

"They gave me a book of checks.  They didn't ask for any deposits."

-- Congressman Joe Early (D-Mass) at a press conference to answer

   questions about the House Bank Scandal.

"He didn't say that.  He was reading what was given to him in a speech."

-- Richard Darman, director of OMB, explaining why President Bush

   wasn't following up on his campaign pledge that there would be

   no loss of wetlands.

"It depends on your definition of asleep.  They were not stretched out.

They had their eyes closed.  They were seated at their desks with their

heads in a nodding position."

-- John Hogan, Commonwealth Edison Supervisor of News Information,

   responding to a charge by a Nuclear Regulatory Commission

   inspector that two Dresden Nuclear Plant operators were sleeping

   on the job.

"I didn't accept it.  I received it."

-- Richard Allen, National Security Advisor to President Reagan,

   explaining the $1000 in cash and two watches he was given by

   two Japanese journalists after he helped arrange a private

   interview for them with First Lady Nancy Reagan.

"I was a pilot flying an airplane and it just so happened that where I

was flying made what I was doing spying."

-- Francis Gary Power, U-2 reconnaissance pilot held by the

   Soviets for spying, in an interview after he was returned

   to the US.

"I was under medication when I made the decision not to burn the tapes."

-- President Richard Nixon

"Smoking kills.  If you're killed, you've lost a very important part of

your life."

-- Brooke Shields, during an interview to become spokesperson

   for a federal anti-smoking campaign.

"I've never had major knee surgery on any other part of my body."

-- Winston Bennett, University of Kentucky basketball forward.

"I support efforts to limit the terms of members of Congress, especially

members of the House and members of the Senate."

-- Vice-President Dan Quayle

"Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates

in the country."

-- Mayor Marion Barry, Washington, DC

"Sure, it's going to kill a lot of people, but they may be dying of

something else anyway."

-- Othal Brand, member of a Texas pesticide review board, on


"Are you any relation to your brother Marv?"

-- Leon Wood, New Jersey Nets guard, to Steve Albert, Nets TV


"Beginning in February 1976 your assistance benefits will be discontinued..

Reason: it has been reported to our office that you expired on January 1,


-- Letter from the Illinois Department of Public Aid

"The Holocaust was an obscene period in our nation's history... this

century's history....  We all lived in this century.  I didn't live in

this century."

-- Dan Quayle, then Indiana senator and Republican vice-presidential

   candidate during a news conference in which he was asked his

   opinion of the Holocaust.

"In the early sixties, we were strong, we were virulent..."

-- John Connally, Secretary of Treasury under Richard Nixon, in an

   early seventies speech, as reported in a contemporary "American


"Rotarians, be patriotic!  Learn to shoot yourself."

-- Chicago Rotary Club journal, "Gyrator".

"The streets are safe in Philadelphia. It's only the people who make

them unsafe."

-- Frank Rizzo, ex-police chief and mayor of Philadelphia.

"I've always thought that underpopulated countries in Africa are vastly


-- Lawrence Summers, chief economist of the World Bank, explaining

   why we should export toxic wastes to Third World countries.

"The crime bill passed by the Senate would reinstate the Federal death

penalty for certain violent crimes: assassinating the President;

hijacking an airliner; and murdering a government poultry inspector."

-- Knight Ridder News Service dispatch

"After finding no qualified candidates for the position of principal,

the school board is extremely pleased to announce the appointment of

David Steele to the post."

-- Philip Streifer, Superintendent of Schools, Barrington Rhode


"The doctors X-rayed my head and found nothing."

-- Dizzy Dean explaining how he felt after being hit on the head

   by a ball in the 1934 World Series.

Larry adds this famous one by Chicago’s first Mayor Daley (Richard J.) in 1968 while defending what the news media reported as police misconduct during that year's violent and confrontational Democratic Convention: "Gentlemen, get the thing straight once and for all — the policeman isn't there to create disorder, the policeman is there to preserve disorder."

And then the recent one (2007) that really takes the cake, Miss America contestant

Miss South Carolina. See it here on YouTube.


                                             (Proverbs restated)

1.    Scintillate, scintillate, asteroid minific.


2.    Members of an avian species of identical plumage congregate.


3.    Surveillance should precede saltation.


4.    Pulchritude possesses solely cutaneous profundity.


5.    It is fruitless to become lachrymose over precipitately departed

lacteal fluid.


6.    Freedom from incrustations of grime is contiguous to rectitude.


7.    The stylus is more potent than the claymore.


8.    It is fruitless to attempt to indoctrinate a superannuated canine

with innovative maneuvers.

9.    Eschew the implement of correction and vitiate the scion.

10.    The temperature of the aqueous content of an unremittingly ogled saucepan does not reach 212 degrees F.

11.    All articles that coruscate with resplendence are not aurum.

12.    Where there are visible vapors having their prevalence in ignited

carbonaceous materials, there is conflagration.

13.    Sorting on the part of mendicants must be interdicted.

14.    A plethora of individuals with expertise in culinary techniques

vitiate the potable concoction produced by steeping certain comestibles.

15.    Eleemosynary deeds have their incipience intramurally.

16.    Male cadavers are incapable of yielding any testimony.

17.    Individuals who make their abode in vitreous edifices would be

advised to refrain from catapulting petrous projectiles.

18.    Neophytes serendipity.

19.    Exclusive dedication to necessitous chores without interludes of

hedonistic diversion renders John a herbetudious fellow.

20.    A revolving lithic conglomerate accumulates no congeries of a

minuscule, verdant bryophytic plant.

21.    The person presenting the ultimate cachinnation possesses thereby the optimal cachinnation.

22.    Abstention from any aleatory undertakings precludes a potential

escalation of a lucrative nature.

23.    Missiles of ligneous or petrous consistency have the potential of

fracturing my osseous structure, but appellations will eternally remain


24.    Persons of imbecillic mentality deviate in parameters which cherubic entities approach with trepidation.

25.    Elementary sartorial techniques initially applied preclude

repetitive similar actions to square of three.

26.    A feline donning appendage-protecting accessories apprehends zero petite rodents.

27.    Desist from enumerating your fowl prior to their emergence from the prenatal ovoid structure.

28.    Disposition to inquiry deprived the feline of its vital state.

29.    It is practicable to entice an Equus caballus to a reservoir of

liquid hydrogen oxide but coercing him to imbibe is insuperable.

30.    Upon the nonpresence of the domestic Felis catus the Mus musculi proceed to engage in sportive capers.

31.    A buffoon and his accumulation of legal tender are expeditiously


32.    Exigency is the matriarch of ingenious contrivance.

                         Top 35 Oxymorons

35. State worker

34. Legally drunk

33. Exact estimate

32. Act naturally

31. Found missing

30. Resident alien

29. Genuine imitation

28. Airline Food

27. Good grief

26. Government organization

25. Jumbo Shrimp

24. Alone together

23. Small crowd

22. Business ethics

21. Soft rock

20. Butt Head

19. Military Intelligence

18. Sweet sorrow

17. Rural Metro (an ambulance service)

16. "Now, then ..."

15. Passive aggressive

14. Clearly misunderstood

13. Peace force

12. Extinct Life

11. Plastic glasses

10. Terribly pleased

9. Computer security

8. Political science

7. Tight slacks

6. Definite maybe

5. Pretty ugly

4. Rap music

3. Working vacation

2. Religious tolerance

And the number one top Oxymoron....

1. Microsoft Works


The farm was used to produce produce.

The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

The soldier decided to desert in the desert.

This was a good time to present the present.

A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

We must polish the Polish furniture.

He could lead if he would get the lead out.

When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

I did not object to the object.

The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

The bandage was wound around the wound.

There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

They were too close to the door to close it.

The buck does funny things when the does are present.

They sent a sewer down to stitch the tear in the sewer line.

To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.

The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

After a number of injections my jaw got number.

Upon seeing the tear in my clothes I shed a tear.

I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

The unemployed singer worked as a singer in a chicken processing plant.

Are we on a roll here? Okay...

There’s no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger, nor apple or pine in a pineapple.

English muffins weren't invented in England, nor French fries in France.

A guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat.

Quicksand works slowly.

Boxing rings are square.

Buick doesn’t rhyme with quick.

Writers write but fingers don’t fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham. 

The plural of tooth is teeth, but the plural of booth isn’t beeth.  

One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese?

You can make amends but you can’t make only one amend.

If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, do you call

    it an odd, or an end?

Teachers have taught, but preachers have never praught.

If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

People recite at a play and play at a recital.

We park on driveways and drive on parkways.

We ship by truck and send cargo by ship.

We have noses that run and feet that smell.

A slim chance and a fat chance are the same.

But a wise man and a wise guy are opposites.

A house burns up while it burns down.

You fill out a form by filling it in.

An alarm goes off by going on.

When the stars are out, they’re visible, but when the lights are out, they’re invisible.

For wordsmiths

and those who envy them