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Strange, but True...

Actual Organizations

1. The American Guild of English Handbell Ringers
2. Club of the Friends of Ancient Smoothing Irons
3. Committee for Immediate Nuclear War
4. Cookie Cutter Collectors Club
5. Flat Earth Research Society International
6. Flying Funeral Directors of America
7. Friends of the Tango
8. The Institute of Totally Useless Skills
9. The International Association of Sand Castle Builders
10. The International Connoisseurs of Green and Red Chile
11. The International Correspondence of Corkscrew Addicts
12. The International Petula Clark Society
13. The International Society of Animal License Collectors
14. The International Stop Continental Drift Society
15. Mikes of America
16. National Association of Mall Walkers
17. The National Pygmy Goat Association
18. The National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Mushrooms
19. The Society of Earthbound Extraterrestrials
20. Spark Plug Collectors of America
21. The Witches Anti-Discrimination Lobby

Recommendation Letters

Lexicon of Inconspicuously Ambiguous Recommendations or LIAR
Ways to handle those tricky situations!)

You're called upon for an opinion of a friend who is extremely lazy. You don't want to lie --- but you also don't want to risk losing even a lazy friend.

Try this line: "In my opinion," you say as sincerely as you can manage, "you will be very fortunate to get this person to work for you."

This gem of double meaning is the creation of Robert Thornton, a professor of economics at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA. Thornton was frustrated about an occupational hazard for teachers, having to write letters of recommendation for people with dubious qualifications, so he put together an arsenal of statements that can be read two ways. He calls his collection the Lexicon of Inconspicuously Ambiguous Recommendations (Or LIAR, for short). LIAR may be used to offer a negative opinion of the personal qualities, work habits or motivation of the candidate while allowing the candidate to believe that it is high praise, Thornton explained.

Some examples from LIAR:

1. To describe a person who is totally inept: "I most enthusiastically recommend this candidate with no qualifications whatsoever."
2. To describe an ex-employee who had problems getting along with fellow workers: "I am pleased to say that this candidate is a former colleague of mine."
3. To describe a candidate who is so unproductive that the job would be better left unfilled: "I can assure you that no person would be better for the job."
4. To describe a job applicant who is not worth further consideration: "I would urge you to waste no time in making this candidate an offer of employment."
5. To describe a person with lackluster credentials: "All in all, I cannot say enough good things about this candidate or recommend him too highly."

Thornton pointed out that LIAR is not only useful in preserving friendships, but it also can help avoid serious legal trouble in a time when laws have eroded the confidentiality of letters of recommendation. In most states, he noted, job applicants have the right to read the letters of recommendations and can even file suit against the writer if the contents are negative. When the writer uses LIAR, however, whether perceived correctly or not by the candidate, the phrases are virtually litigation-proof, Thornton said.

Unusual Laws of the U.S.

- In Lexington, Kentucky, it is illegal to carry an ice-cream cone in your pocket.
- In Hartford, Connecticut, you can't cross a street while walking on your hands.
- In New York City, beanshooters are illegal weapons for children.
- In Denver, Colorado, you can't bicycle with your feet higher than the front of your bike.
- In Baldwin Park, California, you can not ride your bike into a swimming pool.
- In several cities, you can not eat ice cream on Sunday because it is the Christian Sabbath--and in some cities, children can't be bathed on Sunday.
- In Portland, Oregon, you can not rollerskate into a public restroom.
- Kids are banned from flying kites in many communities; in some, you are required to get a permit.
- In Winnetka, Illinois, you can be arrested if you take off your shoes in a movie theater and your feet stink.
- It is illegal in Kentucky to marry the same man more than 3 times.
- In California it is illegal to set a mouse trap without a hunting license.
- In Tennessee it is illegal to use Lassos to catch a fish. (A rusty hook is far more humane...)
- If a man is wearing a striped suit, you cannot throw a knife at him in Natoma, Kansas.
- In 1659, Massachusetts made Christmas illegal.
- Unless you have a doctor's note, it's illegal to buy ice cream after 6 PM in Newark, New Jersey.
- It is a misdemeanor to show movies that depict acts of felonious crime in Montana.
- Children can buy shotguns in Kansas City, Missouri... but not toy cap guns.
- In Minnesota, it's illegal to tease skunks (As if being sprayed weren't enough of a deterrent). Moreover, in Alabama, you can't even call someone a skunk without risking arrest.
- In Hartford, Connecticut, it is illegal to kiss your wife on Sunday.
- In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, there is a law against having sex with a truck driver in a toll booth.
- In Clinton, Oklahoma, there is a law against masturbating while watching two people have sex in a car.
- In Newcastle, Wyoming, it is illegal to have sex in a butcher shop's meat freezer.
- In Fairbanks, Alaska, there is a law against two moose having sex on the city sidewalks.
- In Ventura County, California, there is a law against cats and dogs having sex without a permit.
- In Kingsville, Texas, it is illegal for two pigs to have sex on Kingsville airport property.

Actual Manufacturer Warnings

TESCO'S TIRIMASU DESSERT - Do not turn upside down. (Printed on the bottom of the box)

MARKS & SPENCER BREAD PUDDING - Product will be hot after heating

PACKAGING FOR A ROWENTA IRON - Do not Iron clothes on body

BOOTS CHILDREN'S COUGH MEDICINE - Do not drive car or operate machinery

NYTOL (A SLEEP AID) - Warning: may cause drowsiness

A KOREAN KITCHEN KNIFE - Warning keep out of children

A STRING OF CHRISTMAS LIGHTS - For indoor or outdoor use only

A JAPANESE FOOD PROCESSOR - Not to be used for the other use

SAINSBURY'S PEANUTS - Warning: contains nuts

AN AMERICAN AIRLINES PACKET OF NUTS - Instructions: open packet, eat nuts

A SWEDISH CHAINSAW - Do not attempt to stop chain with your hands

Real Excuses -- Courtesy of Madtbone; visit his website, The Mother of All Excuses Place

Have you exhausted the excuses for taking a day off? Are all your grannies dead? Does the boss no longer believe the one about the crippled aunt who keeps falling over? Well, then, try these! They're not excuses, they're real!

Peptic ulcers occurring among air traffic controllers, as a result of job stress. {Illinois Medical Journal, 1972}

Loss of hair from prolonged use of personal stereo headphones. {Journal of the American Medical Association, 1984}

Glazed-eye look of TV anchorman caused by looking at the teleprompter through glaring camera lights. {Syracuse, New York, TV station, 1960}

Extreme irritability developing amongst arctic explorers exposed to darkness, monotony, isolation and sensory depravation. {Lancet, 1910}

Swelling, bluish discoloration and wasting of finger caused by placing pop-top beer can rings on finger. {JAMA, 68}

The headache associated with carbon monoxide intoxication which occurs after spending long hours in smoke filled bingo halls. {Canadian Medical Association, 1982}

The nervous excitement of spotting a species for the first time. {New Scientist, 1982}

Psychotic episodes associated with the use of anabolic steroids; causing hallucinations, paranoid delusions, grandiose beliefs and manic-depressive symptoms. {Lancet, 1987}

Sickness caused by changes in atmospheric pressure as the book the customer wants is always on the top shelf.

Soreness of the feet caused by standing in front of slot machines for long periods of time. {Wilmington Morning Star, 1981}

Partial dislocation and arthritis of middle finger joint from continued use of this finger to dislocate chicken necks for slaughtering. {BMA Journal, 1955}

Psychological stress during holidays related to the use of alcohol and social pressures. {JAMA, 1982}

Pain over the rear and down thigh due to pressure on nerve from a wallet stuffed with credit cards. {New England Medical Journal, 1966}

A sore finger from snapping fingers while dancing. {New England Medical Journal}

Pain caused by constant tension and tugs from a dog leash. {New England Medical Journal, 1979}

Epilepsy caused by the flashing lights of electronic video games. {BMA Journal, 1982}

Pain in espresso coffee machine operators from strong wrist motions required to make the coffee. {JAMA, 1956}

Skin disease on feet from wearing rubber flip-flops. {BMA Journal, 1965}

Cutting of finger from strenuous throwing of a frisbee. {New England Medical Journal, 1975}

Shoulder and elbow pain after too many rounds of golf. {BMA Journal, 1896}

Painful shoulder swelling suffered by fishermen repeatedly jerking upwards on a fishing line. {New England Medical Journal, 1981}

Nervous symptoms related to spending too much time managing a busy household. {Centrescope, 1976}

Swelling suffered by hotel porters from lugging heavy bags. {Diseases of Occupations, 1975}

Frostbite on the lips from prolonged contact with ice-cream. {New England Medical Journal, 1982}

Painful abscesses suffered by dancers who frequently spin on their bottoms. {Daily Telegraph, 1987}

Irritation of the hair follicles from the waist down to the knees caused by ultra-tight jeans. {New England Medical Journal, 1981}

Trigger finger pain following prolonged use of video game joysticks.{JAMA, 1987}

Painful hand swelling from sharpening too many knives. {Diseases of Occupations, 1975}

Ulcers in mouth from sensitivity to sticky labels. {Dangerous Trades, 1902}

Painful seizure of muscles from counting too much cash. {English University Press, 1975}

The sort of headaches noted by drivers on congested motorways. {BMA Journal, 1963}

Swelling of kneecap from repeated kneeling in prayer. {Diseases of Occupations, 1975}

Eye irritation from contact with fragments of oyster shells. {BMA Journal, 1896}

Tingling or swelling of feet from wearing a too-tight pantie girdle. {BMA Journal, 1972}

The hazard of spending too long in the bar instead of playing the game. {Encyclopedia of Sports, 1971}

Bullet wound in leg from practicing fast draw from gun in belt holster. {JAMA, 1966}

Tendency for drivers waiting in traffic jams to toot horns. {New England Medical Journal, 1976}

Tension, headaches, depression and anxiety felt by women whose husbands have just retired. {Western Journal of Medicine, 1984}

Hardening of skin following long-term trauma of rocking on the hips while operating a sewing machine. {American Family Physician, 1979}

Low back pain from lifting heavy children and parcels and acquired illnesses from multiple contact with kids. {JAMA, 1986}

Loss of normal flexibility of the legs from being slumped in a chair in front of the box for too long. {JAMA, 1958}

Skin irritation on rear from spending too much time on the toilet. {Archive of Dermatology, 1933}

Skin irritation of neck, chest and arms from wearing new uniforms. {BMJ, 1973}

Allergic skin reaction caused by rubber bumper guards. {Archive of Dermatology, 1971}

Fatigue, irritability, headaches and diminished sex drive from strain of doing two jobs. {Lancet, 1966}

Paralysis of foot due to compounded pressure from practicing Yoga positions. {JAMA, 1971}

Actual Classified Ads

-Illiterate? Write today for free help.
-Auto Repair Service. Free pick-up and delivery. Try us once, you'll never go anywhere again.
-Our experienced Mom will care for your child. Fenced yard, meals, and smacks included.
-Dog for sale: eats anything and is fond of children.
-Man wanted to work in dynamite factory. Must be willing to travel.
-Stock up and save. Limit: one.
-Semi-Annual after-Christmas Sale.
-3-year old teacher needed for pre-school. Experience preferred.
-Mixing bowl set designed to please a cook with round bottom for efficient beating.
-Girl wanted to assist magician in cutting-off-head illusion. Blue Cross and salary.
-Dinner Special -- Turkey $2.35; Chicken or Beef $2.25; Children $2.00
-For sale: antique desk suitable for lady with thick legs and large drawers.
-Now is your chance to have your ears pierced and get an extra pair to take home, too.
-We do not tear your clothing with machinery. We do it carefully by hand.
-For sale. Three canaries of undermined sex.
-Great Dames for sale.
-Have several very old dresses from grandmother in beautiful condition.
-Tired of cleaning yourself. Let me do it.
-Vacation Special: have your home exterminated.
-Get rid of aunts. Zap does the job in 24 hours.
-Toaster: A gift that every member of the family appreciates. Automatically burns toast.
-For Rent: 6-room hated apartment.
-Man, honest. Will take anything.
-Used Cars: Why go elsewhere to be cheated? Come here first.
-Christmas tag-sale. Handmade gifts for the hard-to-find person.
-Wanted: Hair cutter. Excellent growth potential.
-Wanted. Man to take care of cow that does not smoke or drink.
-Our bikinis are exciting. They are simply the tops.
-Wanted. Widower with school age children requires person to assume general housekeeping duties. Must be capable of contributing to growth of family.
-We will oil your sewing machine and adjust tension in your home for $1.00.

Actual Courtroom Antics

The following questions from lawyers were taken from official court records nationwide...

Was that the same nose you broke as a child?

Now, doctor, isn't it true that when a person dies in his sleep, in most cases he just passes quietly away and doesn't know anything about it until the next morning?

Q: What happened then?
A: He told me, he says, 'I have to kill you because you can identify me.'
Q: Did he kill you?

Was it you or your brother that was killed in the war?

The youngest son, the 20-year-old, how old is he?

Were you alone or by yourself?

How long have you been a French Canadian?

Do you have any children or anything of that kind?

Q: I show you exhibit 3 and ask you if you recognize that picture.
A: That's me.
Q: Were you present when that picture was taken?

Were you present in court this morning when you were sworn in?

Q: Now, Mrs. Johnson, how was your first marriage terminated?
A: By death.
Q: And by whose death was it terminated?

Q: Do you know how far pregnant you are now?
A: I'll be three months on November 8.
Q: Apparently, then, the date of conception was August 8?
A: Yes.
Q: What were you doing at that time?

Q: Mrs. Jones, do you believe you are emotionally stable?
A: I used to be.
Q: How many times have you committed suicide?

So you were gone until you returned?

Q: She had three children, right?
A: Yes.
Q: How many were boys?
A: None.
Q: Were there girls?

You don't know what it was, and you didn't know what it looked like, but can you describe it?

Q: You say that the stairs went down to the basement?
A: Yes.
Q: And these stairs, did they go up also?

Q: Have you lived in this town all your life?
A: Not yet.

A Texas attorney, realizing he was on the verge of unleashing a stupid question, interrupted himself and said, "Your Honor, I'd like to strike the next question."

Q: Do you recall approximately the time that you examined the body of Mr. Edington at the rose Chapel?
A: It was in the evening. The autopsy started about 8:30 p.m.
Q: And Mr. Edington was dead at the time, is that correct?
A: No, you stupid ______, he was sitting on the table wondering why I was doing an autopsy!

Actual Newspaper Headlines

1. Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says
2. Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
3. Safety Experts Say School Bus Passengers Should Be Belted
4. Drunk Gets Nine Months in Violin Case
5. Survivor of Siamese Twins Joins Parents
6. Farmer Bill Dies in House
7. Iraqi Head Seeks Arms
8. British Left Waffles on Falkland Islands
9. Lung Cancer in Women Mushrooms
10. Eye Drops off Shelf
11. Teacher Strikes Idle Kids
12. Reagan Wins on Budget, But More Lies Ahead
13. Squad Helps Dog Bite Victim
14. Shot Off Woman's Leg Helps Nicklaus to 66
15. Enraged Cow Injures Farmer with Axe
16. Plane Too Close to Ground, Crash Probe Told
17. Miners Refuse to Work after Death
18. Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant
19. Stolen Painting Found by Tree
20. Two Soviet Ships Collide, One Dies
21. Two Sisters Reunited after 18 Years in Checkout Counter
22. Killer Sentenced to Die for Second Time in 10 Years
23. Drunken Drivers Paid $1000 in `84
24. War Dims Hope for Peace
25. If Strike isn't Settled Quickly, It May Last a While
26. Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures
27. Enfields Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide
28. Red Tape Holds Up New Bridge
29. Deer Kill 17,000
30. Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead
31. Man Struck by Lightning Faces Battery Charge
32. New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group
33. Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft
34. Kids Make Nutritious Snacks
35. Chef Throws His Heart into Helping Feed Needy
36. Arson Suspect is Held in Massachusetts Fire
37. British Union Finds Dwarfs in Short Supply
38. Ban On Soliciting Dead in Trotwood
39. Lansing Residents Can Drop Off Trees
40. Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half
41. New Vaccine May Contain Rabies
42. Man Minus Ear Waives Hearing
43. Deaf College Opens Doors to Hearing
44. Air Head Fired
45. Steals Clock, Faces Time
46. Old School Pillars are Replaced by Alumni
47. Bank Drive-in Window Blocked by Board
48. Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors
49. Include your Children When Baking Cookies

Church Bulletins

Believe it or not, the following announcements actually appeared in various church bulletins.

1. Don't let worry kill you -- let the church help.

2. Thursday night - Potluck supper. Prayer and medication to follow.

3. Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and community.

4. For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.

5. The rosebud on the alter this morning is to announce the birth of David Alan Belzer, the sin of Rev. and Mrs. Julius Belzer.

6. This afternoon there will be a meeting in the South and North ends of the church. Children will be baptized at both ends.

7. Tuesday at 4:00 PM there will be an ice cream social. All ladies giving milk will please come early.

8. Wednesday the ladies liturgy will meet. Mrs. Johnson will sing "Put me in my little bed" accompanied by the pastor.

9. Thursday at 5:00 PM there will be a meeting of the Little Mothers Club. All ladies wishing to be "Little Mothers" will meet with the Pastor in his study.

10. This being Easter Sunday, we will ask Mrs. Lewis to come foreward and lay an egg on the alter.

11. The service will close with "Little Drops of Water." One of the ladies will start quietly and the rest of the congregation will join in.

12. Next Sunday a special collection will be taken to defray the cost of the new carpet. All those wishing to do something on the new carpet will come foreward and do so.

13. The ladies of the church have cast off clothing of every kind. They can be seen in the church basement Saturday.

14. A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.

15. At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be "What is Hell?" Come early and listen to our choir practice.

Actual Business Signs

On an Electrician's truck: "Let us remove your shorts."

Outside a Radiator Repair Shop: "Best place in town to take a leak."

In a Non-smoking area: "If we see you smoking we will assume you are on fire and take appropriate action."

On Maternity Room door: "Push, Push, Push."

At an Optometrist's Office: "If you don't see what you're looking for, you've come to the right place."

On a Taxidermist's window: "We really know our stuff."

In a Podiatrist's window: "Time wounds all heels."

On another Butcher's window: "Pleased to meat you."

On a fence: "Salesmen welcome. Dog food is expensive."

At a Car Dealership: "The best way to get back on your feet - miss a car payment."

Outside a Muffler Shop: "No appointment necessary. We'll hear you coming."

Outside a Hotel: "Help! We need inn-experienced people."

At a Santa Fe gas station: "We will sell gasoline to anyone in a glass container."

In a New York restaurant: "Customers who consider our waitresses uncivil ought to see the manager."

On the wall of a Baltimore estate: "Trespassers will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. - Sisters of Mercy"

On a long-established New Mexico dry cleaners: "38 years on the same spot."

In a Los Angeles dance hall: "Good clean dancing every night but Sunday."

In a Florida maternity ward: "No children allowed."

In a New York drugstore: "We dispense with accuracy."

In the offices of a loan company: "Ask about our plans for owning your home."

In a New York medical building: "Mental Health Prevention Center"

On a New York convalescent home: "For the sick and tired of the Episcopal Church."

On a Maine shop: "Our motto is to give our customers the lowest possible prices and workmanship.."

At a number of military bases: "Restricted to unauthorized personnel."

On a display of "I love you only" Valentine cards: "Now available in multi-packs."

In the window of a Kentucky appliance store: "Don't kill your wife. Let our washing machine do the dirty work."

In a funeral parlor: "Ask about our layaway plan."

In a clothing store: "Wonderful bargains for men with 16 and 17 necks."

In a Tacoma, Washington men's clothing store: "15 men's wool suits, $10. They won't last an hour!"

On a shopping mall marquee: "Archery Tournament-Ears pierced"

Outside a country shop: "We buy junk and sell antiques."

In the window of an Oregon store: "Why go elsewhere and be cheated when you can come here?"

In a Maine restaurant: "Open 7 days a week and weekends."

In the vestry of a New England church: "Will the last person to leave please see that the perpetual light is extinguished."

In a Pennsylvania cemetery: "Persons are prohibited from picking flowers from any but their own graves."

On a roller coaster: "Watch your head."

On the grounds of a public school: "No trespassing without permission."

On a Tennessee highway: "When this sign is under water, this road is impassable."

Similarly, in front of a New Hampshire car wash: "If you can't read this, it's time to wash your car."

Odd Things that People Eat

1. Baked Armadillo (American) - This tank-like mammal is stuffed with potatoes, cabbage, apple slices, carrots, and spices, and then baked until tender.

2. Baked Bat (Samoan) - First the bat is torched to "de-hair" it. Then it is cleaned, and baked or fried with salt, pepper, and onions.

3. Barbecued Cow Heart (Peruvian) - The cow's heart is chopped up, basted with ground chili peppers, and broiled.

4. Bear's Paw Stew (Chinese) - The paw is cut into chunks and simmered in a pot with ham, chicken, and sherry.

5. Beef Blood Pudding (Norwegian) - Beef's blood is mixed with milk, sugar, ginger, and cloves.

6. Beef Udder Pot Roast (French) - The cow's mammaries are simmered with vegetables in beef stock.

7. Broiled Beetle Grubs (Japanese) - The larvae are marinated and then broiled.

8. Broiled Puppy (Hawaiian) - The puppy is broiled flat over hot coals and served with sweet potatoes.

9. Broiled Sparrows (Japanese) - The birds are split, marinated, and then grilled.

10. Coconut-Cream-Marinated Dog (Indonesia) - Pieces of dog are marinated in a coconut cream and then broiled on skewers.

11. Cow Brain Fritters (French) - The cow's brains are mashed up, mixed with spinach, and fried.

12. Cow Heels (English) - The cow's heels are cut up and simmered in a stew with beef stock and spices.

13. Cow Lung Stew (Jewish) - The cow's lung is chopped into pieces and simmered with tomatoes, carrots, and potatoes.

14. Cow Tongue Salad (Danish) - Julienned beef tongue is served with beets, apples, and hard-boiled eggs.

15. Fish Sperm Crepes (French) - Fish sperm is baked in crepes with mushrooms, butter, and cheese.

16. Fried Calf's Head (Hungarian) - The head is sliced, breaded, and fried.

17. Fried Grasshoppers (Chinese) - The bugs are quick-fried in sesame oil and allowed to drain and cool. They crunch.

18. Fried Turkey Testes (American) - The gonads are coated with bread crumbs and then fried in olive oil or butter.

19. Golden Calf Testicles (French) - The testes are sliced and fried and then baked in a casserole.

20. Grilled Horsemeat (Japanese) - The meat is sliced up, marinated, and then broiled on a hibachi.

21. Grilled Rat (French) - The rodent is brushed with olive oil and shallots and then broiled.

22. Lamb Brain Tacos (Mexican) - The lamb's brain is chopped up, fried with onions, tomatoes, and chilies, and then used as a taco stuffing.

23. Pig's Sace and Cabbage (Irish) - The blanched face is baked with seasonings and served with boiled cabbage.

24. Pig's Feet with Bananas (Filipino) - The feet are simmered with bananas in a soup.

25. Pork Testicles in Cream (French) - The testes are fried in butter and cream.

26. Roasted Caterpillars (Laotian) - The insects are salted, roasted, and then eaten with white rice.

27. Sea Urchin Gonad Sauce (French) - Fish testes or ovaries are mashed with olive oil and then mixed with either Hollandaise sauce or mayonnaise.

28. Shark's Fin Soup (Chinese) - Pieces of shark fin are simmered in a chicken stock with flaked crabmeat.

29. Snake Soup (Chinese) - Chunks of snake are simmered in a fish or chicken stock with scallions.

30. Stewed Cat (Ghanaian) - Sliced cat is fried in peanut oil and butter and then simmered in a pot with red peppers.

31. Stuffed Calf's Eyes (French) - The eyes are stuffed with mushrooms (after the corneas, lenses, and irises have been removed) and baked.

32. Stuffed Cow Spleen (Jewish) - The cow's spleen is stuffed with bread crumbs and baked.

33. Sun-dried Maggots (Chinese) - Fly larvae are dried in the sun and then eaten as a snack or as a side dish with a meal.

34. White Ant Pie (Zanzibari) - White termites are mixed with sugar and banana flour and blended into a paste.

Oddities of English

(c)copyright Richard Lederer

Let's face it -- English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat.

We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one loose tooth, 2 leese teeth? One index, 2 indices?

Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend, that you comb through annals of history but not a SINGLE annal? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn't preacher praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? If you wrote a letter, perhaps you bote your tongue?

Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo or a truck by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell? Park on driveways and drive on parkways? Lift a thumb to thumb a lift? Table a plan in order to plan a table?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and wise guy are opposites? How can overlook and oversee be opposites, while quite a lot and quite a few are alike? How can a person be "pretty ugly?"

How can the weather be hot as hell one day and cold as hell another. Have you noticed that we talk about certain things only when they are absent? Have you ever seen a horseful carriage or a strapful gown? Met a sung hero or experienced requited love? Have you ever run into someone who was combobulated, gruntled, ruly or peccable? And where are all those people who ARE spring chickens or who would ACTUALLY hurt a fly?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which an alarm clock goes off by going on. Why is "crazy man" an insult, while to insert a comma and say "crazy, man!" is a compliment (as when applauding a jazz performance.)

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity f the human race (which, of course, isn't a race at all). That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible. And why, when I wind up my watch, I start it, but when I wind up this essay, I end it.

Actual Stupid Things People Have Said or Done

1. An actual tip from page 16 of the HP Environmental, Health & Safety Handbook for Employees: "Blink your eyelids periodically to lubricate your eyes."

2. I live in a semi-rural area. We recently had a new neighbor call the local township administrative office to request the removal of the Deer Crossing sign on our road. The reason: Many deer were being hit by cars and he no longer wanted them to cross there.

3. According to the Knight Rider News Service, the inscription on the metal bands used by the US Department of the Interior to tag migratory birds has been changed.

The bands used to bear the address of the Washington Biological Survey, abbreviated as "Wash. Biol. Surv."; until the agency received the following letter from an Arkansas camper:

Dear Sirs:

While camping last week I shot one of your birds. I think it was a crow. I followed the cooking instructions on the leg tag and I want to tell you it was horrible.

The bands are now marked "Fish & Wildlife Service."

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