Tuesday, October 28, 2014

No Pun Intended


      Pet peeves are common. When I stop to think of it, I have a hyperbolic number of them—somewhere close to a zillion. One of them (or maybe it’s two) have to do with the utterance of “pun intended” and “no pun intended.” I can’t think of two phrases more unnecessarily spoken. 
      Here is the definition of a pun: "A pun, or paronomasia, is a form of word play that deliberately exploits ambiguity between similar-sounding words for humorous or rhetorical effect." A pun is basically a play on words, like in the joke, "Where do cows go on a Saturday night? The moooovies." Moooovies is a pun. I have to say, even those of us who only understand about 60% of the words in the definition above get a pun when we hear one, yet some word masters are intent on telling us they made a pun…just in case we missed it, so let me start with the egotistical “pun intended.”
      This phrase is said by a person who is so brilliant and witty that they’re fairly bursting with personal pride. People who finish their puns with the phrase “pun intended” are clearly on a different intellectual level than the rest of us dimwits. I mean, we’re so intellectually challenged that we have to be reminded by the genius punster. 
      “Uh, hey, all you stupid people. I have a categorically witty linguistic locution I’m about to execute on your unintelligent ears. It goes like this. ‘I went to a seafood disco last week... and pulled a mussel.’ Hahahahahahaha! Oh, by the way, pun intended.”
      And then inane people like me will clearly feel the need to kneel, stunned, in genuflective posture in reverence to the supreme intellectual being in our presence, contemplating the hilarious pun that we just missed. “Let’s see. Is it a pun to have seafood and disco in the same sentence? No…I think not. Are his muscles weak? Could be. Did he mean ‘see’food because there’s no such thing as a seafood disco is there? Wait…after further review, I think a mussel is a kind of seafood…and I believe a disco dancer could pull a muscle, hence there’s a pun. I’m certainly indebted to the word scientist for pointing out a pun I would have never recognized on my own.” 
      Like me, I’m sure you appreciate jesters wisecracking in your presence and then reminding you that their witticisms are too clever for you and any of your other companions to get. “Did you hear about the man who stole a calendar? He got 12 months.” Chortle. “Pun intended.”
      At which point all of your daft colleagues respond incredulously.
      “Entertainer man, you’re not as funny as you think. Maybe you should take a day off.”
      “Yeah, that joke is really dated.”
      “Get with the times.” 
      “That joke was week.”
      You see, anyone who has to say “pun intended” must think that they’ve achieved an intellectual superiority that the common man is unable to attain. And since puns are way up on the IQ humor pyramid (practically at the peak, I assume), they have to inform us when they’ve dropped a quip right in our laps. 
      Maybe, however, the “pun intended” people are simply so desperate for a laugh at their lame attempt at humor, they say the irritating phrase as a clue that if we feel sorry enough for them, we’ll give a polite giggle or groan or eye roll. It’s the same as saying, “Friends who feel sorry for me, I made a joke. Will you please laugh?" They should just say, “Ha ha, you get it right? I made an ill-informed attempt to be funny, and it’s falling as flat as an Iowa landscape. If you would just laugh, I won’t feel quite so humiliated.”

      Then, there are those who say, “No pun intended.” Why in the world do they do that? Let me start with writers. A writer writes a pun…unintentionally. He or she recognizes that there’s a pun.
      “I was in the Piggly Wiggly with my darling daughter, wandering aimlessly, looking for leeks. In aisle three, a one-armed man fumbled a can of asparagus which loudly clattered to the floor. My little princess charged to the rescue. ‘Can I give you a hand?’ she asked.”
      What if once the above writer completed the scene, he/she noticed that “hand” was a pun? Is there any logical reason for the writer to insert “Oh, gosh, I didn’t intend to write a pun there”? If the writer doesn’t intend a pun, he or she could revise and say something like, “Let me help you.” Or the writer could leave it and say to him or herself, I didn’t intend to write a pun, but low and behold, I did it anyway. I think I’ll leave it. I mean, I don’t care if he didn’t intend it. I’ve never once in my entire life read a play on words and stopped myself so I could speculate. I doubt seriously that the author made that pun on purpose, but I wish he would have told me by saying something clever like “no pun intended” so I could know and read on in peace. Let me say this loud and clear. If a writer writes a pun which wasn’t intended and said writer feels the need to tell me the pun was not intended, then the writer should revise the sentence and eliminate the play on words. 
      There is also the situation, reading and speaking alike, where the person obviously made an intentional pun. So why on God’s green earth do they say “No pun intended”?
      “Hey, Jeff, I have a story to tell you, set during the Cold War. Bob, from America, was arguing with Rudolf from Soviet Russia. They argued about politics, religion, their presidents—even about the weather. One night Rudolf said it was raining outside, but Bob would not agree. He said it was sleeting. So they argued all night: Rain! Sleet! Rain! Sleet! The argument continued until Bob's wife pulled him aside and said: ‘Sweetheart, you're wrong. It is raining. And this time the Russian is right, because…Rudolf the Red knows rain, dear.’ No pun intended."
      Seriously? The whole purpose of the joke was to tell a pun.
      “Two peanuts walk into a bar, and one was a salted. No pun intended.”
      Of course. Let me ponder your inane statement a moment. Are you certain two peanuts were walking? And of the two walking peanuts, who happened to walk into a drinking establishment (because peanuts get thirsty too), you happened to notice that one was a salted peanut and one wasn’t. That “a salted” play on words thing that you said at the end of your interesting, true story was totally unintentional? Thanks for clearing that up. 
      I saw some dude on Facebook make a post. He said, and I quote, “Frankly, I don’t like hot dogs. No pun intended.” I know the “pun intended” guy from the beginning of this blog thinks he’s the only one with brains, but the “Frankly” guy is even more condescending. Am I to be so naively stupid, that I should accept he said “Frankly” by mistake, noticed it, kept it in his post, and then took the time to tell me he didn’t intend to write it? “There’s a pun in my post, people (if you look closely, you’ll discover it too), but I didn’t put it there on purpose and I want you to know I’m so clever, sometimes I write in puns unintentionally. It’s crazy but true.”
      Give me a break. Pun intended and No pun intended are two of the dumbest things people can say, and yes, they are pet peeves of mine. Punners, when you make a play on words, let us groan at it of our own free will, and if you do it unintentionally, so be it.
      There was a person who sent twenty different puns to his friends with the hope that at least half of the plays on words would make them laugh. No pun in ten did.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Pet Peeves

I’m not a bitter person, and I’m actually pretty cool. Not in the Happy Days Fonzie kind of way, but in the nothing really bothers me much kind of way. Yet, lately I’ve been thinking of some of my pet peeves. Again, the thoughts I was having weren’t raising my blood pressure any. Instead, they were making me want to share, just to see who agrees with me. Seriously. Who agrees with me on some of these? I’d like to know. So, here is a list of pet peeves that are worth mentioning—in no particular order.

1.       It bothers me when my family puts dirty dishes in the sink “to soak.” How about rinsing off your dishes before the leftovers harden on your plate and putting the dishes in the dishwasher so when I rinse things off, the sink doesn’t fill with disgusting water that I have to put my hand in so it’ll run down the drain like it’s supposed to?
2.       It bothers me when my next door neighbor mows his yard and mows about 20 feet into my yard. I honestly think he somehow thinks he’s doing me a favor, but he’s not. Who wants to look out his or her window and see a yard that’s 20% mowed and 80% unmowed? Is he trying to get me to mow too? Why? I keep my yard looking nice. Is he trying to make it look like he has a great big yard and I have a little itty bitty one? I wish he’d stop.
3.       It bugs me that ropes, cords, strings, jewelry, or any other stringy-shaped articles are alive and tie themselves in knots of their own volition. How can I untangle my extension cord, pump up my car tires, and throw my straightened cord next to the wall on my garage floor and then have it tangled in a jumbled mess the next time I pick it up? Why are my earphones for my iPod always in a knot, no matter how neatly I place them in my drawer? I have a whole blog about this topic it’s so frustrating.  http://jefflaferney.blogspot.com/2013/06/strings-are-alive-and-other-obvious.html

4.       Driving behind someone who is going well below the speed limit bugs me—almost as much as when someone pulls out in front of me and then immediately puts on a turn signal and brakes, so I have to wait for him to turn.
5.       People who use the F-word numerous times in the same sentence. Now, I can deal with swearing. I read books and watch movies and live life out in public, but am I to be impressed when the speaker manages to use the F-word as a noun, verb, adverb, and adjective in the same sentence? I want to say, “Excuse me, there’s a book full of synonyms for your favorite word,” and then I want to present said person with the gift of a thesaurus.
6.       Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton bug me. Those two men have propagated far more racism than they’ve alleviated.
7.       People who can’t do simple math bug me. For instance, I’ll give back a paper in class that says 8/10. Kids ask me what grade that is. Then they’ll say, “I had a zero for this assignment. Will this improve my grade?” I’m always tempted to say “No, 8 out of 10 is a negative number and your grade is worse now.” I made a $9.99 purchase this summer. The cash register was down, so the cashier had to figure the purchase by hand—using a calculator, of course. Michigan sales tax is 6%, so the tax is easy (60 cents). She wrote 9.99 down on paper, used the calculator to figure the tax at 60 cents and then wrote that under 9.99. Then she used the calculator to add the two numbers together. It told her 10.59. I waited patiently for this process, and then gave her $11.00. She got all flustered so I told her that my change was 41 cents. She said, “I know.” She then wrote 11.00 on her paper and put 10.59 under it, and she proceeded to punch the numbers into the calculator twice (I assume she was checking her answer out of amazement that I knew it before she did) and wrote .41 under the number—confirming what she claimed she already knew. Now the problem was adding the coins together. She took a quarter from the drawer, hesitated, and then put it back and took out four dimes and a penny. That was easier. The transaction took over five minutes.
8.       I get a little nutty when people borrow my paperback books and return them with the binding all cracked and creased. Am I the only one who believes things should be returned in as good of condition as when they were borrowed? Books are not supposed to look like this when they’re returned.

9.       Shouldn’t people say thank you when I hold a door for them or shouldn’t they wave when I let their car in front of me in traffic? Common politeness is gradually disappearing.
10.   When your boss tells you that he/she has had “a couple” of complaints or “several” complaints, we all know that he or she got one, right? So in my case, one parent complained about something and 159 did not. So why must I change what I’m doing when 99.375% of my students’ parents are not complaining. (Yes, I used a calculator for that one).  
11.   Am I the only consumer that is irritated that every gas station in the county is selling gasoline for the same exact price?

12.   Why do half-gallons of ice cream now come in containers far smaller than a half-gallon? Do the packagers and manufacturers think I’m too dumb to notice?
13.   Daylight savings time. Need I say more? If I took a board and sawed off a foot from the top and attached it to the bottom, it would not be longer. I have a blog post about my atomic clock that will not reset for the new season. Uh, yes, six months of the year, my clock is wrong and there’s nothing I can do about it besides smash it to smithereens, which I’ve considered. I have a separate blog about this issue as well. http://jefflaferney.blogspot.com/2013/03/daylight-savings-and-atomic-clocks.html
14.   People who call their newborn child “Baby” confuse me. Is this a new fad or does it just happen in Central Michigan? “It’s time to take Baby home…We can’t make it. Baby isn’t feeling well…Baby is sleeping six hours now.” Could it be “the” baby? Does Baby actually have a name?
15.   I have to admit I’m not a drinker, so what I’m about to say might be totally ridiculous, but why, when people have a drink and a camera is pointed at them, do they have to raise their drink in the air to show it off? I don’t do that with a can of Mountain Dew. Coffee drinkers don’t do that. Can you see me holding up my glass of milk at breakfast?
16.   Packaging sometimes is a pet peeve. Does anyone else hate that plastic sealed packaging that electronics comes in? Why should I need a knife, scissors, and a trip to emergency to get into a package? 
17.   Okay, I’ve waited long enough to admit this. I hate when people don’t know the difference between it’s and its; there, their, and they’re; are and our; your and you’re; who’s and whose; and to and too (among others). Sorry…I had to say it. But this picture makes me laugh. 

18.   Since I’m on the topic, when people say things like “I seen that movie” or “It don’t matter,” I cringe. Sorry, again, but I’m an English teacher. Should I include double negatives?
19.   I roll my eyes when golfing with people who take three or four foot “gimmees” on the putting green and then brag about their scores at the end of the round.
20.   It’s mind-boggling when people accuse someone else of being “selfish” simply because they didn’t get what they wanted.

As I’ve written this blog, I’ve come to realize I could go on and on and on. Maybe there’ll be another post in the future, but what are some of your pet peeves? I’d love to hear them. And if your pet peeve is an author pushing his/her books, let me just drive you crazy because mine are for sale at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Jeff+LaFerney  and http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Jeff-Laferney?keyword=Jeff+Laferney&store=book