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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 10, 2010 / 26 Iyar 5770

Oops!

By Richard Lederer

Bill O'Reilly
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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Word botches are music to my ears, and over the years I've arranged five anthologies of fluffs, flubs, goofs, gaffes, blunders, boners . . . well, you get the idea.

As a word-bethumped language guy, I adhere firmly to the blooper snooper's code, taking only what I find and contriving nothing. How could I possibly concoct this vivid headline: ''Grandmother of Eight Makes Hole in One''? How could I improve on this receptionist's voice-mail advice: ''Please leave a message. The doctors are out of the office or else on the phone and me, too''? Nor could I manufacture the sign in an Acapulco restaurant: ''The manager has personally passed all the water served here.'' And could I come close to matching this student's sentence: ''In 1957, Eugene O'Neill won a Pullet Surprise''? Or this one: ''Ancient Egyptian women wore a calasiris, a loose-fitting garment which started just below the breasts which hung to the floor''? Forget it.

Why do we all delight so in bloopers? One clue may come from the origin of the word itself. Blooper first appeared in American English in the mid-1920's as a description of a wounded fly ball looped past the reach of the infielders. Almost at the same time, the verb to bloop began to mean operating a radio set in such a way that it emitted howls and whistles, perhaps an echo of our reactions to physical or verbal howlers. About a decade later, the nouns bloop and blooper came to signify pratfalls of the body and tongue.

Thomas Fuller, the English clergyman and wit (1608-61), once wrote, ''Birds are entangled by their feet and men by their tongues.'' The humor and appeal of bloopers lie, in part, in the probability that even as we roar at the misspeak of others, we are just as apt to trip over our own tongues. It is the very artlessness of other people's lapses that makes them so endearing and makes us feel (temporarily) so superior. As the parent says to the child, ''I'm laughing with you, not at you.''

Just as we thrill when the mighty fall in a stage tragedy, we delight when men and women of lofty stature engage their mouths without first putting their brains in gear. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California once explained, ''I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman.'' Gray Davis, the governor replaced by Schwarzenegger, proclaimed, ''My vision is to make the most diverse state on earth, and we have people from every planet on the earth in this state.''

The best bloopers inspire the kind of bisociative thinking we experience with puns. Punnery, to coin a word, is largely the trick of compacting two or more ideas within a single word or expression. Puns challenge us to apply the greatest pressure per square syllable of language; they surprise us by flouting the law of nature pretending that two things cannot occupy the same space at the same time. While plays on words exploit the density of language, any denseness residing in bloopers is accidental. Don and Aileen Pace Nilsen, humorologists at Arizona State University, explain: ''Blunders and bloopers are genuinely funny because they involve the reader or listener in mentally drawing together two scripts -- the one that was said and the one that was intended. To qualify, the error has to be far enough away from the original to communicate some other meaning yet close enough that the listener or reader can connect it to the unintended meaning.''

Do I spend all day scouring newspapers, magazines, essays and signs? No, I rely on the kindness of strangers. Sure, I happen on some items myself, but most of the thuds I publish are sent to me by fellow snoopers from (to mix a metaphor) the four corners of the globe.

The genre of blooper I receive most often is the malapropism. Born as a character in Richard Brinsley Sheridan's play ''The Rivals'' (1775), Mrs. Malaprop was an ''old weather-beaten she-dragon'' who took special pride in her use of the King's English: ''Sure, if I reprehend anything in this world, it is the use of my oracular tongue and a nice derangement of epitaphs.'' Ever since her dramatic debut, her name has come to signify the humorous misuse of big words.

Members of my posse sometimes wing me grammar errors: ''To be sure, his investments in the media giants wasn't enough to give him editorial control.'' A mere disagreeable subject and verb do not a blooper make. No double entendre (or ''double Nintendo,'' as somebody once blooped) exists here. I also receive examples that simply aren't funny: ''Following the tenants of both the Zone Diet and the American Heart Association, Balance for Life provides three meals a day plus snacks.'' In this artifact, of course, ''tenants'' should be ''tenets,'' but the inadvertent substitution does not conjure any wiggy images that detonate stomachs into a rolling boil.

Every now and then I am granted strings of verbal pearls, like these from admissions applications to Bates College in Lewiston, Me.: ''I am in the mist of choosing colleges.'' ''I was abducted into the national honor society.'' ''I have made the horror role every semester.'' In such many-faceted jewels we do find a shiny conspiracy of two meanings -- one intended and one unwitting -- and the conjunction of images sets us to laughter.

Of the thousands of specimens of inspired gibberish that I've captured and put on display, my favorite is this gem from a student essay: ''Sir Francis Drake circumcised the world with a 100-foot clipper.'' The statement is hysterically unhistorical, and we have no trouble believing that a student actually wrote it. How blunderful that one young scholar's innocent confusion of ''circumnavigate'' and ''circumcise'' and accidental pun on ''clipper'' can beget such nautical naughtiness. This creation is one of the greatest bloopers ever blooped.

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JWR contributor Richard Lederer is a language maven. More than a million of his books, which have been Book-of-the-Month Club and Literary Guild alternate selections, are in print. His latest work is Presidential Trivia: The Feats, Fates, Families, Foibles, and Firsts of Our American Presidents


© 2010, Richard Lederer

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