The World's Most Modest Man and Other Oxymorons
.....I Used to be Conceited but now I am Perfect
Warning: Political Correctness
Any trace of Political Correctness found on this page is probably an error
What is an Oxymoron?
An oxymoron is a phrase or expression with an apparent inbuilt contradiction such as "Hugely tiny", "The Best of Leonard Cohen", "Minimalism to the Max", "Laura Ashley Style","police intelligence" or "government assistance"
The main joy of oxymorons is being able to demonstrate that you know what the word "oxymoron" means at dinner parties and being able to keep a flagging conversation going for at least another 5 minutes with some shining examples. So there are another six for your collection...
The slogan:"Procrastinate Now " could make a glorious 7th.
Amphibology - a vital "ology" for the preservation of peace in the family and amongst friends.
Amphibology is a wonderful way of seeming to give praise in the presence of something dire without giving offence.
Examples include: "Good is not the word!!" "You just could not improve on that!!" (You lack the talent and the ability)
"You've done it again!!" "I'm stunned!" (I've lost the will to live.)
"That was something else!" (The question is: what?)
"That was an example to us all!" "You never cease to amaze us!!"
To an amateur opera singer: "You must be related to Pavarotti!" ( He's fat as well.)
"You have delighted us long enough." (who will be the first to e-mail me with the source of this one? - apparently no-one - hasn't Nigel Rees visited this page yet?) and one credited to Henry James, a great amphibologian, when asked to read someone's manuscript:
"I shall waste no time in reading it!"
In a slightly similar vein is the story of the accused in a court case who, when asked by the judge whether he was showing contempt for the court replied: "On the contrary m'lud - I am doing my best to hide it."
The best of Stand up.
Stand up relies on apercus (French for things noticed)
Bad stand-up tries to make a whole routine from a very slight or obvious apercu (Cornflakes - what are they all about?) and this can be very dull indeed.
However, there are some great stand-up comedians out there and one who also stands out (as well as up -geddit?) is US comedian Steve Wright.
Some of the great one-liners attributed to him include:
"I like to annoy the waiter by asking for an extra medium."
"OK - so what's the speed of dark?"
"I used to work in a factory that made fire hydrants......you couldn't park anywhere near it....."
"If there were no sponges in the sea, think how much deeper it would be."
"I spilled spot remover on my dog. He's gone now."
"A US Senate Committee has spent 5 million dollars and taken ten years to find out who commissioned the pyramids in Egypt. ......It was some guys called Eddie."
"Last week I went to a store to look for a decaffeinated coffee table. They could'nt help me"
"Do you know what are making headlines at the moment? Corduroy pillows"
"Save the whales. Collect the whole set."
"Coming back from Canada, crossing the border, I was asked "Do you have any firearms". I said "What do you need?"
"I lived in a house that ran on static electricity. If you wanted to run the blender, you had to rub some balloons on your head. If you wanted to cook, you had to pull a sweater off real quick."
Less surreal but very funny was Henny Youngman who died in 1998 at the age of 92. Some of his more memorable one-liners were: "When you go into a restaurant, always ask for a table near a waiter"
"The towels in that ritzy hotel were so big and fluffy, I had difficulty in closing my suitcase."
"I checked into my San Francisco hotel room opened the drawer and there it was: Tony Bennet's heart - I guess he just left it there..."
A little old man was hit by a car in New York's garment district. While they were waiting for the ambulance, the policemen wrapped a blanket round him and asked "Are you comfortable". The old man shrugged: "I make a nice living."
"I don't recall your face but your breath is familiar"
"I haven't talked to my wife in three weeks". We haven't fallen out - I just don't like to interrupt."
"The psychiatrist told me I was crazy. I asked for a second opinion - he said "Ok - you're ugly too."
"I called my lawyer - "Can I ask you two questions?" "OK - what's your second question?"
"My wife will buy anything marked down. She's just bought two dresses and an elevator"
From Groucho Marx:
"Outside of a dog, man's best friend is a book.
Inside a dog it's too dark to read"
"Time flies Like an arrow but fruit flies Like a banana"
Others (non attributable (or mine - I'm not saying which)):
Have you noticed that there is only one Monopolies Commission?
I used to have an open mind but my brain kept falling out.
Sponge diving is very dangerous - specially from the top board
The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard.
Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
Why are people in hospital always critical? They should be bloody grateful to be admitted.
Doctors say that a sneeze travels at 100 miles per hour. Who can sneeze that long?
If diarrhoea only runs down one leg, is it monorrhoea? - and er.. what do you call it when it's gone? (Think about it)
There is no truth in the rumour that Samantha Janus has a brother called "Hugh"
I tried to get a seat on a Lufthansa flight to New York the other day but all the seats had towels on them.
I almost had a psychic girlfriend but she left me before we met. (This has got to be another Steve Wright one)
Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm
Raincoat manufacturer Aquascutum have launched a new raincoat to wear when its only spitting. - Apparently its called Aquasputum.
Tautology - so good I used it twice.
When everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane
My girlfriends' legs are like Flora margarine - they're low, fat and they spread straight from the fridge.
For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism
Ninety-three per cent of all statistics are made up.
Did you know that Walt Disney produced a film called "Beaver Valley". - Apparently it was about these animals called "beavers".
Agnostic extremism strikes London - waves of apathy reported.
People talk about the "Royal we" - what is it and what colour is it?
If you are hopelessly addicted to opera try listening to Placebo Domingo.
Cleanliness is next to Godliness - but not in my dictionary.
99 percent of lawyers give the rest a bad name.
Whenever I think of silicon it brings back happy mammaries.
There is no synonym for "Thesaurus".
On the radio this morning the sports news stated that one of the England cricket team was "looking for an easy passage". Presumably he was a wicket keeper?
From P J O' Rourke:
There are a number of mechanical devices which increase sexual arousal, particularly in women.
Chief among these is the Mercedes-Benz 380SL Convertible
Single letter misprints that add so much
Sometimes my eye creates the misprint where it doesn't actually exist. For example I always read "uninformed policeman" for "uniformed policeman".
Another one of these which a friend mentioned to me (and which I share) is an instant interpretation of the word "shopfitters" as "shoplifters". A current one that I am expecting to hear at any time is "United Nations Beekeepers" - it's only a matter of time...
The other day I read a description of an estate agent as "slimily built" - on second thoughts that probably wasn't a misprint.
Then there was the Sultan of Onan - he's a big user of tissues.
In a pub in Chiswick run by Australians, the menu featured "Ratatoolie" instead of "Ratatouille" - you would never believe that the dish was ever French!
In my local paper I once saw a misprint where the letter "N" was substituted for "L" in "walk". Ever since then, the word "walk" or "walkers" has assumed a special significance for me. This came to a head several years ago when I used to produce the publicity and catalogues for a group of artists, many of whom were refined spinster ladies in their seventies. I used to suffer huge torments resisting the substitution of the letter "N" for the letter "L" when faced with the words "walk" and "walking" when compiling the Catalogue for their summer exhibition.
Pictures with titles such as "A walk in the forest". "Winter Walk" (wearing gloves strongly advised) "Riverside walk", "Parsonage Walk", "The first walk of spring" "Walking up the valley", "Bramble Walk" (!!!!) :- all these and more suffered narrow escapes as I wrestled with temptation right up to the date of publication. As a dedicated walker myself, I managed to refrain.
Another excellent single letter misprint is "ignoranus" - presumably an ignoranus is not just ignorant but an arsehole as well.
A couple of weeks ago, my local pub Quiz featured the question "What colour is Uranus?" My Auntie walked out.
In my local swimming baths there is a nappy changing station called a "Sturdy Station". I used to wonder why it was called this until some unknown wit resolved the problem by carefully deleting the first and last letters of "Sturdy".
A double letter misprint that added the final touch...
A double letter misprint that I remember very clearly was on a letter dictated by a busy colleague many years ago. He had a habit of finishing his letters which delivered bad news with the salutation "Up yours faithfully" when he was dictating.
The temp secretary took him at his word and he signed the letter without reading it...
A new Irish folk singer? A new Serb leader?
In the small ads in a local newspaper: For Sale : Pian Ostool. Could this be any relation to the Irish folk singer Piann O'Stool? .......that ad reminded me of this one: For Sale : Commode Chair £10 Stool £3
Incidentally, when Bosnia and Yugoslavia were hot topics, I was suddenly struck by the word "sporadic" - what a great name for a Serb leader - Radofan Sporadic.
Lost Consonants - another example of small misprints meaning so much.
A sharp-eyed visitor to this web site says that he was reminded of the Book "Lost Consonants" by Graham Rawle. In this book, a misprint where a consonant has been omitted is illustrated to comic effect. A typical example is " He was not intimidated by the mafia treats". Not all of them need illustrating. Many people remember "Another hit musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber".
Shafts of Wit and other Spoonerisms.
Actually, apart from the one in the title and the schoolboy perennial "Friar Tuck", Spoonerisms are pretty feeble - unless you happen to spot that someones' name (like Friar Tuck) Spoonerises (top verb creation!!) into something obscene. The late Kenny Everett managed to get away with his character Cupid Stunt for many years without the BBC appearing to object - probably because it was all in the best possible taste.
The innocence or thoughtlessness of some parents and their apparent inability to spot the Spoonerism potential of their children's' names is something that is sometimes beyond belief. One of my correspondents, Carey Hunt, was particularly scarred by her name as was her brother Mike who spent the greater part of his childhood in hiding. She believes that the infliction of this sort of suffering was a family tradition which had been observed by her father, Isaac who had to put up with years of teachers saying to him "Yes, but what's your name?"
Er...what's a Spoonerism?.
A Spoonerism is created when the first letters of two words are interchanged, sometimes (but only sometimes) with comic effect. They are named after the Rev. W. A. Spooner (1844-1930), of New College, Oxford who was famous for saying things like "Sew these ladies to their sheets" instead of "Show these ladies to their seats." Pretty hilarious, huh?
Someone e-mailed me recently to point out that Spoonerisms were not only hilarious but very fine examples of Spooner's shining wit. If you think you have a better example, then you can always email it to me.
They rose to the challenge! ....or at least two people did:
Someone called Tuppycat with the well known nursery rhyme: "Sing a song of sixpence, a rocket full of pie" and Richard Howell who has reminded me of the riddle: " What is the difference between a bad marksman and a constipated owl?" Answer: The marksman shoots but can't hit..... Is that it?
Apparently not - This comes from a Hugh Jampton :"Gee Whiz". How interesting... and now, someone calling himself "Dr. Alan the Fat Bastard" has advised me that the difference between Johnny Craddock (the husband of Fanny Craddock) and a cross-country run is that a cross country run is a pant in the country. I'm still waiting for him to tell me the other half of the joke. I might ring my Auntie and get her to explain it....