Barry Duncan: Master palindromist

This is a pretty fascinating piece about a guy who thinks palindromically.

“People who write palindromes are not the kind of people who are going to call attention to themselves. I think they’re very much people who are comfortable being behind the scenes, practicing the invisible craft.”

Turns out that palindrome writing is a relationship killer…

“In order to share some of his writing, he produced a small collection, which he titled Assorted Palindromes and One Song. It wasn’t long before a close friend dubbed it “The Relationship Killer.”

Duncan would send the collection to people he knew and simply never hear from them again. So he began warning people. “I tell people before I give it to them, ‘I give this to people, I never hear from them again.’ And they say, ‘Ha ha ha, that won’t happen.’ And it happens. People think it’s freakish, and don’t even know what to say about it.” And the thing is, he wasn’t looking for affirmation. “I didn’t expect people to say, ‘Oh, I was dazzled!’ All I wanted them to say was ‘I got it in the mail.’They can’t even write and say, ‘Oh, thanks for the thing you sent me.’ I mean, just… nothing. And I think a normal person would’ve thought, you know, this palindrome-writing is not the way to win friends and influence people.”

10 Flood related words/phrases I don’t want to hear again for a long time

1. Mother Nature – a gross misrepresentation of agency. At least be prepared to blame God, but better yet, blame the broken world we live in thanks to sin. See here.
2. Grave fears – seems insensitive in the extreme. How about “serious fears” or just “we fear for their lives”…
3. Inundated – seriously. I heard a lady who had miraculously survived a torrent but who had been cut by barbed wire say her legs had been “inundated” with scratches.
4. Essential items – when talking about bread, milk, and toilet paper).
5. Road closed – especially when it comes to people who have been stupid enough to drive through flooded causeways
6. “Channel Seven” – Ben was onto something when he suggested Channel Seven’s coverage seems to be more about self promoting than flood coverage. You don’t have to throw the words “Channel Seven” in front of any noun to indicate possession. Try “our”… or don’t talk about the thing you’re flying in at all. Mention your reporter by name. Humanise yourselves.
7. Rubbernecking – it’s an ok word when it’s original, but it becomes hackneyed very quickly.
8. We are “____” – insert parochial catchcry here – but “Queenslander” is particularly abhorrent. Anna Bligh’s “Remember who we are, we’re Queenslanders” represents most of the things that are wrong with our state. Least of all, because it works.
9. Anything Julia Gillard says – she talks like a robot version of Kath and Kim. Emotionless strine. If Anna Bligh can run rings around you then you’re in big trouble.
10. Inland tsunami/wall of water.

Some flood related puns/cliches for good measure:

1. Anything Noah related – any jokes about pairs of animals or building an ark.
2. “uncharted waters”
3. A new watermark.
4. “pooling our resources”
5. “swamped”
6. “fatal flood” – alliterative, but unoriginal. Headline writers have been using it since the early chapters of Genesis.
7. “burst its banks”
8. Any personification or application of agency to a stream of water that is actually simply taking the path of least resistance from one place to another.
9. Describing flood losses as “down the drain” or “down the gurgler”
10. Descriptions of flood damaged locales as “ground zero” or a “war zone”

The “Sainted Krishna” prize for “Mixed Spiritual Metaphor” goes to Anna Bligh for:

“I hope and pray that mother nature is leaving us alone to get on with the job of cleaning up and recovering from this event.” source: halfway down this story

Rapping Paper

A beginner’s guide to making a pun based product would look something like this…

1. Think of a funny and cheap pun based product.
2. Buy a colour printer.
3. Print the lyrics of rap songs on wrapping paper.
4. Sell on the Internet.

Here you go. Rapping Paper.


Run DMC.

Tips for better church signs

I’m not really a fan of signs outside churches. Mostly because nobody is, and they’re never quite as clever as the person writing them thinks they are. But seriously. If you’re going to have one you need to make it original.

“God answers knee-mail” wasn’t funny fifteen years ago when email was relatively new. A pun on Email? Do you seriously think that posting this outside your church in 2010 is going to inspire a chuckle? Has anybody ever “found themselves in church” as a result of a dud sign? The Holy Spirit works wonders – but do we really want to put obstacles in his way by writing puns that aren’t clever or clear?

You get style points for trying something relevant to current events or technologies. You actually lose points, as in your sign has a negative effect, if it’s hackneyed, unoriginal, or stuck in the previous decade.

And don’t try to be too clever. Obtuse puns don’t work on a public sign. Especially if they can be interpreted two ways. And especially if a plain reading of the sign says something wrong or heretical.

“God is nowhere… read that again” still reads “God is nowhere.” People are driving past these signs at speed – and you’re putting “God is nowhere” on a sign. Dumb.

Those two signs were on the same church – one I drive past regularly – in the last two weeks.

But even worse are those churches that pull verses out of context to provide trite moralisms or ridiculous promises – like Jesus wants you to live your best life now… you can’t explain how that can possibly be the case (Biblically) on a sign.

I have never seen a sign promising suffering. They just inflict it on Christians who have any idea about marketing.

My ten favourite media release headings

I have no idea how many media releases I put out in the last four years – it would be close to a thousand. I had a pretty prodigious output in my first couple of years (this isn’t actually a good thing – I didn’t feel like I could refuse to write a release on a dumb  topic back then). Occasionally I was allowed to put out releases with puns in the headings – when they weren’t too cringeworthy (or rude, I might post my rudest (and funniest) one in the comments).

  1. Kopi cats dropping an inimitable brew – This one was special because it is my biggest and most successful story of all time. It’s also about cat poo. Cat poo coffee. This release made it to Indonesia, India, the UK and Europe. Kopi is Indonesian for coffee – and the cat poo coffee is called Kopi Luwak.
  2. Operators hit a Homer – Ulysses beds locked in – I had a lot of fun writing really high brow headings about this story. There was a saga where Townsville couldn’t secure enough advance beds to house the Ulysses Motorcycle Club’s AGM. They wanted to be able to book guaranteed beds two years in advance. Other headings included – Ulysses offer not a Trojan Horse, and Space problem means Ulysses Club may take 2008 odyssey elsewhere.
  3. Be blown away by North Queensland – a release about helping the tourism industry recover from the perception that we were damaged by Cyclone Larry.
  4. Cummins: recipe for marketing with bite – Advertising guru Sean Cummins came to Townsville to run a marketing workshop.
  5. TREC joins starship Enterprise – I really like puns based on acronyms. I don’t know why. This one was about the Townsville Regional Engineering Cluster joining Townsville Enterprise. Here are some others. ACASPA: a friendly host (about a conference that came to Townsville because it was a friendly city), ATEC’s message for tourism operators (about the Australian Tourism Export Council’s conference), Townsville operators AIME for success (about the Asia Pacific Incentives, Meetings and Events expo) and Tourism industry hunts pieces of ATE treasure with island rebranding (about the Australian Tourism Exchange – a Tourism trade show).
  6. Regions join fellowship of the zing – I wrote a lot about energy generation. This one was about Townsville joining with Mackay, Mount Isa and Cairns to lobby for energy.
  7. Solar plea: don’t stick it where the sun don’t shine – K-Rudd’s solar flagship program will put billion dollar power stations around Australia. Townsville wants one.
  8. McDonald no longer on the farm – our new Economic Development manager (at the time) had a background in agriculture.
  9. Dream time becomes a virtual reality* – About a local indigenous tourism operators use of some grant money for AV equipment.
  10. New flights to boost capital expenditure* – About Virgin Blue launching four new routes to Townsville in one day.

* These ones had rude or politically incorrect alternatives.

The punning computer

Some computer scientists have spent their time, and dedicated their expertise, to creating a punning monster. Puns, after all, are jokes by numbers – and computers speak a language of 1s and 0s.

Here’s how it works.

Here are some of the results.

How is an unclean tinned meat different from a pampered sacred writing?
One is a soiled spam the other is a spoiled psalm.

What kind of pre-school has wine?
A play-grape.

What do you call a washing machine with a September?
An Autumn-natic Washer

Acronyms v Initialisms

Just so you know… if you reduce a series of words to initials and pronounce them as a word it’s an acronym, and if you pronounce each letter individually it’s an initialism.

So when I write a headline using an acronym it’s your job to read it as a word so that you get the pun.

Ironically, TLA the popular “acronym” for three letter acronyms isn’t an acronym, it’s an initialism. 

Thanks. That is all.

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