Nature Pun and Games

 

(This 874th Buffalo Sunday News column was first published on December 23, 2007.)

 

I am a longtime fan of Richard Lederer, the author of a series of books on abuses of our language, among them Anguished English, An Anthology of Accidental Assaults Upon Our Language; Fractured English; Get Thee to a Punnery; Crazy English and The Play of Words. I have spent many pleasant hours giggling my way through his collections of thoughtless but thought-provoking comments made by real people.

 

I have selected a few of his many examples for this column. They should send you off to your bookstore to add his books to the Christmas stockings you will be filling. Here they are, sorted by various areas of natural history and science:

 

Astronomy

 

      Comets are thought to be ruminants from the beginning of the universe.

      Is there a ring of debris around Uranus?

 

Birds

 

      Each Thanksgiving it is a tradition to shoot peasants.

      In 1957, Eugene O'Neill won a Pullet Surprise.

      Can anybody explain why Kiwi International Airlines is named after a bird that cannot fly?

      The First World War was caused by the assignation of the Arch-Duck.

      Sign outside a California restaurant: Help keep the birds healthy; don't feed them restaurant food.

      Winners at the card party were Miss Wilma Schmidt, a turkey, and Mrs. Ethel Riggs, a chicken.

 

Botany

 

      A virgin forest is a place where the hand of man has never set foot.

      It's spreading like wildflowers.

      Coffee just isn't my cup of tea.

      I don't want to cast asparagus at my opponent.

      Coming home I drove into the wrong house and collided with a tree I didn't have.

      Wanted: Unmarried girls to pick fresh fruit and produce.

      Sign in a Pennsylvania cemetery: Persons are prohibited from picking wildflowers from any but their own graves.

      Ad: Georgia peaches - California grown - 89 lb.

      The pistol of a flower is its only protection against insects.

      Sign outside a gift shop: Live Artificial Trees.

      Lettuce won't brown if you put your head in a plastic bag before placing it in the refrigerator.

 

Chemistry

 

      H2O is hot water and CO2 is cold water.

      Water is composed of two gins: oxygin is pure; hydrogin is mixed with water.

 

Fish

 

      Bait shop sign: Give that Bride a Good Case of Worms and Other Fine Bait. Notice:

      At the Knights of Columbus dinner they will serve the same fish as last year.

 

Geology

 

      Headline: Experts Increase Probability of a Big Quake in California.

 

Insects

 

      In an attempt to kill a fly, I drove into a telephone pole.

      Mr. Porter lectured on destructive pests; many were present.

      Get rid of aunts: Zap does the job in 24 hours.

      Sign in a Michigan restaurant: The early bird gets the worm, special shoppers' luncheon before 11.

 

Mammals

 

      Artificial insemination is when the farmer does it to the cow and not the bull.

      He's a wolf in cheap clothing.

      Lost: Small apricot poodle, Reward, Neutered, Like one of the family.

      Dog for Sale: Eats anything and is fond of children.

      Wanted: Man to take care of cow that does not smoke nor drink.

      Headline: Squad Helps Dog Bite Victim.

      Headline: Panda Mating Fails; Vet Takes Over.

      A liter is a lot of newborn puppies.

      Headline: Sterilization Solves Problems for Pets and Owners.

      Headline: 4-H Girls Win Prizes for Fat Calves.

      Headline: Plea for Cut in Price of Free Milk.

 

Medicine

 

      Louis Pasteur discovered a cure for rabbis.

      Headline: Never Withhold Herpes Infection from Loved One.

      He has unmedicated gall.

      World War II ended on VD Day.

      The blood circulates through the body by flowing down one leg and up the other.

      The patient has no past history of suicides.

      The patient experienced mood swings because she suffered from PBS.

      Claim with merchandise: Every rectal thermometer is personally tested.

      Headline: Man Eating Piranha Mistakenly Sold as Food Fish.

      In spring the salmon swim upstream to spoon.

      Headline: Yellow Perch Decline to be Studied.

 

Weather

 

      Sign on a Tennessee highway: Take notice: When this sign is under water, this road is impassable.

      Listen to Paul Lucas, the complete dope on the weather.

      Wind is like air, only pushier.

      Headline: Typhoon Rips Cemetery, Hundreds Dead.

 

Happy holidays to all.-- Gerry Rising