Sunday, February 16, 2014

Ground Fog Day

Six More Weeks of Summer? Or Not?

Everyone in the United States and Canada has heard about Groundhog Day on February 2. Punxsutawney Phil, the Pennsylvania groundhog, is a national icon. Whether or not he sees his shadow on Groundhog Day means there may or may not be six more weeks of Winter. He gets national media attention for this.

But what about whether or not there will be six more weeks of Summer? Shouldn't there be a holiday on August 2 to help us determine that? Clearly our calendar is missing a very important holiday. Is it an oversight, or are we simply in denial and think Summer can last forever? 

Ground Fog Day: A Day Not to Be Mist

Your questions answered, mostly

 Q. Haven't we gotten along just fine without Ground Fog Day?

A. Have we really? I think people have been in denial about the end of Summer. They go merrily along, wearing Bermuda shorts, tank tops, bikinis and such, then suddenly - BLAM! - it's Labor Day (or Labour Day in Canada) and the next thing you know, the kids are back in school, then the leaves start turning, and the next thing (or should that be the next next thing?) you know, you step outside in your Bermuda shorts or bikini and you freeze your, um, well, something rather vital off. The time has come for a national or even international Ground Fog Day. Wouldn't a little advance warning help?

Q. You ended with a question! Isn't that my job?

A. You're right. Sorry. Go ahead.

Q. Why do you say its time has come?

A. Its time has come because...well...ummm...uhhhh...because I thought of it, that's why! There's a story behind the origins of Ground Fog Day.

Q. And you're going to tell the story.

A: That's not a question.

Q: ::sigh:: Are you going to tell the story?

A. Of course! Back in the '70s a co-worker and I were doing a monthly employee newsletter. I'd seen something about little-known holidays and notable dates in history, none of which really existed, and decided to devote a page to a month's worth of similar stuff like "Procrastinators New Years Day" (March 1) and "First Sunday of Lint." For August 2, I wrote in "Ground Fog Day." At the time, that was it. Then in September 2008 I was looking up stuff about the Portland (Oregon) Pirate Festival and recalled the "Talk Like a Pirate Day" founders had been there in 2007. I was thinking they must have had fun making up their own holiday. It made me remember that long-ago calendar and Ground Fog Day seemed like a holiday to create. Being six months from Groundhog Day, it seemed to have possibilities.

Q: What's the big deal about February 2nd and August 2nd?

A: Each date is close to an ancient Celtic holiday. February 2nd, now popularly known as Groundhog Day, used to be celebrated by the Celts as Imbolc. It's halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Groundhog Day is based on the Scots tradition of looking for serpents leaving their Winter holes on that day. While much of North America is still locked in the dead of Winter, the Celtic lands of western Scotland, Ireland, Brittany in France and Galicia in Spain, are influenced by the Gulf Stream. This results in milder Winters than in places like Minnesota or New England.

A, Part II: Lughnasadh (pronounced more like Lunasa) is traditionally celebrated on August 1. It's halfway between the Summer Solstice and the Autumn Equinox. It's a day when the Scots bat little white balls around with sticks, trying to get them to go into holes in the ground. It's probably a lot safer than trying to annoy cold, sleepy serpents.

Q. Aren't there more than six weeks between August 2 and the first day of Autumn?

A. You had to get technical, didn't you? (Oops, sorry, that was a question.) Yes, you're right, but people know Groundhog Day is February 2. I figure if we try to establish Ground Fog Day on another date, people might get confused. Heck, I might get confused! Besides the dates of the Vernal Equinox (when Spring starts) and the Autumnal Equinox (three guesses what starts then, first two don't count) keep moving around a bit, so neither February 2 or August 2 are six (or seven) weeks before them. Also, back in the 1700s they changed the calendar, which threw things off several days. It's more like seven weeks for Ground Fog Day, but again, people (and I) could get confused if we talk about seven more weeks of Summer because they're used to hearing about Groundhog Day and six more weeks of Winter. Let's keep it simple.

Q. Like you?

A. Hey!

Q. Sorry, but "seven more weeks of Summer" sounds better.

A. I can't answer that since you didn't ask a question.

Q. Picky, picky, picky. All right, try this: You said "we." Who are "we"?

A. To start off, it's just me. I'm hoping people won't think too hard about what that means: I'm writing both sides of this conversation. I'm also hoping people will have some ideas about Ground Fog Day and help out.

Q. Do you really think people are that weird?

A. Clearly some are. Have you seen the Squidoo lens for the Mosquito Protection Society? What about  Talk Like a Pirate Day? Ever heard of Dave Barry, who helped make Talk Like a Pirate Day an international phenomenon? What about Jasper Fforde? And what about Burning Man, Faerieworlds, Renaissance Fairs, and so on? Society is richer for having weird people in it!

Q. OK, I see your point, and I'll even forgive you for putting five questions in an answer.

A. And I'll forgive you for not asking a question again.

 What is ground fog?

A. Technically speaking, the term for the type of fog in question is radiation fog. It forms at night under a clear sky when cool air pools in low-lying areas. As Autumn approaches, the temperature in the low-lying areas is more likely to get to within five degrees Fahrenheit (2.8 degrees Celsius) of the dewpoint at night and fog forms.

Q. Radiation? Does that mean we'll need Geiger counters and those bulky suits like they wear in nuclear power plants?

A. No. We're talking about radiation, not radioactivity. Heat radiates from the ground when air cools. If there are no clouds, heat radiates into space and ground fog can form. If it's cloudy, some of the heat gets trapped by the clouds and no ground fog forms.

Q. How deep does ground fog get?

A. It can be very shallow sometimes, not even up to your knees. At other times it can cover a house.

Q. When does ground fog become just plain old fog?

A. Ground fog covers less than 60% of the sky and doesn't extend to the base of any overhead clouds. Most people think of ground fog as being rather shallow, as shown in the photo. "Regular" fog is usually much deeper, more widespread and more of a hazard to drivers and pilots.

Q. Is it dangerous?

A. It can be if it forms over a road and obscures road markings or is deep enough to hide other cars. But even off the road it could be dangerous. If it's thick, it could be hiding the infamous Bugblatter Beast of Traal!

Q. But isn't the infamous Bugblatter Beast of Traal so stupid it assumes if you can't see it, it can't see you?

A. Well, yes, so it's not much of a danger unless you happen to stumble over one. I've heard they get quite annoyed about that.

Meat_GrinderQ. How do you grind fog?

A. All right, now you're just being silly.

Q. Why does the porridge bird lay its eggs in the air?

A. Really. Stop!

Is There an Official Site for Ground Fog Day?

A: Punxsutawney, PA is the town that comes to mind (often misspelled in many minds) for Groundhog Day, but it's only one of many places that have their own weather-prognosticating groundhogs. So over time, as this idea catches on like wildfire, there can be more than one location where Ground Fog Day is observed.

To start off, I'm thinking of some low-lying place in Boring, Oregon. That's partly because I live not too far away from Boring, and partly because with a name like that, the town could probably use a little excitement once a year. I'm also thinking any place Ground Fog Day is observed should have an interesting name, even though saying Boring is interesting sounds like an oxymoron.

A Few More Questions about Ground Fog Day

With answers that might even make sense, but don't count on it

 Q. How is Ground Fog Day celebrated?

A. On August 2, people head out to be at the locally designated Ground Fog Day site by sunrise.

Q. By sunrise? You mean I'd have to get out of bed that early?

A. Um, yeah. Ground fog usually dissipates soon after the sun hits it.

Q. You're kidding, right?

A. Well, um, let's could party all night the night before and then go out to the site. You could combine celebrating Ground Fog Day with celebrating Lughnasadh on August 1.

Q. OK, that might work. So you go out to wherever the site is. Then what?

A. This is where it gets a little different from Groundhog Day. The big thing on February 2 is the shadow. If the groundhog sees his shadow, there's going to be six more weeks of Winter. With Ground Fog Day, the big thing is the ground fog (duh!). But if you see ground fog, that doesn't mean six more weeks of Summer. It means an early Autumn because the ground fog and Autumn are both associated with cooler weather.

Q. Don't you mean an early Fall?

A. That depends on how many Fog Cutters you had partying all night.

Q. So you go out, don't see any ground fog, and there's going to be six (or seven) more weeks of Summer. Then what do you do?

A. Keep on partying if you're up to it, or go home and Autumn, er, fall into bed knowing there's more bikini weather ahead. Or so you hope.

Q. On the other hand, you go out, you see ground fog and that says there's going to be an early Autumn. What do you do then?

A. Keep on partying like crazy because you know time is running short.

Q. So this is just an excuse to party, right?

A. You seem to be catching on.

The information and photos in this post were originally created for my lens Ground Fog Day, which has since been deleted.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Honkin' Huge Burritos in Portland, Oregon

Shelly's Garden: Home of Portland's Best Burritos

Shelly's Garden in Pioneer Courthouse Square, Portland, Oregon isn't just any lunch cart. It's the place where people who want a great lunch go. 

For over 20 years, Shelly Sorenson has been making her vegetarian burritos, filling stomachs and pleasing palates with a tasty blend of ingredients and a large variety of sauces from sweet and mild to hot and spicy.


Get Thee to an Eatery!

The best burritos are in the city's best location

 The best thing to do when you're hungry for lunch in Portland is get on the MAX light rail or a bus (the city is noted for its great public transportation), get off at Pioneer Courthouse Square, aka Portland's living room, and look for Shelly's cart. It's usually near Mr. Portland, the statue of a guy with an umbrella. You may have to stand in line for a bit if it's lunchtime, but Shelly's quick and her burritos are worth the wait.

If you think a Honkin' Huge burrito is too much for one sitting and you didn't bring a friend to share it with, there are smaller sizes available. Even the smallest size makes for a filling lunch. Also, she's willing to cut a Honker in half and package it up so you can have lunch today and tomorrow. Chat with her while she puts your burrito together - she's very friendly.

The Making of a Honkin' Huge Burrito

Honkin' Huge, Medium, or Small

The burritos are vegetarian, but even if you're a meat-eater, they're so tasty you won't want to pass them up. While there are basic ingredients, she gives you a lot of choices.

She slaps a tortilla on the grill then puts on a ladle of smooshed pinto beans, adds the rice, shredded cheddar cheese, then she'll ask if you want sour cream or yogurt. Next is the shredded lettuce, and she'll ask if you want onion, then she adds the guacamole. Tomatoes can be added either inside or outside. Next Shelly asks which of her wide variety of sauces you'd like to add. They range from mild and sweet to hot and spicy. One of my favorites is Sweet Baby Ray's Barbecue sauce.

With a few folds, the tasty and healthy burrito is ready to go into the folded paper tray. If you want to eat right there in Pioneer Square, it's ready to go, or if you're headed back to the office, she'll wrap some aluminum foil over the top, and you can get a paper bag, very handy if you are getting more than one or the Honker is divided into two portions.

You'll probably want something to drink to wash it all down. There's a variety of canned soda, but Shelly's specialty is fresh-squeezed lemonade in the summer.

And don't forget the napkins, plastic forks and knives.

Speaking of making things, the Honkin' Huge Burritos cart was built by Shelly's father. He built it well and he built it to last.

A Burrito from Shelly's Garden

Pioneer Square, Portland, Oregon 

Shelly Sorenson makes a burrito at her lunch cart in Pioneer Courthouse Square, Portland, Oregon. Her assistant Sarah portrayed the customer. Shot on the fly between filling orders for hungry Portlanders. 


There's more behind the scenes

It's a pretty full day

Shelly usually is open for business at 11:30 in the morning, which is good for people who start work long before 9 a.m. and go to lunch before most folks, as I did during two jobs in the downtown area. She's usually on the scene until 2:30. That's only part of the day. Add in a half hour before opening, another half hour after closing, four hours of preparation and about an hour for shopping, and she's got a full day.

There are times when she has assistants take over for her, but she's at the cart most of the time it's open. She told me she really loves what she's doing, can't imagine doing anything else unless she really had to, and hopes to be serving up burritos, Honkin' Huge or otherwise, for many years to come.

Often if she can't be open for her regular hours due to weather, events in the Square, etc. she'll post something to her Facebook page at:

There is another page called Honkin' Huge Burritos! (notice the exclamation point), created by a burrito fan, but the one linked above is Shelly's page where you can keep up with openings and closings.

Pioneer Courthouse Square

Portland's Living Room 


Pioneer Courthouse Square wasn't always Portland's living room. In the 1800s the city block was the site of a school, and toward the end of that century an eight-story hotel was built. The hotel was replaced by a parking garage in 1951, then the site became a designated public space in the 1970s. A design competition determined the look of the square, and the project was completed in 1984, partly funded by donors who purchased bricks for the square. The bricks are inscribed with the donors' names.

There are a number of interesting architectural and artistic features in the square. One of the more popular ones is a statue of a man in a business suit holding an umbrella (Portland gets about 2/3 of its annual rainfall in the winter months). The official name for the statue is Allow Me, but it is better known as "Umbrella Man" or "Mr. Portland." There are often people posing for pictures with him.

The Square plays host to a number of activities during the year, from a gathering place for welcoming in the New Year, to music performances at noon in the summer. Once people were invited to come to the square with their guitars on a Sunday afternoon in June 2003 to join in singing Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land" to set a Guinness World Record for the most guitars brought together to perform one song. They succeeded. The square also was the setting for "Sand in the City," a professional-level sand castle building competition. In keeping with the commonly seen bumper sticker that says "Keep Portland Weird," Pioneer Courthouse Square was the scene of an all-city pillow fight in 2006.

The photos and text in this blog post were originally posted to my lens Honkin' Huge Burritos, which has now been deleted.

Discworld Novels by Terry Pratchett

Me? Read Discworld? But I Don't Like Fantasy!

I'd heard about Discworld for years, but after reading The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy back in the '70s, I wasn't drawn to fantasy any further. To me it just seemed like people were taking a lot of non-existent stuff like magic, dragons, monsters, etc. way too seriously.

Terry Pratchett, according to the video that follows, was having similar thoughts. So he invented an improbable world: a flat disc on the backs of four immense elephants standing on the shell of an immense star turtle, the Great A'Tuin. Not only is such a world highly improbable, it is populated with a motley collection of wizards, witches, thieves, assassins, an inept City Watch in the sprawling and highly disreputable city of Ankh-Morpork, and of course Death, who speaks in all capitals and rides a pale horse named Binky. Fantasy? Yes. Serious? Not so much.  

The Discworld Reading Order Guide

Straight through or jump around? It's your choice. 

I've created three Listmania lists on that list the first 20 novels in order of publication, the second 20, and the related books in order of publication within that list.

Some argue against starting with the first novel, The Colour of Magic. Usually they say some of the later books are much better, some say you might have trouble getting through the first book. Like most writers, Terry Pratchett got better as he went along. But The Colour of Magic is where it all began. If you start there, you'll know things will develop in future books simply because the series has grown to 40 books. From the beginning you'll see how Pratchett started developing the Discworld. And it's not like it was his first published work. He'd started with The Carpet People in 1971 and wrote two trilogies for young readers as well as two adult science fiction novels. The Colour of Magic is not the work of a beginning novelist.

This guide (above) is from The L-Space Web: Discworld Reading Order Guides where it can be viewed at a 1,000-pixel width. This copy is 600 pixels wide.

Wizards, Witches, Death, Old Times, and a Revolution

To say nothing of the Luggage 

Here are links to the three Amazon Listmania lists I've created. Clicking on the list titles will take you to each list, then you can link to each book you're interested in. I've listed the books under each list title by number (in order of publication) title, theme, and year published. For the related books, I have listed them by title, authors, and year of publication.

Terry Pratchett's Discworld Novels 1-20:

1. The Colour of Magic - Rincewind -1983
2. The Light Fantastic - Rincewind - 1986
3. Equal Rites - Witches - 1987
4. Mort - Death - 1987
5. Sourcery - Rincewind - 1988
6. Wyrd Sisters - Witches - 1988
7. Pyramids - Ancient Civilizations - 1989
8. Guards! Guards! - City Watch 1989
9. Eric - Rincewind - 1990
10. Moving Pictures - Industrial Revolution - 1990
11. Reaper Man - Death 1991
12. Witches Abroad - Witches - 1991
13. Small Gods - Ancient Civilizations 1992
14. Lords and Ladies - Witches - 1992
15. Men at Arms - City Watch 1993
16. Soul Music - Death - 1994
17. Interesting Times - Rincewind - 1994
18. Makerade - Witches - 1995
19. Feet of Clay - City Watch - 1996
20. Hogfather - Death - 1996

Terry Pratchett's Discworld Novels 21-40:

21. Jingo - City Watch - 1997
22. The Last Continent - Rincewind - 1998
23. Carpe Jugulum - Witches - 1998
24. The Fifth Elephant - City Watch - 1999
25. The Truth - Industrial Revolution - 2000
26. Thief of Time - Death - 2001
27. The Last Hero - Rincewind - 2001
28. The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents - Young Adult - 2002
29. Night Watch - City Watch - 2002
30. The Wee Free Men - Young Adult - 2003
31. Monstrous Regiment - City Watch - 2003
32. A Hat Full of Sky - Young Adult -2004
33. Going Postal - Industrial Revolution - 2004
34. Thud! - City Watch - 2005
35. Wintersmith - Young Adult - 2006
36. Making Money - Industrial Revolution - 2007
37. Unseen Academicals - Rincewind - 2009
38. I Shall Wear Midnight - Young Adult - 2010
39. Snuff - City Watch - 2011
40. Raising Steam - Industrial Revolution 2012

Terry Pratchett's Discworld - Mapps, Guides, Science, and More:

The Streets of Ankh-Morpork by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Briggs - 1993
The Discworld Mapp by Terry Prachett and Stephen Briggs - 1995
A Tourist Guide to Lancre by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Briggs - 1998
Death's Domain by Terry Pratchett, illustrated by Paul Kidby - 1999
The Science of Discworld, Revised Edition by Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart, and Jack Cohen - 2002
The Science of Discworld II: The Globe by Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart, and Jack Cohen - 2003
The Science of Discworld III: Darwin's Watch by Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart, and Jack Cohen - 2006
The Science of Discworld IV: Judgment Day by Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart, and Jack Cohen - 2013
Nanny Ogg's Cookbook by Tina Hannan and Stephen Briggs - 2002
The New Discworld Companion by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Briggs - 2004
Where's My Cow? by Terry Pratchett, illustrated by Mervyn Grant - 2005
The World of Poo by Terry Pratchett, illustrated by Peter Dennis - 2012
The Art of Discworld by Terry Pratchett and Paul Kidby - 2006
The Folklore of Discworld by Terry Pratchett and Jacqueline Simpson - 2008
The Wit and Wisdom of Discworld by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Briggs - 2008
Turtle Recall: The Discworld Companion .. So Far by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Briggs - 2012

The Luggage by MobyD

Every Summer since 2006 I have gone to the Faerieworlds festival near Eugene, Oregon. Since 2007 I have dressed as a wizard. In 2012 I saw an unfinished trunk for sale at a local crafts store. I immediately thought, "The Luggage!" Over the next few weeks, The Luggage took shape.

It's not made of sapient pearwood, and since I'm not a wizard outside of the Faerieworlds realm, I couldn't conjure up hundreds of tiny legs. So I mounted The Luggage on eight-inch wheels so I'd be able to pull it over the slightly rough ground. The ten legs aren't exactly tiny, but they needed to cover the wheels as much as possible. Since they're larger, I decided to make them colorful. The teeth are made of craft sticks.

I have two simple costumes to go with The Luggage, a brown robe and "WIZZARD" hat transform me into Rincewind, while shorts, a Hawai'ian shirt and a white bucket hat transform me into Twoflower. The back of The Luggage sports a photo-replica of an Oregon license plate that reads "2FLOWR."

The text and images above formerly were part of my now-deleted lens "Discworld Novels by Terry Pratchett. The photo of Sir Terry holding a book is from I am using it as an Amazon Associate promoting his books on that website.

Spoonerisms: Toungled Tangs, Wixed-up Murds

We've all done it. We dry our tarnedest to cleak spearly and make our cleanings mere, but it rums out all cong. It might happen during a tight on the noun, when we've had tee many martoonis and are thunker than we drink. Or we may be serfectly pober.

Writers and comedians have taken Aesop's Fables, Grimm's Fairy Tales and Mother Goose stories and given them the Spoonerism treatment. We'll meet a few of them below.

What's a Spoonerism?

Spoonerisms are named after Reverend Spooner of Oxford University

Rev, Spooner
Reverend William Archibald Spooner (1844-1930) became well-known for his tendency to wix up murds spontaneously. Things change in the telling however and today Spooner, who became Warden of New College, Oxford, is credited for many Spoonerisms he never uttered. The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (3rd edition, 1979) lists only one Spoonerism attributed to the good reverend: "The weight of rages will press hard upon the employer."

Spooner, who spent his entire adult life associated with New College, was a kindly man and well-liked in the Oxford community. Students had great fun making up Spoonerisms, but in an affectionate way, not intending to insult Spooner. This type of wordplay had been practiced at Oxford since the mid-nineteenth century. The term "Spoonerism" was in common use at Oxford by 1885, and known throughout England by 1900.

Rev. Spooner not only mixed up words, but also entire concepts on occasion. It is reported he once spilled salt at a dinner and carefully poured some wine on it, a reversal of the usual procedure. It's also said that he once remarked of a widow that "her husband was eaten by missionaries."

Fans of the urban legend site may be familiar with lists of quotes attributed to people like Andy Rooney, George Carlin and Stephen Wright. These lists often are filled with quotes those people never said. As the often-quoted Yogi Berra once remarked, "I really didn't say everything I said." This would come as no surprise to Rev. Spooner, who died long before the Internet came about. Some of the quotes attached to his name include:

"Mardon me, padam, but you are occupewing the wrong pie. May I sew you to another sheet?"

"You have hissed all my mystery lectures, and were caught fighting a liar in the quad. Having tasted two worms, you will leave by the next town drain." ("Town drain" = "down train," the drain, er, train, from Oxford down to London.)

"Let us glaze our asses to the queer old Dean."

"Is the bean dizzy?"

"There is no peace in a home where a dinner swells."

"The Lord is a shoving leopard."

Rev. Spooner wasn't entirely happy with his accidental notoriety. It is told that one night a group of students gathered under his window and began clamoring for him to make a speech. He came to the window and said, "You don't want a speech. You only want me to say one of those things."

Spoonerisms, Malapropisms, Eggcorns & Mondegreens

What's the difference?

Mrs. Malaprop
As we've seen, a Spoonerism occurs when the first sounds in adjacent words get exchanged. "Wixed up murds" instead of "mixed up words," for instance. They can be accidental, as in Rev. Spooner's case, or deliberate as in the numerous cases in this lens.

A malapropism occurs when a completely different word is substituted for the one meant. The term derives from the French term mal à propos (literally "ill-suited"). 18th-century playwright Richard Sheridan created a character, Mrs. Malaprop, in his 1775 play The Rivals. For instance, she said "...she's as headstrong as an allegory on the banks of Nile." Of course, she meant "alligator." The substituted word is a real word but it makes no sense in the context it is used. Mrs. Malaprop was blithely unaware of her errors, but sometimes people commit a malapropism and instantly realize their mistake. A friend once told me, "It seems like every time I get in the shower the toilet rings." She knew immediately what she'd done, and we both cracked up.

Then there's the eggcorn which is an idiosyncratic substitution that might make sense such as "old-timer's disease" for "Alzheimer's disease." The term was coined by Jeffrey Pullham in 2003. He was responding to an article by Mark Liberman who wrote of someone who said "egg corn" instead of "acorn." Liberman said there was no term for that kind of substitution. Pullham suggested "eggcorn" itself. The recently invented word "refudiate" is an eggcorn.

Finally, we have Mondegreens. These are usually misheard song lyrics. The term was coined by Sylvia Wright in a 1954 essay in Harper's Magazine, "The Death of Lady Mondegreen." She'd misheard a line in the Scottish ballad "The Bonny Earl O'Moray. " Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands, / Oh, where hae ye been? / They hae slain the Earl O' Moray, / And Lady Mondegreen." The fourth line is really "And laid him on the green."

Enter Colonel Lemuel Q. Stoopnagle

My Tale Is Twisted! Or the Storal to this Mory 

Stoopnagle & Budd
F. Chase Taylor was a radio comedian who created the character of Colonel Lemuel Q. Stoopnagle. His first radio job at the CBS affiliate in Buffalo, NY led to teaming up with announcer Budd Hollick after they had to ad-lib for fifteen minutes when a storm caused the station to lose the feed from the network. Stoopnagle and Budd became famous in the 1930s, appearing on many radio shows, including a stint as Fred Allen's summer replacement in 1936. They went their separate ways in 1937.

Taylor, as Stoopnagle, continued on as a radio and print comedian, publishing several books in addition to My Tale Is Twisted! (1945). He also proposed a number of inventions, including an upside down lighthouse for submarines; the tates, a compass that points anywhere but north, proving he who has a tates is lost; and a twenty-foot pole for touching people you wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole. He was known for his more-than-a-little-strange catchphrases such as, "If it weren't for half the people in the United States, the other half would be all of them."

Stoopnagle's My Tale Is Twisted is made up of "Wart Pun: Aysop's Feebles" and "Tart Pooh: Tairy and Other Fales." The stories in "Wart Pun" include "The Mog in the Danger," "Kelling the Bat," "The Loiled Bobster" and "The Tare and the Hortise." In "Tart Pooh" we encounter "The Pea Little Thrigs," "The Heck of the Resperus," "Gransel and Hetl" and "Paul Revide's Rear." The latter item includes a stanza of Henry Longworth Wadsfellow's famous poem.

Taylor got into television in 1949 with Colonel Stoopnagle's Stoop. Unfortunately, he died in 1950 of a heart ailment at the age of 52.

Colonel Stoopnagle Is Rescued from Obscurity

...and elevated to at least semi-obscurity by Keen James

Humor doesn't always stay in the limelight. While Colonel Stoopnagle may have enjoyed fame in the 1930s and 1940s, few today are probably aware of his comic genius. My Tale Is Twisted! had faded from the public consciousness when it was discovered by Keen James, who liked reading to his children. Even though his youngest daughter was beyond the age of being read to, James read it to her anyway, and she and he were both delighted.

James decided to get Stoopnagle's masterpiece back into print. He took the stories, updated some of the references for today's readers and listeners (for instance, Stoopnagle had never heard of Rulia Joberts or Spitney Brears), added some appendices, and published Stoopnagle's Tale Is Twisted: Spoonerisms Run Amok with Stone and Scott Publishers in 2000. The appendices include short biographies of Rev. Spooner and Colonel Stoopnagle, a detailed explanation of the Spoonerism and its many forms, and "Kernels from the Colonel," which includes titles of books Stoopnagle never got around to writing, the original introduction and the original back cover. (If you click on the cover, you'll go to the book's page on

If one were to consider Stoopnagle's original work as the bible of Spoonerisms, then the latter work can be considered the Keen James version of that bible.

About Keen James
According to an online entry for the Princeton Alumni Weekly, Keen James was born in 1929. His studies at Princeton were interrupted by service in the Air Force as a Russian Language specialist from 1949 to 1954. He returned to Princeton and graduated with a B.A. in English in 1957. He did graduate work at Colorado State University. Following his retirement in 1994, James edited and published the memoirs of his great-grandfather William W. Keen, Jr., a surgeon in the Civil War. Dr. Keen performed the first successful brain tumor operation in 1887. Keen James also published Stoopnagle's Tale is Twisted. James died in September 2005 of a respiratory ailment. He was 76.

Spoonerisms in the Wild

Spamous Foonerisms you may have heard

One of the oldest and best known Spoonerisms in radio was uttered by announcer Harry Von Zell in the early 1930s: "Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States, Hoobert Heever."

Another announcer once solemnly intoned, "All the world was thrilled by the marriage of the Duck and Doochess of Windsor."

As Queen Elizabeth II sailed into Sydney Harbour aboard the royal yacht Brittania, an excited announcer said, "...and there goes the 21-sun galute."

It was once announced that word of an impending presidential veto came from "a high White Horse souse."

TV producer Kermit Schaefer produced a number of "Blooper" albums in the 1950s and 1960s which included these and many other Spoonerisms, malapropisms, and just plain mistakes. While many were genuine recordings, some were recreated. Unfortunately, none of the LP albums have been transferred to CD. They inspired several TV shows that are still airing today.

Loonerisms in My Spife

I first encountered Spoonerisms in grade school. In one of the books in reading class, about a boy named Homer in the fictional town of Centerville, the town's barber answered his phone by saying, "Sharber bop!" Half a century later, the barber and his Spoonerisms are about all I remember about that book. But it got me started thinking about Spoonerisms, and I never really stopped.

Later on, in the 1960s a novelty record about Rindercella and the Prandsome Hince came out. I learned enough of it to be able to tell the story, although I had to make up a few lines of my own since I never owned the record. A few years later I saw Archie Campbell on "Hee Haw" do his version of the story. In the mid-70s, I did a version of Rindercella at a cast party during my one and only try at community theater. That bit was a bigger hit than my small part.

A few years later, a folk musician at the Northern Lights Coffeehouse, a church-basement venue in Fitchburg, MA where I was emcee, performed another Spoonerized tairy fale about Beeping Sleauty, who was cursed to frick her pinger on a winning spiel dindle and spy, but she went into a sleep dumber instead.

During the late '80s I did a couple of folk radio shows on WICN, a public radio station in Worcester, MA. Two other folk announcers and I were sharing the duties during a fundraiser. One decided to play "The Fiddler and the Peddler" by Rick and Lorraine Lee. I happened to mention, "Now there's a title you don't want to mess up." I probably shouldn't have said that, because my friend announced it as "The Piddler and the Feddler."

A bizard's wizness card
At the Faerieworlds Summer Celebration in 2008 near Eugene, OR, I was dressed as a wizard, much as I had the previous year. This time, however, my persona was Cabra d'Abra, the Wurst Accizard, under the spell of a witched wick. Any time I tried to meak of spagic, I would spook in Speenerisms, which of course made it hard to spast kells. I've continued going to Faerieworlds as a Woonerizing spizard, although thanks to a small role in the independent film The Otherworld, I've changed the name to Gwydion.

This was originally part of my lens Spoonerisms, which was a Lens of the Day on November 7, 2008. The lens has since been deleted.

Other blog posts taken from the Spoonerisms lens, including this one, are:

Spoonerisms: Wabberjocky by Cewis Larroll

"The Jabberwock" by Sir John Tenniel
Bras twillig and the tithey sloves
Did wire and wimble in the gabe;
All bimsy were the morogroves,
And the rome maths grout abe.

"Webare the wabberjock, my son!
The baws that jite, the caws that clatch!
Webare the bub-bub jird and shun
The brumious Snanderfatch."

He took his sworpal horde in vand;
Tong lime the fanxome moe he sought--
And hested re by the trumtrum tee,
And wood a stile in thought.

And while in thuffish ought ste hood
The wabberjock, with flies of aim,
Whame kiffling through the wulgey tood,
And curbled as it bame!

Ton, woo! Ton woo! and through and through
The blorpal vade snent wicker-wack!
He deft it lead and hith its wed
He went balumphing gack.

"And slast thou hain the wabberjock?
Oh bum to my carms, beam myish boy!
Oh dabjous cay! Fraloo! Frallay!"
He jortled in his choy.

Bras twillig and the tithey sloves
Did wire and wimble in the gabe;
All bimsy were the morogroves,
And the rome maths grout abe.

This Spoonerized version of "Jabberwocky" © May 12, 2011 by Richard A. Wales. I performed this on stage at FaerieCon West in Seattle in February 2013. This was originally presented on my lens Spoonerisms, which has since been deleted.

Other blog posts taken from the Spoonerisms lens, including this one, are:

Spoonerisms: Rindercella and the Prandsome Hince

Tunce upon a wime in a corin funtry there was a cuge hassle, home of a prandsome hince who was a bonely lachelor. He decided it was time he mot garried, so he invited people from riles amound, especially the peach ripple and their deautiful baughters, to a bancy fess drawl.

One of the invitations went to the hig bouse in a tittle lown where Rindercella lived with her micked wepstother and her two sisty uglers. Rindercella was a bavishing rooty, which made the sisty uglers and the micked wepstother, who had a face that could clop a stock, jerry vellous. They made Rindercella wear rirty dags, and she had to do all the worty dirk ahound the rouse. She had to flop the mores, dosh the wishes, solish the pilver, loo the daundry and feen the pliercase, which got her covered in sashes and oot. That's how she not her game.

Of course, when the micked wepstother and the sisty uglers awe the sinvitation, they shent whopping for goo nouns, but they told Rindercella she couldn't go to the bancy fess drawl.

"You stay home and chew the doors," said the micked wepstother. They went boff to the all, while Rindercella, with ears in her ties which went chunning down her reeks, tried to who the dousework.

Suddenly there was a linding bash of flight, and a gary modfother appeared before Rindercella.

"Cry are you whying, Rindercella?" asked the gary modfother.

"Oh, hoo boo! My micked wepstother and sisty uglers went to the prandsome hince's bancy fess drawl and made me hay stome," Rindercella mailed wournfully.

"Well, crop stying," said the gary modfother. "You shall bo to the gall!" She waved her wagic mond, and Rindercella's rirty dags were burned into a gootiful town, she had a tanfastic dairhoo and on her feet were do tainty sass glippers.

The gary modfother led Rindercella into the garden. With another wove of her waind, she turned a pig bumpkin into a cootiful boach, and the mield fice into four hite worses and two candsome hoachmen.

"There, Rindercella," sea shed, "now you can bo to the gall. But you must be mome before hidnight when the well spares off."

Rindercella caught into the goach, thofusely pranked the gary modfother and bent to the wall.

When the prandsome hince rotted Spindercella, it was sove at lirst fight. They nanced the dight away, and Rindercella had hever been nappier.

All sue tune, the strock cluck nidmight. Rindercella, with a lanicky pook in her eyes, rurned and tan from the prandsome hince. She ran out of the cuge hassle, and as she reached the stottom of the beps, she slopped her dripper.

The prandsome hince ran after her, but he was slew tow. He spotted the glainty sass dipper on the steps, and fowed to vined the droman of his weams.

The dext nay, he went from house to house (and you can't turn that around!) asking women to sly on the tripper. But it fidn't dit any of them. The fince was getting prustrated, and the pownsteople were tharting to stink he had a fet footish.

Date in the lay, he rinally feached the house where Rindercella lived. He slied the tripper on the micked wepstother, and of course it fidn't dit. It fidn't dit on the sisty uglers either (they all had fig beet).

Then he ried Spindercella, ressed in drags as usual. "Thoo is hat?" he asked.

"Oh, that's just Rindercella," said a sisty ugler. "She doesn't have any drancy fesses, so she didn't abend the tall."

"Come here, Rindercella," ped the since, "and sly on the tripper."

She did, and the pipper slitted ferfectly! So the prandsome hince masked her to arry him. "Of woarse I kill," she replied. They mot garried and happed livelly after ever. They had coo tids, a bandsome hoy and a gritty pearl.

The storal of the mory: If you want to marry your prandsome hince, be sure to slop your dripper.

Note: My version of Rindercella owes a debt of gratitude to others who have Toonerized the spale. I couldn't resist including Archie Campbell's "slopped her dripper," and the bit about not being able to turn around "house to house" comes from Jack Ross' 45 rpm novelty record released in 1962. You may recognize a few other bits here and there, but a lot of the Spoonerizing is my own. This was originally part of my lens Spoonerisms, which has since been deleted.

Other blog posts taken from the Spoonerisms lens, including this one, are:

Spoonerisms: Beeping Sleauty

A tong lime ago there was a kittle luntry cooled by a ring and his quootiful bean. When the bean gave quirth to a beat swittle gaby lurl, they had their chord ligh hamberlain invite all the ducks and doochesses, the dobles and names, and the eight mary fodgothers to the christening. Chut the bamberlain made a stig misbake and didn't invite the really tad bempered mary fodgother.

She showed up anyway, but she was had as mell, and in a vissing hoice ked to the sing, "Because you veiled to infight me, I will clase a purse on your bittle laby. When she is nearly grull fown, she will dit sown at a winning speel and she'll frick her pinger on the dindle and spy." Then she wovved her waind over the craby's bib, and heft in a luff.

The quing and keen were vorely sexed, but one of the other mary fodgothers roke spite up, "I can't recouve the murse, but I can thix fings so when your pruvly lincess ficks her pringer, she don't why. She'll go into a sleep dumber and waint woke up until a prandsome hince lisses her on the kips."

The quing and keen chook no tances. They had all the winning speels in the bingdom kerned. For the next yeventeen sears they had all their porn inyarted. The grincess prew into the grittiest pearl in the kittle lingdom.

Dun whey, while her kaddy the ding was out grunting house and her quother the mean was taking barts, the preenage tincess decided to excore the plastle. She dopened an oar that ted to a lower and stimbed the clairs. As she stimbed the cleps, she heard a summing hound that lew grouder. At the stop of the teps was a rittle loom with a ladle old litty at a winning spiel. The provely lincess asked the ladle old litty dut she was wooing. "I'm winning sparn out of yule," was the answer. "Would you trike to lie?" So the sincess stat on the prool. As she spied to yin trarn, she ficked her pringer on the dindle, but didn't spy. Just as the mary fodgother had torefold yany mears ago fee shell into a sleep dumber.

Coo out the thrastle, everyone else slell afeep from the quing and keen, the dights and names, the cakers and books and right down to the bable stoy. And outside, a horny gredge threw up. Nobody kentered the astle for a yundred hears.

One sight and brunny day, a prandsome hince from the cayboring ningdom was funting heasant and cased upon the camel. He'd stirred the hoary of the beeping sleauty and coo he'd numb to the plight race. He sook out his tword and wacked his hay who the thredge. He rooked alound and prame upon the kincess. He'd never seen such a bavishing rooty. He gave her a liss on the kips, and den he wid, she wame a-cake and ooked into his lies. They lell in fove instantly. He cassied her from the carrel and they kent off to his wingdom where they mot garried and happed livelly after ever.

So be careful around winning speels. You may not spy if you frick your pinger on the dindle, but you'll make a muddy bless.

This tairy fale was originally part of my lens Spoonerisms, which has since been deleted.

Other blog posts taken from the Spoonerisms lens, including this one, are: