7.20.2005

Tom Tom Club

tomswift

"I still can't believe my godfather is dead!" Harry said seriously.

Sorry. Been reading Harry Potter.
And there's nothing better than a ripping Harry Potter Tom Swifty to start off a post!

So this morning, I was thinking about Tom Swifties. Not sure why... I hadn't really thought of them in ages, probably since I read them in the "Think & Grin" section of Boys' Life magazine. They're named after a character in an old series named Tom Swift. The book (over)used adverbs to describe most of Tom's dialogue ("Father," said Tom earnestly, "may I buy that machine of him?") and soon it became fun to riff on that structure punningly.

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Boys' Life. Now there's an apostrophe to be pondered, yes? Possessive use, so it is the life that belongs to... the boys? One life shared by millions of boys, then? This is the meaning, I believe. Is it that the more proper, I think, Boys' Lives just doesn't swing? Or is the use of Life truly a singular item available to many? As in "Jesus said I am...the Life"? Usage of Life in this way warrants this treatment, I suppose. Jesus is the Life, singular. So in reference to a group of boys all of whom would see Jesus as theirs, we could say "Boys' Life". But we will never do this. And I don't think that's what the Boy Scouts are getting at.

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Tom Swifties are way more fun to me 20 years later. At the time, I got them. But I didn't appreciate the minds behind them. At 13, "orange you glad I didn't say banana"? was still killing. And there are some terrible Tom Swifties out there. But some pretty clever ones, too. To wit:

" ..., and you lose a few," said Tom winsomely.
"I'd love some Chinese food," said Tom wantonly.
"We're presently thinking about a figure somewhere between 7 and 9," said Tom considerately.
"I dropped the toothpaste," said Tom, crestfallen. (doesn't technically fit adverb structure, but funny)
" ," said Tom blankly

Maybe you think these are the worst of puns. They make me laugh. Not OMGROFLMAO. Just usually one Hunh! or even no laugh, just a thoughtful nod that says "well crafted".
For me, even the terrible ones are due props to the thinker-upper:

"No pilaf for me, please", said Tom derisively.
"Fee, fo, fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman!" said the giant defiantly.
"I've lost my trousers," Tom said expansively.

None of these are mine, but the Harry Potter one. Which is quite inside baseball, if you're not a fan. But who isn't, really? I mean, come on! One more:

"Where's the Hogwarts gamekeeper?" Tom said haggardly.

Don't much like this one, but it's what I got.
I've shown you mine. Now you show me yours.

4 comments:

ACoolKid said...

"Harry...I'm scared," said Cecdrc gravely.

Eric "Babe" Morse said...

Ouch. Poor bloke.

BP said...

When reading the above, couldn't help but think of Mercutio's "Ask for me tomorrow and you will find me a grave man!"

"Unfortunately, I'm not bright enough for Swifties," said Tom gloomily.

Eric "Babe" Morse said...

"I would walk 500 miles for witty people like y'all," Tom proclaimed.