Read in small doses, a humorous and insightful panoply of word play, political humor and linguistic inquiry.



In a follow-up to Alphabet Juice (2008), the author expands his personalized dictionary.

Blount (Hail, Hail, Euphoria!: Presenting the Marx Brothers in Duck Soup, the Greatest War Movie Ever Made, 2010, etc.) is a classic American humorist in the company of H.L. Mencken, Mark Twain, Will Rogers, Andy Rooney and Garrison Keillor. He is also a regular panelist on NPR’s comic quiz show, Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! and consultant to the American Heritage Dictionary. These biographical elements begin to provide a glimpse of the kind of writing readers will encounter in this text: comic, intelligent, political, insightful and often absurd explorations of words as various as “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and “decapitate.” As with previous investigations of language, Blount shows he is a master at blending folksy humor with word play and etymological analysis. His reflections and analyses are witty, funny and unaffected, and his political humor can be sharp. Imagine a collaboration between Normal Rockwell, Groucho Marx and Daniel Webster, and you begin to have a picture of Blount here. If this comparison of sensibilities screams old fashioned, it’s true, but only partly, as many of Blount’s entries deal with current technologies and trends. In one instance, under the entry for “first sentence,” he mocks the opening of Karl Rove’s memoir with characteristically clever sarcasm. However, “folksy” is definitely apropos in describing Blount’s comedy, or maybe even the more recent “old school”—the humor recalls a time when comedy was less crass and offensive, say in Andy Griffith’s Mayberry. A word like “fuck,” for instance, is sanitized and imbedded in an entry for “gollywaddles.”

Read in small doses, a humorous and insightful panoply of word play, political humor and linguistic inquiry.

Pub Date: May 17, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-10370-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Sarah Crichton/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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