In a recent poetic post, I referenced the "man from Nantucket" limerick. And then it occurred to me that, despite this verse's being the paradigm of obscenity -- and despite me being me -- I had no idea how it went on after the first line.
(Perhaps it's one of those things that's funnier if it's left to the imagination, which is why I resist all entreaties to actually write a book about the foul adventures of the fouler Finsbury the Ferret, the foulest character of my character, Oliver Swithin.)
So imagine my amazement when I discovered that the original author had penned an inoffensive little place-name pun, little knowing that he'd baited the hook for generations of dirty-minded poetasters to come. From a 1902 edition of the Princeton Tiger:
The advantage of having your books published in November or December is that you can force your friends to give them as Christmas gifts.
The disadvantage is that they come out too close to the deadline for nominations for many mystery awards -- actually, past the cut-off date for that one-time-only Edgar for first novel. It doesn't give readers time to get to my book in the TBR pile, realize they're in the presence of genius, and form noisy tent cities outside the homes of the Agatha nominating committee. (The coveted Agatha is the top literary award for my kind of mystery, the "cozy.")
Will Shortz. Very nice man.
But yesterday evening, I went with my friend Cindy for the first time to the Westchester Crossword Competition, organized by Will Shortz, crossword maven for the New York Times, in his home town in Pleasantville. And I got a runner-up prize as the second-fastest "rookie" -- and the winner in this category was only a second ahead of me. (In fact, I might have beaten him had it not taken a moment to sink in that I had, in fact, completed the competition puzzle when I thought there were still a couple of clues left.)
Mind you, that particular round was my best score, and I was still only thirteenth overall. The winners were polishing off a Thursday Times crossword (i.e., moderately challenging) in just over three minutes!
People in England used to boast that they used the London Times crossword -- generally a fiendish English cryptic type -- to time the cooking of their breakfast boiled eggs. If that were me, even though I'm quite adept with cryptics, those eggs would still be pretty hard boiled by the time I took them off the stove.
I was at a meeting the other day to hear what our democratic candidates for Rye City Council had to say about their aims for the community. In conversation before the speeches, one couple admitted they were a mixed marriage -- the husband Republican, the wife Democrat.
I came back with a great one-liner that I'd experienced the problems of a mixed marriage: my wife is a woman.
Perfectly timed and delivered. Only another woman in our cluster jumped in and talked over it. Twice. Their loss is your gain, dear reader.
Our local patisserie not only produces baked goods of unparalleled scrumption but also serves the best coffee on the planet. But as Halloween approaches, they had an odd lapse of judgement.
Getting my large coffee and mixed-berry flaxseed muffin the other morning, what should I see looking up through the vitrine but a dozen or so whorls of meringue, shaped and pointed like Mr. Whippy's head, with teardrop blobs of chocolate for eyes. Perfect little ghosts.
And of course, any uncanny and undoubtedly unintentional resemblance to members of the Klan was probably just my imagination. (Martha Stewart's potato ghosts -- see the picture -- provoked a similar reaction a while back. Come on, guys -- you could easily avoid the effect with a smile or a splash of food coloring. Although don't you think a KKK meeting would more easily get the contempt it deserves if a pair of red socks had got into the wash?)
Well, the good news is that there's little risk of serious offense, since Rye doesn't have any African-American residents.
P.S. Because race is a touchy subject, yes, I am being ironic about our town's appalling lack of diversity. In the 2000 census -- the last published -- there were 190 African-Americans in Rye. That's a stunning 1.27% of a city that's about eight miles from The Bronx.
Ah well, as I remarked the other day to anyone who'd listen (i.e., nobody), the good thing about so many investment bankers in the community is that they keep down the lawyers.