Add Homonym Attack
This contest is now closed. But enjoy!
(Click here to go directly to the winning entries.)
The idea for this contest was suggested by Rickwins, who is hereby airmailed a gift-wrapped packet of 5 free AOL hours courtesy of The Atlantic Monthly.
Rickwins has some funny notions about oral literature -- or perhaps we should say "aural literature." We have a hunch that Rickwins has been listening to Great Books on tape, with the result that he's been hearing some of the titles wrong and getting the plots a bit twisted. The problem seems to stem from homonyms -- words that sound alike while having different spellings and meanings.
For example, Rickwins has submitted a book report on "The Old Man and the C," in which he says "a fisherman goes back to school, but does only average work in oceanography."
Rickwins also claims to have listened to "The Cane Mutiny," which describes an uprising on a sugar plantation. And he tells us about "Pail Fire" -- Vladimir Nabokov's guide to staying warm in sub-zero weather. Soon we expect to hear about "Eye, Claudius" -- the tale of a Roman emperor's personal optometrist.
Your assignment is to report on another book (or short story) whose title contains at least one homonym, thus skewing the plot line. Mail your entry to CoxRathvon (for non-AOL players, that's firstname.lastname@example.org). Multiple entries are welcome, but for our convenience put your titles together into one piece of e-mail whenever possible (and please don't use attached files). Senders of our three favorite entries will each receive 5 free AOL hours (where applicable) and a free book from The Atlantic Monthly.
Add Homonym Attack will remain open through Friday, November 1. Winners and results will be announced at The Atlantic on Friday, November 8.
Okay, ear goes!
--EC and HR, who have just finished "Twelfth Knight," the story of King Arthur's least-remembered crusader.
P.S. If you like cryptic crosswords, visit our "Puzzles and Word Games" folder on the Atlantic's America Online message board (keyword ATLANTIC) and join the handful of rather crazed clue-writers who are already at play there! Post clues of your own and see if the gang can solve 'em!
Results of Add Homonym Attack
A good subtitle for this game, according to a number of our correspondents, might have been "The Write Stuff." When it came to flying into a literary punfest, our contestants certainly had the stuff in abundance--you might say, in volumes.
Because homonyms are finite, people converged on some of the juiciest ones. We can't list all the duplicates here, but we're happy to mention our favorites in several categories. Of the numerous puns on "Eight," our favorite is:
"Nineteen Ate E-4": An apartment building ravaged by cannibals. (Jondelfin)
Of the many puns on "Night":
"A Midsummer Knight's Dream": About the closest Lance will get to Gwen this year. (K2L)
"The Knight Before Christmas": Few people know that before Santa Claus existed, gifts were delivered by horseback. (SSchri6565)
Of the puns on "Great" and "Time":
"Some Thyme's a Grate Notion": Ken Kesey cookbook about the best spices to shred into your entree. (SMPolonsky)
Of another common pair of puns:
"Wore and Piece": A tailor who patches elbows. (email@example.com)
Of the puns on "Way":
"The Weigh of All Flesh": "The Merchant of Venice" from Shylock's point of view. (JonDelfin)
"Going My Whey?": A swinging arachnid hits on Miss Muffet. (Karen Ariz)
Of the puns on "Through":
"Threw the Looking Glass": An adolescent Alice discovers her first zit. (Karen Ariz)
Of the puns on "So":
"See, I Told You Sew": Limbaugh maintains that every problem facing the country can be tied directly to the flag and suggests that each citizen make a new one. (Wrenagade)
Of the inevitably sheepish puns on "You":
"Ewe Might Be a Redneck": A collection of baaaaaad jokes. A shear delight. Don't let this one pasture by. (EZWriterMJ)
Of the puns on "Our":
"Hour Town": Horrifying play of a town taken over by one-hour photo-development stores. (SothrnSera)
And, finally, of the puns on "Flower":
"Flours for Algernon": a fictional account of a lab mouse who, after having his intelligence (grain-)elevated by modern science, enters and actually wins the 1996 Pillsbury Cook-Off Recipe Contest. Says the New York Times book critic: "*Dust* off a place on your *all-purpose* bookshelf for this *Gold Medal* winner, because this *rye* and witty tome will definitely see a *quick rise* to the top. It's a veritable *meal* for the *unwashed and unbleached* masses--*sifting* through these pages is definitely an *enriching* experience, and well worth the *dough*. A nice *mix* indeed." (SavWmson)
Of other common titles, here is a list with appropriate plot synopses:
"One Flue Over the Cuckoo's Nest": An asylum gets a chimney.
"Pair O' Dice Lost": Tragedy among crap shooters.
"The Son Also Rises": A teenager finally stops oversleeping.
"Ate Cousins": Drastic Appalachian recipes.
"The Gnu Testament": An antelope theology.
"Cannery Roe": Lessons in caviar packing.
"Oedipus Wrecks": A tour of Greek ruins.
"The Ruby Yacht of Omar Khayyam": A poet and his fancy boat.
"Death of a Sailsman": Funeral for a regatta champion.
"The Buoys of Summer": Still more yachting sagas.
"A Belle for Adano": Love Italian-style.
"King Leer": The most lascivious gawker around.
"The Tell-Tale Hart": Confessions of a fallen politician.
"The Comma Sutra": Punctuation made exciting.
"Cents and Sensibility": Austen's guide to home finances.
"Vanity Fare": The price of beauty in the 1990s.
"Lord Gym": A messianic aerobics instructor.
"Good Buy, Columbus": An explorer's guide to bargains.
"Sole on Ice": Frozen-fish serving tips.
"Olive, or Twist": Bartending for beginners.
"The Profit": A mystical money manual.
"My Tern": Autobiography of Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
"Routes": A family of bus drivers traces its paths.
"For Whom the Belt Holes": Serious weight-loss concerns.
"Bjorn Free": Autobiography of a tennis star.
"Travels with My Ant": An entomologist on vacation.
"Remembrance of Things Passed": Mario Andretti's memoirs.
"A Child's Christmas in Whales": A new chapter in the Jonah legend.
"Of My Sandmen:" A chronicle of dreams.
"Brrrr": Gore Vidal has a hard winter.
"Goldilocks and the Three Bares": Young girl joins a nudist colony.
"Port Noise Complaint": Tough sleeping near the harbor.
And now, our finalists. For sheer originality and irrepressible humor, we salute PayPete1st, RDH9995, and SMPolonsky for the following shots from the literary cannon.
"The Sign of Fore!": Sherlock Holmes investigates the apparently accidental killing of a golfer when the deaf-mute group behind decides to play through. (PayPete1st)
"Bow Jest": An illustrated look at funny ties.
"In a Sense, a Broad": Mark Twain novel about a man who got a sex-change operation.
***And Other Top Favorites***
"Portrait of the Artist as a Jung Man": A painter who constantly psychoanalyzes his parents, who don't like him.
"A Mall and the Night Visitors": A shopping center parking lot where aliens land after closing time.
"Long Daze Journey into Night": A young man recounts the time it took him to recover after being hit directly between the eyes with a hockey puck.
"Jane Err": A young girl who consistently makes the wrong turn on any road with a fork.
"Primary Cullers": Our best migrant workers.
"The Banned Played On": Minor league baseball in the year following the Black Sox scandal.
"A Tail of Two Cities": by Trollop.
"Jane Heir": In which she learns the details of Rochester's will.
"Two Thousand Won": The story of a greatly-shared lottery ticket.
"A Rheum With a View": A rest cure at a spa in the Alps.
"Doc Tourneau": Watchmaker's bio.
"Can Deed": Bathroom humor.
"Ollie, Babar and the Four Tea Thieves": Puppet dragon and elephant caught in Persian beverage conspiracy.
"The Wholly Bible": Everything you need to know.
"The Ledge End of Sleepy Hollow": Precipitous fall that left a horseman headless.
"The Joey of Sex": A monograph on kangaroo genetics.
"Won Fish to Fish, Read Fish, Blew Fish": A psychic, psychopathic angler uses a minnow given as a prize to catch a trout, then interprets the entrails and destroys the remains. What the heck, here's the whole book:
An angler, Stan
Took from his can
A minnow Stan won for his plan.
Upon the hook
The minnow shook
When it was dropped into the brook.
The minnow brought
The school Stan sought.
A trout the angler Stan then caught.
With tiny cuts
Stan spilled its guts
And read the future; Stan went nuts.
Stan wrapped it tight
And blew that trout right out of sight.
"Chess: A Peek": The prolific Michener tells the story of the world's favorite strategy game.
"The Belle Jar": The killer in this crime novel makes Hannibal Lecter look like a lamb.
"The Joy of Sects": A celebration of religious diversity.
"Much Adieu About Nothing": An offbeat comedy about fond farewells.
"Cheeper by the Dozen": The definitive guide to successful chicken farming.
"Merry Queen of Scots": Eat, drink, and be Mary, for tomorrow we get beheaded.
"The Peace of String": Diplomacy gets in a hopeless tangle as the plot unwinds.
"The Wiled Years": The memoirs of William Clinton.
"See, I Tolled You So": The government's guide to taxation in the 90's.
"To Kill a Maching Bird": A training manual for the Top Gun School.
"Rush a House": Guide to choosing and being accepted by the fraternity or sorority of your choice.
"Treasure I Land" by Bilbo Baggins: The story of how a simple Hobbit went fishing one day and found a magical ring while cleaning his catch.
"Purple Rows of Cairo": Agents Mulder and Scully investigate a series of mysterious phenomena linked to some cryptic, parallel, lilac-colored sand patterns discovered beside the Great Pyramid.
"The Dilbert Principal": A cartoon character rises to the top of the teaching profession.
"The Wreck of the Merry Deer": Sad story of Rudolph's mishaps after the last Christmas party.
"Bear Knuckles and Back Rooms": About body parts from endangered species and where they are hidden.
"Dandelion Whine": A dense medical tome detailing even the most uncommon allergy symptoms.
"Lorna Dune": Sci-fi version of 19th century romance.
"Beech Music": A treatise on nature sounds.
"When the Bow Brakes": A discourse on the mechanics of sailing.
"Toby Tiler": A young man yearns to join the circus but, instead, goes into home improvement.
"Brave Gnu Whirled": A courageous antelope on ice skates.
"Two Kill a Mockingbird": Argues that a conspiracy existed in the murder of a harmless fowl.
"Tom Saw Ya": The definitive biography of Peeping Tom.
"Mall Flanders": Memoirs of an adventurous shopoholic.
"The Kitsch in God's Wife": Mrs. Yahweh secretly collects those sappy "limited edition" dolls.
"The Caul of the Wilde": The unfortunate playwright, disfigured at birth, overcomes his handicap to achieve success and renown.
"Breathing Lessens": Dr. Kevorkian's new self-help book.
"Itching": Compendium of soothing creams and ointments, from ancient Confucian lore.
"The Dancing Woolly Masters": Readers have flocked in shear numbers, and so will ewe! Learn to "hoof it" in six easy lessons.
"Lay Miserables": Short stories about nonprofessional whiners.
"Dear Sleigher": Story about a woman who becomes a pen pal of one member of the Caribbean bobsled team.
"Witch Rode to the Past": Sorceress engages in time travel.
"Kitty Foil": Cat prevents burglary of master's house.
"A Bridge Two Farr": The travels of Jamie, from WW II to Korea.
"If Life Is a Bole of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits?": Weevils abandon cotton field, find new home in fruit orchard.
"Starr Trek": The story of Ringo's rise to fame and fortune.
"Read Storm Rising": Published by Hooked-On-Fonics.
"The Peter Principal": School administrators rise to their level of incompetency.
"The Sine of the Cross": Trig function adopted by religious groups.
"Ewe Can't Go Home Again": Bo Peep's autobiography.
"Steal Magnolias": Bored housewives rob florist shops.
"Prints of Tides": A beautiful book of oceanic photographs.
"A Wok on the Wild Side": A guide to good restaurants in Chinatown.
"The Crewel C": Mystery which evolves from an initial embroidered on a pillow, possibly the most unusual clue in years.
"The Ox Beau Incident": X-rated adult version of Ferdinand.
"A Separate Piece": Coming-of-age novel about a boy from Kentucky who is jeered by urban gang members because his gun is so strange. Sequel is "Show Gun," in which the strange weapon is found to be Daniel Boone's and is placed in the Smithsonian.
"As I Lei Dyeing": Colorful Hawaii-based tale aabout a desperate girl's attempt to create St. Patrick's Day adornments for Irish tourists.
"The Shipping Gnus": Instructional tale for children in upper elementary grades about attempts of antelopes to establish something like UPS.
"The Hart Has Its Reasons": The Duchess of Windsor presents a unique analysis of deer psychology.
"The Wizard of Ahs": Biography of the master of interjection.
"Death Bee Not Proud": Tale of a humble but lethal insect.
"The Hoarse Soldiers": Laryngitis hits the military.
"A Plaice in the Sun": Tale of a fish out of water.
"Deer and Glorious Physician": A super-vet who can really empathize.
"Dye! Dye! My Darling": The Gabors instruct their hairdresser.
"Awl My Sons": Father hires shoemaker to eliminate heirs.
"The Old Man and the See": About a man who, late in life, finally achieves his ambition of meeting the Pope.
"The Nine Taylors": Who will be Elizabeth's next husband?
"The End of the Peer": Death of a British nobleman.
"Coyote Weights": A work-out manual for the Southwest.
"My Fare Lady": Confessions of a man truly in love with a hooker.
"The Tortoise and the Hair": A scientific account of an unusual genetic aberration.
"Of The I Sing": Actually a rather short article.
"The Teehouse of the August Moon": A guide for evening golfers.
"Idols Of The King": Tables are turned on Elvis; learn whom *he* worshipped!
"The Exercist": Jane Fonda's unauthorized biography.
"Frank and Stine": The story of Siamese twin mortician brothers trying to piece their lives back together.
"Murders in the Roux Morgue": A Cajun cookbook revives long buried recipes for wild game sauces.
"Cary": A look back at Cary Grant's high school prom. See how his electric personality was evident even in his younger days. You can almost see the blood coursing through the veins of every girl in the room.
"The Dark Tower Too; The Waistlands": A gunslinger spends too many days in a dark tower eating rich food, only to discover that his holster won't fit around his hips when the time comes for him to journey forth.
"The Silence of the Lams": Two brothers, one a serial murderer and the other a priest to whom he has confessed in a thrilling court room drama. Will they talk?
"The Hunchback of Noter Dom:" Deluise urges writers not to slouch as he did.
"The Culler Purple": A flashy grackle assaults an unproductive bantam hen.
"Lassie-cum-Home": Survivalists gut out a dog and live inside the carcass.
"God's Little Acher": Why Sunday is the day of rest. Evidently creating the world brought on quite a headache and since this was way before Tylenol, God just needed to sleep it off.
"Bay O'Wolf": David Hasselhoff's melodramatic tale of a mild-mannered Irish lifeguard who, after being bitten by a rabid wolf on the beach, is transformed into a speedo-wearing werewolf on the prowl for bikini-clad beach bunnies.
"For Whom the Belle Tolls": Ernest Hemingway's story about a pretty southern girl who, after years of hard work and determination, achieves her lifelong ambition of becoming the head toll collector on the Florida Turnpike.
"Gull Livers' Travels": Johnathan Swift's journey into the digestive systems of seagull-eating carnivores.
"The Book of Guise": Short stories about the fashion preferences of such figures as Norman Conquest, Zeus the Lutheran, and Earl Grey and how they fare when they come up against a 1990s GQ concept of male fashion.
"Webster's Ninth Gnu Collegiate Dictionary": From aardvark to zebra, this handsome book uses (Serengeti) plain English to describe every African animal you've ever herd of. An especially Goodall-around reference for chimpanzees.
"Pay Per Lion": A writer for the Wall Street Journal spends a week analyzing the salary structure of a professional football team.
"Around the World in a Tea Daze": A washed-up 1960s rock star finds a bunch of strange-looking plants in the back yard of his condominium. After finding that they can be brewed into a delicious tea, he decides to travel around the world to search for Elvis.
"Julius Sees Her": England is the setting for this thriller exposing the secret life of an astronomer who relentlessly stalks the wife of a colleague.
"Wuthering Hites": Famous sex therapists become prisoners of their own extensive knowledge.
"Bred and Whine": Ignazio Silone's story about a woman who constantly complains about her husband's love-making,
"Con Tiki": Thor Heyerdahl's adventure about escaped prisoners crossing the Pacific Ocean.
"Mane Street": The place where the lions go to have their hair done.
"Joseph and the Cote of Many Colors": In the late 60's, a young visionary under the influence of LSD decides to paint his pigeon coop.
"When All the World Was Jung": Chaos results when everyone's repressed memories surface at the same time.
"They Chute Horses, Don't They?": Examines the sudden burst of popularity for rodeo marathons.
"Our Harts Were Young and Gay:" On a trip to France, two girls discover the shocking truth about the declining deer population.
"Crewel and Unusual": Kay Scarpetta unravels murder by crochet needle.
"Ride a Pail Horse": Doomed passengers have no fear of thirst.
"High Steaks": Dick Francis' current jockey follows the fumes to catch the killer.
"Katz Cradle": Hans and Fritz, who've shortened their name and had kids.
Shadow of the Links": Biography of Bobby Jones.
"Black Sundae": Thomas Harris describes the ultimate chocolate dessert.
"The President's Plain is Missing": Rod Serling's new book describes Bill Clinton's Arkansas real estate deals.
"Bred Upon the Waters": Shaw's work on Sea Life Reproduction
"Brake In": Dick Francis on safe driving skills.
"Name of the Rows": Instruction manual for Lotus software.
"A Clean, Well-Lited Place": Hemingway's salubrious tavern where all the beer is less filling.
"Cat in the Rein": A failed attempt at writing a children's book. Hemingway gave a draft to his friend Dr. Seuss.
"Candied": Voltaire's satiric look at the state of French confections.
"The Pal-less Guard": The story of the loneliest guy on the White House staff during the end of the Watergate days: the Marine that ex-President Nixon posted at the door of his Oval Office to keep the reporters (and virtually everyone else) out.
"The Ravin'": A man goes hysterical.
"War and Peas": A cafeteria joke gets out of hand.
"The Merry Wives of Wind Sore": A slew of dry-skin problems arise in Shakespeare's play.
"The Reel Thing": The Henry James how-to book of trout fishing.
"Pauper Monet": The biography of a famous painter by economist Adam Smith.
"Baring an Hourglass": A book about very buxom strippers.
"The Temp-ist": The stormy adventure of a young lady who succeeds in setting the record for the shortest assignment as an office fill-in.
"From Ear to Eternity"
"Eye'll be Seeing You"
"The None Story"
"Mare E. Poppins"
"The King 'n' Di": Romance between Elvis and Princess of Wails.
"A Tail of Two Cities": Wife suspects truck-driving husband of bigamy, hires detective at both ends of route.
"Meowtinny on the Bounty": Morris the cat rebels at endorsing a brand of cat food.
"The Powers that Bee": An expose of the growing menace of the killer insect from Africa.
"Final Daze": An insider's account of Hunter Thompson on acid.
"Fools Dye": The FDA's White Paper on the perils of peroxide and henna.
"Rabbit re Ducks": Peter Cottontail expounds on waterfowl.
"Living Choral Reefs of the World": Discovery of deep-sea musical talent.
"The Lyin', the Witch, & the Wardrobe": An ugly, wart-nosed hag is read out of the coven for giving false testimony about her couturier collection.
"Kennelworth": Peter Lynch's new investment opportunity.
"Ivan Hoe": A virile farmer's illicit romance.
"The Shipping Noose": Treason on the high seas.
"The Queen of the Dammed": The adventures of a modern-day Cleopatra during the building of the Aswan.
"The Reignmaker": Young Memphis attorney sues the city to ensure the mayor's bid for a job for life.
"Weighting for Willa": A heavy story of a woman Olympian.
"The Gift of the Dear": A story about a present from a past lover.
"Heirs Above the Ground": Memoir written by the descendants of Wilbur and Orville Wright.
"Bahn Fire of the Vanities": A mysterious mass eruption of engine fires strikes minivans on a highway in Germany.
"Robbin' Hood": Thieves have taken over town.
"The Tinned Rum": A bootlegger with a new packaging idea.
"Le Pear Goriot": Balzac explores fruit.
"Whinny the Pooh": The definitive answer to the question: What do you get when you cross a horse with a teddy bear?
"The Quays to the Kingdom": A.J. Cronin's study of the docks near Buckingham Palace.
"Ow! Tough Africa": Isak Dinesen's novel of the rigors of the dark continent.
"High D": A little Swiss girl becomes an opera sensation.
"A Balfour Adano": John Hersey's biography of a Scottish statesman who visits Italy.
"Grimm's Ferry Tales": Danish brothers tell how to navigate the Kattegat and the Skaggerak.
"Valley of the Dahls": Roald and Arlene buy a home in the country.
"The Charge of the Lite Brigade": New diet book.
"A Walk on the Wilde Side": Nelson Algren's bio of Oscar.
"The Four Horsemen of the Epoch Collapse": A novel of Armageddon.
"This Pie Who Came in from the Cold": John LeCarre's cook book.
"Dr. Jackal and Mr. Hide": Respectable London physician explains the art of taxidermy.
"Ben Her": Feminist rewrite of the Lew Wallace classic.
"Lady Chatter, Lee's Lover": The story of the romance between the southern general and his talkative paramour.
"Low Lita": Nabokov's look at the decline of a young girl.
Finally, three books by Sinclair Lewis:
"Mane Street": Lions escape from a traveling circus.
"Arrows Myth": A study of the Cupid legend.
"Elm Or Gantry": Novel about a climbing enthusiast.
"To Halve and Halve Knot": Alexander the Great's solution to the Gordian problem.
"The Winter's Stale": Shakespeare play about cabin fever.
"Vallee of the Dolls": Unauthorized biography describing singer Rudy's sex-life.
"Jest Sew Stories": Kipling anthology of dressmaker jokes.
"Docked, or No?": Ian Fleming novel in which James Bond asks M if he has to take a pay cut.
"The House of the Seven Gay Bulls": The young Salem colony almost doesn't make it when the cows neither breed nor provide milk.
"A Study in Scarlett": Sherlock Holmes visits Tara and is asked to investigate a string of arsons in Atlanta.
"A Tale of Two Settees": A modern drama juxtaposing the Bundys and the Huxtables.
"A Christmas Carrel": A young reader falls asleep in the library and dreams about ghosts.
"The Island of Dock Tomorrow": Drama aboard three caravels as Chris strings his crew along while seeking land in the western Atlantic.
"Giddy 'n' Strumpet": A Southern prostitute's adventures.
"The Crew, Cybill": Ms. Shepherd is brought to trial for failing to mention her fellow workers in her Academy Award acceptance speech.
"A Con Etiquette Yankee in King Arthur's Court": At first the knights of the Round Table were outraged at the Yank's vulgar behaviour, but then they began to be amused by it and even imitated it. Thus ended Camelot.
"The Handmaid's Tail": A powerful drama of America in the next generation during the dark days of a world fouled by unchecked pollution, nuclear infection, and global warming. The most hideous result of the earth's devastation is a special group of young women who possess a strange physical attribute that is prized by the nation as rare and valuable.
"Candied": All is not best in the best of all possible dental examinations. Candied and his faithful in dentures servant, Plaquegloss, bob for the candied apples of knowledge, root the canals of learning, eye the teeth of wisdom, and cultivate their own cavities.
Copyright © 1996 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.