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NAX: Puns may be cheap, but they never fail to sell well - Odessa American: Ken Brodnax

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NAX: Puns may be cheap, but they never fail to sell well

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Posted: Sunday, April 26, 2009 12:00 am

Everybody loves to hate bad puns. Or so the groans say. But it’s an entirely different deal when you’re the one coming up with a clever play on words. As for all that rolling of eyes and those deep sighs, that’s just coming from people who are jealous of your brilliance.

Yes, it’s true. Booty in vocabulary is in the eye of the beholder.

There’s a big difference between someone who can take a “softball” subject and come up with a pun and a genius who can find a gem in a discussion that has no obvious punchlines. For example, mention a cow and every udder person in earshot is moo-ving into full pun mode.

But suppose you’re talking about spiders. There usually will be some feeble attempts at web references, but it takes a master to come up with something dazzling dealing with arachnophobia and Saddam Hussein. (Get it? Iraq.)

Trouble is, nobody accepts this ability to soar beyond the obvious as an art form. (A soar subject, for sure.)

And one reason for this way of thinking is that there are times that bad and obvious puns really do serve a purpose.

Let’s face it, some businesses just lend themselves to those bad puns. And because you can incorporate them into appropriate slogans, people tend to sit up and take notice.

Now who wouldn’t remember a podiatrist with a sign on the waiting room wall that reads “Time wounds all heels?”

Along the same lines, a proctologist could get a lot of laughs with a sign on the door that reads: “To expedite your visit please back in.” But that’s probably pushing the bounds of taste.

But then the same could probably be said for the plumber who advertises with: “Don’t sleep with a drip. Call your plumber.” Anyway, here are some other examples that we’ve probably all seen.

On a church sign: “7 days without God makes one weak.”

At a tire shop: “Invite us to your next blowout.”

At a wrecker service: “We don’t charge an arm and a leg. We want tows.”

On an electrician’s business card: “Let us remove your shorts.”

At an optometrist’s office: “If you don’t see what you’re looking for, you’ve come to the right place.”

On a taxidermist’s sign: “We really know our stuff.”

Outside a muffler shop: “No appointment necessary. We hear you coming.”

In a restaurant window: “Don’t stand there and be hungry; come on in and get fed up.”

At a propane filling station: “Thank heaven for little grills.”

But it must be noted up front that newspapers and those who help create them probably are among the worst pun offenders.

After all, a really nice play on words in a headline not only draws in readers but can win you prizes in professional contests.

The worst of the lot, no doubt, are sportswriters. They are shameless because they have the most opportunities as they write about towns with odd names that have teams with odd names. For example, the Texas Panhandle has the Hereford Whitefaces and the Whiteface Herefords.

And what sports journalist worth his salt could pass up writing the obvious headline on a story about the football prospects in a town just outside of Lubbock? Yeah, that’s right. “Shallowater lacks depth.”

Sigh. We’re really shameless.

Odessa, TX

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