Archive for June 1st, 2009

I’m sorry?

William Safire’s “On Language” column in the NY Times Magazine this week reports the returns of a reader survey on how best to express thanks when driving.  Not surprisingly, the plurality of readers (23 percent) indicated that “The Wave” was their preferred form of thanks. Frankly, I’m surprised that percentage wasn’t even higher given the fact that I don’t know anyone who does any thank you signal besides the simple wave (and I’m pretty much shocked that multiple people listed the Namaste as a viable option).

What would be a more interesting survey question is how drivers apologize in the car.  Is there any substantial agreement on how to signal that you’re sorry after you just cut someone off? I don’t think there is. Let’s look at some options for signaling “I’m sorry” while driving:

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The Sports Revolution: The AutoTyer

Let me set the scene for you: it’s late in an NBA playoff game (one of those before the conference finals), and one team is running the other off the floor as the time ticks off the clock. You correctly turn off the television.

Let’s reset that scene: it’s late in an NBA playoff game, and one team is running the other off the floor, when the trailing team nails a 75-foot shot from inside their own three-point line to tie the game. It doesn’t matter how much that team trailed by because they just hit a three-quarter court shot. And because this is even a possibility, you correctly left your television on.

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Why the Spelling Bee Never Disappoints

So last week I was lucky enough to wake up early and turn the TV to ESPN, expecting to see Cold Pizza or Mike and Mike in the Morning or something like that, only to find the Scripps National Spelling Bee. It was like pulling into the drive-thru at McDonald’s and hearing them say, “Sorry, we’re out of burgers, would you like a steak from Ruth’s Chris instead?”

The Spelling Bee is great. It is incredibly engaging television. I spent almost five hours last Thursday watching the semifinals on ESPN and then the championship rounds on ABC. Now, you probably just think this makes me boring, and there are definitely aspects of the bee that appeal specifically to me (I really like words like “apodyterium,” meaning, “the apartment at the entrance of the baths, or in the palestra, where one stripped; a dressing room”—which ironically is NOT recognized by Word’s Spell Check), but I maintain that the spelling bee is about as close to a perfectly designed competition as there is. Continue reading

“In the beginning…”

We should clarify one thing from the beginning: In some ways, our name is meant to be taken literally. This is to say, No Pun Intended is not a blog about puns; if so, puns would be intended, and our header would be a lie.

We are not liars.

In other ways, our name is meant to be taken figuratively. In other words, No Pun Intended is not a blog about not intending puns; if so, we imagine our audience would be, oh, shall we say, somewhat miniscule.

With that out of the way, you may be wondering what, if not puns, is the raison d’etre of NPI. Quite simply, it is intelligent and humorous discourse—something we find (and we hope you do, too) somewhat lacking in the current cultural climate. What exactly we discourse upon is a more complex issue. Culture, after all, tends to resist simplistic definitions.

There will be sports because one of us believes they are the single greatest manifestation of culture. There will be music, literature, and politics because the others of us believe that these things are pretty important, too. There will not be musings about our personal lives or rambling stories about our pets or children. In fact, we don’t have pets or children.

The goal, then, is to be topical, relevant, entertaining, and, logically following from these three, interesting.

Who are we? Well, that’s a question that doesn’t seem to satisfy our criteria.