Friday, July 28, 2017

Flashback Friday: Palindromes, Weird Al and His Subterranean Homesick Wordplay

Words are endlessly fascinating. Word puzzles abound in all languages, and ours is no exception. Word play assumes many forms from crossword puzzles and word jumbles to anagrams. As kids we loved search word puzzles where you have to find all the words in a grid of letters, and who among us has not played the word game Hang Man?

I once wrote a story composed of as many homonyms as possible called How Eye One The Wore, which was published i
n Games magazine years ago. That was fun, incorrectly placing more than 150 homonyms into a 500 word short story.

But my theme this morning is palindromes. According to Wikipedia, "A palindrome is a word, phrase, number or other sequence of units that can be read the same way in either direction." Here are some examples to illustrate.

LEVEL
KAYAK
RACECAR
SOLOS
SAGAS

The fun part is seeing the elaborate lengths to which sentences can be constructed. As a general rule it is O.K. to adjust punctuation to make sentences work like actual sentences.

Here are some examples of phrases, though I assure you the lists seem endless.

A man, a plan, a canal - Panama!
"Am I mad, eh?" Giselle sighed, "Am I, Ma?"
A nut for a jar of tuna.
Dad: "Alas, a salad ad!"
Delia failed.
Del saw a sled.
Dennis sinned.
Dennis and Edna sinned.
Detach cat, Ed.

Well, you get the picture. Palindromes can be fun. There are quite a few websites with palindromes online, but here's one you might especially like.

Here are a couple examples which the Palindrome Police have indicated are not really acceptable, though you'll have to admit they are clever. (source: Rinkworks)

Retteb, si flahd noces eht tub, but the second half is better.

Doctor Reubenstein was shocked and dismayed when he answered the ringing telephone, only to hear a strange, metallic, alien voice say, "Yasec iovn eilacilla temeg! Nartsa raehoty lnoenoh pelet gnig, nirehtde rewsnaehn ehw. Deya! Msid! Dnadek cohssaw nietsne buerro, tcod?"

But my real objective here was simply to share a Weird Al video from YouTube. When my kids were growing up, this is the one show I loved to watch that they watched on Saturday mornings. Weird Al Yankovich seems to be endlessly creative, and his spoofs on MTV style videos are not to be missed. We had a couple Weird Al CDs in the house and, well, he's just plain witty.

So without further ado, here's a video of Weird Al performing Bob Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues, which appeared in the 1967 D. A. Pennebaker film Don't Look Back. Except he does the whole thing in palindromes. He even sets up the background the same, with Allen Ginsburg or a Ginsburg-like character. Turn down the volume if you are in an office.


And, for comparison purposes, here's the original below:


Have a fun day making word play.
Net forever. Often!

Originally published 2009

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