Welcome to the website woven for wordaholics, logolepts, and verbivores. Carnivores eat meat; herbivores eat plants and vegetables; verbivores devour words. If you are heels over head (as well as head over heels) in love with words, tarry here a while to graze or, perhaps, feast on the English language. Ours is the only language in which you drive in a parkway and park in a driveway and your nose can run and your feet can smell.

Richard Lederer

 

The Union-Tribune’s Festival of Books will transpire next Saturday, August 29, 10 am – 5 pm. This will be the U-T’s first virtual celebration of the written word. In tomorrow’s paper you’ll find a special section featuring participating authors, events and sponsors.

When the Boston Red Sox won the first two games of a World Series in alien Shea Stadium and then lost the next two games at Fenway Park, the Boston Globe headline wept, THERE WAS NO JOY IN FENWAY.

That headline paraphrases the 1888 ballad “Casey at the Bat,” composed by Ernest Lawrence Thayer:

Oh! somewhere is this favored land
The sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere,
And somewhere hearts are light.
And somewhere men are laughing,
And somewhere children shout,
But there is no joy in Mudville —
Mighty Casey has struck out.

Ezra Pound defined literature as “news that stays news.” A rich vein of modern-day allusion is literature. Each quotation that follows appeared in a newspaper or magazine, and each alludes to a literary work. Identify each source.

  1. Like Ahab, Donald Trump can’t ever let go. He’s hellbent on harpooning himself, chasing that which will sink him.
  2. For many Americans, April is indeed the cruelest month because it contains the deadline for filing tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service.
  3. In this pandemic, nursing homes are the perfect storm for the spread of the coronavirus.
  4. Happy newsrooms are all alike, but every unhappy newsroom is unhappy in its own way. And in this moment of cultural reckoning, most American newsrooms are unhappy places.
  5. AGING STARS RAGE AGAINST THE DYING OF THE LIGHT (headline about older athletes still playing major league baseball).
  6. CBS Sunday Morning comes into our living rooms on little cat feet.
  7. Crashes, explosions and other disasters are, like the shadows on the wall of Plato’s cave, only the shadow of the news.
  8. We live in this world in which the current quarter never seems to pan out as well as people thought it would, and then they say the upturn will be in the next quarter. It’s like waiting for Godot.
  9. Life in Azerbaijan is nasty, brutish and short.
  10. He stoppeth one in three (from a story about a hapless hockey goalie).

Answers

  1. In Herman Melville’s sea novel, Moby-Dick, Captain Ahab is obsessed with killing the great white whale and is destroyed by his compulsion.
  2. “April is the cruelest month” is the opening line of T.S. Eliot’s bleak poem The Wasteland.
  3. The Perfect Storm is the title of a sea novel by Sebastian Junger.
  4. Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenena opens with “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
  5. In “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night,” poet Dylan Thomas urges his father, “Do not go gentle into that good night,/Old age should burn and rage at close of day;/Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
  6. Carl Sandberg’s poem “Fog” opens with “The fog comes on little cat feet.”
  7. A learned reference to allegory that Plato vivifies in Book VII of The Republic to show how most people apprehend but a shadow of reality.
  8. Samuel Beckett’s tragicomic play Waiting for Godot is about two tramps waiting on a country road by a leafless tree for somebody named Godot. And waiting. And waiting. And waiting.
  9. In Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan, the author asserts that life is “nasty, brutish, and short.”
  10. An ingenious reference to Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” in which the Mariner “stoppeth one in three” listeners to spool out his tale of crime and punishment over and over and over again.