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Chapter Free

g o t o h e ad lin e s bad
Now on we
o m on y m s a b o u nd ,
As h h in k w e k now,
s w e t
Reflect on word un d !
it u n d e r g r o
Then take
n d d a sh of f co des
bs a
We’ll zeugma ver d s.
le all o ur f r ie n
And pick
g in atio n is th e k ey—
& fun? It nevR Nd
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Homonym Grits Recipe

’Twas the knight before Christmas, Here’s another example: The word bear serves: 1 or more players
End awl threw the house, can mean “to carry a heavy load,” but it ingredients:
Knot a creature was stirring, can also mean the animal, and the word • Pencil and paper or
Knot even a mouse. Noodle Book
bare is usually what babies are. • A famous poem, nu
If yew give it sum thought and keep rsery rhyme, or
song (or even a pass
age from the

ow many misspelled words can yore ears open, yule find their are mini Bible or the Declarat
ion of
you find in these first four lines different homonyms that people yews Independence!)
of the famous poem “The Night awn a daily bases.
Before Christmas”?
How about none?
That’s right, my fellow phrase flingers,
there are no misspelled words. There is,
however, some terrible word usage.
All of the words that seem out of
place are actually homonyms (also
called homophones), words that sound
alike (and are sometimes even spelled
alike) but have different meanings.

heteronym, homograph,
homonym, homophone

incline: for the moment at least, Cheetohs, a ham sandwich, and a Dr. Pepper.

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Let’s Cook! How many homonyms

Take the passage of your choosing If you have trouble with a certain (and close-sounding words)
and rewrite it using homonyms. word, keep saying it slowly over can you find used in an
Ask someone else to read what you’ve and over until you figure out if incorrect way in the text on
the word is a homonym of some pages 42 and 43? A hint:
written and check it for misspelled
There are at least 16!
words. Imagine her surprise when you other word. (Answers on page 124.)
reveal the secret!

Homophone means “same

sound” in Greek. Homonyms
are responsible for many pop-
ular puns, or words or expres-
sions that use different ideas
in a humorous way, as in the
following joke:

A Shetland pony walks into

a convenience store and says,
“I’d like to buy a candy bar.”
The clerk looks at him and
says, “I can hardly hear you.”
The pony says, “I’m sorry, but
I’m just a little hoarse.”

Get it? See pages 74 to 77 for

more homonym and pun fun.

Dinner for One: Single-Serving Syllable Silliness 43

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Verbal Tea (& other code remedies) Recipe

id I hear you say you had a bad (and a pen-pal
code? Having trouble saying serves: 1 player
your words clearly? Perhaps friend!)
some nouns are caught in your throat or ingredients: ail)
paper (or em
your adjectives are running? Well, we • Pencil and
have just the remedy! d stamp
• Envelope an
Codes have been around for a long
time and have served many useful pur-
poses. Archaeologists who study ancient
Egyptian or Central American hiero-
glyphs (writing that uses pictures or
symbols) will use a code key, or transla-
tion, to help them understand these
early forms of communication.
Some of the most elegant codes are
the simplest. See if you can decipher
this popular phrase:

Doesn’t make much sense, does it?

But it would if you knew the key. Try
moving each letter one step backward
in the alphabet and you’ll have some-
thing that only happens once a year!
(Still stumped? Look for the answer
on page 124.)
same key (make one up together!) to
Let’s Cook! write back and forth, and only you and
Remember that for a code
to work, both parties
Write a letter to a friend using code. your friend will understand the message
must have the same key!
You can include the key or even send it (unless the key falls into enemy hands,
ahead of time. Both of you can use the that is!).

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You use codes in more ways

than you may be aware of.
How about when you receive a
letter in the mail (zip code), or
a grocery clerk scans a pack-
age of gum (bar code)? Can
you think of other codes you
use on a daily basis?
Code Talkers
During World War II, Philip Johnston (who was
raised on a Navajo reservation) suggested that the
military use the Navajo language as a code because
of its complexity and limited usage. By the time the
war in the Pacific ended, more than 400 Navajo
“code talkers” had conveyed important military
messages back and forth.
After the war, the Japanese government admitted
to breaking most of the codes used by the United
States, but it never cracked the Navajo code.

Baxter Says:
Codes are fun for kids to play with,
but they should never be used to
keep secrets that harm or make fun
code talkers, cryptograph, of other people.
encryption, hieroglyph,
Morse code, zip code

Dinner for One: Single-Serving Syllable Silliness 45

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Smervitz & Gatoosh (serve up your own words!)

For jeeble pock and roody mets
A fortish blitz would bander
That in akreen the mootish haddy fly.
Let’s Cook!

oes the sentence above make any Write your own lyrics to a song, or a
sense to you? No? Well, it Recipe poem to yourself, using made-up words.
shouldn’t. I just made it up serves: 1 or more Be sure to use some real words to “tie”
(imagine getting paid to write like this!). players your piece together, so it’s not com-
There are some recognizable words,
ingredients: pletely unrecognizable. Then let friends
like for and would, but many are totally • Pencil and or relatives try to read what you’ve writ-
paper or Noo
dle Book
unrecognizable. I chose them because ten out loud. Watch for the surprised
I thought they sounded funny, and looks on their faces!
because they had a certain rhythm If your readers ask you what this is all
(known by poets as meter). about, ask them what they think the
I’ve always felt that the best way to words mean. Explain that you’re mak-
understand words is to play with them a ing up your own words and trying to be
little, and by doing so I managed to (in creative (just like the author of this
this activity, anyway) do away with book!).
most rules for spelling.
(Actually, I wish you were standing
over my shoulder right now, watching
me type. The spell check in my word
processor is going absolutely nuts! I
wonder how you turn this thing off …)
Can making up your own
words make you famous?
Check out the poem on the
next page. If you’ve ever
heard of Lewis Carroll or
the Jabberwock or Alice in
Wonderland, then I guess
the answer is yes!

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Jabberwock Soup Stock

e throw lots of odd things Through the Looking-Glass) was a Ready for a little more
into soups, hoping that — if master at mixing things up. In Through made-up word history?
we cook them long enough — the Looking-Glass, he penned a poem Made-up words also had a
something tasty will result. Lewis that has become a standard for made-up place in the music of the early
Carroll (best known for his books or nonsense words. 20th century. Lyricist Ira
Gershwin would have his
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and brother George write the
melody to a song first, and
then he would use “dummy”
lyrics to temporarily hold a
Jabberwocky place in the music until he
could come up with the right
By Lewis Carroll (1832–98), from words.
Through the Looking-Glass, and What You might do the same if
Alice Found There (London: Macmillan you were writing that familiar
and Co., 1872) birthday song by singing
something like “Babby
’TWAS brillig, and the slithy toves Hoomay to you …,” until you
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe; came up with the right words.
All mimsy were the borogoves, And you might also use
And the mome raths outgrabe. “dummy” lyrics for those
times when you can’t think of
“Beware the Jabberwock, my son! One, two! One, two! And through and through the words to a song: You
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch! The vorpal blade went snicker-snack! might insert something else
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun He left it dead, and with its head until you remember (or not!)
The frumious Bandersnatch!” He went galumphing back. the real ones.

He took his vorpal sword in hand: “And, hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Long time the manxome foe he sought — Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
So rested he by the Tumtum tree, O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
And stood awhile in thought. He chortled in his joy.

And, as in uffish thought he stood, ’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame, Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood, All mimsy were the borogoves, occupy: to possess a flaky pastry dish.
And burbled as it came! And the mome raths outgrabe.

Dinner for One: Single-Serving Syllable Silliness 47

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Cook Up Your

hearing: what happens when someone calls you on the phone.

Own Language
hat could be more difficult than trying
to learn all of the (often senseless) rules
that go along with the English language?
I guess it would be making up a language of
your own!
Sound crazy? Well, what else have you got to do?
There sure isn’t anything on TV (I’ve checked!).
People actually have created their own languages,
sometimes based on a language they were already
familiar with, and sometimes just from pure imagi-
page 49).

An Easy Beginning
To start, choose some everyday will need to teach it to other kids
words that you use a lot and make before they can understand you.
up new words for them, and — as Sound like a lot of work? That is
we did in SMERVITZ & GATOOSH (page totally up to you. Before you decide,
46) — use common words (such as meet some people who thought it
for and to and with) to “glue” them would be a lot of fun. Read on …
together to form sentences.
Once you’ve written down or
memorized most of your new
words, create new “glue words.”
The only problem you’ll have with
your made-up language is that you
dialect, grammar, idioms,
jargon, linguistics, vernacular

PUNZLES® answer: Little Dipper.
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Klingon Chatter
C ountless Star Trek
movies have been made
(and probably are still being
Star Trek movies ever since.
There’s even a book called
The Klingon Dictionary that
made) that would not be describes the grammar and
quite as interesting without vocabulary of the language.
the help of Marc Okrand, the Okrand, like Tolkien, is
writer who invented the not just another word hack
Klingon language heard first (like myself). He has a Ph.D.

Tolkien Talk in Star Trek III: “The Search

for Spock.”
Klingon has been used in
in linguistics and specializes
in American Indian languages
of the West Coast.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock
for the last few years, you are probably
aware of J.R.R. Tolkien’s wonderful books
The Hobbit and “The Lord of the Rings”
trilogy. Tolkien was fascinated with runes,
or symbols used in Old English, so it was
perfectly natural for him to come up with
languages (Elvish, Orcish, and Dwarvish,
to name a few) unique to his books. (The
space here is much too short to go into a
lot of detail about his languages, but for a
complete guide to those, see Appendix E
of the final “The Lord of the Rings” book,
The Return of the King.) There are many
people (and even college classes) today
who study Tolkien’s made-up languages!

lunatic: a small parasitic insect that only comes out during a full moon.

Dinner for One: Single-Serving Syllable Silliness 49

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ave you ever heard the term
“space cadet”? It usually refers
to someone who’s deep in
thought or has a faraway look in his
eyes. And before you can ask, yes, I
have been called a space cadet.
But space is used in other ways as
well. Not only do we travel in space
now, but without it our language could
become very messy. I will demonstrate.

You might (or might not) recognize Did you notice that there are actually
this text as the beginning of Abraham new words popping up with the differ- Let’s Cook!
Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address, ent spacing? You could change the way Take a familiar song or poem, and
delivered at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on I’ve spaced it and find even more words write it down once without any spaces.
November 19, 1863, during the Civil War. hidden in the text. So, cook up your Next, write it again using spaces wher-
If you do as I have done and take out own spread! ever you think they should go. To make
all the spaces, the text becomes almost it as confusing as possible for someone
unrecognizable. And if you added spaces else to read, try to break the letters
in unusual places, it might read like this: Recipe where they will form new, real words.
Hand your new creation to a friend to
serves: 1 or more players
F ours core ands even yea rsa goo urfa the see if she can decipher what the original
rsb rought for thont hiscon tin entan ewnati
ingredients: verse was.
oncon ceive din lib ertyand ded I cat edtot • Pencil and paper or
Noodle Book
he prop osi tiont hat allme narec rea ted • Words to a famous
song or poem

50 Try this along with CREPES OF WRATH, page 54.

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here are misspelled words all
around you (I’m hoping that Let’s Cook! Recipe
you’ve noticed!), and like mush, Take the Misspelling Challenge. For (get
serves: 1 or more playersed!)
they are not very pretty. As an example, one entire day, challenge your whole the whole family inv
the owners of many convenience stores family to a misspelling competition. No,
have found countless ways to spell the you don’t misspell words yourself, but t and fast-food
word quick. As in kwik, quik, kwick, quic, you find misspellings. To add to the fun, • Road signs, restauran
signs, TV, newspape
and so on. They do this to separate use a camera to take pictures of all the you see words!
themselves from their competitors. misspelled signs you see. And don’t for- Noodle Book
• Pencil and paper or
There are occasions, however, when get to look in the newspaper. See any
incorrect spelling is used for a perfectly headlines that are misspelled? Uh-oh! Be
good effect. Take a look at the funny sure to check the advertisements, too!
pages of your newspaper sometime and Who’s the top misspeller spotter in your
see if you can find comics that use mis- household?
spelled words on purpose.

Famous Misspeller Mush

Back in the early 1900s,
George Herriman wrote and
drew a cartoon strip called
Krazy Kat, which featured a cat
(Krazy), a mouse (Ignatz), and
a dog (Offissa Pupp), among
other colorful characters.
Throughout the long history of
the strip, the cat was notorious
One popular comic strip that uses misspelled words for effect is Wiley Miller’s for his pronunciation of words,
Non-Sequitur. In this strip from November 2003, Miller uses phonetics to which even today take more
emphasize the manner in which Danae’s grandmother speaks. than a little thought to

Dinner for One: Single-Serving Syllable Silliness 51

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Spell the Beans! Recipe

Let’s Cook! serves: 1 players (and a pen-

isspell words? On purpose?!
pal friend!)
Omigosh! What will your Write a letter to a friend about your
teachers say? After all the vacation or about everyday things. And ingredients:
hours they’ve spent correcting your when you do, misspell every word • Writing paper and penci
spelling; after your teachers have tested possible! But here’s the catch: Write • Envelope and stamp (or email)
and retested you on the proper way to using phonetics, or a representation of
spell just about every word in the how words sound in speech. The person You can also do the same with an
dictionary? you’re writing to can sound out the email message (I sent and received lots
Sure! Why not? message, often with hilarious results! of these as I wrote this book!). Just be
sure not to use the spell-check tool
before you send your message.

dipthong, phonetics,
phonology, plosive speech

relief: what trees do in the spring.

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Phonetics is a system of
sounds that we use to process
patterns of speech, which is
especially helpful when you
consider how complex some
languages are (like English —
see PANFRIED PROBLEMS, page 23).
If you’re having trouble com-
ing up with the phonetic sound
of a word, there’s always the
dictionary, where you will find
the phonetic spelling for every
word. Check it out!

Baxter Says:
Kids as well as adults should always
try to spell words correctly —
unless you are playing a word game,
of course. A properly spelled word
is the best form of communication.
And before you can have fun mis-
spelling words, you’ll need to know
the correct spelling. Am I write?

Dinner for One: Single-Serving Syllable Silliness 53

PUNZLES® answer: Every pitcher tells a story.
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Crepes of Wrath (words baked in words)

crepe (pronounced KRAPE, unlike anagrams, page 30 — the letters
rhymes with grape) is a very thin
pancake usually stuffed with
of the hidden words must follow one
another, and not be mixed up out of
other food and rolled up. Did you know order. (There are at least seven hidden serves: 1 or more
you can find many words that are often words that I found.) ingredients:
rolled in other words? Let’s practice a little with these words • Newspaper
As in SPACED-OUT SPREAD (page 50), (the number of hidden words I found is (with permis
• Highlighter
there are many instances when longer in the parentheses after each word):
words are made of shorter words:
neurotransmitter (9)
mathematics (12) Let’s Cook!
I’ve capitalized three words (in, rat, beforehand (12) Take a page from the newspaper, and
and on) that are wrapped up in the copyrightable (9) using a highlighter, see how many word
word inspiration already. Can you find unintelligible (4) crepes you can find. Be sure to check the
any others? The trick here is that — reallocation (6) advertisements, too!
extraterrestrial (11) The only rule, remember, is that all
the letters of the words must be consec-
utive (following one another in order).

Can you find as many

as I have in the exam-
ples? Check your
answers with mine on
page 124.

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Kangaroo Word Waffles Recipe

pla yers
serves: 1 or more

angaroo words are a lot like If you can find any kangaroo words,
CREPES OF WRATH, page 54, but slap yourself five and be sure to write ingredients: them!
take the recipe to a whole new them down somewhere. You could here you see
• Words, anyw
level. become the world’s first expert at
In a kangaroo word, the word that’s cooking KANGAROO WORD WAFFLES!
hidden (often called the joey, after the
term for a baby kangaroo in its mother’s
pouch) is somehow related to the larger

renown: what you have to do if your teacher says that you’ve used the wrong noun.
word, and the letters of the hidden word
should be separated by at least one
other letter and should appear in the
correct order.
I’ll give some examples by highlight-
ing the joey in capital letters:


Kangaroo words are not very easy to

come up with. It is possible to find some
examples if you search the Internet
(with an adult’s permission, see page
108), but most simply come from
careful observation.

Dinner for One: Single-Serving Syllable Silliness 55

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Get Out of the Kitchen

kay, it’s time for a break. It’s getting hot in the images that represent those words. I know what
the kitchen, the sink is full of dirty dishes, you’re thinking: “Michael Kline is a few french fries
and we’ve flat-out made Emeril jealous. So short of a Happy Meal.” Alas, I will explain.
let’s put away the pencils and the Noodle Book for a Highlighted in RED in the following story are
moment, and take a look at PUNZLES® on a whole words that describe items in the image (next page),
new level. but instead of being literal clues, they are phonetic
PUNZLES® (so far) have been single images that puns. As an example, for the words serial killer,
you’ve been asked to figure out. Well, in this version, think “cereal killer.” See how many words and
I give you the words or phrases, but you have to find images you can match. The answers are on page 124.

The American was no amateur. He took his catsup and

notebook, readied his escape, then began a quality
search for the serial killer. A gigantic job lay before
him, and without the correct apparel, things could
quickly mushroom. His forehead ached, and he knew
that the keyboard in his office was no help now. A
philosopher might have interpreted the message on
the company letterhead differently, but for now it
was business as usual.

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Dinner for One: Single-Serving Syllable Silliness 57

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Film Flambé (movie title acronym madness)

serves: 1 or more
• Newspaper
(with permis
• Pencil and
paper or Noo
dle Book
• Thesaurus
(page 59) or

flambé (FLAUM-bay): a cooking term that to listen, you’ll hear just how many I’ll do one first to show you how it’s
involves drenching food with an edible acronyms are in use today. done.
ignitable liquid such as rum or brandy, So, my fine young lexical buddies, let’s
then setting it on fire. play a game I like to call FILM FLAMBÉ! T = TIMON
acronym (ACK-roe-nim): a word formed E = ELFIN
from the initial letters of a name. Let’s Cook! L = LION
Find the movie section of the newspa-
per, and pick out a movie that’s cur-

ny idea where I’m headed with rently playing (or perhaps you can think K = KINGDOM.
this? Well FYI (for your informa- of the title of a well-known movie). I = IS
tion), I want you to grab your Take the letters of the title and write N = NOW
GA (guardian angel), put on a CD (com- them down the left side of the page. G = GLAD.
pact disk), and play this game ASAP (as Now think of words that begin with
soon as possible)! those letters. See if you can come up Hey, no one says it has to be pretty!
Acronyms are everywhere! If you start with a phrase that describes the movie. The important thing is to have fun.

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Synonym Rolls (or why Mother Goose is upset with me)

ave you ever made synonym
rolls? They’re really quite easy
to prepare. You just take some-
thing that everyone recognizes (in this
case, a nursery rhyme) and cover it with
something else. I’ll give an example. Can
you recognize it? (Answer on page 124.)
Can you recognize the
real name of this epic
Yo, diddle, diddle,
three-part movie?
The feline and the violin;
The bovine leapt over the lunar body. The Potentate of the
Metallic Circular
The wee canine chortled
To witness such athleticism,
And the platter left home at a quick (Answer on page 124.)
pace with the scoop-style silverware.

Let’s Cook!
Take a familiar story or phrase and
rewrite it using synonyms. When your Baxter Says:
SYNONYM ROLLS are done, put them on A synonym is a word that has
a clean piece of paper with a clue to nearly the same meaning as another
their origin (movie title, nursery rhyme, Recipe word, and a thesaurus is a book of
or song). Hand them to a friend to see synonyms. A thesaurus is a large
if he can uncover the true meaning. serves: 1 or more
players book with many interesting words,
such as tuna.
• Favorite po For more on reference books, see page 123.
em, short sto
rhyme, book ry, nursery
or movie titl
• Pencil and
paper or Noo
dle Book
• Thesaurus
pseudonym, synonym, or dictionary
synonymous, thesaurus

Dinner for One: Single-Serving Syllable Silliness 59

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serves: 1 or more
• Favorite po
em, short sto
rhyme, book, ry, nursery
or movie titl
• Pencil and
paper or Noo
dle Book

wonderful would become twoderful,

forehead would become fivehead, and
so on.
Let’s inflate the first paragraph of
Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address
(page 50) and see what happens.

Fivescore and eight years ago our fathers

High-Carb Word Pop-Ups

brought fifth on this conelevenent a
new nation, conceived in liberty and
dedicnined to the proposition that all
men are crenined equal.

here are all kinds of diets these Borge (1909– 2000) would often tell a
days, most of which are preach- story to his audience using what he Now, you try one (I mean, two!).
ing to people to cut back on called inflationary language. Wherever
things. But we’re going to do things a he found a number (or a word or sylla-
little differently (go figure!). We’re going ble that almost sounded like a number) Let’s Cook!
to add some things! in the story, he would increase the Find a short story, poem, song, or
Danish composer and humorist Victor number by one. As an example, nursery rhyme and inflate it. If you can’t
find one, make one up. It will sound just
quarter horse: a mechanical steed in front of a grocery store that you can ride for 25¢. as silly.

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Low-F@ Symbol S&wich Recipe

serves: 1 or more

et’s put together a simple lunch Using these definitions, can you read
that uses symbols instead of the following story? ingredients: le Book
letters. Wh@ am I talking about? encil and paper or Nood
Allow me to explain. Mikey woke up 1 morning with a #ing
There are many symbols that we use headache. “This > the 1 I had just yester-
in place of words in order to simplify day,” he thought, but put on his clothes,
our communication. The symbol @, slipped in2 his s&als, & shot 4 the door
meaning “at,” has become very popular like a •. “There are X when a kid needs 2
with the coming of the Internet and be outside,” he said. When he arrived @ his
email. But I see it (and other symbols) s&box, he noticed something shiny. “It’s a
as a fun way to use the letters A and T brand-new 1/4!” he shouted. “But how did
together. it get out here? This doesn’t make any ¢.”
Some other symbol words include 1/2 “Mikey!” shouted his mom, “Come in
(“half”), 1/4 (“quarter”), & (“and”), # & feed the c@!”
(“pound,” also “number”), – (“minus”),
“Do I 1/2 2?” he answered.
+ (“plus”), X (“times”), . (“period”),
“Yes, & right now.”
< (“is less than”), > (“is greater than”),
“R@s,” he muttered, and —ed off 4
• (“bullet”), ¢ (“cents,” or phonetically
the house.
“sense”), — (“dash”), and so on. You
can even use numbers as words.
Let’s Cook!
Write a short story using as many sym-
bol words as possible. Don’t forget to use
number words, too, just 2 make it fun 4
every1 who reads it.
ideogram, logogram,
typographic accents
It might be easier to make a LOW-
F@ SYMBOL S&WICH if you write
down your story first, then go
back over it to find places where
symbols can replace letters and words.

Dinner for One: Single-Serving Syllable Silliness 61

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License Pl8 Pie Recipe

serves: 1 or more

ere’s something that’s easy to states allow only seven letters. So people
cook up, and anytime you’re in began to be creative (or CRE8IVE). • Pencil and
paper or Noo
the car with nothing to do, I’ll give you some popular Pl8 phrases dle Book
you’ll likely taste many examples of and their solutions to start you out.
LICENSE PL8 PIE (also called Pl8 Speak). Figure it out; then check your answers Let’s Cook!
There are many words and numbers on page 124. Write a story of your own using
that, when used phonetically (that is, the Pl8 Speak, then hand it to another per-
way they sound), can produce a lan- ICU812 son and ask him to read it (when he has
guage all their own. IRIGHTI time; it may not be easy!). You can use
With the introduction of vanity license 10SNE1 symbols such as periods and commas
plates (personalized plates for the car), it AV8R for punctuation, but not for sounds.
became important to get messages out in CUL8ER You may want to give your readers the
as few letters as possible, because many solution on a separate piece of paper,
just in case!

rebus, vanity plates,

William Steig

Check out William Steig’s

wonderful books CDB! and
CDC? Not only R they fun 2
read, but they R A 1derful way
2 learn Pl8 Speak.

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Mirror Word Macaroni & Cheese

(& how it reflects on you)

ere’s a very simple recipe for
word fun that almost anyone
can whip up. And just like the
real macaroni and cheese, all it takes is
a little stirring.
As a wee tyke, I took great pleasure in
sending friends letters that were, well,
not your usual, everyday letters. And
though a lot of creativity on the enve-
lope (as I found out) could cause the
post office some grief, I felt that the
contents were fair game.
I also thought that your typical “This
is what I did this summer” letter was
Have you ever noticed that
b-o-o-o-o-ring, so whenever I conversed
with someone through the mail, I tried Let’s Cook! a photo of you might look a
little odd, like something is
to make it interesting. And here is one Write a short letter to someone, then just a bit out of place? Don’t
way that you can, too! flip it (left to right, not top to bottom) be frightened if you have.
Most of us see ourselves every
and tape it to a window. You should be
day in a mirror, but that is not
able to see through it, but all the writing
Recipe will be backward. Now, take another
the real us. It is a mirror (or
flopped) image. Take a photo
serves: 1 or more piece of paper, hold it over the first of yourself sometime and look
players letter, and copy the words so that your at it while you’re looking in the
ingredients: mirror. What you see may sur-
new letter reads in reverse. prise you! Is your hair parted
• Pencil and
paper When your friend receives the letter in on a different side? Have
• Window the mail, she’ll need to hold it up to a most of your freckles traded
• Envelope an
d stamp
mirror to read it. Or, she can hold the places? Well, say hello to the
letter backward up to a light to see your person everyone else sees —
everyone else, that is, but you!
“secret message.”

Dinner for One: Single-Serving Syllable Silliness 63

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Finely Chop One Newspaper Page …

serves: 1 or more
ingredients: ermission)
spap er comics (with p
•N ew
• Scissors
• Clear tape

Let’s Cook!
any of us like to read the Mix and match before you tape
comics in the newspaper. I Read through the comics section (use anything down, and if it helps, cut out
used to think, “What if one some from days past if necessary) and pictures and mix them up, too. You may
of the characters in a certain strip was make note of places where you think want to tape the whole thing to a new
using the words from another strip?” one cartoon character’s words will work piece of paper. Show the result to an
The more I thought about it, the in another strip. Cut out the words and adult, and he may even offer to frame
funnier it got. So let’s check out your place them carefully over the words of it for you! I guarantee that it will be
dicing skills and … another strip. an original.

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flypaper: a boarding pass to an airline.

Baxter Says:
Always ask permission for games
that are played with “grown-up”
toys. ( Yes, the remote is a toy in my
opinion.) Even a remote control
won’t last forever, and the batteries

Remote-Control Coleslaw give out in no time!

oleslaw is a salad made of finely phrases that when strung together
shredded cabbage (which, like were often funnier than anything on Let’s Cook!
this activity, can be stinky if not television. Turn the TV volume to a moderate
properly prepared). So how would you It’s pretty easy to “shred” some level, and start to “surf,” paying atten-
like to shred something like a few hun- dialogue, but please, always do it with tion to the phrases that are produced
dred words with a TV remote control? permission! using “shredded” sentences.
Because I am a guy (and all guys After a bit, you will learn to change
know this), I take great pride in seeing channels between the natural pauses
just how fast I can flip through the Recipe that the actors take, and you will start
channels, taking less than a second to (preferably
r to hear some pretty funny stuff.
recognize a good show from a bad one. serves: 1 playero om, because
in an empty noying
In doing so, I began to see (or rather n be very an If you want to share your recipe
this game ca
hear) something fun going on. if you aren’t with friends, make a recording of
I then began “surfing” with my eyes ingredients: your REMOTE-CONTROL COLESLAW
closed, just listening for the words or mote contro and play it back.
• 1 TV with re

Dinner for One: Single-Serving Syllable Silliness 65

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Portrait Pickles ( jar your friends) Recipe

serves: 1 or m
ore players
• Pencil an
d paper or
Noodle Bo

Let’s Cook!
Using the name of a friend (it helps
if the name has more than three letters,
and sometimes using her last name
helps, too), rearrange the letters by
rotating them, turning them upside
down or backward, making them bigger
or smaller, and making some in capitals
and others in lowercase letters (because
their shapes are often different). Pretty
soon you will have a portrait of that
person’s name.

arlier (page 14, to be exact), I It may take a while to master this
discussed how important the recipe, but once you begin to see how
letters of the alphabet are when different letters can make different
it comes to playing word games. But shapes, your PORTRAIT PICKLES will
did you know a person’s name can not cook up in a jiffy.
From where you sit right
now, can you spot a only be spelled with letters, but drawn
logo for a company that with them as well?
uses one or more of its Wait! Don’t call a doctor for me just If you have access to a computer
initials? (Hint: Look on yet. Let me explain. drawing program, you can
the cover of this book. The logos of many companies are rearrange the letters even faster
Answer on page 124.)
made from the company’s initials. So and make a nice printout, too.
why not do the same with your name? You may also be able to choose different
Draw a picture with the letters! typefaces (type styles).

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Undergrounder Upside-Down Cake

f you can’t raise the bridge, then
lower the river.” I’m not sure who Recipe
said that, but it means that there is
always more than one way to look at serves: 1 or more
things, and among those things, I ingredients:
include words and phrases. • Dictionary
Undergrounders are words or phrases • Pencil and
paper, Nood
that work on two levels. Most of the le Book, or em
are undergrounders. They are the result
of taking a word and turning it upside Let’s Cook!
down (several times) until a newer, more Look for words in the dictionary
interesting definition is found. that might have a different meaning if
Here are a few undergrounders and they were combinations of two or
their definitions to start you off: more words.
Write down the correct spelling of
gargoyle: an olive-flavored mouthwash the word, then write down its new
(because it sounds like gargle and definition. Bravo!
olive oil ).

occupy: the job of a pastry chef If you have trouble finding under-
(because it sounds like occupation grounder words, look for longer Baxter Says:
and pie ). words and just keep repeating
them to yourself over and over Playing with words and coming up
(forget what the real meaning is for a with new definitions is lots of fun.
See how it works? Try cooking up
moment). The key ingredient here is While you’re at it, surprise your
some of your own.
imagination! Oh, imagination: a country teachers or parents by memorizing
where everyone is required to be the real meaning of those words.
creative ( imagine + nation). See how You’ll be a vocabulary pro!
easy this becomes?

Dinner for One: Single-Serving Syllable Silliness 67

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Tabloid Turkey Tapioca (a.k.a. headline herrings)

serves: 1 or more
• Newspaper
• Paper or N
oodle Book
• Scissors
• Glue or tap

espite their best intentions, Can you figure out what each head- you’ve found several, share them with
newspaper copy editors often let line was intending? Obviously, a man friends or compare them.
some funny headline accidents was not charged with a battery, but he You might even want to drop a note
slip through. If you published something was charged (as in court) with battery to the editor of the paper (look on the
as large and complex as a newspaper (which is a civil offense). Editorial or Opinion page), letting the
every day, you might make a few mis- editor know what you’ve found, and
takes, too. Some of these grammar goofs Let’s Cook! perhaps suggesting a solution for future
are quite hilarious! Look through your newspaper for such headlines.
those occasional HEADLINE HERRINGS,
Two Soviet Ships Collide — One Dies and make a note of them. Or, better yet,
Squad Helps Dog Bite Victim cut them out and glue or tape them into If you collect a lot of these, make
Teacher Strikes Idle Kids a notebook or scrapbook. Put the date copies and bind them up to give as
Man Charged With Battery below the entry and jot down the name holiday or birthday gifts. People
of the paper you found it in. When love them!

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Zeugma Zest
There is a zeugma in the
paragraph that begins
with “Get the hang …”
Can you find it? (Answer
on page 124.)

serves: 1 or more
• Pencil and
paper or Noo
dle Book

Let’s Cook!
hat’s a zeugma (ZOOG-ma)? Say what? Well, see how I used the
It’s a phrase or sentence in words write on and applied them to There is no logical way to come up
which a word is applied to both Clinton and a piece of paper? Let’s with a good zeugma short of just listen-
two or more phrases in different, often try another … ing for patterns of speech that could use
humorous, ways. a good zeugma. Remember, a great deal
Confused? Join the club. Perhaps an The coach was losing the game of wordplay comes about as a result of
example will help: and her temper. good listening skills!

Steve decided to write on Clinton Get the hang of it? Great! You’re
and a piece of paper. ready to add some zest to your everyday
language with a few zeugmas of your
own. With a little practice, maybe you’ll
get smarter and invited to more parties!
Zeugos is the Greek word
for “yoked.”
syllepsis, zeugma

Dinner for One: Single-Serving Syllable Silliness 69

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A Pair of Paradox Pears

id you ever wonder why we park
on driveways and drive on park-
Let’s Cook!
serves: 1 or more players
ways? Why do I say my alarm Listen for examples of word para-
clock has gone off when it has actually doxes and write them down. Share ingredients:
odle Book,
turned on? Why do we have noses that them with friends via email, and maybe • Pencil and paper, No
or email
run and feet that smell? And what about they’ll return the favor by sending some
these two words: Civil War? to you. While you’re hunting these • Good ears for listen
These are some examples of word down, can you see why English may
paradoxes. A paradox (not two not be the easiest language for foreign
surgeons!) is a contradictory statement people to learn?
(and is yet another reason why the
English language is so difficult for
foreign people to learn).
To properly prepare pairs of paradox
pears (how’s that for a tongue twister?),
keep your ears open!

antinomy, Goldwynisms,
oxymoron, Seinfeldisms,
word paradox

groan: what an adult should be.

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Here are a few more examples of

paradoxes for some more fun:

When a house burns up, it burns

You fill out a form by filling it in?
Why is something transported by car
called a shipment, and something

rampage: a place in a book where you read about male sheep.

transported by boat called cargo?
The weather can be hot as heck one
day and cold as heck the next?
If lawyers want to be taken seriously,
why is their business called a

Dinner for One: Single-Serving Syllable Silliness 71

PUNZLES® answer: Dude ranch.
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Jigsaw Jam Recipe

serves: 1 or more

ticky, but delicious! That’s how I many years (yuck, huh?). Before you ingredients:
would describe this recipe. And start seeing this whole thing as a science • New or use
once you’ve served it to a friend, experiment gone bad, perhaps we d jigsaw puzz
preferably le le,
ss than 100 p
you’ll likely have it served back to you. should take a closer look at the recipe. • 2 large piece
Over the course of many years, I have s of stiff card
made JIGSAW JAM for countless friends, Let’s Cook! • Adult helper

and you might be surprised to learn that Find a used jigsaw puzzle (I look for • Pencils or fi
ne-tipped m
— unlike the jelly that’s in your fridge puzzles at the local thrift store — they’re
— my jams have been in the drawers very inexpensive), and assemble it on
and cupboards of friends and family for top of one of the pieces of cardboard. With the help of an adult, place the
other piece of cardboard on top of the
completed puzzle, and very carefully
turn it over, keeping the puzzle in one
On the back side of the puzzle, write a
letter to a friend telling her why you
value her friendship, or something about
why you’re thinking of her (I like to
write my letters in a circle, as shown,
just to throw my readers off the trail a
Disassemble the puzzle, put it back in
Jigsaw puzzles can be traced
the box, and maybe even gift wrap it.
back to the 1700s, when the
mapmakers of Europe pasted Then give it to your friend without
their maps onto pieces of telling her what it is. (You may not hear
wood, then cut them apart back from her for some time!)
(most likely to make them If you want to be a real stinker (like
easier to store aboard ships)
— a far cry from Flash-based
me), carefully peel the picture from the
jigsaw puzzles found on the cover of the box, giving your friend an
Internet today. extra challenge!