Some wordsmiths wield their lexicological powers like an angry red pen, rooting out errors and marking them for all the world to see. (We're talking to you, Grammar Police. Even as we count ourselves among your 24,474 Facebook fans.)
Others, like Rod Evans, are laughing all the way to the dictionary. And the eighteenth book deal.
"Tyrannosaurus Lex: The Marvelous Book of Palindromes, Anagrams and Other Delightful And Outrageous Wordplay" (Perigree) is Evans' latest—and possibly wittiest—celebration of the English language.
"I consider the book, to some extent, an exuberant excess," Evans says. "It's the Lady Gaga of wordplay books."
Evans is our favorite kind of language lover, in that he delights in its possibilities, its evolution, its liveliness.
"I don't get upset about people playing with language," he says. "I wish people would play with it more."
In its 262 pages, "Tyrannosaurus Lex" includes the following:
•"Piano Words," words whose letters can all be played as notes on an instrument: (baggage, defaced, beaded, caged).
• "Dennis and Edna Sinned: Palindromes" (Do geese see God?; A man, a plan, a canal, Panama; My gym taxes sex at my gym; and Dr. Awkward, who Evans says is an actual professor at the University of Michigan).
• "Musical Mondegreens," in which Evans lists commonly misunderstood song lyrics. (Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" sounds like "Slow-talking Walter, the fire-engine guy." It's actually "Smoke on the water and fire in the sky." Elton John's "Tiny Dancer" sounds like "Hold me closer Tony Danza." It's actually "Hold me closer tiny dancer." Simon and Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence" sound like "Silence like a casserole." It's actually "Silence like a cancer grows.")
Evans' favorite part of the book is inspired by paging through the phone book. He lists more than 400 "outlandish" names found on the people search engine zabasearch.com, each of which is officially linked to a phone number and mailing address.
Ben Dover from Alexander City, Ala.; Anita Plummer from Connersville, Ind.; Al Dente from New York, NY; Bud Light from Chelsea, Ala.
"Wordplay is democratic," Evans says. "You don't have to have a doctorate to enjoy it." (Though he happens to have one, in philosophy, from the University of Virginia.)
Which is the beauty of the book—it's smart and a smidge sophomoric, without crossing into juvenile.
"Nobody makes the alphabet dance more brilliantly and entertainingly than Rod Evans," raves no less than prolific and revered author Richard Lederer, on the book's cover.
And on June 5? Evans is booked on Mancow Muller's satellite radio show. So. Yeah, democratic.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun