The unintended pun in everyday life.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Hunger Games and Unintended Puns?

I just finished reading the very engaging novel The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, on my Amazon Kindle. You won't find a review or summary here, though maybe I'll branch into blogging about such things in the future. Click here for the book's Amazon page.

Instead, as befits the intent of our subject material, you'll find a couple of possible unintended puns, which will give you a hint at the book's contents. They'll also give us a chance to think about a published author's word choice, and her editor's missing the pun and/or leaving it in the book on purpose. Discussion below.
(read by me) May 20, 2011
The Hunger Games, Chapter 6, by Suzanne Collins. The narrator and another character had worn costumes that imitate fire during the Opening Ceremonies of the Hunger Games. Then during a replay of the procession, she notes: “A few of the other couples make a nice impression, but none of them can hold a candle to us.”

(read by me) May 23, 2011
The Hunger Games, Chapter 21, by Suzanne Collins: “I've nine arrows left in all. I debate leaving the knife with Peeta so he’ll have some protection while I’m gone, but there’s really no point.”
The first pun is beautifully subtle. Context: Before the Opening Ceremonies, the characters had worried that when their costumes were "lit" to give them the ultimate effect of looking like fire, the costumes would in fact consume them in real fire, that their fashion designer was a maniac bent on watching them die before the Games even began. Turned out that it was some sophisticated chemical that didn't produce heat. Then, as they watched the replay, the author has the narrator say something so perfect, so appropriate--if the other characters, who will soon be their competitors in the Games, had indeed lit a candle to them, maybe they really would have died in flames, intead of just looking like they were flames.

The second one, more straightforward, nonetheless has a nice twist. For Peeta at this time in the plot, is unable to defend himself, so in fact a knife, which has a point, would have no point for him. And the arrows never would have a point for him, though of course they have a point, because he does not know how to use the bow that would make them a truly useful weapon.

What do you think? Do these particular word choices seem to be on purpose?
Do you know of other Unintended Puns, especially good, subtle, multi-layered or multi-modal ones, that sneak into books?

Let us know.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

You've Got to Be Kidding Me

In the many articles about the death of Osama bin Laden, I guess there was bound to be an Unintended Pun. But did it have to be so morbid? 
Click here for the article.
May 3, 2011
Phone call by Kuwaiti courier led to bin Laden, By ADAM GOLDMAN and MATT APUZZO, Associated Press:The revelation that intelligence gleaned from the CIA's so-called black sites helped kill bin Laden was seen as vindication for many intelligence officials who have been repeatedly investigated and criticized for their involvement in a program that involved the harshest interrogation methods in U.S. history.
'We got beat up for it, but those efforts led to this great day,' said Marty Martin, a retired CIA officer who for years led the hunt for bin Laden.”
I think Marty Martin wanted to indicate that the press and the American public had given the CIA a hard time for their methods, and I'll grant that as a retired CIA officer, he probably tends to use "tough talk" a lot. But in this case, couldn't he have picked one of the dozens of other ways to say it? Maybe "we got a lot of bad press" or "we felt like we were the enemy all those years" or something that didn't evoke the very thing he and the CIA were being accused of? But I think this is a classic case of his brain choosing words that were almost unavoidable given the association web of the context.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Royal Pun

I didn't follow too much of the "royal" wedding coverage, but I admit I read some of the blogs on it. Most of what I read was pretty mundane, but I did enjoy this one, especially because I doubt the writer (Piper Weiss, in an obvious ode to Diana) meant her words to have the association that they do. Click here for the article.
April 30, 2011
Prince William and Kate Middleton honor Diana’s memory: “During every step of their path down the aisle, Kate and William have made a point to keep Lady Diana’s memory alive. Their wedding was no exception.”

I think the writer meant to say something like "during every facet of their wedding, before, during, and after," but instead ended up with a great Unintended Pun, which implies that somehow the "path down the aisle" was not during the wedding. If it isn't a pun, it's just bad writing.