[Ads-l] Drama Critic Motto: Leave no turn unstoned

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Sun Dec 3 14:49:03 EST 2017


I remember coming across "tern unstoned" in a collection of shaggy dog
stories when I was a kid. Here's a reference from the folklorist Jan Harold
Brunvand, with both of Ogden Nash's variations on the theme (though
Brunvand doesn't credit Nash).

---
Jan Harold Brunvand, "A Classification for Shaggy Dog Stories"
Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 76, No. 299, Jan.-Mar. 1963, p. 61.
C220. Stoning Sea Birds - Painting Baboons.
A man keeps throwing stones at sea birds because he "doesn't want to leave
one tern unstoned. " Another man paints the backsides of baboons so as not
to "leave one stern untoned." (These two jokes recall one another and are
often told together, says my informant.)
--Oral tradition, spring 1958; "Sir Bagby" (6 Oct 1960), "tern unstoned."
---

(Garson -- I read your QI piece, but I don't see the 1953 example you
mention.)

On Sun, Dec 3, 2017 at 2:29 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu>
wrote:

> Thanks! I might well have been vaguely recalling the Ogden Nash (a
> favorite of my mother’s), and possibly some other source for the same
> reversal—one good tern deserves another, after all--but somehow, despite
> the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and Kesey's Merry Pranksters being
> favorites of mine at the time, I didn’t retain the wonderful “No Left Turn
> Unstoned”.
>
> LH
>
> > On Dec 3, 2017, at 2:09 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
> wrote:
> >
> > Thanks for your response, LH. There are some fun variants.
> >
> > Ogden Nash wrote "I leave no tern unstoned" and "I leave no stern
> > untoned" in a 1953 collection of poems. The QI piece included a 1953
> > "Detroit Free Press" citation that mentioned the "tern" phrase. Here
> > is a citation for 1962 collection with the poem. (I have to visit the
> > library to verify the 1953 collection):
> >
> > [ref] 1962 First Printing, The Pocket Book of Ogden Nash by Ogden
> > Nash, Poem: Everybody's Mind to Me a Kingdom Is or A Great Big
> > Wonderful World It's, Start Page 38, Quote Page 39. Pocket Books: A
> > Division of Simon & Schuster, New York. (Verified with scans)[/ref]
> >
> > [Begin excerpt]
> > This I shall do because I am a conscientious man, when I throw rocks
> > at sea birds I leave no tern unstoned,
> > I am a meticulous man, and when I portray baboons I leave no stern
> untoned,
> > [End excerpt]
> >
> > Tom Wolfe in "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test" credited Merry
> > Prankster Paul Foster with the phrase "No Left Turn Unstoned".
> >
> > [ref] 1981 (1968 Copyright), The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom
> > Wolfe, Chapter 12: The Bust, Quote Page 145 and 146, Bantam Books, New
> > York. (Verified with scans)[/ref]
> >
> > [Begin excerpt]
> > He also had a lot of pens, some of them felt-nib pens with colors, and
> > he sat up in the tree house while the old restless Roto-rooter, the
> > good god Speed, scoured puns, puns, puns, puns, puns from out of the
> > walls of his skull and he fashioned signs like one he put at the
> > entrance of the place, where the driveway turned in to the bridge from
> > Route 84, a sign reading: "No Left Turn Unstoned."
> > [End excerpt]
> >
> > Garson
> >
> >
> > On Sun, Dec 3, 2017 at 12:25 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu>
> wrote:
> >> Then there’s the joke and/or shaggy dog story with the punchline “Leave
> no tern unstoned”.  Wonder how far back that one goes?
> >> There must be a whole inventory of these reversals, ranging from “Time
> wounds all heels” to the (real or faux) Dorothy Parker bon mot “Tell him
> I’m too fucking busy and vice versa”...
> >>
> >> LH
> >>
> >>> On Dec 3, 2017, at 11:45 AM, ADSGarson O'Toole <
> adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> >>>
> >>> The Quote Investigator website now has an entry about the wordplay in
> >>> the subject line which is often attributed to George Bernard Shaw.
> >>>
> >>> https://quoteinvestigator.com/2017/12/02/unstoned/
> >>>
> >>> The earliest pertinent evidence I've found is a joke containing the
> >>> phrase "they left no turn unstoned" in "The Daily Northwestern" of
> >>> Oshkosh, Wisconsin on August 29, 1899 with an acknowledgment to the
> >>> "Catholic Standard and Times". I haven't found a digital archive for
> >>> the "Catholic Standard and Times".
> >>>
> >>> Chronicling America seems to say that University of Notre Dame in
> >>> Indiana has it on microfilm, but searching would be difficult because
> >>> the date above is simply an upper bound.
> >>>
> >>> https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn97016042/holdings/
> >>>
> >>> Reference works contain a 1950 citation for George Bernard Shaw and a
> >>> 1946 citation for Arthur Wimperis. The QI article has 1914 citation
> >>> for Wimperis but nothing earlier for Shaw.
> >>>
> >>> Feedback welcome
> >>> Garson O'Toole
> >>> QuoteInvestigator.com
> >>>
>

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