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

Mon Dec 4 11:08:00 EST 2017

Earlier than this is an article in the (Zanesville, Ohio) Sunday Times-Signal, May 26, 1935 (Newspaper Archive).  Atypically, this is a reference to actual tern hunting.  It refers to an earlier article in the Louisiana Conservationist, the official organ of the Louisiana Department of Conservation, which I have not tried to track down.

“The article describes the slaughter by professional plume hunters of tens of thousands of delicate least terns on such spots as Cobbs Island, Virginia, so that some woman’s hat might be more in fashion than that of her neighbor.  Terns, rather than flee at the first discharge of a gun, will circle and wheel over their fallen comrades, giving the hunter an ideal chance to kill great numbers of them before they fly beyond range.  The author, in an effort to picture the havoc wrought by plume hunters in colonies, uses the following appropriate humor pun:  The plume hunter left no stone unterned, so that no Tern went unstoned.””

John Baker

From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of ADSGarson O'Toole
Sent: Sunday, December 3, 2017 9:35 PM
Subject: Re: Drama Critic Motto: Leave no turn unstoned

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

Below is what I currently say about the "tern" variant in the QI
article. I hope to access Ogden Nash's 1953 collection soon and update
the article. Nash's book is called "The private dining room and other
new verses".

[Begin excerpt from QI article]
In 1953 poet Ogden Nash released a book of light verse, and a
columnist in the “Detroit Free Press” of Michigan highlighted a
variation of the expression under analysis: 10

[Begin excerpt from Detroit Free Press]
In his new book he speaks of stoning seabirds and claims that when he
indulges in this pastime, he “leaves no tern unstoned.” Anyone who can
think up a crack like that commands our undying gratitude.
[End excerpt from Detroit Free Press]

[End excerpt from QI article]

[Begin Note 10 from QI article]
1953 April 13, Detroit Free Press, Resort News Turns Mind to Summer by
Laurena Pringle, Quote Page 17, Column 6, Detroit, Michigan.
[End Note 10 from QI article]


> On Sun, Dec 3, 2017 at 2:29 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu<mailto: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<mailto: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<mailto: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<mailto: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/<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/<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<http://QuoteInvestigator.com>
>> >>>
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