Home Contact Biography Works Media News

Jane Recommends
Who Hates Whom / Bob Harris

Who Hates Whom: Well-Armed Fanatics, Intractable Conflicts, and Various Things Blowing Up A Woefully Incomplete Guide by Bob Harris

"The geopolitical equivalent of scorecards that get hawked at ball games. Only Bob could make a user’s guide to our increasingly hostile world this absorbing, this breezy, and—ultimately—this hopeful."
~ Ken Jennings, author of Brainiac


Jane in Print
Serenity Found: More Unauthorized Essays on Joss Whedon's Firefly Universe, edited by Jane Espenson

Flirting with Pride and Prejudice: Fresh Perspectives on the Original Chick-Lit Masterpiece, edited by Jennifer Crusie and including Jane Espenson's short story, "Georgiana"

Finding Serenity: Anti-Heroes, Lost Shepherds and Space Hookers in Joss Whedon's Firefly, edited by Jane Espenson and Glenn Yeffeth

Jane in DVD

Jane in DVD

Now Available:
+Battlestar Galactica Season 3
+Dinosaurs Seasons 3 & 4
+Gilmore Girls Season 4
+Buffy: The Chosen Collection
+Tru Calling
+Angel: Limited Edition Collectors Set

Jane in Progress


Home » Archives » April 2008 » Zoeae Doesn't Refer to Baby Clams, But it's Good For Scrabble
[Previous entry: "Another Voice to Master"] [Next entry: "And Maybe Looking in the Mirror Will Make Him See Himself"]

04/06/2008: Zoeae Doesn't Refer to Baby Clams, But it's Good For Scrabble

When is a clam born? How many times do you need to have heard a joke before it becomes too familiar to be used? I've thought of this question a couple times recently. Once was after I wrote my post of April First in which I jokingly used the phrase "I don't roll that way." Hmm... there's almost certainly a whiff of clamminess there. I've heard people saying that a lot recently, and it's always in quotes, never a genuine use of the phrase. That's a bad sign, when the genuine uses disappear.

But what about this one? The other night, Stephen Colbert referred to his new Peabody Award as "...the turducken of awards," because it's "...like an Oscar wrapped in an Emmy inside a Pulitzer". The word "turducken" immediately set off my clamometer. There was a time when no sitcom Thanksgiving episode was ready to air until a turducken joke had been included. But this metaphorical usage? What of that?

I did a quick search for "the turducken of" and found references to "the turducken of cycling," "the turducken of monsters," "the turducken of flea markets," of cheese and politics and spy gadgetry and air travel. But the results were in the hundreds, not the thousands. And many of them referred specifically to Colbert's usage. My verdict: not a clam. Not yet.

In fact, this specific trick, taking something hilarious that's been overused in its literal sense, and retricking it out in a metaphorical sense, may be an excellent device for reviving worn-out jokes. Sure, the Thigh-master is a dead joke. But if a character was relating seeing an older woman "working the pool boy like he was a Thigh-master," well then, ahem... that might be new territory.

You're generally better off with references that are fresh all the way through, but if your perfect metaphorical reference is to something slightly less-than-fresh, you might just get away with it anyway.

A quick note to Gentle Reader Samiva -- I got your note and I hope you found my recent posts about comic book scripts helpful!

Lunch: bean and cheese burrito from Poquito Mas. Doused with a combo of Red Rooster and Green Tabasco hot sauces. Spicy!


Get Blog Updates Via Email

Enter your Email

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz


Walt Disney Writing Fellowship Program
UC Berkeley
Jane recommends you also visit BobHarris.com



April 2008

Valid XHTML 1.0!

Powered By Greymatter
Greymatter Forums

Home | News | Works | Biography | Frequently Asked Questions

Site design Copyright © PM Carlson
This is a fan site owned and operated entirely by PM Carlson with the cooperation and assistance of Jane Espenson. This site is not affiliated in any way with Mutant Enemy, 20th Century Fox or ABC.