Thursday 13: Musings on pangrams

After the list of palindromes some weeks ago I decided to tackle pangrams next. Usually the shorter the better, but for my purpose it was nicer to choose pangrams that made some sort of sense. A 26 letter pangram for example would be “Glum Schwartzkopf vex’d by NJ IQ.” But does that sound like fun? So I decided to use longer ones that used letters more than once. Here I go… Disclaimer: I did not invent the pangrams, I only interpreted them in a way.

1. The quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog.
We all know this one and I’m sure everybody already speculated about why the fox (are foxes brown at all? I always thought they were reddish) jumps over a lazy dog. Why the fox would even get close to the dog after his experiences with fox hunting I don’t know. Maybe simply because the dog seems to be lazy. What if this is a feint? His goose will be cooked then.

2. Forsaking monastic tradition, twelve jovial friars gave up their vocation for a questionable existence on the flying trapeze.
Can’t say I blame them. However, from a monastic existence to the dangers of circus life in general (being eaten by lions, being trampled over by elephants, the ever present clowns) and the ones of the trapeze in particular is a big change. This proves without a doubt that living like a monk befuddles your mind in such a way that you can’t trust your own judgement anymore.

3. No kidding — Lorenzo called off his trip to visit Mexico City just because they told him the conquistadores were extinct.
OK, I thought people went to Mexico for sun bathing and jumping off cliffs. Not so Lorenzo. He obviously wanted to to meet some adventurers (also read: greedy bastards, in this case) and when he found out he is about 600 years too late he cancelled the whole trip. Bummer for him at the time of booking he was so determined that he forgot to pay for a travel cancellation insurance. Now he’s stuck with a 100% fee.

4. Jelly-like above the high wire, six quaking pachyderms kept the climax of the extravaganza in a dazzling state of flux.
It took me a while to even figure out what all those words mean. But now I got it. The quaking pachyderms on the high wire are a circus act (see no. 2). Every time the audience thinks that the last trick was the culmination of their unmet skills they go and do something even more astonishing, thus keeping the audience at the edge of their seat, never to be fully satisfied.

5. Ebenezer unexpectedly bagged two tranquil aardvarks with his jiffy vacuum cleaner.
John gave me a hint about this one. I’m no film buff and Dracula I only watch if it is done as a romance with a sexy Dracula (now you know I’ve never watched the one with Max Schreck). With his help however, I was able to pin the meaning of this one down. Ebenezer, the studio cleaner at Universal’s, was in charge of the tidying up of the set after filming Dracula with Bela Lugosi. By accident he vacuumed the aardvarks up (they had two, one the original one that appeared on screen and another one as a back-up). They were lying around dozing and he never thought to watch out for them. Thus their promising career came to a sudden and bitter end. So was Ebenezer’s when Universal found out their prize aardvarks were gone. Thankfully seven years later he found another job at RKO Radio Pictures as a leopard caretaker.

6. The explorer was frozen in his big kayak just after making queer discoveries.
What could he possibly have discovered that he was frozen in the kayak? Was he frozen because it was so cold or was he frozen because he was so stunned about his “queer” discoveries? I don’t want to go into that anymore, I’m afraid what I’m going to find out.

7. Jaded zombies acted quaintly but kept driving their oxen forward.
I know that zombies are all the rage at the moment, so I can’t resist having a few on this list as well. I know my fair share of zombies, after all I’ve read some Anita Blake books. Never have I heard of zombies harnessing oxen. Why would they need them? Zombies don’t eat veggies, so they wouldn’t need to plough the fields, would they? They only eat brains, as far as I know. On top of that, even quaint zombies would probably recognize the comfort of modern machines and use a tractor.

8. Amazingly few discotheques provide jukeboxes.
And why would they? Nobody in their right mind can be amazed about it. Jukeboxes are for ice cream parlours and diners of the fifties, not for modern clubs. You wouldn’t hear the jukebox music anyway over all that noise.

9. Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs.
The person is obviously planning for an outing. Over here it was father’s day only recently. I don’t know whether other countries have that same excuse for the men to go out with their buddies and get pissed. It is an old tradition where they take a handcart with a barrel of beer or two and wander through the countryside only to call their wives in the evening to tell them to pick them up from God knows where. The pangram is the original request for his wife to prepare his provisions.

10. Painful zombies quickly watch a jinxed graveyard.
Zombies and graveyards just belong together. I suppose the zombies are watching the graveyard to make sure they can still go back into their graves once they are done above the ground. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that Anita Blake has something to do with pain the zombies are suffering from OR / AND the jinxing. That woman can screw up anything!

11. Bored? Craving a pub quiz fix? Why, just come to the Royal Oak! 
Give the Royal Oak a wide berth! A pub quiz doesn’t sound like entertainment at all. It probably wouldn’t provide the necessary thrill to get you out of your funk. To give you an idea what to expect I found some pub quiz questions that might be asked.

From what book are the following first lines and who is its author?

It was love at first sight. The first time Yossarian saw the chaplain he fell madly in love with him. Yossarian was in the hospital with a pain in his liver that fell just short of being jaundice.

What year was “Carry on Doctor” released?

What song and which artist won the Eurovision song contest in 1976?

Now, isn’t that fun? Didn’t think so either.

12. All questions asked by five watched experts amaze the judge.
There was this show when I was a kid where self-proclaimed “experts” had to answer questions to prove how well they knew their subject (however obscure it was). This is a different take. The experts ASK the questions and someone totally unknowledgeable has to answer them. The most original answer (it doesn’t have to be necessarily true, but rather original and imaginative) wins the prize.

13. The last one is a famous German pangram, which also leaves a lot of room for speculation.
Franz jagt im komplett verwahrlosten Taxi quer durch Bayern.
(Franz chases in the completely run-down cab straight across Bavaria)

I can imagine a couple of scenarios:

  • Franz is a bank robber and an old shabby taxi is the only one he could hi-jack to escape. He robbed a bank in the North of Bavaria and now tries to get to Italy (a popular hide-away country for Bavarian bank robbers) as soon as possible.
  • Franz is a taxi driver and a slob. He owns his taxi and has never bothered to clean it up properly. The taxi association has investigated after a number of complaints from passengers about the poor state of the vehicle. To evade a fee and other penalties he is getting out of the city as quickly as possible to settle down somewhere else (preferably Italy, a popular retirement country for cab drivers on the run).

Check out more Thursday 13 participants!

If you want to find out the answers to the intriguing pub quiz questions, turn the page upside down.


4 Comments Write a comment

  1. Father’s Day is coming up in a couple of weeks. Where can I sign up for #9? Though it would probably take me a month to recover.


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