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What the encyclopedia salesman saw

Your joke of the week is about a door-to-door salesman.

Your word of the week is maladroit.


Posted by John McIntyre at 11:12 AM | | Comments (1)


Prof. mcI.,

Your joke-of-the-week "door-to-door" scenario w/ the encyclopedia sales guy is quite the anachronistic through-back to the, in many ways, regrettably bygone, mid-20th century era. When was the last time we saw a Fuller Brush man hoofing it door-to-door? Maybe in the Twilight Zone. HA!

With the entire collected volumes of the venerable National Geographic magazine from its inception to present day now available in a singular multi-CD set, the once thriving species, 'purveyorus encylopaedist' (encyclopedia salesman) has sadly gone the way of the dodo, and the once-thriving passenger pigeon. That goose, indeed, has been thoroughly cooked.

The image you've portrayed of this precocious, apparently home-alone beer guzzling, cigar-smoking kid, sadly reminds me of a fairly recent video-clip--gone-viral on YouTube, out of rural Indonesia, where we witness a rather portly, almost Buddahesque two-and-a-half year old diapered tot, casually dragging, multiple times w/ apparent gusto, on a lighted cigarette, as if he'd been indulging in this nasty pursuit ever since he emerged from the womb. He was holding the cigarette w/ the deftness of a Betty Davis, or Dietrich, in their prime. Very disturbing. Clearly, HIS parents were out-to-lunch.

As the little gamin in your joke-of-the-week queried, "What do you think?".


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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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