25 Comments

  1. Normally, what follows all of the things “she” took is the worst. He thinks losing his still is worse than losing his house, etc.

  2. For me, the humor lies in the incongruity of a still in a list that includes money and a Mercedes, as well as the minor pun on the two uses of the word “took” (“to remove from one’s possession” and “to utilize”).

  3. I’m with Arthur, mostly. I think it’s not so much that wrecking the still was the worst, but that it was the last straw or coup de grace. Unhappy as all the previous losses would leave him, he could have managed to get thru it if he could keep access to that moonshine and just drink to oblivion.

  4. @ja – I’m trying to understand the polysemy you mention for “took”, but don’t really understand it. She was taking possession of all those items, by physical removal or legal determination of ownership — but those seem to me just a single basic sense.

  5. What does “B.A.” stand for? Some kind of “Alert”?

    Just the username of the person who submitted it.

  6. Ah, thanks Andrea. I see what that second meaning would be, if we had “She took a hammer to the still”. But with “She took a hammer and busted up the still” I don’t see that sense — it’s still just like “picked up” so no different from other takings.

  7. “It’s not a country song until your wife leaves you, your dog runs away and your truck breaks down.” And you can’t make any more bootleg gin.

  8. Like the “help mom with the groceries” one, this is a “who are these people and its interesting to look at them from the outside”. What was the guy’s lifestyle that he had a mercedes and a still, and how involved is this guy in cultivating gardening at this level; is he a professional, hobbyist, does the guy without a mercedes and a still share his interest or are these two different friends each with separate passions each can see but not meet.

    And just look at that crazy dog.

    …. Brainstorming… I think the appeal of a Booth cartoon is supposed to see people with just on the edge of a passionate but disfunctional lifestyle but not quite crossing the line and viewed at a moment of apparent but not quite norm.

  9. @ woozy – “…look at that crazy dog…
    That dog is a signature item in many of Booth’s comics.

  10. I think the joke is the Mercedes in the middle of that list. He’s a hillbilly with a still and a Rottweiler — or was — and also a Mercedes. While I actually DO know someone who has both a fancy luxury car and an illegal still, it’s a hobby thing for them, and not an actually living in the backwoods making their living as a moonshiner thing.

  11. Yeah, dogs frequently show up in Booth’s word. Many times they’re doing dog things, like scratching or spinning around prior to napping.

    I remember one where a writer was out on the porch with his typewriter, and he was just staring into space. There were several dogs on the porch.

    His wife was bringing him a beverage and she yelled, “Write about dogs!”

  12. >That dog is a signature item in many of Booth’s comics.

    Yes. And often the dog carries the cartoon.

    Basically a Booth cartoon seems to be… look at them! Aren’t they something?

    And they usually are.

  13. Huh? I’m not at all denying people (including me) would say “She took a hammer and busted up the still” ; and it’s quite standard language, not needing to be labelled colloquialism.

    I just don’t see that it’s a different meaning than in “She took the house and the car”.

    But then, individuating where there is a “different meaning” and where just “a different shading” is a notoriously hard problem, that lexicographers have some principles for, but not an actual overall good answer for. So my deafness to the distinction doesn’t mean I want to invalidate your impression of it.

  14. In this case, ‘took’ could be ‘stole’, which she MAY have done with the hammer after breaking up the still.

    Also, maybe he’s lookin’ for a job in the garden store/nursery. That’s what I first thought, ’cause who just goes up to someone who is working and starts nattering away like that? Other than in a Booth comic I s’pose.

  15. Since I made an unanchored remark about how lexicographers have a hard time in general deciding how many senses to recognize and try to differentiate, I thought it might be interesting to look at some dictionaries, and see how they handle our test case, “take” as a transitive verb.

    Well, https://www.dictionary.com/browse/take?s=t has 2 senses shown. And https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/take has 20, many with subordinate distinctions given letters. And that’s before the fixed phrases, the intransitive verb meanings, and the noun!

    Looking at the wide range of careful distinctions in the M-W entry, my best guess on how they would count the ‘took’ in [simplified] She took the house, the car, the money, and the dog. would be maybe number 6:


    6: to transfer into one’s own keeping:
    a: APPROPRIATE
       someone took my hat
    b: to obtain or secure for use (as by lease, subscription, or purchase)
       take a cottage for the summer
       I’ll take the red one
       took an ad in the paper

    My guesses on how they would see Then she took a hammer and busted the still. could be simply 9 or maybe 2:

    9: to pick out : CHOOSE, SELECT
       took the best apple
    2: GRASP, GRIP
       take the ax by the handle

    And finally, my constructed alternative sentence She took a hammer to the still, and busted it. could be covered by 10(a):

    10: to adopt, choose, or avail oneself of for use: such as
      a: to have recourse to as an instrument for doing something
        take a scythe to the weeds

  16. Well, THAT put me in my place: Despite all the time I’ve been active here, nobody knows who I am!

    -Barbara (B.A.)

  17. B.A. – Sincere apologies. I thought it was something like “Geezer Alert” or “Arlo Alert” or something along those lines. If it’s any consolation, I now feel I’VE been put in my place.

  18. beckoningchasm, that is the last thing I intended.

    larK, I have heard that one before. Also apparently there’s a doll that shares my name.

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