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Since You Asked: An Evan by any other name ...

Your Daily Crossword Puzzle often contains the clue "... start of Evan Esser quip." My Internet search finds no mention of an Evan Esser. Who is Evan Esser?

— John H., Talent

Well, sure, John. Evan Esser is a junior varsity grappler for the Geneseo High School Fighting Leafs, south of Rochester, N.Y. The Google took us right to him!

OK, promising as Evan Esser's prep wrestling career appears to be, we're going to guess you meant Evan Esar, a humorist who passed on to the great wrestling mat in the sky in 1995.

Aside from his frequent plugs in daily crosswords (people who love words and crosswords typically also are familiar with Evan Esar, mostly because the editors who make crosswords love Evan Esar so much), Esar is most famous for his "Esar's Comic Dictionary" in 1943. He also wrote "20,000 Quips and Quotes" in 1968. He really was quite adept at turning words for maximum effect, to wit:

  • "Statistician: A man who believes figures don't lie, but admits that under analysis some of them won't stand up either."
  • "Think twice before you speak, and then you may be able to say something more insulting than if you spoke right out at once."
  • "Conscience is what makes a boy tell his mother before his sister does."
  • "Most new books are forgotten within a year, especially by those who borrow them."

And now if you'll excuse us, we've got a few books to return.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com.