Patterico's Pontifications


Meet the Newest L.A. Times Book Reviewer: Seymour Butz

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 11:09 am

Sigh. The kids really are in charge at the Los Angeles Dog Trainer nowadays.

A (favorable) review of a book by Sandra Tsing Loh contains the following actual line, which I am not making up:

Loh is a cunning linguist who’s honed her craft over 20 years, and it shows.

(My emphasis — which is hardly needed.)

Well, it probably got a chuckle from Sam Zell.

The review is by Mike Hunt Hugh Jass Amanda Huginkiss Susan Carpenter.

UPDATE: I found the first draft of the book review! You can read it here.

UPDATE x2: More from Amy Alkon. Also, Todd Everett apparently saw this before I did. Also, he is terribly disappointed with the lack of maturity you all have shown. (I don’t think he’d be very happy with the first draft linked in the initial update!)

UPDATE x3: The L.A. Times seems quite pleased with the buzz. I guess, to them, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.


  1. Ah, maturity.

    Comment by Eric Blair (2708f4) — 8/24/2008 @ 11:12 am

  2. It’s not even original – It’s a ripoff from a line in the Bond film “Tomorrow Never Dies”.

    Comment by Apogee (366e8b) — 8/24/2008 @ 11:13 am

  3. I read the review and thought that aside from Carpenter’s momentary morphing into a jr. high school boy, the review was generous and well written.

    At least they still have book reviews.

    Comment by Dana (084de8) — 8/24/2008 @ 11:20 am

  4. Excellent work !

    Comment by Jack Mehoff (5f0e11) — 8/24/2008 @ 11:33 am

  5. That is one outstanding lit clit.

    Comment by Mike Hunt (5f0e11) — 8/24/2008 @ 11:37 am

  6. Really punny, kids.

    Comment by Hugh Jerection (5f0e11) — 8/24/2008 @ 11:49 am

  7. What happened? Were “clever”, “crafty”, “skillful”, and “ingenious” the victims of recent layoffs? Pathetic.

    Comment by Icy Truth (c38387) — 8/24/2008 @ 12:08 pm

  8. Our esteemed host’s post has been up for an hour now, and the Times still hasn’t edited the original, but I’d suggest that it’s time for a screen-shot! They can’t allow this to just lay there, and the editors will surely get this changed lickety-split.

    Comment by Dana R Pico (556f76) — 8/24/2008 @ 12:08 pm

  9. This has to have been deliberate. Hey, I remember 7th grade.

    Comment by Al Coholic (c38387) — 8/24/2008 @ 12:17 pm

  10. Didn’t the immortal George Costanza boast that he was once a porn star named Buck Naked?

    And we know serious journalists such as Matthews and Olbermann have no problem with sexual innuendos referring to their carnal desires for B Hussein Obama.

    On a serious note, it is interesting that the NY Times thinks the carnage of wounded and dead American soldiers is neccessarily portrayed on their pages to better inform the public. Of course the same media doesn’t want Americans seeing the ghastly image of 911 because it might further piss some of off regarding islamoterrorism and increase support for the war on terror. Powerline blog raises the point that if NY Slimes is right, why not show crime victims grievous wounds? Of course that might impact negatively on criminals, especially the illegals who seem to be doing a disporportionate amount of crimes in our fair land.

    Comment by madmax333 (0c6cfc) — 8/24/2008 @ 12:24 pm

  11. [...] Original post by Jack Mehoff [...]

    Pingback by Comment on Meet the Newest LA Times Book Reviewer: Seymour Butz by … : thegameoflove (9de90d) — 8/24/2008 @ 12:30 pm

  12. I really abwhore this type of message.

    Comment by Dmac (874677) — 8/24/2008 @ 12:56 pm

  13. That’s straining the limits, Dmac.

    Obama Nation = abomination

    Comment by Icy Truth (c38387) — 8/24/2008 @ 1:02 pm

  14. Is your refrigerator running?

    Comment by dfbaskwill (beb902) — 8/24/2008 @ 1:10 pm

  15. And, by the account of her background given in the article, Loh isn’t even a linguist! So the description was shoehorned in for none but prurient reasons, it would seem.

    Comment by m (40be14) — 8/24/2008 @ 1:24 pm

  16. She must be small, since she is such a cunning runt.

    Comment by kaf (7fec21) — 8/24/2008 @ 1:34 pm

  17. kids, kids

    Comment by Hazy (56a0a8) — 8/24/2008 @ 1:55 pm

  18. #15 – m

    Loh isn’t even a linguist

    – In the world of the pseudo-intellectual critic “linguist” is a substitute for “literary”.

    Comment by Icy Truth (c38387) — 8/24/2008 @ 2:12 pm

  19. What an insightful book review!

    Comment by I. P. Freely (9d1b08) — 8/24/2008 @ 2:17 pm

  20. Susan Carpenter also notes that Ms. Loh “explores the cracks” and is an “out of the box” thinker.

    I don’t think all of this potential double entendre is intentional. I just think that Susan Carpenter is a run of the mine Dog Trainer writer who really doesn’t understand what she’s doing/saying.

    But she did have an interesting gig at the Times for a while. She was their female motorcycle writer/throttle jockey who had a column about her adventures in motorcycle leathers. She was apparently a pretty good rider. Of course a combination of Dan Neil’s and Ms. Carpenter’s writing ultimately put paid to the Dog Trainer’s Auto Section, and she’s now back to being a staff writer.

    Buy maybe she still longs for that leather thing?

    Comment by Mike Myers (31af82) — 8/24/2008 @ 2:56 pm

  21. Apogee, the pun is much older than that. Deep Purple used it in “Knocking At Your Back Door” in 1984.

    Comment by Xrlq (62cad4) — 8/24/2008 @ 3:12 pm

  22. I think I heard high school debate using the line in the ’70′s.

    Comment by SPQR (26be8b) — 8/24/2008 @ 3:15 pm

  23. I think it was witty reparté.

    Comment by Ima Ho (5f0e11) — 8/24/2008 @ 3:42 pm

  24. I enjoyed the book as well.

    Comment by Prof. U. R. Phukt (d9ec17) — 8/24/2008 @ 3:47 pm

  25. Perhaps this was an archival column originally slated to run the First of April?

    Comment by Another Drew (03674a) — 8/24/2008 @ 3:58 pm

  26. Like Deep Purple said, she was a master of many tongues.

    Comment by Crotch Mahogany (1807de) — 8/24/2008 @ 4:06 pm

  27. Even older than Deep Purple.

    The Tubes used the line, “I’ve never been too cunning, I ain’t no linguist, but I can tell you this…” in their 1983 song, “Tip of My Tongue”.

    Yeah, the above paragraph reads like a symphony of innuendo and double-entendre, I know. It’s true, though!

    Comment by cenzo (fc7d3c) — 8/24/2008 @ 4:15 pm

  28. I don’t get it…..what’s so funny?

    Comment by Dick Stroker (fbea80) — 8/24/2008 @ 4:17 pm

  29. Me neither…did I miss something?

    Comment by Fonda Peters (fbea80) — 8/24/2008 @ 4:18 pm

  30. Awwww…you people have no sense of humor at all

    Comment by Peter Puller (fbea80) — 8/24/2008 @ 4:20 pm

  31. Any chance that Ms Carpenter received her layoff notice before she wrote the review?

    Anyone want to bet this is her last work for the Times?

    Comment by TomHynes (c43c0a) — 8/24/2008 @ 4:20 pm

  32. Now it’s just getting silly

    Comment by Chester Drawers (fbea80) — 8/24/2008 @ 4:22 pm

  33. Before the weakness of the material caused a total collapse, Loh and I were considering a project titled The Third Prophylactic.

    Comment by Justin Case (e61147) — 8/24/2008 @ 4:31 pm

  34. My “first heard” for that cunning pun was at Ft Devens, Mass in 1967 at the Army Security Agency Training Center & School. Folks at Devens who’d learned foreign tongues at the Defense Language Institute (Monterey or Anacostia) oft used that pun. And I’m pretty confident that it’s much older than that.

    Comment by Dan. (c6ba53) — 8/24/2008 @ 4:32 pm

  35. Probing, if somewhat tongue in cheek, and masterfully debated.

    Comment by Boris Torakhokov (448820) — 8/24/2008 @ 4:34 pm

  36. Da,da….is good fun…even here in Moskwa we like this whole much….spasebo

    Comment by Ivan Yackenov (fbea80) — 8/24/2008 @ 4:39 pm

  37. Susan Carpenter also notes that Ms. Loh “explores the cracks” and is an “out of the box” thinker.

    C’mon, can’t we all just get alond. Lesbe friends.

    Comment by spelunking homunculus (e01675) — 8/24/2008 @ 4:40 pm

  38. I can’t help but wonder what kind of review she would have given my book “Yellow River”

    Comment by I.P. Freely (fbea80) — 8/24/2008 @ 4:43 pm

  39. In the medieval recreation group I ran with in the late ’70s, one wag chose has his persona “Lingus the Cunning,” so it’s even older than that.

    Comment by Leonard Cohen (d20530) — 8/24/2008 @ 4:43 pm

  40. It’s all part of their Nude Erection.

    Comment by Angus Dei (2138e2) — 8/24/2008 @ 4:50 pm

  41. [...] A “CUNNING LINGUIST” at the Los Angeles Times. Also, could you please page a Mr. Dick Hertz? [...]

    Pingback by ZEITGEIST (9c7c26) — 8/24/2008 @ 4:54 pm

  42. Brilliant!

    Comment by Mahatma Coat (2e6d27) — 8/24/2008 @ 4:59 pm

  43. Coming up, a review of, “Glass Bathing Suit”, by Seymour Hair.

    Comment by bc (0f8cec) — 8/24/2008 @ 5:00 pm

  44. “Cunning linguist”? I don’t get it.

    Comment by Ross Euage (e4f654) — 8/24/2008 @ 5:01 pm

  45. Is this author related to Wan Huang Loh?

    And, does anyone know how I can get Ms. Carpenter to review my tome, Trails in the Sand?

    Comment by Peter Dragin (fb7ab2) — 8/24/2008 @ 5:01 pm

  46. Boris Torakhokov! Heaven help me, I can’t stop laughing.

    A while ago we were talking about the DT finding a niche as a boutique newspaper for wealthy sophisticates. But with Ms. Carpenter as editor Sam Zell could turn it into an X-rated version of the Onion.

    Comment by Stu707 (6e4ad5) — 8/24/2008 @ 5:05 pm

  47. When I graduated from UCSD in 1979 we had to fill out cards as to how we wanted our name read when we went on stage to receive our diplomas. Somebody slipped in Hugh G. Rection and the announcer actually read it.

    To her credit she immediately moved on to the next name without visible reaction.

    Comment by Steve Skubinna (92ce04) — 8/24/2008 @ 5:06 pm

  48. Hardly looks like these silly comments will peter out any time soon…

    Comment by Heywood Jeblowme (0e0e2d) — 8/24/2008 @ 5:19 pm

  49. It’s in Austin Powers III:

    [to Foxy Cleopatra] You may be a cunning linguist, but I am a master debater.

    Hurrah for IMDB!

    Comment by David G (c4f18b) — 8/24/2008 @ 5:19 pm

  50. The LA Times just keeps getting better and better!

    Comment by Phil Accio (dc65ab) — 8/24/2008 @ 5:28 pm

  51. the ‘cunning linquist’ pun was in circulation when I heard it describe Noam Chom(p)sky in the offices of the MIT libertarian/objectivist student newspaper “Ergo” in 1969,

    Comment by John Costello (42919c) — 8/24/2008 @ 5:28 pm

  52. The line was stolen from me in the ’30′s.

    Comment by Izzie O'hner (58b08c) — 8/24/2008 @ 5:42 pm

  53. You don’t like that? You don’t like that? Then what’re you gonna do about it? You want a piece of me? Come and get it!

    Comment by Ewan Whaddarmie (2db267) — 8/24/2008 @ 5:56 pm

  54. Someone still reads the LA Times…I’ll admit, that truly shocks me!

    Comment by DavidN (94fa2c) — 8/24/2008 @ 5:57 pm

  55. Although the video has been removed from YouTube, here’s a recap of a guy calling himself “Mike Litoris” who pulled one over the eyes of KTVU-TV, Oakland.

    BTW – check out the credits at the end of Olympic coverage. There is someone working for NBC Sports named “Bryce Boob.” I checked a genealogy site, and sure enough, it’s a real surname. Bad as it must have been for Mr. Boob, I just can’t imagine what it must be like to be a teenage girl with the last name “Boob.”

    Comment by L.N. Smithee (452a68) — 8/24/2008 @ 6:28 pm

  56. I wonder if Miss Tsing Loh has a sweet chariot.

    Comment by L.N. Smithee (452a68) — 8/24/2008 @ 6:30 pm

  57. Give credit where due. Seymour Butz wrote the best seller “Under the Grandstands”. It ranked just ahead of “Yellow River” by I. P. Freely.

    Comment by Claude Hopper (2fa222) — 8/24/2008 @ 6:44 pm

  58. So, what is so odd about this story?

    Comment by Hugh Chardon (c36902) — 8/24/2008 @ 6:45 pm

  59. Dang! I’ve got to find out who first coined that phrase and offer my services for copyright infringement.

    Comment by Ira Shiester (5656cf) — 8/24/2008 @ 6:52 pm

  60. I like Chinese writers. “Brown Spots On The Wall” by Who Flung Poo and “Anatomy Of A Hernia” by Huang Hung Lo.

    I would be ashamed of myself if I were not proud of still remembering my adolescence.

    Comment by nk (3c7a86) — 8/24/2008 @ 6:52 pm

  61. The same pun showed up as a headline in a 1979 Newhall (California) Signal article on the arrival of a new librarian.

    Comment by JayDee (b1e406) — 8/24/2008 @ 7:03 pm

  62. I’ll have to remember this one.

    Comment by Pat Maweenie (a30565) — 8/24/2008 @ 7:08 pm

  63. I’m never sure about Chinese Writers, they’re either sweet or sour.

    Comment by Dmac (874677) — 8/24/2008 @ 7:09 pm

  64. “We have a Chinese exchange student staying with us.”

    “What’s his name?”

    “Long Duc (sound of huge gong) Dong.”

    Comment by Dmac (874677) — 8/24/2008 @ 7:10 pm

  65. And have you heard of the most prolific of all inventors? An Irishman called Pat Pending?

    Comment by nk (3c7a86) — 8/24/2008 @ 7:18 pm

  66. Yea,even lesbians like myself can see the problem there….an hour after eating a Chinese girl,I’m hungry again.

    Comment by Linda Hand (fbea80) — 8/24/2008 @ 7:22 pm

  67. Linda, gay guys have the same problem.

    Comment by Dick Smoaker (d9ec17) — 8/24/2008 @ 7:46 pm

  68. Dick, Linda, you guys are doing it all wrong.

    Comment by Ripp Highman (4d1249) — 8/24/2008 @ 8:02 pm

  69. I wonder if she eats at the Y?

    Comment by Richard Dick (8f6cd6) — 8/24/2008 @ 8:09 pm

  70. Much ado about noyhing.

    Comment by Ben Dover (40de2f) — 8/24/2008 @ 8:21 pm

  71. I had a friend at school who everyone called Mike though that wasn’t his real name. I wondered why until I realized that his last name was Hunt. Then it dawned on me why they called him that.

    Comment by zach (afe76a) — 8/24/2008 @ 8:31 pm

  72. I went to school with three girls named Edith Peters, Carla Screws and Edith Head. True story.

    And my niece knows a woman named Toy Coxe.

    The things parents will do to their children.

    Comment by Ardsgaine (3f6531) — 8/24/2008 @ 8:36 pm

  73. At least it wasn’t written by Connie Lingus and reviewed by Phil Accio.

    Comment by Buster (5b8561) — 8/24/2008 @ 9:03 pm

  74. Somewhere, Moe Sizlack is eating his heart out.

    Comment by hmmm (d084ad) — 8/24/2008 @ 9:12 pm

  75. I always thought Noam Chomsky was a cunning linguist.

    Comment by Sir Reus Commocean (86b6cf) — 8/24/2008 @ 9:44 pm

  76. The review is absurd — Sandra Loh is NOT a cunning linguist.

    On the other hand, I’ve heard rumors she’s a cunnilinguist.

    Comment by Kevin (05623f) — 8/24/2008 @ 9:55 pm

  77. If Sarah is a cunning linguist does that mean she’s gay?

    Comment by Sir Reus Commocean (86b6cf) — 8/24/2008 @ 9:59 pm

  78. *Sandra Sorry, I was too excited.

    Comment by Sir Reus Commocean (86b6cf) — 8/24/2008 @ 10:00 pm

  79. And who says Fox TV is driving our culture down?

    Bart Simpson lives!

    It sounds like you don’t have to have more than a Middle School education to work at the Times.

    Comment by AST (fa373b) — 8/24/2008 @ 10:57 pm

  80. In the late 1980′s an announcer with KTTN radio revealed his dyslexia when reporting a girls basketball game starring Newtown, MO. player, Carrie Hunt. Every mention of Carrie afterwards had a definite pause before it and another between the first and last name. It is my understanding that Carrie married soon after high school.

    Comment by E. Zach Lee-Wright (e5f598) — 8/24/2008 @ 11:48 pm

  81. Edith Head was a famous Hollywood costume designer with 8 Oscars.

    I’ve also heard of a Col. Richard Head.

    Comment by RIch Rostrom (09ec82) — 8/25/2008 @ 1:22 am

  82. When I was in the Marines, there was a Navy woman whose last name was “Swallows”. Yes, her rank was Seaman.

    Comment by Tragic Clown Dog (cb32d6) — 8/25/2008 @ 2:10 am

  83. Moe: Moe’s Tavern.
    Bart: Uh, yes, I’m looking for a friend of mine. Last name Jass, first name Hugh.
    Moe: Hold on, I’ll check. … Hugh Jass! Hey, I want a Hugh Jass! Oh, somebody check the men’s room for a Hugh Jass!
    Hugh Jass: Uh, I’m Hugh Jass.
    Moe: Telephone.
    Hugh Jass: Hello, this is Hugh Jass.
    Bart: Uh, hi.
    Hugh Jass: Who’s this?
    Bart: Bart Simpson.
    Hugh Jass: What can I do for you, Bart?
    Bart: Uh, look, I’ll level with you, mister. This is a crank call that sorta backfired, and I’d like to bail out right now.
    Hugh Jass: All right. Better luck next time.
    [hangs up]
    Hugh Jass: What a nice young man.

    Comment by Mike G in Corvallis (21bd59) — 8/25/2008 @ 2:16 am

  84. By the way, cunning linguist appeared in Playboy’s Party Jokes in the late 1960s.

    In the late 1990s I recall reading about a freshman student at a large university (I don’t recall which one) who was trying to get the school to make an exception to Established Policy. You see, each new student was inflexibly assigned an e-mail address of the format <>, where the “x” characters were the first letters (up to six of them) of the student’s surname, followed by first initial and middle initial. For some reason, Mary Elizabeth Cummings wanted a different address …

    Comment by Mike G in Corvallis (21bd59) — 8/25/2008 @ 2:28 am

  85. What a cunning stunt!

    Comment by johnc (d00f2d) — 8/25/2008 @ 3:29 am

  86. I see my cousin Jack has already commented on this.

    Comment by Phil Mehoff (a30565) — 8/25/2008 @ 3:44 am

  87. Fellers, I’m disappointed. A whole page on Tsing Low, and no mention of Kurt Weill or Lotte Lenya. I’d always assumed she had assumed that name.

    Comment by comatus (8c282a) — 8/25/2008 @ 4:17 am

  88. Used that on business cards thirty years ago. Very timely, Times.

    Comment by maurice (56fe79) — 8/25/2008 @ 5:03 am

  89. What’s the joke? It seems just decent honest people with ordinary, non-double entendre names responding to a genuine review

    No one would post on the internet with a false name would they?

    Comment by Phil McCracken (8ca4fc) — 8/25/2008 @ 5:08 am

  90. Not to mention that she was seen masticating with a group of notorious thespians at a local restaurant.

    Comment by moptop (567223) — 8/25/2008 @ 5:55 am

  91. They just don’t care anymore. We might as well all be yodeling in the gully for all they care.

    Comment by Craven Moorehead (6dfddb) — 8/25/2008 @ 6:25 am

  92. Wasn’t Jack Meoff’s last girlfriend named Connie Lingus???

    Comment by Mike Hunt Burns (addf5c) — 8/25/2008 @ 7:25 am

  93. No! No! Connie is my girlfriend.

    Comment by Phil A. Sheo (addf5c) — 8/25/2008 @ 7:35 am

  94. Well, he certainly pulled a cunning stunt!

    Comment by pecker (b4ba83) — 8/25/2008 @ 9:18 am

  95. Wow. That’s one writer you guys are being really hard on.

    Comment by Ima Weinerhopper (e60f67) — 8/25/2008 @ 9:38 am

  96. Double wow! After this period the LA Times is going to be one bloodied rag!

    Comment by Izzit Dooshtyme (e60f67) — 8/25/2008 @ 9:52 am

  97. Sounds like A New Russian Tragedy.

    Comment by E. Nodder Titzoff (0b9dec) — 8/25/2008 @ 10:29 am

  98. She is just trying to bait you guys. I hear she is a master at it.

    Comment by Dr. J. Hoff (afff71) — 8/25/2008 @ 11:00 am

  99. What a bunch of interesting comments!

    Comment by Hugh Jorgen (a79cd2) — 8/25/2008 @ 11:23 am

  100. NK,

    You are ripping me off! I wrote a satire 34 years ago with a character, Hu Fung Dong.

    My lawyers will be contacting your lawyers.

    Comment by PCD (5c49b0) — 8/25/2008 @ 11:52 am

  101. Carpenter must be a Tom Leykis fan. Leykis used that on his KFI radio show about 15 years ago.

    LA is still filled with sthick theives even after Milton Berle is dead.

    Comment by PCD (5c49b0) — 8/25/2008 @ 11:55 am

  102. Loh’s father, while eccentric, is a well known chef of authentic Chinese dishes. His specialty was Cream of Sum Yong Gai.

    Comment by Heywood Jablomie (b80551) — 8/25/2008 @ 11:58 am

  103. Talk about yellow journalism.

    Comment by I.P. Freely (79ed38) — 8/25/2008 @ 2:13 pm

  104. [...] to the commenters from this post, from whom I stole several of these jokes. And apologies to Iowahawk for stealing and mangling his [...]

    Pingback by Patterico’s Pontifications » The First Draft of the Sandra Tsing Loh Book Review (b16ea8) — 8/25/2008 @ 2:18 pm

  105. LA Times has a long history of premature exacerbation.

    Comment by Wesson (f6c982) — 8/25/2008 @ 2:21 pm

  106. As someone who wrote a Los Angeles Times review with the phrase “cunning linguistics” more than a year before Sandra, I take great exception to your attack.

    And that was a YA title, no less, I’m sorry, kids, you’re going to have to go after me. Sandra isn’t responsible. It is my pernicious influence that has forever tarnished the Los Angeles Times. The editors have asked me to stop thinking about sex, but I simply can’t. I’m a pervert, a scoundrel, and I submit myself at the mercy of the mob. I will gladly perform a more literal form of a certain oral practice, if this will appease the angry masses here, who have clearly seen THE OX-BOW INCIDENT one too many times.

    Comment by ed (bc08d1) — 8/25/2008 @ 6:53 pm

  107. [...] Carolyn Kellogg notes, an angry mob has descended upon Susan Carpenter because Carpenter used the term “cunning linguist” [...]

    Pingback by Setting the Filthy Record Straight : Edward Champion’s Reluctant Habits (f88f40) — 8/25/2008 @ 7:03 pm

  108. So the Times used a very bad pun,
    Patterico readers really had fun!
    The jokes were so sad,
    Her boss got real mad,
    And Miss Carpenter’s job now was done.

    Comment by The Limerick Avenger (556f76) — 8/25/2008 @ 7:36 pm

  109. I can see all the laid off copy editors laughing their asses off, downing shots of whiskey at the kitchen table and reading the morning Slimes Book Reviews.

    Comment by Patricia (f56a97) — 8/25/2008 @ 9:22 pm

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