Thursday, October 18, 2012

Rant #826: Mad Libs

Larry Sloan has died.

No, you probably don't know who he is, but you probably knew what he did better than who he was.

As a kid growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, there were these very thin paperbacks that you could buy at any stationery shop in your neighborhood for $1.

You would buy them when you had parties, or just to use when you had a lot of time on your hands.

You would open the thin book up, and there were stories in there with spaces for missing words.

The story would ask you to replace the missing spaces with words for "a verb' or "an adjective," but when done the right way at parties, the people giving you the verbs and adjectives had no idea what the story was about, and thus, their verbs and adjectives often didn't make sense, leading to funny stories read aloud.

The ultimate parlor game, Sloan helped to develop the "Mad Libs" line of paperbacks, books which sold millions and millions of copies over the decades.

Sloan was actually the third partner brought in to help develop this series, which was actually created by two TV writers, one being Leonard Stern, who went on to help develop "Get Smart."

The other was Roger Price.

These guys were nerdy as all hell, but they had one common love: of words and their meanings, and they turned that into "Mad Libs."

In today's Internet age, "Mad Libs" are still around, but I doubt they have the impact that they had way back when.

They do have an official web site,, which is a fun site to visit.

I remember kids' parties where it was almost a given that we would play "Mad Libs," and the results were funny.

The definition of what is "funny" have changed over the generations, so I don't know if a "verb meaning movement" would have as much impact today as it did back then.

Do kids even know what a verb is today?

That aside, Sloan and his partners' love of words have endured for generations, and while his passing probably gets nothing more than a footnote in the annals of world history, in word history, his passing is at the top of the list.

(Noun) is my favorite blog, and (noun) (verb) every day.

Nah, it's not the same, but I think you get my (noun).

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