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Post Coronavirus and the Tell-Tale Tell; from Gary Moore
Created by John Eipper on 03/09/20 10:09 AM

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Coronavirus and the Tell-Tale Tell; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA, 03/09/20 10:09 am)

Gary Moore writes:

The noun meanings of "tell" (Marga Jann, March 7; Edward Jajko, March 8) suggest a dream headline:

"Vegas Hotel Room Blunder Leaves Winner Gloating:
'Unconscious Coronavirus Face-Touching Was The Fatal Tell.'"

JE comments:  Gary Moore titled his e-mail "Midden of Lost Chips, Tics too Late."  I admit I'm lost here, Gary...please fill us in!

However, I did some due diligence on this one, and learned the following:  if you find a lost cache of casino gaming chips, you are legally obligated to turn them in.

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  • The Tell-Tale "Tell," Explained (from Gary Moore) (John Eipper, USA 03/18/20 12:46 PM)

    Gary Moore writes:

    Since Marga Jann and Edward Jajko (March 7 and 8) have explored
    so informatively the word "tell" as a noun--in archaeology and
    Middle East geography--and since on March 8 I then reminded,
    cryptically, that the word "tell" can also form another kind of noun,
    our bemused moderator cried time out, and asked me to explain
    what the heck I was talking about.

    As it turns out, my March 8 exposition of "that other tell" was undone
    by too much drollery. One doesn't want to boringly telegraph the punchline
    of a joke like this by spelling out every little detail--but going too far
    in the opposite direction, into arch insinuation as a substitute for explanation,
    can collapse the whole message into gibberish.

    What stumped JE on March 8 was that, as introduction of that other kind of "tell,"
    I offered a fantasy headline:
    "Vegas Hotel Room Blunder Leaves Winner Gloating:
    'Unconscious Coronavirus Face-Touching Was The Fatal Tell.'"

    As I formulated this mouthful I had to decide whether to include one more word.
    But I said to myself, "Nah, that would make it too obvious." And obviously, I thus
    stepped over the too-cryptic threshold, squeezing the economy of phrase into

    The additional word is "poker."

    JE comments:  My apologies to Gary Moore for the delay in posting his "tell"-all treatise.  Gary sent this response ten days ago--that is, in an earlier historical epoch.  But we need a break from the coronacrisis, and it's a pleasant distraction to muse about language and puns.

    A poker "tell" is the opposite of a poker "face":  you know, the sweaty excitement you give off when you draw to an inside straight.  But Gary, now that all poker games are on-line, has the "tell" gone the way of the face-to-face conference?

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