rooster eggs

(photo by Dee Johnson)

The term “rooster egg” has a new meaning for me.

Why would “rooster egg” have any meaning for me in the first place?

In my first LRC piece, I mention “Uncle Raymond [who] is a famous logician. (Also a magician, a musician, and a mathematician. I’m not making this up. His stage name was Five-Ace Monty.)”

Most of his logic puzzles are fantastic. Some of his basic, introductory puzzles aren’t his own, and these aren’t always as great.

Here’s one of them:

If a rooster lays an egg on the exact top point of a roof that slants off at 30° in one direction and 45° in the other, which side will the egg roll down?
Roosters don’t lay eggs.

Yeah? So? I know roosters don’t normally lay eggs, but the puzzle doesn’t assert that they do. It asks a conditional question. What if a rooster laid an egg…

Obviously the whole thing annoyed me enough to stick with me three decades.

But now I have a new association with the term. My two-and-a-half-year-old son asked me if we could look for rooster eggs in the back yard.

Rooster eggs? Is this some wild-goose-chase term he learned in preschool? No, apparently it’s a small child’s misunderstanding of what he overhears and what he dimly remembers from a year ago.

“Is it Rooster yet?” he asked.

“Ah! No, my boy. You mean Easter. Easter eggs. And no, it’s not Easter quite yet.”

Postscript My wife points out that the basilisk (aka cockatrice) is born from a rooster’s egg.


4 Responses to rooster eggs

  1. DSL. says:

    When just today I looked up the old essay at containing the thumbnail description of Uncle Raymond, before searching my way back to this post with its hunch-confirming link to, I lit up at once in saying into my mind’s ear – “Hey! I wonder if Uncle Raymond is the one and only Raymond SMULLYAN, who fits the description to a proverbial T!”

    You see, having been a fan of the late Martin Gardner since c. 1971, when Pocket Books issued his Perplexing Puzzles and Tantalizing Teasers in paperback (bright little Ben is, I have no doubt, sure to Ben-joy it), and thence to my eager puzzle-fan’s hands via the Scholastic Book Club (O wot fun it was when Teacher handed us the books we had each ordered weeks before!), I eventually ran into other writers on the logic/puzzle/math/philosophy/debunking beat, such as James Randi, Ricky Jay, Douglas Hofstadter, and Uncle Raymond himself, who in the 1980s appeared twice on Firing Line with the late William Buckley, Jr., as an examiner in the closing segments; with his flowing white mane and beard, he cut quite a charmingly Whitmanesque (or Spoonerish?) figure: (tribute upon retirement from Indiana University)

    If you search on YouTube for Smullyan, you will find, not only another bright little boy by the name of Benjamin (Smullyan), but three channels posted by Uncle Raymond himself:

    The third channel above features family stuff (including Benjamin), and the second features

    “a video I made in which I tell the funny story line of my book “King Arthur in Search of His Dog”—a story book with logic puzzles for both children and adults, especially those adults who are children at heart. The book is published by Dover Publications, Inc., 2010.”

    Happy I am
    Joy is my name

    (after Blake) to hear the latter, as Dover

    has long been far and away my favorite publisher:

    “The man [Dover founder/president Hayward Cirker] has incredible instincts,” says Science Writer Martin Gardner, another Dover author. “He knows what to publish, how to reach people who want to buy it and, most important, how to make a book that remains a pleasure to own and to read.” – from “The White Clips of Dover” TIME, 1978:,8816,916043,00.html

    See also Cirker’s – and Smullyan’s – tribute to Martin Gardner on the publication of his omnibus anthology The Night Is Large: Collected Essays, 1938-1995:

  2. DSL. says:

    Happy I am
    Joy is my name

    Gulp! That opening line from Blake’s “Infant Joy” should, of course, begin “I happy am”.

    In penance before Blake fans of all lands and ages, I resolve to wrestle with a tiger, with something like this expression:

  3. Scott Lahti says:

    In the NYTBR for January 5, 2014, Teller reviews Undiluted Hocus-Pocus: The Autobiography of Martin Gardner, a book “full of … challenges, teasing the reader in a warm, friendly way, like a sly uncle.”

  4. Scott Lahti says:

    From The Dover Math and Science Newsletter for February 27, 2012:

    “Raymond Smullyan has had a remarkably diverse sequence of careers. Fellow polymath Martin Gardner, former [Mathematical Games columnist for] Scientific American, had aptly described him as a ‘unique set of personalities that includes a philosopher, logician, mathematician, musician, writer, and maker of marvelous puzzles.’

    “my first puzzle book … was described by Martin Gardner as ‘the most original, most profound, and most humorous collection of recreational logic and math problems ever written.’ This started me on puzzle books, and I soon branched out to many other topics–Chinese philosophy, theology, essays, stories (King Arthur), etc. Twenty-six of my books can be found on Amazon.”

    Shelley Kronzek: What’s next on the writing agenda?
    Raymond Smullyan: A Raymond Smullyan Reader with Dover. It will publish during the Spring or Summer of 2013 and will contain some of the ‘best of’ my logic puzzles and stories.”

    “Amongst my favorite jokes:

    … A man went into a restaurant and said to the waiter: ‘I would like some coffee without cream.’ The waiter went into the kitchen and returned and said, ‘I am sorry, Sir, we don’t have any cream. I can let you have coffee without milk.'”

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