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I’m thinking of using these as the titles for my next 97 blog posts

Where do you think these actually came from?

(No googling—that would be cheating.)

P.S. Anyone who wants to know the answer can google it. But there were some great guesses in the comments. My favorite, from Frank:

I’ve got to go with “before the colon” in questionable social science papers, e.g:

“Don’t make me laugh: the effect of late-night comedy on fatal traffic accidents”


“Out of the jaws of victory: evidence of a hot hand in shark fishing”


  1. Z says:

    My guess would be Elmore Leonard books

  2. Tom says:

    I’d say Batman episodes (Riddle Me This, Harlequinade), but it does sound like Western books.

  3. EpiPete says:

    Rejected Secret Service code names for Trump.

  4. Martin says:

    Two and half man

  5. Jacob says:

    TV show/Movie titles? They all kinda look like potential Bond movies.

  6. I could picture them as names for chess moves. (In case that’s correct, I didn’t Google them!)

  7. Randall says:

    They looks suspiciously like TV episodes from a long-running serial. Perhaps Twilight Zone? Too many for Breaking Bad; too few for Dr. Who…

  8. Simeon says:

    The contents of your bookshelf?

  9. Frank says:

    I’ve got to go with “before the colon” in questionable social science papers, e.g:

    “Don’t make me laugh: the effect of late-night comedy on fatal traffic accidents”


    “Out of the jaws of victory: evidence of a hot hand in shark fishing”

  10. Tadhg Carroll says:

    CIA operations or something of that ilk?

  11. I’m pleased someone else said Bond movies, because that was my initial impression. Given that there are only about a dozen Bond stories, I think there are too many titles here, though.

  12. Ike Eisenhauer says:

    I read too much old school detective novels, these sound like titles that Frank Kane, Raymond Chandler, or Donald Westlake would use.

    I am extremely familiar with [and own the entire canon of] Frank Kane, and I don’t see a single one of his on here, so down to Chandler or Westlake.

    Chandler has a high propensity to use “The” in his titles and not many here have that.

    So I am going to go with these are Westlake novel titles? Haven’t read enough to notice the titles on sight, but I will go with that as my guess.

  13. Chris J says:

    Mickey Spillane book titles? Raymond Chandler?

  14. SimonC says:

    Start of papers’ titles ?

  15. AnonAnon says:

    Why is “Dead of Night” struck through? Aside from it being a screen cap, this makes it look like a list of titles that have been contemplated but not used. Except perhaps for “Dead of Night.” Beyond that, I second Dan’s suspicions of film noir detective or perhaps crime novels…

  16. Laura says:

    Social psychology article titles.

  17. Mark Palko says:

    Annoyingly familiar, but nothing really well known. Possibly short story titles from Black Mask or Black Lizard.

  18. Chris M says:

    They all read like subtitles to me.

  19. Noemi says:

    Electric six songs!

  20. bguntli says:

    race horse names?

  21. Marcus says:

    Names of Race Horses?

  22. Paul says:

    West-Wing episodes

  23. Martha (Smith) says:

    No one else so far has commented on the groupings. So perhaps they are story or book titles grouped by author? Or TV series episodes grouped by title?

  24. I guess they aren’t the names of chess moves (or someone would probably have seconded the suggestion). I like the idea of CIA operations. They also sound like they could be songs by Johnny Cash.

  25. Brad Stiritz says:

    Here are a few more for your consideration.. ;)

    The Tower Treasure
    The House on the Cliff
    The Secret of the Old Mill
    The Missing Chums
    Hunting for Hidden Gold
    The Shore Road Mystery
    The Secret of the Caves
    The Mystery of Cabin Island
    The Great Airport Mystery
    What Happened at Midnight
    While the Clock Ticked
    Footprints Under the Window
    The Mark on the Door

  26. Elon Girb says:

    You need to add underscores, but I’m pretty sure these are R packages.

  27. Patrick Caldon says:

    – “The Fifth Down” – reference to American Football? “Man Here Has a Gun” – sounds more like American vernacular? “Seamster” – pun on “Teamster”, again US English. “Fair Dame” – more likely US 1930s vernacular for “woman” than the UK honorific?

    – The language has got a few pre-war hints.

    – The one I’m really pondering is “All of Life is 6 to 5 Against”. I can’t imagine this as a movie or a book title. But it could work as a chapter title or short story in a magazine? Titles for some kind of pulp serial?

    – The sequences also lend themselves to chapter titles. There’s clearly a relationship between successive entries, and a kind of narrative flow from “Never Say Die” to “Beyond the Night” (and maybe even to “Out of the Night”).

    So I guess chapter titles, or maybe short stories, from a book or serialized story published in the US in the 1930s.

  28. Dzhaughn says:

    I wonder how to find other objects of the class of things to which this list belongs.

    • Rahul says:

      I know using google is cheating in this case, but this reminded me of a very useful tool Google used to have where one could list a few members of a set & google would complete the set.

      Too bad it doesn’t seem around any more.

    • Martha (Smith) says:

      I found the class by googling, but it took a while to be sure I got it right. (But of course, I’m not telling the answer.)

      • Dzhaughn says:

        To clarify, I’m interested in other lists, made by different entities, analogous to the one above.

        And what is a list of entities likely to have created such a list, and for us to know about it? Just brainstorming, I’ll say O. Henry, Steven King, and the band New Order. Or actually Spinal Tap, for some meanings of actually. This is no longer looking good: now I guess Rod McKuen. Joanne Fluke and many others like her, but those shouldn’t count.

  29. Radu says:

    Terms used in political commentary on tv or news media (e.g., a show like “Crossfire”).

  30. Carl says:

    Never-realized titles by either Alan Marshall or Richard Stark.

  31. Carol says:

    I recognize many of them as song titles.

  32. Carl Gaspar says:

    Comic books. Issue titles.

  33. Terry says:

    Old pulp detective novels/stories?

    A lot of “night” in the titles.

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