Anglicizing German

April 18, 2015

Following my posting on the sandwich issue of the NYT Food section, a Facebook discussion sprung up about the sandwich beef on weck; what, people wondered, was weck? The answer is partly about food, and partly about the German and English languages.

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Artificial elephants and X Must Die! movies

April 18, 2015

Today’s Zippy:


This cartoon links to a long series of strips on the invented cartoon character Happy Boy in the town of Prosaic (a “normal” place close to the surreal Dingburg) — a series that I find tedious (and linguistically uninteresting) and haven’t posted about. But here we get amazing elephants (note the cartoon’s title “Tusk, Tusk”, a play on tsk tsk) and a pointer to movies with titles using the snowclonic pattern “X Must Die!”.

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Amazing prediction

April 18, 2015

In the print edition of the NYT that came to me yesterday, in David Brooks’s op-ed piece “When Cultures Shift”, about postwar America:

Magazines ran articles on the wonderful lifestyle changes that were going to make lives easier — ultraviolent lights that would sterilize dishes in place of dishwashing.

An astonishing prediction — kill those bacteria by brute force!

Ok, it’s an error, which I’d label a typo if it seemed likely to have been induced by a slip on the part of the writer or an editor. But I suspect the involvement of technology.

Of course, it was immediately corrected to ultraviolet on the paper’s website.


April 17, 2015

An xkcd (from 9/5/14) that I seem to have overlooked:

The sevens here: Disney’s seven dwarfs, the seven major taxonomic ranks, the seven continents, the seven deadly sins, seven layer dip, the seven layers of the OSI model [Open Systems Interconnection model], the seven wonders of the ancient world.

In the mouseover, we get more: seven days of the week, the Seven Sisters colleges, the seven seas, the seven colors of the rainbow, the Pleiades (seven sisters), the seven Habits of Highly Effective People, the seven seals in the Book of Revelation.

The number 7 is freighted with meaning.

Morning: Gary Owens, and other entertainment Gar(r)ys

April 17, 2015

Today’s morning name was Gary Owens. From Wikipedia:

Gary Owens (born Gary Bernard Altman; May 10, 1934 – February 12, 2015) was an American disc jockey and voice actor. His polished baritone speaking voice generally offered deadpan recitations of total nonsense, which he frequently demonstrated as the announcer on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. Owens was equally proficient in straight or silly assignments and was frequently heard on television, radio and in commercials.

He was best known, aside from being the announcer on Laugh-In, for providing the voice of the titular superhero on Space Ghost. … Owens’ first cartoon voice acting was performing the voice of Roger Ramjet on the Roger Ramjet cartoons.

… Owens started his radio career in 1952 as a news reporter at KORN, Mitchell, South Dakota and two years later was promoted to news director.

In action:

I was then reminded of the many Garys and Garrys in the entertainment world. A sampling follows.

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Annals of phallic reference: a real fireman’s nozzle

April 17, 2015

Caught in a tv commercial this morning, for the Mighty Blaster Fireman’s Nozzle (“as seen on TV”). From the copy:

Mighty Blaster Fireman’s Nozzle is the first-ever household sprayer with the power and precision of a real fireman’s nozzle, with 50% more power than regular hose nozzles.

You can watch the whole commercial, or just study this still shot:

Hoses are such natural phallic symbols that the makers and sellers of the Mighty Blaster might not have appreciated the possible readings of their ads.

Annals of (possible) libfixes: -abelia

April 17, 2015

In the April 20th New Yorker, a fascinating story of a lost, and eventually found, Tlingit totem pole, in the Our Far-Flung Correspondents category: “The Tallest Trophy: A movie star made off with an Alaskan totem pole. Would it ever return home?” by Paige Williams.

In the midst of this, a portmanteau, Barrymoreabelia, combining Barrymore [John Barrymore, the actor in question] and memorabilia: ‘Barrymore memorabilia’. I suspect that the element -abelia has been “liberated” as an affix of its own — a libfix — but this is very hard to test, given the existence of a plant, the flowering shrub abelia (which I’d been meaning to post about, but this isn’t the occasion).

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The Big Kowalski

April 17, 2015

A Liam Francis Walsh cartoon in the latest (April 20th) New Yorker:


A mashup — a kind of portmanteau — of two movies: the 1951 film adaptation of Tennessee Wiliams’s dramatic play A Streetcar Named Desire, with Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski (and Kim Hunter as his wife Stella); and the 1998 comedy The Big Lebowski, with Jeff Bridges as The Dude. The scene setting (with Dude Stanley at the bottom of an ornate stairway, calling up to Stella) shows Stanley from Streetcar; but Dude Stanley looks, dresses, and talks like The Dude.

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The sandwich issue

April 16, 2015

The Food section of the New York Times yesterday was The Sandwich Issue: 11 pages on:

PILE IT HIGH. In the space between two slices of bread lies a world of possibilities, from sub to club, from po’ boy to beef on weck and beyond. Here, we celebrate everything that makes a great sandwich.

A series of stories (from many hands) on sandwiches, with extensive details about particular sandwiches, their variants from place to place, their differing names, and so on. Great stuff, which I hope the NYT will transform from the broadsheet format on cheap newsprint to a ordinary book with high-quality photos.

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Facework in gay porn

April 16, 2015

On AZBlogX, a piece on “Titan faces”, about facial expressions in gay porn, focusing on two new releases from TitanMen, Friends with Benefits and Men at Work, and on the pornstars featured on the front covers of the DVDs: Hunter Marx, George Ce, Eric Nero, and Nick Prescott. (Note: all this material is wildly X-rated, showing (in fact, celebrating) full frontal nudity and raw man-man sex.

Then we notice that the covers of the DVDs (cropped here) show the actors smiling broadly:


Friends with Benefits (Marx, Ce)


Hard at Work (Nero, Prescott)

But as is customary in this genre, there are virtually no smiles in the films, and of course the men shown having sex with one another are unsmiling; instead, they are either intensely and seriously focused (“men at work”) in their sex acts or ecstatically abandoned to them.


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