Green Eggs and Ham

October 22, 2014

From Facebook friends, this use of Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham:

(#1)

The Muppets Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy inquire of the narrator of Green Eggs and Ham about their missing son, who is presumably green (like Kermit) and porcine (like Miss Piggy) and so, ewww, might be the source of that green ham on the platter.

Two things: one, about the source of this cartoon; two, about the children’s book and, especially, about the parsing of green eggs and ham.

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What was that word?

October 22, 2014

Two cartoons for today, both involving relationships between phonologically similar words: a Dilbert and a One Big Happy:

(#1)

(#2)

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Erson of Pinterest

October 21, 2014

Today’s Rhymes With Orange:

A Spoonerism for playful purposes, based on the expression (a) person of interest, and using the name of the software tool Pinterest.

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Abbott and Costello’s band

October 20, 2014

The Pearls Before Swine from yesterday (October 19th):

Rat and Goat reproduce a famous Abbott and Costello routine, “Who’s on First”, which has baseball players named Who (on first), What (on second), and I Don’t Know (on third). Another version in my posting “Chinese Abbott and Costello” of 3/18/11, with a play on the Chinese names Hu and Xi (the government figures Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping), and then a real-life basball player named Hu (the Taiwanese infielder Hu Chin-Lung, playing in Major League Baseball as Chin-Lung Hu) appears in the posting “Hu on base” of 3/30/14, with a video of the A&C routine. Now: bands (The Who, with drummer Keith Moon and guitarist Pete Townshend) and musicians (Charlie Watts, drummer for the Rolling Stones; Bob Weir, guitarist for The Grateful Dead; Steve Howe, guitarist for the band Yes; and Steve Winwood, guitarist for the band Traffic). An elaborate riff on the A&C original.

(That’s the cartoonist Stephan Pastis in the last panel, about to be punished for his puns by Rat.)

A youth hostile?

October 19, 2014

Today’s Bizarro:

A pun on the noun hostel vs. the adjective hostile — a perfect pun for those who have /ˈhastl/ (with syllabic l) for both (so that it’s ambiguous), an imperfect pun for those who have this pronunciation for hostel, but have /ˈhaˌstajl/ for hostile.

Animals on duty

October 19, 2014

In the latest (10/20/14) New Yorker, a hilarious and simultaneously disturbing piece by Patricia Marx, “Pets Allowed: Why are so many animals now in places where they shouldn’t be?” (starting on p. 36), about emotional-support animals. From p. 37, on E.S.A.s vs. service dogs:

Contrary to what many business managers think, having an emotional-support card merely means that one’s pet is registered in a database of animals whose owners have paid anywhere from seventy to two hundred dollars to one of several organizations, none of which are recognized by the government. (You could register a Beanie Baby, as long as you send a check.) Even with a card, it is against the law and a violation of the city’s health code to take an animal into a restaurant. Nor does an emotional-support card entitle you to bring your pet into a hotel, store, taxi, train, or park.

No such restrictions apply to service dogs, which, like Secret Service agents and Betty White, are allowed to go anywhere. In contrast to an emotional-support animal (E.S.A.), a service dog is trained to perform specific tasks, such as pulling a wheelchair and responding to seizures. The I.R.S. classifies these dogs as a deductible medical expense, whereas an emotional-support animal is more like a blankie.

In the piece, Marx attempts (sometimes successfully, sometimes not) to take (purported) E.S.A.s into places where animals are in fact not allowed, using creatures borrowed from acquaintances: a turtle, a (large) snake, a turkey, an alpaca, and a pig.

Tove Jansson tomorrow

October 19, 2014

From the “Goings On About Town” section in the 10/20/14 New Yorker:

Tove Jansson Celebration: N.Y.R.B. Classics and Scandinavia House mark the hundredth anniversary of the birth of the Finnish writer, known for the Moomin cartoon series and other works, as well as the publication of a new collection of her stories, “The Woman Who Borrowed Memories.” The novelists Philip Teir and Kathryn Davis will discuss Jansson’s fiction, the actor Thomas Hiltunen will give a reading, and the journalist Anu Partanen will moderate. (58 Park Ave., at 38th St. scandinaviahouse.org. Oct. 20 at 6:30.)

Another multiple talent who doesn’t usually get pegged as Artist (without qualification), like many others I’ve written about on this blog (Edward Gorey, for instance). Charming but complex books for children (a favorite in our household when my daughter was young), among other things.

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Quarantine

October 19, 2014

As the dreadful story of the Ebola virus in Africa unfolds, and with it the parallel story of the panicked response to Ebola in the U.S., the word quarantine is much in the news. The stories explain that the quarantine for Ebola is 21 days. But now look at NOAD2 on the word:

quarantine noun  a state, period, or place of isolation in which people or animals that have arrived from elsewhere or been exposed to infectious or contagious disease are placed: many animals die in quarantine.

verb [with obj.] impose such isolation on (a person, animal, or place); put in quarantine.

ORIGIN mid 17th cent.: from Italian quarantina ‘forty days,’ from quaranta ‘forty.’

and note the origin, involving the Italian word for ‘forty’. We have here a straightforward case in which morphological material from the etymological source is still visible in the word, yet its current use no longer respects the semantics of the source. I’ll call such words decimators, after one famous English example that has led peevers to seethe in word rage at an offense to etymology.

If you take etymology dead seriously, then referring to a 21-day isolation period as a quarantine is just wrong.

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X bar

October 18, 2014

Yesterday’s Bizarro:

The compound hippo bar, with head bar ‘establishment where alcohol is served’ — so it’s subsective: a hippo bar is a kind of bar. It’s also an instance of a snowclonelet composite X bar, a snowclonelet I hadn’t previously looked at — in this case a subtype of X bar in which X characterizes (directly or indirectly) the patrons of the bar. The model for hippo bar in the cartoon is gay bar ‘bar catering to gay people (esp. men)’, and that adds to the humor in the cartoon: to start with, a hippo in a bar; then the idea of a bar catering to hippos; and then, the zinger, the guy who didn’t know the place was a hippo bar, the way some guys turn up in a gay bar maintaining that they had no idea the place was a gay bar.

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No word for it: ‘erectioned’

October 18, 2014

In a discussion on ADS-L recently, the wonderful technical term ithyphallic came up (so to speak), and I realized that this was another case (of many) where English doesn’t have a word for something, in any useful sense of to have a word for.

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