Archive for the ‘Books’ Category


November 8, 2015

(It’s going to be penis penis penis in this posting. But fairly decorously, and with some discussion of names, plants, and medicine.)

Every so often there’s an outbreak of ExtenZe commercials on late-night cable television. Well, the same commercial, over and over again. The current ad features former Dallas Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson, who became the official spokesman for ExtenZe in 2010:

Here’s comic Jim Gaffigan riffing on this commercial:

Note Gaffigan’s playing on Jimmy Johnson‘s name as a possible factor in his choice as spokesman; Gaffigan mentions (former Chicago Bears linebacker) Dick Butkus as an alternative. I suppose it’s too bad that actor Peter O’Toole is no longer available. (In a while I’ll consider Willy / Willie candidates.)

But first some ExtenZe background.



November 5, 2015

In the NYT Book Review on Sunday (November 1st), a review by James Parker of The Big Book of Sherlock Holmes Stories (edited by Otto Penzler) and Mycroft Holmes (by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse). Here I’m focused on the Sherlockian pastiches in the Penzler anthology.

Parker begins:

Shadrach Voles, Upchuck Gnomes, Rockhard Scones and Blowback Foams: None of these great made-up detectives appear in Otto Penzler’s giant compendium of fake Sherlock Holmes stories, or Sherlock-Holmes-stories-written-by-persons-other-than-Sir-Arthur-Conan-Doyle. You will, however, be able to find stories about Sherlaw Kombs, and Solar Pons, and Picklock Holes, and Shamrock Jolnes, and Warlock Bones and (my own pick of the pseudo-Holmeses) Hemlock Jones, who in Bret Harte’s “The Stolen Cigar-Case” almost destroys the ardently worshipful Watson-like narrator with the sheer puissance of his intellect.

Mikel Jaso’s delightful illustration for the review, paying homage to Holmes’s pipe, René Magritte, and the creations of the Sherlockians:



Briefly noted: a bullshit lexicon

November 3, 2015

Published on October 27th, Mark Peters’s guide to the vocabulary of bullshit as a form of language use:

(That takes him into a certain amount of discourse on bullshit referring to animal excrement, but cow manure is not the point of the book.) (more…)

Adrian Tomine

October 22, 2015

The morning name today was Adrian Tomine, but I’ve already posted about the graphic artist, and in any case he was very much in my mind as the artist of the October 19th New Yorker cover:



Morning: monotreme, marsupial

October 18, 2015

The morning names a little while back came as a pair (monotreme, marsupial) — with related referents (both are taxonomically eccentric mammals) and names that are somewhat similar phonologically. And in sequence they made a nicely metrical line.

And that led me into a certain amount of silly language play.


Stark morning names

October 3, 2015

Yesterday. First name up: Charley “Mad Dog” Starkweather (the spree killer from the ’50s). And that led me immediately to the Starkadder family from Stella Gibbons’s comic novel Cold Comfort Farm.


Flintstone days

September 3, 2015

In the local real estate news (from NBC Bay Area yesterday), “‘Flintstones’ House in Hillsborough Listed for $4.2M” by Tamara Palmer and Ian Cull:

Hillsborough’s most recognizable piece of real estate has hit the market.

The home at 45 Berryessa Way, though relatively small by the town’s standards at 2,730 square feet, is seeking a big price tag of $4.2 million


A story that will take us through several twists and turns of pop culture.


Scientists at play

September 2, 2015

Passed on by Chris Waigl, a piece on the Washington Post‘s blog: “Scientists celebrate the world of animal genitalia with #junkoff” (by Rachel Feltman):

Scentists: They’re just like you! They have good days, they have bad days, they glue themselves to angry crocodiles, and they recognize how utterly ridiculous and funny animal genitalia can be.

#junkoff is the latest hashtag to take off in the scientific corners of Twitter, and it’s exactly what it sounds like.

Scientists who work with animals contribute their favorite images of penises and vaginas. Including the remarkable 4-headed penis of an echidna (aka spiny anteater, an egg-laying mammal).


The 4 million

August 18, 2015

From O. Henry in 1906, the collection The Four Million:

The Four Million is the second published collection of short stories by O. Henry originally released in 1906. There are twenty five stories of various lengths including several of his best known works such as “The Gift of the Magi” and “The Cop and the Anthem”. The book’s title refers to the then population of New York City where many of the stories are set.

(The 2014 census estimate for NYC was 8.49 million — more than doubled in nearly 110 years.)

Meanwhile, the number of spam comments afflicting this site passed 4 million yesterday. (more…)

Bacteriological picture books

July 27, 2015

A Tom Gauld cartoon in the latest (July 18th) New Scientist:


Bacteria crossed with children’s picture books.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 856 other followers