In the November 16th New Yorker, four cartoons that made me consider, once again, what you need to know to understand what’s going on in a cartoon and what you need to know to understand why the cartoon is funny. Two cartoons by artists who have appeared on the blog before (Harry Bliss, Shannon Wheeler) and two by newcomers to this blog (Kaamran Hafeez and Tom Chitty). The cartoons:
Archive for the ‘Formulaic language’ Category
On AZBlogX, a Veterans Day offer from the gay porn company Channel 1 Releasing, featuring a serviceman admiring his penis “Wrapped in the red, white, and blue”. Spun as patriotism, but it’s all about sex.
C1R’s slogan: This Veterans Day we SALUTE you!
Meanwhile, Flag Boy’s penis is at attention, and he’s saluting it.
“Let’s run it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes it” [variant: “Let’s run it up the flagpole and see who salutes (it)”] is a catchphrase which became popular in the United States during the late 1950s and early 1960s. It means “to present an idea tentatively and see whether it receives a favorable reaction.” It is now considered a cliché. Sometimes it is used seriously, but more often it is used humorously, with the intention that it be recognized as both hackneyed and outdated. A non-joking equivalent would be “to send up a trial balloon.”
First, I note a snowclonelet composite not discussed earlier on this blog: X snob, involving a specialized use of the noun snob. Then I summarize some ADS-L discussion of possible extensions of the snowclonelet, where it was suggested that the snowclonelet might in some cases be losing its pejorative tone.
The Bizarro from the 14th:
(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Don Piraro says there are 4 in this strip — see this Page.)
The Cody mentioned by the bartender is “Buffalo Bill” Cody, the renowned bison hunter, and it looks like he has Jerry, the bison in the cartoon, in his crosshairs. (Since this is CartoonLand, we don’t shrink from the idea of a bison tossing back a drink in a bar.) Two cartoon puzzles: what’s the figure in the foreground doing in the cartoon? And why is the bison called Jerry?
In my “going better with” posting, I mentioned in passing the “snowclone-like” sentence
Nothing says summer like a delicious Picnic Pasta Salad
(of the form “Nothing says A like B”, roughly conveying ‘B is evidence for A, B indicates A’). It certainly feels formulaic, and I considered the possibility that it was a playful variation on some existing model, but the range of examples suggests otherwise; so the form does indeed look snowclone-like: a compact template available for connecting B to A.
Jeremy plays with the template
GBW (GoesBetterWith): Nothing goes better with X than Y
conveying something like ‘X and Y go very well together’; either X or Y can be taken to be the primary component in the combination.
But for Jeremy in the cartoon, X = Y, so what he’s conveying is that X is really really good. More bacon! More bacon!
GBW is a variation on an expression, but an expression that’s only weakly conventionalized: it can straightforwardly be understood literally, but it comes with an air of familiarity. It’s certainly not an snowclone, and it might not even count as a playful variation on some familiar expression. What would the model be?
Today’s Dilbert, with a brainstorming session at the office:
All they need is a magic slogan, in three words, clearly explaining everything the new product does. Labels — names — aren’t good at doing this task, and slogans (which are primarily designed for conveying emotions) are even worse than labels.
And yes, Alice, “Keep Doing It” is in some sense already taken. Several times, probably.