Archive for the ‘Snowclones’ Category

Clickbait schemes

July 17, 2014

Andras Kornai wrote me on Tuesday to comment on a prominent pattern he’d seen in online clickbaiting, exemplified by:

You Won’t Believe What This Cop Did When The Cameras WEREN’T Rolling. WOW!

Man Attempts To Hug a Wild Lion. What Happens Next Stunned Me

He’s collected hundreds of similar examples and wondered whether others had noticed the pattern (many have in fact been annoyed by it) and whether it had gotten a name (not so far as I know). In this particular schema, the “hook” is an expression of astonishment or surprise, which can be expressed in a number of ways, referring to the reader (“you won’t believe”, “you’ll be amazed”) or to the presumed writer (“… stunned me”, “I couldn’t believe”), in a variety of syntactic constructions. As a temporary expedient, I’ll refer to this as the SURPRISE! clickbait scheme.

The scheme is “semi-formulaic”, in a way that’s reminiscent of the precursors to snowclones (see “The natural history of snowclones”, here): a culturally significant idea is given a number of formulations; one version achieves special status (in a formula); and then this formula serves as a template for new expressions. The SURPRISE! scheme hasn’t yet crystallized as a formula, but it’s nevertheless recognizable by its form(s) and functions.


Four for the fourth

June 5, 2014

My morning mail on Wednesday the 4th brought me six suitable cartoons for this blog. Two I have already posted about: a Doonesbury with Duke hallucinating a lizard; and a Bizarro with a diner asking for eggs without any sense of style. The others: a One Big Happy on the attractions of “diet” versions of foods; a Zits on hearing and listening; a Zippy with (among other things) more better; and a Mother Goose and Grimm with a symbolic ambiguity.



May 29, 2014

From Bob Mankoff’s How About Never …  (see here), p. 255, on Mankoff’s effort to give “aspiring cartoonists feedback” by “developing a mini course in cartoon fundamentals and the psychology of humor.” One course topic: “things are funnier in threes”.



April 25, 2014

Today’s hip Zippy:


Full of hippie slang, from days now gone.


Slang change

February 15, 2014

Yesterday Mark Liberman posted on this Doonesbury cartoon:

Rich in material. The main thing I want to note (as Mark did) is a sense development in the slang verb rock, from an older sense, around at least since 1990 (‘impact strongly’), to a newer sense, the one in the cartoon, around since at least 2007 (‘wear or display conspicuously or proudly’); this is a change from a more objective sense to a more subjective one, such as Elizabeth Traugott has repeatedly discussed.


Up Your Alley

September 30, 2013

Posting about the Folsom Street Fair yesterday reminded me of another BDSM street fair in San Francisco. From the fair’s website:

Up Your Alley® is an unrivaled fetish fair, always on the last weekend of July in San Francisco. It’s only for real players – and not for the faint of heart. There are sweaty athletes in full kit, motorcycle studs, hairy chested muscle men, spit-in-your-face punks, and leather daddies galore. You won’t find a filthier event here in the States. If you’re into it, there’s a scene for you at Up Your Alley. With over 10,000 sexy leathermen, you’re sure to find your match. 

Located in front of the legendary Powerhouse bar, leather and fetish enthusiasts engage in serious BDSM play – right on the street! The fair features over 50 vendor booths, hot food and cold stiff drinks, boot black stations, and a dance area with the hottest San Francisco DJs located at the intersection of 10th and Folsom. Check out this only-in-San Francisco event that attracts your most self-indulgent band of brothers. 

In order to accomodate the newly enacted SF nudity ordinance, from which the UYA fairgrounds is exempt, coat check will be available on 10th Street between the food court and Folsom St.

Smaller and more focused than Folsom Street, and seriously raunchy.


X job

September 28, 2013

Back on the 19th, in a collecion of miscellany, I reported (in item 4) on the porn film title Pacific Rim Job: an overlap of Pacific Rim and rim job ‘anilingus / analingus’. Which made me reflect on sexual X job expressions, a small family of compounds referring to sexual acts, of which three are especially frequent: blow job and rim job (of the form V + job) and hand job (of the form N + job). So to other snowclonelet composites examined on this blog and Language Log (among them, X fag, X porn, X queen, X rage, X virgin, X whore, X drag, X magnet, X Nazi, X slut, X porn, X police), we can now add X job.


Body language and Lithuanians

April 12, 2013

Today’s Zippy returns to the topic of facial expression and gesture in Dingburg:

Five stances (or gestures), each with an absurdly specific meaning (some of which suggest, in snowclonish way, proverbs or quotations). Plus an appearance of Lithuanians.


Ralf König

April 8, 2013

I was pointed to a classic gay comic by the bibliography in the entertaining and informative The Dick Book: Tuning Your Favorite Body Part (Micha Schulze & Christian Scheuss, Bruno Gmünder 2013, translation of Das Schwanzbuch. Tuning für dein bestes Stück 2008): Ralf König’s The Killer Condom (2009 Ignite! Entertainment (rev. ed.); 1992 The Killer Condom Catalan Communications, translation from German by Jim Steakley of 1988 Kondom des Grauens [‘Condom of Horror’] Edition Kunst der Comics/Ralf König). Aside from the pleasures of the story, there’s some snowclonish interest.


Taco sauce

April 4, 2013

Today’s Zippy:

The strip is a lead-in to a pun so dreadful — the Holy Grill for the Holy Grail — that it’s wonderful. Then there’s the taco sauce theme and the snowlone let the X commence in the title.



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