Archive for the ‘Language and animals’ Category

The news for, um, monkeys

February 7, 2016

Today is Super Bowl Sunday, but tomorrow is a real holiday: the Lunar New Year, ushering in the Year of the Monkey (next week we get a Valentine’s Sunday then for Americans on Monday, Presidents Day). A Canadian $15 silver coin for the occasion:


Then, as reported yesterday by David Mack on BuzzFeed, a Chinese designer in San Francisco set out to honor the holiday with a piece of art, which didn’t come out quite as he intended:



The news for penises, issue #1 of 2016

January 5, 2016

A continuing series on this blog, with at least 9 postings before this under the heading  “The news for penises” (plus a great many other penis postings not under that heading). Four items that have come to me in the past few days: an ad for gay porn with some phonological play in it;  horse penises in Kyrgyzstan; beef whistle as a slang term for the penis; and the celebrated candiru fish of the Amazon.


Morning name: Kakadu

December 27, 2015

I see that WQXR (classical music in NYC) played Beethoven’s Kakadu Variations very early in the morning, while I was still sleeping, so the name probably seeped into my unconscious from the radio. In any case, the trio is a favorite of mine.


Anderson Cooper as a silver wolverine Animorph

December 8, 2015

In pursuit of something else, I came across a Gawker piece from 3/31/14 that began with this identification:

(1) Silver wolverine Animorph and CNN anchor Anderson Cooper

This led quickly into a dense thicket of popular culture, taking me into the comics, the movies, sexual slang, action figures, Canadian currency, language play, fierce animals, and more. (There will be some discussion of man-man sex in plain terms here, but nothing alarming, and the images aren’t X-rated.)


Pearls POP

November 28, 2015

Alerted by Andy Sleeper, two recent Pearls Before Swine cartoons:



The Worrywarthog: a phrasal overlap portmanteau (POP): worrywart + warthog. The first is new on this blog; the second has come up in passing several times, but without an actual look at the animal.


big game

November 22, 2015

Yesterday was the Big Game, between Stanford and Cal (the University of California at Berkeley), the Stanford Cardinal and the Cal Bears, in football:


(Stanford over Cal 28-16, at Stanford Stadium; much celebration)

Linguistic point 1: the usage of the expression The Big Game.

Linguistic point 2: the expression big game used to refer to animals.

Bonus: the movie Big Game.


The water frog, the ground squirrel, and the little thrush

November 11, 2015

From Xopher Walker, back in the spring, a Colonial Williamsburg Foundation greeting card with a reproduction of a charming 1754 etching by Mark Catesby showing a “water frog” (billed as Rana aquatica) together with a purple pitcher plant:



Moving pest news

November 4, 2015

In yesterday’s NYT Science Times, this brief report by Sindhya N. Bhanoo, on the website under the title “A Rooftop View of Insect Migration in a Warming Climate”, on the nut weevil in Denmark:

The Natural History Museum of Denmark has studied the insect population on its rooftop for 18 years, tracking 1,543 species of moths and beetles and more than 250,000 individuals. In a study appearing in The Journal of Animal Ecology, museum researchers conclude that warming temperatures are affecting specialized insects that rely on a single food source. The nut weevil, for example, feeds only on hazelnuts; it appeared on the roof during the first half of the study but not the second. Scientists at the museum suspect that the nut weevil and other specialists are moving north, where the climate is cooler.

Adult weevils eat plant parts. Their larvae do too, but from the inside out.


Morning silverfish

October 24, 2015

My morning name two days ago was silverfish (yesterday’s was toe jam, and I’ve posted on that). A perfect example of a morning name, since I had no idea why the little insect should have popped into my mind. This morning there were two, but they were entirely explicable: howler monkey (I read about them in the NYT yesterday, fascinating story) and dermestid beetle (prominently mentioned in a CSI: NY episode I watched yesterday). Brief words about them, and then on to the silverfish.


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.



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