Archive for the ‘Language play’ Category

On the campaign trail with Vermin Supreme

November 25, 2015

Through various people on Facebook, reports on the presidential candidacy of Vermin Supreme.


From Wikipedia:


Foodnited States

November 20, 2015

Through Facebook friends, this entertaining Mental Floss piece, “All 50 States Reimagined as Food Puns” by Rebecca OConnell:


If you had to assign one piece of food to represent each state, which item would you pick? For the good people at Foodiggity [which can be followed on Instagram], the answer is whatever is punniest.

Armed with a set of state-shaped cookie cutters and a love of wordplay, the team set out to make each state out of a food. The series, called The Foodnited States of America, features all 50 states.

The project came about when Foodiggity founder Chris Durso’s young son suggested they make states out of food. Durso almost dismissed the idea, until his son added, “But what if they like had funny names like New Pork or New Jerky?” Durso understood the value of a good pun and took on the task of shoving mashed potatoes into metal shapes.


Annals of zeugma

November 15, 2015

From Ann Burlingham, this zeugmatic dialogue from the tv series Leverage (“The Long Way Down Job”, season 4, episode 1, first aired 6/26/11), at 17:27:

(1) Drexel gets paid and away scot-free

(Drexel is the character John Drexel.)

The verb gets here represents two different lexical items, with very different meanings, one in construction with the PSP verb paid, the other in construction with the particle away and the adverb scot-free: the first is the main verb in a passive construction (the so-called “get-passive”, an alternative to the be-passive), and the second is the main verb in a (metaphorical) motion construction.

So we have zeugma — plus a massively non-parallel coordination paid and away scot-free. Overall, (1) is a major WTF sentence, of a sort that is often concocted as a joke, but that doesn’t seem to the case here.


PUMP! Boys and Trojans

November 9, 2015

(Not much about language here — mostly about men’s bodies and the projection of personas.)

Saturday’s ad from Daily Jocks, which led me to a rich collection of images from the PUMP! underwear firm. Four of them below the fold, and there are also notes.


The lost boy

They crafted his body,
Scupted his abs, his pecs, his
Delts, his quads, pumped up a
Killer package for him, but
Nobody taught him
How to box.



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:



Born out of breadlock

November 4, 2015

Today’s Rhymes With Orange, with a pun:

The cronut, a hybrid food with a portmanteau name. See section 1 (on the cronut) of my 5/30/13 posting about portmanteaus.

The morning after

November 1, 2015

Today’s Rhymes With Orange celebrates All Saint’s Day, the beginning of the Day of the Dead (in Mexico), and (this year) the Death of Daylight Time (in the U.S.):

It’s also the Feast of the Candy Pun.


peanut(s), penis, and Cracker Jack

October 30, 2015

In a posting three days ago on matters having to do with a Pop-Tart commercial on tv, I reported that at first I heard the peanut in peanut butter as penis. Now a Facebook poster adds his own experience, which had to do with the Cracker Jack slogan (for many years), “Candy coated popcorn, peanuts and a prize”, which as a kid he heard as hawking “penis and a prize”; he took that as an early indicator that he was gay. And now I discover that there’s a rich vein of joking (much of it sophomoric) exploiting the phonetic similarity of peanuts and penis (penis brittle and, yes, penis butter), plus considerable anxiety over the word peanuts from speakers of languages that disfavor consonant clusters (like /ts/).

Two topics here: the phonetic similarity of peanut(s) and penis; and some reflections on Cracker Jack, both the snack and its name.



October 26, 2015

I start with a Mark Stivers cartoon (from 11/16/14) that was reprinted (in b&w) in the November Funny Times:


Reubenesque in the cartoon (referring to the Reuben sandwich, illustrated there), playing on Rubenesque (referring to the painter Peter Paul Rubens, known, among other things, for the plump — “full and rounded” in OED3 — female figures in his paintings), both pronounced /ˌrubɪnˈɛsk/. The Reuben sandwich in the cartoon is metaphorically Rubenesque: plump with its components, as it should be.

This play on words will take us in several directions; here are some preliminary comments, in no particular order.


Bread play

October 22, 2015

From Ann Burlingham, this Scott Milburn cartoon from 2012, with a pun avalanche, or punvalanche for short, of bread-related vocabulary: breadwinner, the verb loaf, (slice of) toast, Melba (toast), sourdough.


Some highlights follow.



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