Archive for the ‘Pop culture’ Category

Zombie X

September 16, 2015

For some time, Mike Pope has been (gently) after me on Facebook to assemble a list of linguistic terms that are my innovations. This turns out to be a devilishly difficult enterprise, for several reasons, a prime one being something that afflicts any attempt to discover the “inventor” of an expression: as I’ve noted several times on this blog, most innovations exploit potentials in the language that are in principle available to everyone (various figures of speech, semantic extensions and specializations, patterns of word formation, and so on), so that it’s quite likely that an innovation has been made by many people on many different occasions, without anyone taking special notice or recording these events.

But sometimes one of these events is noticed, at least within a particular sociocultural community, and that’s taken to be a founding event (with an identifiable source), from which the innovation can spread within the community; the innovator is then given credit within the community.

And so to the story of metaphorical zombie.


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.


Morning name: Herbert Huncke

August 14, 2015

As usual, I have no idea why the name was in my head when I woke up, though it is Huncke’s centennial year:


Yes, a celebration of the archetypical outsider and outlaw. But now there’s a blog devoted to him, here.


Ice cream, roadside fiberglass, Caillebotte, and more

August 13, 2015

Today’s Zippy takes us lots of places:


It shows our Pinhead talking French Impressionism with a roadside ice cream stand that happens to be a fiberglass replica of an ice cream cone. (In Zippy, roadside fiberglass artifacts are almost always chatty.)  Degas (gauzy ballerinas), Monet (soft-focus water lilies), but especially Gustave Caillebotte: men scraping floors and flying, drying, laundry.


The spread of popular culture

August 6, 2015

An entertaining piece in the NYT on the 4th (in the print edition that I get): “Iran Capitalizing on a Taste for America’s Biggest Brands” by Thomas Erdbrink:

Tehran— Despite the smiling clown, a symbol of the Great Satan’s love for meat, buns and fries, there were no angry mobs punching fists in the air, shouting “Death to America”; nor did the smell of burned American flags permeate this Tehran neighborhood.

It smelled of juicy burgers, flipped by a cheerful Iranian teenager named Jahan. His kitchen was crowned with a flashing logo that looked remarkably similar to the golden arches of McDonald’s, perhaps the best-known symbol of American fast-food imperialism.


Dingburg names

July 31, 2015

Today’s Zippy, with two sets of names to savor:


First, there are the preposterous Dingburger names: Flexo Sodafiber, Glassine Bookpaper, Flemish Spindleplunger. Then there are the products, their mascots, and their names. Commerce and pop culture.



July 26, 2015

Today’s Bizarro, with yet another King Kong cartoon (it’s a cartoon meme):

The movie King Kong has a firm place in American popular culture: the giant gorilla has appeared as a character in a long series of movies and tv shows after the 1933 original film.

(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Don Piraro says there are 6 in this strip — see this Page.)


Shirtless shark-fighting teens

July 26, 2015

(Not much on language, but entertaining nonetheless.)

What unites SoCal teens, shirtless dancers, and fighters of flying sharks? Take a moment to think.


Scott Bakula

July 21, 2015

Another episode in the story of the Acting Corps, prompted by a moment in which I could recall neither Scott Bakula’s name nor the name of his most famous tv show, Quantum Leap. But Facebook friends came to the rescue — and inadvertently set up a reason for yet another posting (beyond this one) on tv shows.

I’ll use this posting to talk about Bakula and his acting, and in still another posting I’ll get to my reasons for asking about him in the first place.


The Acting Corps

July 20, 2015

I’ve been posting a good bit on acting on tv, with excursions into the movies and the stage, noting (frequently) that a great many of these people have extensive careers, with large numbers of acting credits, especially on television — where series (of several types) have an almost inexhaustible appetite for competent actors. So some people will pop up again and again. Some have a degree of celebrity, others are familiar faces you might not be able to put a name to, and even the well-known will often be cast in parts that have little to do with the characters they are famous for.

I’ve come to think of this bank of reliable actors as the Acting Corps. The American corps is largely distinct from the British corps — especially in sitcoms, where nearly disjoint sets of actors cycle through sitcom characters on the two sides of the ocean.

I’ll start with two reasonably well-known actors with extensive careers, one (John Ritter) already covered in some detail on this blog, the other (Tom Skerritt) mentioned several times here but not covered in much detail. Both have prodigious portfolios.



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