Archive for the ‘Pop culture’ Category

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.



July 4, 2015

You can pick up a lot of random information in popular genres, like detective fiction and police procedural television shows. Murder mysteries are typically set in some small special world, so that you can learn a lot about that world: English change-ringing, say, in Dorothy Sayers’s The Nine Tailors. Similarly for episodes of cop shows (understood broadly). So yesterday I was treated to an hour’s drama on CSI: NY about the Lingerie Football League (as it was then), in season 6, episode 13 “Flag on the Play” (first broadcast on 1/20/10). Some LFL players in action, in real life:

An odd cross between sexualized display of the female body and athletic contest.


Judge Judy: the early days

May 14, 2015

Today’s Zippy, featuring Judge Judy and her hectoring courtroom speech style:

Judge Judy is something of a preoccupation in Zippy, often in combination with Donald Trump (for instance, #2 on 3/17/14, #1 on 5/26/14), sometimes with other pop culture icons (JJ, Howie Mandel, and Dr. Phil on 8/17/13).


Morning tune

May 12, 2015

Yesterday morning it wasn’t a name, exactly; it was a theme song, from the tv sitcom Three’s Company, that was stuck in my head. And remained stuck, as a dreadful earworm, all day long.

Here it is, if you’re willing to expose yourself to it:

Now to the show and its star, John Ritter.


Hatch NM

May 10, 2015

Today’s Zippy takes us to Hatch NM, which is famous for two things: green chiles and giant fiberglass figures:


The two are packaged together in this remarkable artifact:



Youthful enthusiasms

April 24, 2015

(About music rather than language.)

In the May Harper’s, an entertaining piece on “New Music” by Terry Castle — a literary scholar (specializing in the history of the novel) at Stanford, and sometime writer on popular culture. The Harper’s piece is about old music become new, focusing on Robin Williamson, once of the Incredible String Band.

Terry begins with a confession:

Is there anything more shaming than doting on the electrified English folk-rock of the late Sixties and early Seventies? It’s taken me, I confess, a dreadfully long time to come to terms with it — to acknowledge that I adore, nay, have always adored, the whole tambourinetapping, raggle-taggle mob of them: Pentangle, Fairport Convention, Sandy Denny, John Renbourn, Shirley Collins, Bert Jansch, Martin Carthy, Steeleye Span, Maddy Prior, Richard and Linda Thompson, Lindisfarne. I still venerate Jethro Tull and its leader, the psychedelic flutist Ian Anderson, unforgettable for his dandified overcoat, harelike skittishness, and giant comic aureole of red beard and frizzy hair. It’s like admitting you’d rather go to the local Renaissance Faire than hear Mahler’s Lieder at Wigmore Hall.

One is cruelly dated by one’s doting. The British fad for switched-on folk reached its apogee somewhere between 1968, when the Incredible String Band released its sitar-laced masterwork, The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter, and 1978, the year that the lissome but likely inebriated Sandy Denny, former lead singer of Fairport Convention, died of blunt head trauma after falling down a flight of stairs. Yes, one capered and twirled through it all. Alas, one is now fairly eldritch oneself — positively rime-covered.

I shared Terry’s enthusiasms then — and now as well. And I’m a dozen years older than she is. Rime-covered, indeed.



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