Hidden symbols

October 16, 2014

After I posted a Bizarro in “No stinkin’ budgies” (here), Chris Hansen wrote in puzzlement over the stick of dynamite in the cartoon. I replied that this was just one of Dan Piraro’s “hidden symbols”, with no meaning in the context of the cartoon (or in the wider culture). I thought I’d posted the full inventory of these, but apparently not, so for reference here’s the list from the Wikipedia page on the strip:

Most Bizarro cartoons include one or more of these devices hidden somewhere in the cartoon:

an eyeball (the Eyeball of Observation)

a piece of pie (the Pie of Opportunity)

a rabbit (the Bunny of Exuberance)

an alien in a spaceship (the Flying Saucer of Possibility)

the abbreviation “K2″ (referring to his children Kermit and Krapuzar)

a crown (the Crown of Power)

a stick of dynamite (the Dynamite of Unintended Consequences)

a shoe (the Lost Loafer)

an arrow (The Arrow of Vulnerability)

a fish tail (The Fish of Humility)

an upside down bird (the Inverted Bird)

Piraro indicates how many symbols are hidden in each strip with a number above his signature.

The cartoon in “No stinkin’ budgies” has two symbols: the Dynamite of Unintended Consequences, and also the Eyeball of Observation. Over the years I’ve noted other hidden symbols from this list in Bizarro cartoons. (The Pie of Opportunity and the Bunny of Exuberance are especially common.)

On the conlang patrol

October 15, 2014

Lee Tucker on Facebook yesterday:

I must be going mad Arnold Zwicky. I just read an article that included the phrase “voiceless uvular ejective affricate.” For the record, I flinched.

That article would “Utopian for Beginners: An amateur linguist loses control of the language he invented” by Joshua Foer in the 12/24/12 New Yorker, where we read:

More than nine hundred languages have been invented since Lingua Ignota, and almost all have foundered. “The history of invented languages is, for the most part, a history of failure,” Arika Okrent, the author of  [In the Land of Invented Languages (2009)], writes. Many of the most spectacular flops have been languages, like Ithkuil, that attempt to hold a perfect mirror up to reality.

Ithkuil is a conlang (constructed language), very much in the spirit of the 17th century. And yes, it has a mind-boggling assortment of phonemes, especially consonant phonemes.

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Choosing your words

October 15, 2014

Two recent items on word choice: a One Big Happy with a set of synonyms; and a NYT Magazine piece on children’s breakfasts around the world, with a reference to Japanese natto as “putrid”.

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No stinkin’ budgies

October 15, 2014

Today’s Bizarro:

A famous cultural reference here, worked into a pun on badges and budgies.

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No atheists in foxholes

October 14, 2014

Yesterday’s Scenes From a Multiverse:

(viewable on-line here).

Not the usual understanding of the aphorism.

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The 1958 Nash Metropolitan

October 14, 2014

Today’s Zippy, with not much linguistic in it, but it recalls an earlier Zippy posting:


Earlier on this blog: a posting of 10/3/14 on Zippy’s Unicar, a fanciful hybrid creation with a Nash Metropolitan chassis on a unicycle body — and a portmanteau name.

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October 13, 2014

Yesterday I looked at the informal names for muscles abs, pecsglutes, delts, and traps. The last two of these might not be as familiar to most people (who aren’t in the fitness / bodybuilding world) as the others; here I’m interested in traps (the trapezius muscles) — for their name, initially, and then for their appearance on one man, the pornstar Ken Ryker.

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Clipped musculature

October 12, 2014

My most recent posting had a cartoon pun on abdominal (muscles), muscles that have been featured prominently in huge numbers of my postings on shirtless men, under the name abs, for abdominals. The muscles come in sets, hence the plural; and then the base noun abdominal has been clipped to ab. There are plenty more of these clippings, most of them involving muscles that come in pairs.

So from a 8/19/14 posting “Abs of the week”:

It’s been a while since I posted images of shirtless men with astounding abs (and pecs, delts, traps, and biceps, but oh, those abs!) …

And there’s more on fitness sites, for example, from msn health and fitness, on Wall Ball exercises:

MUSCLES INVOLVED: Quads, Glutes, Abs, Traps, Pecs, Delts, Triceps, Total Body

EQUIPMENT: Medicine Ball

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The Abdominal Snowman

October 12, 2014

Today’s Mother Goose and Grimm:

We’ve been here before, in a 1/24/12 posting on images of the Abdominable Snowman (involving the complex portmanteau abdominable). This time, it’s just a pun, playing on abominable vs. abdominal (muscles).

October occasions

October 12, 2014

Thursday, the 9th, was Hangul Day, which reminded me of my wonderful linguistics colleague Jim McCawley, who was a notable exponent of the holiday (but died suddenly and unexpectedly in 1999, so there’s some sadness in the day). And then yesterday, the 11th, was National Coming Out Day (NCOD), a joyous occasion in many ways, but also the day my husband-equivalent Jacques Transue and I chose to celebrate as our anniversary; alas, Jacques died in 2003, so NCOD is also a sad occasion. Then yesterday, the mail brought an ad for University Health Care Advantage, a Medicare HMO plan providing “comprehensive care at Stanford Health Care” for Santa Clara County residents — mail for Ann Zwicky at my home address in Palo Alto. Alas, Ann never lived in California, and certainly not at this address, and she died 29 years ago, so this mail was a grotesque reminder of Ann.

Tomorrow is Columbus Day in my country (also Thanksgiving Day in Canada, so mail doesn’t work in either country) — not a sad occasion, but now a rather bizarre holiday, celebrated (or not) in different ways in different places.

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