Things we doubt Louis XIV envisioned

July 17, 2014

In the June/July 2014 Details, pp. 57-8, a piece by Laurence Lowe on the Jeff Koons retrospective now showing at the Whitney Museum in New York, treating four of his most iconic works: New Hoover Celebrity III’s (1980); Michael Jackson and Bubbles (1988); Made in Heaven (1989); and Puppy (1992).

On the last, Koons says:

I created it for a site-specific exhibition in Bad Arolsen, Germany. There was a huge schloss in the center of town. I envisioned Louis XIV visiting it and thought, ‘If Louis lived there, what would he want to see?’ Maybe he’d wake up in the morning and want to see a sculpture, about 40 feet tall, all made of live flowers, in the shape of a dog. It was that intuitive.

 

(There are other installations in other places.)

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Clickbait schemes

July 17, 2014

Andras Kornai wrote me on Tuesday to comment on a prominent pattern he’d seen in online clickbaiting, exemplified by:

You Won’t Believe What This Cop Did When The Cameras WEREN’T Rolling. WOW!

Man Attempts To Hug a Wild Lion. What Happens Next Stunned Me

He’s collected hundreds of similar examples and wondered whether others had noticed the pattern (many have in fact been annoyed by it) and whether it had gotten a name (not so far as I know). In this particular schema, the “hook” is an expression of astonishment or surprise, which can be expressed in a number of ways, referring to the reader (“you won’t believe”, “you’ll be amazed”) or to the presumed writer (“… stunned me”, “I couldn’t believe”), in a variety of syntactic constructions. As a temporary expedient, I’ll refer to this as the SURPRISE! clickbait scheme.

The scheme is “semi-formulaic”, in a way that’s reminiscent of the precursors to snowclones (see “The natural history of snowclones”, here): a culturally significant idea is given a number of formulations; one version achieves special status (in a formula); and then this formula serves as a template for new expressions. The SURPRISE! scheme hasn’t yet crystallized as a formula, but it’s nevertheless recognizable by its form(s) and functions.

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Hybrid dishes and foodmanteaus

July 15, 2014

From the 7/12/14 Economist, this feature: “Matches made in heaven—and hell: What do you get if you cross a waffle with a doughnut? It’s no joke”, beginning:

Not all marriages are happy, but Alex Hernandez thinks that the union of a waffle and a doughnut will be. The owner of Waffles Café in Chicago starting selling what he calls “wonuts” in April. They are deep-fried waffles, topped with icing and multicoloured sprinkles (see photo). Daily sales went from 24 to 600 within two days.

Ah, the foodmanteau wonut. Referring to a hybrid food:

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A Sunday quartet

July 14, 2014

Four cartoons from yesterday’s crop: a Zippy in a nameless diner; a Doonesbury on rumors; a One Big Happy on the spread of expressions and speech styles from the media; and another Bizarro collection of puns. The strips:

(#1)

(#2)

(#3)

(#4)

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The animal report

July 14, 2014

In the NYT Book Review yesterday, a set of three reviews of quirky books about people and animals (elephants, a tawny owl, and the giant squid); and then today in the Daily Post (Palo Alto and Mid-Peninsula), the story “Another cougar reported” (by Angelo Ruggiero), which I took at first to be a silly story about sexually aggressive older women in the area but which turned out (of course) to be about mountain lions.

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dorkage

July 12, 2014

Today’s Zits, with jocular morphology and some (Wurst-style) phallicity as well:

 

Jeremy for Weenie World!

Then there’s dorkage.

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Coordination just off the mark

July 11, 2014

It came from the tv, which was across the room, and I didn’t have paper and pen by me, but when the commercial began,

(1) Are you 65 or older and suffer from back pain?

my syntactic attention was riveted. The pitch seemed to be for some device to alleviate back pain (rather than a medication), but I didn’t catch the details while I was getting the sentence down: entirely clear, but syntactically non-parallel.

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Today’s phallicity find

July 10, 2014

Seen on the streets of Palo Alto this afternoon, a van with this logo on the side:

The company’s slogan is

To Pour is Human, to Spritz, Divine

From the company website:

Since 1983 the Seltzer Sisters have bottled and delivered old-fashioned seltzer to devotees in the Bay Area. We’re one of a handful of tiny companies devoted to old-fashioned service and the environmentally sound use of refillable bottles.

Spritz me, baby.

Layered portmanteaus

July 9, 2014

Today’s Bizarro:

 

A labradoodle performing magic: abracadabra [the magical incantation] + labradoodle = abracadabradoodle.

But labradoodle is itself a portmanteau: labrador (retriever) + poodle.

There are obvious limits to how far such layering can go on, since the bits of the contributing words quickly become hard to retrieve — though an illustration might help, as here.

Godzilla’s Manhattan

July 9, 2014

A recent Bizarro:

 

(I’ll get back later to the piece of pie in the center of the cartoon.)

Godzilla seems to hold an idea about proper names: roughly (though it’s hard to be sure about the mind of a cartoon monster) that referents sharing a name do so because of some intrinsic or natural identity between them, in this case that the Manhattan cocktail and the island (or borough) of Manhattan must share some intrinsic property: in Godzilla’s mind (given his experience), hordes of screaming people fleeing in fear.

But the cocktail comes up short in this respect.

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