Swimmer’s bodies

October 2, 2022

For a while last week, most googling I did in which men were involved brought me, as the top hit, an Etsy supplier of framed reproductions of vintage photos, offering this 1952 black and white photo featuring three male competitive swimmers with their trophies:


(#1) We know nothing more — where the picture was taken, who took it for what purpose, what competition they got those trophies in, what school or club they swam for; we wonder how their lives went on after this (if they’re still alive, they’re well into their 80s)

But there’s a lot to see in the photo. Especially in the young men’s facial expressions; in their general male body type, often labeled as swimmer’s body (even on men — underwear models, gay porn actors — who have no particular natatory associations); and in their bodies as engines for swimming as a sport. And also a lot to say about the passage of time since 1952.

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It’s a satire, son!

October 2, 2022

… paraphrasing Looney Tunes’s Foghorn Leghorn, describing a discussion of how to trap and then dispatch predatory coyotes in a suburban neighborhood of Cleveland Heights OH — in which Tim Evanson reported putting out a roadrunner (aka road runner), tied to a stake, as a lure (another Looney Tunes allusion) and I suggested as an alternative bait “the superfluous infants of the poor” (alluding to a Jonathan Swift pamphlet of 1729).

Tim and I both spoke satirically; we both wanted our satirical intent to be recognized; and we were both reluctant just to flag our suggestions with a smiley 😀 that shouts out “It’s a satire, son!” But readers often fail to discern satirical intent (especially if they don’t know what sort of person the writer is), so Tim and I jacked things up with those preposterous allusions, both of which wear their own satirical intent on their sleeves. (No actual greater road runners, Geococcyx californianus, or desperately impoverished infants are implicated in our proposals.)

(I will confess that it took me half an hour to get the two sentences of my proposal just so.)

It all began on Oakridge Dr. in Cleveland Heights yesterday, with Tim posting this photo to FB:


(#1) — TE: Very big male coyote on Oakridge Dr. this morning. A couple doors down from my house. [photo from a neighbor walking her dog; note that TE has a relatively small dog of his own, so that neighborhood coyotes are unwelcome news]

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Armen Zakharyan

October 1, 2022

🐇 🐇 🐇 welcome, October (even though we know it ends in a celebration of death)

This posting is a report on an amazing body of work by Armen Zakharyan, about Russian literature in relation to world literatures, providing literary analysis both subtle and surprising, probing the range of lives as revealed in literary works, and directly and passonately engaging with hard questions about how to live a moral life and negotiate through a world of evil. Until a few days ago, I had no idea that such a thing existed, but then Vadim Temkin posted a “Wow” notice on Facebook about a Zakharyan video, with this image and a link to the video:


(#1) The link to the YouTube video is here

The wisps of Russian I recalled from 1960 Princeton classes carried me far enough to recognize the slogan MAN WAR ART, but no further. I appealed to Vadim to explain his “Wow”. And got the wonderful response below, which I reproduce with only slight editing as a guest posting (Vadim is multilingual and multicultural in a way I could not imagine being, so it would have been insane for me to try to paraphrase or interpret his take on Zakharyan).

From here on this is Vadim, with occasional back-commentary from me in square brackets.

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Outrageous POP

September 30, 2022

🐅 🐅 🐅 tiger tiger tiger for ultimate September; tomorrow the inaugural rabbits of October will bound in

In today’s Wayno / Piraro Bizarro, set in the Schmancy auction house — think Christie’s or Sotheby’s — a Mötley Crüe cruet POPped (phrasal overlap portmanteaued) to  Motley Crüet (somehow the first röck döt got lost in the compression process):


(#1) Wayno’s title: “Tinny Aftertaste”, combining the metal of heavy metal with the taste of a cruet’s contents (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 4 in this strip — see this Page.)

To understand this, you need to know about fancy-schmancy auction houses and how they operate; about cruets and their function in dining; and about heavy metal music and the heavy metal band Mötley Crüe and their reputation for vulgarly outrageous behavior, which clashes with the civility of oil-and-vinegar dressings for salads, so yielding the humor of anomalous juxtaposition.

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On Facebook at Michaelmas

September 29, 2022

By happy accident, my Facebook feed is celebrating the day of the archangel Michael with food and drink artworks. Two in particular: a miniaturist composition I think of as Bisonini Doing Power Crunches:


(#1) From Greg Morrow on FB 9/24 (though it didn’t filter down to me until today), with his own work, which he describes as: “Die kleinenbüffel and their shy friend take a needed break for a snack” (see below; note German der Büffel ‘the buffalo’)

And this socially multilayered appreciation of coffee-sipping:


(#2) From Tim Evanson: “September 29 is #NationalCoffeeDay!!!”; TE says he’s had the image for years, doesn’t know its source

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On the interview watch

September 28, 2022

From recent American broadcast news interviews, yielding notable examples of familiar phenomena: the 2pbfV (2-part back-formed V) family-plan ‘do family planning’; and the phrase-final truncation of a formulaic expression, not give a rat’s ass ‘not care at all’, in the truncated not give a rat’s.

Both phenomena illustrate a drive towards brevity of expression (which makes life easier for the speaker), balanced against the hearer’s need for clarity of expression: to work out what the speaker intended to convey, the hearer must be able to supply crucial background knowledge (they have to know the compound noun family planning, with its specialized sense; they have to know the negative-polarity idiom (not) give a rat’s ass ‘not care at all’ and appreciate the zing in its vulgar minimizer rat’s ass), so the speaker must assess those abilities and craft their speech to suit their audience. It’s a complex dance, and like social dancing, it happens in the moment, on the fly, using practiced patterns while collaborating to make something new.

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FUBU, fubu, FuBu

September 27, 2022

(Content warning: the F-word and the F-act (especially between men) figure prominently, though not vividly, in what is to come. So do hiphop clothing and tofu burgers, but if you’re uncomfortable with the harder-core F-stuff, you should skip this posting.)

Caught in passing on Facebook, a guy reporting something he heard from his FUBU, which baffled me; I was dimly aware of a FUBU clothing line, but this guy must have been talking about something else.

I realize that many of my readers will have recognized the (complex) acronym immediately and so think I must be dim-witted, but I had to go look it up. The acronym is a distant cousin of FUBAR, and its abbreviatum is something I have fairly often written about on this blog, but always spelled out in full.

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The news for wieners

September 26, 2022

(Phallic preoccupations abound in this posting, sometimes in street language — I mean, look at the title above —  so some readers may want to skip over it)

Passed on by a friend on Facebook yesterday, this German grocery-store snapshot plus a joking double-entendre intro in English (together making what appears to be a a fast-spreading meme):


(#1) Hähnchenschnitten Wiener Art ‘Viennese-style chicken cutlets’ from the (German) Vossko company, the name of the product including the German phrase Wiener Art ‘Viennese-style’ — that is, prepared like Wiener SchnitzelWienerschnitzel); meanwhile, the English-language intro alludes to wiener art, in the sense ‘penis art’, referring to artworks in which penises are significant elements (or, in an hugely extended sense, to any artworks in which human penises are visible) — the label wiener art involving the (mildly racy) AmE sexual slang term wiener ‘penis’

German Wiener Art ‘Viennese-style’ (a) leads to English Wiener art ‘Viennese art’ (b) and then to four AmE slang uses of wiener art: (c) ‘sausage / frankfurter art’; (d) ‘dachshund art’; (e) ‘penis art’; (f) ‘weenie art’. All will be illustrated below.

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The refuse joke

September 25, 2022

Passed on, back on 7/21, by a friend on Facebook, a dumpster texty (of murky origin) with a (N vs. V) pun that works in spelling (REFUSE) but not in pronunciation —

N /ˈrefˌjus/   vs.  V /rəˈfjuz/

— plus, as commentary, Dylan Thomas expanding on the improbable (not to mention grotesque) V reading of the text (as opposed to the obviously intended N one). Which will then take us to Harry Diboula’s “Je refuse”, a French zouk song of lost love, which ended up in romantic Paris from the Kingdom of Kongo by way of the French Caribbean.


(#1) Like all right-minded people, I reject the idea that I — or, more precisely, my bodily remains — should be stored in black plastic sacks and placed in dumpsters. Ick. Je refuse!

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Microphallic symbols from Pretzelvania

September 24, 2022

(Content warning: considerable phallic talk, but with distanced vocabulary and no vivid images.)

It started back on 7/22 with a Facebook ad for the pretzels.com (hereafter, P.C) company, a page of (highly flavored) pretzel sticks looking routinely rod-like and therefore phallic — plus, you put them in your mouth, and they’re salty, like, whew, semen (for some of us, this is in fact a plus, but de gustibus non est disputandum).


(#1) In other words: eat me!

I sent away for some P.C pretzel sticks to see what they were like — brief answer, variously yummy (I tried the beer cheese, buttermilk ranch, and green chile bbq flavors), but tiny and cute (like 1.5in long), so if phallic, then microphallic (see below) — and then more recently ordered in some everyday pretzel rods (from Snyder’s of Hanover (PA)), which turn out to be of gay-porn standard length (just over 7in, significantly above the American phallic mean, which is roughly 5.5in, with a standard deviation of roughly .5in, so that most of us are between 5 and 6 inches, and about 95% of us between 4.5 and 6.5 inches).

Then, P.C makes a lot of being “baked fresh in “Pretzel Country” Pennsylvania, home to the very first commercial pretzel company”. Pretzelvania turns out — unsurprisingly — to be pretty much Pennsylvania Dutch Country (PaDuCo), which is where I was born and grew up, just up the road from a third southeastern PA pretzel company, Tom Sturgis Pretzels (“America’s First Pretzel Baking Family”), in the Reading area.

So, to come, the three Ps: pretzels, penises (real and symbolic), and PaDuCo.

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