Quesadilla benjamina (or something)

May 28, 2017

The One Big Happy in today’s comics feed, a charming 11-panel Sunday special:

The panel I’m interested is the one right in the middle, panel 6, in which the kids’ father says, of the mystery leaf: “from one of those exotic trees, like a Quesadilla benjamina, or something.”

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Strawberry fields

May 28, 2017

It started with Brian Kane (in Washington DC) writing to Facebook on May 18:

Not what I expected to see growing in the front lawn:

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Doug Morgan: Is that a real strawberry or the edible but tasteless Indian strawberry?

Chris Ambidge: Didn’t Ingmar Bergen make a film about such strawberries?

Arnold Zwicky: Wild strawberries are small but delicious. Barren strawberries are small, hard, and pretty much tasteless. But pretty.

There are three plants at issue here: (1) plants of the genus Fragaria, including the hybrids that are the strawberries of garden and grocery, plus a number of species that grow wild, in particular F. vesca, the most common “wild strawberry”. (2) Waldsteinia fragarioides (‘strawberry-like Waldsteinia’), a weed commonly known as “barren strawberry”. (3) Duchesnea / Potentilla indica (‘Indian potentilla / cinquefoil’), a weed commonly known as “Indian strawberry”.

All three are in the Rosaceae, or rose family.

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In the neighborhood, with an O

May 28, 2017

I wander the streets of Palo Alto, on foot or in a car, with my helpers Kim and Juan, and they ask about the flowers that line the streets, especially, at eye level, showy shrubs and low-growing flowers. Many of them are entirely familiar, like roses and geraniums, but some are exotic, at least to Kim and Juan. Lots of the exotics are now in bloom, including two with names that begin with the letter O, two that are growing right out my back door: Nerium oleander, oleander; and Oenothera speciosa, Mexican primrose or pink evening primrose. (Spelling note: oleander begins with O, pronounced /o/; oenothera begins with OE, pronounced /i/.)

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Memorial Saturday 4

May 27, 2017

Four recent cartoons in my feed that have to do with language: Mother Goose and Grimm (attachment ambiguity), Zits (greetings), Bizarro (labeling a bat(h)room), xkcd (knowledge about the referents of names).

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Associative thinking

May 27, 2017

Today’s (5/27-28/17) Daily Post (SF mid-peninsula) front-page headline:

Caltrain to cut 1,000 trees*

And what my mind took me to immediately was

Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire

Associative thinking strikes!

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Dreams and nightmares

May 27, 2017

(Not much about language.)

Yesterday’s Zippy:

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Amusement parks are framed as places where dreams can be fulfilled (I can fly! I can go to the moon!), but with their crowds, their noise, their bright lights, their looming structures (into the gaping mouth of the grinning monster!), their frenetic activity, they’re also nightmarish, and (as Zippy notes) they’re places where fun is totally commercialized, soullessly industrialized as a commodity.

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Rodeos and sword dances

May 27, 2017

(Warning: there will be talk of penises and mansex.)

On The Hill site on 5/21, “Tillerson: ‘Not my first sword dance’ in Saudi Arabia”, by Jill Manchester:

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday that his sword dance the previous night in Saudi Arabia was not his first.

“I hadn’t been practicing, Chris, but it was not my first sword dance,” Tillerson told Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace.

Tillerson and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross linked arms during the dance with Saudi performers on Saturday night. [REDACTED] also took part, swaying to the music, and appeared to enjoy the ceremonial dance. The event took place on [REDACTED]’s first day visiting Saudi Arabia, his first stop on his first foreign trip as president.

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Ross and Tillerson sword-dancing among Saudis

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Food art: still lifes

May 26, 2017

From Pinterest boards on food art, a small sampling of still lifes: two with artful assemblages of foodstuffs, and two with artful presentations of the ingredients for a specific recipe.

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Non-standard sex talk

May 26, 2017

I’ll start with the steamy gay sex talk from an on-line messaging site — sensitive readers are hereby warned about this content — and then go on to focus on a non-standard syntactic construction in this exchange, what the YGDP (the Yale University Grammatical Diversity Project: English in North America) calls the Needs Washed construction (using as a label an instance of the instruction), involving a PSP complement of a head V.

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Let slip the dogs of Japan

May 26, 2017

Though hot dogs combine Memorial Day interest (picnics and cookouts!) with the gay attractions of phallicity (as Pride Month comes into view), after a recent flurry of phallic hot dogs on this blog, I intended to take a brief holiday from the topic, but then a Pinterest board on bento boxes came along. Bento boxes with artful food carefully, sometimes playfully, arranged — including a set of oh-so-cute creatures fashioned from hotdogs: snails, caterpillars, and bears, in particular:

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