A walk around the block

April 12, 2021

… on Saturday morning, slowly, using my walker, in my penguin mask and the company of Kim Darnell (who took some flower photos, to come below). My first such walk since February 2020, so it was a Very Big Thing.

Across the street and through the parking lot of the downtown library (much improved during my lockdown time by the replacement of some decayed fencing festooned with a collection of noxious weeds), to Bryant St., the next street east of Ramona (as we reckon directions locally); then south on Bryant to stop at 760, which has a fabulous garden right out on the street, for the pleasure of the community (picture time here); on to the corner of Homer Ave. (the corner condo planted with expanses of easy-care vegetation, including a big spread of light blue Ceanothus, California lilac); around the corner to go west on Homer Ave., passing two young Chinese elms that had been planted on the street since I last walked this route; across Ramona St., to stop at the condo at the northwest corner and admire its low-water plantings, all of which except one I had previously identified (another picture time here); and then back north on Ramona St. to home, at 722.

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smouldering

April 11, 2021

Recently received: Almost Completely Baxter: New and Selected Blurtings (New York Review Comics, 2016), a collection of absurdist cartoons by the artist Glen Baxter. There will be more drawings from the volume; today, one (p. 30) about smouldering:

(#1)

From NOAD on the verb smolder / smoulder:

[no object] [a] burn slowly with smoke but no flame: the bonfire still smoldered, the smoke drifting over the paddock. [b] show or feel barely suppressed anger, hatred, or another powerful emotion [AZ: notably including sexual desire and sexual invitation]: Anna smoldered with indignation | (as adjective smoldering): he met her smoldering eyes. …

Clearly, #1 illustrates sense a, but some might see the burning as also an eruption of a powerful emotion (sense b) — and, since Hank is a handsome young man putting on this display for an assortment of cowboys, rough older men, you might see that emotion as sexual (and some commenters on the cartoon have seen it as camp humor).

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Z & G tumble into a thesaurus

April 10, 2021

Yesterday’s Zippy strip has Zippy and Griffy falling into a delirium of word attraction, savoring a smorgasbord of colorful synonyms, plundering the Rogetian treasures:

(#1)

592 is the compendium section of Peter Mark Roget’s 1852 Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases. If we’re to trust Bill Griffith, the 1st edition had numbered subsections, and 592.4 had the words thesaurus, index, archive, and idioticon (yes, idioticon; see below). The successor edition that I have (the 4th, billed as “Americanized”) has a quite different 592, focused on words for abbreviated compendia, like resumé and summary — but the volume does have the word thesaurus, in four different sections. Details below, after I give you some background.

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The elephant and plum

April 9, 2021

Not Frog and Peach, but Elephant and Plum, in a kid joke as told by Ruthie in the One Big Happy strip from 2/22 (in my comics feed on 3/21):

(#1)

Four things: kid jokes, of which the Elephant and Plum variant above is a particular clever example; the saying about elephants on which it depends; elephant jokes, of which the joke above is not the classic Elephant and Plum exemplar; and the ambiguity of “When did you laugh at it?”, which turns on the defining property of deictic elements like the interrogative when.

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Beat Zippy said to Beat Griffy

April 8, 2021

In the Zippy strip from 3/2, Beat Zippy and Beat Griffy walk MacDougal Street in 1961:


(#1) “Yowl” is Zippyish for “Howl”, Ginsberg’s most famous poem

The basics, from Wikipedia:

Reality Sandwiches is a book of poetry by Allen Ginsberg published by City Lights Publishers in 1963. The title comes from one of the included poems, “On Burroughs’ Work”: “A naked lunch is natural to us,/we eat reality sandwiches.” The book is dedicated to friend and fellow Beat poet Gregory Corso.

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Assuming the position

April 7, 2021

(Men’s bodies as sexual objects — women’s, too — and sex between men, all of this discussed in street language, with edgy images, so not for kids or the sexually modest.)

At the intersection of the pinup-girl world (AZ Page here) and the premium men’s underwear world (AZ Page here), two recent ads from the Daily Jocks people: from 3/28, under the mail header “Model of the week: Freddy”, an ad for OnlyJox subscriptions, already of interest to me for its display of male buttocks as sexual objects for a male audience and for pushing the line between softcore and hardcore porn in doing so; and from 4/2, an ad for the DJ Easter sale, already of interest to me for its display of the front surface of the model’s body as series of sexual objects for a male audience, from the framing of his penis in a jockstrap though the sexualized presentation of his armpits, pectoral muscles and nipples.

The 4/2 ad is also quite clearly the photographer’s carefully composed re-creation of a classic pinup pose using a male model. And then I realized that that the 3/8 ad was in fact a bow to yet another classic pinup pose.

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Calvin becomes a personage

April 6, 2021

Two Calvin and Hobbes cartoons recently — yesterday and today (originally from 4/8 and 4/9/91) — in my comics feed, in which Calvin takes on a title (the epithet the Bold) and adopts illeism (referring to himself in the third person):

(#1)

(#2)

Yes, it’s all about linguistics.

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Pinups, the intro

April 5, 2021

Background on pinups / pin-ups (I’ll use the two spellings interchangeably), in preparation for creating a Page on postings about them and (eventually) a new posting, on pinup-girl conventions carried over into, oh my, ads for premium men’s underwear. Stay tuned.

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I thought of you

April 4, 2021

Back on 3/16, I was honored by not one, but two, Facebook postings on the theme “this made me think of you”.

From Michael Palmer, a flyer for the 1897 mammoth opening of the swimming season at the Sutro Baths in San Francisco (MP: for “Arnold Zwicky, because mammoth”, alluding to my attachment to creatures of the genus Mammuthus).

And from Livia Polanyi (alert to my writing on gender and sexuality), 1940 gender adventures in Dallas: hunky male  car hops in shorts and cowboy boots.

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White petals

April 4, 2021

After a very long time away, a visit yesterday (Totally Vaccinated Day + 1) to Palo Alto’s Gamble Garden, thanks to Kim Darnell (who also took the pictures). It was the Saturday of Easter weekend, so of course the place was as packed as it could be, given distancing (and masking) requirements. A very high percentage of the visitors were Chinese(-American), many in three-generation groups, almost all of them speaking a Chinese language. Much joy.

It was tulip time, with irises soon to follow. Already many different salvias in bloom (the garden has dozens). And lots of oriental poppies in bloom, dotted here and there throughout the beds, for color. And intriguing things, as always, in the regional gardens — Mediterranean, Australian, South African, Chilean. Two standouts with white petals: Chilean strawberry plants, a Yoshino cherry tree (the ‘Akebono’ cultivar in white).

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