Archive for November, 2012

Barbara Kruger

November 24, 2012

On the op-ed page of the NYT today, this Barbara Kruger piece (“For Sale”) to celebrate the great American commercial holiday of Black Friday (yesterday):

I was astonished to discover that I hadn’t posted about Kruger before. Time to remedy this.


Mammoth matters

November 23, 2012

My life is occasionally enlivened by mammuthiana — mammoth-oriented items (artifacts, books, humor, artistic representations, etc.) that are amusing, touching, scientifically interesting, whatever. To soothe my surgical days, Max Meredith Vasilatos has sent me one of these: a truly giant t-shirt (XL, but very very generous) depicting an impressive woolly mammoth. A photo of me modeling the clothing, with the tusks pointing suggestively towards my crotch (crotch not shown here):

The woolly mammoth is one of my totem animals (these days my primary one): see some history here., so the shirt was much appreciated.

(Another recent mammoth t-shirt here.)


Brief mention: F/C malapropism

November 22, 2012

Yesterday, I said, in answer to a question about the acceptability of some tea:

I don’t know. I just took my first steps.

A word substitution, clearly (steps for intended sips (of tea)) — involving two very common words, which I’m unlikely to have confused. So: not a classical malapropism, and also clearly not a mistake based on semantics. Instead, it’s a Fay/Cutler malapropism, based on the great phonological similarity between target and actual production: two monosyllables sharing initial /s/, final /s/, and a vowel that is lax and (non-low) front.

But why should I have made this particular  mistake?

Look further to the context context context: I was taking my first sips of the tea, and I was learning to take my first steps with a walker, after surgery. (I have been living La vida medical.)

Linguists will find their examples wherever they can.

Pure verb

November 22, 2012

In a segment (“A Readable Feast: Poems To Feed the Hungry Ear”) on this morning’s Thanksgiving celebration of food poetry on NPR’s Morning Edition, from Irish poet Seamus Heaney’s “Oysters“, mulling over the experience of eating the shellfish:

Our shells clacked on the plates.
My tongue was a filling estuary,
My palate hung with starlight:
As I tasted the salty Pleiades
Orion dipped his foot into the water.

… I ate the day
Deliberately, that its tang
Might quicken me all into verb, pure verb …

Amazing (but largely unobtrusive) phonological play on the intense sensory experience of eating oysters, culminating in the metaphor of verbs as pure activity.

The segment was a kind of Thanksgiving present for listeners, with material (presented by Nicole Cohen) from Kevin Young’s food-and-poetry book of last month — which I haven’t seen but look forward to checking out.


Decline of the comics

November 22, 2012

Today’s (meta-)Zippy, in which Griffy bemoans the decline of the great comic strips:

In the strip, Griffy repeatedly admires cartoons that Zippy deprecates. Or vice versa; irony easily shifts from one pole of perception to the other.

When in doubt, pray to Inepto. He will right things.



Fixing things

November 22, 2012

This morning’s Zits, in which Jeremy responds to his mother’s call for help:

Note the facial gestures, and the subversion of the mother’s request, in which Jeremy does not in fact take out the garbage, but does what strikes him as less work — though it makes a major mess.


Thanksgiving poem

November 22, 2012

Jack Gilbert’s “Convalescing” (Collected Poems, New York: Knopf, 2012, p. 384), which Elizabeth Traugott passed on to me after reading a fascinating obit for Gilbert in the NYT:

I spend the days deciding
On a commemorative poem.
Not, luckily, an epitaph.
A quiet poem
to establish the fact of me.
As one of the incidental faces
in those stone processions.
Carefully done.
Not claiming that I was
at any of the great victories.
But that I volunteered.


November 19, 2012

Back from Stanford Hospital since Saturday morning. Things move very slowly on weekends. so nothing much has happened. I sleep most of the day, attended by Ned and Elizabeth. Not yet able to move around much, nor have I mastered the intricacies of the walker, which are considerable, and the effects of the pain medication (lots of oxy), which are complex, sometimes overwhelming.

But on more pleasant fronts, there’s the PBS Nature show I saw on tv (on Friday? my time perceptions are unsteady indeed), about ducks. A “duckumentary”; I suppose that was inevitable. Full of wonderful shots of ducks of many kinds — alone, in families, in flocks.

We were taught that every species of duck is either a dabbler duck or a diver duck. Or, as Gilbert & Sullivan would have it:

Every duck and every drake
Is either a little dabbler
Or else a little diver.

Hey, I’m coming back to life very very gradually.

More surgery

November 13, 2012

Following the Foden cartoon Chris Waigl offered for my Surgery Time (here), Tim Evanson has unearthed this surgical Calvin and Hobbes:

Brain surgery in the snow!

Surgical luck

November 13, 2012

Lots of people have been wishing me luck on my surgery tomorrow — which has now been set up for 7:15 a.m., with a check-in time of 5:15 (so house-leaving time ca. 4:30).

Chris Waigl has produced a cartoon for the occasion:

Cartoon by Glenn Foden of Woolly Mammoth Media (homepage here).

Trust I’ll get a standard hip replacement, not something outsized.