Archive for March, 2013

Another pun from yesterday

March 31, 2013

A Bizarro:

Despite the fact that the cartoon is wordless, it still communicates a pun. (Robert Coren wrote on Facebook that it took him a moment to see the pun, and it took me some time too.) The plumber is there to deal with a clog ‘impediment, blockage’ in the toilet — note the plunger — and what he’s found is a clog ‘shoe with a thick wooden sole’ in the toilet.

Not as complex as yesterday’s Mother Goose and Grimm, but trickier in some ways because you have to supply the words yourself.


Sticky expressions

March 31, 2013

Yesterday, a Zippy with the “found mantra” Vampire Manga Dog condo — an expression that lends itself to obsessive repetition. Such sticky expressions are a recurrent theme in Zippy, and they’re related to another sort of sticky expression, the “verbal earworm”, an expression that you can’t get out of your head. In my experience, verbal earworms often originate in found mantras.


On the complex pun watch

March 30, 2013

Today’s Mother Goose and Grimm, with two seals:

The cartoon turns on the ambiguity of seal — the device or design, or the animal. Then it depends on the existence of the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval:

So it also turns on the ambiguity between the proper name Good Housekeeping (name of the magazine) and the phrase good housekeeping ‘keeping house well’ (with a common noun head). But in the cartoon, the seal on the left is a no-good housekeeper. (I’m guessing that Mike Peters, the cartoonist, intended the seal on the left to be male and the one on the right to be female. Gender roles appear in surprising places.)

The pun has something of the flavor of a phrasal overap portmanteau, but can’t be exactly analyzed that way: it’s essentially no-good housekeeper + Good Housekeeping Seal (of Approval).


Vampire Manga Dog condo

March 30, 2013

In a paronoid dream in today’s Zippy, Griffy fixates on a phrase, which he then repeats like a mantra (as he’s given to doing to found phrases every so often):

Vampire Manga Dog condo: savor it!

Meanwhile, the title, “Orlando your dreams” is a phrasal overlap portmanteau: Orlando + land o’ your dreams.


Five-Ku on Channing Tatum

March 30, 2013

In the New York Times Magaine on 3/24/13 (p. 49), a Five-Ku,

five haiku poems about a current celebrity or cultural phenomenon. (Past examples include haikus about Susan Sarandon, Russell Crowe and classic horror films.)

This week in Five-Ku, we present five short poems on the career of Channing Tatum. During the extensive research and reporting phase of this project, however, we made an important discovery: Channing Tatum’s name is delightfully, and quite possibly infinitely, anagrammable. (link)


Cal Watkins

March 29, 2013

Via John Lawler, a link to the Harvard Gazette story (from yesterday) about the death of the great philologist and linguist Calvert Watkins (on the 20th) at the age of 80. Earlier, a brief notice by languagehat. And now, from Ben Zimmer, a Language Log posting in Cal’s memory. Ben has re-posted the core of the Harvard Gazette piece, from which I’ll extract only these small pieces:

Calvert Watkins, the Victor S. Thomas Professor of Linguistics and the Classics, emeritus, died earlier this month at the age of 80.

A towering figure in historical and Indo-European linguistics and a pioneer in the field of Indo-European poetics, Watkins presided over the expansion of Harvard’s Department of Linguistics in the 1960s, and served as its chair several times between 1963 until his retirement in 2003. From then until his death, he served as professor in residence at the University of California, Los Angeles [having followed his wife, the Sanskritist Stephanie Jamison, to UCLA].

… On a … popular level, he was the editor of the Indo-European root appendix to the “American Heritage Dictionary,” first published in 1969. Together with an accompanying essay, the appendix was later published in a separate edition and included in subsequent editions of the dictionary.  Accessibly written, it reached a large public and inspired an interest in linguistics and Indo-European in many casual readers, as well as in some who went on to enter the profession.


Toys and massage on AZBlogX

March 29, 2013

On AZBlogX: sex toy porn video (Toy With Me), videos purporting to show gay guys how to seduce straight guys through massage (on the Massage Bait site). Only a bit of linguistic interest, and definitely not for the kiddies or the modest.

Colored bottoms

March 29, 2013

A comment on my Crimplene posting:

Since you’ve been into ads in a big way recently, I think you’ll appreciate this one if you haven’t already seen it

It’s a Joe. My. God. column with this image, seen at the Belk department store:

Only two words in colored bottom, but there’s an issue with each of them.


Bell pepper sex

March 29, 2013

Posted by Jadili Africa on Facebook, a report on sex differences in Bell peppers:

I never knew this! Flip the bell peppers over to check their gender. The ones with four bumps are female and those with three bumps are male. The female peppers are full of seeds, but sweeter and better for eating raw and the males are better for cooking.

With an illustration:

Though fascinating, the whole story looks preposterous.


More misreading

March 29, 2013

I recently posted on the misreading of abutilon as ablution, an entirely explicable mistake. But some misreadings are baffling.

In my booklet Mistakes (p. 120) I reported that

I read the headline Kin of Slain Nuns Denounce Haig for “Smear Campaign,” first as Kin of Slain Nuts …, then as King of Slain Nuns

Lord knows where that came from. Or where my misreading of Cairo between Bill Burns as Carol Burnett (reported on this blog, here) came from.

Now, a few days ago, I thought I read

three mint pork sandwiches

on the menu at Gordon Biersch. Well, it was actually three mini pork sandwiches. The words are visually similar, but mint is preposterous in the context. And I’d seen the menu many times before. So: more bafflement.