Archive for May, 2015

Anne Meara

May 27, 2015

A brief appreciation of Anne Meara, who died on the 24th. Meara in 1975:

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Narcissyphus

May 27, 2015

The title of an Art Spiegelman cartoon in the June 1st New Yorker: a portmanteau title (Narcissus + Sisyphus) with a visual realization:

The woozy protagonist climbs out of his hole, admires himself in a mirror, falls back into the hole, and the cycle begins again.

Spiegelman has appeared on this blog as a celebrated graphic novelist (Maus and all that), but this is his first time here as a gag cartoonist, or at least as a graphic short-story writer (a story in 12 panels).

Double anaphoric difficulties

May 27, 2015

From the NYT in print this morning, in Adam Nossiter’s “Nigeria Puts Its Hope in Former Strongman as a Scorned Leader Exits”:

(1) Despite being one of the world’s leading oil producers, Nigerians have lined up miserably at gas stations because of the fuel shortage, which has been choking the Nigerian economy, the continent’s largest, for weeks.

To start with, it’s an X-SPAR (a “dangling modifier”), in which the subjectless predicative despite being one of the world’s leading oil producers fails to have the subject Nigerians of the main clause provide the referent for the missing subject in the modifier. (Inventory of postings on danglers here.)

In fact, thngs are worse than that: though the possessive Nigeria’s in something like Nigeria’s people could serve to provide this referent, in (1), the reference to Nigeria in tucked inside the derived noun Nigerian — inside an “anaphoric island”, where it’s hard to find. (On islands, see here.)

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Sources and saucers

May 27, 2015

Today’s One Big Happy, with Ruthie once again rummaging in her mental lexicon:

The homey and familiar saucers takes over for the rarer sources, in the idiom have one’s sources.

Association by bracketing

May 27, 2015

A recent xkcd, “Bracket” (#1529):

Tremendously funny use of bracket diagrams for sports tournaments to do free association of names: shared first names (golfer Jack Nicklaus, actor Jack Nicholson), shared last names (golfer Arnold Palmer, musician Amanda Palmer), last shared with first (actor Tom Arnold, golfer Arnold Palmer), etc., often with other shared bits of form (like the /nɪk/ of Nicklaus and Nicholson). And more complex associations, like actor Rip Torn and singer-songwriter Natalie Imbruglia (and her song “Torn”).

Most of the associations run through long chains: Danny Glover to Donald Glover (last names, plus the D), Donald Glover to Donnie Wahlberg (first names, full and nick-), Donnie Wahlberg to Mark Wahlberg (last names — in fact they are brothers), Mark Wahlberg to Mark Ruffalo to Mark Shuttleworth (first names).

You could spend a day enjoying the trip through the diagram.

Great beauties and unconventional lives

May 27, 2015

(Not much about language, but about books, art, great beauties, and unconventional lives.)

A coincidence of two items in the June 4th NYRB: an essay by Robert Gottlieb on Lady Diana Cooper, ‘The Most Beautiful Girl in the World’; and an ad for the book The Prince of Minor Writers: The Selected Essays of Max Beerbohm — Max Beerbohm, the author of Zuleika Dobson, a comic novel about a woman so stunningly attractive that men fall hopelessly in love with her at first sight.

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Odds and ends 5/26/15

May 26, 2015

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A California breakfast

May 26, 2015

Today’s Rhymes With Orange:

A liquid-free breakfast, in the California drought times.

So California in California breakfast here refers to the place, but then indirectly to the components of the preparation.

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Take the train!

May 26, 2015

Today’s Zippy gets us on the train in Zippy’s delicious dream:

 (#1)

The key thing in the strip is the name McCloud, which takes us to the McCloud Railway and Mount Shasta CA, with its Shasta Sunset Dinner Train (no longer, alas, operating).

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-(a)ganza

May 26, 2015

Five years ago I took note of the Teapartyganza segments on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show in 2010 (there’s a set of videos of the shows here). At the time, I took the name to be a one-off playful portmanteau (Tea Party + extravaganza), so I didn’t post about it; if I tried to take note of every portmanteau that comes past me, I’d go nuts.

Then in 2014, Eleganza came past me in a Zippy: Eleganza Fashions, a business that still seems to be going, So then there were two.

This morning, I stumbled upon my Teapartyganza note and thought to check on –ganza nouns. Oh my, it’s clearly gone the familiar route from portmanteau element to libfix (conveying, roughly, ‘an event of considerable size, scope, or complexity’): a Libfix-A-Ganza, to use one of the spellings that’s become customary in these situations.

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