Two recurrent themes

… on this blog: unintended phallicity, penguins. Both encountered yesterday.

Item 1: David Lebovitz on Facebook, saying:

I posted this picture [“Paris parking”] on Instagram yesterday, and I must be losing my touch because I woke up this morning to a number of, um, curious comments about the design of the ironwork under the stair railing, which I was completely oblivious to…


Surely unintended, but once you’ve interpreted the ironwork figures as penes, it’s hard to see them in any other way. That’s the way the imposition of meaning works.

Item 2: A droll Greg Stones book for sale at Whole Foods (in a Halloween display, because it has zombies). But that led me to Stones’s Penguins Hate Stuff (2013), published (like, apparently, all of his books) by local firm Chronicle Books. The books have reproductions of his gouache paintings / cartoons. Here are two from the penguin book:


Penguins Hate Dogs


Penguins Hate Halloween

The publisher’s blurb on Amazon, which looks like it was written by Stones in his self-mocking fashion (“penguins are jerks” is pure Stones):

Penguins hate zombies. They also hate serpents, bad haircuts, sock monkeys, leprechauns, Halloween, oil rigs, vampire penguins, and mermaids. They really hate clowns, but they really like capes, balloons, and free vacations. This quirky collection reveals the discriminating tastes of these adorable flightless Antarctic birds who encounter odd foes (snow sharks, beavers, cowboys, samurai…), but still manage to enjoy the little things in life. With wit, humor, and the occasional alien invasion, Greg Stones’s paintings capture the playfully absurd life of penguins.

Biography: Greg Stones is an artist and author who lives and works in Rhode Island. In 2013, the Young Adult Library Services Association recommended his book Zombies Hate Stuff for reluctant readers, and his follow-up book, Penguins Hate Stuff, has angered penguins everywhere for not consulting them about what they actually hate. (Little known fact: penguins are jerks.) His other titles are Zombies Have Issues, Sock Monkeys Have Issues, Ninjas Have Issues, and the forthcoming Garden Gnomes Have Issues.

I can see how kids would enjoy things like #2 (with its bathroom humor) and #3 (with its delicious gratuitous violence), but I’m surprised that the Young Adult Library Services Association would recommend it. But maybe they’re just enlightened; after all, they’re librarians.

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