Archive for November, 2015

Monster Mash

November 30, 2015

In today’s Mother Goose and Grimm, a mash-up of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (the folk rock group) and Young Frankenstein (the movie), in a phrasal overlap portmanteau (POP):


It’s a Monster Mash, as in the 1962 novelty song.


Rhyme or reason

November 30, 2015

Today’s Bizarro, with an idiom and a nursery rhyme:

(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 2 in this strip — see this Page.)

So we have Humpty Dumpty, recently fallen from his wall, but no explanation of how this terrible event could have come to pass.


Morning name: penumbra

November 30, 2015

Today’s name that just popped into my head, for no reason I could think of. From NOAD2:

penumbra  the partially shaded outer region of the shadow cast by an opaque object. [also figurative uses] ORIGIN mid 17th cent.: modern Latin, from Latin paene ‘almost’ + umbra ‘shadow’ [OED3 (Sept. 2005): Johannes Kepler Ad Vitellionem Paralipomena (1604)]

I think it’s wonderful that this was devised by Kepler as a technical term in astronomy. As a technical term in English it comes paired with umbra:

the fully shaded inner region of a shadow cast by an opaque object, especially the area on the earth or moon experiencing the total phase of an eclipse. (NOAD2)

A diagram illustrating both terms, without the complexities of eclipses:


Two parts to the word penumbra, pen(e)- and umbra, each putting the word into relationships with a cluster of other words in English.


Cartoon Pages

November 29, 2015

I have now managed to move all my inventories of postings with cartoons in them from files on my Mac to Pages on this blog — assembled under the “Comics lists” Page. From “A Softer World cartoons” to “Zits cartoons”. Some are under the names of the strips, some are under the names of the cartoonists (“Gary Larson cartoons”. “Mark Stivers cartoons”).

There are two Pages of varied stuff : a “Miscellaneous cartoons” in the main list, for strips and cartoonists that haven’t (yet) been pulled out for their own Pages ; and then, under “New Yorker cartoons”, an “Other New Yorker cartoons”, for cartoonists who haven’t (yet) been pulled out for their own Pages.

And there are two topically named Pages in the main list: “ecards” for ecards and similar cartoons; and “graphic X” for graphic novels, graphic (auto)biographies, graphic expository non-fiction, etc.

[Added the next day: these are inventories of postings (on this blog and Language Log) with cartoons in them, not of the cartoons themselves; items are posted about mostly because there is some point of linguistic interest in them, not just because they’re funny or perceptive. (The world is full of cartoons that I find laugh-out-loud funny or socially or politically trenchant but still don’t post about, because I don’t see any linguistic hook in them.) That said, I also post things about other topics that interest me — penguins, mammoths, art, music, sex and sexuality, food, plants, etc., and especially on the nature of humor and on comics themselves (as a language-like system with conventions, variation, styles and genres, etc.).]

Too early for celebration?

November 29, 2015

Today’s Bizarro, set in the Stone Age:

(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 5 in this strip — see this Page.)

Even if you’re generous in your understanding of when the Stone Age was, it was certainly over before the time of Jesus, and that is not just a tree decorated for some celebration of the winter, but it’s specifically a Christmas tree; note the star on top. So the tree is up at least 2000 years early (and probably considerably more).


Bring this upstairs for me

November 28, 2015

Today’s Zits, with Jeremy and his mother engaged in Grice War:

Jeremy’s mother assumes that Jeremy will use the literal content of what she says as the starting point in a chain of Gricean reasoning about what additional content might reasonably be inferred. The situations are different in different strips, but Jeremy reliably refuses to act like a cooperative conversationalist in these interactions, choosing instead to fix on whatever understanding would require the least action on his part — in this case, bringing his mother her note, rather than the rather large box to which the note is affixed.

The crucial part of the problem here is the interpretation of the demonstrative pronouns this and that, which require the hearer to seek out an appropriate referent in the real-world or linguistic context of utterance. Connie Duncan supposed that her son would work out that there would we no point in asking him to bring her the note, but that it would be reasonable of her to ask him to help her by carrying the box upstairs.


The revolution in men’s underwear

November 28, 2015

I start with yesterday’s Daily Jocks ad, with a Black Friday sale:


Knocked Down

They put him on a Black Friday
Half-off sale, he felt

(The briefs in the photo are apparently 2(X)IST Sweats Briefs, which are in the Daily Jocks sale in Earl Grey and Very Blue — normally $28 each, $14 on sale — but not in the vivid red shown above.)

Daily Jocks offers a number of lines of what have come to be called premium brands, emphasizing not just comfort but also style and sexiness, and in cost a step up from basic brands like Fruit of the Loom and Jockey. In fact, the world of men’s underwear has undergone a kind of revolution, from the days when 75% of men’s underwear purchases were made by women to the current scene, where only 25% are; men have become fashion-conscious and are shopping for themselves these days. Meanwhile, underwear modeling has gone from just a routine specialty in male modeling to a high-fashion specialty; men with good looks and hot bodies vie with one another for modeling jobs, and celebrities in sports and entertainment are courted by premium brands (for big bucks) to represent them in advertising.

Now the next stage: from premium brands to luxury brands. On to a wonderful piece by Guy Trebay in the NYT‘s Styles section on the 26th:  “As Personal as Luxury Gets: Men’s underwear goes premium, entering triple-figure territory” (head in print), “A Pair of Boxers for $400? Men’s Underwear Goes High-End “ (head on-line).


Annals of curvature

November 28, 2015

(About men’s bodies, not much about language.)

Item 1: posted on AZBlogX today, “You go your way and I’ll go mine”, with a sexy, sweet, and (I think) funny photo of two men in bed: one with a notably upcurved penis, the other with a notably downcurved one.

Item 2: a link to the XBlog posting has been added to the “Angle and curvature” Page under the larger XWriting page (which has essays from my XBlog or about XBlog materials).

Item 3: a listing of postings about the gay pornstar Ken Ryker, with a penis that is not only famously large but also downcurved

11/30/10: Phallicity: Falcon SuperCocks:
Tom Chase, Ken Ryker, Eric Hanson, Jeremy Penn
[Pornstar dildos. Note: In the photo of Ryker, his penis is strongly downcurved, but the dildo is (ahem) straight as an arrow. Well, silicone-rubber dildos aren’t nearly as flexible and adaptable as actual penises.]

12/24/12: Hammond organs:
Steve Hammond, Jeff Hammond; mention of ubermanly gay pornstars — Mike Branson, Ken Ryker, Steve Hammond, Ryan Idol, Jeff Stryker, Rex Chandler – and frankly hungry bottoms like Joey Stefano, Kevin Williams, Kevin Wiles, Tag Adams

1/10/13: The Ken Ryker files:
Ryker showing off his penis in Renegade

1/12/13: A matter of size:
on penis size, with extensive discussion of Ken Ryker

3/13/14: Today’s hunk:
Ken Ryker (photo from Jonathan Black, Idols)

10/13/14: traps:
on the trapezius muscles, with two photos of Ken Ryker’s

Pearls POP

November 28, 2015

Alerted by Andy Sleeper, two recent Pearls Before Swine cartoons:



The Worrywarthog: a phrasal overlap portmanteau (POP): worrywart + warthog. The first is new on this blog; the second has come up in passing several times, but without an actual look at the animal.


Zippiedile tears

November 27, 2015

Today’s Zippy, with our Pinhead dissembling sadness:


(With a little compendium of expressions conveying sadness or despair.)