Archive for July, 2016

Form and function, working together

July 31, 2016

Not about language, but about gay porn as visual art. Just a link to material on AZBlogX, but not for kids or the sexually modest.

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Mister Zwicky and Miss Edna

July 31, 2016

… in the schoolroom in 2287

Thanks to Google Alert, I have come across Mister Zwicky (a schoolteacher) and Miss Edna (his robot companion), two characters in one area of the video game Fallout 4 (set in the year 2287. Here they are together:

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You can view the skeleton of this episode, “Love Conquers All”, here.

Zwickys are everywhere, even in the digital post-apocalyptic future.

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Cisco in the morning

July 31, 2016

Yesterday’s morning name: the Cisco Kid, heroic Mexican of American movies, radio, television, and comic books. A feature of my childhood.

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Extraction and insertion

July 30, 2016

(The main content is fairly technical stuff about syntax. But there’s a side discussion of gay pornstars, their bodies, and their roles in man-man sex, so probably not suitable for kids.)

From the Boys in the Sand website (an appreciation of men’s bodies, mostly in gay porn), this arresting sentence from a  posting on pornstars Micah Brandt and Rocco Steele:

(1) Which porn star does Micah Brandt think its’ a shame hasn’t fucked him? (Yet)

(apostrophe as in the original; but punctuation is not my topic here).

(1) strikes many speakers of English as plainly ungrammatical, though with some work you can figure out what question it’s asking (and the answer is: Rocco Steele). The problem with (1) is that it violates a constraint on “extraction” of material (in, among other constructions, Information, or WH, questions — as in (1) — and relative clauses) from within cerrtain sorts of embedded clauses, one of them being extraposed clauses, as in:

(2) Micah Brandt thinks it’s a shame [OR: it’s surprising] Rocco Steele hasn’t fucked him.

The extraposed clause is underlined, and the constituent questioned in (1), the subject in the extraposed clause,  is boldfaced. It turns out that two structural features are crucial to the phenomenon: that the questioned constituent is in a particular sort of subordinate clause (an extraposed clause in this example); and that the questioned constituent is the suject of that clause.

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Naming names: the cocktail beat

July 29, 2016

In the New York Times Magazine on Sunday the 24th, an entertaining “Drinks” column by Rosie Schaap, about cocktail names, with special attention to the cocktails created and named by Jill Dobias, of the East Village restaurant Joe and Misses Doe. Two of her works, Eye of the Komodo and Clam in a Can:

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deontic+, deontic-

July 28, 2016

(On the semantics and pragmatics of deontic should.)

I have a real-life example in mind here, from the NYT Magazine on the 17th, but I’m going to inch up to it, starting with these simpler examples:

(1) I should talk to my father.

(2) I should have talked to my father.

Both examples have the modal verb should, in its deontic sense, indicating obligation, duty, or correctness, incumbent upon some person, persons, or human institution; this is to be contrasted with its epistemic sense, indicating grounds for a judgment of truth — compare (1) and (2) with

(3) A sample this size should weigh about 10 kilograms.

(There are various ways to represent this difference, but that’s not my concern here.)

Then it turns out that deontic should can be used in (at least) two ways.

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Lives of the pornstars: Jeff Quinn

July 28, 2016

(Not much about language, but about the construction and maintenance of personas and the business of making gay porn. With considerable very frank discussion of men’s bodies and man-man sex, though the XXX-rated images are on AZBlogX; but still, not for kids or the sexually modest.)

Or: The Short Sexy Life of Jeff Quinn.

Pornstars tend to have short professional lives, just two or three years; it’s erratic, mostly poorly-paid work, hard to knit into a satisfying personal life, no matter the lure (for some performers) of wooing an audience with your hot sex.

Quinn was in and out in less than three years. We know almost nothing of his life before and absolutely nothing of his life after. While he was in the camera’s eye, he shone. Publicity photos like this one usually made him out to be knowingly, even menacingly, sexual:

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— but in fact his characters tended to be engaging and amiable, charming rather than commanding. And enthusiastically sexual. In combination with his easy masculinity, that’s what made his career in gay porn.

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Pronoun case in the Thames Valley CID

July 27, 2016

From S4 E4 (“Masonic Mysteries”) of the ITV detective procedural tv show Inspector Morse, an exchange between Morse and his sergeant, Lewis:

(1) Morse: It’s me he wants, it’s me he’s going to get, or rather, it’s me that’s going to get him…

(2) Lewis: Shouldn’t that be: “It’s I who am going to get him”?

It’s all about pronoun case (Acc me vs. Nom I) in it-clefts: roughly, identifying clauses with

subject it, a main verb BE, a predicative NP, and a relative clause missing an NP (the relative clause can have relativizer ∅, that, or a WH-pronoun like who)

— in these instances, clauses supplying the answer to the questions “Who does he want? Who is he going to get? Who’s going to get him?”

And, this being Britain, it’s also all about social class.

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Arthur Godfrey and friends

July 27, 2016

Today’s Zippy appears to be just a surrealist melange of pop-cultural absurdity (and can be enjoyed at that level), but in fact many of those absurdities are knit together in a web of allusions to elements of pop culture — probably even more densely than I appreciate.

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It all starts with Arthur Godfrey, who appears transformed as the central character of the strip, Siddartha Godfrey, with Arthur replaced by the phonologically very similar name SiddarthaSiddharth or Siddhartha is the birth name of the founder of Buddhism, Gautama Buddha.

Meanwhile, the title “Jerry Van Dyke Lives” introduces a secondary, parallel, theme having to do with Jerry Van Dyke.

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Comicat

July 26, 2016

Today’s Zippy takes us back in comics history:

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Felix the Cat. And Felix Chevrolet, 3330 S Figueroa St in L.A.

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