From Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky on Facebook yesterday, a chocolate cupcake for Valentine’s Day (which is also, significantly, Elizabeth’s birthday), with white frosting and a blue frosting design on top of that:
Ah, you say a penguin, on ice, with a message of love (those hearts). Note that, thanks to me, penguins are a big thing in my family.
Elizabeth boldly denied the Penguin Interpretation — well, with a Magrittean disavowal (Ceci n’est pas une pipe):
This is not a penguin.
But then she added an alternative, the Rocket Interpretation:
A rocket. With heart-shaped windows.
But wait! There’s more!
First, the Rocket Interpretation shoots us into penis territory, since rockets and rocket ships are potent phallic symbols. If we take the hearts into account, it’s a love rocket, woo woo.
And then there’s a third view, which I championed. Rotate the image in #1, to get the hearts right side up, and you get:
Ah, a fish: the Fish Interpretation. Specifically, a love fish, or even (as I suggested) a Lovefish, in fact, for reasons that will soon become clear, H.P. Lovefish.
These three interpretations will lead us far afield.
Penguin. Penguin love and penguins in love are familiar topics on this blog (see the Page on penguin postings for some links), so I’ll skip past these topics to get to the Antarctic connection, which led Steven Pemberton on FB to turn to H.P. Lovecraft and his novella At the Mountains of Madness, set in Antarctica (where (most of) the penguins come from). From Wikipedia on the writer:
Howard Phillips Lovecraft (… August 20, 1890 – March 15, 1937) was an American author who achieved posthumous fame through his influential works of horror fiction. He was virtually unknown and published only in pulp magazines before he died in poverty, but he is now regarded as one of the most significant 20th-century authors in his genre. … Among his most celebrated tales are “The Call of Cthulhu” and “The Shadow over Innsmouth”, both canonical to the Cthulhu Mythos. … He subsisted in progressively straitened circumstances in his last years; an inheritance was completely spent by the time that he died at age 46.
And on the novella:
At the Mountains of Madness is a novella by horror writer H. P. Lovecraft, written in February/March 1931 and rejected that year by Weird Tales editor Farnsworth Wright on the grounds of its length. It was originally serialized in the February, March, and April 1936 issues of Astounding Stories. It has been reproduced in numerous collections.
The story details the events of a disastrous expedition to the Antarctic continent in September 1930, and what was found there by a group of explorers led by the narrator [evidence of ancient extraterrestial astronauts!], Dr. William Dyer of Miskatonic University. Throughout the story, Dyer details a series of previously untold events in the hope of deterring another group of explorers who wish to return to the continent.
So maybe we should think of #1 as depicting an Antarctic descendant of ancient extraterrestrials — from a Lovecraftian point of view, rather uncharacteristically lovable, but still unearthly.
Love rocket. Several of the first FB commenters who opted for the Rocket Interpretation went right to a game item in World of Warcraft (note the fortuitous warcraft / Lovecraft echo here), the Big Love Rocket:
It’s pink (symbolizing femininity, cuteness, homosexuality, and the color of an engorged penis all in one package), it’s a rocket (the phallus), and you can ride it (riding imagery to come below).
On the game, from Wikipedia:
World of Warcraft (WoW) is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) released in 2004 by Blizzard Entertainment. It is the fourth released game set in the fantasy Warcraft universe, which was first introduced by Warcraft: Orcs & Humans in 1994.
A love rocket as an explicitly sexual image is all over the place. Here’s the mock-Victorian composition “Love Rocket” from pointedly gay artist Felix d’Eon / D’Eon:
(I won’t digress on d’Eon here, but he deserves a posting of his own.)
Then there are musical uses of the compound love rocket. Two examples: from Chris Brown and from Steel Panther recording as Danger Kitty.
Chris Brown’s song “Love Rocket” is sexy and engaging. It was written for a woman to sing, but Brown released his own version of the song in 2009 (leaving the lyrics untouched), setting off speculation that he was gay:
You can listen to the song here. The crucial lyrics:
Wanna take a, a little ride
On your rocket yeah yeah your rocket
… Let me hop on your love rocket
Brief biographical note on Brown:
Christopher Maurice “Chris” Brown (born May 5, 1989) is an American singer, songwriter, and dancer. Born in Tappahannock, Virginia, he was involved in his church choir and several local talent shows from a young age. (Wikipedia link)
Steel Panther is something else:
Steel Panther is an American comedy rock/glam metal band from Los Angeles, California, mostly known for their profane and humorous lyrics, as well as their exaggerated on-stage personae that parody the stereotypical 1980s “glam metal” lifestyle.
GDoS has the following love X compounds used metaphorically for ‘penis’:
love bone, love dart, love gun, love muscle, love pump, love rod, love staff, lovesteak, love stick, love torpedo, love truncheon, love warrior
but not love rocket. However, the compound is widely attested in porn. Two examples:
GotPorn: filling that ass up with a love rocket of his [gay porn] (link)
Curvy Teen Bimbo Rides A Love Rocket [straight porn] (link)
Small digression on crotch rocket in gay porn. The compound has been used several times, but matters are complex, because of the compound crotch rocket ‘dirtbike, sport(s) bike’ (referring to a motorcycle: the image is that on such a bike, you have a rocket between your legs). Gay porn uses combine the motorcycles and gay sex:
Mustang gay porn Crotch Rocket
Jock gay porn video The Crotch Rocket (Colby Jansen and Tyler)
Titan DVD Crotch Rocket: The Best of Trenton Ducati
The last is especially interesting. From my 2/16/13 posting “Crotch Rocket”, the title has
Phallic word play, but there’s more, since a crotch rocket is also a type of motorcycle.
The actor who uses the stage name Trenton Ducati is a motorcycle enthusiast, and Ducati is a brand of motorcycle.
Love fish. The fish-with-hearts image in #2 took me to the compound love fish, or Lovefish as a proper name, and then to the fanciful H.P. Lovefish (a play on H.P. Lovecraft, as above). And that took me to HP Sauce. From Wikipedia:
HP Sauce is a brown sauce originally produced by HP Foods in the United Kingdom, now produced by the H. J. Heinz Company in the Netherlands. It was named after the Houses of Parliament. It was the best-selling brand of brown sauce in the UK in 2005, with 73.8% of the retail market.
HP Sauce has a tomato base, blended with malt vinegar and spirit vinegar, sugars (molasses, glucose-fructose syrup, sugar), dates, cornflour, rye flour, salt, spices and tamarind. It is used as a condiment with hot and cold savoury food, and as an ingredient in soups and stews. It is also popular in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
Meanwhile, Love Fish or Lovefish has been used as the name of fish restaurants and fish markets around the world. (Presumably, you could splash some HP Sauce on those fish.)
Of all of these, maybe the most intriguing is a pair of restaurants named love.fish in suburbs (Rozelle and Barangaroo) of Sydney NSW:
The restaurants insist on using fresh Australian seafood and local produce and on other green practices. Trendy, but the food looks wonderful.