Friday word play in the comics

Two cartoons to end the week: a Rhymes With Orange with a four-word play and a Bizarro with a POP (phrasal overlap portmanteau):


The Cantonese American dish moo goo gai pan ‘chicken with button mushrooms and sliced vegetables’, with a pun on each word: onomatopoetic moo, onomatopoetic goo, the informal noun guy, the Greek god Pan.


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

Doctors Without Borders + Border Collie(s).

(Note that there are a lot of things you need to know to appreciate these comics.)

moo goo guy Pan. Wikipedia on the dish:


Moo goo gai pan is the Americanized version of a Cantonese dish, usually a simple stir-fried dish consisting of sliced or cubed chicken with white button mushrooms and other vegetables. Popular vegetable additions include snow peas, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts and Chinese cabbage.

The name comes from the Cantonese names of the ingredients: moo goo (mòhgū): button mushrooms; gai (gāi): chicken; pan (pín): slices

The cartoon has a table with, in order, a cow, a baby, a young man, and what you need to recognize as a satyr.

The cow says moo. From NOAD2:

verb moo: make the characteristic deep vocal sound of a cow. noun moo: the characteristic deep vocal sound of a cow. ORIGIN mid 16th century: imitative.

The baby says goo(-goo). Again, from NOAD2:

1 amorously adoring: making goo-goo eyes at him. [possibly related to goggle; possibly (AMZ) related to sense 2] 2 (of speech or vocal sounds) childish or meaningless: making soothing goo-goo noises. [onomatopoetic]

A young man can be called a guy.

All that’s easy, diner #4. the satyr, is a bit trickier: you need to recognize him as the god Pan, and to accept English /pæn/, the name of the god in English, as close enough to /pan/, the usual pronunciation of the fourth syllable in the name of the dish. From Wikipedia:


Absolicious modern rendering of Pan, from this site

In Greek religion and mythology, Pan is the god of the wild, shepherds and flocks, nature of mountain wilds and rustic music, and companion of the nymphs. His name originates within the ancient Greek language, from the word paein (πάειν), meaning “to pasture”; the modern word “panic” is derived from the name. He has the hindquarters, legs, and horns of a goat, in the same manner as a faun or satyr. With his homeland in rustic Arcadia, he is also recognized as the god of fields, groves, and wooded glens; because of this, Pan is connected to fertility and the season of spring. The ancient Greeks also considered Pan to be the god of theatrical criticism and impromptus.

Doctors Without Border Collies. In #2, we’re in a doct’s office, and there are a lot of sheep there. Two ingredients for the POP (one for the doctors, one for the sheep), and you need to recognize both to appreciate the cartoon.

On Doctors Without Borders, from Wikipedia:


Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), also known as Doctors Without Borders, is an international humanitarian non-governmental organization (NGO) best known for its projects in war-torn regions and developing countries affected by endemic diseases. In 2015, over 30,000 personnel — mostly local doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, logistical experts, water and sanitation engineers and administrators — provided medical aid in over 70 countries. The vast majority of staff are volunteers. Private donors provide about 90% of the organization’s funding, while corporate donations provide the rest, giving MSF an annual budget of approximately US$750 million.

Médecins Sans Frontières was founded in 1971, in the aftermath of the Biafra secession, by a small group of French doctors and journalists who sought to expand accessibility to medical care across national boundaries and irrespective of race, religion, creed or political affiliation. To that end, the organisation emphasises “independence and impartiality”, and explicitly precludes political, economic, or religious factors in its decision making.

And then border collies. From Wikipedia:


Border collie posing


Border collie herding

The Border Collie is a working and herding dog breed developed in the Anglo-Scottish border region for herding livestock, especially sheep. It was specifically bred for intelligence and obedience.

Considered highly intelligent, extremely energetic, acrobatic and athletic, they frequently compete with great success in sheepdog trials and dog sports. They are often cited as the most intelligent of all domestic dogs. Border Collies continue to be employed in their traditional work of herding livestock throughout the world.

… [BUT NOTE:] Border collies require considerably more daily physical exercise and mental stimulation than many other breeds. … Although the primary role of the Border collie is to herd livestock, this type of breed is becoming increasingly popular as a companion animal.

In this role, due to their working heritage, Border collies are very demanding, playful, and energetic. They thrive best in households that can provide them with plenty of play and exercise, either with humans or other dogs. Due to their demanding personalities and need for mental stimulation and exercise, many Border Collies develop problematic behaviours in households that are not able to provide for their needs. They are infamous for chewing holes in walls, furniture such as chairs and table legs, destructive scraping and hole digging, due to boredom. Border collies may exhibit a strong desire to herd, a trait they may show with small children, cats, and other dogs. The breed’s herding trait has been deliberately encouraged, as it was in the dogs from which the Border collie was developed, by selective breeding for many generations. However, being eminently trainable, they can live amicably with other pets if given proper socialisation training.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: