Two occasions, four cartoons

(There will be talk of men’s bodies, among a number of other things, so you might want to exercise some caution.)

Yesterday was National Underwear Day (utilitarian garments elevated to objects of play, desire, and fashion display), today is Hiroshima Day (remembering the horror of an event of mass destruction, death, and suffering). An uncomfortable, even absurd, juxtaposition, but there is a link in the symbolism of the two occasions. In my comics feed for these occasions: four language-related cartoons on familiar language-related themes, none of them having anything to do with either underwear or nuclear holocaust, probably for good reason.

Cartoons first, then the underwear and atomic bombs.

Bizarro/Wayno collab. A POP (phrasal overlap portmanteau), a favorite joke form for the artists:

(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 3 in this strip — see this Page.)

stun gun + gun control

The guys could have gone with an underwear-themed POP for yesterday (this is today’s strip; yesterday’s — a street kid explaining tagging to Rembrandt — was about Art rather than Language):

boxer brief encounter, jock strap hanger, dance belt loop, forbidden Fruit of the Loom, tighty Whitey Bulger, Calvin Kleine Nachtmusik, …

A One Big Happy. In which Ruthie, coming across an unfamiliar name in her reading — HBO – does her best to assimilate it to words she knows:

(#2) (Note that OBH HBO is a palindrome.)

A Zits. Another verbal duel between mother and son, this time with indirect speech acts in which the 3rd-person indefinite pronoun someone (in an expression of 1st-person wish,  in the object of I hope) is used to convey a 2nd-person imperative (something in between a request and a command) :

(#3) (until the final panel, when both participants express actual wishes, but still with someone referring to the addressee)

Such uses of 3rd-person indefinites — someone, somebody, generic a person, etc.) can be monitory or celebratory ([with a smile] Someone’s going to get a big surprise tonight!)

A Rhymes With Orange. With a Magic Dog portmanteau:

(#4) the incantation abracadabra + the dog-breed name labrador (retriever)

In my 10/6/14 posting “A dogmanteau”, a texty composition with the complex portmanteau labracadabrador.

And in my 7/9/14 posting “Layered portmanteaus”, a Bizarro with abracadabradoodle, a portmanteau of abracadabra + labradoodle, where labradoodle is a portmanteau (attested) of labrador + poodle.

For National Underwear Day. It’s always underwear day around here, specifically men’s underwear, and specifically underwear for the groin area (rather than the upper body) — that is, underpants (and such related garments as jock straps and dance belts). Here’s a Daily Jocks sale offer on Pump! underwear from October 2017 that I’ve been saving while I contemplate a suitable caption for it:

(#5) Three primary foci of attention: his facial expression; the front presentation of his upper body in the V made by his shoulders down to his inguinal crease; and his genitals in his underwear

(Secondarily: other features of his head, including his hairstyle and his scruffy face; his arms; and his thighs.)

It’s all an erotic display (including his buttocks, which we don’t see in this shot), but the cock in his pants tends to overwhelm the other features –so Iwas considering using a cropped version to caption:

(#6) The face and upper body: how to read it?

I saw sexual interest mingled with indecision, but never settled on a caption that pleased me.

The attention-grabbing draw of human faces is so great that underwear companies usually crop them out; from their point of view, the faces are just a diversion from the parts of the body that will sell underwear, by inviting male viewers to either identify with the stunning model or desire him (or both). Their usual choice of croppings:

(#7) Be me! Do me! Buy me!

Then today, DJ offered this jockstrap for sale:

(#8) [from the ad:] The Garçon Model Camo Collection is your essential arsenal for any good military-theme party or just plain daily-life survival. We like to call it “underwear on a mission.” Ultra soft waistband. Soft, lightweight fabric. Tagless for itch-free comfort.

Oh my, a world where military-theme parties that call for a camo-pattern jockstrap are unremarkable events!

From a GM ad posted about in an earlier posting, “The Sex Games” of 2/8/18:


All this to help you celebrate National Underwear Day.

The holocausts. The fire-bombing of Dresden on February 13th-15th, 1945, and then the atomic bombing of Hiroshima (August 6th, 1945) and Nagasaki (August 9th). The atomic bombs were named, Little Boy (Hiroshima) and Fat Man (Nagasaki) — both personified, and male.

Further with this thought, in my 5/7/12 posting “Missile phallicity”:

William J. Broad, “North Korea’s Performance Anxiety”, in yesterday’s NYT Sunday Review:

“It’s a boy,” Edward Teller exulted after the world’s first hydrogen bomb exploded in 1952 with a force 1,000 times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.

From the start, the nuclear era seethed with sexual allusions. Military officers joked about the phallic symbolism of their big missiles and warheads — and of emasculating the enemy. “Dr. Strangelove” mocked the idea with big cigars and an excited man [Major T.J. “King” Kong, played by Slim Pickens] riding into the thermonuclear sunset with a bomb tucked between his legs.

Helen Caldicott, the antinuclear activist, argued in the 1980s that male insecurity accounted for the cold war’s perilous spiral of arms. Her book? “Missile Envy.”

But wait, there’s more. There are the photos of the mushroom clouds from the two bombings:

(#10) Hiroshima on the left, Nagasaki on the right

From that time, such mushroom clouds have been folded into the sexual imagery of the atomic age: the bombs as symbolic phalluses, the mushroom clouds as symbolic ejaculations. Nuclear come shots. Shudder.

Underwear and the Bomb don’t seem to have been linked in anti-nuclear protests, despite their calendrical adjacency. Two advocacy signs yet to be linked:



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