Archive for October, 2018

Three exercises in cartoon understanding

October 24, 2018

In this morning’s comics feed: a Zippy with the slogan “Kindness, Acceptance, Inclusion”; a Bizarro with a Discomfort Control mechanism; and a Rhymes With Orange about the facial recognition of a Mr. Banner. The first two can be understood at some level even if you don’t get the cultural references involved (though they’re much more entertaining if you do), but the third is probably just incomprehensible if you don’t recognize Mr. Banner.

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Taffy was a Turk

October 23, 2018

… well, sort of Turkish. In fact,

Taffy was a sweetmeat,
Taffy was a Turk,
Taffy came to my house
And shattered with a jerk.

From Ned Deily on Facebook yesterday, this vision of Bonomo Turkish Taffy, one of the vintage candies available at the (new) Hotel B Ice Cream Parlor on Main St. in Bethlehem PA (the place sells ice cream from the Penn State Creamery — yes, the commercial dairy division of Pennsylvania State Univ. in University Park PA):

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Affectionate childhood memories of Turkish Taffy — I remember only the vanilla variety — hard and soft at the same time, pleasantly sweet and chewy. Its relationship to (salt-water) taffy was unclear to me (beyond their both being chewy candy), and I had no idea what made the stuff Turkish (the presumably Ottoman minaret on the package might just be imaginative marketing).

So: about the candy; about the name and its semantics; and a bonus bit about Bonomo’s Magic Clown (on tv when I was in my teens).

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Use skate in a sentence

October 23, 2018

The One Big Happy in today’s comics feed, from 9/26:

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Ruthie is faced with the task of demonstrating what a word means by using it in a sentence — a task often assigned to children as a test of their understanding of word meanings. But choosing effective example sentences is a challenging art for professional lexicographers, and children are not particularly good at it.

In this case, “the word skate” could be a verb (‘move on ice skates or roller skates in a gliding fashion’ (NOAD)) or any one of several nouns, but, on hearing about her tightwad great-aunt, Ruthie fixes instead on the otherwise opaque /sket/ portion of the compound cheapskate ‘tightwad, miser’ (which she analyzes as a composite nominal cheap skate).

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A book for the professor

October 22, 2018

On Facebook yesterday, this message from the J.E. Wallace Sterling Professor of Linguistics and the Humanities at Stanford University, my excellent colleague John R. Rickford:

Last night (Oct. 20), I experienced one of the most moving, memorable events of my academic career! After giving a keynote talk at the 47th annual conference on New Ways of Analyzing Variation in language, at New York University, I was presented with a festschrift (book) containing 47 articles and 9 vignettes by faculty colleagues and former students from around the world. It was a surprise gift to mark my retirement (last Stanford class is Jun 2019). Tears flooded my eyes more than once, beginning with the moment I saw all 4 of our children and 6 grandchildren in the huge audience, and ending with editors Renee Blake and Isa Buchstaller presenting me with four bound pre-print volumes and the contributors and family members coming on stage. The book, entitled “The Roundtable Companion to John Russell Rickford,” will be about 588 pages when printed (May 2019). This was truly one of those life-moments that “take your breath away.”

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The Tritoons gather by the river

October 21, 2018

diabolus in imaginē, at the tri-state corner (where NY, NJ, and PA are joined), in Milford PA, on Sunday 9/30, funny funny funny. Viewable on tape today. As announced today on Facebook by one of the Three Weird Brothers, Bob Eckstein, using this cartoon of his (from the 5/19/14 New Yorker) as a visual:

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The Milford Readers and Writers Festival in Milford PA (#3 — the first one was in 2016). “New Yorker Cartoonists Talk About Funny!” with Bob Eckstein, Christopher Weyant, and David Borchart, moderated by Carol McManus (tape shown on CSPAN-2 today starting at 2:18 pm ET).

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Dark magic

October 21, 2018

Today’s Zippy, a Bill Griffith bulletin on the art world:

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Along the way, we get a connection between surrealism and magic realism, Picasso as a cartoonist, and a note on the convention that cartoon characters don’t age.

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Numbers and names

October 20, 2018

The number of pieces of comments spam on this blog (since it began in December 2008) passed 5.5 million a little while ago. (Actually, it’s already up to 5.51 million, since there’s been a barrage of comments spam from a particular proxies site.)

Against this, about 11k actual comments (and pingbacks), and about 8k postings (roughly a thousand postings a year).

Then there are some truly inscrutable statistics about the number of views of things on my blog.

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She called herself Lil’

October 20, 2018

In today’s comics feed, the 9/22 One Big Happy, in which Joe wrestles with people named /lɪl/:

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(And then there’s Li’l Abner.)

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What room am I in?

October 20, 2018

This photoon passed on to me by Karen Chung on Facebook (I have no idea of its ultimate source):

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Context, context, context.

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What’s he like?

October 18, 2018

In today’s comics feed, the One Big Happy for September 21st:

Playground Lady intends a WH question with (a reduced variant of) the auxiliary V is + a predicative PP headed by the P like ‘similar to’. Ruthie, ever keen on the reading not intended, hears a WH question with (a reduced variant of) the auxiliary V does (a PRS form of the V lexeme DO) + a complement VP headed by the BSE form like of the V lexeme LIKE ‘find enjoyable’. What is he like? (possible answer: He’s short and blond and funny-looking ) vs. What does he like? (possible answer: He likes playing video games).

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