The allusive shark shack

Today’s Zippy has Zippy and Claude strolling in a fantasy city not unlike San Francisco (note the analogue of the Transamerica Tower) and remarking on an advertising display, a shark fin extolling “Joe’s seafood shack [or possibly Joe’s Seafood Shack] on the waterfront”, a fantasy eating establishment:


Now, Zippy strips are often about/in specific diners (and motels and fast food restaurants and casual dining places and bowling alleys etc.), places that (with some work) can be tracked down (from their names and/or locations) and depicted (there’s a Page on this blog on my postings about these strips.

But #1 is different. Pretty clearly, it’s not about some actual seafood shack (or Seafood Shack) that advertises with a shark fin, but spins a little fantasy on such eating places as a type.

However, it might still be a (suggestive) allusion to one such specifc place, especially if there’s (just) one that’s well-known over a wide area. An allusion doesn’t have to be exact in detail; close will do.

So it is with #1. There is in fact a well-known chain of seafood-shack restaurants —  Joe’s Crab Shack — some of which use a shark as an element in their external advertising and many of which use one as an element of their decor (in addition, the Joe’s menu offers a Shark Bite cocktail). So #1 might be an allusion to that chain.

The chain, from Wikipedia:

Joe’s Crab Shack is an American chain of beach-themed seafood casual dining restaurants. Founded in Houston, Texas, the restaurant now operates locations [the website lists 57 of them] all across the United States of America.

With a shark in its external advertising:

(#2) The Joe’s Crab Shack branch at the Louisiana Boardwalk in Bossier City LA

as an element of decor:

(#3) The interior of the Joe’s Crab Shack branch in Branson MO

and in the Shark Bite cocktail:

(#4) The cocktail, with recipe (poorly reproduced); the figurative blood is the grenadine

Allusions. From NOAD:

noun allusion: an expression designed to call something to mind without mentioning it explicitly; an indirect or passing reference: an allusion to Shakespeare | a classical allusion.

Calling something to mind is a potentially tricky business, as I noted in some discussion in my 2/9/21 posting “The octocrat”:

[about] Wayno’s title for this cartoon, “Eight Arms to Oppress You”, with its allusion to the Ring verse from Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

… [Correction. Allusions are tricky; you have to divine the writer’s or speaker’s intentions from what they say. In this case, I divined incorrectly; see Wayno’s comment below. I don’t think I ever knew about the working title of Help!, so of course I didn’t get the intended allusion.]

Wayno’s comment:

The title I used in my social media postings was meant to reference “Eight Arms to Hold You,” the working title of the Beatles’ film “Help!”

Even allusions that call attention to themselves ostentatiously can fail to work if you don’t know the model for the allusion. Discussion in my 5/18/19 posting “Ostentatiously playful allusions”:

EEQs and OPAs. From my 4/13/19 posting “Easter egg quotations”

If you catch the quotation [from Monty Python’s Spanish Inquisition, about fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency] — not every reader will — that doesn’t contribute substantively to your understanding, but it does provide a kind of side pleasure, not unlike that afforded by Easter eggs in video games and the like. So I’ll refer to them as Easter egg quotations.

For the most part, the Economist deploys allusions ostentatiously, as jokes that are meant to be seen as jokes. The Vaccine X allusion to Monty Python, however, can be read straightforwardly and literally, merely asserting that unexpected viruses elicit fear and surprise and are ruthlessly efficient.

The contrast is between the publication’s usual practice, which is deep in OPAs, and its occasional inconspicuous deployment of quotations as a small gift to appropriately plugged-in readers, in the form of Easter egg quotations, or EEQs (pronounced like eeks) for short.

Still, for OPAs, you have to know the model for the allusion; what you get is not an explicit reference, but an an indirect association. The three OPAs from the Economist  work only if you know the models: (for Nock, Nock🙂 knock-knock jokes; (for Sunset brouhaha🙂 the movie Sunset Boulevard; (for Do tapirs defecate in the woods?🙂 the conventional speech-act idiom Does a bear shit in the woods?

One Response to “The allusive shark shack”

  1. Stewart Kramer Says:

    In addition to the ambiguity of capitalization, it could also be Joe’s Sea-Food Shack, since disambiguating such things with double hyphens is no longer fashionable. (I was once bitten by a PDF bug, where copy-and-paste with Adobe Acrobat deletes all hyphens at the end of lines, even if they should represent hyphenated words.)

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