Today’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro (Wayno’s title: “Mythical Miscreants”):

(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 6 in this strip — see this Page.)

leprobate, a portmanteau of leprechaun reprobate. Naughty, naughty boys.

The occasion. Looking ahead to St. Patrick’s day, 3/17, three days after Pi Day, on 3/14; two after the Ides of March and (the very local holiday) Higashi Day (on which, for years, Jacques and I would set off to drive east from Palo Alto to Columbus OH), on 3/15.

Leprechauns. The small, mischievous sprites of Irish folklore (turned into conventional figures of popular culture). Leprechauns are notorious tricksters, given to practical jokes. Here, the Dollar Bill on a String prank: attach a string to the underside of a dollar bill and hide behind a corner; when somebody reaches down for the bill, you yank it away. Also note the pot of cabbage instead of the legendary pot of gold.

Reprobates. From NOAD:

noun réprobàte: 1 an unprincipled person (often used humorously or affectionately): he had to present himself as more of a lovable reprobate than a spirit of corruption. …

Here, we see the reprobates given over to the vices of drinking and smoking, defiantly.

(I haven’t yet worked out what role the portable radio plays in all of this. But I’m open for enlightenment.)

5 Responses to “leprobates”

  1. deety Says:

    I believe “cabbage” can be slang for “money”?

  2. John Baker Says:

    What struck me about the cartoon was a non-linguistic point: the clothing worn by the different leprobates. The one on the left has a realistic outfit that would not be out of place on the streets of Dublin today. (Or so I suspect; I’ve never been to Ireland.) The other three are wearing costumes that have never been worn in real life as normal clothes.

    Even putting aside the green color and the ornamental shamrocks, how long has it been since anyone wore a top hat with a buckle? (That is not a rhetorical question; I would really like to know.) As for bowler hats, they were popular 150 years ago, but I haven’t seen many in the past half century. Those odd belts around a shirt or coat can’t be a recent thing either.

  3. Stewart Kramer Says:

    The racist connotations of “ghetto blaster” and hooliganry might give them some street cred, foisting their Celtic musical tastes onto the entire neighborhood.

  4. Rod Williams Says:

    The leprechaun costumes and facial depictions are taken straight from the racist iconography developed by centuries of British political cartoonists to lampoon Irish people as doltish apes. You don’t see this crap so much in the UK anymore, but it still thrives in America.

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