Zippy’s pod-ophilia

In today’s (4/25) Zippy strip, our Pinhead — no podophile ‘foot fetishist’ — instead celebrates the linguistic formative pod — as a word, in one of its many meanings (here, its ‘small building’ sense); as part of a fixed expression pod people (using pod referring to a plant part); and as piece of the word podcast (where it’s a piece of the proper name iPod, and that takes it back to a functional unit on an aircraft or spacecraft):

(#1) There’s more, lots more, but the pods here are all trace metaphorical flourishes, to the plant parts

The plant parts. Three lexicographic approaches towards defining pod the plant part.

— the full botanical-taxonomy monty, in the Merriam-Webster online entry for pod-2:

[sense] 1 :  a dry dehiscent pericarp or fruit that is composed of one or more carpels.

Comprehensible only if you know the technical terms. By the way, in this context fruit is a technical term; from NOAD:

Botany the seed-bearing structure of a plant, e.g. an acorn.

— intended for the general user; from NOAD on the noun pod-1:

1 [a] an elongated seed vessel of a leguminous plant such as the pea, splitting open on both sides when ripe.

— intended for learners of English; from Collins COBUILD:

a seed container that grows on plants such as peas or beans.

Metaphor: seed pod to small building. From the Cambridge Dictionary online, a metaphorical pod:

a small simple building, or a small simple structure in a building, often rounded in shape

such as Zippy’s wheeled little house above. Or the “urban escape pod” reported on the upstater site (in Kingston NY), in “Handcrafted ‘Urban Escape Pod’ For Sale, $11,995”, by Kandy Harris on 11/30/17:


This urban escape pod on wheels might be our favorite camper/portable home of the week. Not only is the exterior as cute as a button with flower boxes and wood-scrolled details, the interior has been meticulously constructed to feel more like a comfortable cottage instead of a Tiny House.

The portable home/glamper/’vardo’ caravan was built by Chris Schapdick, award-winning Tiny House builder based in New Jersey.

Terminological notes. On vardo, glamper, camper, and mobile home.

vardo. From #2. From Wikipedia:

A vardo (also wag(g)on, living wagon, van, and caravan) is a traditional horse-drawn wagon used by British Romanichal Travellers as their home. The vehicle is typically highly decorated, intricately carved, brightly painted, and even gilded. The Romanichal Traveller (Gypsy) tradition of the vardo is seen as a high cultural point of both artistic design and a masterpiece of woodcrafter’s art. The heyday of the caravan lasted for roughly 70 years, from the mid-1800s through the first two decades of the twentieth century.

glamper. Also from #2. From NOAD:

(#3) From the Glamping Equipment (UK) site: “3m x 4m Glamping Pod – Cumbria”

noun glamping: a form of camping involving accommodation and facilities more luxurious than those associated with traditional camping: glamping is likely to satisfy any city slicker seeking a little refuge in nature — without foregoing any of life’s luxuries. DERIVATIVES glamper noun ORIGIN early 21st century: blend [or portmanteau] of glamorous and camping.

camper. At this point we move into the sphere of the internal combustion engine. From Wikipedia:

A caravan, travel trailer, camper, tourer or camper trailer is towed behind a road vehicle to provide a place to sleep which is more comfortable and protected than a tent (although there are fold-down trailer tents). It provides the means for people to have their own home on a journey or a vacation, without relying on a motel or hotel, and enables them to stay in places where none is available. However, in some countries campers are restricted to designated sites for which fees are payable.

Caravans vary from basic models which may be little more than a tent on wheels to those containing several rooms with all the furniture and furnishings and equipment of a home.

mobile home . From Wikipedia:

A mobile home (also known as a park home, trailer, trailer home, house trailer, static caravan, RV, residential caravan, motorhome or simply caravan) is a prefabricated structure, built in a factory on a permanently attached chassis before being transported to site (either by being towed or on a trailer). Used as permanent homes, or for holiday or temporary accommodation, they are left often permanently or semi-permanently in one place, but can be moved, and may be required to move from time to time for legal reasons.

Mobile homes share the same historic origins as travel trailers, but today the two are very different in size and furnishings, with travel trailers being used primarily as temporary or vacation homes.

The podcast. Next up in Zippy’s pod-ophilia is podcast. From NOAD:

(#4) From the Rachel Corbett (“Podcasting Expert”) website page, “How to Design a Great Podcast Logo”

noun podcast: a digital audio file made available on the internet for downloading to a computer or mobile device, typically available as a series, new installments of which can be received by subscribers automatically. ORIGIN early 21st century: from iPod + broadcast.

That is, a broadcast that can be listened to on Apple’s iPod audio storage and playback device.

Now, the source of the name iPod is not obvious. From Wikipedia:

The name iPod was proposed by Vinnie Chieco, a freelance copywriter, who (with others) was called by Apple to figure out how to introduce the new player to the public. After Chieco saw a prototype, he thought of the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey and the phrase “Open the pod bay doors, Hal”, which refers to the white EVA Pods of the Discovery One spaceship. Chieco saw an analogy to the relationship between the spaceship and the smaller independent pods in the relationship between a personal computer and the music player.

That takes us back to pods as features of spacecraft (and aircraft). This pod is another sense of NOAD‘s noun pod-1 (metaphorically connected to seedpods):

[sense] 2 [often with modifier] a detachable or self-contained unit on an aircraft, spacecraft, vehicle, or vessel, having a particular function: the torpedo’s sensor pod contains a television camera

And the pod people. The last stop on the pod-ophilia line. From Wikipedia:

Pod People (also known as Body Snatchers) is the colloquial term for a species of plantlike aliens featured in the 1955 novel The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney, the 1956 film adaptation The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the 1978 remake of the same name and the 1993 film Body Snatchers. Although sharing themes, they are not the 2007 film Invasion of the Pod People.

My 7/5/14 posting “Bunnies run amok” has a section on Invasion of the Body Snatchers; from the Wikipedia summary of the movie there:

(#5) A poster for the 1956 movie

The story depicts an extraterrestrial invasion of a small California town. The invasion begins with plant spores that develop into large pods with each eventually producing internally a duplicate replacement of one of the town’s human citizenry. As the pods reach full development, their “seed” assimilates the physical characteristics, memories and personalities of the humans but are devoid of emotion.

So: pod the building, podcast, and pod people. As in #1.

Another pod for the pod-ophiliac. Zippy didn’t have the space to reflect on these uses of pod, but he no doubt finds them entertaining. Not historically related to seedpods at all. Instead, an animal group term (of unknown etymology) from the US in the mid 19th century; and a pandemically useful metaphorical extension of that sense.

The Merriam-Webster online entry for its noun pod-3:

1 : a number of animals (such as whales) clustered together [AZ: cf. herd, school]

2 : a usually small group of people (such as family members, friends, coworkers, or classmates) who regularly interact closely with one another but with few or no others in order to minimize exposure and reduce the transmission of infection during an outbreak of a contagious disease

Perhaps these will come along in a future Zippy strip.

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