Archive for March, 2022

April is the most Abrahamic month

March 31, 2022

🐇 🐇 🐇 It’s still April Eve, but I have a big carton of April-related things, which I will unpack for you a day in advance.

To start with, tomorrow is (as always) April Fool’s Day and also the great linguist Leonard Bloomfield’s birthday.

Then, April this year is a festival of Abrahamic religion: Ramadan, Passover, and Easter, all coming up in the next few weeks. To recognize the last of these occasions, some words about Easter egg quotations and images. The wonderful cartoonist Ed Koren will put in an appearance here.

Finally, the April illustration from the 2022 Tom of Finland calendar, showing (among other things) the crotch plunge gesture. Warning: this material is vividly (homo)sexual, so distasteful for some readers.


Clothing of delight, soft clothing

March 30, 2022

Two ways of looking at lounge shorts (for men) in two ad campaigns. Both touting the softness of the clothing (genuinely desirable in coverings for men’s private parts), but one pushing it as a vehicle for sexual display, the other celebrating it as a vehicle for joy.

The first (from Helsinki Athletica) in a Daily Jocks ad from 3/26, marketed as homowear — the shorts are a very pale pink, whispering I Am Gay — highly sexualized (the model is sitting up on his knees, in bed, and his crotch is the visual focus of the photo); an accompanying photo has him in gray shorts (more macho, less homo), lying on his belly on a sofa with his ass humped up for sexual penetration. In both he displays an impressively muscled body (bulging biceps, massive pecs, rocky abs), a businesslike mustache, no-nonsense hair, and an impassive face with a challenging gaze (conveying: are you man enough to take this, buddy?).


The effeminate elephant

March 29, 2022

Effeminacy in the animal world, first in yesterday’s (3/28) Wayno/Piraro Bizarro:

(#1) Not only elephant effeminacy, but also a cosmetic anagram, a rouge and peasant salve (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 5 in this strip — see this Page.)

And in one of my academic collages, with mice in the lab:

(#2) Continuing the theme of makeup for males


pit beef snow ball girl

March 28, 2022

The Zippy strip from yesterday, 3/27:

(#1) Help wanted at the pit beef restaurant: a female server for their pit beef (the house entrée) and snow balls (the dessert), with the ensuing mantra that afflicts Zippy: PIT BEEF SNOW BALL GIRL (prosodically SW SW S; add a strong fourth beat — a shout YEAH!,  a drum beat, cymbals, whatever — and you can conga to it)

So, the obvious stuff: Zippy’s onomatomania, his attraction to certain words and phrases; pit beef (especially associated with Baltimore); snow balls / snowballs, shaved ice confections especially associated with the Italian communities of Philadelphia and New York. Plus the gender stuff, a girl needed to serve guy-food: grilled meat, especially beef, being at the peak of masculinity in the American food world (with the gender association reinforced by serving it in a bun); not to mention that beef with balls is covertly phallic.


The logic of syntax

March 27, 2022

I had two postings in preparation about moments of great joy from yesterday: one from the music that greeted me on awakening in the morning; the other from the plants in Palo Alto’s Gamble Gardens, visited yesterday morning on my first trip out in the world for many weeks.

Then fresh posting topics rolled in alarmingly, and a search for background material led me by accident to a great surprise, a link to a tape of a public lecture (a bit over an hour long) at Iowa State University on 4/11/90, 32 years ago. Title above. The subtitle: Thinking about language theoretically.

I listened transfixed as the lecturer, speaking to a general university audience, took his listeners into the wilds of modern theoretical syntax, along the way deftly advancing some ways of thinking that guided his own research. An admirable bit of teaching, I thought. With some pride, because that lecturer was, of course, an earlier incarnation of me.


Nelly and Nancy

March 25, 2022

E-mail from a fem friend and colleague in the UK — the personal details are important — on 2/28:

I was thinking recently about the word nelly. It’s another Americanism I think. But it gets used quite a lot. Is it interchangeable with faggy? Or does it have different connotations? Interesting that your term is butch fagginess, not butch nelliness. I wonder why.

There’s a Page on this blog about my postings on what I’ve called butch fagginess, about butch queers playing flagrantly with the trappings of fagginess. So, one of the many forms of f-gayness — my friend’s effeminate presentation of self being another, and the character Emory’s pure essence of tough fag in the  1970 film Boys in the Band being still another. From my 7/28/21 posting “Today’s garment faggotry”:


Two cartoons on familiar themes

March 24, 2022

In my comics feed recently: a One Big Happy (from 4/6/10) on masculinity for boys; and a Wayno / Piraro  Bizarro (from 4/23) with an Ahab and the whale cartoon (but with a whole lot more packed into it).


Touch my pouch, liquid buddy

March 23, 2022

(Freely exploring men’s bodies as sexual objects and man-on-man sex, so totally inappropriate for kids and the sexually modest.)

From Daily Jocks on 3/21, what I found to be a startlingly weird ad for a line of DJX fetishwear (DJ ad copy, untouched, below):


Lauri Karttunen

March 22, 2022

My old friend (for about 55 years now) and wonderful colleague Lauri Karttunen died two days ago (in the morning of 3/20). The briefest summary from the Stanford linguistics chair, Chris Potts, that morning:

Lauri was a towering figure in linguistics and NLP. Numerous observations, concepts, and hypotheses that we all take for granted in these fields trace to his foundational work. The breadth and depth of these contributions is really remarkable: discourse referents, presupposition plugs / holes / filters, implicative verbs, finite state morphology, Finnish morphophonology, natural language inference, and on and on. In all these areas and more, he helped to set the research agenda.

And of course we all know Lauri as a vibrant presence in Linguistics, in the NLP Group, and at CSLI [Stanford’s  Center for the Study of Language and Information]. He shaped the work of generations of Stanford scholars — including turning a number of them into Finnish scholars via his legendary Structure of Finnish courses with Arto [Anttila] and Paul [Kiparsky]!

I’m no longer able to write death notices afresh — for people whose work (of whatever kind) I’ve admired, mentors, colleagues, former students, friends, lovers, whose deaths now pile up in such numbers that I can no longer do them honor, as I once tried to do.

Today, though, I will manage some Musings On Life: on being of some age (only 4 months younger than me, Lauri was for practical purposes the same age as me); and on intimate personal and professional relationships (Lauri having had both with Annie Zaenen, his wife and frequent collaborator, who survives him).


Auntie Em and the hex wrench

March 21, 2022

Two cartoons in today’s feed: the 4/5/10 One Big Happy, in which James copes with an unfamiliar technical label by assimilating it to a name he knows; and the 3/21 Wayno / Piraro Bizarro, with a cute play on hex wrench.