A modest challenge to cartoon understanding in the 12/17 Rhymes With Orange, which depends on your knowing about a bit of antique technology and its metaphorical name in English. Price and Piccolo have strewn hints around in the cartoon, but still, if you’re not familiar with the crucial piece of technology, you won’t get the joke.

(#1) Two rabbits sit in odd positions on a couch (with their ears standing up), in front of a screen

Clues to understanding, beyond the peculiar postures: the references to reception (in the title of the strip), specifically to tv reception (via cable); the reference to Gramps, evoking the old days; Gramps’s claim that their postures are somehow conducive to the point of their activity.

The ears, it’s the ears. From my 5/21/18 posting “bunny ears”, about the prank, on bunny (or rabbit) ears more generally — including, in #5 there, tv antennas — and on manual V signs of various sorts. The tv-antenna metaphorical rabbit ears (a bit of antique technology now rarely seen, thanks to the spread of other technology, tv dishes and especially cable tv):


Sense 3 from OED3 (June 2008) on the noun rabbit ears:

1. Any of several plants with petals, leaves, or other features resembling the ears of a rabbit;  (a) Canadian hare’s-ear mustard, Conringia orientalis (family Brassicaceae), a European weed that is widespread in North America;  (b) Australian an Australian orchid, Thelymitra antennifera;  (c) = lamb’s ears

2. North American Sport (chiefly Baseball). A keen sense of hearing or high level of attention, esp. in a context where this is inappropriate or causes trouble. [NOAD: an acute sense of hearing or awareness of one’s surroundings causing distraction or loss of focus] Also: (a name for) a person possessing this. [1st cite from Walter Winchell in 1933: Rabbit ears is a player who hears everything said about him.]

3. Chiefly North American. An indoor television aerial consisting of a base supporting two (usually adjustable) metal rods that form a V shape resembling the ears of a rabbit. [1st cite 1952]

So the rabbits in #1 are trying to use their ears as tv antennas. Trying to mimic the rabbit ears of #2.

Previously on this blog, another challenge to cartoon understanding involving practices from well back in the 20th century: in my 12/15/22 posting “The bag of clownfish”, the clown car circus routine.


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