Archive for January, 2023

More lunar rabbits

January 31, 2023

The new lunar year, the Year of the Rabbit, began back on the 22nd and was duly recognized then (in my posting “Moments of rebirth”). At the time, Bonnie Bendon Campbell sent me a Jacquie Lawson digital greeting card that ended up in a composition of rabbits staring at the moon:

(#1) As Bonnie observed on Facebook today (Ultimate January), there are three rabbits in the photo, so they they’ll do double duty as heralds of the new month: rabbit rabbit rabbit for Inaugural February

And then on Facebook today, Jean-François Garneau passed on a particularly elegant graphic for the Year of the Rabbit, using only the numerals 2 and a 3 (plus a dot), by Hong Kong designer Kan Tai Keung:



Zippy theorizes, syncretically, on the comic strips

January 31, 2023

🐅 🐅 🐅 tiger tiger tiger for Ultimate January, as we leave the darkest period of the year in my hemisphere

The 7/24/22 Zippy strip:


Zippy theorizes that comic-strip characters and their stories are an overlay of characters, personalities, settings, and tales from elsewhere in popular culture — in particular, from television shows. (Just to get some grip on these things in the real world, rather than ZippyWorld: Billy in The Family Circus has never marinated a duck breast.)

(Note: this is a Zippy strip, always liable to veer into surrealism and the injection of Zippreoccupations into things, so that not all the details are going to hang together coherently.)

Zippy offers these theories to Griffy from inside a sort of monument to pop-cultural syncretism, Davies’ Chuck Wagon Diner in Lakewood CO: something that was created as a reproduction of East Coast diner culture, but got crossed with the symbols of mythical cowboy culture, in the shape of a gigantic neon cowboy and a life-sized fiberglass horse. Located not in the dusty high plains of cowboy country, but on a commercial strip in a thoroughly built-up suburb of Denver. (I grant that you can at least see the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains from there.)


Hello, Dalí!

January 30, 2023

Today’s Wayno / Piraro Bizarro plunges us into a double play on words, plus a visual parody — offered on a platter — as well:

(#1) To understand the cartoon, you need to know about kosher delis (deli, short for delicatessen), and pastrami as a prominent offering in them; and about Salvador Dalí and his surrealist painting The Persistence of Memory (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 4 in this strip — see this Page.)

The egregious pun kosher deli > kosher Dalí in combination with a play on the title of a Dalí painting Persistence of Memory > Persistence of Pastrami (with a visual parody on the painting itself, offered on a platter by the waiter; hence, Wayno’s title, “Culinary Surrealism”).

Dalí’s name is most commonly Englished as /ˈdali/, like Dolly, and that makes the deli > Dalí pun particularly close ( /ɛ/ > /a/, otherwise perfect), but sometimes maintains the Spanish / Catalan iambic accentuation as /daˈli/, in which case the imperfect pun is more distant.


Maternal shrillness on Zits

January 29, 2023

Today’s Zits strip manages to assemble three disparate bits of assumption about cognition into a joke about maternal shrillness:

(#1) So shrill — in particular, so high-pitched — that it takes a ladder to get up there and read what’s in the speech balloon

Whoa! You might not have subscribed to any or all of these cognitive stances built into the strip:

— conceptualizing speech and thought balloons as physical objects

— perceiving women’s speech as shrill — an impression that incorporates (among other things) sociocultural associations of high pitch and loudness with various personal and interactional states, and also the association of high pitch with femininity

— (metaphorically) associating high pitch with height above the ground


Team X

January 28, 2023

The Zippy strip of 7/27/22:

(#1) At the Pig ‘N Whistle Diner in Brighton MA, immersed in the Team X snowclonelet

Two things here: the Team X snowclonelet; and Pig ‘N Whistle as the name of an eating establishment. Let’s dive right in with Team X, and look at Pig ‘N Whistle afterwards.


More men in chairs

January 28, 2023

A quirky little follow-up to my 10/9/22 posting “Manspreading on a couch” — a set of crotch-focused paintings by Michael Carson, of men manspreading on couches — going further into the artistic subgenre of men in chairs, with three examples unearthed on Pinterest.


January 27th

January 27, 2023

Every so often the accidents of the calendar bring together remarkably contrasting occasions. This is a day of such cognitive dissonance. Weep with me. Gasp in pleasure and delight with me.

First, today is Holocaust Remembrance Day, marking the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp, in 1945, an event that serves as a symbol of the Holocaust — the Shoah — that wiped out around six million Jews (and a number of others) and caused untold suffering.

But then today is also the birthday of two people whose works have brought pleasure to millions: the astonishingly prolific composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (born in 1756) and the mathematician-turned-comic-writer Charles Lutwidge Dodson, who wrote the Alice books and a number of remarkable nonsense poems under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll (born in 1832).


Return to Coalinga

January 26, 2023

A follow-up promised back in December. From my 12/7/22 posting “Coalinga Zwicky goes to war”:

in the mildly lubricious Our Armed Forces at Play genre, Army Air Force Lt. John K. Zwicky (hereafter JKZ) of Coalinga CA, sunbathing with two buddies in the Aleutian Islands in 1944:

(#1) Snapshot from the National Archives (in College Park MD), supplied by researcher Aubrey Morrison, who’s been tracking down JKZ

I can report that after the war, JKZ went right back to Coalinga and stayed there, with his wife and three kids (a girl and two boys), working in the local oilfields and living a very long life (into his 100s).

But Coalinga rang a little bell in my head, well, because of the oddness of the name but also, I eventually realized, because it was where photographer Jill Ann Zwicky, the subject of my 7/29/22 posting “The life she lived”, grew up: a place in the middle of the Central Valley, in between US Route 101 and I-5, out in the middle of nowhere (to my mind), but a place she remembered with tremendous affection.

Yes, Jill was JKZ’s daughter.

Well, then I have a lot to say about JKZ and Coalinga and the Swiss diaspora in the US, and Aubrey is still unearthing more stuff.


Snow tires

January 25, 2023

A classic Don Martin Mad magazine cartoon for the winter season, illustrating the utility and flexibility of N + N compounds in English — and also their enormous potential for ambiguity, which has to be resolved in context:


Four examples of N1 + N2 compounds in English, all four highly conventionalized  to very culture-specific referents. In these conventionalized uses, two (snow tire, snowshoe) are use compounds (‘N2 for use in some activity involving N1’), two (snowman, snowball) are source compounds (‘N2 made from N1’). But N + N combinations are potentially ambiguous in  multiple ways; this lack of clarity is the price you pay for the great brevity of these combinations (which lack any indications of the semantic relationship between the two elements).

So: we get snow tire and snowshoe understood as source compounds in #1: ‘(simulacrum of a) tire made of snow’, ‘(simulacrum of a) shoe made of snow’.

I’ll turn to the four snow + N2 compounds in #1 in just a moment, but this presentation is now interrupted by breaking news from the snow-cartoon world, a wonderful wordless cartoon by snowman maven Bob Eckstein in the 1/30/23 issue of the New Yorker, which has in fact not yet arrived in my mailbox.


The risonymic riff

January 24, 2023

From my mountainous posting queue, this gem of a risonymic riff:

(#1) Bodysnatch Cummerbund, Buffalo Custardbath, Bumblesnuff Crimpysnatch, Mr. Cabbagewank — four mockings, ridiculous manglings, of the already remarkable name Benedict Cumberbatch; otherwise, the first two paragraphs are an actual news item, accurate in its details, about the 2014 engagement of actor Benedict Cumberbatch to theatre director Sophie Hunter