Archive for January, 2023

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


Truly obscure quotation

January 23, 2023

The puzzle was set in my 1/17 posting “The bearded cartoonist, post-simectomy”: an often-cited Flannery O’Connor quotation that I could find no source for.  Reader Mark Mandel took my puzzle to the American Dialect Society mailing list, hoping that one of the hounds of ADS-L would do better, in particular that Quote Investigator Garson O’Toole had collected material for the QI site. And so it has turned out, though I doubt anyone will be especially satisfied by learning that she used the quotation in a 1948 letter to her publisher, while denying credit for it and attrbuting it to an “old lady”.

So here’s the story.


Ride the wild rabbit!

January 23, 2023

(Packed with raunch of several varieties, so not suitable for kids or the sexually modest.)

A digression from one of the topics of yesterday’s posting “Moments of rebirth” — the lunar new year yesterday, the Year of the Rabbit in the Chinese calendar. Here celebrated  by this homoerotic digital image created by Vadim Temkin:

(#1) My caption: Ride the Wild Rabbit!

Aside from the smiling young hunk, the image taps two springs of raunchiness: rabbits (and their fabled sexual licentiousness — fucking like bunnies, as the idiom has it) and riding (and its similarity to insertive intercourse, to fucking). So it’s all about fucking: metonymically, in the association of rabbits with prolific breeding; and metaphorically, in the resemblance of riding to intercourse.

My caption just packages the rabbit raunchiness and the riding raunchiness together in the phrase ride the rabbit, adding the wild for a whiff of unchecked abandon, the whole thing then evoking wild pony rides, as celebrated in popular song.


Moments of rebirth

January 22, 2023

First: a new (lunar) year starts today: the Year of the Rabbit (except in Vietnam, where it’s the Cat). In Chinese tradition, the rabbit is gentle, clever, and swift; more generally, as prolific breeders, rabbits are symbols of fertility, rebirth, and sexuality. For the occasion, some artists’ renderings of the 2023 zodiacal rabbit.

There will be a digression on the last of these, Vadim Temkin’s hunky (digital) young man astride a giant black rabbit, which will lead me (through the miracle of associative memory) to some raunchy Cheap Trick lyrics.

Then I’ll turn to the course of some spectacular afflictions that had been visited upon me for some weeks but passed away about 5 days ago, returning me to the status ante quo of a battalion of disabling afflictions — which were, while awful, familiar. With the odd effect that returning to the old familiar felt like having recovered from a sickness, like being reborn.

Now this is the dark time of the year for me emotionally: Ann Daingerfield Zwicky’s death day (in 1985) was the 17th; today is the birthday of my husband-equivalent Jacques Transue (who died in 2003); the cold makes breathing outside air painful for me; and I’m profoundly lonely.  But the sense — the illusion, really — of having been reborn has, this year, carried me through everything, made me irrationally buoyant.

Today I can do only a little bit of the program. I’ll just give you the three artists’ renderings of the zodiacal rabbit, plus my Facebook comment on the third that opened the pathway to Cheap Trick.


In the stones of the street

January 21, 2023

Appearing without comment or context in my Facebook feed on 1/19, this image from Tim Evanson:

(#1) My first thought was: a lizard creature evolving from the bricks; or a bird taking off from the bricks — a playful public artwork — but then the crosspiece looked rigid and inorganic, not like legs or wings

So I queried Tim about  the image; his response assumed that I knew who Jan Palach was — a peculiarity that turns out to be significant in a parallel tale of the dysfunctions of Facebook.