Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

But what does his chest hair MEAN?

August 22, 2021

On 8/19, a posting about the novelty song “Harry’s Jockstrap” from 50+ years ago — a jock that’s pale blue, suggesting that Harry is a fairy:

Harry’s jockstrap, Harry’s jockstrap
It’s pale blue, it’s pale blue
They say that he’s a fairy. But Harry is so hairy
So are you, so are you

… [The verse] suggests that Harry’s hairiness shows that he couldn’t be queer, presumably because, the singer believes, significant body hair is a sign of masculinity, and that’s incompatible with homosexuality. The whole thing is silly beyond belief; the world is rich in hairy fairies … Though I do understand that hairiness as a litmus for straightness is a widely held folk belief, a consequence of the powerful folk theory that homosexuality is literally sexual inversion, so that gay men are, by definition, feminine, in fact a species of female.

So far, some folk associations; there will be more:

— 1 a man’s wearing pale blue clothing (or, more generally, pastel clothing), especially underwear, especially a jockstrap, INDICATES homosexuality

— 2 heavy body hair on a man, especially on the chest, INDICATES high masculinity, which in turn INDICATES heterosexuality


The khan con

August 10, 2021

The One Big Happy strip from 7/15, in which the Library Lady reads from the children’s book The Magic Cowlick, about Aziza, whose father was a powerful khan, and asks about the infrequent lexical item khan, which Ruthie takes to be the (to her) more familiar slang noun con (< confidence man), homophonous with khan for most Americans:

(#1) But then we have some vowel issues; compare the Library Lady’s pronunciation of khan in the first panel with her pronunciation of con in the last panel


Trout, the name

August 9, 2021

Another offshoot of my investigations into the playful sexual slang trouser trout ‘ penis’ (in a posting coming soon on this blog; another offshoot, also not really relevant to the sexual slang, appeared in my earlier posting today, “Gail Rubin”). This posting arose from my hope that Trouser Trout was attested somewhere as a man’s name. An actual man would have been too much to hope for; who names their son Trouser? But I’d hoped that someone would have chosen the name for a character in antic-sexy fiction or other artistic creation. Haven’t found that yet, but Trouser Trout has served as the name of various companies and their products, among them: a brewery, an Austin TX punk band, an underwear company (well, obviously), and the artist and musician Romanowski’s record label.

Then there’s Trout as the name of musical works.

And as a family name, for real people and for the enormously prolific but drastically underappreciated science fiction writer Kilgore Trout.

Like I said, offshoots.


Gail Rubin

August 9, 2021

Another spinoff from a posting in progress on the playful sexual slang trouser trout for penis (on an earlier spinoff, about the gay porn flick Trouser Trout, see my 8/7 posting “Melecio / Biaggi”). This time it’s about  the antic book A Girl’s Pocket Guide to Trouser Trout: Reflections on Dating and Fly-Fishing, by Gail Rubin:

This posting isn’t about the content of the book — that’s to come in the main posting — but about the identity of the author, something that bears not at all on the sexual slang compound.


Beware the bucephalic serpent bearing a wheel of cheese

August 2, 2021

Today’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro, with a fresh reading of Genesis:

(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 3 in this strip — see this Page.) She found the tree with its serpent and cheeses on the Rindr site, a decidedly sketchy place

The story is about Adam, Eve, a serpent, and a piece of fruit (in Genesis in the KJV, it’s simply the fruit — in the Hebrew original, the generic term peri — but twice in Milton’s Paradise Lost it’s specifically an apple, Latin malus; the story is complicated, but I’m pretty sure Hebrew peri didn’t embrace cheese of any sort), and it’s always an apple in popular tellings of the story in English.

Then there’s the pun, which on the face of it is just the difference between the /n/ of Eden and the /m/ of Edam — a very high frequency pairing in imperfect-puns, especially after a vowel in syllable offsets, where the nasal is likely to be realized entirely as nasalization of the preceding vowel, with no closure for the nasal stop (making these two words potentially identical phonetically).


Bizarro cannibalism

June 8, 2021

The Bizarro strip from 5/30, which reminds us of the bizarre in Bizarro:

(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 5 in this strip — see this Page.)

A grotesque pun that turns on the ambiguity between the common noun peanuts (referring to a food item commonly offered as a snack by airlines) and the proper noun Peanuts (referring to the Charles Schulz cartoon and the characters in it). Instead of honey-roasted peanuts, the attendants are offering honey-roasted Peanuts — Lucy, Charlie Brown, Linus, and so on.

Now, Charlie Brown and the gang are only cartoon children, but they are children, and #1 is a cartoon with human characters, which makes the scene look a lot like cannibalism, in fact cannibalism to satisfy routine snack hunger, not even cannibalism to avoid starvation, or as part of a cultural ritual — so that it inspires revulsion. And some very uneasy laughter.


The Raw and the Cooked

May 30, 2021

The title of the first book of Claude Lévi-Strauss’s monumental 4-volume work Mythologiques — a title that served as the model for the title of my posting yesterday, “The hairy and the smooth” (referring to male body types) — one of three conceptual oppositions treated in that posting, the other two being raw – refined (referring to crudeness, naturalness, or simplicity vs. artfulness, in the presentation of these bodies in underwear ads) and authentic – synthetic (referring to natural materials, like leather, vs. various imitations, mostly based on plastics, in the garments the models are wearing).

(#1) A cover for a French edition


Musk, leather, and the lumberjack forest

April 30, 2021

… the smell of men fucking

(Clearly not suitable for kids or the sexually modest.)

The story begins with the Etat Libre d’Orange fragrance Tom of Finland:

(#1) Aromatic, woody, leathery ($149 for 100 ml, $98 for 50 ml)

From the perfumery’s site, with a certain amount of perfumer-talk:


Tom Stoppard speaks to the meat

March 24, 2021

In the New Yorker, “Tom Stoppard’s Charmed and Haunted Life: A new biography enables us to see beneath the intellectual dazzle of the playwright’s work” by Anthony Lane, in the print edition of 3/1/21:

In 2007, the playwright Tom Stoppard went to Moscow. He was there to watch over a production of his trilogy — “Voyage,” “Shipwreck,” and “Salvage,” collectively known as “The Coast of Utopia.” The trilogy had opened in London in 2002, and transferred to Lincoln Center in 2006. Now, in a sense, it was coming home. The majority of the characters, though exiled, are from Russia (the most notable exception being a German guy named Karl Marx), and, for the first time, they would be talking in Russian, in a translation of Stoppard’s text. Ever courteous, he wanted to be present, during rehearsals, to offer notes of encouragement and advice. These were delivered through an interpreter, since Stoppard speaks no Russian. One day, at lunch, slices of an anonymous meat were produced, and Stoppard asked what it was. “That is,” somebody said, seeking the correct English word, “language.”

Since this is a blog mostly about language, you have no doubt seen where that answer came from.


Casual Outings

March 17, 2021

The current issue of The G&LR (The Gay & Lesbian Review) — volume 28, number 2, March-April 2021 — is in fact the 150th issue of the magazine, and comes as a book, Casual Outings (plus a minimal, 15-page, supplement of book reviews, without any of the customary articles). The front cover:

(#1) (from p. 64) [The illustrator Hefling] is now a retired professor, having taught theology, philosophy, and Great Books at Boston College for thirty years. Besides drawing and (digital) painting, his artistic pursuits include calligraphy and manuscript illumination.