Archive for the ‘Figurative language’ Category

Naked men in Santa caps

December 4, 2023

(Rampant nakedness, juicy description of man-on-man sex, definitely not for kids or the sexually modest)

A piece of sheer raunchy frivolity. Two naked lads, a hunky bottom and a twink top, both wearing Santa caps, meet in a 12/1 mailer ad for a scene from Falcon’s gay porn flick Cum All Ye Faithful. Bottom Beau Butler has a package, a box, to offer top Trevor Brooks, who has pulled his briefs down to show what he’s got available to put into Butler’s package:


Slutty T-Rex

November 30, 2023

🐅 🐅 tiger tiger for ultimate November, also St. Andrew’s Day (Scotland’s national day); meanwhile, I bring you two dinosaurs trading ideas about popularity and sluttiness

A pair of Ryan North’s Dinosaur Comics strips, coming in succession on 11/10 and 11/13, in which T-Rex rambles on to his buddy Utahraptor about a fairly well-known paradoxical-sounding phenomenon in social networks, the friendship paradox. Actually, it applies more generally, and I’ll talk you through the (apparent) paradox in the general case. Yes, I’ll get to the comics, and to the way T-Rex uses the adjective slutty, but first let’s talk about your lunch partners.

The symmetric-relation paradox. Brace yourself for some mathematician-talk, but don’t despair: I’ll work up a concrete example (about you and your lunch partners) along the way.

Consider a a set N (for example, the set of people in a social network) and a symmetric relation R between members of N; R might be being friends with, say, or having gone to grade school with or — my concrete example — having had lunch with. Then for any member m of N (like you, for definiteness), define m’s R:N-cohort to be the set of members of N that m bears R to (like, the set of all your lunch partners), and m’s R:N-index to be the size of m’s R:N-cohort (like, how many lunch partners you’d had). Then it can be shown that, on average, the R:N-indices of members of m’s R:N-cohort are greater than m’s R:N-index — like, on average, the number of lunch partners your lunch partners have had is greater than the number of lunch partners you have had. Yes, it sounds paradoxical. But it’s provably so.

Now, listen up: what the symmetric-relation paradox does not say is that (all) your lunch partners have more lunch partners than you do. That would be genuinely paradoxical. All it says is that the (arithmetic) mean of their lunch-partner figures is higher than yours, which is a great deal less thrilling (though it still has a whiff of the perverse about it). So let’s look at the special case, the friendship paradox, where N is a social network and R is the being friends with relation (which is where T-Rex starts in his Dinosaur Comics ramble, before he goes on to the having had sex with relation (parallel to the having had lunch with relation) and to sluttiness, having had many sexual (rather than lunch) partners.


Cruising the trucks

November 26, 2023

(About man-on-man sex in printed gay porn, so not suitable for kids or the sexually modest)

Caught on Pinterest a little while back, this gay pulp novel from 1983:

(#1) Apparently, the young man — the piece of chicken — is offering to service the trucker’s erection; though the boy’s buttocks are prominently displayed on the cover, fellatio (rather than anal intercourse) is the conventional service in truck-stop sexual encounters (I know nothing about the actual story, or about its no doubt pseudonymous author Michael Scott)

So: three things here: chickens (and the men who seek them out); truck-stop sex; and the gay pulps, in particular the Adam’s Gay Readers of the 1980s (the series to which Trucker’s Chicken belongs).


Cum All Ye Faithful

November 24, 2023

(About a gay porn flick, with naked hunky models displaying their bodies, but no actual genitals on display or descriptions of man-on-man sex, just some vulgar slang and reference to ejaculation. Still, not to everyone’s taste.)

In my e-mail on 11/22, a Falcon | Naked Sword mailing for its 2023 Christmas gay porn movie, whose title is a cheap raunchy pun:

The guys with the Xmas goodies (I’ve fuzzed out their pornstar dicks for WordPress modesty): Beau Butler (who’s been featured a number of times on this blog; here displaying his pornstar butt), Damian Night (new here), and Reign (from my 2/20/22 posting “Men’s Briefs: the locked gaze”)

My interest at the moment is not really in the flick or in the actors, but in the pun in the title. (“How like a linguist”, you are saying, “to disregard the hot stuff and focus on the wording”. As it happens, I’m entirely capable of getting off on the hot stuff while making mental notes on the wording.) But I will post Falcon’s publicity for the flick for you, because it actually describes the background plot, without the sex-act by sex-act retelling of the individual scenes:


The dorky, the raunchy, and the portmanteaued

November 22, 2023

The pursuit of plurals for the English noun octopus — most recently, in yesterday’s posting “Obscure plurals of octopus (and rhinoceros)” — has now lurched into the zone of the dorky, the raunchy, and the portmanteaued with Kyle Wohlmut’s posting today on Facebook of Jon Wilkins’s webcomic Darwin Eats Cake‘s smartass Guide to Pluralizing “Octopus”:


The cartoon seems determined to take us to the raunchy portmanteau octopussy (= octopus + pussy) and to Octopussy, the 1983 James Bond spy film, titled from its principal female character, the wicked seductress Octopussy. I’ll be following it there.


Two stock similes

November 20, 2023

Briefly noted, this Leigh Rubin cartoon passed on to me by Susan Fischer on Facebook today:

To understand this, you need to recognize a bull and a young goat

Two stock expressions, both of them similes, lie behind the two images of creatures entering retail establishments: like a bull in a china shop, like a kid in a candy store. The two ideas can appear as an explicit comparison, in a simile with like; or in a metaphor, with the comparison implicit: you are a (veritable) bull in a china shop; they were (proverbial) kids in a candy store.


herd it / heard it

August 30, 2023

The pay-off to an elaborate set-up tale, giving a pun on a familiar expression (in this case a song title). From Vince the Sign Guy: Vince Rozmiarek of Indian Hills CO and (from his Facebook page) “his lighthearted puns shown on local community signs”:

Phonologically, there’s a stretch of speech that’s both I herd it through the grapevines (the pun, the pay-off from the vineyard cow story) and the nearly homophonous “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” (the model, the song title); semiotically, however, that stretch of speech is either about one of these situations or the other, not two nearly identical situations

Specifically, there’s no metaphorical structuring of the vineyard cow situation (in the story) on the basis of the information exchange situation (in the song). Their only relationship is phonological.

This isn’t a defect; most puns are merely phonological, and that’s fine. Vince Rozmiarek’s vineyard cow story is a great little joke, of a recognizable genre of punning: the set-up + pay-off story based on a formulaic expression — for short, a formula pun.

It’s just that a small number of puns are what I’ve sometimes called — I’ve wrestled a long time with ways of saying this — satisfying, meaning semiotically satisfying: the participants are represented as belonging to two worlds at once. They are anteaters, say, with the formicavore’s passionate hunger for the insects, but they are also diners in conventional American restaurants, insisting on specific kinds of table service and exhibiting dining quirks (like an aversion to spicy food). The first of these worlds is systematically mapped into the second, in an elaborate metaphor. (The restaurant-going anteaters are a recurring theme in Bizarro cartoons.)

From this month in my postings: on 8/3 “Brief shot: cock time”, about the expression cock time:

An atrocious pun [on clock time], but satisfying in that some … item is not merely introduced into a context for a near-homophone, but participates in the world of that model expression. We see something that’s a cock [a man’s penis] and a (kind of) clock.


It is the grief of love

August 26, 2023

Most of my day today was taken up with the Palo Alto Sacred Harp all-day singing (shapenotes from 10 to 3!); I’m pleased to say I was not only able to participate in this event (via Zoom), but managed to last through the whole thing, sometimes singing quite powerfully. I wasn’t physically there, and people couldn’t hear me (I had to mute myself because of the way Zoom works), but I got to choose a couple of songs (Confidence SH270 and Bridgewater SH276), and managed a really big contact high — a tonic for my life of solitude these days.

Early in the singing someone chose a song that I found moving but didn’t recall ever having sung before: SH83t, Vale of Sorrow: brief and easy to sing, a haunting minor melody, and a text I found deeply moving: the words of an earnest Christian who hopes to have earned his place with Jesus in heaven, but is nevertheless saddened that his death will take him from those he loves. He is experiencing what he thinks of as the grief of love.

The music (from the 1991 Denson revision of The Sacred Harp (first compiled in 1844)):

A reminder: the melody is in the tenor line, the third from the top (the treble line, at the top, has either high harmony or a counter-melody); the different shapes of the notes locate them in a scale (sort of a visual DO-RE-MI)

The text comes on two parts: one stanza of background, one with the grief of love:

While in this vale of sorrow,
I travel on in pain;
My heart is fixed on Jesus,
I hope the prize to gain.

But when I come to bid adieu
To those I dearly love,
My heart is often melted —
It is the grief of love.

The phrase comes at you out of the blue, after some conventional imagery and conventional expression (vale of sorrow, the heart being fixed on something, gaining a prize, bidding adieu, the heart melting with emotion).

De Interpretatione

August 11, 2023

From the New Yorker issue of 8/14 (arrived in my mailbox yesterday), two cartoons about interpreting what we perceive — on what we see, a Stephen Raaka cartoon on the perils of pointillism; and on what’s been said, a Will McPhail drawing paired with this issue’s winner in the caption contest, with a text about literal vs. figurative understandings.


Barthropods seeking silverfish

August 8, 2023

Today’s Wayno / Piraro Bizarro, a complex composition in which two centipedes look for bar snacks:

(#1) First bit of language play: the portmanteau barthropod = bar + arthropod, centipedes being arthropods, creatures in the gigantic phylum Arthropoda — also encompassing insects (including silverfish and springtails as well as flies, butterflies and moths, beetles, and more), spiders. crustaceans (among them, shrimp, crabs, lobsters, and barnacles), and millipedes (if you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 3 in this strip — see this Page)

Then there’s a more subtle bit of language play in silverfish serving as bar snacks in a world in which centipedes drink in bars — given that Goldfish crackers (gold fish, silver fish, bring out the bronze) are often served as bar snacks in the real world.