Archive for the ‘Metaphor’ Category

Swiss cheese isn’t Swiss

July 10, 2018

(And Swiss steak isn’t either, but that’s a topic for another posting.)


(#1) A wedge of American Swiss

But then the expression Swiss cheese is ambiguous. NOAD recognizes this, but not in the way you were probably expecting:

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Swiss spin-off: herringbone tweed

June 29, 2018

The thing about spin-offs is that they can take you way far away from where you started. In this case, the start point is in my 6/19/18 posting “A Swiss thread”, about the Swiss silk thread company Zwicky and its ad posters over the years, including, in #5 there, Otto Bamberger’s famous herringbone tweed coat Plakat (‘poster’) for the Swiss men’s clothing company PKZ:


(#1) An artwork, not a photo

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The wands, magic wands, and fairy wands of Pride

June 19, 2018

In yesterday’s posting “Fried eggs and fairy wands”, there were plants called fairy wands and wandflowers. How to get from (fairy) wands to the plants?

It’s another metaphorical trip. Wands are just rods or sticks (so a great many plants with spire-like flowers would qualify), but magic/fairy wands in particular frequently have a showy element (very often a star, 5-pointed, or sometimes 6-pointed) at its tip — so plants with showy flowers at the end of thin stems (like Dierama pulcherrimum and Sparaxis tricolor) can be seen as similar to such tipped wands.

Having noted that, for Pride month I’ll go on to look at simple wands and showily tipped wands done in rainbow colors: truly fairy wands.

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Fried eggs and fairy wands

June 18, 2018

Also blazing stars, gayfeathers, and wandflowers. All plants, colorfully named. Providing a little exercise in taxonomic names vs. common names.

The fried eggs come from Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky, who posted this on her Facebook page yesterday:


(#1) EDZ: “Portrait mode makes fried egg flowers even more absurd” (by erasing the flower stem, so that the flower appears to be floating in the air)

The fairy wands I came across at Palo Alto’s Gamble Gardens this morning:


(#2) Angel’s (fishing) rods, wand flowers, or fairy wands

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Syntactic phrase, compound word, portmanteau

May 24, 2018

(Gay sex talk in street language: use your judgment.)

Encountered today in reports of the slang of young gay men, three words for ‘male anus viewed as a sexual organ, male sexcavity, (figurative) vagina of a man’:

munt /mʌnt/; mussy /’mUsi/, bussy /’bUsi/ (bunt /bʌnt/ is not recorded, but has probably been coined on occasion)

These are portmanteaus derived from the compound nouns man / boy + cunt / pussy, as examined in my 7/26/13 posting on expressions for the male anus viewed as a sexual organ.

Three steps in the tightness of connection between the elements participating in an expression:

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Crude japery

May 24, 2018

(If the image and text in #1 make you uneasy, pass on to something else. Otherwise there’s only coarse humor here, of the sort that delights middle-schoolers.)

From Aric Olnes on Facebook yesterday, this bit of crude foolishness, to which Aric added the title “Get Lei’d!”:


(#1) Marilyn Monroe + oink (of a pig) = Marilyn Monroink (the hula-dancing pig)

Dancing on what appears to be a slab of Spam (the canned meat product made mostly from ham), from a roll of the stuff. Spam from pig meat, boned and processed.

Providing an opening for coarse sexual word play on bone and roll (in a context where sexual pig and pork lurk).

Of course, I wondered where the image and text came from, who composed them. Searching took me to a larger and much more complex page of crude japery (an ad for “Dickman’s Boned Rolled Pig: Institutional Meat Food”, from Dickman Rendering & Creaming Inc.), on Reddit, where it came from Imgur (without attribution, of course). I then found some of the components of the joke ad, and eventually the identity of its creator, the cheerfully crude graphic artist Cris Shapan.

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(I just) can’t stop (it)

May 22, 2018

From the May 21st New Yorker, this Harry Bliss cartoon:


(#1) “Get those things away from me–I can’t stop eating them.”

A translation of a scene (of snack-food addiction, in the universe of tv commercials) to a parallel metaphorical world (of rampaging Godzillas, in the universe of monster movies).

Some notes about such translations between worlds; about snack-food addiction in tv commercials; about people-eating in Japanese monster movies; and about some “can’t stop” music.

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bunny ears

May 21, 2018

It started with a candid photo of people at a social gathering, with one person making a V hand gesture behind the head of the person next to them, much as in this photo of pro tennis players:

(#1) Swiss jock jokery:  Stan Wawrinka doing the ‘bunny ears’ gesture behind Roger Federer

Bunny-earing someone is a prank (NOAD on the noun prank: ‘a practical joke or mischievous act’), pranks being a very culture-specific form of play + humor that deserve analytic attention that I’m not able to provide, but will just take as a cultural given here.

To come: a bit of the history of bunny-earing; senses of the expression bunny ears (illustrating (mostly metaphorical) sense developments in many directions); and uses of the V hand gesture (illustrating symbolic functions of many different kinds; the gesture itself is “just stuff”, without intrinsic meaning, which can be exploited for many different symbolic purposes). The act, the meanings of the linguistic expression for the act, the cultural significances (or “social meanings”) of the act.

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Deshagged and pedicured

May 17, 2018

(This starts innocently enough, but quickly descends into male body parts and mansex, in very plain language. All this in text, no X-images, but, still, not for kids or the sexually modest.)

Last week, as usual around the beginning of each month, I had my moments of body care: a haircut, to get deshagged (as I think of it); and the services of a neighborhood nail salon, to get pedicured.

Then I thought: I get deshagged regularly, but I don’t get shagged, haven’t been since sometime in the last century, don’t even remember when. Also, I get pedicured, but I don’t get pedicated. I like the sweetly raunchy verb shag and the owlishly learnèd verb pedicate. So different in tone, but they both roll off the tongue. Two ways of dancing.

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trigger finger

May 16, 2018

I had this affliction, for about three months. It involved myalgia — that’s the name of the symptom, muscle pain — that limited my movements, produced frequent nasty cramps in several parts of my body, made me miserable and depressed. Among the affected muscles were those in my fingers, which cramped up painfully without warning. Especially my ring finger (third finger, left hand).

Eventually, it was seen to be a side effect of the very powerful statin drug I was taking (for blood pressure and cholesterol control), generic atorvastatin, trade name Lipitor, a very powerful statin prescribed at maximum dose. Which was breaking down muscle fibers. Essentially, I was being poisoned by one of my medicines.

That’s now over — I went off the Lipitor three months ago and recently started small doses of the steroid prednisone for symptomatic relief —  and I feel very much better, but an odd effect remains. My ring finger occasionally gets stuck in a bent position. No pain, no swelling or anything, just stuck, as here:

(#1) Stuck bent finger (workdesk spathiphyllum plant as background)

I can push it back with my other hand, and it makes a little pop! as it resumes its normal working position.

It’s called trigger finger, fancy name tenosynovitis. And it has nothing to do with the Lipitor poisoning.

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