Archive for the ‘Figurative language’ Category

Over the edge with formulaic language

June 22, 2019

It looks simple at the start, but then (as Mark Liberman explained earlier today on Language Log, in “[REDACTED]’s “cocked and loaded”: a tangled history”), it gets intriguingly convoluted.

It starts with Iran shooting down an American drone, upon which Helmet Grabpussy first ordered a military strike on Iran and then called it back. Grabpussy tweeted:

(#1)

And with “cocked & loaded”, we were off into the worlds of technical terminology, formulaic expressions, and speech errors — and then, thanks to Bill Maher, gay porn videos.

(more…)

perennial, evergreen, hardy

June 4, 2019

From an exchange on Facebook a few days ago, in which (at least) two of the participants use the term perennial to refer to plants that are green all year round, that don’t lose their leaves for a dormant season. The discussion was set off by DA (not knowing the privacy wishes of the participants, I refer to them by their initials), posting about a practice that puzzles him:

DA: I never understood why [people] bother to plant [fruit] trees that don’t bear fruit.

To which DS replied with a number of reasons for the practice, but along the way introducing perennial in the sense ‘green all year long’ (relevant materal boldfaced):

DS: They provide many other benefits, for birds, shade, soil augmentation … they hold together hills so they don’t wash away .. and much more. Besides, they can be lovely. As far as I know, there are no perennial fruit trees so they can’t be used for privacy.

(more…)

Learnèd cowboy joshing on the dusty plains

May 28, 2019

Cowboy cuisine you were probably unaware of, from the tv Western Rawhide S7 E8 “Damon’s Road: Part II” (first aired 11/20/64), in a short bit in which the drovers on a cattle drive are treated to a fancy brunch out on the dusty plains (literally on the trail), with the trail boss Gil Favor (played by Eric Fleming) getting his own table (white tablecloth, nice glassware, and all). The cook, assuming the role of a French chef, appears with a dish made specially for Favor: eggs à la Robespierre!. He removes the lid from the silver serving dish to reveal what Favor confirms is indeed eggs à la Robespierre, explaining wryly:

eggs in the shell with their heads cut off

(as I took the words down on the fly). And the brief scene comes quickly to a close, with everyone returning to the main story line. Nothing draws attention to the line, which goes by in an instant. Snap.

(more…)

Why is he calling her his thesaurus?

May 28, 2019

Today’s morning name was the Italian phrase il mio tesoro, and there’s no mystery where it came from: on my overnight iTunes, the 1959 Carlo Maria Guilini recording of Don Giovanni had reached Luigi Alva singing “Il Mio Tesoro” just as I woke. What was odd was that my still sleep-addled brain was puzzling over why Don Ottavio was calling Donna Anna his thesaurus.

Attribute it to an overactive mental-association apparatus connecting It. il tesoro ‘treasure’ (but also ‘darling, honey, dear’) to Engl. thesaurus referring to a specialized type of dictionary (derived ultimately from Greek). In this case, one reproducing a historical connection between It. tesoro ‘darling’ and It. tesoreria ‘thesaurus’, which are, etymologically, second cousins, more or less.

After this, on to the aria, with performances by Alva, Araiza, and Domingo.

(more…)

High 5 from a bison

May 25, 2019

(After the cartoons and the lexicography, John Rechy will take this posting into the world of mansex, in some detail and in very plain talk; that section is not for kids or the sexually modest, but I’ll warn you when it’s looming on the horizon.)

Two bison greet each other in a John Baynham cartoon with a wonderful pun:

(#1)

That’s numbers (roughly ‘amount’, but as a PL C noun) — and indeed large numbers of buffalo did once roam the plains of North America — vs. numbers referring to physical models, or simulacra, of symbols for certain abstract mathematical entities — in this case, the natural numbers. Such physical models are also familiar: think of the letters in the HOLLYWOOD sign, or the numbers on the building at 666 Fifth Ave. in NYC (with its own kind of fame as a Jared Kushner property). But people don’t walk around with, much less inside, giant versions of such models. That’s deliciously absurd.

Looking at the lexical items involved will take us deep into the lexicographic weeds and then to the secret places of mansex, starting with the dim recesses of Griffith Park in Los Angeles.

(more…)

Ostentatiously playful allusions

May 18, 2019

(OPAs, for short.) The contrast is to inconspicuously playful allusions, what I’ve called Easter egg quotations on this blog. With three OPAs from the 4/20/19 Economist, illustrating three levels of closeness between the content of the OPA and the topic of the article: no substantive relationship between the two (the Nock, Nock case), tangential relationship (the Sunset brouhaha case), and tight relationship (the defecate in the woods case).

The three cases also illustrate three degrees of paronomasia: the Nock, Nock case involves a (phonologically) perfect pun; the Sunset brouhaha case an imperfect pun; and the defecate in the woods case no pun at all, but whole-word substitutions.

I’ll start in the middle, with Sunset brouhaha. But first, some background. Which will incorporate flaming saganaki; be prepared.

(more…)

Pooh’s honey pot

May 16, 2019

(Talk of men’s bodies and mansex, not appropriate for kids or the sexually modest.)

From several posters on Facebook, a raunchy fabric composition involving TopPooh, TPooh for short, and BottomPooh, BPooh for short (both of them from Ernest Shepard illustrations for the original Winnie-the-Pooh books), doing a standing doggy:

(more…)

Wooden arches

May 5, 2019

Another posting about the objects of everyday life and how good design can provide us with small pleasures. In this case, the wooden arches that grace my condo complex, serving as entrance ways on the street, as trellises for vines, and as decorative elements for people on the street as well as for those of us inside the complex. The  current installation (recently repaired):


(#1) Dark-stained wood in the morning sun: four uprights; horizontally on top, two lintels (lintels going left to right) deep and ten rafters (rafters going front to back) wide; ivy climbing on the two front uprights

(That’s my place, 722, on the left, the stairs to 718 and 720 on the right.)

The repair job replaced the right back upright and all the stuff on top. Some details below

(more…)

Where are you going with that?

April 30, 2019

The One Big Happy from 4/3, recently in my comics feed: the tough neighborhood kid James and his sledgehammer:

(#1)

What I hear in the first panel is an echo of a quotation with an ax, not a sledgehammer:

‘Where’s Papa going with that axe?’ said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.

One of the great first lines in English literature, just grips you right off, does E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web.

(more…)

A standout in his shorts

April 27, 2019

(Mesh Man in his underwear, leading us in many directions, but with plenty of sexual content — not suitable for kids or the sexually modest.)

From the 12th: Mesh Man returns to the Daily Jocks underverse, flogging their fabulous Varsity Mesh Shorts, flaunting his famous receptive organ — he’s all man and a foot deep — kneeling with feeling in #1 and flashing a finger gun to his fans in #2:


(#1) Party shorts! (see the ad below) — I go down on one knee to go down on my guy

(more…)