Archive for the ‘Folklore’ Category

Green grow the pickles, O

October 13, 2023

This remarkable photo left me dumbstruck yesterday when Monica Macaulay passed it along on Facebook, having gotten it from the Art Deco FB group on 10/10:


The Pickle Sisters, a vaudeville group from the 1920s (photo: eBay.com)

[Here I repeat a note from the last posting I was able to manage, the 10/7 posting “THE shirts”, six days ago:

Note: this is massively a Mary, Queen of Scots, Not Dead Yet posting, indeed something of a celebration of my being able to post anything at all, not to mention through enormous pain in my swollen fingers. But no details about any of that here; at the moment, I truly am pleased to be still alive and want to show that I can manage a posting.

This caution applies fully to this Pickle Sisters posting.]

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Today’s exercise in cartoon understanding

February 17, 2023

Today’s Wayno / Piraro Bizarro — Wayno’s groan-punning title: “Tuffet Luck” — depends on your knowing one thing from popular culture in the Anglosphere (of, roughly, the past 200 years). If you don’t know that, you’re SOOL; the spider, curds, whey, and tuffet are just weird stuff.


(#1) The spider as ambulatory assault victim; apparently, the spider’s prey was not frightened away, but instead used what they’d learned in self-defense classes (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are (only) 2 in this strip — see this Page.)

Yes, it’s a nursery rhyme. “Little Miss Muffet”, said to have been first recorded in 1805. Traditionally, part of growing up for most children in the Anglosphere (though I wonder if that’s still true), but probably little known elsewhere. And largely opaque to the children who chant it, though I suspect that modern kids are inclined to interpret it as a tale of a male imposing himself on female, and her fleeing from him. Kids would probably understand it as a boy annoying or grossing out a girl with creepy-crawlie things. Older people will think of unwanted advances on the subway, Tyrone F. Horneigh pursuing Gladys Ormphby on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, and the like.

The Bizarro version, on the other hand, is much more up-to-date: Muffet Fights Back.  Muffet, in fact, Kicks Ass.

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leprobates

March 12, 2021

Today’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro (Wayno’s title: “Mythical Miscreants”):


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 6 in this strip — see this Page.)

leprobate, a portmanteau of leprechaun reprobate. Naughty, naughty boys.

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genealogy, genie-ology

March 10, 2021

The 2/10 One Big Happy, recently in my comics feed:


(#1) Bonus word play: the genie’s fabulous bottle and the idiom hit the bottle ‘drink heavily

Ruthie understands genealogy as genie-ology, or at least as a word with first element genie, the name of a mythological spirit that has come to play a significant role in American popular culture (and she recognizes both lamp genies and bottle genies). But genealogy is new to her.

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Crossed folk stories

September 9, 2020

Yesterday’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro cartoon:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 4 in this strip — see this Page)

The strip explicitly refers to the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, but also alludes to the Piper’s son as having stolen a pig. This is baffling unless you know a particular English nursery rhyme, so we have another exercise in cartoon understanding.

Ok, let’s assume you get that. Then the cartoon is a kind of conceptual portmanteau, a cross between the Piper legend and the Piper’s son nursery rhyme. Then set in a modern law-enforcement context, juxtaposing some (stereotyped) version of the real world with the world of these two folk stories. Cool.

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Stravinsky’s 1970 Firebird and the Ghoulliard Quartet

May 20, 2019

Music, cartoons, and language play, plus Slavic folklore, Seiji Ozawa and his expressive hair, pony cars, symphony trumpeters, NPR, and Frankenstein’s monster. It starts with this wonderful cartoon by Jeffrey Curnow from the NPR site (hat tip to Virginia Transue):

(#1)

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Rubber and glue

July 23, 2018

The June 26th One Big Happy, with an updated version of a bit of childlore:

(#1)

It starts out traditionally, with a retort to insult beginning “I’m rubber and you’re glue…”, but then it takes a modern-tech social-media turn (while preserving the glue … you rhyme).

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Getting the comic

July 3, 2017

Yesterday, from Chris Hansen, this cartoon by Daniel Beyer:

(#1)

Chris’s comment:

It took me a minute to “get” it (I’ve been in England for a looooong time)

(Chris is an American long resident in England.)

Another exercise in understanding comics. In this case, requiring a crucial piece of knowledge about American popular culture.

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Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit: three cartoons for the 1st

May 1, 2017

It’s May Day, an ancient spring festival — think maypoles and all that — so, the beginning of the cycle of the seasons. (Everybody knows the Vivaldi. Try listening instead to the Haydn, here.) And it’s the first of the month, an occasion for still other rituals, including one that calls for everyone to greet the new month, upon awakening, by saying “rabbit, rabbit, rabbit” (or some variant thereof). There’s even a Rabbit Rabbit Day Facebook community, with this page art (not attributed to an artist):

(#1)

The three-rabbit variant is the one I’m familiar with. (I got it as an adult from Ann Daingerfield Zwicky. Since she was from the South, I thought it was a specifically Southern thing. But today I learned, from an astonishingly detailed Wikipedia page, that that is very much not so.)

Today also brought a Facebook posting from my friend Mary Ballard, to whom the whole inaugural-rabbit thing was news, and, by good fortune, three cartoons from various sources: a Bizarro I’ve already posted about; a Mother Goose and Grimm with an outrageous bit of language play; and a Calvin and Hobbes reflection on the meaning of the verb read.

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Digitally disseminated folklore

July 22, 2015

Back in 1975, Alan Dundes and Carl R. Pagter published the first in a series of Urban Folklore From the Paperwork Empire books, in which they catalogued an assortment of material — drawings (most with captions or other text on them) and slogan signs — created by office workers, photographically reproduced, and distributed through office mail. In addition, “dirty” drawings and pictures were passed from hand to hand, just as “dirty” jokes spread by word of mouth. All of this material cycled informally, and (like classic folklore) no one had any real idea where it came from, beyond the person who gave it to you, nor did people care about that.

 (#1)

This dissemination of subterranean cultural material continues, but now mostly by digital means. And at a vastly increased rate. And a fair amount of it is the same stuff that used to be passed around the office.

In any case, few people care about the source of the stuff that comes their way — an attitude that distresses me with respect to cartoons and obvious artistic creations and makes me uneasy in lots of other cases. Meanwhile, some of my friends treat my attitudes as charming academic eccentricities that don’t, and shouldn’t, concern ordinary people.

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