Archive for the ‘Formulaic language’ Category

Fables of the trees

October 15, 2018

It began with this poignant texty on Facebook:

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Voting as part of the story marks this as a recent version, and the shrinking forest (possibly an allusion to deforestation) might be recent as well. But the main idea — that the trees accepted the axe because its handle was wood and they thought it was one of them — feels antique, fabulesque. And so it is.

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Fly formulaicity

October 8, 2018

… in the 10/3 Wayno/Bizarro collab entitled “Off the wall”:


(#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 little festival of formulaicity. In the title, the (informal) idiom off the wall and an allusion to the idiom fly on the wall. In the interviewee’s remark, the (colloquial) idiom fly in the buttermilk and perhaps an allusion to the song “Ole Buttermilk Sky” [10/9: but see the comment below on “Skip to My Lou”]; an allusion to a family of “Waiter, there’s a fly in my soup” jokes; and the idiom fly in the ointment. Plus a pair of excellently anthropomorphic houseflies on a tv talkshow; if it’s a late-night show, it could be Fly By Night (with the idiom fly-by-night).

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Swine alive or dead

September 29, 2018

From the American tv show Gunsmoke, in the episode “Fandango” (S12 E21, first aired 2/11/67), Marshal Matt Dillon (James Arness) to a man he’s taken into his custody for trial:

Mister, you’re going back pig or pork, now make up your mind!

The colorful alliterative figure pig or pork, a version of the formula alive or dead (more often encountered in the version dead or alive, with the monosyllable before the disyllable). And an excellent version it is.

(It appears to have been a creation of the Gunsmoke writers: I can find no occurrences that aren’t quotations of, comments on, or allusions to the “Fandango” cite.)

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Rainbow. Sharks. Rainbow sharks.

August 16, 2018

First, rainbow: from Andrew Winnard on Facebook, a photo of a rainbow-lit Metro escalator in Stockholm.

Then, sharks: in my posting earlier today “Central Shark”, about Sharknado Week on the SyFy channel (Trailer Park Shark (2017) is just about to begin!).

Which led me to the Italian clothing company Paul & Shark, with its sharky logo — and its line of rainbow shark t-shirts. And to a slew of artworks depicting rainbow sharks. And to a popular aquarium fish, the rainbow shark.

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Why choose when you can have both?

August 12, 2018

In my e-mail, more Pinterest boards combining sexually hot Sterek (Stiles + Derek) slash art and remarkable hot dogs, most of them hybrids as well, as in this contribution from The BakerMama | Maegan Brown website on 9/29/16, “Grilled cheese hot dogs”:

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A brilliant combination of two classics: grilled cheese and hot dogs! A buttery crisp hot dog bun filled with lots of melted cheese [Monterey jack and cheddar] and a juicy grilled hot dog. Why choose when you can have both [understood: in the same (hybrid) dish]?

In this case, the hybrid food sounds tasty, but sometimes the hybrid is (like the spork) less satisfying than either component on its own, or even (like SNL‘s Shimmer, a floor wax and a dessert topping) an unpleasant union of incompatible elements..

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The elephant in therapy

August 8, 2018

Today’s Rhymes With Orange combines two cartoon memes, Psychiatrist and Elephant in the Room:

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Not the first time this combination has been drawn.

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Mud, shit, and chocolate

July 30, 2018

Caught on re-run tv yesterday, in the Law & Order S19 E10 episode “Pledge” (from 1/21/09):

Your entire case rests on this girl’s testimony. If her only impetus to cooperate is greed, you’re in trouble. Who dangled money in front of her in the first place?

The cops. They knew she was in debt, so they pressed her pretty hard.

It’s going to look like we bought her testimony. What a mud sandwich this is turning into.

And only a few months before that, in an emotional  9/29/08 speech on the floor of the U.S. Congress by Rep. John Boehner in support of the TARP bill bailing out big banks:

None of us came here to have to vote for this mud sandwich!

(You can watch it here.)

Yes, mud sandwich. A euphemism for shit sandwich.

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Swiss America

July 21, 2018

Wanderings through some Switzerland-related places in the U.S. and through some places fancied to be “the Switzerland of America”:


(#1) City hall of Santa Clara UT, flying the US, Utah, and Swiss flags


(#2) Alpine Ouray CO, in the Rockies

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Return to the Amherst Diner in Winchester VA

June 23, 2018

… in today’s Zippy:

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This visit framed in the Walk Into Bar joke format.

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Mascots united

June 20, 2018

This week’s Drunk Cartoon from Bob Eckstein brings us the Oddburgercouple.:


(#1) The Burger King and Ronald McDonald share a moment of post-coital bliss

Two creepy mascots for competing burger behemoths seize a moment of forbidden love — Romeo coupling with Julio, Tony with Mario — and share an after-cliché.

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