Archive for the ‘Formulaic language’ Category

Masculinity comics 1

October 5, 2021

[Proviso: this posting is mostly about cross-dressing, but it doesn’t pretend to be an essay on the very large number of forms and functions of cross-dressing, even in the modern U.S., much less in different sociocultural contexts around the world and throughout history.]

I’ve been accumulating comic strips having to do with boys and masculinity, in particular about what they’ve picked up about normatively masculine behavior and attitudes by the age of 8 or so: the age of the character Joe in the comic strip One Big Happy, who’s the older brother of Ruthie, age 6, who’s the central character of the strip. At the moment I have 5 strips (4 OBHs, plus a Zippy), covering a wide range of themes in normative masculinity for boys. To judge from the comics (and my recollections of boyhood), an 8-year-old has an extensive and pretty fine-grained command of the cultural norms of masculinity within his social group.

Example 1, the OBH of 4/16/21, on attitudes towards transvestism / cross-dressing:


(#1) The attitude here is that male cross-dressing — prancing around dressed in women’s clothing — is ridiculous, maybe pitiful, but in any case not compatible with ferocity, that is, symbolic masculinity ; this is one step in sophistication past the attitude that it’s against nature, therefore pathological and dangerous, though possibly usable as entertainment, in the theatre of ridicule

Two linguistic side issues here: the idiomatic slang says you, expressing disagreement with an interlocutor’s remark (from Joe, to Ruthie, in the last panel); and the 2pbfV cross-dress (a derivative of the synthetic compound cross-dressing). Before that, the background of the Boy Code.

(more…)

Read the message in my face

September 12, 2021

(Warning: there will eventually be a naked male pornstar, but without his naughty bits visible, plus some mention of feminism and same-sex attraction.)

Two faces that recently caught my eye. I saw them first in a rich context, including the rest of the pose they were in; a background behind the pose; information about the place where the larger photo appeared; and some knowledge about that place and the function of the photo there. Here they are, as bleached of context as I could manage: just the faces:


(#1) Call this person A


(#2) Call this person B

What personas are these two people projecting? What are they like, and what are they doing in the photos?

(more…)

Lupine Sapir-Whorf allusions

September 8, 2021

(That’s the adjective /lúpàjn/; the noun referring to a flower in the pea family is /lúpǝn/ — but this is not the Lupine Express.)


Francis Barlow’s illustration of the fable, 1687

Today’s morning name: the phrase the boy who cried Whorf. A paranomasic play — wolf vs. Whorf — on the boy who cried wolf, as in the Aesop fable, alluding to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis on the relationship between language and thought.

Oh, I thought on coming to full consciousness, surely someone has messed Whorfianly with the formulaic phrase.

And so they had; here I’ve just picked the first one that came up in googling: the heading The boy who cried Whorf, in Anthropology for Dummies by Cameron M. Smith, p. 48.

Then I tried some other formulaic expressions (again picking just one occurrence, the first one to come before my eyes):

(more…)

Zippy exits, pursued by a board

August 16, 2021

(Warning: high fecality content, which some may find unpleasant.)

Todays Zippy strip, in which Zippy is subjected to stoner / surfer verbal abuse:


(#1) Zippy and his surf iron

As usual, there’s a lot here — I admire Beavis’s one wave shy of a wipeout (see Mark Liberman’s 7/14/05 LLog posting “A few players short of a side” on the Snowclone of Foolishness {small quantity of essential items} short / shy of a {desirable collection}) and the laundry-musician pun in the title “Bleach Boy” — but I’ve picked out the mildly abusive expression iron my shorts for full-bore scrutiny.

(more…)

Queer as Duck

August 13, 2021

(Seriously off-color and sometimes tasteless, so not to everyone’s liking.)

aka Quack in a Tank Top:


(#1) Tank top from UniTee International (through Etsy); (very light) orange duckbill mask (N95 surgical mask) from the Halyard Co.; model AZ photographed by Kim Darnell at AZ headquarters; behind model, resting on the A-E volume of GDoS (open to the page for bang), the 2015 documentary Do I Sound Gay? (the answer to which is “Well, queer as fuck”)

Advised, in the face of the Delta variant, to move up to surgical masks, I searched on Amazon for properly certified masks from American suppliers. Orange the next day, or white in two to three weeks, so orange it was. The orange turned out to be a lighter shade than in the pictures; it also turned out to be a duck’s bill. But it’s very comfortable, and my glasses don’t fog up. However, I’m so spectacularly maladroit that I haven’t yet learned to put it on by myself; but I’ll get a tutoring session tomorrow.

(more…)

Big Fag in a buzzcut

July 27, 2021

Two late July developments: the latest in a series of ever-shorter buzzcuts (with Kim Darnell wielding the clippers), finally reaching a minimal one that satisfies me thoroughly. Shorter than the crewcut that carried me through my late high school years, and requiring no styling. A bit shorter than the easy-care buzzcut my dad settled on in the last years of his life.


Huge hoary linguistics professor, wearied but smiling with pleasure — note the smile lines at the corners of the eyes — at his buzzcut and at the pink neon claim (both amiable and outrageous) to social space for his kind (photo by Kim Darnell)

(more…)

An adult adjacent industry firm

July 27, 2021

Ok, I’m leading with the meat of the story, the expression adult adjacent industry as a modifier of the noun firm ‘business company’ — an expression I believe was entirely new, and astonishing, to me (and so far seems to be attested only in the specific piece of e-mail, from what I’ll call the X Group, that brought the expression to me yesterday as a blogger and to at least one other blogger).

The expression is stunningly euphemistic, ultimately referring to a class of businesses that sell sex: adjacent is euphemistic for direct involvement in (it’s not merely near to, but digs right in with gusto), and the involvement in question is in the adult industry, a euphemism for the sex industry, in particular for the branch of it that supplies photographic and/or written pornography (hot stuff). (NOAD on the relevant sense of the adj. adult: … [d] sexually explicit or pornographic (used euphemistically to refer to a movie, book, or magazine).)

The point of the X Group’s mailing to me was to enlist my blog in a scheme of advertising and sales on behalf of the adult adjacent industry firm — call it Firm Q — with money to be made for me. The assumption of the mailing was that such transactions are the very purpose of blogging, and (to judge from the advice that the company now provides) WordPress seems to agree that blogging is all about making deals. In fact I get approached, on average, once a day — some days none, but some days three in a row — by a company that wants me to enter into some sort of advertising or sales deal with them. Nothing as spectacular as an adult adjacent industry firm (earlier today: advertise a site providing information on what to do in Wilmington NC in exchange for the site’s advertising my blog and so boosting my blog’s search engine score).

Note 1: I actually pay WordPress a fee to keep this blog free of advertising.

Note 2: I never respond to these overtures, even to say a polite no; my earliest experiences with these things was that if you replied at all, that merely encouraged the sender to think you might eventually be open to their invitation, so that they redoubled their efforts. Deletion and stony silence are the only way.

Not entirely irrelevant digression: I’m now taken with the phrase adult adjacent industry firm and have been chanting it as a tetrametrical mantra, aDULT aDJAcent INdustry FIRM (WS WSW | SWW S); repeat it three times for pleasure. It might also work to celebrate sturdy young men engaging in anal intercourse with one another on video — the sort of often-avowed interest of mine that presumably led the X Group to fix on my blog as one that might enter into an intimate relationship with the as-yet-unidentified Firm Q.

But, back to beginnings. Let me start with Margalit Fox.

(more…)

An allusion and a pun

July 1, 2021

🐇🐇🐇 The Mother Goose and Grimm strip from 6/30, with an allusion to an item of culture (the catchphrase “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition”, quoting from sketches from the Monty Python tv shows and recordings) and perpetrating a (fairly absurd) pun on the phrase:


(#1) The bull terrier Grimm and the cat Attila confront punishment for their household misdeed

So the ostentatiously playful allusion to the Spanish Inquisition is motivated by the situation in the strip.

(more…)

Pandering to the bass

June 6, 2021

About a Wayno/Piraro Bizarro from 5/29, which turns on the title phrase pandering to the bass being understood as a pun:


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

We are to understand pandering to the bass as a pun on pandering to the base (which has become a stock expression in political contexts), and, given the image and text of the cartoon, as involving bass (/bes/ rather than /bæs/) ‘someone who plays the bass guitar in a rock band’ (rather than in one of 7 or 8 other possible senses).

(more…)

The elephant and plum

April 9, 2021

Not Frog and Peach, but Elephant and Plum, in a kid joke as told by Ruthie in the One Big Happy strip from 2/22 (in my comics feed on 3/21):

(#1)

Four things: kid jokes, of which the Elephant and Plum variant above is a particular clever example; the saying about elephants on which it depends; elephant jokes, of which the joke above is not the classic Elephant and Plum exemplar; and the ambiguity of “When did you laugh at it?”, which turns on the defining property of deictic elements like the interrogative when.

(more…)