Archive for the ‘Idioms’ Category

On the rubber fowl beat

November 22, 2019

In my writing, it goes back a dozen years to a Language Log posting on rubber ducky, with further duck notes over the years; notable from the outset were items like the vinyl rubber ducky, a rubber ducky made of vinyl. And then today Bob Eckstein burst onto Facebook with a new Christmas item from the Archie McPhee company, a rubber chicken Christmas ornament — yes, a glass rubber chicken.

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Bears in the woods

November 1, 2019

Today’s Wayno/Piraro wordless Bizarro collabo (titled “Confirmed” by Wayno), on one of the two pop-culturally celebrated activities of bears in the woods (picknicking being the other one):


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 3 in this strip — see this Page.)

According to this cartoon, bears do indeed, as the idiom has it, shit in the woods, but not indiscriminately. Instead, there are designated defecation sites, alongside those facilities — gender-marked portable toilets — specifically for people to shit in the woods; the ones for bears, however, are open-defecation sites (in Bizarro-World, at least).

As it happens, bears have often been cartooned in the woods, especially when bent on defecation; the idiom, both wry and dirty, is irresistibly attractive to humorists.

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Contamination by association

August 13, 2019

(Regularly skirting or confronting sexual matters, so perhaps not to everyone’s taste.)

Yesterday’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro takes us back to the Garden of Eden:


(#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 bit of formulaic language for this situation is a catchphrase, a slogan with near-proverbial status (YDK, for short):

YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE IT’S BEEN

The leaves are conventionally associated with modesty, through their having been used to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve in the Garden — a use that then associates the leaves with the genitals, from which the psychological contamination spreads to the entire plant, including the fruits. You don’t know where that fig has been.

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Understanding the bull

August 1, 2019

In the August 5th & 12th New Yorker, this droll cartoon by John McNamee:

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To understand the cartoon, you must, first of all, recognize the figures of a bull and a bullfighter. Crucial cultural knowledge, but not (I think) especially challenging. Then there are the other details — the two of them are seated in a livingroom, the bull is having a dainty cup of tea, the bullfighter is showing the bull patches of the color red. And then there’s the caption: how does it knit some or all of these things into a joke?

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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:

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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.

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Mickey gets stuffed for Pride

June 21, 2019

A week from today (on the 28th) is Stonewall Day, this year the 50th anniversary of the original event, which helped to catalyze a long tradition of homophile organizations and protests into annual Gay Pride events all over the world: events that are protests, defiant demonstrations, celebrations of community, and parties, all in one.

The occasion has presented the Disney companies with a public relations opportunity — if they play their cards right, they can be seen as celebrating diversity — and a business opportunity as well — they can sell Disney-identified products to the lgbt community (in special locations, for a limited time, not out in the public eye). Which brings us this carefully calculated Pride sale:

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What a piece of work is Miss Lucille

May 22, 2019

The 4/25 One Big Happy features Miss Lucille:

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Ah, a piece of work.

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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.

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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

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Two cents, common sense, incense, and peppermints

March 27, 2019

The 2/26 One Big Happy, riffing on /sɛns/, in idioms with sense (common sense, horse sense, nonsense), in incense, and in cents (also in an idiom, two cents):

(#1)

Which, of course, leads us inevitably to the psychedelic days of 1967, with their whiff of incense and peppermints (plus some pot).

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