Archive for the ‘Language and animals’ Category

The lizard on the 101

November 8, 2019

From Ela Thurgood on Facebook today, this photograph of a recent visitor to Ela and Graham’s house in Chico CA:


(#1) An alligator lizard, presumably a southern alligator lizard, Elgaria multicarinata; alligator lizards are a western US thing

That’s in Chico, in NorCal. But at least since 1972, alligator lizards have been famous as a SoCal phenomenon, celebrated in song as apparitions in the air above “Ventura Highway”:


(#2) DeviantArt by nightly03 illustrating America’s “Ventura Highway”

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The Russian sardines are coming!

November 6, 2019

Today’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro collabo goes (sort of) bilingual:


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

The Cyrillic label hints at сардинкы (transliteration in Latin letters: sardinky/i) ‘little sardines’, with a hard sign Ъ added to allow an allusion to one of those odd symbols. Meanwhile, the title tsardines is a portmanteau, of tsar and sardines, referring to the five tsars of Russia packed like sardines into the tin.

(Yes, full appreciation of the cartoon requires assembling a fair amount of knowledge of several kinds, starting with sardines and their customary packaging.)

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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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Another Griffithian mantra

October 19, 2019

Today’s Zippy strip returns to the hypnotic pleasures of mantric repetition, a favorite theme of Bill Griffith’s:

(#1)

First, it’s parsed as

[ Cosmic Catnip ] [ alpine scratcher ] ‘alpine scratcher with Cosmic Catnip in it’

where Cosmic Catnip is a commercial brand of catnip and an alpine scratcher is a kind of slanted scratch toy for cats. Second, it is indeed a real thing. And third, the name is an excellent line of trochaic tetrameter, eminently usable as a meditative mantra when repeated, ideally at least three times.

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Sharing your penguin

October 15, 2019

From the Economist‘s 8/17/19 issue, in the Science & Technology section, under “Animal behaviour”: “Leopard seals share their suppers: Bad news if you are a penguin” on-line; “P-P-Pick up a penguin: Antarctic predators share their supper” in print (with a headline bow to McVitie’s biscuits):

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The sea eagle

September 30, 2019

Yesterday’s New York Times Magazine (in print) was “The Voyages Issue: Photographic dispatches from the extremities of the earth”, with one report from remote parts of Norway: “Majesty on the Wing: Enormous and indefatigable, sea eagles turn their daily hunt into a thrilling display of aerial dominance”. The introductory photo:


(#1) (photographs by Paolo Pellgrin, text by Helen Macdonald)

Notable to me because the sea eagle, or ern(e), is my onomastic totem animal, Arnold being etymologically the ‘eagle’ stem arn-/ern- + a variant of the ‘adult, strong’ stem alt-/ald-. I am eagle-strong (you may snicker at this; most people do). (In defense of my parents, Arnold is a common Swiss-German name; probably no one in the family had any idea of its etymology.)

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Greetings

September 8, 2019

The avalanche of birthday greetings has, I think, pretty much come to an end. Well over a hundred well-wishings, mostly on Facebook (in several different locations), some in e-mail, and a few by phone — but, this year, for the first time ever in my adult life, not even one in mail, physical rather than electronic mail. Times change.

Greetings from people from all times of my life, from childhood on, and from all parts of my life. In many keys: charming, whimsical, artful, playful-sexy, thoughtful, and moving.

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On the lawn

July 26, 2019

In the July 29th New Yorker, two cartoons about things for American lawns, each requiring one key piece of knowledge for understanding: Bob Eckstein showing a moment of silence; Farley Katz featuring a distressed bird.

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Both cartoons are complex — several things are going on at once, including allusions to American political life — but you can’t get anywhere with them unless you recognize the repeated images in them: the shuttlecocks of the game badminton in the Epstein, the plastic lawn flamingos in the Katz.

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Am I a bird?

July 4, 2019

The 7/3 Rhymes With Orange takes us to the Home for Aged Superheroes, where Superman is unsure of the volant creature he sees in the mirror and fears he’s going blind, or slipping into dementia (an unusually poignant theme for a cartoon):


(#1) In the land of the caped superheroes

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A bit more reaping

June 29, 2019

Just one day after a particularly fine Rhymes With Orange cartoon combining the Desert Island cartoon meme and the Grim Reaper meme — in my 6/27 posting “The Desert Island Reaper” — came a Wayno/Piraro Bizarro with a groaner Grim Reaper pun:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 2 in this strip — see this Page.)

The figure of the Grim Reaper — the bringer of death — as a window-washer, removing — destroying — the grime on the windows of a high-rise building, with the blade of his scythe replaced by a window-washer’s squeegee.

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