Archive for the ‘Language and animals’ Category

The news for shoes

September 17, 2018

… and toucans, but not, surprisingly, pandas, despite the brand name.

Originally encountered in ads from the Footwear etc. stores (a California chain with a store on University Ave. in Palo Alto): Wanda Panda,

We Are Wanda Panda

Shoes, ankle boots and sandals for women. Made in Spain. [The company’s headquarters are in Alicante, on the Costa Blanca]

Hours of attention: Monday to Thursday, 9:00 – 13:00, 16:00 – 18:00, Friday 9:00 – 13:00 [notably Spanish hours]

Phonemically /wandǝ pændǝ/ in English, apparently involving the bamboo-eating bear Ailuropoda melanoleuca (I have two friends with the panda as a very serious totem animal, so I’m alert to pandas) — but phonemically /wanda panda/ in Spanish, with no allusion to (el) panda ‘panda’ at all; instead the reference is to (la) panda ‘gang, crowd, group of friends’ (in European Spanish slang). And the Wanda Panda mascot is a cartoon toucan (tucán in Spanish):

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Some notes on the shoes. And then a digression on why Wanda and panda don’t rhyme in English (though they do in Spanish).

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Brush away the blue-tailed skink

September 4, 2018

From Chris Zable on Facebook on August 3rd, a photo from her family’s holiday in Florida, with her comment:

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“Spotted this little lizard with a bright blue tail on a fence rail at the Tallahassee Museum. Much of their space is a zoo of local native species in generously-sized enclosures that are just fenced off bits of native habitat. We saw pumas, red wolves, and foxes among other critters.”

As good a photo of a blue-tailed skink as any you can find on the net. To come: on skinks; on the “Blue Tail Fly” song; and on my gay highjacking of the song, as “Blue Tailed Skink” (with skink as a portmanteau, skank + twink) — taking things far from Chris’s original child-friendly travel report.

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Stick insects and tree crickets

September 1, 2018

Today’s morning name: stick insect (creatures from my insect-collecting childhood):


(#1) The strong stick insect, Anchiale briareus

Fascinating creatures, with long bodies and camouflage coloration — brown like sticks, green like leaves.

Probably in my mind from a Facebook query by Georgia Morgan on the 30th about a long-bodied brownish insect that had turned up on a screen in her Brattleboro VT house. Which, as it turned out, was a tree cricket, not a stick insect.

A celebrated kid riddle:

Q: What’s long, brown, and sticky?

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Mandarin orange at the Malamute Saloon

August 30, 2018

Yesterday’s morning names. I have a ghost of a clue as to why Mandarin oranges came to me at dawn, but the Malamute Saloon is a total mystery.

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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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Central Shark

August 16, 2018

We’re in the middle of the SyFy Channel’s Sharknado Week (the 12th through the 19th), an event that continues to fly the banner of life-threatening sharp-toothed monster-fish even after the Discovery Channel has largely turned over its own SHARK WEEK offerings (July 22nd through 29th this year) to putatively informative feature stories. None of that wimpy speculative journalism for the staff at SyFy, who steadfastly maintain the tradition that has brought us SyFy-original gems like their 2010 Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda (which I watched again yesteday).

Each year some new movies (plus, of course, the classics of past years). Fresh meat this year:

Deep Blue Sea 2, Megalodon, Santa Jaws, Frenzy, Nightmare Shark, 6-Headed Shark Attack, with, as an extra attraction on Sunday, The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time!

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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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Cultural knowledge

August 4, 2018

Three recent cartoons in my feed that depend on their readers supplying crucial bits of background cultural information: a Rhymes With Orange from the 1st (the eating habits of Japanese movie monsters); a Mother Goose and Grimm from the 1st (the His Master’s Voice dog); and today’s Bizarro/Wayno collab (clergy visiting parishioners).

In each case, the cartoon shows some situation from everyday life (which you have to know about) juxtaposed with, or translated into, another more remarkable world (which you also need to know details of).

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Advances in phobology

August 2, 2018

… the science of fear and fears, to which Gary Larson made a sort of contribution in this 1988 Far Side cartoon:

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It was, of course, a joke: a term for a preposterous fear. Fear of ducks, sure, but fear that a duck is watching you? That’s a wild paranoid phobia akin to Dinsdale Piranha’s paranoid phobia of Spiny Norman, a gigantic imaginary hedgehog, in Monty Python’s “Piranha Brothers” skit.

For the most part, the joke got passed around as a joke —  but without the context of its occurring in a  cartoon, and in the context of the many lists of remarkable phobias you can find all over the place, the funny word and its astonishing definition have taken on a shadow life of their own.

Then, on the quibbling front, there’s the ill-formedness of anatidaephobia as the name of a phobia, any phobia, even a phobia of ducks.

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The ants are my friends?

July 28, 2018

Through friends on Facebook, a 7/30/12 Captain Scratchy cartoon (by Chuck Ingwersen) “The Wiener Dog Is Annoyed”, in which a dachshund and a pug are transfixed in panel 1 by small black dots on the ground between them, from which these sounds are emanating:

🎶Just like me, they long to be … close to you. 🎶

🎶Rainy days and Mondays always get me down. 🎶

🎶We’ve only just begun. 🎶

— upon which, in panel 2, the dachshund growls:

CRAP, WE’VE GOT CARPENTER ANTS.

(To get this, you need to know that carpenter ants are a real thing — not a stretch — and you really need to know about Karen and Richard Carpenter and their songs from 1970-71.)

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