Archive for the ‘Language and animals’ Category

Corn snakes and eggplants

May 23, 2017

… with belladonna as a bonus.

Two more photos by my man Jacques (of uncertain date), in Columbus OH:

(#1)

The snake is curled up in a crevice in the house’s crumbling cellar wall. The corner on the upper right is the edge of the back steps. (Eventually the cellar wall was completely rebuilt, and this spot was transformed into an excellent wooden deck.)

The snake just turned up on a sunny day, looking a bit like a copperhead, but seeming to be unthreatening, which copperheads are not.

The plants in pots in front of the snake are eggplants, bearing their glossy black fruits. The eggplant has come up frequently on this blog as a versatile foodstuff, several times as a member of the Solanaceae / nightshade family — it’s essentially edible nightshade — and occasionally as a phallic symbol, but I haven’t done justice to it as a plant.

(more…)

Squid Pro Quo

May 20, 2017

This Non Sequitur cartoon by Wiley Miller:

(#1)

squid / quid. And squid as a source of ink, squid as food. .

(more…)

Chenillar moments, including frass and lepidopterism

May 14, 2017

Two caterpillar notes, an old one and a very recent one.

First, from a Language Log posting of mine from 6/2/06:

As for the oak moths, we’ve been exceptionally afflicted by them this spring at Stanford — a rain of caterpillars [California Oakworms, Phryganidia californica], then masses of cocoons, and now clouds of moths.  Ick.  Susie Fork [posting on the Elkhorn Slough site], however, sounds pretty pro-moth.  Well, the Elkhorn Slough staff seem to value all the organisms they study.  But then they don’t have to live with clumps of cocoons disfiguring the pieces in the New Guinea Sculpture Garden, the way we do.

(#1)

Then from a visit to Palo Alto’s Gamble Garden last week:

(#2)

(more…)

Toxic moments

May 13, 2017

First, a story came by on NPR in which a tale of five dead hunters in Oregon played a central role, as did the terrible poison tetrodotoxin. And then an episode of the tv series Death in Paradise in which this poison plays a central role. Rough-skinned newts, pufferfish, and garter snakes all have parts to play in the story, as do arms races in evolution. And of course tetrodotoxin and the entertainments of Death in Paradise.

(more…)

blue jack

May 5, 2017

It started with my observing to a friend that a container in which a blue cheese had been stored can be used to start “blu(e)ing” any cheese, citing the blue cheddar I had recently created in my refrigerator. And then this friend went off to buy some cheese for me, and came across some blue jack, a blue version of Monterey Jack. Jack is a mild cheese that has the virtue of being sliceable, and sliceable blue cheeses aren’t easy to come by (most blue cheeses crumble or shatter), so blue jack could be a good find. And so it was:

(#1)

(more…)

Like a mayfly

May 1, 2017

Today’s Bizarro:

  (#1)

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

Appropriately for May Day, this strip is ephemeral: this month, if you keep up with popular culture, it’s wryly funny, but a year from now, almost no one will understand it. (Yes, I’m going to explain it.)

(more…)

Friday word play in the comics

April 28, 2017

Two cartoons to end the week: a Rhymes With Orange with a four-word play and a Bizarro with a POP (phrasal overlap portmanteau):

(#1)

The Cantonese American dish moo goo gai pan ‘chicken with button mushrooms and sliced vegetables’, with a pun on each word: onomatopoetic moo, onomatopoetic goo, the informal noun guy, the Greek god Pan.

(#2)

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

Doctors Without Borders + Border Collie(s).

(Note that there are a lot of things you need to know to appreciate these comics.)

(more…)

There’s always room for another penguin or two

April 25, 2017

From the British Library on Facebook:

  (#1)

We never miss a chance to share a penguin image. This one is from A History of the Birds of New Zealand, 1873.

(more…)

Seahorse on a stick, GBF, and the Describe-A-Muffin Task

April 21, 2017

All in the 4/24/17 New Yorker: Beijing street food on the cover, a William Haefeli cartoon, and a Tom Chitty cartoon.

(more…)

Chub and chums in the morning

April 17, 2017

Yesterday’s morning name was chub (the name of a fish), which led me to the rest of the bilabial-final family: chum, chump, and chup. (And that led to the velar-final family chug, Chung, chunk, chuck, but I won’t pursue that one here.) As it is, the bilabials will lead us into many surprising places, including the Hardy Boys books, eyewear retainers, Australian dog food, gay slurs, and hunky underwear models.

(more…)