Archive for the ‘Language and food’ Category

Beware the bucephalic serpent bearing a wheel of cheese

August 2, 2021

Today’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro, with a fresh reading of Genesis:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 3 in this strip — see this Page.) She found the tree with its serpent and cheeses on the Rindr site, a decidedly sketchy place

The story is about Adam, Eve, a serpent, and a piece of fruit (in Genesis in the KJV, it’s simply the fruit — in the Hebrew original, the generic term peri — but twice in Milton’s Paradise Lost it’s specifically an apple, Latin malus; the story is complicated, but I’m pretty sure Hebrew peri didn’t embrace cheese of any sort), and it’s always an apple in popular tellings of the story in English.

Then there’s the pun, which on the face of it is just the difference between the /n/ of Eden and the /m/ of Edam — a very high frequency pairing in imperfect-puns, especially after a vowel in syllable offsets, where the nasal is likely to be realized entirely as nasalization of the preceding vowel, with no closure for the nasal stop (making these two words potentially identical phonetically).

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Il Castello del Formaggio

June 22, 2021

The 6/21 Zippy strip takes us to Kenosha WI, on the highway between Chicago and Milwaukee, along the shore of Lake Michigan — to the location of Mars Cheese Castle, which is why Zippy is there:


(#1) Nothing directly to do with the two principal foci of this blog — language and linguistics, gender and sexuality — but plenty on food, pop culture (along the roadside), and absurdist comedy

As for my interests, Kenosha does have the headquarters of Jockey International — hail to men’s underwear! — and a local woolly mammoth skeleton in its museum — my totem animal! — and, best of all in mid-America’s Land of Cheese, an annual fall Cheese-A-Palooza festival (devoted to the grilled cheese sandwich and to mac and cheese). But best of all is Mars Cheese Castle.

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Annals of commercial naming: Bear Naked Granola

June 18, 2021

Brought to me by Facebook in recent days, advertisements for two playful trade names: one — for the Boy Smells company, offering scented candles, unisex fragrances, and (unscented) underwear, all for LGBT+-folk — covered in my 6/16 posting “Annals of commercial naming: Boy Smells”; and now, for the Bear Naked® Granola company. The two cases turn out to be very different.

Boy Smells belongs with a series of postings on this blog on dubious and unfortunate commercial names — some clearly unintentionally racy, some playfully suggestive, some openly, even brazenly, suggestive, given the nature of the establishments (Hooters). The Boy Smells company is almost painfully earnest about its LGBT+ mission, which makes its name — so evocative of teenage pong — especially unfortunate.

Bear Naked Granola, in contrast, is knee-deep in playfulness, starting with the pun on bare naked, so that on the one side, you get a reference to bears, with their fondness for nuts and fruits and honey (all relevant to granola); while on the other side, you get bare naked, suggesting purity and simplicity. And you also get the pop-culture view of bears, as cute and entertaining.

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Bizarro cannibalism

June 8, 2021

The Bizarro strip from 5/30, which reminds us of the bizarre in Bizarro:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 5 in this strip — see this Page.)

A grotesque pun that turns on the ambiguity between the common noun peanuts (referring to a food item commonly offered as a snack by airlines) and the proper noun Peanuts (referring to the Charles Schulz cartoon and the characters in it). Instead of honey-roasted peanuts, the attendants are offering honey-roasted Peanuts — Lucy, Charlie Brown, Linus, and so on.

Now, Charlie Brown and the gang are only cartoon children, but they are children, and #1 is a cartoon with human characters, which makes the scene look a lot like cannibalism, in fact cannibalism to satisfy routine snack hunger, not even cannibalism to avoid starvation, or as part of a cultural ritual — so that it inspires revulsion. And some very uneasy laughter.

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Reversed meanings

May 19, 2021

In the One Big Happy strip of 4/25, Joe is being grilled by his father on the meanings of words — “defining words” being a common task for schoolchildren — and, on being challenged by the word /tæktɪks/, whose meaning is unclear to him, he proposes to break the word down into recognizable meaningful parts, from which the meaning of the whole can be predicted. A perfectly reasonable strategy, but one that is stunningly often useless.

(#1)

Joe appears to have isolated the parts /tæk/, /tɪk/, and the plural /s/, but didn’t identify the first as any item spelled tack or the second as any item spelled tick; instead his attention was caught by the combination /tæktɪk/, so similar to /tɪktæk/, the trade name Tic Tac.

And went on to assign some meaning to the reversal of the two parts, reasoning (apparently) that reversing the order should correspond, iconically, to reversing (in some way) the meaning of Tic Tac. What would be the reverse of a breath mint? Well, the function of a breath mint is to sweeten the breath, to make it smell good —  so the reverse function would be to make the breath smell bad.

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Speaking in tongues

May 6, 2021

Specifically, cod tongues. In a brief piece in the Economist‘s April 17th 2021 issue (behind a paywall,alas), p. 46, with the following assortment of headers:

[superheadline] Lip service [on-line] / Norwegian cuisine [in print]

[headine] Fish tongues, a Norwegian delicacy harvested by children [on-line] / Fish tongues, harvested by children [in print]

[subheadline] The piece of cod that passeth all understanding

My focus is that subhead, which is a play — very close to a perfect pun — on the beginning of a verse from the Christian Bible, Philippians 4:7. In the KJV:

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

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A jointed-limb portmanteau and a sugary front-clipping

March 18, 2021

Two recent Wayno/Piraro Bizarro strips, from the 15th and (for St. Patrick’s Day) the 17th, both of linguistic interest: among other things, the portmanteau arthropodcast in the first; and the front-clipping ‘shmallows (for marshmallows, of the psychedelic sort) in the second:

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News from West Reading PA

March 4, 2021

From Charlie Adams (Charles J. Adams III, who for 28 years, until his retirement in 2013, hosted the popular morning radio show “Charlie & Company” on WEEU in Reading), photos from the Murals Corridor (mostly Cherry St.) in West Reading, passed on to me on Facebook by Eleanor (Severin) Houck (my first cousin, daughter of Bertha Zwicky Severin). Two from the set:


(#1) “Wake Up”, 410 Cherry St.


(#2) “Clique”, 416 Cherry St.

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The kimchi museum

February 27, 2021

Studying the label of a jar of excellent kimchi yesterday, I discovered that there was a kimchi museum in Seoul. From the Wikipedia page:


(#1) A plate of kimchi (the foodstuff is not particularly photogenic)

Museum Kimchikan, formerly Kimchi Museum, is a museum dedicated to kimchi; one of the staples of Korean cuisine. Exhibits focus on the food’s history, its many historical and regional varieties, and its importance to Korean culture and cuisine. The museum collects data and statistics on kimchi and regularly offers activities for visitors, such as demonstrations of the kimchi-making process, kimchi tastings, and cooking classes.


(#2) A Kimchi cooking demo

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The allusive shark shack

February 11, 2021

Today’s Zippy has Zippy and Claude strolling in a fantasy city not unlike San Francisco (note the analogue of the Transamerica Tower) and remarking on an advertising display, a shark fin extolling “Joe’s seafood shack [or possibly Joe’s Seafood Shack] on the waterfront”, a fantasy eating establishment:

(#1)

Now, Zippy strips are often about/in specific diners (and motels and fast food restaurants and casual dining places and bowling alleys etc.), places that (with some work) can be tracked down (from their names and/or locations) and depicted (there’s a Page on this blog on my postings about these strips.

But #1 is different. Pretty clearly, it’s not about some actual seafood shack (or Seafood Shack) that advertises with a shark fin, but spins a little fantasy on such eating places as a type.

However, it might still be a (suggestive) allusion to one such specifc place, especially if there’s (just) one that’s well-known over a wide area. An allusion doesn’t have to be exact in detail; close will do.

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