Archive for the ‘Language and politics’ Category

Pandemic gifts

May 25, 2020

[some corrections from an earlier versiom]

From Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky on Sunday, some delightful small gifts for this difficult time: two face masks — a piece of op art turned into a mask, and a fanciful Emperor Penguin [Elizabeth insists it’s an Emperor, but I was convinced it was a King] with a crown — and a very large, very political tea towel.

(more…)

Zippy for President

May 24, 2020

Am I elected yet? Am I re-elected yet? Zippyclone examples from the US presidential elections in 1984 and 1988. The big campaign poster from 1984, with the former variant:


(#1) Taco sauce in hand, Ding Dongs at the ready, Zippy throws his topknot into the electoral ring, challenging President Ronald Reagan and former Vice President Walter Mondale (Hat tip: Tom Frenkel)

It looks like Zippy is a perpetual independent candidate, but most of the campaign literature is in comic books, calendars, and posters, rather than in the strips. I’ve found one strip on his presidential runs, from 2012 (in the mainstream: incumbent President Barack Obama vs. former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney):

(more…)

Clouds of glory

April 4, 2020

On Facebook, Bob Richmond reported returning to his mother’s copy of Page’s British Poets of the Nineteenth Century, to muse on a favorite passage of hers from William Wordsworth’s “Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood”. In the passage he posted about on Facebook, this excerpt:

Not in entire forgetfulness
And not in utter nakedness
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home

Ah, immediate clang for me: the Sacred Harp (1991 Denson revision), 480, Redemption (words and setting by John T. Hocutt, 1959), with the chorus:

Oh, His blood was shed that we might live
With Him when life is o’er,
And upon the clouds of glory ride
Safe to that peaceful shore.

I’ve long been moved by the idea of riding upon those clouds of glory, and now it seems that Wordsworth is the source of the phrase — here, and in other places as well.

(more…)

Keep lettin’ him snooze

April 3, 2020

In the One Big Happy from 3/11, Ruthie belts her heart out for her dolls:


(#1) An intentional parody — well, burlesque, or travesty — performed with great enthusiasm by Ruthie

Look at the first panel of the cartoon. If the prosody of the first line, “Keep lettin’ him snooze”, doesn’t clue you in to the song being parodied, then maybe the diambic last line of the first stanza, “No spoon, one fork”, will do the trick. Or… you can wait for the last stanza, in the fourth panel, where Ruthie gives it to you straight.

(more…)

The triune Emperor of the Swamp: a muskrat, a fox, and a bear

April 3, 2020

The swamp is Pogo’s Okefenokee, and its emperor has three faces: Deacon Mushrat (a muskrat and a moral monster); Seminole Sam (a grifter fox); and P.T. Bridgeport (a huckster bear). Powerful members of the emperor’s inner circle include Mole MacCarony (aka Molester Mole) and Simple J. Malarkey, a malevolent wildcat.


(#1) The Deacon, Malarkey, and Mole (plus Mole’s minions, the bats Bewitched, Bothered, and Bemildred) at a 5/6/53 meeting of the Jack Acid Society

I found myself pulled into this world by Lisa Cohen, who wrote on Facebook on 3/31 that she’d just heard someone on the radio referring to [REDACTED] as a rabid muskrat, which made her suddenly feel more cheerful. Indeed.

The reference to metaphorically fanatical muskrats immediately, of course, called to mind Deacon Mushrat [Muskrat], a hypocritical conservative who speaks in Gothic text (as above), in Walt Kelly’s Pogo comic strip. And from that everything else fell out.

(more…)

haram / treyf

February 5, 2020

(This posting discusses sexual matters in very plain terms and is deliberately and grossly offensive in several ways, so it’s not for kids, the sexually modest, or those who are uncomfortable with the crude mockery of public figures.)

Two events from yesterday, both involving Helmet Grabpussy. Leading to things that are unclean and dangerous, hence forbidden. Haram (not halal) in Islam, treyf (not kosher) in Judaism.

(more…)

The verb of the American moment

October 12, 2019

The verb is depose — actually two homophonous verbs, with very different senses (though they share a history). Currently in the US news in one sense because of Helmet Grabpussy’s shrieks that movements towards impeaching him are attempts at a coup, attempts to overthrow him, depose him from office; and in another sense because House committees have been summoning witnesses to give sworn testimony, to be deposed formally.

(more…)

Present at the creation: the weaponization of sarcasm

September 25, 2019

A Mick Stevens Caveman cartoon in the 9/30/19 New Yorker (about to arrive in the mail), memorializing a signal moment in the cartoon Stone Age:


(#1) The weaponization of sarcasm in prehistoric times

The later history of weaponized sarcasm is vast, but certainly reaches one of its high points in 1970 in the career of British gangster Doug Piranha. During a period of perhaps 70 years sarcasm has spread to become, in the view of some cultural critics, absolutely pervasive in modern society, at least in the Anglophone world.

Meanwhile, the idea that elements of culture can be weaponized — used like bludgeons not just against individuals, but also to aggressively serve social or political purposes — has recently become fashionable.

(And then, of course, there’s the question of the semantic work that the derivational suffix –ize does in converting various groups of lexical items to verbs (as in N weapon > V weaponize).)

(more…)

4th of July displays

July 6, 2019

(Much about men’s bodies and mansex, in street language, so not for kids or the sexually modest; also about military displays for Independence Day, but that comes after the raunchy stuff — Erst kommt das Fressen, dann kommt die Moral.)

So we have the 4th of July as a celebration of commercial mansex (every holday is a sales opportunity): selling premium men’s underwear by hawking men’s bodies; and offering gay porn sales, usually with a holiday-themed image (naked bodies wrapped in the flag are a conventional presentation, but there are many other possibilities). From this year’s rich crop of ads, I’ve chosen one of each type: a holiday ad for DJX homowear in the Trough line; and an ad for the political-satire gayporn film Cauke for President from TitanMen.

(more…)

Death, first as tragedy, then as farce

July 5, 2019

Today’s  Zippy brings us a Grim Reaper incarnated as a Twee Creeper:


(#1) Death Boy, who can still kill with cuteness

(more…)