Archive for the ‘Language and religion’ Category

Sacrilegious puns for Pride Month

June 10, 2021

… on t-shirts from the Hear Our Voice on-line store (“empowering feminist clothing” — also clothing on Black, LGBTQ+, kindness, and disability rights themes), in a Facebook ad today (I believe the shirts are available from other sources as well). In the ad, a complex pun (both verbal and visual) on the song title “Proud Mary”; and then, elsewhere on the site, a pun on the religious exclamation amen.

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Idumea

May 31, 2021

My 5/29 posting “The hairy and the smooth” is about (among other things) a story from the biblical book of Genesis, about two fraternal twins, Esau the hairy brother and Jacob the smooth one — Esau also known as Edom, Jacob as Israel. Edom is the Semitic version of the name, Latinized as Idumea / Idumaea. Both Edom and Idumea gave their names to the lands of their descendants. From Wikipedia as quoted in my 5/29 posting:

Edom and Idumea are two related but distinct terms which are both related to a historically-contiguous population but two separate, if adjacent, territories which were occupied by the Edomites / Idumeans in different periods of their history.

My 5/29 discussion then turned to the shapenote song Edom. It turns out that the Sacred Harp has not only Edom (SH200), but also Idumea (SH47b), both song names from the placenames.  Edom is joyous, but Idumea is something altogether different: by turns, powerful, moving, dark, mournful, literally apocalyptic, and shivery, a package that has has made it a great favorite of folk singers. Music from the Denson Sacred Harp (1991 revision):


(#1) SH47t Primrose and SH47b Idumea — both from the early flowering of shapenote music in the South in the early 9th century, both on salvation and resurrection, in Primrose (in A major) merely joyous; in Idumea (in A minor), triumphant, as part of the Apocalypse  — texts from two amazingly prolific writers of hymn texts, Isaac Watts in Primrose, Charles Wesley in Idumea

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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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Celebratory day

September 6, 2020

Today, September 6th, is both National Coffee Ice Cream Day — my favorite flavor — and also Lafayette’s birthday (1757), a most satisfying confluence of occasions. Meanwhile, it has brought me some extraordinarily warming good wishes from people appreciating things I have said and written over the past roughly 60 years, on my own celebratory day. Today I become an old man.

(Is there a ceremony for this? Would I have to do it in Hebrew? That would make it a deeply serious ritual, but totally out of my range, as a lapsed Episcopalian, formerly Lutheran. The Book of Common Prayer, alas, lacks a rite for this occasion. On the other hand, the Lutherans and Anglicans (and many other Christian denominations) have music for it; see below.)

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St. Martin des Poires

March 29, 2020

(Nothing actually crude, but a lot of mostly high-falutin’ sextalk that might give some people the fantods.)

In yesterday’s mail, a postcard from Ryan Tamares (a Stanford friend who is now socially but not postally distant from me) with this crate label from the 1920s and 1930s, featuring a character I’ll call the Bartlett Pear Kid:


(#1) We’ve been here before, in my 2/14/12 posting “Suggestive”, where I wrote: “The newsboy is hustling pears, but to modern eyes the label suggests something more salacious.”

I pursued this example further in a 6/14/16 posting “Crate labels”, which I’ll take up in a little while. But first the literally fabulous history of the Bartlett Pear Kid, who eventually became St. Martin des Poires, B.P.I.

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On Vadim Temkin’s surname

March 24, 2020

(A guest posting from Vadim Temkin, reproducing (without editing, so I can hear Vadim’s actual voice in all of this) a note in his Facebook notes yesterday about a section in my posting “Mourning Son” on  that same day)


Portrait of a thoughtful Vadim, by Sergey Zhupanov

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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.

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Roses now, or roses later

January 29, 2020

On Sunday at the Palo Alto shapenote singing, we came to #340 in the 1991 Denson Sacred Harp, Odem (Second), with the chorus “Give me the roses while I live”. Counterbalanced, as it turns out, on the preceding page by #339, When I Am Gone, with the second verse “Plant you a rose that shall bloom o’er my grave, / When I am gone”.

Roses now, or roses later.

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A syncretic religious holiday

December 8, 2019

Recently posted on Facebook, this melding of the traditions of Judaism with the traditions of Jedi-ism for the holiday season, in French:


(#1) ‘May the light be with you’: the Jedi Master Yoda wields a lightsword menorah for Hanukkah (Fr. Hanoucca) — Happy Hanukkah! (Joyeuse fête de Hanoucca!)

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For all the saints

November 4, 2019

In Mexican tradition, November 1st is the central point in the Days of the Dead (October 31st through November 2nd), while in older Christian tradition it’s All Saints’ (or, as many would have it, Saints) Day. For some of us, there is specific music for the day: the magnificent processional hymn “For All the Saints”, sung to the Ralph Vaughan Williams tune Sine Nomine.


(#1) Fra Angelico, The Forerunners of Christ with Saints and Martyrs (from the 1420s, tempera on poplar wood) (from Wikipedia)

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