Archive for the ‘Language and sports’ Category

Zhock jocks at play

October 5, 2022

In today’s Wayno / Piraro Bizarro, the (somewhat idealized, but real) world of male athletes intersects with the (fictive) world of stereotypical Frenchmen via an imperfect pun:


(#1) In both worlds at once: the object that is a (symbolic) baseball bat in the sports world and also a (real) baguette in the French world (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 5 in this strip — see this Page.)

The elements of my titular phrase Zhock jock (admittedly, a play on shock jock, though the cartoon isn’t about disc jockeys — jocks — or provocative, offensive humor — shock — or provocative, offensive talk radio — shock jocks): Jacques [žak] (with initial fricative, in both French and English, though with different phonetic details in the two languages) vs. jock [ǰak] (with initial affricate, in English). So we get these three hybrid guys, flashing signifiers from both the French Zhock world — details below — and the (American) jock world (football, soccer, baseball) — cleated shoes, football jersey, padded pants, sports shorts, baseball cap.

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Swimmer’s bodies

October 2, 2022

For a while last week, most googling I did in which men were involved brought me, as the top hit, an Etsy supplier of framed reproductions of vintage photos, offering this 1952 black and white photo featuring three male competitive swimmers with their trophies:


(#1) We know nothing more — where the picture was taken, who took it for what purpose, what competition they got those trophies in, what school or club they swam for; we wonder how their lives went on after this (if they’re still alive, they’re well into their 80s)

But there’s a lot to see in the photo. Especially in the young men’s facial expressions; in their general male body type, often labeled as swimmer’s body (even on men — underwear models, gay porn actors — who have no particular natatory associations); and in their bodies as engines for swimming as a sport. And also a lot to say about the passage of time since 1952.

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Blogger, interrupted

September 15, 2022


The Blogger, tied in furious knots

I was about the do a quick posting on Roger Federer, who announced his retirement from professional tennis today — because Federer is an admirable person in a whole series of ways, and because Federer is really really Swiss (he and I share the Alpine nose!).

But I was interrupted by Life, in ways mostly gratifying, but both time-consuming and exhausting, so the piece about RF and his splendid Swissness remains unfinished.

Well, the Federer piece interrupted my progress on a “RELAX ARNOLD” posting (about something that had popped up in a Facebook ad).

And “RELAX ARNOLD” took me away from posting on two other ads that had appeared suddenly: “funny aperitif board” and “the social lives of ruff dudes”.

And those two interrupted my advance on a whole set of half-prepared postings: “tastes like glazed donuts”, “ride the wild okapi”, and more.

I can’t imagine how I’m going to dig myself out of this hole.

But, you ask, how did I spend this day (after taking in the hot news about Federer)?

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Who will be this year’s Schützenkönig?

September 14, 2022

I now attempt to advance on the the topic of Knabenschiessen, roughly Boys-Shooting, my previous approaches to the topic having foundered on Monday 9/12, as feelingly reported in yesterday’s posting “Knabenschiessen!” (inspired by a Frank Yellin Facebook posting on 9/12).

The basic facts, as assembled in a compact Wikipedia entry:

Knabenschiessen is a traditional target shooting competition in Zürich, held on the second weekend of September each year [the 2022 event started on Saturday 9/10 and ended on Monday 9/12].

The festival, officially held for the first time in 1889, is one of the oldest in Switzerland, dating back to the 17th century.

The competition is open to 13- to 17-year-olds who either reside or are enrolled in a school in the canton of Zürich. Originally reserved for boys (Knaben), the competition has been open to female participants since 1991. The shooting is with the Swiss Army ordnance rifle, SIG SG 550. The competition is held in the shooting range at Albisgütli to the south-west of the city center, on the slope of Uetliberg [and is organized by the City of Zurich Rifle Association in Albisgütli.] It is surrounded by a large fair.

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Linebacker or congressional reporter?

August 28, 2022

From MSNBC’s American Voices with Alicia Menendez this morning, under the header “Republicans criticize Justice Dept. for protecting state secrets in Trump documents”:


(#1) Screen shot: Murray, Broadwater, Menendez, Dowd

Former President Trump’s allies are demanding more “transparency” from federal authorities about the stash of classified records at Mar-a-Lago. “This seems to me the weakest part of their argument,” says CountryOverParty founder Matt Dowd. “The more things are put out, the worse it is for President Trump.” Dowd joined New York Times congressional reporter Luke Broadwater and New York University law professor Melissa Murray to unpack the newly unsealed Mar-a-Lago affidavit.

Broadwater’s reporting was nicely done, but my attention was captured at first by the thickness of his neck, closer to a linebacker’s than to a congressional reporter’s. Are the NYT‘s front-line reporters subjected  to repeated head confinements and impacts, as linebackers and wrestlers are? The sort of thing that would build up solid neck muscles supporting their heads? Are Broadwater’s excellent reporting chops just a cover for a secret — or former — life as a jock who can take a lot of abuse?

Broadwater has what is known, informally and metaphorically, as a bull neck (or bullneck). He’s not as extravagantly bullnecked as some linebackers, but, still, he’s definitely a bullneck boy (about his cheeks I cannot say).

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Getting him on the mat

May 6, 2022

Today’s e-mail ad for a Daily Jocks sale features an ornamental (rather than strictly functional) wrestling singlet — a striking piece of homowear — worn in a sexual (rather than strictly athletic) stance by a model I’ll call Joe:


(#1) Joe has pulled the top half of his singlet down to fully expose his lean, nicely muscled upper body; meanwhile he’s in a stance no wrestler has ever used in an athletic competition: resting on his elbows, back arched, ass humped up in the lordosis position (see my 4/7/21 posting “Assuming the position”, about the lordosis, tail-in-the-air, or FMP (Fuck Me Please) body position, with links to other postings)

If Joe’s coach taught him that stance, then the coach had something in mind other than preparing Joe for an athletic match on the mat — men can be matched on a mat in other ways (videos with hot wrestlers grappling sexually are a subgenre of gay porn) — and that would be sexual imposition, not coaching. (But #1 is an underwear ad that is merely fantasy-framed as depicting a wrestler — a homowrestler in homowear.)

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The snow border collie

September 1, 2021

🐇🐇🐇 It was 8/30, and the comic strip Mother Goose and Grimm went POP!, exploded in a phrasal overlap portmanteau, the one in the title:


(with the snow-sliding dog seen doing an airborne trick in the second panel of the strip).

Not your everyday POP, because it works straightforwardly in pronunciation but works only imperfectly in spelling:

snowboarder + border collie = snow border collie

Distinct spellings, boarder vs. border, homophones in both AmE and BrE (but see below).

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I thought of you

April 4, 2021

Back on 3/16, I was honored by not one, but two, Facebook postings on the theme “this made me think of you”.

From Michael Palmer, a flyer for the 1897 mammoth opening of the swimming season at the Sutro Baths in San Francisco (MP: for “Arnold Zwicky, because mammoth”, alluding to my attachment to creatures of the genus Mammuthus).

And from Livia Polanyi (alert to my writing on gender and sexuality), 1940 gender adventures in Dallas: hunky male  car hops in shorts and cowboy boots.

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wingman, winger

September 3, 2020

In a NYT Magazine piece on Grabpussy Jr., an arresting mid-page teaser quote:

I searched my mental banks for relevant senses of winger, working my way through wingman first, eventually discovering that the intended sense was the one I came to last. You really have to have the context: in particular, who is speaking, for what purposes.

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Portrait of a man: the head and bare torso image

July 29, 2020

On HT (head + torso) images of men.

In a painting, a drawing, a sculpture, a photograph: the face projecting a persona, an identity, a character; the naked torso presenting this character as a carnal being: an embodiment of gender, a sexual object, and an assertion of vitality.

The briefest of introductions to my first response on seeing this photograph of two men on a beach (with surfboards in the background), so that their shirtlessness is natural in the context:


(#1)  Alex Schulze (left) and Andrew Cooper (right)

— which was, basically, “Ooh, how adorable! And hot!” (I am capable of being as superficial as anybody around; though context is everything.) Good-looking faces, though far from movie-star quality, and wonderful crinkly-eyed smiles. Naturally fit swimmers’ bodies — well, they’re surfer dudes — which please me greatly.

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