Archive for the ‘Language and the body’ Category

de poepende man

October 18, 2017

About comics, art, and sanitation rather than language, taking off from today’s Zippy:

(#1) Zippy confronts Anthony Gormley’s sculpture Exposure.

[Late-breaking news. John Baker argues, in a comment on this posting, that the model is in fact Celeste Roberge’s Raising Cairn — with thoroughly convincing visual evidence.]

In the first panel, Zippy assumes that the squatting man is  defecating, something that people are expected to do in private — though this is a piece of public sculpture, so the man is engaging in what sanitation specialists call open defecation. And in the second panel, the squatting man seems to allude to human beings’ having befouled the earth. Defecation wasn’t Gormley’s own interpretation, but it’s not an unreasonable one.


Focus on the dal

October 9, 2017

Today is my second lens day, my second cataract surgery (for the left eye), my second adventure with an AcrySof IQ Aspheric Natural IOL (intraocular lens), from Alcon Laboratories. Since this is a medical device, it comes with a user’s manual / product information booklet, which is printed in incredibly tiny print in a 3×5 booklet. But is not without linguistic interest.

That will take us to Texas and Switzerland. It will all end in food, specifically a type of dried, split legume seeds. Which will take us to South Asia.

Never complain that I don’t take you out.


Two lx profs and two psych profs walk into a surgery center

September 27, 2017

… and a combat over brains and minds ensues. Well, no. Actually:

… and they talk about the infirmities and indignities of growing old. Kim Darnell (senior lecturer in psychology at Georgia State for many years) took me (adjunct professor of linguistics at Stanford, professor emeritus of linguistics at Ohio State) to the Surgery Center at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, where we ran into Eve Clark (professor emeritus of linguistics at Stanford) and Herb Clark (professor emeritus of psychology at Stanford). Usually shop talk would have ensued, but in the context our minds were on the rickety bodies of the three senior members of the group. (Kim is one generation younger than the rest of us.)


freak shows

September 19, 2017

Today’s Zippy reflects on a bit of culture — a fascination with deformed and otherwise outrageous human beings — name-checks Lady Gaga, Anderson Cooper, and (indirectly) the current residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington — and exploits the ambiguity of the compound freak show:

(#1) At the menagerie / side show


Hot Lips

September 17, 2017

Noted in front of 325 Forest Ave. in Palo Alto, a small hedge of Salvia microphylla (small-leaved sage) ‘Hot Lips’ in bloom — covered in small labiate flowers, some bicolor, some all red, some all white, as in this photo from the net:


Small-leaved (hence the species name microphylla), intensely scented, fashioned into a hedge. A pleasant plant, which it turns out was created by hybridization fairly recently.


Further adventures in medicine

September 12, 2017

Background: I’ve been a bit short of breath for some time, but with stretches of phenomenally hot days (starting back on a day in May when it was 110 F in downtown Palo Alto), things got dramatically worse. The nephrologist at first thought it might be connected to my reduced kidney function (there’s a complex story of possible connections there), and then the cardiologist was quite sure the problem was with my heart, probably the coronary arteries, and ordered up a series of scans and tests. (I’ve endured a great deal of doctoring, with lots more to come: cataract surgery starts on the 27th.)

In there were heart CT scans, which showed nothing that would explain my shortness of breath. Nobody was particularly concerned about my lungs, however, since they sounded so great on stethoscopic examination. But a chest CT scan, done on August 29th, however, showed two things:

Calcified granuloma in the right lower lobe. Areas of subsegmental atelectasis, especially right lower lobe.

I will explain. In any case: spirometry and a pulmonologist’s appointment on the 25th.


The fan, the spathiphyllum, and the impressionist garden

September 10, 2017

Juan came by on Friday to replace the left fan in my laptop (it had reached airplane takeoff mode) and bring me small birthday presents: some mini-cheesecakes from Whole Foods (one berry, one espresso), an excellent but hard to pronounce houseplant, and a visit to the Gamble Garden to view ranks of gauzy late summer and autumn plants in bloom.

The computer repair took only a few minutes — I am now enjoying the silence of the fans — so I’ll focus here on the vegetative side of things: the birthday plant, a spathipyllum (say that three times fast!); and those seasonal flowers, which are gauzy only to a cataractive guy like me (but the Monet impressionist-garden effect is actually quite pleasing, one of the very few positive consequences of gradual vision loss).


Solid Chet and lean Bo

August 28, 2017

Underwear ads again (from today’s Daily Jocks sale), with captions from me. Men’s bodies, mansex allusions, not for everyone.

(#1) Sweat with me, baby

Solid Chet the gym jock
Sweats hard
Lick the salt he’ll
Towel you off

(#2) Lowriders on the storm

Lean Bo the surf jock
Goes low pull him
Lower use your
Teeth those trunks are
Made for cruising

Sweaty Chet and lowball Bo.


Skinless wieners

August 17, 2017

Passed on to me by Arne Adolfsen, this vintage ad (from the 1940s, for what was then the Visking Corp.):


Skinless wiener is pretty much immediately risible, because it’s bound to bring circumcision to mind.


Capitulum in corpore magno

August 1, 2017

(Men’s underwear and bodies, taking off from a recent Daily Jocks ad for the Marcuse company. With a caption of mine. Somewhat racy, but not crude. And there will be cartoons.)


Capitulum in corpore magno

A hard man —
An erection lasting more than four hours –
But fair —
Requires immediate medical attention –
A pinhead with
Broad shoulders