Archive for the ‘Language play’ Category

Trix is for kids

June 17, 2019

Going the social media rounds, this joke, an ostentatiously playful allusion (OPA) to a bit of popular culture, presented as a texty — a cartoon that’s primarily a printed text, though texties often come with a visual backdrop, which sometimes contributes crucially to an understanding of the joke, as here:


(#1) A texty that lives in two worlds: American political culture of recent years (a reference conveyed visually, through the photo of Paul Ryan); and an ad campaign for an American breakfast cereal marketed to children (a reference conveyed verbally, by the ostentatious play on the ad slogan “Silly rabbit / Trix is for kids!”)

(more…)

Ultimate spelling bee

May 31, 2019

A Bob Eckstein cartoon circulated today, on the occasion of an unprecedented event in the world of English spelling competitions:


(#1) FB note from Bob: “Can you use it in a sentence?”

Story in the New York Times today,  “National Spelling Bee, at a Loss for Words, Crowns 8 Co-Champions” (octo-champs, as one of them said) by Daniel Victor.

(more…)

On the dog food watch

May 29, 2019

The 5/27 Wayno-Piraro Bizarro strip, set in the Land of Dogs:


(#1) (If you wonder about the secret symbol in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there’s just one in this strip — see this Page.)

A dog food with Quibbles in its name is of course not going to agree with you, in one sense of agree with. So you can understand the cartoon, and see that the pun on agree with in it makes it amusing — and still miss the extra joke that Wayno and Piraro threw in for you.

The cartoon would have been funny if the dog food had been named just Quibbles. But Quibbles and Fits is a lot funnier, because it’s another pun, on the name of the (actual) dog food Kibbles and Bits. But of course you have to know about this particular commercial product to get that joke.

(more…)

High 5 from a bison

May 25, 2019

(After the cartoons and the lexicography, John Rechy will take this posting into the world of mansex, in some detail and in very plain talk; that section is not for kids or the sexually modest, but I’ll warn you when it’s looming on the horizon.)

Two bison greet each other in a John Baynham cartoon with a wonderful pun:

(#1)

That’s numbers (roughly ‘amount’, but as a PL C noun) — and indeed large numbers of buffalo did once roam the plains of North America — vs. numbers referring to physical models, or simulacra, of symbols for certain abstract mathematical entities — in this case, the natural numbers. Such physical models are also familiar: think of the letters in the HOLLYWOOD sign, or the numbers on the building at 666 Fifth Ave. in NYC (with its own kind of fame as a Jared Kushner property). But people don’t walk around with, much less inside, giant versions of such models. That’s deliciously absurd.

Looking at the lexical items involved will take us deep into the lexicographic weeds and then to the secret places of mansex, starting with the dim recesses of Griffith Park in Los Angeles.

(more…)

Stravinsky’s 1970 Firebird and the Ghoulliard Quartet

May 20, 2019

Music, cartoons, and language play, plus Slavic folklore, Seiji Ozawa and his expressive hair, pony cars, symphony trumpeters, NPR, and Frankenstein’s monster. It starts with this wonderful cartoon by Jeffrey Curnow from the NPR site (hat tip to Virginia Transue):

(#1)

(more…)

Ostentatiously playful allusions

May 18, 2019

(OPAs, for short.) The contrast is to inconspicuously playful allusions, what I’ve called Easter egg quotations on this blog. With three OPAs from the 4/20/19 Economist, illustrating three levels of closeness between the content of the OPA and the topic of the article: no substantive relationship between the two (the Nock, Nock case), tangential relationship (the Sunset brouhaha case), and tight relationship (the defecate in the woods case).

The three cases also illustrate three degrees of paronomasia: the Nock, Nock case involves a (phonologically) perfect pun; the Sunset brouhaha case an imperfect pun; and the defecate in the woods case no pun at all, but whole-word substitutions.

I’ll start in the middle, with Sunset brouhaha. But first, some background. Which will incorporate flaming saganaki; be prepared.

(more…)

News for Fenis

May 15, 2019

(Reference to penises, plus some penis art and garments for penises, so not to everyone’s taste.)

From Kyle Wohlmut on Facebook today, items from the gift shop at Castello di Fénis, in the Italian Alps:


(#1) Models of the castle, the castle in snowglobes, but featuring a bag with Fenis (easily read as Penis) in a red heart, conveying ‘I love Fenis’

First: on the castle, the town, and its location (so close to Switzerland — on this blog, many roads lead to Switzerland; or Homoland; or both). Then the red meat: on readings of Fenis; on penis bags (bags with penises on them); on penis bags (bags with penis on them); and on the intimate men’s garment the penis bag (aka penis pouch or cock sock).

(more…)

Super Calla Fraggle-istic

May 9, 2019

A visit to the giant white calla lilies of my neighborhood, centerpieces of the garden explosion on Bryant St. in Palo Alto, just a block from my house. Meanwhile, my own modest pot of purple callas is shooting up towards blooming.

A sweep of (much of) the garden explosion, showing the two stands of white callas, both about 2½ feet tall, both blooming for at least 6 weeks now (they are plants that span the local botanical seasons spring and early summer, which is where we are now):


(#1) The strikingly colored spikes are snapdragons, a feature of botanical winter locally, though they will bloom into the summer (this photo and two others below by Kim Darnell)

(more…)

Annals of inadvertently cute creatures

May 9, 2019

During the frustrating days of searching for a source of the Japanese-Spanish “Ariperro” cartoon (5/5 report on this blog here), I wrote on Facebook:

Stacy [Holloway] says there’s no clear answer. I say I’m sad about the unclear answer.

And Stacy offered to allay my sadness with something happy, specifically, from the My Modern Met site, “Adorable “Leaf Sheep” Sea Slugs Look like Cartoon Lambs” by Jenny Zhang on 8/22/15:


(#1) A leaf sheep sea slug, Costasiella kuroshimae

(more…)

Ariperro

May 5, 2019

The punchline to a wonderful two-line bilingual joke, realized in this cartoon:

(#1)

First, some analysis of the Japanese-Spanish joke. Then some reflections on its appearance, all over the net, in both English-speaking and Spanish-speaking contexts, without attribution to an artist or identification of a source. And, finally, a likely account of its origin, in the Zona Dorado district of Mazatlán, Sinaloa, Mexico.

(more…)