Archive for the ‘Language play’ Category

Triple-play pun

October 19, 2016

From correspondent RJP, this image that’s been making the rounds on Facebook:


A nine-word sentence with only three content words, all of them punned on; all the puns are imperfect, the last pretty distant. Starting from the song line

This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.

with the substitutions:

dawning > awning, age > cage, Aquarius > Asparagus

Much as I admire the punning, I have to point out that the plant in the chicken-wire cage isn’t asparagus; it looks like a legume, a pea or bean.


Pun days

October 14, 2016

Two recent cartoons with complex puns, both requiring serious cultural knowledge. A Mother Goose and Grimm, and a Liam Francis Walsh cartoon in the October 17th New Yorker:




Smuggle me budgie down, sport

October 6, 2016

In recent sporting news, from the Financial Times on the 4th, a story by Primrose Riordan on

a minor scandal in Malaysia, where Australians have been arrested for wearing Malaysian flag-themed budgie smugglers to the Formula One grand prix.

Nine Australians stripped down to their underwear at the event in Kuala Lumpur and drank alcohol out of shoes after Australian Formula 1 driver Daniel Ricciardo, who won the race, drank champagne from his boot in celebration.


Caption: Nine Australian revellers at Malaysia’s Formula 1 racing circuit have been jailed after stripping down to reveal underpants themed on Malaysia’s national flag. Photo credit: New Straits Times Press/Osman Adnan


A conundrum

October 5, 2016

From Kim Darnell, this puzzle, which she found on Tumblr (no one seems to know the ultimate source, as is usual in such things):


You can see this as a puzzle, or you can see it as a wordless cartoon. In either case, it draws on a piece of popular culture, and if you don’t have that, you’re lost.

For Kim, the big point was phonological, but the cultural reference is crucial.


Beefcake on screen

October 4, 2016

(Little of academic or social significance, but mostly about shameless displays of the male body. Not, however, X-rated, either visually or verbally.)

A while back, links on Facebook to Hollywood Beefcake, a public group on Facebook featuring movie and tv actors dsplaying their bodies. Shots of, among others, Guy Madison, Randolph Scott, Gary Cooper, Hugh O’Brian, Robert Conrad, Johnny Weissmuller, Clint Eastwood, Tab Hunter, Marc Singer, Burt Reynolds, Lee Majors, Jeff Goldblum, Alexander Skarsgard, Matt Bomer, Ryan Phillipe, Shia LaBeouf, Danny Pino, and Chris Meloni. And Charlie Hunnam, who’s appeared on this blog before because he revels in sexy shirtless displays.

Then an appendix on three of the notable shirtless hunks on the television series Glee, who I don’t think had made it onto the Hollywood Beefcake site when I last checked it.



September 25, 2016

Today’s Zippy, providing an extreme example of what it can take to make sense of a cartoon or comic strip:

Muffled? Why muffled? No helpful title, but two clues: the reference to the P.C. police and the strangely stiff figure of Zippy in the strip.



September 18, 2016

A recent plaint from Aric Olnes (who is now 51) on Facebook:

Ugh. That moment when a retailer automatically spits out post-transaction coupons for Centrum Silver and laxatives! WTH, fifty is fifty! Sigh. Damn you, Walgreens.

Fifty is a cut-off point (at least in the U.S.) for the seque from middle age (beginning at 40 or 45, depending on who you read) to senior status (entered at 60-65, depending on who you read). There are “50+” organizations of many types, and the AARP takes members beginning at 50 — so it’s clearly not literally an association for retired persons (instead, it provides a kind of anteroom to retirement and true senior status).


Toucan, get what you need

September 12, 2016

Ok, a lame pun on the line from the Rolling Stones’ song “You can’t always get what you want”(from their 1969 album Let It Bleed), here with reference to what we know in my household as the Toucan Bowl:


The Stones song; toucans; and the Toucan Bowl.


Penguin Pride

September 1, 2016

… at the Pilsner Inn (in San Francisco):

(Hat tip to Aric Olnes.)

Not only a penguin with a Pride flag, but a nicely alliterative tetrameter line:

Penguin Pride at the Pilsner Inn

(mostly trochaic). Or pentameter:

Penguin Pride on the Pilsner Inn Patio

(clearly dactylic).

Annals of public art

August 30, 2016

(Mostly about art, of sorts, rather than language, though there are two puns.)

Yesterday’s Zippy took us to Tuscaloosa AL, home of Goldie:


From Roadside America:

Tuscaloosa, Alabama: Collapsed and half-buried on Woods Quad, “Goldie 1971” was built by University of Alabama alumnus Joe McCreary. The rusted humanoid was meant to symbolize the collapse of Alabama’s steel industry, particularly the shutdown of the Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham in 1972.

In fact, the 23-foot-long robot is made from scrap iron cast at the Furnaces by McCreary in 2009. The robot’s name was supposedly taken from graffiti left by a welder and discovered by McCreary while he was making the sculpture.

To us, Goldie looks a lot like the old Marx Toy “Big Loo” robot, which squirted water from its belly-button. But much more artistic, of course.