Archive for the ‘Language play’ Category

January 27th

January 27, 2023

Every so often the accidents of the calendar bring together remarkably contrasting occasions. This is a day of such cognitive dissonance. Weep with me. Gasp in pleasure and delight with me.

First, today is Holocaust Remembrance Day, marking the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp, in 1945, an event that serves as a symbol of the Holocaust — the Shoah — that wiped out around six million Jews (and a number of others) and caused untold suffering.

But then today is also the birthday of two people whose works have brought pleasure to millions: the astonishingly prolific composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (born in 1756) and the mathematician-turned-comic-writer Charles Lutwidge Dodson, who wrote the Alice books and a number of remarkable nonsense poems under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll (born in 1832).


The risonymic riff

January 24, 2023

From my mountainous posting queue, this gem of a risonymic riff:

(#1) Bodysnatch Cummerbund, Buffalo Custardbath, Bumblesnuff Crimpysnatch, Mr. Cabbagewank — four mockings, ridiculous manglings, of the already remarkable name Benedict Cumberbatch; otherwise, the first two paragraphs are an actual news item, accurate in its details, about the 2014 engagement of actor Benedict Cumberbatch to theatre director Sophie Hunter


Adventures in cartoon understanding: Victor alignment

January 20, 2023

Today’s Wayno / Piraro Bizarro (Wayno’s title “Job Satisfaction”):

(#1) To understand this cartoon, you need to know something about what a tire and auto service garage does, and you need to recognize the significance of the name Frankenstein (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 5 in this strip — see this Page.)


But wait! There’s Balthazar!

January 6, 2023

(Definitely a Mary, Queen of Scots Not Dead Yet posting, signaling that I’m still here, after several deeply awful days of medical afflictions — an experience I’ll record in a separate posting, rather than get in the way of an egregious pun for today’s celebration of the Three Magi.)

To get the joke in this Epiphany texty circulating on Facebook (hat tip to Evan Randall Smith) you have to supply background from two (unrelated) domains of cultural knowledge — (A) the Christian mythic tale of the Three Wise Men and the gifts they bring to the baby Jesus; and (B) the pop-cultural splendor of the Boardwalk product pitch famously used by tv adman Billy Mays:

(#1) To understand the thing at all, you need to know (A); but if you don’t know (B), there’s no joke, just a flat-footed recital of the Wise Men’s gifts


Seeker of wise spud, rudely rebuffed

December 30, 2022

The Wayno / Piraro Bizarro for New Year’s Eve Eve is a goofy amalgam of two different cartoon memes with an egregious pun; Wayno’s title is “Reclusive Russets” (russets being a type of potato). No, of course it doesn’t cohere; that’s what makes it delightful (remember that this strip is called Bizarro).

(#1) If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 5 in this strip — see this Page.

The Potato Head meme (all three characters are Potato Heads) and the seeker and the seer meme (one character is seeker, the other two seers), plus some CRAB / CARB play on the compound noun hermit crab, mountain-top seers being hermits who have removed themselves from ordinary life, and potatoes being carbs, specifically starches (complex carbohydrates )


Eggs Benedict Arnold

December 29, 2022

Suppose you’re a cartoonist, and this POP (phrasal overlap portmanteau) has, well, popped into your head:

eggs Benedict Arnoldeggs Benedict  (breakfast dish of sliced ham on English muffin with hollandaise sauce) + Benedict Arnold (American general who defected to the British during the Revolutionary War)

Can you work this (entertainingly) surprising juxtaposition of elements into a cartoon?

Today, Mike Peters (of Mother Goose and Grimm) took up the challenge:

(#1) The solution is a play on traitor: an egg dish named for a traitor, sold at a place named Traitor Joe’s — with a trader / traitor pun alluding to the grocery chain Trader Joe’s (a perfect pun for most Americans, for whom trader and traitor are homophones; a clever imperfect pun for everyone else

Sweet. Meanwhile, others have labored to devise variants of eggs Benedict that are somehow associable with Benedict Arnold.



December 24, 2022

(#1) Xmas card from Tiny Bee Cards, offered on Amazon

Lizard warnings, lizzard warnings, lizards falling from the trees.



December 22, 2022

Two especially satisfying examples of the elfshelfism, a riddle form presented visually:

(#1) Image: a cute furry mammal clinging to a bone. Punchline: lemur on a femur. (note: like elf and shelf, lemur and femur are (perfect) rhymes; unlike elf and shelf, however, they’re rare and remarkable nouns)

(#2) Image: a buxom woman reclining provocatively on a pile of Mexican food. Punchline: Dolly [Parton] on a tamale. (note: for most American speakers, Dolly and tamale are perfect rhymes, but for a substantial minority of American speakers, and for many others, they’re half-rhymes)


In the realm of the footstools

December 1, 2022

🐇 🐇 🐇 the rabbits of December take us to the hidden spot in the tropical jungle where ottomans rule among the palm trees, as depicted in this John McPherson Close to Home cartoon of 2/14/15:

(#1) A pun on Ottoman Empire, the Turkish realm, and ottoman, a kind of footstool


The wrap artist

November 21, 2022

Yet another Sick Day for me, so this is a minimal posting — you’ll have to google up stuff on your own — but I was so taken by today’s Wayno / Piraro Bizarro that I wanted to share it with you (with a bit of commentary, of course):

Wayno’s antic title: “Wrapper’s Delight” (with a pun on wrap vs. rap that I’ve borrowed for the title of this posting); if you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 6 in this strip — see this Page