Archive for the ‘Language play’ Category

Between the glutes

July 18, 2021

(Some male body parts, depicted and discussed in plain, but not raunchy, terms. So not squarely in the Sex Zone, but not tasteful either. Caution advised for kids and the sexually modest.)

For me, it all started with a recent ad on Facebook for suit sets (sleeveless tank tops with bikini underpants) from the Fabmens company in a variety of intriguing patterns, including a (more or less) rainbow “color block” pattern seen here from the rear:


(#1) The design of the underpants strikingly accentuates the wearer’s ass / butt / bum  cleft / crack / cleavage, in a way that in my queer fashion I (at least) find decidedly hot

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Terrible pun day

July 15, 2021

Yesterday’s Wayno/Piraro 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.)

A pun so terrible it’s wonderful: derivative / the riveter. A distant pun phonologically, sharing the prosodic pattern WSWWW and the medial material /ǝrív…t/, plus the pairing of /d/ vs. /ð/ initially, but with the distant matching of /v/ vs. /r/ finally, and with a single word matched with a two-word sequence. As with notably imperfect puns in general, it’s probably understandable only if you recognize the model for the pun: Rosie the Riveter, the name of the figure on the left in the cartoon and of the figure in the “We Can Do It” patriotic poster from WWII.

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An allusion and a pun

July 1, 2021

🐇🐇🐇 The Mother Goose and Grimm strip from 6/30, with an allusion to an item of culture (the catchphrase “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition”, quoting from sketches from the Monty Python tv shows and recordings) and perpetrating a (fairly absurd) pun on the phrase:


(#1) The bull terrier Grimm and the cat Attila confront punishment for their household misdeed

So the ostentatiously playful allusion to the Spanish Inquisition is motivated by the situation in the strip.

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The lizard and the flag

June 26, 2021

Today’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro, with a pun on monitor; and a popular dad joke — even better, a Swiss dad joke, with a pun on plus — retold by Rachel Maddow on her MSNBC show yesterday:

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Annals of commercial naming: Bear Naked Granola

June 18, 2021

Brought to me by Facebook in recent days, advertisements for two playful trade names: one — for the Boy Smells company, offering scented candles, unisex fragrances, and (unscented) underwear, all for LGBT+-folk — covered in my 6/16 posting “Annals of commercial naming: Boy Smells”; and now, for the Bear Naked® Granola company. The two cases turn out to be very different.

Boy Smells belongs with a series of postings on this blog on dubious and unfortunate commercial names — some clearly unintentionally racy, some playfully suggestive, some openly, even brazenly, suggestive, given the nature of the establishments (Hooters). The Boy Smells company is almost painfully earnest about its LGBT+ mission, which makes its name — so evocative of teenage pong — especially unfortunate.

Bear Naked Granola, in contrast, is knee-deep in playfulness, starting with the pun on bare naked, so that on the one side, you get a reference to bears, with their fondness for nuts and fruits and honey (all relevant to granola); while on the other side, you get bare naked, suggesting purity and simplicity. And you also get the pop-culture view of bears, as cute and entertaining.

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tenure, tenor, tenner

June 15, 2021

The One Big Happy cartoon from 5/21, in which the word tenor (which is apparently unfamiliar to Ruthie) leads Ruthie to a word with a similar pronunciation, whose meaning she knows (at least approximately) — tenure:


(#1) I got tenure at Ohio State in 1970, but the singing boyfriend didn’t come along until years later

That’s an error taking us from tenor to tenure. Meanwhile, on the comedy stage, a pun takes us from tenner to tenor.

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Sacrilegious puns for Pride Month

June 10, 2021

… on t-shirts from the Hear Our Voice on-line store (“empowering feminist clothing” — also clothing on Black, LGBTQ+, kindness, and disability rights themes), in a Facebook ad today (I believe the shirts are available from other sources as well). In the ad, a complex pun (both verbal and visual) on the song title “Proud Mary”; and then, elsewhere on the site, a pun on the religious exclamation amen.

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Bizarro cannibalism

June 8, 2021

The Bizarro strip from 5/30, which reminds us of the bizarre in 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.)

A grotesque pun that turns on the ambiguity between the common noun peanuts (referring to a food item commonly offered as a snack by airlines) and the proper noun Peanuts (referring to the Charles Schulz cartoon and the characters in it). Instead of honey-roasted peanuts, the attendants are offering honey-roasted Peanuts — Lucy, Charlie Brown, Linus, and so on.

Now, Charlie Brown and the gang are only cartoon children, but they are children, and #1 is a cartoon with human characters, which makes the scene look a lot like cannibalism, in fact cannibalism to satisfy routine snack hunger, not even cannibalism to avoid starvation, or as part of a cultural ritual — so that it inspires revulsion. And some very uneasy laughter.

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Pandering to the bass

June 6, 2021

About a Wayno/Piraro Bizarro from 5/29, which turns on the title phrase pandering to the bass being understood as a pun:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 6 in this strip — see this Page.)

We are to understand pandering to the bass as a pun on pandering to the base (which has become a stock expression in political contexts), and, given the image and text of the cartoon, as involving bass (/bes/ rather than /bæs/) ‘someone who plays the bass guitar in a rock band’ (rather than in one of 7 or 8 other possible senses).

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Grandma Rose knows

May 26, 2021

In the One Big Happy strip from 4/30, Ruthie explains, impishly, that there’s a name for her grandma’s special brand of perceptiveness:


Even better, that name rhymes with the historical model for nouns in –dar, denoting ‘the ability to detect some quality’ (like having dyed gray hair)

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