Archive for the ‘Language play’ Category

Ho, ho, the three of clubs

February 24, 2020

It’s all ultimately about comedy duos. Two cartoons from today’s feed: a Zippy — Ho Hos in the forest primeval — that’s a reprise (with fresh variations) of an old strip; and a Wayno/Piraro Bizarro — show me the card, teller — that’s incomprehensible unless you have a piece of popular-culture knowledge:

(more…)

Basil Ratburn

February 10, 2020

Back at the end of January I noted briefly on Facebook that the January 25th coincidence of Robert Burns’s birthday with the new lunar year — the Year of the Rat, specifically — meant that this year 1/25 was the celebratory day of Basil Ratburn. Crossed swords and groans.


(#1) Basil Rathbone (on the left) as villain — rat — crossing swords with Errol Flynn in the 1938 The Adventures of Robin Hood (you are allowed an adolescent snicker on crossing swords — and in fact those snickers have a basis in reality, in the term swordplay referring to body practices between men; see the Swordplay Bonus below)

(more…)

Early February herbivores

January 31, 2020

We advance upon a surprising gift of the Pennsylvania Dutch to American culture: Groundhog Day (February 2nd). In earlier years, this blog provided coverage of Marmota monax (the groundhog / woodchuck), its holiday, and the comic movie, comic movie, comic movie. Now comes Alex (Alessandro Michelangelo) Jaker on Facebook:

I think that, the same way that the Easter Bunny visits and leaves candy [notably, chocolate eggs] and jelly beans at Easter time 🐰🍬🍫, we should start a tradition where, on Groundhog Day, the Friendly Groundhog stops by to visit during the night, and leaves the children a bag of nuts. 🐿🌰🥜

I replied (alas, emojilessly):

Even better: Marmo the Enchanted Groundhog, who leaves a bag of magic nuts.

And Alex countered with:

Or how about: “Chuck the Magic Marmot”.

Much to munch upon here.

(more…)

Three little digits

January 22, 2020

Today’s Wayno/Piraro collabo, another little exercise in cartoon understanding:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 2 in this strip — see this Page.) Wayno’s title: “Number, Please”

No doubt you recognize the speaker as Satan / the Devil / Beelzebub, but the cartoon will still be incomprehensible unless you know that there’s a particular three-digit number that’s sometimes said to belong to Satan.

Pursuing this topic on my man Jacques’s birthday, today, will lead us, through a favorite verse of his, on a circuitous route passing through a mysterious British village, Chicago, and Santa Monica, on its way to the Big Gay Village, where men hug, spoon, and screw. (There will eventually be a content warning. I’ll warn you when the screwing is imminent.)

(more…)

Meat on the Beach

January 19, 2020

(Eventually, significant talk about the lexicon of men’s genitalia, so not to everyone’s taste.)

From the annals of remarkable commercial names, this name of — surprise!* — a gourmet grocery store in Toronto, in the news recently because it closed after 24 years in business. [* Note: a surprise, of course, only to non-Torontonians; to locals, it’s not only familiar, but semantically unremarkable (see below).]

Two things here: the relatively straightforward playful half-rhyme meat – beach: /mit – bič/, with stop /t/ vs. affricate /č/ (both voiceless coronal obstruents); and the complex playfulness of the name — with possible sexual double entendres involving meat and with the carefree associations of beaches, often evoking sex as well (and giving rise to the cocktail name Sex on the Beach).

(more…)

Rent Spikes / Stoke Dread / By the Sea

January 19, 2020

That’s the head:

Rent Spikes
Stoke Dread
By the Sea

The subhead:

Coney Island Businesses
Fear Being Priced Out

The story is that increases in rents have promoted anxiety on the part of seaside business owners on Coney Island.

This from the national print edition of the NYT on the 15th (p. A19), story by Aaron Randle.

A story I have then playfully travestied:

(more…)

Just one peanut

January 13, 2020

(Lots of off-color jokes, some of them gay-inflected, along with a number of peanut cartoons. So: crude, and perhaps not to everyone’s taste.)

Today’s Rhymes With Orange — entertaining if you get the crucial pop culture allusion, incomprehensible if you don’t:


(#1) An elephant at the doctor’s office, with an x-ray showing the contents of his stomach to be a top hat, a monocle, and a cane; in the face of this evidence, the doctor asks the patient if he’s sure that all he ate was one peanut (presupposing that the patient has claimed just that)

How does this even make sense, much less be funny? Even granting the poploric association between elephants and peanuts — which is actually pretty baffling (see below) — why do peanuts come up in #1 at all? We have a trio of men’s accessories and no visible peanuts.

There’s a hint in the bonus commentary on the left: elephant to elephant, “It’s a medical Mister-y”, where the clue is Mister. But the clue is useless if you don’t know your way around the symbolic figures of American commerce.

You have to be a friend of Mister Peanut.

(more…)

Hung with care

December 24, 2019

Yes, cheap louche wordplay, and for Christmas. Manifested in the playful and deeply carnal CGI artwork of Vadim Temkin, in his alphabet of gay sex, where the letter shapes are formed by men’s bodies and body parts, many engaged in a variety of intense sexual acts.

This material, chock-full of sex talk in street language, is massively unsuitable for kids or the sexually modest, even without the images rife with male genitalia (which are in a posting on AZBlogX, 12/21/19, “Surprise! Vadim’s gay alphabet”).

Then, though the alphabet began merely as a set of 26 images, it came to me as worked into another genre: these images on the faces of surprise cubes, a set of 8 cubes which arrived a few days ago as Vadim’s New Year’s 2020 gift.

But first, the images, especially the one for the letter X, “eXcited Xmas eXhibitionist”, showing a well-hung Santa, with a Christmas wreath hung on his thick, solid erection (fuzzed over for WordPress, but inspectable on AZBlogX), while Santa himself hangs on a St. Andrew’s Cross, welcoming restraint, abuse, and pain. It’s a complex message.

(more…)

The images quilt

December 15, 2019

The last in a set of four; the linguistics quilt, from the 19th, is its predecessor. As before, a 12-panel composition (roughly 6 x 3 ft) made of old t-shirts of mine, assembled into a quilt by Janet Salsman, with the collaboration of Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky and Kim Darnell (and photos by Kim).  This time, t-shirts with images that have pleased or entertained me:

(#1)

Now the 12 panels individually, by row (R) and column (C).

(more…)

Three comic rabbits for December

December 1, 2019

Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit on the first of the month. The Mother Goose and Grimm from 12/30, with a textbook attachment ambiguity. The Rhymes With Orange for today, with an updated version of a classic tongue twister. And the Bizarro for today, with a Mr. Potato Head  wielding a terrible slang pun.

(more…)