Archive for the ‘Puns’ Category

Paisley weather

November 29, 2021

Today’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro, with weather forecasting in action:


(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 3 in this strip — see this Page.)

Ah, a bit of word play: a pun on pattern.

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Four cartoons on familiar themes

November 10, 2021

… in recent days, covering a wide territory: in chronological order,

—  from 10/31, a Mother Goose and Grimm Psychiatrist cartoon with a Halloween theme and some puns

— from the 11/1 New Yorker, a Desert Crawl cartoon by David Sipress

— from 11/3, a Zippy strip with Zippylicious repetition (onomatomania)

— from 11/9, a Rhymes With Orange with a notable POP (phrasal overlap portmanteau)

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Gilligan’s aisle

October 9, 2021

The 10/2 Wayno/Piraro Bizarro:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 4 in this strip — see this Page.)

A pun on isle ‘island’ vs. aisle ‘a passage between shelves of goods in a supermarket or other building’ (aisle sense b in NOAD (below)). But none of this makes any sense unless you know significant details of an American tv comedy from about 55 years ago: Gilligan’s Island (1964-67), in particular, that the show was about seven castaways from a shipwreck, including the goofy Gilligan, attempting to survive on a tropical island. Hence the tropical fruit-flavored rums and liqueurs. (It’s a nice subtle touch that the cartoon Gilligan appears to be lost in his attempt to choose a bottle.)

So: Gilligan’s aisle … Gilligan’s Isle … Gilligan’s Island.

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9/9: not a non-event

September 9, 2021

(Astonishingly, this silly posting will devolve into references to male pubes (NOAD entertains both /pjúbìz/ and /pjubz/ as pronunciations, by the way, so do as thou wilt) and photos of hunky young men stripped down to them, so it’s not to everyone’s taste.)

It is once again Negation Day, a festival for semanticists, also customarily the day for the annual convention of No Joke, aka the Society for Language Play.

This year, the semanticists will gather en masse at the Square of Opposition, where a statue of Larry Horn, caught in mid-smile, will be unveiled; and in collaboration with the No Joke meeting, there will be staged performances of Monty Python’s “Argument Clinic” sketch. Then, as usual: a clinic for those suffering from overnegation and undernegation; and a bazaar where shoppers can rummage for negative polarity items and reinforcements for their everyday negatives. (Just Don’t Do It: because of ugly incidents in the past, metalinguistic negatives have been banned from the festival site.)

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My Lollicock has come home!

September 8, 2021

Lollicock, lollicock / Oh lolli lolli lolli

(Look, this is going to be about startling pink dildos — but adorable! — and phallofellatial lollipop playfulness, in art and song, so it’s clearly not to everyone’s taste, but it’s mostly goofy rather than raunchy; and it might actually be useful for kids to learn to suck with pleasure on a rainbow lollipop with adult self-awareness rather than adolescent snickering: yes, we understand exactly what it stands for, and we’re down with that.)

My pink Lollicock dildo arrived yesterday and has been integrated into my très-gay bedroom decor. I’m past using dildos for their intended function, but am now exploring their potential as elements in artful compositions of sexually charged objects.

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Lupine Sapir-Whorf allusions

September 8, 2021

(That’s the adjective /lúpàjn/; the noun referring to a flower in the pea family is /lúpǝn/ — but this is not the Lupine Express.)


Francis Barlow’s illustration of the fable, 1687

Today’s morning name: the phrase the boy who cried Whorf. A paranomasic play — wolf vs. Whorf — on the boy who cried wolf, as in the Aesop fable, alluding to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis on the relationship between language and thought.

Oh, I thought on coming to full consciousness, surely someone has messed Whorfianly with the formulaic phrase.

And so they had; here I’ve just picked the first one that came up in googling: the heading The boy who cried Whorf, in Anthropology for Dummies by Cameron M. Smith, p. 48.

Then I tried some other formulaic expressions (again picking just one occurrence, the first one to come before my eyes):

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Zippy exits, pursued by a board

August 16, 2021

(Warning: high fecality content, which some may find unpleasant.)

Todays Zippy strip, in which Zippy is subjected to stoner / surfer verbal abuse:


(#1) Zippy and his surf iron

As usual, there’s a lot here — I admire Beavis’s one wave shy of a wipeout (see Mark Liberman’s 7/14/05 LLog posting “A few players short of a side” on the Snowclone of Foolishness {small quantity of essential items} short / shy of a {desirable collection}) and the laundry-musician pun in the title “Bleach Boy” — but I’ve picked out the mildly abusive expression iron my shorts for full-bore scrutiny.

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Jock Robin

August 15, 2021

(Jockstraps and plays on cock ‘male bird’ vs. ‘penis’, but no more than that.)

A note from the annals of (homo)masculinity, inspired by this Cellblock 13 Tight End jockstrap in robin’s egg blue, offered relentlessly on my FB page recently:


(#1) In design and material, an entirely conventional jockstrap, calling up your standard locker room, but in a very pretty color (robin’s egg blue), which seems to make it homowear, rather than than gymwear

Sometimes a guy just wants to look pretty, but apparently a robin jock — especially from Cellblock 13, which specifically designs for and markets to gay men — marks you as a fag. A tough, muscular, athletic fag, perhaps, but a fag nonetheless; in that case, you’re a butch fag. (I post fairly often on butch fagginess; frankly, I enjoy the mixed signals, which many read as dissonance.)

(Of course, you could also be a straight guy who likes pretty clothes and doesn’t mind being taken for queer, so you might well turn to Cellblock 13 for your jockstraps (and more).)

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trouser trout

August 9, 2021

(It’s all about penises, with mildly raunchy playfulness in content and language, so not to everyone’s taste, but requiring (I think) no more warning than that.)

A Dog Named Trouser. It begins with jocular exchanges on Facebook on 8/6:

MV: If they’d just told me there was a job where you can meet a dog named Trouser, I’d have picked that sooner. [MV has been selling her drawings of dogs and cats]

RW: Does he pant? [Imagine everyone groaning at the pun on pants ‘short, quick breaths’ vs. pants ‘trousers’.]

CC: Is there also a snake named Trouser? [first playful slang: trouser snake ‘penis’]

AO: That’s a trout, I think. [shifting right to our topic: trouser trout ‘penis’]

AZ > AO : Snake, trout, eel, they’re all adorable trouser-dwellers… [trouser eel is also possible] Entertaining, easily available, and delicious. And the Trout is lyrical [allusion to Schubert’s music].

AO: Alliterative, even! [trouser trout, tripping on TRs]

AZ [shifting from the common noun trouser trout to a proper name, and slipping into journalist register] > AO: Breaking news: Trouser Trout, acknowledged master of moose-knuckle modeling, and oldest recorded practitioner of this niche craft, died in a freak runway accident yesterday at the age of 87, according to his management agency. Mr. Trout, born Regenbogen Forelle [Gm. ‘rainbow trout’] on the Gallatin River in Yellowstone Park [the Gallatin provides excellent trout fishing], assumed his professional name at the age of 17, when a photographer, coming across him on the street, recognized the man’s potential and featured him in a spread jointly published by Look and Physique. After a private memorial service, he will be returned to the Gallatin River for interment.

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Pastoral rituals

August 6, 2021

A Scott Hilburn cartoon from 10/3/13 with an uncomplicated (but imperfect) pun (vowsvowels) as its centerpiece, a pun that’s satisfying because the result is absurd, juxtaposing the world of a nursery rhyme with the world of church ceremonies:


(#1) The link between the worlds (made explicit in the caption) is in the nonsense-syllable refrain from the nursery rhyme (E-I-E-I-O), which happens to consist of the names of three vowel letters (with two repeated)

World 1 (the depicted ceremony, with an exchange of vows / vowels). From Wikipedia:

A wedding vow renewal ceremony or wedding vow reaffirmation ceremony is a ceremony in which a married couple renew or reaffirm their marriage vows.

Most ceremonies take place in churches and are seen as a way for a married couple to renew their commitment to each other and demonstrate that the vows they took are still considered sacred; most Christian denominations, such as the Lutheran Churches, Catholic Church, Methodist Churches, and Anglican Churches offer services for a reaffirmation of marriage.

The ceremonies have been popular in Italy for decades, and have existed in United States since the 1950s, but only became popular there after the 1970s.

World 2 (the pastoral setting, with an old man and a variety of animals on a farm, alluded to by the dress of the old man and his wife and by those vowels from the nursery rhyme). Wikipedia has a nice entry on the nursery rhyme; early versions lacked the refrain entirely and just focused on the animals, one by one; and then some later refrains had consonant-initial syllables (or riffed on o-hi-o). So it seems appropriate to treat E-I-E-I-O as just nonsense syllables — commonly used as fillers in nursery rhymes, folk songs, popular songs, rock music, and jazz singing, as in:

fa la la la LA, hey diddle diddle, heigh-ho heigh-ho, ti-yi-yippee, na na na, do-wah diddy diddy, ob-la-di ob-la da, rama lama ding dong

(The Wikipedia entry then just disregards the form of the refrain completely; it has a history, but not really an etymology, because it has no semantic content.)

Pastoral rituals. My title, with another — a different — pun, exploiting an ambiguity in pastoral. From NOAD:

adj. pastoral: 1 [a] (especially of land or a farm) used for or related to the keeping or grazing of sheep or cattle: scattered pastoral farms. [b] associated with country life: the view was pastoral, with rolling fields and grazing sheep. [c] (of a work of art) portraying or evoking country life, typically in a romanticized or idealized form. 2 (in the Christian Church) concerning or appropriate to the giving of spiritual guidance: pastoral and doctrinal issues | clergy doing pastoral work. ORIGIN late Middle English: from Latin pastoralis ‘relating to a shepherd’, from pastor ‘shepherd’.

The ambiguity in the title is between sense 2 in World 1 — the clergyman officiating at the renewal ceremony is doing pastoral work (the work of spiritual guidance) — and sense 1b in World 2 — Old McDonald and his entourage are part of pastoral life (the life of farms and related enterprises).

(You might wonder why such grossly different senses are listed in the same dictionary entry. The reason is entirely historical; the two trace back, by very different routes, to Latin pastor ‘shepherd’. The 1 senses of pastoral come pretty directly from that, by widening and metonymy (from sheep; to grazing animals; to locations where such animals are kept (on farms, in the country); to country life generally. The 2 sense of pastoral involves a metaphor — a minister is metaphorically a shepherd — that is prominent in the texts and teachings of the early Christian Church, turning on the analogy: the relationship of a minister to his congregation is as the relationship of a shepherd to his flock. But now pastoral-1 and pastoral-2 are clearly distinct lexical items.)