Archive for the ‘Puns’ Category

The opossum joke

July 30, 2019

(I posted a version of this under the heading “The opossum” on July 30th, but by a WordPress glitch the link to that posting was later re-directed to the next posting in line, “Ralph at the Port Authority” (here), so that my earlier posting disappeared completely. I lamented this loss on Facebook, and eventually archivist and quote investigator Garson O’Toole magicked up a Google Cache version of the text for me. Thanks to Garson, here’s a reconstituted version.)

(Totally baffled addendum. WordPress has published this revised posting with the date 7/30, though it was actually posted on 8/1.)

A very sweet One Big Happy from 6/30: Ruthie and her grandfather:

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A granddad joke — well, actually, two of them in sequence, the first sledgehammer simple (a classic dad joke), the second delightfully subtle (a meta-joke in which the audience response becomes a crucial part of the joke).

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Conventional and creative metaphors

July 24, 2019

In a recent comics feed, the 6/27 One Big Happy, with an exchange between Grandma Rose and the grotesquely smiling Avis

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In panel 2, the baggage of emotional baggage is a conventional metaphor, one no longer requiring the hearer to work out the effect of the figure and so now listed in dictionaries. But then Rose immediately brings it back from dormancy to life in a long riff of creative metaphor (in panels 2-4), composed on the spot and calling up a complex and vivid scene for the hearer.

We use the same term, metaphor, for both phenomena, and the mechanism is the same in both — but one is a historical phenomenon (whose figural character is usually out of the consciousness of speaker and hearer), while the other is a phenomenon of discourse production and comprehension in real time.

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Singout at the CA chorale

July 16, 2019

As I arrange for a small Sacred Harp singing at my house in Palo Alto next month, a Bizarro from the past, this 1/10/07 strip:

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Relevant fact: SH singing is famous for being loud and harsh in tone — especially the altos, whose voices are often described as having a “glass-cutting” timbre.

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Avocado Chronicles: 4 avotoast

July 15, 2019

Although, or perhaps because, I live in one of the world’s avocado toast hot spots, I’d hoped to avoid posting on the silly fad for avotoast, but then this Mother Goose and Grimm cartoon — with its pun on toast — appeared in my comics feed:


(#1) Up off the counter and onto the table

Three things: avocados, toast, and avocado toast.

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A bit more reaping

June 29, 2019

Just one day after a particularly fine Rhymes With Orange cartoon combining the Desert Island cartoon meme and the Grim Reaper meme — in my 6/27 posting “The Desert Island Reaper” — came a Wayno/Piraro Bizarro with a groaner Grim Reaper pun:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 2 in this strip — see this Page.)

The figure of the Grim Reaper — the bringer of death — as a window-washer, removing — destroying — the grime on the windows of a high-rise building, with the blade of his scythe replaced by a window-washer’s squeegee.

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Trix is for kids

June 17, 2019

Going the social media rounds, this joke, an ostentatiously playful allusion (OPA) to a bit of popular culture, presented as a texty — a cartoon that’s primarily a printed text, though texties often come with a visual backdrop, which sometimes contributes crucially to an understanding of the joke, as here:


(#1) A texty that lives in two worlds: American political culture of recent years (a reference conveyed visually, through the photo of Paul Ryan); and an ad campaign for an American breakfast cereal marketed to children (a reference conveyed verbally, by the ostentatious play on the ad slogan “Silly rabbit / Trix is for kids!”)

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On the dog food watch

May 29, 2019

The 5/27 Wayno-Piraro Bizarro strip, set in the Land of Dogs:


(#1) (If you wonder about the secret symbol in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there’s just one in this strip — see this Page.)

A dog food with Quibbles in its name is of course not going to agree with you, in one sense of agree with. So you can understand the cartoon, and see that the pun on agree with in it makes it amusing — and still miss the extra joke that Wayno and Piraro threw in for you.

The cartoon would have been funny if the dog food had been named just Quibbles. But Quibbles and Fits is a lot funnier, because it’s another pun, on the name of the (actual) dog food Kibbles and Bits. But of course you have to know about this particular commercial product to get that joke.

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High 5 from a bison

May 25, 2019

(After the cartoons and the lexicography, John Rechy will take this posting into the world of mansex, in some detail and in very plain talk; that section is not for kids or the sexually modest, but I’ll warn you when it’s looming on the horizon.)

Two bison greet each other in a John Baynham cartoon with a wonderful pun:

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That’s numbers (roughly ‘amount’, but as a PL C noun) — and indeed large numbers of buffalo did once roam the plains of North America — vs. numbers referring to physical models, or simulacra, of symbols for certain abstract mathematical entities — in this case, the natural numbers. Such physical models are also familiar: think of the letters in the HOLLYWOOD sign, or the numbers on the building at 666 Fifth Ave. in NYC (with its own kind of fame as a Jared Kushner property). But people don’t walk around with, much less inside, giant versions of such models. That’s deliciously absurd.

Looking at the lexical items involved will take us deep into the lexicographic weeds and then to the secret places of mansex, starting with the dim recesses of Griffith Park in Los Angeles.

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Stravinsky’s 1970 Firebird and the Ghoulliard Quartet

May 20, 2019

Music, cartoons, and language play, plus Slavic folklore, Seiji Ozawa and his expressive hair, pony cars, symphony trumpeters, NPR, and Frankenstein’s monster. It starts with this wonderful cartoon by Jeffrey Curnow from the NPR site (hat tip to Virginia Transue):

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Ostentatiously playful allusions

May 18, 2019

(OPAs, for short.) The contrast is to inconspicuously playful allusions, what I’ve called Easter egg quotations on this blog. With three OPAs from the 4/20/19 Economist, illustrating three levels of closeness between the content of the OPA and the topic of the article: no substantive relationship between the two (the Nock, Nock case), tangential relationship (the Sunset brouhaha case), and tight relationship (the defecate in the woods case).

The three cases also illustrate three degrees of paronomasia: the Nock, Nock case involves a (phonologically) perfect pun; the Sunset brouhaha case an imperfect pun; and the defecate in the woods case no pun at all, but whole-word substitutions.

I’ll start in the middle, with Sunset brouhaha. But first, some background. Which will incorporate flaming saganaki; be prepared.

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