Archive for the ‘Morning names’ Category

Spilled his seed on the ground

June 29, 2020

(You start with Onan, you’re going to get genitals and sexual acts. Not for kids or the sexally modest.)

The morning name for 6/22, a whole VP — which led immedately to the biblical character Onan and thus to levirate marriage and to onanism, in two different senses (masturbation and coitus interruptus, not to mention figurative uses as, roughly, ‘self-gratfication’, as in intellectual onanism). And from that to remarkably hostile attitudes towards masturbation in Christian churches, both Roman Catholic and Protestant. And, ultimately, through the work of scholars of masturbation, to Hollywood goddess Hedy Lamarr, doing an orgasm in a 1932 Czech film.

And then there’s the source of that VP in my subconscious mind, almost surely a result of my having just spilled — spread, broadcast — birdseed on the ground of my patio, in an attempt to lure birds to my new bird feeder (details in my 6/27 posting “Meet the Jays”).

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Muss es sein?

June 14, 2020

In a musical interlude, the first half of yesterday’s morning name; the second half is, of course: Es muss sein! The motifs:

(#1)

From the 4th (and last) movement of the String Quartet No. 16 in F major, Op. 135, by Ludwig van Beethoven; written in October 1826, it was the last major work he completed.

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South Cackalacky

June 10, 2020

Today’s morning name: South Cackalacky, mildly derogatory slang for South Carolina (suggesting crudeness, rusticity, and remoteness: the boondocks). And Cackalacky, for the Carolinas taken together, with the same associations. (Sorry,  Charleston, Charlotte, and Research Triangle.)

Then, of course, such associations can be inverted, to connote local pride, down-hominess, and the like. As has happened in this case.

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To Serve Man

June 8, 2020

Today’s morning name, the crucial expression from a famous Twilight Zone episode, crucially ambiguous.

“To Serve Man” is episode 89 (#24 Season 3) of the anthology series The Twilight Zone (1959 TV series). It originally aired on March 2, 1962 on CBS. Based on Damon Knight’s short story of the same title, the episode was written by Rod Serling and directed by Richard L. Bare. It remains one of the best known episodes from the series, particularly for its final twist. (Wikipedia link)

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Morning name: Bene Gesserit

May 3, 2020

Today’s name. From Wikipedia:


(Wikipedia caption) Reverend Mother Mohiam (Siân Phillips) and other Bene Gesserit, from David Lynch’s Dune (1984)

The Bene Gesserit are a key social, religious, and political force in Frank Herbert’s fictional Dune universe. The group is described as an exclusive sisterhood whose members train their bodies and minds through years of physical and mental conditioning to obtain superhuman powers and abilities that can seem magical to outsiders. Acolytes who have acquired the breadth of Bene Gesserit abilities are called Reverend Mothers within the organization’s ranks.

… Etymology: In Dreamer of Dune, Brian Herbert’s 2003 biography of his father, the younger Herbert speculates that the name “Gesserit” is supposed to suggest to the reader the word “Jesuit” and thus evoke undertones of a religious order. Like the Jesuits, the Bene Gesserit have been accused of using casuistry to obtain justifications for the unjustifiable.

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Double damask

March 10, 2020

My morning name from ten days ago, from a celebrated comedy routine: a double dozen double damask dinner napkins. The original was apparently two dozen double damask dinner napkins, and it sometimes is performed as a dozen double damask dinner napkins, but its tongue-twisteristic core is the double damask dinner napkins part — and the history is interesting, but what consumed me that morning was where I’d first encountered that phrase and the routine.

I was pretty sure it was at Princeton in 1959-62, in the Bendon/Daingerfield menage on Nassau St., and I recalled clearly that I was familiar with them in the fall of 1962, when Ann Daingerfield and I moved into our house in Cambridge MA and discovered we were in possession of several dozen double damask dinner napkins; we dissolved in giggles repeating the phrase. (I still have some of those napkins; they are not only handsome but durable.)


(#1) An Irish linen double damask dinner napkin, in service

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Morning tum

March 3, 2020

(There will be penis allusions, but nothing actually raunchy.)

My morning names of 2/26, which arrived three in a bunch, all tum-words, all body-related, but in two different ways:

(a) noun tumor, a tissue growth

(b) adj. tumid, enlarged or distended (as applied to erect penises in particular, but to other things as well)

(c) adj. tumescent, ditto, but more strongly evoking penises

(a) has a somewhat medical tone, but has been taken into everyday usage. The other two are elevated in tone, distanced from carnality; they sound literary or technical. When I came fully to consciousness, I realized that all three traced back to the Latin tum– stem in tumere ‘to swell’. It’s all about swelling; (a) has gone in one direction of semantic specialization, (b) and (c) in another.

And then, of course, there turned out to be more, stuff I hadn’t anticipated at all: the nouns tumulus ‘ancient burial ground’ (they are mounds) and tumult ‘loud noise, disorder’ (the sound rises).

Where will it end? Is a tummy so called because the bellies of babies are often rounded and the bellies of pregnant women are distended? (No. So the antacid Tums is irrelevant to this story.) What about the bodyparts scrotum and rectum, or even the proper name Tatum, suggesting Channing Tatum and his impressive endowment? (No, a thousand times, no. And you should be ashamed of yourselves for having suggested it.)

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Timothy and Agrimony

February 25, 2020

(Plants, but also gay male life, with the latter focus leading to talk of mansex in street language (also with some deeply carnal (but fuzzed) photos of 69ing), so not for kids or the sexually modest.)

My morning names for 2/15: timothy and agrimony. A familiar crop grass (for grazing and hay) and a yellow-flowered bitter-tasting medicinal herb. Then these personified as two queer types: Timothy — called Timmy — the twink, a cute country boy, a hayseed, sometimes found with a stalk of grass between his teeth; and Agrimony — called Agro — the bitter old queen, jaded, sharp-tongued, largely disaffected with the queer community and feeling alienated from those in it.

The two men are of course unlikely to hook up, or even have anything to do with one another socially, but they share one bit of their sexual makeup: they both adore 69, find the exchange deeply satisfying. But characteristically, they prefer different positions for the act.

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Deux clouseauismes

August 11, 2019

Morning names from early this past week: fondly remembered quotations from Peter Sellars’s Inspector Clouseau character in The Pink Panther (1963) and the series of movies following it. Both involve a bold effort by Clouseau to fix or remedy some situation, resulting of course in devastation — and clueless insouciance on the inspector’s part.

Besides the absurd situations, there’s Sellars’s deft timing and his control of the physical comedy, and, delicious cherry on top: his way-eccentric Clouseau-franglais syntax and phonetics (with pronunciation governed largely by a rigid constraint against back vowels, especially rounded back vowels, though even [ʌ] is affected, as in monkey > minkey). The transcripts below are in standard English orthography, so you should listen to the film clips.

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Minimal pears

August 8, 2019

The morning name for Thursday was a linguist’s joke, the punning name minimal pear. In the morning, visions of sugar-pears danced in my head — cute little Seckel pears, specifically. Along with the linguists’ minimal pairs, like seat – sheet for /s/ vs. /š/ in English. (And, since there’s always someone who thinks of this when minimal pairs are mentioned: small testicles or breasts.)

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