Archive for the ‘Morphology’ Category

Fiberglass football

November 14, 2021

The Zippy strip of 11/8, in which our Pinhead confronts the hulking fiberglass figure of Football Man (looming in front of the Moreland Tire Co., whose products Football Man is presumably exalting:


(#1) Whatever Moreland products Football Man is hawking, he’s also exalting football as quintessentially American — so if Zippy is no fan of the game, he’s no American either — and as a (dark) metaphor for life (next up in the game of life: brain damage)

Having spent 29 years as a college professor in Columbus OH, I have a lot to say about football, very little of it pleasant, but this is probably not the time to air my grievances.

So put that aside, and ask the questions that almost every Zippy strip provokes: who are these guys? what is this place?

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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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The Crosse-Jones spunk affair

November 6, 2021

(The spunk in question is semen, so, yes, we’re going on another adventure with men’s genitals and sex between men, so this posting isn’t suitable for kids or the sexually modest.)

[Background note: see my 10/30/21 posting “Bearing the face for our era”, about the faces of Carolus-Duran (late 19th-century European art world) and Peter Korn (early 21st-century Silicon Valley tech world).]

Today’s story starts with my coming across Face 1 below (from a Lucas Films photo), on the cover art for the gay porn DVD London Spunked.


(#1) On the expression: narrowed eyes, lowered brows, intense gaze, somewhat tight mouth — possibly conveying a challenge, or dominance

We are all attentive to faces: we usually look at them first when we view a scene with figures in it, we check them to see if they’re familiar, we try to interpret their facial expressions, and so on. In this case, I think that, in any context whatsoever, on a quick view I’d have identified Face 1 as belonging to the same person as Face 2, a face I know very well (as a favorite actor in gay porn):


(#2) A different facial expression: eyes somewhat widened (especially his right eye), brows somewhat raised (especially his right brow), gaze alert but not intense, corners of the mouth slightly raised to make the hint of a smile — possibly conveying friendly interest

The two men have the same hair style and facial hair style, though #2 is darker and longer in both respects, but that could be just a temporary matter of grooming. #2’s skin tone is more golden-brown than #1’s pale skin, but that could just be tanning, or the lighting of the photos. #2 has a furry chest (visible at the neckline), while #1 is smooth, but that could just be a matter of trimming (in fact, the guy in #1 is not very furry, but keeps his chest trimmed down but not actually smooth, while the guy is #2 is naturally furry as above, but often trims his chest hair in similar fashion.

But then, but then …

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The scent of a pumpkin

October 17, 2021

It’s that time of the year again, you can smell it in the air: Pumpkin Spice Season. For some, a keenly arousing moment, as in this e-card (#1 in my 10/26/17 posting “Three more pumpkin-spicy bits”):


(#1) A POP (phrasal overlap portmanteau): verb pumpkin spice up = noun pumpkin spice + verb spice up  ‘make more interesting or exciting’

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X-adjacent

October 14, 2021

(Warning: moderately technical linguistics ahead — tailored for the non-specialist, but unsparing with crucial concepts and their accompanying terminology.)

Watching aimless tv recently, I came across this example, from NCIS: New Orleans, Season 6 Episode 16:

Hardin doesn’t have a criminal record, but he has been scandal-adjacent more than once. (from the transcript)

It was the Adj scandal-adjacent (of the form N + Adj) that caught my eye: literally ‘adjacent to scandal’, but here in an extended sense, roughly ‘(closely) associated with scandal’, suggesting that the association is uncomfortably close.

I then discovered that scandal-adjacent (sometimes spelled scandal adjacent) was reasonably common, and fraud-adjacent was too.  And recalled a posting of mine on an extraordinarily euphemistic occurrence of adult adjacent with adult referring to sex.

It turns out that the compound Adj pattern X-adjacent ‘adjacent to X’ is an open one, with a variety of examples in OED3 (Dec. 2011). Except that OED3 incorrectly characterizes the pattern as involving postmodification rather than compounding.

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Office zombies

October 12, 2021

The New Yorker daily cartoon for 10/11 by Navied Mahdavian and Asher Perlman commits an unusually long POP (phrasal overlap portmanteau):

“We both have work in the morning.”

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Masculinity comics 2

October 6, 2021

[Proviso: this posting is about, among other things, ritual insult — a kind of verbal play-fighting — but it doesn’t pretend to be an essay on the very large number of forms and functions of ritual insults (and, more generally, play-fighting), even in the modern U.S., much less in different  sociocultural contexts around the world and throughout history.]

Today, example 2 in a series of comics on masculinity for boys, a One Big Happy from the past (6/27/09):


(#1) Ruthie heaps formulaic insults on her brother Joe (including the kid insults stupid head, monkey face, and nachos for brains — poopy head, a stand-in for the stronger shit for brains, would be the classic kid insult) until she hits on something he really cares about

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Masculinity comics 1

October 5, 2021

[Proviso: this posting is mostly about cross-dressing, but it doesn’t pretend to be an essay on the very large number of forms and functions of cross-dressing, even in the modern U.S., much less in different sociocultural contexts around the world and throughout history.]

I’ve been accumulating comic strips having to do with boys and masculinity, in particular about what they’ve picked up about normatively masculine behavior and attitudes by the age of 8 or so: the age of the character Joe in the comic strip One Big Happy, who’s the older brother of Ruthie, age 6, who’s the central character of the strip. At the moment I have 5 strips (4 OBHs, plus a Zippy), covering a wide range of themes in normative masculinity for boys. To judge from the comics (and my recollections of boyhood), an 8-year-old has an extensive and pretty fine-grained command of the cultural norms of masculinity within his social group.

Example 1, the OBH of 4/16/21, on attitudes towards transvestism / cross-dressing:


(#1) The attitude here is that male cross-dressing — prancing around dressed in women’s clothing — is ridiculous, maybe pitiful, but in any case not compatible with ferocity, that is, symbolic masculinity ; this is one step in sophistication past the attitude that it’s against nature, therefore pathological and dangerous, though possibly usable as entertainment, in the theatre of ridicule

Two linguistic side issues here: the idiomatic slang says you, expressing disagreement with an interlocutor’s remark (from Joe, to Ruthie, in the last panel); and the 2pbfV cross-dress (a derivative of the synthetic compound cross-dressing). Before that, the background of the Boy Code.

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The pengring

September 16, 2021

In the mail yesterday (in transit for a month from Italy), this neon purple penguin key ring — a pengring, portmanteau of penguin + ring — a little gift of friendship in difficult times, from Anna Thornton — morphologist Anna M. Thornton, Professor of Linguistics at Università Degli Studi Dell’Aquila,  the University of L’Aquila, Italy:


(#1) A hollow key ring, with the hollow good for holding the pendant penguin and so finding and wielding the keys on the ring, though this particular design is usually intended to make the pendant usable as a bottle opener; I don’t, however, think I’d want to risk scratching that handsome purple surface on a bottle cap (but then twist caps have widely replaced pry-off caps, so we all have less call for bottle openers)

And from this, excursions in many directions.

I note at the outset that the penguin is one of my totem animals; my house is a riot of penguiniana (and mammuthiana as well). Anna’s choice of penguin as gift creature was no accident.

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Masculinity messaging from Sweden

September 5, 2021

It started with an ad (on my Facebook page yesterday) from the Ron Dorff company (previously unknown to me) that struck me for its reserved erotic message:


(#1) [from the accompanying text:] The very first fragrance by Ron Dorff [Paris – Stockholm] Discipline Sport Pour Homme: Fresh, clean, and refreshing, the perfect reinvigorating scent after a tough session at the gym. Get $10 off the full-size bottle.

Notes on the photo. A handsome, “naturally” well-muscled (rather than gym-ripped) young man, shot in soft focus, wearing only a standard white gym towel, resting his arms against his legs (touching his body — this is significant). His haircut is conventional. His face is very lightly scruffy, his body utterly smooth and dry, almost ethereally beautiful: an idealized beautiful male body. The towel, however, is fastened to make a V pointing towards his crotch; and a small bottle of Ron Dorff Discipline Sport is tucked into it, pointing up, so that it mimics an erect — reinvigorated — penis peeking above the towel.

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