Archive for the ‘Conversion’ Category

Stilettoed on the balcony

August 3, 2022

The killing of Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri by a targeted U.S. drone strike (taking him down as he stood on a balcony) over the weekend in Afghanistan was described by an MSNBC commentator yesterday morning as

a stiletto strike:  with the N1 + N2 compound N stiletto strike ‘sudden (military) attack resembling a stiletto (in being very narrowly focused lethal weaponry)’; the sense of the N2 strike here is NOAD‘s 2 [a] a sudden attack, typically a military one

Possibly it was stiletto airstrike; it went by very fast, I haven’t seen another broadcast of it, and it’s not yet available on-line, so I can’t check — but I am sure of the N stiletto and the N strike and the intent of the commentator to commend the pinpoint accuracy of the operation.

It seems that the metaphor has been used occasionally in military circles for some years, but very rarely outside these circles, so that it came with the vividness of a fresh, rather than conventional, metaphor — but while it worked well for me (evoking the slim, pointed, lethal daggers of assassins), it might not have been so effective with others, whose mental image of a stiletto is the heel of a fashionable women’s shoe (slim and pointed,  but alluring rather than lethal).

Yes, the two senses (plus a few others that I won’t discuss here) are historically related, with the dagger sense the older and, in a series of steps, the source of the shoe sense. But of course ordinary speakers don’t know that, nor should they be expected to (such information is the province of specialists, historical linguists and lexicographers); what they know is how stiletto is used in their social world, and that’s likely to involve trendy footwear rather than medieval weaponry.

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non-profits

April 4, 2022

Today’s morning name, the C[ount] noun non-profit, as in this real-life example (lifted from this very blog):

Partners of the Common Cents Lab are tech companies, banks, credit unions, non-profits, and government organizations

And in this NOAD entry:

adj. nonprofit [AZ: very frequently non-profit]: [attributive] not making or conducted primarily to make a profit: charities and other nonprofit organizations. noun mainly North American a nonprofit organization: I spent the next six years working for small nonprofits.

(With clearly C noun occurrences boldfaced)

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When the palm trunks

March 5, 2022

Report on Facebook today from Sim Aberson (in South Florida) about his “daily constitutional” with his husband, where they encountered:


Copernicia macroglossa, petticoat palm, a very slow-growing species

Sim wrote:

When they eventually trunk, the old fronds produce a beautiful petticoat.

Yes, the noun trunk ‘stem of a tree’, verbed, to yield intransitive trunk ‘(of a tree) produce a trunk’.

For a moment, I thought that Sim had salted the verbing in there just for me to find — he knows my tastes — but then I realized that this is the way palm people talk (Sim and Mike are serious plant guys) — because the verb is a genuinely useful one for growers of palms.

An old story: people go around promiscuously nouning and verbing, occasionally for cleverness (and there’s nothing wrong with that), but usually because in one of their worlds — often a very specialized world — the innovative form is a good thing to have to hand.

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surfdom

February 22, 2022

The Zippy strip for 2/20, in which Bill Griffith gets to goof on surf vs. serf:

(#1) Zippy’s title: “Serf City!!”, playing on the song title “Surf City”

panel 1: the serf wakes up in his cell and gets up — the idiomatic phrase surf’s up, roughly ‘the waves are good for surfing; let’s do it’, so figuratively ‘conditions are good for action; let’s get on with it’

panel 2: the serf surfing the net — the (metaphorical) verb surf ‘move from page to page or site to site on’

panel 3: the serf channel-surfing — the (similarly metaphorical) synthetic-compound verb channel-surf ‘change frequently from one television channel to another’

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Men’s Briefs: the locked gaze

February 20, 2022

(A little tribute to, among other things, man-on-man anal sex in the Cowboy position, and the facial expressions and gaze accompanying the act — so definitely not for kids or the sexually modest. There are fuzzed-up images below; the photos with the genitals untouched are in a parallel posting “The locked gaze” on AZBlogX today.)

A Falcon Studios e-mail ad yesterday:

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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 mirror of the manatee

August 5, 2021

In today’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro — Wayno’s title: “The Mammal in the Mirror” (a play on the song title “Man in the Mirror”) — a manatee primps at his vanity, yielding the vanity + manatee portmanteau vanatee, and crossing genders as well as words (masculine manatee — “Man in the Mirror”, addressing himself as handsome, bristly body — at a conventionally highly feminine item of furniture, a vanity table, for applying makeup in the bedroom):


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

I’ll start with the two contributors to the portmanteau and follow them where they lead, which is many surprising places.

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The St. Patrick’s Day spriticide

March 21, 2021

The event: the leprechaun has been murdered, with a porcelain figure. How to describe the event as concisely as possible? Today’s Rhymes with Orange strip shows us a police detective who can do it in three words. (And it’s been set to music!)

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Two cartoons on the 30th

January 30, 2021

… in today’s comics feed, both connecting to earlier postings on this blog: a Rhymes With Orange on an ambiguity in the verbing to dust; and a Zippy on Magritte’s painting The Son of Man.

(#1)

(#2)

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Buzz me, baby

March 19, 2020

Today’s Calvin and Hobbes re-run strip, on Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs (CFSBs), which offer “100% of the daily recommended allowance of caffeine”:


(#1) Just in case you had a fleeting moment of wondering about it, there is no caffeine RDA (recommended dietary allowance — recommended by the US National Research Council); the RDAs are for nutrients, and caffeine is not a nutrient

C&H Sugar Bomb strips. Hummingbird metabolism. The getting-high sense of the noun buzz and its verbing. The near-instant buzz of concentrated caffeine. Adalbert Stifter’s 1845 novella Bergkristall.

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