Archive for the ‘Conversion’ Category

Meat dreams

August 8, 2023

Not manmeat dreams, which I have all the time, usually quite pleasantly, my desires being inclined that way. But slabs-of-meat dreams, all through last night’s sleep. Not distressing, but inescapable: a continuing presentation of one piece of raw animal flesh after another, with titles out of Monty Python, things like:

#10, the breast of chicken; #45, the ham hock; #17, the pork loin; #99, the strip of bacon; #4, the leg of lamb; #57, the veal cutlet; #62, the porterhouse steak

I kept thinking: these are all really important, I’ve got to write them all down. But it was all in my head, where there’s no place to write things down. Frustrating.

When I eventually woke fully, at 1 am, I realized that my subconscious was sending me a message: IT’S TIME TO START EATING REAL MEAT. My subconscious was firmly convinced that my body had recovered sufficiently from my gall bladder surgery (almost 2 months ago) to cope with the full range of food. It was now shouting at me: GET ON WITH IT, DUDE!


Backup life

July 4, 2023

If you’re a normal person and you run out of something in your household — toilet paper, granola, cleaning products, cheese, plastic trash bags, whatever — you just go out to a relevant store and pick it up. If you’re (essentially) housebound, as I am, in this situation, you have to plan ahead and get backup supplies delivered, so that replacements are to hand when you need them. (Even normal people might providently plan for the future and also save time and money on buying in bulk by laying in backup supplies.)

In any case, I’m obliged to live the backup life and have stocks of stuff hanging around — many of them piled up on what was once a sofabed in the study of my condo (which otherwise has very little usable storage space). At the moment, it has boxes or piles of Kleenex, toilet paper, paper towels, and wet wipes. There are similar stashes elsewhere in the condo. I spend a good bit of time ordering in this stuff, mostly through Amazon.



April 23, 2023

Let’s dive right in, with two disparate items: an old One Big Happy cartoon recently reprised in my comics feed; and Ta-Da!, a 2018 hardcover picture book by Kathy Ellen Davis (author) and Kaylani Juanita (illustrator):


A fugitive verb

April 12, 2023

Very imperfectly caught, out of the corner of my ear, Amy Klobuchar (the senior US senator from Minnesota) being interviewed on MSNBC’s Morning Joe this morning:

was outbested by

Not yet able to recover the context (eventually the tape will be available for viewing), but it’s crucial for determining what AK was trying to convey by choosing the unusual verb outbest (rather than plain best or outdo).



March 19, 2023

Phrasal Overlap Portmanteau time, starting with one from yesterday’s Wayno / Piraro Bizarro, which is (by accident) regrettably topical; and going on to a more complex one from cartoonist Leigh Rubin’s Rubes strip back in 2016 — complex because Rubin probably was thinking of the joke as a cute pun (I told you it was complex).

But first, yesterday’s Bizarro:

(#1) Drag queen meets legendary lumberjack: the POP RuPaul Bunyan = RuPaul + Paul Bunyan (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 4 in this strip — see this Page)


Don’t call me a “creative”

February 5, 2023

Today’s (2/5/23) Doonesbury strip  shows us artist J.J. Caucus and her husband Zeke Brenner in her studio, with J.J. fuming about being labeled a creative:

(#1) “I’m a noun, not an adjective!” But then Zeke shifts the ground from be a creative to be creative, noting (in effect) that be creative denotes a characteristic, not an identity, so “less pressure”

J.J.’s complaint is about the nouning of the adj. creative, yielding a C[ount] noun creative that apparently just means ‘creative person’, but she’s more than a creative person, she’s a professional creator, an artist. As it turns out, the C noun creative is a great deal more specific that ‘creative person’ — and in its established usage it refers to a type of professional in the advertising industry, so in fact doesn’t apply to J.J. at all. Gripe on, J.J.!


Today’s verbing

December 9, 2022

From WIRED magazine’s Plaintext web column by Steven Levy today (with the notable verbing bold-faced):

This week the social media world took a pause from lookie-looing the operatic content-moderation train wreck that Elon Musk is conducting at Twitter, as the Oversight Board [of Meta] finally delivered its Cross Check report, delayed because of foot-dragging by Meta in providing information.

The verb lookie-loo (more commonly looky-loo), in this example roughly ‘stop to look at something out of curiosity’ (it can also mean roughly ‘view something for sale without intending to buy’), occurs here in its PRP (-ing) form lookie-looing, used in a nominal gerund phrase (which is the object of the preposition from). Finally, the verb lookie-loo here is transitive (with the NP the operatic content-moderation train wreck that Elon Musk is conducting at Twitter as its direct object); most occurrences of this verbing seem to be intransitive — examples to come below — though transitive uses are also attested.


Where to door knock and cold call

October 19, 2022

… and, eventually, how to abracadabra things out of sight. Yes, it’s Verbing Day on AZ Blog!

Politics and real estate: to door knock. It started on the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC on 10/11, with the cite presented here in its larger context:

(#1) to door knock / door-knock ‘knock on doors’ (in political canvassing): a N + V verb, whose origin lies in a back-formation from the synthetic compound door knocking / door-knocking

The semantics / pragmatics of the synthetic compound is specialized — not merely knocking on doors, but doing so in specific sociocultural settings (political canvassing and door-to-door solicitations by real estate agents, in particular) — and this specialization is shared by the 2pbfV (two-part back-formed V)


Mortal power

September 9, 2022

The 8/11/22 Rhymes With Orange, exploiting an ambiguity in the noun killer as the modifier N1 in N1 + N2 compounds, in this case in killer abs (literal ‘abs that are killers, abs that kill’ vs. figurative ‘abs that are killer / remarkable’):

(#1) In the worlds of advertisements featuring beautiful people, the health and fitness literature, and soft porn, figurative killer abs are commonplace; abs that kill, however, have (so far as I know) never once appeared on a police blotter

Wider topic: the figurative modifiers of mortal power — premodifying killer (killer abs, a killer app), postmodifying of death (the cruise of death, referring to a penetrating sexual facial expression).

Male body parts and sexual connections between men plus a ton of linguistic expressions in their social contexts, what more could I ask for?


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.