Archive for the ‘Movies and tv’ Category

Two questions about today’s Bizarro cartoon

September 24, 2023

Today’s Piraro-only Bizarro (it’s a Sunday; Wayno’s doing other things) —

The gargantuan chalking project is, it seems, debilitating (if you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 11 in this strip — see this Page)

— is comprehensible only if you recognize the huge inert creature in it as the legendary prehistoric ape of a century of film, King Kong; and you recognize the fact that cops are drawing an outline around the creature in chalk as a sign that this is a scene of suspicious death. Kong is not just sleeping in the street, he’s dead; the cops are tracing Corpse Kong.

Two questions then occurred to me, and might well have occurred to others:

Q1: What do you call that chalk outline?

Q2: Just how big is / was King Kong?

Both questions have answers. Both answers are unsatisfying, but in different ways.


Bonus letter Z!

September 24, 2023

As a Z-person, I went on alphabetic alert when, in a New York Times Magazine interview (in print 9/17), Roz Chast mentioned a 2007 picture book by her and Steve Martin, The Alphabet from A to Y With Bonus Letter Z! (That’s Roz Chast the American cartoonist, and Steve Martin, the “American comedian, actor, writer, producer, and musician” (as his Wikipedia entry puts it):

(#1) Chast’s cover for the book

Now: some very blurby words about the book. And then the two Z pages from it, Martin’s text on the right page, with ornaments by Chast; and Chast’s drawing on the left (illustrating the text, but throwing in many more words with Z in them). There are at least 28 words with Z in them mentioned on these two pages, plus one such word — zebra — that is, cleverly, evoked by drawings but not actually printed.

An ordinary alphabet book would end with Z is for Zebra; gigantically, that’s the standard choice for an exemplary Z-initial word*. This one ends with 5 drawings of zebras but not the word; you don’t need the word in print, because you get it as an automatic associate to the name or image of the letter.

[*note: very small sprinklings of the non-standard choices in these books: zeppelin, zipper, zodiac, zombie, zoo, zookeeper, AmE zucchini, a few others. Plus several stunningly non-standard choices like Zamboni (in A Hockey Alphabet) and ziti (in Food by Letter).]

That is, Chast and Martin chose — surely unknowingly — to exploit a massive mental association between the letter Z and the word zebra to evoke the letter entirely via drawings of zebras. That’s clever, and subtle.


How an Australian film-maker evokes tennis

September 14, 2023

Or: the marvels of associative memory.

Previously on this blog, in my 9/12 posting “Two tennis-playing Zwickys”:

My old friend Ellen Sulkis James, musing on my name, e-mailed today:

I just read about someone else whose last name is Zwicky —  think it was someone involved with tennis.

Memories are often fugitive and hazy. Perhaps that’s what’s going on here. My searches for people named Zwicky with a tennis connection pulled up only two, both of them most unlikely to have come to ESJ’s attention

Ah, it turns out that the Zwicky in question is not tennis-related but — whoa! — film-related. This isn’t as bizarre an error as would first appear; we can in fact chalk it down to the nature of memory (in which personal associations between things play a big role).

I will explain.


Aura Lee in the morning

September 13, 2023

Today’s morning music, playing (on the Apple Music that’s beamed into my bedroom during the night) when I arose at 3:40 am: from Anonymous 4’s 1865Songs of Hope and Home from the American Civil War, “Aura Lee” (sung by Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek, with harmony and instrumental accompaniment by Bruce Molsky). An achingly lovely song — you can listen to the performance here — with a chorus that’s three lines of sentimental love song, topped by the transcendent line “And swallows in the air”, with its breath-taking image of the birds swooping in flight.

(#1) Photo by Keith Gough, as cover art for the demo video for “Swallows in Air”, from John Newell’s A Timbered Choir, settings (for voices and piano) of poems by Wendell Berry

The program: about the Civil War song song “Aura Lea / Lee”; about the 2015 Anonymous 4 album; and (briefly) about the Newell / Berry “Swallows in Air”.


Two pleasantries for 9/10

September 10, 2023

My Mary, Queen of Scots Not Dead Yet posting for 9/10, lying uneasily between the silliness of Negation Day on 9/9 (nein nein) and the wrenching anniversary of the horrors of 9/11/2001, and serving as something to show you after the postings I’d been laboring on expanded unmanageably in their scope and after my two-fingered typing hand, already seriously disabled, became barely functional because the middle finger is swollen, inflamed, and effing painful. (Today’s good news is that I got in two hours of Sacred Harp singing via Zoom with the Palo Alto singers — an activity that asks very little of that middle finger.) So, two pleasantries that have came to me on-line:

— in a Pinterest mailing today, an unidentified painting I pegged as surely an attractive Yannis Tsarouchis work (see my 8/12/23 posting “Yannis Tsarouchis”) — indeed, it turned out to be the artist’s Sailor at a table from 1950

— in a Facebook posting by Chris Ambidge on 9/7, from the Green Midget cafe in Bromley, a board offering the items from the Monty Python “Spam” sketch (set in that fictional eatery), which I noted was one of the great pieces of cumulative humor


Camp sexiness meets porn sexiness

September 2, 2023

(Yes, man-on-man sex — and a penis — discussed in street language, with hot photos, so not suitable for kids or the sexually modest)

Through the random confrontations of different things in my e-mail today: camp sexiness from John Travolta, porn sexiness from Skyy Knox and Milo Madera.


Labor Gay

September 2, 2023

(Man-on-man sex, with a photo that just barely doesn’t have any genitalia in it, so not for kids or the sexually modest)

Today is the Saturday of the US Labor Day weekend — the actual holiday is on Monday — and so there are sales on almost everything imaginable, including of course gay porn. This year TitanMen is offering a holiday pun — Labor Gay — for the occasion, in an ad showing two pornstars hard at work, laboring at their job:


From the annals of political portmanteauing

August 25, 2023

(This is very much a Mary, Queen of Scots, Not Dead Yet posting — coming after two days in which I was almost totally felled by the humid heat we’ve been experiencing (though I did get in a much-needed shower at 2 in the morning yesterday), and barely functioned. All this sadly in utter solitude: not a word with another human being between two exchanges with caregivers, on Saturday morning and yesterday afternoon.)

… with a note on Stanley Kubrick’s directorial techniques.

First, Don Boorleone.


Max and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcaftan

August 13, 2023

From Josh Brown on Facebook yesterday, passing on an ad he’d gotten:

(#1) [JB:] Now THIS is targeted-Facebook-algorithm-marketing that I can get behind. My kingdom for a caftan!


Sex overdrive

August 1, 2023

🐇 🐇 🐇 rabbit rabbit rabbit to inaugurate a fiery August; it’s also 🇨🇭 🇨🇭 🇨🇭 Swiss National Day, and I am wearing not only my Swiss flag shorts, but also my Switzerland t-shirt (Hail Helvetica! and all that) — meanwhile, adjustments in medication and my diet, following my nephrologist’s directions, have brought me control of my blood pressure (which was scarily low for a long time, after a previous period of being too high): right in my target zone just now (4:20 am: 126/69, with a pulse of 73 bpm — my pulse rate had also veered wildly all over the map, from highs of 110 to lows of 48 — so YAY!)

In my 7/23 posting “A recovery landmark”, I reported on the return of my high sex drive (of 70 years’ standing) after a long period of sickness (prominently including my gall bladder surgery), during which my sexual instincts lay utterly dormant; the return of sexual desire is a reliable sign of returning health, and a cause for great celebration. And, once again, regular self-pleasuring (as we say when we want to be decorous — though I note that self-pleasure, noun or verb, isn’t in NOAD or AHD5).

Now, one common consequence of a sudden change in the body’s state is a period of overshoot, an overcompensation for the pre-change suppressed state. After weeks of lassitude, your energy returns — and then, for a period, you’re hyperactive. After which you bounce back and return to a more normal state.

A few days after the reappearance of my sex drive, in the middle of the night, I went into sex overdrive, and it was awful.