Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Hang On Sloopy

May 21, 2017

On Friday, while Kim Darnell and I worked on moving plants and cleaning closets (not just routine spring cleaning, but a counter-offensive against a severe moth infestation — more on this in a later posting), for background I called up an iTunes playlist of dance music from the 50s through the 90s, which included “Hang On Sloopy”.

Now, Kim and I both have serious Ohio State connections, so we recognized the song as an OSU anthem, as played by TBDBITL, The Best Damn Band In The Land, aka the OSU Marching Band, which, like OSU football in general, is surrounded by a kind of frenzied irrational devotion. (When I lived in Columbus, I found this truly scary, since it led to crowds torching vehicles, smashing storefronts, and generally behaving like crazed hooligans,)

So Kim asked the obvious question: Who the hell is Sloopy?

We get that it’s a name, here used as an address term. But who is the Sloopy of the song, what do we know about them? And was there an actual Sloopy in the history of the song, or was the name just pulled out of a hat? And what kind of onomastic hat has Sloopy in it? (Related puzzle re: “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” — though in this case, Rikki and Ricky are both reasonably frequent names.).

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Ruthie faces the unfamiliar, again

May 19, 2017

The One Big Happy in my comics feed today:

Rockefellers / rocky fellows. How was Ruthie to know her grandmother was using a proper name? And fellers is a familiar dialect variant for fellows – and an old one (Americans have been labeling feller an “impropriety” or “provincialism”, with an “excrescent” r, since at least 1795, according to DARE).

Ruthie undoubtedly also didn’t know that the Rockefeller family has long been seen as the richest family in the world, hence as the, um, gold standard of wealth. Which gives We’re no / not Rockefellers as an idiom meaning, roughly, ‘We’re not rich’.

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Complementary ignorances

May 18, 2017

Yesterday’s posting on Philip Larkin’s poem “This Be the Verse” elicited this redfaced comment from U.Mass. linguist Rajesh Bhatt:

I only knew this as an Anne Clark song until now!

To which I now reply, equally redfaced, that until Rajesh’s comment I didn’t know about the Anne Clark version, and was in fact only dimly aware of Anne Clark.

(Rajesh supplied a link to a YouTube video of a live performance, at the Berlin Metropol in 1992; you can listen to a studio recording here.)

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Fags Before Flags, and other in-your-face t-shirts

May 14, 2017

(Plain talk about men’s bodies and sexual practices, so use your judgment.)

Thanks to Greg Parkinson for a link to this John Crisvitello t-shirt:

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The slogan is a send-up of the odious BROS BEFORE HOS, preserving only the rhyming, the street language, and a message about balancing allegiances. My reading of the slogan is that it calls for gay men to generally value bonds to other gay men — fags stand with fags — over the sorts of allegiances expressed in flags: nationality, regional identity, religion, race and ethnicity, political affiliation, etc.

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I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valley

May 13, 2017

It starts with a striking variety of lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis), a flower of the month of May and of weddings:

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Photo from Liz Fannin, in Columbus OH, who found the plant at OSU’s Chadwick Arboretum plant sale last year.

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missing it

May 13, 2017

Yesterday’s Mother Goose and Grimm:

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Ok, a simple ambiguity. The relevant subsenses of the transitive verb miss, from NOAD2, with my sense id codes:

— in the set of 12 failure-miss senses:
[1f] fail to attend, participate in, or watch (something one is expected to do or habitually does): teachers were supposed to report those students who missed class that day. [Mother Goose’s sense]

— in the set of 3 absence-miss senses:
[2c] feel regret or sadness at no longer being able to go to, do, or have: I still miss France and I wish I could go back. [Grimm’s sense, a willful misunderstanding of Mother Goose]

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The news for food, 5/11/17

May 11, 2017

Following on yesterday’s food bulletins — “The Z with the ‘za”, on robot pizza trucks (here), and “Regional potato chips” (here) — today brought Facebook postings by Dan Everett and Kyle Wohlmut, taking us to: recursive pizza, a pizza place in Williamsburg (A Slice Bakes in Brooklyn), camo gouda, a cheese shop in Utrecht, cheese slicers, red and green gouda, camo ice cream, and camo cheesecake.

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From the FoxFiles

May 3, 2017

… of demented p.r. releases sent to Margalit Fox. On Facebook today:

Most, ah, arresting lede on any press release I’ve ever received: “I am a former incarcerated acid chemist. …”

Putting aside the question of the intended parsing of former incarcerated acid chemist (conveying, I assume, something like ‘acid chemist formerly incarcerated’), I focus on acid chemist, which has a straight sense — as in nucleic acid chemist ‘chemist who studies nucleic acids (like DNA and RNA) — and a high sense, as in this book title:

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where the acid in question is the psychedelic drug LSD, lysergic acid diethylamide, also known as simply as acid.

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To Be Young, Gay, and Chinese-American

May 2, 2017

… also gifted, and a poet. That would be Chen Chen, who I became acquainted with through Matthew Zapruder’s poetry column in the NYT Magazine on March 5th, which featured the first poem (“Self-Portrait as So Much Potential”) in Chen’s debut collection When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities. The poet as a grown-up, in a rose garden (in a photo by his partner, Jeff Gilbert):

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Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit: three cartoons for the 1st

May 1, 2017

It’s May Day, an ancient spring festival — think maypoles and all that — so, the beginning of the cycle of the seasons. (Everybody knows the Vivaldi. Try listening instead to the Haydn, here.) And it’s the first of the month, an occasion for still other rituals, including one that calls for everyone to greet the new month, upon awakening, by saying “rabbit, rabbit, rabbit” (or some variant thereof). There’s even a Rabbit Rabbit Day Facebook community, with this page art (not attributed to an artist):

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The three-rabbit variant is the one I’m familiar with. (I got it as an adult from Ann Daingerfield Zwicky. Since she was from the South, I thought it was a specifically Southern thing. But today I learned, from an astonishingly detailed Wikipedia page, that that is very much not so.)

Today also brought a Facebook posting from my friend Mary Ballard, to whom the whole inaugural-rabbit thing was news, and, by good fortune, three cartoons from various sources: a Bizarro I’ve already posted about; a Mother Goose and Grimm with an outrageous bit of language play; and a Calvin and Hobbes reflection on the meaning of the verb read.

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