Archive for the ‘Names’ Category

Mahonia, Berberis, Ilex

October 17, 2017

An adventure in plants, their appearance, and their taxonomic status.

It starts with a recent visit to the Gamble Garden in Palo Alto, where I encountered this pretty small shrub, in bloom, labeled Mahonia ‘Sweet Caress’ (photo from the net):

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At first glance, not at all like the mahonia shrub my father grew in our garden when I was a teenager: this plant has bamboo-like foliage, but the mahonia in our Wyomissing Hills PA garden had leaves that looked like holly leaves, and my dad referred to it as an Oregon grape holly: grape for the blue berries on the plant during the winter, holly for the prickly Ilex-like leaves, and Oregon for its origin in the shady forests of the Pacific Northwest.

Now it turns out that the holly-leaved mahonia of my youth and the bamboo-leaved mahonia in Gamble Garden are shade-loving evergreen plants with similar yellow flowers and blue berries, and are in fact both in the genus Mahonia, very closely related to barberries (in the genus Berberis). Both Mahonia and Berberis are in the barberry family (Berberidaceae) — with nothing much taxonomically to do with either hollies (in their own plant family, Aquifoliaceae) or bamboos (in the grass family, Poaceae).

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Revisiting 8: Rod Canyon

October 16, 2017

(At least at the beginning, about gay porn, focused on men’s bodies and mansex, so not for kids or the sexually modest. Eventually, there will be comics, movies, music, and plants.)

From the 12th, in my “Pizza Boy outtakes” posting, the idiom canyon yodeling, at first only ‘cunnilingus’, then ‘man on man anilingus’, with the sexual slang canyon extended from ‘vagina viewed as sexual organ’ to ‘male anus viewed as sexual organ’. And then today in viewing the gay porn movie Rear Deliveries (William Higgins, 1980), I came upon the wonderfully named pornstar Rod Canyon, whose porn name unites the two central but opposed objects of gay male desire, the penis (insertive) in Rod and the anus (receptive) in Canyon. As far as I can tell, Lance Box hasn’t been used yet as a (dual-purpose) porn name, but Rod Canyon labored in the P&A fields of pleasure around 1980.

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A musical journey to NW MA

October 14, 2017

Opal Armstrong Zwicky, my grand-daughter, is now well into her freshman year at Northfield Mount Hermon school, off in the wilds of northwestern Massachusetts, a place that (except for the fact that American English is the local language) is significantly different from where she grew up, here in the SF Bay Area, in a school that’s significantly different from the ones she went to up to this point. NMH from the air:

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That’s the Connecticut River in the background. It all looks so New England villagey. (Here in northern California, we have plenty of New England-derived domestic architecture, along with lots of Spanish Mission-style stuff, but we don’t have anything that looks like this. We do have deciduous trees that turn color in the fall, but we also have palm trees, redwoods, and live oaks, all over the place).

On to maps and to the hymn tune Northfield (155 in the 1991 Sacred Harp), one of many shapenote tunes named for places in Massachusetts (and close by).

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Traveling around with Zippy

October 13, 2017

(Fun with names and language play, but mostly Zippyesque popular culture in many manifestations.)

In recent days, Zippy has gone to a psychic shop (offering “crystals, past lives, tarot cards”), to the Tropical Treat in Hanover PA, to Luna Park in Sydney (NSW), to the ghost of a  Mickey Rooney hotel in Downington PA, and to the ghost of the Justin Time diner in Meriden CT.

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He had an American name

October 8, 2017

Yesterday, on the Our Bastard Language group on Facebook, this entertaining item passed on by two members of the group from Thunder Dungeon’s page:

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Despite the fact that many Americans are accustomed to confronting, almost every day, names they don’t recall ever having heard before — well, most of us have ancestries from elsewhere, a lot of different elsewheres — there are still many names we recognize as “American”, even if we have some sense of the ethnic heritage of the bearers of those names. They might be perceived as English, Scots, Dutch, Irish, German, Jewish, Italian, Mexican-American, French, or whatever, but for us they count as American. And we are keenly aware of divergences from the set of typically American names, as above: Steve is an American personal name, Sleve is not; Dwight is an American personal or family name, Dwigt is not; Hudnutt is an American family name, Dugnutt is not; Gonzalez is an American family name, Bonzalez is not.

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The archangel Michael

September 30, 2017

(And other wingèd men.)

Yesterday was Michaelmas, devoted to Saint Michael the Archangel, a figure of great power and terrible beauty, who among other things lent his name to the gorgeous autumn-blooming aster commonly known as the Michaelmas daisy (see my 10/5/13 posting).

(Today on the calendar of religious holidays it’s Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. A very different thing.)

Angels and archangels are messengers of god, also protectors. As protectors, they can be either militant (usually masculine) or maternal (usually female);  Michael, wielding his sword against the serpent / Satan, is definitely one of the militant band — but he can be portrayed either as a muscled hero (an Achilles or Ares figure) or as an ethereally beautiful young man doing holy battle (so a hybrid of Apollo and Ares, but Christian).

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Ice Dance in the garden

September 26, 2017

(About plants and their names.)

A row of handsome grassy plants at the Gamble Garden in Palo Alto, like these:

Carex morrowii ‘Ice Dance’, a sedge (rather than a grass).

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Naked came the mammoth

September 25, 2017

Because mammoths, today’s Rhymes With Orange:

(#1) Advances in Mammoth Science: early scientists encountering Mammuthus primigenius var. nudus

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Boys with Plants

September 23, 2017

The name of an Instagram site, which I learned about from Laura Staum Casasanto today. Stunning plants (heavy on houseplants, but by no means confined to them) accompanied by good-looking men, handsomely photographed. Laura supposed, correctly, that the combination would work well for me, and she was right.

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Bear chairs

September 23, 2017

Today’s Zippy lumbers through some plays on bear, in a bear chair:

(#1) The bear figure as both comforting and threatening

Bear chairs, gay bears, flags, and more.

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