Archive for the ‘Names’ Category

Arthur Godfrey and friends

July 27, 2016

Today’s Zippy appears to be just a surrealist melange of pop-cultural absurdity (and can be enjoyed at that level), but in fact many of those absurdities are knit together in a web of allusions to elements of pop culture — probably even more densely than I appreciate.


It all starts with Arthur Godfrey, who appears transformed as the central character of the strip, Siddartha Godfrey, with Arthur replaced by the phonologically very similar name SiddarthaSiddharth or Siddhartha is the birth name of the founder of Buddhism, Gautama Buddha.

Meanwhile, the title “Jerry Van Dyke Lives” introduces a secondary, parallel, theme having to do with Jerry Van Dyke.


To be floral, bearded, and young

July 16, 2016

A bit of found poetry:


Yes, band names.

But wait! There’s more! Here’s the whole poster, heralding a coming show at The Hope and Ruin, 11-12 Queens Road, Brighton, Sussex (live music, a pub, and some food — hot dogs, fries, and ice cream):



July 9, 2016

Yesterday’s breakfast was salmon chimichurri — something of a blind venture, but I do like salmon. The chimichurri turned out to be a nice green sauce, which I then looked up (yes, I know, most people would look it up first, but I’m an adventurous eater).


The Adventure of the Morning Napoleons

July 6, 2016

Today’s morning name (welling up during my sleep from who knows where) was mille-feuille, the pastry.



Gang of five

June 28, 2016

Comics and cartoons pile up. Here are four recent ones from my regular feeds, plus a Perry Bible Fellowship (“The Offenders”) sent to me by Jason Parker-Burlingham. Before that, a Bizarro with the slow-snail cartoon meme; a One Big Happy with an attachment ambiguity; a Rhymes With Orange on reduplicated names (like mahi-mahi); and a massively alliterative Zippy.


(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbol in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there’s just one in this strip — see this Page.)

The usual meme is about snails (with shells), but it works equally well for slugs (without shells).


Simplifying the example, it’s I sketched a model in the nude. There are two scopes for the modifier in the nude — as a sentential (or VP) adverbial (the scoping for clauses with intransitive verbs, like I sunbathed in the nude), attributing nudity to the referent of the subject; or as a modifier within the direct object NP (note the passive A model in the nude was painstakingly sketched by the life drawing class). The first speaker intends the second, narrower scope, but Ruthie understands the first, wider scope, in which the artist is nude.


English has a considerable number of names that are reduplicative in form, like the place name Bora Bora. Some of these are food names, like mahi-mahi and couscous. The diner is taking the reduplicative form to denote multiplicity (or extent), giving rise to a kind of back-formed noun, mahi or cous.


Bill Griffith loves to play with the sounds of words. Having started with Fairchild Semiconductor (the company name) used as a personal name, the first panel explodes with F alliteration, which continues in the other two panels — pared with T alliteration in the second panel, S alliteration in the third.

And then to cartoon sound words in Perry Bible Fellowship, which range from conventional to inventive:


Added later: More important, as commenter RF notes:

Note that Slur’s “problematic” fighting style results in sound effects that are racial slurs directed at his opponents.

This was clearly telegraphed by the name of the strip (“The Offenders”) and by the name of the central character (Slur). Somehow I missed this on a first reading. Many thanks to RF.


Name play in Basingstoke

June 12, 2016

From my English correspondent RJP, this tradeperson’s van, photographed on the street:


Flat Boy Skim is a bit of complex name play on Fatboy Slim. Well, you have to know who Fatboy Slim is, something many people do not. And then: what might Flat Boy Skim have to do with plastering? For that, you have to know something about the technical jargon of plastering (which I did not, until I looked it up; well, I correctly noted that a good plastering job should be flat — smooth — and I assumed that boy was just there for the name play, but skim was a mystery).


Another dubious name

June 10, 2016

Passed on from Facebook posters by way of Chris Waigl, this storefront, with comments from readers about the store name Kum & Go:

(Note the use of rhyme and alliteration in the follow-ups.)

Another chapter in the annals of dubious and unfortunate names on this blog. In this case, you might have thought that a double entendre was intentional, a bit of playful naming to catch your eye and stick in your memory. But the company’s official story maintains otherwise, so (apparently)  it’s only accidentally risible.


Tom Toro

June 9, 2016

Caught in the May 9th New Yorker, this Tom Toro cartoon:


A little slideshow on time adverbials and the times they refer to, understood figuratively.

Toro hasn’t appeared on this blog before, but he’s a prolific cartoonist with an ear for language and an inclination to play with classic cartoon memes (like the desert island or, as below, penguins and their discriminability).


From late winter

June 1, 2016

Back in late January, I posted about a visit to the Gamble Garden in Palo Alto for a breakfast outdoors, among early spring flowers and

some winter-blooming ornamentals that I haven’t yet posted about: red hot poker [which brings us to a plant family not previously posted about here: Xanthorrhoeaceae, #57 on this blog], strawflowers, and Euryops virgineus (honey daisy) in particular [also Asphodelus, asphodels]. I’ll get to them in a later posting, a posting in which I’ll also get to [two] plants from the Gamble’s Australian desert garden, plants that are probably blooming here now because they’re still on a Southern Hemisphere internal clock [Chameleucium uncinatum and Boronia crenulata].

Not in bloom, but very noticeable, was an agave [much like Agave americana, with its great big, spiky, fleshy leaves]

That day was just after my man Jacques’s birthday (his 74th). Today is just before Jacques’s 2003 death day (on Sunday), so there’s a certain symmetry to these two plant postings.


An infestation of flies

June 1, 2016

On Facebook, Max Meredith Vasilatos has been reporting on her wars with fruit flies in her San Francisco condo. Even when there’s no food out for them to feast on, still they persist. Max has tried to eliminate possible breeding places by pouring boiling water and bleach down the bathroom drains, but still there are flies.

Commenters on Facebook suggest that she is facing, not fruit flies (Drosophila species, especially the common D. melanogaster) in search of fruit (rotting if possible), but drain flies (from one of a large number of species, though the moth fly Clogmia albipunctata is especially widespread) in search of sludge.

I am, of course, familiar with common fruit flies, but also with at least one species of drain fly (though not C. albipunctata), a species that’s a minor summertime nuisance around my house.



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