Archive for the ‘Penguins’ Category

The gay penguin traffic barrier

September 23, 2023

From Emily Menon Bender on Facebook today, reporting on one of her visual finds on a run while she’s on the road — in this case, in Chicago:

(1) Penguins in gay bow ties, ornamenting a portable concrete barrier stashed by the side of the Lakefront Trail, along the Lake Michigan shore

Two things here: the barrier, which is not just any concrete traffic barrier, but is of a very common design, which of course has a name, one you would never have predicted.

Then the trail itself, which is quite something.


The back-to-school cartoon

August 29, 2023

With artwork by New Yorker cartoonist Brendan Loper, passed on by John McIntyre on Facebook, for the beginning of school (I laughed out loud):

(#1) The original seer-consulting cartoon, from the New Yorker of 12/5/22, had the caption: “The answers you seek shall be revealed to you by shutting up and paying attention to what happens in the movie.” The academic caption was created by someone, maybe even Loper, for Shutterstock


The flightless kite

July 27, 2023

It’s definitely Penguin Day on AZBlog — following on my earlier “Illusory penguins ” posting — with this wonderful wordless Jared Nangle cartoon in the new New Yorker,  for 7/31:

(#1) The kite inherits its flightlessness from its subject; bird kites and butterfly kites can fly, but not penguin kites (meanwhile, a kite that could dive and swim like a fish would certainly be a disappointment)


IIlusory penguins

July 27, 2023

From my regular correspondent Ellen Kaisse yesterday:

I was walking around the grounds of a nearby high school and saw these black and white creatures off in the distance.

(#1) [AMZ:] Are those penguins, advancing upon us?

I knew they had to be football training sleds (see picture below of the closest thing I could find on the web), but they sure looked like penguins. I immediately thought of you. [AMZ: notorious penguin fan that I am]

(#2) [AMZ:] Football training sleds; you charge into them (I have actually done this)

I think if you enlarge the picture [in #1], it will keep looking like penguins, at least up to a certain magnification.

There’s a little lesson in perception here. If, for whatever reason, you are primed to search out certain things in your visual field, you are likely to “see” your target in some of the wrong places, in visuals that merely resemble the thing that so engages your attention. Penguins are one of my totem animals; I live surrounded by images of penguins and simulacra of penguins, and friends keep giving me more; so I’m attuned to penguins in a way that few other people are, and am inclined to unconsciously seek them out. Through long association with me, Ellen Kaisse has picked up some of this inclination. (My daughter and grandchild and various other friends who have been supplying me with penguiniana over the years have similarly gotten attuned to the flightless birds.)

I have written elsewhere on this blog about my perceptual sensitivity to the letter Z, ’cause I’m a Z guy. That occasionally leads me to misidentify symbols that merely resemble Z, or to fix on certain forms of the capital letter S as if they were Zs. For me, Zs lurk everywhere. (I notice spoken /z/ in much the same way, especially in word-initial position.)


The lost penguin art

July 24, 2023

I wrote to Sally Thomason in e-mail earlier today:

While I have been recuperating (slowly) from gallbladder surgery, I have a wonderful helper León [León Hernández, in full León Hernández Alvarez] who does many useful thngs for me, though working from pretty rudimentary English. But his great passion is housecleaning, at which he is a remarkable demon. He is even able to dust things and put them back exactly where they were before (whether or not that’s where he would have put things). Having (I thought) cleaned everything there was, today he embarked on moving all the pieces of furniture in the living room and cleaning underneath them. Finding, in the process, a large range of lost things: long-dead pens, a lot of change, a knitting needle for thick yarn (which I didn’t recognize, but León immediately announced was a goncho, and we had to look that up together) (We do a lot of on-line searching together, especially about the trees and flowers we encounter on our neighborhood walks).

And a great prize: your first penguin doodle from many years ago, in a small frame, much bleached by time but still elegant and adorable. León has learned to live in Penguinland, and ManSexLand too — but by random good fortune, he’s gay himself, so the ManSex all over the place is just entertaining. However, he immediately appreciated your doodle as a work of art, and was so delighted to have found it under one of the couches that he brought it to me while I was shaving in the bathroom. I currently have its larger successor on display on the desk in my study, and we have now added the smaller one next to it.

What once was lost has now been found, and we rejoice.

The two penguin doodles, in a photo León took for me about an hour ago:

Side by side by Thomason

Addendum. Sally is not just a good friend of very long standing, and an exceptionally talented creator of these creature doodles, but she is also an enormously distinguished colleague. I will now embarrass her by quoting excerpts from her Wikipedia page:

Sarah Grey Thomason (known as “Sally”) is an American scholar of linguistics, Bernard Bloch distinguished professor emerita at the University of Michigan. She is best known for her work on language contact, historical linguistics, pidgins and creoles, Slavic Linguistics, Native American languages and typological universals. She also has an interest in debunking linguistic pseudoscience, and has collaborated with publications such as the Skeptical Inquirer, The Encyclopedia of the Paranormal and American Speech, in regard to claims of xenoglossy.

… From 1988 to 1994 she was the editor of Language, the journal of the Linguistic Society of America (LSA). In 1999 she was the Collitz Professor at the LSA summer institute. … In  2009 she served as President of the LSA.  In 2000 she was President of the Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas. She was also Chair of the Linguistics and Language Sciences section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1996, and Secretary of the section from 2001 to 2005.

… She is married to philosopher / computer scientist Richmond Thomason and is the mother of linguist Lucy Thomason. Her mother was the ichthyologist Marion Griswold Grey.

I stand in awe, while noting that she is one of the world’s nicest people, and very funny, but with a quite direct and penetrating manner that crushes foolishness and fuzziness.


The dinner art installation

June 9, 2023

Assembled yesterday morning, on the teak coffee table in the living-room area of my condo, an art installation that doubles as a dinner-table setting. Some of the elements in this composition  are components of both the installation and the dinner setting; some are part of the installation only — or, some would argue, actually constitute a centerpiece for the dining table, in which case the whole thing is a dinner-table setting, but viewed either as artistic display or as dinnerware (think of Duchamp’s 1917 Fountain, but with a lot more parts and with the stuff actually capable of serving its usual function.)

Photos (by Erick Barros):

(#1) View of the installation from the front

(#2) View of the installation from above


Street Life

May 21, 2023

A just-installed photo gallery on the wall above the desk in the study of my condo. An addition to the visual density of the place, providing enjoyment for me, but also intended to absorb and please friends and visitors (I am a deeply sociable person, and I like to entertain, in several senses.)

About Street Life. A display of six sex-tinged (but not actually X-rated) photos of men on the street (from Samson McGee, who maintains a gigantic library of malesex photos for sale), each with a fortune from a fortune cookie. I have given them titles and ordered them below in a kind of natural progression; here with the fortunes:

— Soon Paid Off: street hustler, iconic and tough; All of your hard work will soon be paid off.

— Performance over Speed: street hustler, not at all toughened up yet; People forget how fast you did a job — but they remember how well you did it.

— Time Not Money: two sailors, possibly cruising, maybe even hustling; A friend asks only for your time and not money.

— Offer Affection and a Sea-going Hard-On: two sailors strolling, one with a hard-on; Love is being offered to you, be affectionate in return!

— Offer Affection and an Unbuttoned Hard-On: two guys talking on the street, one with a hard-on and his fly open; [once again] Love is being offered to you, be affectionate in return!

— Fish Sticks and Moose Knuckles: two guys talking on the street  in front of a shop selling fish sticks (one sporting a tremendous moose-knuckle); Every wise man started out by asking many questions.

Once again, I would like to give you a photo of the display, but I have to wait until I can get someone to take a picture for me.

The visual density of my environment. First there are the books — in the big main room, the study, and the bedroom. Mostly a deeply random collection of things saved from the dispersal of my 40,000-volume professional library, though there are some coherent subcollections. But possibly worth scanning: I doubt that there’s anyone else in the world with this collection of titles, so you might find some surprises.

Then on almost every remaining horizontal surface, collections of objects — remarkable, pretty, funny, sexy, artfully made, full of affectionate associations. Gay symbols, penguins, mammoths, phallic symbols. In the heavily X-rated bedroom, representations of dicks, simulacra of dicks, creatures with bodyparts in the shape of dicks, and so on.

And on almost every available vertical surface, artworks, cartoons, collages, Zwicky images, postcards (men, animals, food, whatever), and photographs, both family photographs  and hot guys. In the heavily X-rated bedroom, a huge assortment of my XXX-rated homoerotic comic collages.

Much here to amuse the eye and engage the mind. Come visit sometime.



First with anteaters, then with penguins

March 30, 2023

I spare you the details of what these Pacific “bomb cyclone” weather events do to my body when it encounters the very low air pressure that accompanies them, but it’s extremely unpleasant and totally immobilizing (and this time, it included the inability to focus my eyes, so I couldn’t read anything for, like, four hours). That was yesterday; surviving this attack comes with slow recovery over some days. I had an “easy” entertaining posting in preparation, mostly replays from the past, so this is what I’m giving you now, just as proof that I’m not (quite) dead yet.

The occasion is yesterday’s (3/29) Wayno / Piraro Bizarro, set in a little spheniscid restaurant:

(#1) Wayno’s title: “Just Like Mom Used to Spew” (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 5 in this strip — see this Page.)

Crude spew from Wayno, technical regurgitate in the cartoon text. Both references to penguins feeding their chicks. So: some comments on these practices. Then on to the restaurant — with all the accoutrements of a little neighborhood place — serving homey specialties, by penguins, for penguins.


Der Pinguin ist kaput

March 14, 2023

Today’s sad news, an outcome of dramatic high winds that battered and, eventually, smashed my plastic patio plant penguin, the 2-ft b&w sentinel that stood guard by my back door for some years, and before that watched over various very large potted plants.

I’m waiting for the winds to die down to assemble the pieces and put them in the trash.  Then, in a few days we’re supposed to have more rainstorms, floods, and mudslides.

It seems that I have only one photo of the decedent, one that doesn’t show them to best advantage.


Penguins on the town

February 26, 2023

Penguin spots — showing four penguins on holiday in New York City — by Milanese illustrator Antonio Giovanni Pinna in the 2/27/23 issue of The New Yorker:

(#1) Six of the spots: p. 21, bellhop / porter transporting the penguins in a hotel luggage cart; p. 24, special polar-temp accommodations for the penguins; p. 31, two penguins on a horse-drawn carriage ride in Central Park; p. 42, a penguin contributes to a street musician; p. 46, the four penguins emerge from the subway; p. 49, the penguins collaborate so that one of them can use a tower viewer to appreciate scenic views