Archive for the ‘Poetic form’ Category

Penguin Pride

September 1, 2016

… at the Pilsner Inn (in San Francisco):

(Hat tip to Aric Olnes.)

Not only a penguin with a Pride flag, but a nicely alliterative tetrameter line:

Penguin Pride at the Pilsner Inn

(mostly trochaic). Or pentameter:

Penguin Pride on the Pilsner Inn Patio

(clearly dactylic).

Morning news: death of radio star

June 2, 2016

Yesterday’s morning name: the song “Video Killed the Radio Star” (which I’m inclined, for several good reasons, to recall as “Disco Killed the Radio Star”) — as recorded by the Buggles in 1979 (disco-inflected music, lead vocals in retro radio voice, electronica) and, deliciously, as performed by them in a, yes, video.

You can view the video here. Crucial lyrics (with my line numbering):

1 Video killed the radio star
1 Video killed the radio star
2a In my mind and in my car,
2b we can’t rewind we’ve gone too far
3 Pictures came and broke your heart
4 Put down the blame on VCR


Tiger prawns and garlic noodles

May 31, 2016

The name of an old favorite dish at the Vietnames fusion restaurant Three Seasons in Palo Alto. Well, its old name — it’s now listed as “Grilled prawns and garlic noodles” — and I much prefer the old one, because “Tiger prawns and garlic noodles” is a perfect line of trochaic tetrameter:


(the verse line of so much folk and popular music). In a fancy photographic presentation:



Morning name: Roll Over, Beethoven

March 18, 2016

This was one of two morning names on 2/13/16; I assume it popped up because some of the music that played while I slept was Beethoven. But of course Chuck Berry is something else again:


Who is Silvia?

February 23, 2016

The title of a posting from the 21st: “Who is Alice? What is she?”, the answer to the question turning out to be Alice Lee, sister of author Harper Lee. My title was a play on the first line of a song from Shakespeare’s The Two Gentlement of Verona, a play in which Silvia is a central character: “Who is Silvia? What is she”. (The two lines are closer than you might think at first, since in the song Silvia is clearly meant to be an initially accented disyllable, just like Alice.)

Of course, Shakespeare’s play doesn’t come with a tune for the song, so one must be devised (or borrowed from another source) for purposes of performance. A notable setting of the English lyrics is by none other than Franz Schubert.


The House of the Writhing Pun

November 17, 2015

Yesterday’s Zippy, continuing a series about a ventriloquist’s dummy:

A burlesque of “The House of the Rising Sun”.



November 17, 2015

An entertaining photo that’s been floating around the Internet for some time:


In speech, the intended parsing

(1) [ Alaskan cod ] [ pieces ]

is indistinguishable from the humorous parsing

(2) { Alaskan ] [ codpieces ]

In writing, the conventional spelling distinguishes the two and enforces parsing (1). But if you’re not aware of the item of apparel the codpiece (more on that to come), or if the possibility of an ambiguity hadn’t occurred to you, you might be tempted to the spelling codpieces instead of cod pieces.


Morning: monotreme, marsupial

October 18, 2015

The morning names a little while back came as a pair (monotreme, marsupial) — with related referents (both are taxonomically eccentric mammals) and names that are somewhat similar phonologically. And in sequence they made a nicely metrical line.

And that led me into a certain amount of silly language play.


That’s a moray

October 17, 2015

Yesterday I posted about (among other things) the song “That’s Amore”, as made famous by Dean Martin. Immediately friends began providing plays on the title: That’s a Moray”. Eels! It turns out that there is a small industry in this bit of linguistic playfulness. On to the parodies, and then some words about morays.


Land of 1,000 Dances

July 26, 2015

Following up on my “Name Rhymes” posting (with examples from Cab Calloway and Paul Simon), Mike Pope wrote to remind me about Wilson Pickett’s “Land of 1,000 Dances”, with a rather different rhyme scheme involving names. From one version of this song (there are many):

Got to know how to pony
Like Bony Maronie
Do the Watusi
Like my little Lucy
Out in the alley
With Long Tall Sally
Twistin’ with Lucy
Doin’ the Watusi

In my earlier posting, the rhyming words are adjacent in a line. Here we have rhyming couplets, but still involving names.