Archive for the ‘Pop culture’ Category

“What you done, sunshine, is criminal damage”

August 21, 2016

The 1975 quotation (in Green’s Dictionary of Slang) is from a (British working-class) policeman, who “levelled a finger at” a man and made this accusation. My interest here is in the address term sunshine, which has become familiar to me though British (occasionally Canadian) police procedural tv shows, where the cops (or private detectives) often use this form of address, aggressively, to male suspects. From the New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English (ed. Tom Dalzell & Terry Victor, 2015), p. 2192:

used as a form of address, often patronizing with an underlying note of disapproval or threat UK, 1972

A (very natural) extension of literal sunshine to ‘cheerfulness, happiness’ has been around for some time, as has the extension to someone who exhibits or elicits cheerfulness or happiness, in both referential and vocative uses. Then, the address term sunshine (like any other) can be used sarcastically, aggressively, or truculently, but the conventionalization of such uses specifically in British (and not American) English, for use to men by men, especially by official authorities, is yet a further development, one that I hadn’t experienced until I got into modern police procedurals, in books and on tv.

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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.

(#1)

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.

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The giant lava lamp of Soap Lake

July 23, 2016

(Not much about language here, just weirdness.)

Today’s Zippy, with a bow to a novelty item of the 1960s and a modern piece of visionary Americana:

(#1)

This being a Zippy strip, of course there is a giant lava lamp (roughly 60 ft. high), complete with observation deck, in the middle of the little town of Soap Lake WA — but it’s still a vision (of local resident Brent Blake), a prospect not yet realized. It’s a spectral lamp, a companion to Zippy the heartburned spectral rutabaga and the overripe parsnip he longs for:

(#2)

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Word play for 7-11

July 11, 2016

Three cartoons today (July 7th, or 7/11 in American usage; this will be important): a perfect pun (from Rhymes With Orange), using an ambiguity in local; a more distant pun (from Mother Goose and Grimm), linguistically and visually combining Bonnie and Clyde with Blondie ad Dagwood; and a Scott Hilburn (from The Argyle Sweater today) using the 50th anniversary of the Slurpee to float an almost-perfect pun
perches / purchase
(/z/ vs. /s/).

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The fallen V

July 6, 2016

In today’s Zippy, Bill Griffith continues his long exploration of American pop culture, especially roadside culture — diners, motels, and (very often) big fiberglass advertising figures:

  (#1)

(Note outrageous pun in the title, playing on Norse/nurse.)

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Two tests in cartoon understanding

June 22, 2016

From the July 2016 issue of Funny Times, two cartoons that are real tests of understanding, the second more so than the first. From Bob Eckstein, a cartoon that is funny on the grounds of sheer silliness:

(#1)

And from J.C. Duffy, a cartoon that is just incomprehensible unless you have two pieces of (pop-)cultural information:

(#2)

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Crate labels

June 14, 2016

Continuing the story of commercial art forms in popular culture that started with tie art this morning (“Most unusual ties”, here): the art of crate labels, for shipping fruit, vegetables, and other foodstuffs in wooden crates, on the railroad, from where they were produced to where they are consumed. Along with the long-distance distribution system (with its major hub in Chicago) made possible by the railroads came schemes of brand-naming and long-distance advertising for the products. most notably in the colorful labels (designed largely by unknown artists) on the crates (the labels are now collectors’ items); the heyday of the labels was in the early 20th century.

Two satisfying products from Louisiana (in #2, you should focus on the left side, with the Tabasco sauce bottle and its flanking shrimp):

(#1)

(#2)

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Most unusual ties

June 14, 2016

Juan Gomez, surveying some of the penguiniana at Ramona St. (there is even more at Staunton Ct., where I’m trying to clear things out), noticed this very handsome silver and black tie on display in my living room:

(#1)

(The label says: “MUSEO Hand Made” — made in Korea, as it turns out.)

The tie was a gift from my friend Steven Levine, who has an enormous collection — hundreds — of ties, found in used clothing outlets, estate sales, flea markets, and the like. Funny, gorgeous, bizarre, all shedding some light on odd corners of popular culture and changes in artistic fashions over the years.

So Juan asked what the most unusual tie in Steven’s collection was. I asked Steven, he reflected for some time, and nominated six items. For your thoughtful pleasure, these ties, with Steven’s comments…

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Kookie Zippy

May 29, 2016

Today’s Zippy goes back to 1962 and Kookie comic book #1:

(#1)

— meanwhile, engaging in a battle of beatnik poetry with the character Bongo from Kookie.

(Another in a long line of Zippy strips on beatnik customs, including invented beatnik poetry.)

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More tiki!

May 6, 2016

By fortunate coincidence, today’s Zippy, with its tiki figure transformed into a salt shaker, comes on the heels of my posting of the 2nd, on Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker and the pop culture phenomenon of Tiki Art:

Above, tikis turned into household objects (like salt shakers); in my Brad Parker posting, tikis turned into design elements — notably, as decorative elements in tiki lounges (where you can get killer cocktails and Polynesian/Chinese food), but also in Parker’s Lowbrow Art (as he calls it).


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