Archive for the ‘Pop culture’ Category

The Unusual Two

November 29, 2017

In the tradition of Judi Dench and Vin Diesel (in a posting of 3/29/15 here), an unlikely pairing of actors in an episode of The Twilight Zone: Elizabeth Montgomery and Charles Bronson. Two gender icons of pop culture, early in their careers — a few years before Montgomery started her role as Samantha Stevens on the fantasy tv sitcom Bewitched, about the same time as Bronson broke through as Bernardo O’Reilly in the movie Western The Magnificent Seven.

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More cartoon comprehension

November 19, 2017

Today’s Mother Goose and Grimm:

(#1)

What do you need to know to appreciate this cartoon? Three stereotypes, to start with: stereotyped Pilgrims, stereotyped (American) Indian (the label comes with the stereotype), stereotyped Thanksgiving food. Then you need to recognize the roulette wheel (and put “Place your bets” — “Faites vos jeux” — in its cultural context). And then you need to connect the pieces: to do that, you have to know about Native American gaming (in street language, Indian casinos). Except for the roulette bits, all of this is exquisitely American.

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3 for 15

November 15, 2017

Three recent cartoons, on different themes: a One Big Happy in which Ruthie misparses an expression; a Rhymes With Orange that requires considerable cultural knowledge for understanding; and a Prickly City that takes us once more into the territory of pumpkin spice ‘high quality’, now in a political context:

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Zipparchitecture on two coasts

October 30, 2017

Two recent Zippys offer remarkable vernacular architecture on the US coasts:  a great rocky pile of a fantasy home, created by a performer of enormously popular entertainments — a castle on the Connecticut! — on the east, restaurants in the shape of a parasol — SoCal novelty architecture! — on the west:

(#1) Castle built a hundred years ago by actor William Gillette; reminiscent of the house in the Flintstones animated tv series; topped by the Carvel soft ice cream symbol

(#2) Parasol restaurant in SoCal’s Seal Beach (1967), sister to the first Parasol in Torrance (1961)

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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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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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freak shows

September 19, 2017

Today’s Zippy reflects on a bit of culture — a fascination with deformed and otherwise outrageous human beings — name-checks Lady Gaga, Anderson Cooper, and (indirectly) the current residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington — and exploits the ambiguity of the compound freak show:

(#1) At the menagerie / side show

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Steak bombs

September 16, 2017

Yesterday’s Zippy:

(#1)

Steak bomb as the name of a type of steak sandwich was new to me. Steak sandwiches in general are torpedo-shaped, hence bomboid, but the point of the name is probably to assert that it is in fact the/da bomb, the best: the best of all possible steak sandwiches, because it has everything.

The play of steak bomb vs. stink bomb then just makes the name more memorable.

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Irmas

September 8, 2017

Hurricane Irma works its way through the Caribbean, now aiming at Florida. There’s nothing useful I can do at this distance, so I’ve been frittering away my time recalling the famous Irmas of my world — your list might well be different — namely Irma S. Rombauer, the Irma of Irma la Douce, and, top of the list, the Irma of My Friend Irma, the apotheosis, oh alas, of the Dumb Blonde stereotype in American popular culture.

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Where is Gilroy?

September 5, 2017

Restrain the impulse to reply “Gilroy was here” (I’ll get to that below); the title is an echo of my 7/7/15 posting “Where is Ojai?”, which was about whether the city of Ojai, in Ventura County CA, is in California’s Central Coast region or in in the South Coast region (along with Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego counties).

Just so for Gilroy, a city in (far southern) Santa Clara county: is it in the Central Coast region, or in the Bay Area region on the northern California coast?

Ojai and the rest of Ventura County are in a cultural liminal zone, between central and south; and Gilroy and neighboring Santa Cruz county are in a cultural liminal zone, between central (with small cities, picturesque open spaces, and extensive rural or semi-rural areas) and Bay Area (mostly dense urban and surburban settlement).

I stumbled onto the Gilroy question through food, specifically through Original California Style Hot Pepper Sauce, made in Gilroy (but encountered on a table at the Peninsula Fountain Grill, here in Palo Alto), whose makers advertise:

Pepper Plant Pepper Sauce was developed by a lover of spicy peppers who wanted to enjoy their unique taste year round. Pepper Plant quickly became a favorite of the California Central Coast.

The Pepper Plant folks seem pretty clear that they’re on the Central Coast (along with Watsonville, Salinas, Monterey, and Carmel) — at the northern tip of the region, granted, but in it.

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