Archive for the ‘Pop culture’ Category

Follow-up: things that make the world go ’round

June 12, 2019

My 6/6 posting “What makes the world go ’round?” looked at the catchphrase, or saying, Love makes the world go ’round, with
comments from the American Dialect Society’s lexicographers John Baker and Peter Reitan tracing the expression, with love as the subject, in several variant forms (including It’s love that makes the world go ’round and ‘Tis love that makes the world go ’round), back to an old song in English (early 19th century at least), and that from an older song in French. Now Peter Reitan has unearthed a late 18th-century playful variation on the formula, in which it’s drink, not love, that makes the world go ’round.

Meanwhile, in the modern world, playful variations have abounded, to the point where it’s reasonable to posit a snowclone X Makes the World, conveying ‘X is very important’.

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The Chinese diner

June 5, 2019

Today’s Zippy takes us to a bit of now-vanished Camden NJ, the Elgin Diner Restaurant, and, next to it, a fantasy Chinese diner, an amalgam of two items of demotic culinary Americana: the classic diner (an Art Deco railcar where people meet to eat plain, familiar food); and the little Chinese (that is, American-Cantonese) restaurant:

(#1)

This will take us on the road to Ardmore PA, Wheeling WV, and Idaho Falls ID. For the trip, choose a diner classic — tuna melt, patty melt, club sandwich, meatloaf, macncheese — from column A; and a Chinese-restaurant classic — hot and sour soup, chow mein, garlic eggplant, General Tso’s chicken, sweet and sour pork — from column B. And then wok this way.

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Great twerks of the 19th century

May 19, 2019

In advertising for the Palo Alto Art Center’s exhibition Local Editions: A Celebration of Bay Area Printmaking 6/15/19 – 8/25/19, this arresting print by Judy Aoki:


(#1) (She) Twerkin’, 2014 stone lithograph with watercolor (on Aoki’s website under the title Dance Styles of the 1800’s, from her Museum of Historical Makeovers)

A note on the late 20th- / early 21st-century dance craze twerking, then more on Aoki and her work.

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Revisiting 27: Lilo, Stitch, Bouba, and Kiki

March 25, 2019

Mike Pope on Facebook, following up on my posting of the 25th “Lilo & Stitch”, with a question about the naming of the characters in the movie:


(#1) Stitch and Lilo

MP: Do you think the animators consciously followed a kiki/bouba paradigm?

AZ:  Almost surely not consciously; they just chose names that “sounded right” to them.

In general, writers’ name choices for fictitious characters are inscrutable in detail; even if the writers have an explicit account of where the names came from, unconscious preferences for certain kinds of names can usually be seen to be at play.

One of these preferences is the bouba/kiki effect, which has to do with the visual appearance of the referents (see the images above). Also involved are effects having to do with the gender of the referents (Stitch is male, Lilo female). No doubt there are more.

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The moving sale

March 21, 2019

From Karen Chung on Facebook a while back, this complex pun in the 9/25/15 Bizarro, illustrating (among other things) a nice contrast in accentual patterns: front stress (or forestress), the default for N + N compounds, in MOVING saleback stress (or afterstress), the default in Adj + N nominals, in moving SALE:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 5 in this strip — see this Page.)

So the hinge of the pun is the ambiguity of moving: as N, (roughly) ‘the act or process of changing residence’; or as Adj, (roughly) ‘causing strong emotion, esp. of sadness’ (both senses are ultimately semantic developments from the simple motion verb move, intransitive or transitive; but they are now clearly distinct lexical items). Then from the difference in syntactic category follows the difference in accentual pattern.

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le naufrage, le naufragé

March 16, 2019

A dire nautical theme in today’s morning names: le naufrage ‘shipwreck, sinking’ and le naufragé ‘shipwreck victim, castaway’, powerful elements of popular culture and frequent subjects of news stories, books, and films.

I was first taken to le naufrage de l’Andrea Doria, an event that vividly evoked the summer before my junior year in high school; then (among the innumerable fictional representations of shipwrecks and castaways, going back to the Odyssey and before) to Tom Hanks in the appalling Cast Away; and, then, through the whimsicalities of googling, to Le naufragé (English title Stranded), a 2009 short comedy-drama film — about which I can find virtually nothing of substance.

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Roland B. McRiver

March 11, 2019

In my comics feed yesterday (presumably originally in print on 2/11), a One Big Happy in which Ruthie uses a doll to take on the personality of Tina Turner covering the Creedence Clearwater Revival hit “Proud Mary” — “Rollin’ on the River”:


(#1) Ruthie burlesquing “Rollin’ on the River” as “Roland B. McRiver”

Background: the CCR song, the Tina Turner version, Tina Turner herself, the Tiny Tears doll — a ton of pop culture. And then Ruthie’s burlesque, which reproduces, in its mangled way (Joe: “Make her stop. PLEASE!”), all three verses of the original and its chorus.

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Hard Tundra

March 4, 2019

Adventures in cross-dialect understanding in the One Big Happy strips of 2/1 and 2/2, both featuring Ruthie and Joe’s playmate James:

(#1)

(#2)

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Grammar pirate

February 25, 2019

The title of this cartoon, which turned up yesterday in FB’s Our Bastard Language group:

(#1)

The captain is both a pirate and (as it turns out, once you figure out what the man intends to say) a grammar nazi, bent on correcting his crew’s inferior (as he sees it) English — hence the portmanteau grammar pirate. So the cartoon is, primarily, about (stereotypical) pirate talk (which will take us to the West Country of England), but also about peeving.

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Annals of goofy kitchenware

January 6, 2019

At some point, someone looked at an ordinary soup ladle, probably one with a hooked end for hanging it up, like these stainless steel spoons:

(#1)

and realized it looked rather a long-necked animal (with the bowl as its body and the hook as its head), perhaps a long-necked dinosaur — a terrestrial brontosaur or apatosaur, or (since the bowl dips into a liquid) a marine creature, say a plesiosaur:

(#2)

Or, even better, the folkloric creature Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster:

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