Archive for the ‘Pop culture’ Category

Flagging your identity

May 7, 2022

Friday’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro (Wayno’s title: “Logo Design”):


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 2 in this strip — see this Page.)

There’s a relatively straightforward implicature from what Superman says, that there was a time when he didn’t wear an identifying logo — “the big red emblem” — but used only his spit curl (BrE kiss curl) to identify himself.

(Well, there is the rest of the costume, including the cape, but I suppose the idea is that those items would merely identify him as some superhero or another, speeding through the streets and airspace of Metropolis, but would fail to distinguish him from all the others. While the spit curl would have been something unique; it could have been, oh, a goatee, red eye shadow, pixy ears, a big butch metal neck chain, red knee pads with S on them, brass knuckles, high-heeled boots, any manner of things, but a spit curl ought to work.)

As it happens, in his early appearances, starting with Action Comics #1 in June 1938, Superman had the S shape on his chest, but not on his forehead. What to make of that? — Has he forgotten? Is he confabulating? Or does his use of “is too subtle” not implicate a spit-curl-only period?

Perhaps it merely conveys that when he started his career he, or maybe Martha Kent, realized that spit curls alone apparently are, as a general matter, insufficient to distinguish exceptional individuals from the herd, so added the logo from the beginning; in that case, he might have said “an S-shaped spit curl apparently would have been too subtle [for our purposes]”, so they axed the spit curl completely in favor of the much less subtle logo.

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Cooking with gas: a guest posting

November 21, 2021

Grant Barrett (of the Barnette-Barrett radio show A Way with Words — and a real lexicographer, one of the lexicographers I sometimes hang out with, even though I’m not of that tribe) tried to post this as a comment on my posting yesterday, “Now we’re cooking with carrots”, but it appears to have been indigestible to WordPress, so I’m publishing it here as a guest posting. Remember: what follows below the line is Grant, all Grant, not me (except for some formatting).


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Enduring classics

October 10, 2021

Let me slide into this one.

In yesterday’s posting “Gilligan’s aisle”, I marveled at the fact that a profoundly silly tv show from 1964-67 (Gilligan’s Island) was still available enough to the pop-cultural consciousness to serve as the hook for a punning Bizarro cartoon. It’s achieved some sort of classic status.

And then today’s Rhymes With Orange comic turns on a computer game that counts as antique in that world: the computer tiling game Tetris (released in 1984, for the Electronika 60 computer). The comic:


(#1) Incomprehensible to anyone who doesn’t know about the game Tetris and how it looks on the screen; otherwise, this just looks like a peculiar depiction of the idiom rain cats and dogs (whose etymology is unknown, though you can find a pile of inventive speculations about it)

But it seems that pretty much everybody knows about Tetris, so the comic works.

Then, as a bonus, it turns out that today’s Rhymes is a re-play of one from 2010, eleven years ago.

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Il Castello del Formaggio

June 22, 2021

The 6/21 Zippy strip takes us to Kenosha WI, on the highway between Chicago and Milwaukee, along the shore of Lake Michigan — to the location of Mars Cheese Castle, which is why Zippy is there:


(#1) Nothing directly to do with the two principal foci of this blog — language and linguistics, gender and sexuality — but plenty on food, pop culture (along the roadside), and absurdist comedy

As for my interests, Kenosha does have the headquarters of Jockey International — hail to men’s underwear! — and a local woolly mammoth skeleton in its museum — my totem animal! — and, best of all in mid-America’s Land of Cheese, an annual fall Cheese-A-Palooza festival (devoted to the grilled cheese sandwich and to mac and cheese). But best of all is Mars Cheese Castle.

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Annals of commercial naming: Bear Naked Granola

June 18, 2021

Brought to me by Facebook in recent days, advertisements for two playful trade names: one — for the Boy Smells company, offering scented candles, unisex fragrances, and (unscented) underwear, all for LGBT+-folk — covered in my 6/16 posting “Annals of commercial naming: Boy Smells”; and now, for the Bear Naked® Granola company. The two cases turn out to be very different.

Boy Smells belongs with a series of postings on this blog on dubious and unfortunate commercial names — some clearly unintentionally racy, some playfully suggestive, some openly, even brazenly, suggestive, given the nature of the establishments (Hooters). The Boy Smells company is almost painfully earnest about its LGBT+ mission, which makes its name — so evocative of teenage pong — especially unfortunate.

Bear Naked Granola, in contrast, is knee-deep in playfulness, starting with the pun on bare naked, so that on the one side, you get a reference to bears, with their fondness for nuts and fruits and honey (all relevant to granola); while on the other side, you get bare naked, suggesting purity and simplicity. And you also get the pop-culture view of bears, as cute and entertaining.

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A free cartoonist in Paris

April 27, 2021

Today’s Zippy strip has Griffy (Bill Griffith’s counterpart in the strip) drawing up a cartoon storm in fin de siècle Paris, in competition with a disdainful local painter (call him PP, for peintre parisien):

(#1)

Their dispute is about cartoons, in terms familiar to Griffy:

… but is it art?

(here, asked about cartoons). PP emphatically says no, calling them “gaudy daubings … dégoûtant!” — while Griffy returns the insult by referring to PP’s work as “post-fauvist, pre-cubist, elitist scribbling”, while Griffy’s own work “recognizes th’ absurdity of life”.

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leprobates

March 12, 2021

Today’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro (Wayno’s title: “Mythical Miscreants”):


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 6 in this strip — see this Page.)

leprobate, a portmanteau of leprechaun reprobate. Naughty, naughty boys.

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genealogy, genie-ology

March 10, 2021

The 2/10 One Big Happy, recently in my comics feed:


(#1) Bonus word play: the genie’s fabulous bottle and the idiom hit the bottle ‘drink heavily

Ruthie understands genealogy as genie-ology, or at least as a word with first element genie, the name of a mythological spirit that has come to play a significant role in American popular culture (and she recognizes both lamp genies and bottle genies). But genealogy is new to her.

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Smell the roses in a field

February 26, 2021

Two cartoons in my comics feed on 2/25 (otherwise known as Yay! Pfizer1 Day! at my house) on language play: a Wayno/Piraro Bizarro playing on formulaic language (the metaphorical idiom / cliché stop and smell the roses), and a Piccolo/Price Rhymes With Orange with a play on the ambiguity of field.

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The Connecticut mystery structure

August 27, 2020

A Zippy sequence that began back on 8/3 in this strip (reported on in a section of my 8/3 posting “The art of everyday objects”):


(#1) The premise is that this little house just appeared one day in Bill Griffith’s Connecticut neighborhood, provoking some bafflement as to its origin and function (note: in Bill Griffith’s neighborhood, not in the Dingburg area where the cartoon character Griffy is to be found)

That posting argued that the sliding door with a Z on it is just a standard Z-series barn door.

There followed three strips in which the door slowly opens, revealing someone inside — in fact, Zippy, presenting himself as a real person (like BG (Bill Griffith) rather than Griffy). Then a sequence of 8 increasingly surrealistic strips turning on issues of fiction and reality. Finally, two strips in which it turns out that Zippy is running a farm stand of the mind from that little shed.

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