Archive for the ‘Race and ethnicity’ Category

Seeker of wise spud, rudely rebuffed

December 30, 2022

The Wayno / Piraro Bizarro for New Year’s Eve Eve is a goofy amalgam of two different cartoon memes with an egregious pun; Wayno’s title is “Reclusive Russets” (russets being a type of potato). No, of course it doesn’t cohere; that’s what makes it delightful (remember that this strip is called Bizarro).


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

The Potato Head meme (all three characters are Potato Heads) and the seeker and the seer meme (one character is seeker, the other two seers), plus some CRAB / CARB play on the compound noun hermit crab, mountain-top seers being hermits who have removed themselves from ordinary life, and potatoes being carbs, specifically starches (complex carbohydrates )

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Eustace Tilley for 2022

November 9, 2022

Personal background: I decided to declare today to be a Sick Day and have been doing only the minimal things of life, mostly dozing fitfully in my recliner chair, wrapped up in my bathrobe. (Meanwhile, workmen did serious work on the balcony above my patio, so I had them and their ladders and noisy tools all over my patio, but I just let this activity drift by on the fringes of my consciousness.)

Mingled in with my tortured dreams were actual useful thoughts about postings — I am pretty much incapable of not plying my craft, even in the most unlikely circumstances — including a really neat follow-up to my 11/7 posting “Centennial moments in NYC”, which has a section on the The New Yorker’s first cover illustration, a dandy peering at a butterfly through a monocle — the gentleman now referred to as “Eustace Tilley”, who serves as a kind of mascot for the magazine. Rea Irvin’s original Tilley cover is used every year on the issue closest to the anniversary date of February 21, sometimes with a newly drawn variation in its place.

So, I wondered, what was the 2022 cover like?

Wow! Kadir Nelson’s “High Style”, with Eustace as a proud Black woman in butterfly-ornamented apparel, including a mask for the pandemic.

And then I wondered when you crossed the line from a (new) interpretation, version, or variant of an original cultural item (like the Eustace Tilley image) and moved into the territory of an abstract form, format, or pattern (something you might think of as a meme or trope — Eustace as a vehicle for, or expression of, cultural content). And I even thought of a linguistic parallel to this distinction: in playful variation of a fixed expressions vs. a snowclone.

What follows now is not a posting elaborating on all of this — I’m guessing I have maybe half an hour before I’m poleaxed by exhaustion again — but just a teaser. Please be patient.

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On Facebook at Michaelmas

September 29, 2022

By happy accident, my Facebook feed is celebrating the day of the archangel Michael with food and drink artworks. Two in particular: a miniaturist composition I think of as Bisonini Doing Power Crunches:


(#1) From Greg Morrow on FB 9/24 (though it didn’t filter down to me until today), with his own work, which he describes as: “Die kleinenbüffel and their shy friend take a needed break for a snack” (see below; note German der Büffel ‘the buffalo’)

And this socially multilayered appreciation of coffee-sipping:


(#2) From Tim Evanson: “September 29 is #NationalCoffeeDay!!!”; TE says he’s had the image for years, doesn’t know its source

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FUBU, fubu, FuBu

September 27, 2022

(Content warning: the F-word and the F-act (especially between men) figure prominently, though not vividly, in what is to come. So do hiphop clothing and tofu burgers, but if you’re uncomfortable with the harder-core F-stuff, you should skip this posting.)

Caught in passing on Facebook, a guy reporting something he heard from his FUBU, which baffled me; I was dimly aware of a FUBU clothing line, but this guy must have been talking about something else.

I realize that many of my readers will have recognized the (complex) acronym immediately and so think I must be dim-witted, but I had to go look it up. The acronym is a distant cousin of FUBAR, and its abbreviatum is something I have fairly often written about on this blog, but always spelled out in full.

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The refuse joke

September 25, 2022

Passed on, back on 7/21, by a friend on Facebook, a dumpster texty (of murky origin) with a (N vs. V) pun that works in spelling (REFUSE) but not in pronunciation —

N /ˈrefˌjus/   vs.  V /rəˈfjuz/

— plus, as commentary, Dylan Thomas expanding on the improbable (not to mention grotesque) V reading of the text (as opposed to the obviously intended N one). Which will then take us to Harry Diboula’s “Je refuse”, a French zouk song of lost love, which ended up in romantic Paris from the Kingdom of Kongo by way of the French Caribbean.


(#1) Like all right-minded people, I reject the idea that I — or, more precisely, my bodily remains — should be stored in black plastic sacks and placed in dumpsters. Ick. Je refuse!

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The Joy of the Penis

August 16, 2022

(Well, yes, about — among other things — men’s genitals and the beauty of Black bodies, some of it in plain language, so not for kids or the sexually modest.)

The Joy of the Penis: A Study in Chocolate. A stunningly designed Daily Jock ad that came in my e-mail today: a Self-Regard composition, showing a man contemplating his penis with a gaze downward. Not gravely (as with the examples collected in my 11/18/21 posting “Helgi Narcissus (again)”), but with joy, pleasure, delight (his smile made me smile reflexively in response). Also, unlike my earlier examples, he’s a handsome Black man with luminously brown skin. The whole thing is a loving study in brown tones — charcoal, chocolate, leather, golden brown — and amiable masculinity (with his penis and testicles neatly, but not obtrusively, outlined in his charcoal longline trunks):

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Did that actually just happen?

June 28, 2022

Or words to that effect, from Rachel Maddow, describing her stunned reaction to watching pieces of Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony on 6/28 before the Jan 6 committee (the US House select committee investigating the 1/6/21 insurrection at the US Capitol). And yes, it did actually just happen. And I was stunned too; I watched the whole thing, amazed and appalled. (Also moved to recall my rapt attention through the Army-McCarthy hearings when I was 13 and the Watergate hearings and House impeachment hearings when I was 33).

6/28 is also Stonewall Day (remembering 1969), this year an occasion for a mixture of extreme emotions, among them distressed disbelief that we lgbt-folk are threatened with a return to the mindset — and the laws — of the Pinko Communist Scare fostered by Joe McCarthy about 70 years ago.

6/28 is also Sarajevo Day (remembering 1914), the anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Archduchess Sophie, which somehow tipped the world into the nightmare of the Great War. Followed by the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the great influenza pandemic of 1918 — the wars echoed now in the monstrous evil of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Great Flu mirrored in the Covid pandemic we’re living through now.

Meanwhile, here in 2022 everything is happening at once, and a lot of it is unbelievably awful. (Did that actually just happen?) See the above, and add last week’s US Supreme Court decisions on concealed carry of weapons in public and on abortion. The last of which moved Ann Burlingham to whip off a postcard of rage and protest to me (written and mailed in Pittsburgh on the 6/25, arrived in Palo Alto on 6/28, whoopee!):

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Romper buddies

May 14, 2022

Taking off from a delightful ad for Romperjacks on Facebook back in November and December:

Here I give you the ad photo, and inventory some of the things it inspires me to write about in future postings (several being themes from earlier postings on this blog).

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LET US NOW PRAISE FAMOUS BLACK WOMEN

April 15, 2022

What I posted to Facebook on 4/8, on the occasion of Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation as an Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court. My follow-up said that, yes, the reference was to Agee (the book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, on which more below) and added:

 I can’t begin to say how pleasing KBJ’s appointment is to me.

To amplify a bit. This is not the Promised Land, but it is nevertheless a Big Fucking Deal. One of the things about my hero John Lewis that moved me especially was that he truly believed that we could reach the Promised Land in this life (not in an afterlife on Jordan’s other bank) — just not in his life, it would take some time. [More below on Lewis and this astonishing bit of faith on his part.] Meanwhile [Lewis believed], we have to keep moving on the path. KBJ is a highly visible step on the path, and that’s a big thing, a moment of joy.

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The photoon from Satilla Shores

December 9, 2021

On Facebook on 11/23, Charlie Fulton offered this photoon — a photograph intended as a cartoon — and provided it with a caption, in this case a brief text expressing a personal opinion of his about some event, not depicted in the photoon, without any explicit connection between the event and the photograph. So Charlie’s captioned photoon takes a ton of context and background knowledge to appreciate, but (in my opinion) it’s very cleverly bitter (measured bitterness being a CF specialty).

The photoon, with Charlie’s caption:


(#1) [CF:] Ah, the clever “toenail defense” tactic. I should have seen it coming.

The only really easy part of the comprehension exercise is recognizing the objects in #1 as the edible seeds — known in English as Brazil nuts — of the Bertholletia excelsa tree  (native to South America).

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