Archive for the ‘Sociocultural conventions’ Category

Graduation Day

May 27, 2016

The cover of the May 30th New Yorker, “Commencement”:


A standard exercise on this blog: what do you have to know to understand what’s going on in this drawing? To see why it might be funny? (It could, of course,  just be an affectionate  portrait of an event of the season, not meant to be funny.)


On urinals and the conventions of the men’s room

January 1, 2016

I have need (for a posting in preparation) to talk about the classification of urinals, the naming of the types, and the sociocultural conventions that surround their use.

Start with Wikipedia:

A urinal … is a sanitary plumbing fixture for urination only, predominantly used by males. [And mostly used in public places rather than in private houses, where toilets serve as fixtures for urinating while standing up.] It can take the form of a container or simply a wall, with drainage and automatic or manual flushing, or without flush water as is the case for waterless urinals.

The different types of urinals, be it for single users or as trough designs for multiple users, are intended to be utilized from a standing position (rather than squatting or sitting).

One crucial distinction is clear in this: single-user fixtures vs. multi-user fixtures. The multi-user type is sometimes called a gang urinal (parallel to gang shower), and that’s the label I’ll use here ; the single-user type, as the most common form of urinal in many places, has no standard name; I suggest the name solo urinal.

The other crucial distincrion is not clear in the Wikipedia passage above: between urinals that are hung from a wall (which I’ll call mounted urinals) and those with their base on the floor (which I’ll call standing urinals); again, mounted urinals are the most common type in many places, so that in many places unmodified urinal refers to the default type, a mounted solo urinal.

In any case, that gives us a four-way distinction, with many design details possible for each type.


Paddington Bear

January 13, 2015

A charming and perceptive piece from Sunday’s NYT Book Review : “Please Look After This Bear” by Pico Iyer, about the Paddington Bear books, which Iyer sees as (among other things) social commentary. The beginning:

When Paddington Bear landed in London in 1958, it was still quite a provincial place. Safe, settled, a little gray — no sign of the Beatles or the swinging ’60s yet — it upheld the ceremonial proprieties immortalized in [the film] “Brief Encounter” and [the book] “84, Charing Cross Road.” Men wore ties to dinner, women skirts; the post-nuclear nightmares and beatnik explosions of America were barely visible on occasional television screens. Yes, the likes of the Trinidad-born novelist Samuel Selvon were beginning to give voice to other realities in works like “The Lonely Londoners,” but if a British family’s name was Brown, you could be fairly sure its skin was not.


The news for cats

August 10, 2014

From Jeanne Dusseault, a link to the eccentric webcomic Breaking Cat News by Georgia Dunn. The latest installment (headline: “The man is taking a shower”), of August 6th:


The conceit: The strip shows bulletins from Cat News, a program by and for cats — in particular, the three cats of Dunn’s household (Lupin, Puck, and Elvis). The cats view everything from their point of view, and the views of the humans in the household (known to the cats only as The Woman and The Man) are either irrelevant or inscrutable. Many cross-species failures of communication result, as in the fourth panel above, where Puck (the black cat) can’t understand why The Man stands in a closet to get clean when he has a perefectly good tongue.


Title or slogan?

June 20, 2014

The Bizarro of 3/20/14, which I seem to have missed when it came up in March, but caught yesterday reproduced in the July issue of Funny Times:


An ambiguity — Miss France as a (NP) title in a beauty pageant vs. Miss France as a VP remnant of a declarative S, conveying ‘I miss France’.  This gross difference in syntax and semantics corresponds to a pragmatic difference, whether the expression is viewed as printed on a sash (as in beauty pageants) or as the equivalent of a t-shirt slogan — very different sociocultural contexts.

Briefly noted: note from a subculture

June 6, 2014

A business card (two-sided, mounted here on an ornamental card) from an establishment in British Columbia, picked up by a friend visiting there: a private  place for men to enjoy sexual connection. These range from the gay baths, for relatively short-term liaisons, to those that label themselves as hotels or resorts (some in urban locations, some rural), offering everything from tricking to vacations for couples. Hung Homo Homestay (despite the slangy alliterative name) is definitely at the high end.

I’ll eventually post some about male body types and tastes about them. Here I merely note that these men have exceptionally, indeed abnormally, developed musculature — not to everyone’s taste (think of it as ornamental rather than necessarily arousing), and certainly not found routinely at homo hook-up havens.

Coping with the new

June 2, 2014

In today’s One Big Happy, Ruthie and Joe are back on the track of trying to make sense of things they haven’t heard before:


Lots of knowledge needed here — about the words of English and about sociocultural conventions:


At the X line with remarkably named pornstars

July 6, 2013

(Warning: This posting has an image of man-man sex that is right at the X line — that’s one of the topics of the posting, in fact — and some frank description of gay sex, so it might not be to everyone’s taste.)

In my e-mail yesterday, a stirring ad from Lucas Entertainment (Michael Lucas’s porn flick company, not George Lucas’s film company) for its film Lovers in Paradise, with a shot of Wagner Vittoria penetrating Tiziano Fuentes — an image that I’ll show some distance below the fold; it’s technically not X-rated (there’s no penis, testicles, or anus visible in it), though no one could mistake what’s going on there. As in my posting “X or not?” of 5/19/13, I’ll muse some on where the X line gets drawn.

First, though, a description of the scene and some information about three remarkably named pornstars (these two and Vittoria’s pornstar boyfriend Diego Lauzen).


X or not?

May 19, 2013

A few days ago, an intense Benno Thoma postcard from Max Vasilatos (in an envelope), with the note: “This could probably go in the regular mail, but I’m taking no chances.” The issue is whether the image counts as X-rated or not; Max and I fairly often puzzle over the categorization of images, sometimes for the purpose of mailing and sometimes for the purpose of posting in certain places on the net (like this blog). The line isn’t clear.

First, the case at hand. Then, some general discussion.


Two mother songs

May 19, 2013

From a posting that started with the shapenote song Family Circle (#333 in the Sacred Harp, Denson Revision):

At shapenote singing on Sunday (which was Mothers Day), we sang a fair number of songs with mother in their texts. Some are decidedly odd, but one was an old friend, Family Circle (the music is included in my posting on “Come Thou Fount”; “And rejoice, O my mother” is in the chorus).

On to two of the odd songs: the sentimental The Dying Boy (#398) and the touching The Bride’s Farewell (#359b) — two songs that are very rarely sung.