Archive for the ‘Spelling’ Category

Two old cartoon friends

October 9, 2019

… in recent mail: border-collie-bereft medicos (from Scott Hilburn on 8/12/14) and Egyptian spelling contests (from Rhymes With Orange today), bringing the return of two familiar cartoon themes:


(#1) The POP (phrasal overlap portmanteau) from Doctors Without Borders + border collies


(#2) A spelling bee done with hieroglyphs

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Musclemen from Mars

September 29, 2019

(There will be rampant male shirtlessness. Just a friendly warning, or an invitation, depending on your tastes.)

It’s a Zippy strip (today’s!). It’s another gender note (about masculinity). It’s yet another shirtless posting (shirtlessness as a prime masculinity display, in fact.) It’s about umliterature (physique magazines, in particular). And about camp (Flash Gordon). And of course, since the arousing shirtless campy musclemen are from Mars (or possibly Mongo), about SF. And finally, tucked in there inconspicuously in the last panel is an antique Griffithian self-referential surprise (from 1973):

(#1)

Male superheroes are extravagant embodiments of masculinity: they are, to start with, embodiments of great human power (conventionally associated with men), and then they have superhuman powers beyond that; their costumes are designed to encase their bodies, but tightly, so as to suggest, reveal, or exaggerate every bit of gendered anatomy (the broad shoulders, the musculature of the arms, torso, and thighs, and the genital package). (Beyond the powers and the costumes, there are the conventionally hyper-masculine faces.)

The strip begins with superheroes on this planet, but it ends, in the lower right corner, with (hunky) superheroes in space — “Musclemen from Mars” is what the Dingburgers are reading — and it turns out that space-traveling superheroes (as exemplified by Flash Gordon) are given to frequent bouts of shirtlessness (mostly while performing their feats of manly derring-do, but sometimes during the virtually obligatory shirtless torture scenes).

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Annals of error: water canons

September 1, 2019

In recent tweets from Hong Kong about protests and the governments attempts to put them down, New York Times columnist Nick Kristof repeatedly writes water canon instead of water cannon (both with /kǽnǝn/) — not an uncommon sort of spelling error, but somewhat surprising from an experienced journalist, and one that introduces an unintended misinterpretation, since it happens that CANON is the spelling of an English word (a number of different English words, in fact) distinct from CANNON. And that opens things up for little jokes about what a water canon might be. On Facebook I was responsible for one such joke, a bit of musical foolishness:

The reference is of course to the round “By the Waters of Babylon”. Though I doubt it’s effective against throngs of protesters.

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Ultimate spelling bee

May 31, 2019

A Bob Eckstein cartoon circulated today, on the occasion of an unprecedented event in the world of English spelling competitions:


(#1) FB note from Bob: “Can you use it in a sentence?”

Story in the New York Times today,  “National Spelling Bee, at a Loss for Words, Crowns 8 Co-Champions” (octo-champs, as one of them said) by Daniel Victor.

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Le retour des hiéroglyphes

March 19, 2019

From a recent chain of postings on Facebook, a 1/9/14 Bizarro strip rendered en français:


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

Il faut mettre l’œil avant le scarabée, sauf si le participe passé est placé devant le serpent. (more or less literally) ‘It is necessary to put the eye before the beetle, except if the past participle is placed in front of the snake.’

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Cum, sweat, and broccoli

March 18, 2019

(Yes, this will get into bodily fluids in ways that many people will find really icky, especially in connection with food. There will be some complicated plant stuff and some analysis of fragrances, but you’ll have to be prepared for spurts of semen and the smell of sex sweat. Use your judgment.)

I blame it all on Ryan Tamares, who posted on Facebook a few hours back on some yummy broccoli he’d had for dinner. With a photo — not a great cellphone image, but you could get a feel for the dish — and appropriate hashtags, starting with:

#cuminroastedbroccoli

Oh dear, “cum in roasted broccoli”, probably not such a crowd-pleaser as the dish in the photo (though it would have a small, devoted audience). Spaces can be your friends.

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The leek and the daffodil

March 1, 2019

(Warning: scattered amidst the daffodils, substantial allusions to some technical linguistics)

From John Wells, a greeting for the day, March 1st:

(#1) Dydd Gŵyl Dewi hapus! ‘Happy St David’s Day!’ (word by word: ‘Day Festival Davy happy’)

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Another family food holiday, and alternatives to it

February 3, 2019

The Hi and Lois cartoon from 2/7/16:

(#1)

Super Bowl Sunday — today, this year — joins Thanksgiving and Christmas as a holiday that serves as an occasion for gatherings of family and friends plus a spread of characteristic food. A family food holiday, for short.

The SBS holiday crucially involves the Super Bowl football game, for the NFL championship: this year, SB LIII  (El Ay Ay Ay!), New England Patriots vs. Los Angeles Rams at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta GA (6:30 ET).

While much of the US population gathers around tv sets for the game, its half-time show, and its ads — virtually emptying out many public spaces —  others seek out alternatives. (I myself have an unbroken record of studied inattention to the game, from SB I in 1967 on.) Alternatives that are cultural, recreational, commercial, and even sexual. (This posting will devolve into tales of SBS mansex, but I’m putting that material at the end, so kids and the sexually modest can enjoy the rest of this material and then bail out when the gay guys strip and go at it with one another like weasels in heat.)

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Chic peas and more

October 13, 2018

The fall special at Dan Gordon’s (on Emerson St. in Palo Alto), as it first appeared on the menu, about a month ago:

Summer Stew $16.95
smoked pork / cippolini onions / chic peas / prunes / red rice

(with the very notable spelling chic peas and with the misspelling cippolini for cipollini). But now the ingredients list reads:

smoked pork / cippolini onions / chickpeas / dehydrated plums / red rice

(with the notable dehydrated plums). Actually, all four ingredients have linguistic interest.

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Taking the trolley

July 20, 2018

Background: this Facebook posting on the 18th by Chris Hansen:

My online friend Arnold Zwicky is a kind of chronicler of comic strips, from a historical and a linguistic perspective. A transit group to which I belong recently reprinted a large number of cartoon panels from the Toonerville Trolley series. Aside from the very exacting drawings, the hand lettering is a beautiful example of what lettering can be. Here’s the link to the website; there’s a lot of trolley stuff in front of the comics and some afterward, but these cartoons are an intriguing collection of history and comedy from the 1920’s.

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