For Commencement Weekend at Stanford, a series of cartoons. The first set has three New Yorker cartoons, from a while back; in trying to bring some order into my living and working spaces, I’m discovering all sorts of things, some horrifying, many mystifying, and a few delightful, including these cartoons clipped from a calendar years ago.
Number 1, by Mike Twohy, from the 7/9/01 issue:
A problem with stylistic levels here: the mother (or so we take her to be) judges suck ‘be deficient, etc.’ to be too colloquial, too slangy (and for some people, too close to taboo vocabulary) for use in such elevated contexts as evaluation in an art gallery. And then there’s the pragmatics of (not) speak to, used to convey ‘(not) please’.
Number 2, by Peter Steiner, from the 11/17/97 issue:
Unless you’re actually speaking French, escargot is an elegant (some would say piss-elegant) culinary label for snails.
And number 3, by Mick Stevens, from the 12/28/98 issue:
The conventionalized expression bad boy involves both a specific sense of bad (very roughly, ‘naughty’) and sometimes (though not in this case) an extension of boy from ‘male child’ to ‘male person’ (and sometimes even further, as when bad boys is used to refer to troublesome inanimate objects), plus some conditions on the typical circumstances in which the expression is used (notably, by adult authority figures to a child).