October 26, 2005

More playful alluding

In my posting on the Eye Guy figure, I observed some places where playful allusions to formulas, idioms, titles, quotations, etc. were especially dense -- among them titles of porn flicks and in headlines on feature stories, especially those about science.  Now, in mail from Don Porges, a link to a transcript of a Saturday Night Live sketch about a team from "Velvet Productions" searching for titles for gay porn films.  And, from today's NYT "Science Times" section and from the front matter of the 10/14/05 issue of Science, some playful heads (science with a light touch!).

The SNL sketch has a team faced with naming porn versions of recent popular movies.  In order, they come up with:

The X-Men >> The Sex-Men
Lord of the Rings >> Lord of the Rims
Sweet Home Alabama >> Sweet Home Alan's Butthole
Bend It Like Beckham >> Bend Over Like Beckham

At this point they are baffled, just baffled, as to how to rework "The Pianist" or "Holes".

Meanwhile, in the NYT "Science Time" section there's a feature ("Observatory", by Henry Fountain) that presents brief research notes, almost all with playful heads.  On 10/26/05, we get "Judging Craters" (Judge Crater, who of course has nothing to do with craters on Jupiter's moon Europa), "The Bird Next Door" (the boy next door), "Antifreeze: Fleas Do It" (Cole Porter's line "Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it" from "Let's Fall in Love" -- a line that, I see from Googling, has been widely used by writers on science, sex, and many other topics), and "Lambchop Genome" (which has me puzzled; it's like the porn flick titles, I often just don't get it).  Just above Fountain's column is a piece on arachnid taxonomist Norman Platnick, titled "The Exciting Adventures of Spider Man: From the Vial to the Tree of Life".  There's more, but let's turn to Science, most of which is forbiddingly technical (as befits the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science).

However, the front section of each issue has brief pieces, about research and about the political and social setting of science, and these often have punchy heads.  On page 207, we get "Doing the Splits", about a database on cell division processes, and on page 227 "Brane Teaser", about a puzzle for string theorists concerning surfaces called "branes".  Thigh-slappers both.  (Page 227 also has "A Lying Matter", about the white matter in the prefrontal cortex of compulsive liars.  Once again, I feel so stupid at not getting the reference.)

Even the Atlantic Monthly gets into the act when it reports on research.  In the October 2005 issue, a brief article on a study of investing and gender (p. 46) is juiced up by the title "Stocks and Blondes".

I'm waiting for the cross-fertilization of the genres.  What would you title a gay porn flick about the craters of Europa (no points for switching the setting from Jupiter to Uranus), or about cell division (meiosis? mitosis?), or about investing and gender?

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Posted by Arnold Zwicky at October 26, 2005 07:24 PM