This book is the bee’s knees. I have no idea what that means, June 30, 2009
I have a love/hate relationship with expressions and phrases. I use them constantly; hair of the dog, hold your horses, juggernaut and selling like hotcakes. That last expression is actually one of the reasons I also hate certain expressions. When the hell did hotcakes become such a hot seller??
I think my hatred stems from the fact that I don’t really know how they started and what the real meaning is behind most common phrases. Then I found this book.
I Love It When You Talk Retro: Hoochie Coochie, Double Whammy, Drop a Dime, and the Forgotten Origins of American Speech
The phrase drinking the Kool-Aid is a mystery to young people today, as is 45rpm. Even older folks don’t know the origins of raked over the coals and cut to the chase. Keyes (The QuoteVerifier) uses his skill as a sleuth of sources to track what he calls retrotalk: a slippery slope of puzzling allusions to past phenomena.
He surveys the origins of verbal fossils from commercials (Kodak moment), jurisprudence (Twinkie defense), movies (pod people), cartoons (Caspar Milquetoast) and literature (brave new world). Some pop permutations percolated over decades: Radio’s Take It or Leave It spawned a catch phrase so popular the program was retitled The $64 Question and later returned as TV’s The $64,000 Question. Keyes’s own book Is There Life After High School? became both a Broadway musical and a catch phrase. Some entries are self-evident or have speculative origins, but Keyes’s nonacademic style and probing research make this both an entertaining read and a valuable reference work.
The book is a real humdinger! Damn it. Hang on while I look that up.
posted by Chris Illuminati