"Cool" and "spaz" in 1965

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Ben Zimmer

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Jun 24, 2005, 5:00:17 AM6/24/05
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Noted in a Russell Baker column from 1965:

-----
"Observer: America's New Class System"
New York Times, Apr. 11, 1965, p. E14
Your teen-age daughter asks what you think of her "shades," which you
are canny enough to know are her sunglasses, and you say, "Cool," and
she says, "Oh, Dad, what a spaz!" (Translation: "You're strictly from
23-skidoo.")
-----

This is of interest for those familiar with the Areffian history of
"cool" [1], wherein 1965 represents something of a nadir. Baker's
daughter (we assume it's his daughter, despite the second-person
narrative) clearly thinks that Dad is uncool for using the word "cool".
It would be a decade before "cool" was cool again.

The other notable usage in the above quote is "spaz". The OED has
another 1965 cite for "spaz" from movie critic Pauline Kael:

-----
1965 P. KAEL I lost it at Movies III. 259 The term that American
teen-agers now use as the opposite of 'tough' is 'spaz'. A spaz is a
person who is courteous to teachers, plans for a career..and believes in
official values. A spaz is something like what adults still call a
square.
-----

Pre-1965 examples of "spaz" are difficult to find in print (though the
new OED draft entry for the verb "spaz" includes an example from 1957).
Like the longer form "spastic", it was (and is) considered to be an
offensive epithet. As Robert Burchfield noted in the OED2 entry for
"spastic" (meaning "one who is uncoordinated or incompetent; a fool"),
"it is generally condemned as a tasteless expression, and is not common
in print." But once "spaz" developed into the 'uncool' sense as above,
it was apparently distant enough from "spastic" to make it into print.

The earliest public attestation I know of for the 'uncoordinated' sense
of "spaz" is the undeniably tasteless garage-rock single "Spazz" by the
Elastik Band (Atco #6537, Nov. 1967), included in the box set _Nuggets:
Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era 1965-1968_ [2]. The
catchy refrain goes, "I said, get offa the floor, get offa the floor,
boy, people gonna think, yes they're gonna think, people gonna think
you're a spazz." (This is also the earliest example I know of for the
double-z spelling of "spazz".)


[1] See helpful graph here:
http://groups-beta.google.com/group/alt.usage.english/msg/3f06c74c4c3ef4e3?dmode=source
[2] The single is described here:
http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:wvk9kebtjq7z~T1
http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=33:ni2m968oher3

Areff

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Jun 24, 2005, 1:25:48 PM6/24/05
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Ben Zimmer wrote:

> This is of interest for those familiar with the Areffian history of
> "cool" [1], wherein 1965 represents something of a nadir. Baker's
> daughter (we assume it's his daughter, despite the second-person
> narrative) clearly thinks that Dad is uncool for using the word "cool".
> It would be a decade before "cool" was cool again.

Well, more precisely, it would be about two decades before "cool" was cool
again. The beginnings of the revival of "cool" can be seen in events that
took place during 1974 and 1975 (principally having to do with the new
sitcom _Happy Days_). Sometimes it takes ten years for a revival to hit
its stride.

I haven't really heard "spaz" used the way Kael defines it. "Spaz" was
more like a synonym for "nerd" or "geek" or "dweeb" -- not quite the same
thing as 'square'.

Another thing to note is that "spaz" was given a later boost of
popularity by _Meatballs_ (Ivan Reitman, 1979), a film about a summer camp
starring Bill Murray. There was a nerdlike character in that film named (=
BrE 'called') Spaz (or Spazz).

There are some relevant WAV files here:
http://www.moviewavs.com/Movies/Meatballs.shtml


Message has been deleted

Areff

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Jun 24, 2005, 8:05:29 PM6/24/05
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de...@aol.com wrote:
> Odd, since the pre-1965 definitions of "cool" and "spaz" are all that
> Generation Y, and possibly Generation Z as well, seem to know.

So "spaz" is still in use? It was popular when I was 11-14 or so, but I
think an early form of political correctness caused a decline in use
(though I'm sure not an extinction).

> "Cool"
> does not sound "dated" in the way that some former teen slang
> eventually later sounds dated to teens and young adults. Instead, it
> hardly sounds like slang at all, since it's now used by people of all
> ages in so many different contexts.

Right. But it wasn't always so. There was a period during which "cool"
wasn't used at all (except by some folks in The Bay Area): roughly
1964-1974. What happened in 1974 was _Happy Days_ and the introduction of
the iconic character of the Fonz. This led to a retro-style revival of
"cool" (mistakenly seen as 1950s slang) along with a few other words
(notably "nerd" and "chick") and, arguably, the thumb's up gesture (now
mainly used by politicians). It wasn't until 1982 or so that the revival
of "cool" became truly noticeable.

> "Diss" appears to be a word that
> is heading in this direction as well.

I agree. "Diss" is used by all sectors of society, it seems. I think its
origins in African-American urban usage have been nearly forgotten.

Though, I'm unsure that any
> "ghetto slang" has ever gotten dated yet, unlike much of the
> surfer/valley girl slang of the 80's and 90's (and, who knows--even it
> might make a comeback or eventually become fully assimilated into all
> msnner of American English), which is not widely used anymore by
> anyone. Ghetto slang only seems to ever add new terms, without
> anything ever really going out of style. (Can anyone think of a
> counterexample? I can't at the moment.)

I can think of tons of counterexamples, such as:

fresh (early 1980s)
jive turkey (1970s) (well, if 1970s sitcoms are to be believed)
honky (1970s -- has anyone heard that one much since then?)
dyn-O-mite! (okay, just kidding about that one)
chilly (late 1970s/early 1980s -- my recollection is that this preceded
the popularity of "chill out" and "chill" [vb. and adj.])

> The only thing about the 1965 father that I don't understand is
> "23-skidoo"...WTF???!!

This was youth slang from Sparky's generation. You'd have to ask him -- I
don't really understand it either.

R J Valentine

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Jun 24, 2005, 10:47:27 PM6/24/05
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On Sat, 25 Jun 2005 00:05:29 +0000 (UTC) Areff <m...@privacy.net> wrote:

} de...@aol.com wrote:
}> Odd, since the pre-1965 definitions of "cool" and "spaz" are all that
}> Generation Y, and possibly Generation Z as well, seem to know.
}
} So "spaz" is still in use? It was popular when I was 11-14 or so, but I
} think an early form of political correctness caused a decline in use
} (though I'm sure not an extinction).

Heck, it was popular when *I* was 11-14 or so. It was a bad time to be
awkward when so many seemed cool. There may be a Jerry Lewis connection,
resulting in the start of the Jerry Lewis Telethons.

ObNonSequitur: I saw Dinah Shore in a restaurant in or near Huntington
sometime during that period.

--
R. J. Valentine <mailto:r...@theWorld.com>

Areff

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Jun 24, 2005, 10:31:11 PM6/24/05
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R J Valentine wrote:
> ObNonSequitur: I saw Dinah Shore in a restaurant in or near Huntington
> sometime during that period.

Wasn't Rey a guest on her show back in the 'Seventies? I know he was on
at least one of _The Mike Douglas Show_ and _The Dick Cavett Show_. I'd
pay muchos Deutsche marks to see some of that footage, but perhaps it's
available at one of the broadcasting musea.


R J Valentine

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Jun 24, 2005, 11:36:03 PM6/24/05
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You'd think he would have it on DVD on his website, which may be either
http://www.maledicta.ORG or http://www.trulydonovan.com (or something).

Ben Zimmer

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Jun 25, 2005, 1:12:34 AM6/25/05
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de...@aol.com wrote:

>
> Ben Zimmer wrote:
> > The earliest public attestation I know of for the 'uncoordinated'
> > sense of "spaz" is the undeniably tasteless garage-rock single
> > "Spazz" by the Elastik Band (Atco #6537, Nov. 1967), included in the
> > box set _Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era
> > 1965-1968_ [2]. The catchy refrain goes, "I said, get offa the
> > floor, get offa the floor, boy, people gonna think, yes they're
> > gonna think, people gonna think you're a spazz." (This is also the > > earliest example I know of for the double-z spelling of "spazz".)
>
> Wait...I thought this "uncoordinated" meaning is the one that the 1965
> father used, whereas his spastic, uncool daughter who thinks she's
> "hip" dissed him for not knowing that spaz REALLY meant suck-up???
> Confused...
>
> So, if 1967 is the first time "spaz" was used to mean spastic, what
> did it mean according to the 1965 father?

If it meant anything at all to Dad, it surely meant "spastic" (i.e.,
uncoordinated). But because this sense of "spaz(z)" was considered too
offensive to be used in print in the '50s and early '60s, we don't yet
have any documentation of its use (beyond people's memories) before that
tasteless song of 1967. By that time the secondary "uncool" sense had
developed as well (though this sense didn't seem to have much staying
power).

There are plenty of slang terms like "spaz(z)" that existed under the
radar before finally getting into mainstream print publications in the
more permissive '60s. For instance, you might remember from our
discussions of "gay" that the "homosexual" sense didn't start showing up
in respectable print sources until c. 1963. Slangologists have to look
for such terms in less-than-respectable sources (e.g., dime novels,
dirty joke books, comics, and other ephemera) to get the full history.
So far we don't have that kind of history for "spaz(z)".

(Say, where *is* Rey, anyway?)

Steve Hayes

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Jun 25, 2005, 2:32:58 AM6/25/05
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On Sat, 25 Jun 2005 00:05:29 +0000 (UTC), Areff <m...@privacy.net> wrote:

>de...@aol.com wrote:
>> Odd, since the pre-1965 definitions of "cool" and "spaz" are all that
>> Generation Y, and possibly Generation Z as well, seem to know.
>
>So "spaz" is still in use? It was popular when I was 11-14 or so, but I
>think an early form of political correctness caused a decline in use
>(though I'm sure not an extinction).

It was popular when I was 11-14 as well, which, in accordance with the Kojac
conjecture, must have been about 10 years after you were 11-14.

Or perhaps it is simply one of those things that, like certain rhymes and
games, is passed down generations of school children, and don't impinge on the
world of adults until they see their kids doing exactly the same thing they
did at that age.


--
Steve Hayes from Tshwane, South Africa
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/7734/stevesig.htm
E-mail - see web page, or parse: shayes at dunelm full stop org full stop uk

Donna Richoux

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Jun 25, 2005, 4:08:55 AM6/25/05
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Ben Zimmer <bgzi...@midway.uchicago.edu> wrote:

> de...@aol.com wrote:
> >
> > Ben Zimmer wrote:
> > > The earliest public attestation I know of for the 'uncoordinated'
> > > sense of "spaz" is the undeniably tasteless garage-rock single
> > > "Spazz" by the Elastik Band (Atco #6537, Nov. 1967), included in the
> > > box set _Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era
> > > 1965-1968_ [2]. The catchy refrain goes, "I said, get offa the
> > > floor, get offa the floor, boy, people gonna think, yes they're
> > > gonna think, people gonna think you're a spazz." (This is also the
>> > earliest example I know of for the double-z spelling of "spazz".)
> >
> > Wait...I thought this "uncoordinated" meaning is the one that the 1965
> > father used, whereas his spastic, uncool daughter who thinks she's
> > "hip" dissed him for not knowing that spaz REALLY meant suck-up???
> > Confused...
> >
> > So, if 1967 is the first time "spaz" was used to mean spastic, what
> > did it mean according to the 1965 father?
>
> If it meant anything at all to Dad, it surely meant "spastic" (i.e.,
> uncoordinated).

Just to be clear, it was originally a medical term, used for those who
were crippled by muscle disease. M-W:

Main Entry: 2 spastic
Function: noun
Date: 1896
one suffering from spastic paralysis

Main Entry: spastic paralysis
Function: noun
Date: 1879
paralysis with tonic spasm of the affected muscles
and with increased tendon reflexes

Main Entry: 1 spas·tic
Pronunciation: spas-tik
Function: adjective
Etymology: Latin spasticus, from Greek spastikos
drawing in, from span
Date: 1753
1 a : of, relating to, characterized by, or affected
with or as if with spasm <a spastic patient> b :
characterized by hypertonic muscles <spastic
cerebral palsy>

I'd put it in a similar category as "retarded" and "moron," labels which
were invented for scientific purposes and evolved into playground taunts
-- bad or deficient in any way at all.

I can't draw a clear line in my memory between the childish "spastic"
and "spazz" -- I must have heard them both (1960s, Calif.) and
considered them the same word.

>But because this sense of "spaz(z)" was considered too
> offensive to be used in print in the '50s and early '60s,

Or just another example of children's slang tendency to go undocumented,
as it is primarily oral and considered unimportant.

>we don't yet
> have any documentation of its use (beyond people's memories) before that
> tasteless song of 1967. By that time the secondary "uncool" sense had
> developed as well (though this sense didn't seem to have much staying
> power).
>
> There are plenty of slang terms like "spaz(z)" that existed under the
> radar before finally getting into mainstream print publications in the
> more permissive '60s. For instance, you might remember from our
> discussions of "gay" that the "homosexual" sense didn't start showing up
> in respectable print sources until c. 1963. Slangologists have to look
> for such terms in less-than-respectable sources (e.g., dime novels,
> dirty joke books, comics, and other ephemera) to get the full history.
> So far we don't have that kind of history for "spaz(z)".

--
Best -- Donna Richoux

Areff

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Jun 25, 2005, 5:16:04 AM6/25/05
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Steve Hayes wrote:
> On Sat, 25 Jun 2005 00:05:29 +0000 (UTC), Areff <m...@privacy.net> wrote:
>
>>de...@aol.com wrote:
>>> Odd, since the pre-1965 definitions of "cool" and "spaz" are all that
>>> Generation Y, and possibly Generation Z as well, seem to know.
>>
>>So "spaz" is still in use? It was popular when I was 11-14 or so, but I
>>think an early form of political correctness caused a decline in use
>>(though I'm sure not an extinction).
>
> It was popular when I was 11-14 as well, which, in accordance with the Kojac
> conjecture, must have been about 10 years after you were 11-14.

Actually, according to the Hayes Corollary, that must have been closer to
25 years after I was 11-14. You must be younger than Joey.

Areff

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Jun 25, 2005, 5:14:32 AM6/25/05
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Ben Zimmer wrote:
> (Say, where *is* Rey, anyway?)

Vatican City, or possibly Boulder.


Mickwick

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Jun 25, 2005, 7:43:11 AM6/25/05
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In alt.usage.english, Ben Zimmer wrote:

[...]

>There are plenty of slang terms like "spaz(z)" that existed under the
>radar before finally getting into mainstream print publications in the
>more permissive '60s. For instance, you might remember from our
>discussions of "gay" that the "homosexual" sense didn't start showing up
>in respectable print sources until c. 1963. Slangologists have to look
>for such terms in less-than-respectable sources (e.g., dime novels,
>dirty joke books, comics, and other ephemera) to get the full history.
>So far we don't have that kind of history for "spaz(z)".

Ben, would it be possible for you to look up the hip adjective 'street',
the one meaning demotic or vernacular or (non-pejorative) vulgar or
'what real people are doing and saying right now without any help from
the Man' or thereabouts? (It's very hard to define without using
'street' in the definition.) I'm half-hoping that I've found an
antedating instance.

It's unlikely, though. Since I first came across it I've realised that
it's probably a different 'street', one connected with hobos rather than
urban hipsters - not life on the street but life on the road.

But I might as well post it. Whatever its meaning, it's pleasantly
oxymoronic.

It's in a transcript of a 1963 radio interview with Bob Dylan (in the
latest _Granta_). Studs Terkel is trying to get Dylan to explain why he
affects such a folksy mode of speech.

Terkel: Some will say: listen to Bob Dylan, he's talking street mountain
talk now, though he's a literate man, see.

(Dylan says he 'got no answer' but he doesn't mind if people think he's
literate.)

*

'Cool' crops up too but it's most likely the one meaning 'relaxed'.

Terkel quoting someone of Dylan's age (21): 'Outwardly we seem to be
cool, but there's a rage inside us.'

*

Dylan's 'Oxford Town' was discussed here recently. Here is the
definitive explanation of what it's all about.

Terkel: Your new album has 'Oxford Town' in it. That deals with the
James Meredith case. Was he one of the nails? [Nails: people
hammered by life or by the 'system'.]

Dylan: Yeah, it deals with the Meredith case, but then again it
doesn't. Music, my writing, is something special, not sacred.
Like this guitar, I don't consider sacred. This guitar could
bust and break, it's pretty old now. I could still get another
one. It's a tool for me, that's all it is. It's like anybody
else has a tool. Some people saw the tree down, you know, or
some people spit tacks. When I go to cut the tree down, I cut
myself on the saw. When I spit tacks, I swallow the tacks. I've
just sort of got this here tool and that's all I use it as, as a
tool. My life is the street where I walk. That's my life. Music,
guitar, that's my tool, you know.

Thanks for clearing that up, Bob.

*

How the feng shui of Hibbing, Minnesota shaped Bob Dylan's hobo persona:
<http://www.idiocentrism.com/squib.dylan.htm>.

--
Mickwick

Bob Cunningham

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Jun 25, 2005, 7:46:01 AM6/25/05
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On Sat, 25 Jun 2005 00:05:29 +0000 (UTC), Areff
<m...@privacy.net> said:

[about "23 skidoo"]

> This was youth slang from Sparky's generation.

Not. It was a quaint echo of the dim past when I was a boy.

Some rumors about the origin and meaning of "23 skidoo" are
at http://tinyurl.com/dk3mq .

But "23 skidoo" seems to be in current use in some circles,
as shown by Google's "about 36,100" hits on it. Taking one
example from the 36,100, see http://www.23skidooland.com/
where it tells about "swing dancing in Denver".

> You'd have to ask him

No, you'd have to ask my grandfather -- if you could, but
you can't, because he died in 1932. He was 39 in 1900.

> -- I don't really understand it either.

Me too, I don't.

Mike Lyle

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Jun 25, 2005, 8:19:04 AM6/25/05
to
Mickwick wrote:
[...]

> Ben, would it be possible for you to look up the hip adjective
> 'street', [...]

More raw data, tho not on "street". Just had a postcard from the
little one at Glastonbury, reading in part: "Cheers for the like
totally chilled out text dude. Having a rad time." (The SMS message
referred to had been in similar lingo.)

--
Mike.


Ross Howard

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Jun 25, 2005, 8:38:59 AM6/25/05
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On Sat, 25 Jun 2005 13:19:04 +0100, "Mike Lyle"
<mike_l...@REMOVETHISyahoo.co.uk> wrought:

Ah, so rad means "wet". I had been wondering.

--
Ross Howard

Joe Fineman

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Jun 25, 2005, 10:09:56 AM6/25/05
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Ben Zimmer <bgzi...@midway.uchicago.edu> writes:

> If it meant anything at all to Dad, it surely meant "spastic" (i.e.,
> uncoordinated). But because this sense of "spaz(z)" was considered
> too offensive to be used in print in the '50s and early '60s, we
> don't yet have any documentation of its use (beyond people's
> memories) before that tasteless song of 1967. By that time the
> secondary "uncool" sense had developed as well (though this sense
> didn't seem to have much staying power).

Here, FWIW, is the entry in my journal (1956) from a section on the
language of Caltech students:

SPAZ, n.R (shortened from _spastic_) 1. _Obsolete._ A person
lacking in the common social skills & virtues. See TWITCH. 2.
To surprise a person in a way that causes him to take some time to
react. v.R

The "R" means "regional or national" -- i.e., I was aware at the time
that this was not just Caltech slang. The noun was, of course,
obsolete only at Caltech, where it had been replaced by the allusive
"twitch".
--
--- Joe Fineman jo...@verizon.net

||: Quotation marks & car horns are warning signals that are :||
||: used by the vulgar to express their emotions. :||

Roland Hutchinson

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Jun 25, 2005, 12:17:12 PM6/25/05
to
Donna Richoux wrote:

> Ben Zimmer <bgzi...@midway.uchicago.edu> wrote:

>> If it meant anything at all to Dad, it surely meant "spastic" (i.e.,
>> uncoordinated).
>
> Just to be clear, it was originally a medical term, used for those who
> were crippled by muscle disease. M-W:
>
> Main Entry: 2 spastic
> Function: noun
> Date: 1896
> one suffering from spastic paralysis

[etc]

One might point out, especially for the benefit of Lefpondian readers, that
The Spastic Society did good works in the UK under that name right up until
sometime in the 1990s when it changed its name to "Scope".
http://www.scope.org.uk

When I first visited the UK, not all that long before the name change, many
shop counters featured a collection box in which you could deposit your
spare change for the benefit of the Society and its work on behalf of
persons living with cerebral palsy. I took "Spastic Society" as a
particularly striking (and, in view of the way the term is used in
playground slang, particularly unfortunate) example of the British being
willing to use language that might be considered blunt to the point of
insensitivity by Americans (cf. "beggar", "cripple" vs "homeless person",
"person living with a disability").

> I'd put it in a similar category as "retarded" and "moron," labels which
> were invented for scientific purposes and evolved into playground taunts
> -- bad or deficient in any way at all.
>
> I can't draw a clear line in my memory between the childish "spastic"
> and "spazz" -- I must have heard them both (1960s, Calif.) and
> considered them the same word.

My recollections (same time and place) are the same.

--
Roland Hutchinson              Will play viola da gamba for food.

NB mail to my.spamtrap [at] verizon.net is heavily filtered to
remove spam.  If your message looks like spam I may not see it.

Mickwick

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Jun 25, 2005, 12:15:58 PM6/25/05
to
In alt.usage.english, Mike Lyle wrote:

>More raw data, tho not on "street". Just had a postcard from the
>little one at Glastonbury, reading in part: "Cheers for the like
>totally chilled out text dude. Having a rad time." (The SMS message
>referred to had been in similar lingo.)

Did you see (The?) White Stripes on the telly last night? Dirty old man
that I am these days, I kept watching in the hope that the inept drummer
would stand up and give us a better view.

Did she?

The sister's arrhythmic mammaries were almost as large as the brother's
pulsating ego and together the three of them proved beyond all doubt the
truth of Professor Howard's maxim about Young People These Days not
being able to Hold a Tune.

Incidentally, the brother apologised in a very earnest fashion for being
American. Nobody cheered.

How novel! How heartening! Let that be a lesson to you, young man! We
don't all read the Guardian! Get the politics out of pop! Stop pandering
to ... Just stop pandering! It's bad for you!

(Actually, it was probably raining too hard for anyone who was actually
there to hear a word he said.)

--
Mickwick

Mike Lyle

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Jun 25, 2005, 12:38:36 PM6/25/05
to
Roland Hutchinson wrote:
[...]

> One might point out, especially for the benefit of Lefpondian
> readers, that The Spastic Society did good works in the UK under
that
> name right up until sometime in the 1990s when it changed its name
to
> "Scope". http://www.scope.org.uk
>
> When I first visited the UK, not all that long before the name
> change, many shop counters featured a collection box in which you
> could deposit your spare change for the benefit of the Society
[...]

You seem to have been a bit too late to see the original collecting
boxes, which were free-standing little boys with appealing faces and
leg braces. These were made of papier maché, unlike the Blind Dogs
for the Guides (or maybe the RSPCA) one on Paddington Station, which
was a real stuffed dead dog with a money-box on its back. (Can some
Brit reader please perhaps confirm that I didn't dream all this? I'm
beginning to doubt it myself.)

I regret the passing of the seaside collecting boxes for the
Lifeboats (bizarrely supported entirely by donations: the USCG's mind
must boggle), which were de-activated mines painted red.

But pretty well every smaller shop or pub has a charity box beside
the till: it's no sacrifice to drop the change in there if it's only
a few pence. My children used to love the ones in which the money
visibly did something interesting on the way in.
--
Mike.


the Omrud

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Jun 25, 2005, 12:54:19 PM6/25/05
to
Mike Lyle spake thusly:

> I regret the passing of the seaside collecting boxes for the
> Lifeboats (bizarrely supported entirely by donations: the USCG's mind
> must boggle), which were de-activated mines painted red.

Are they gone? Really? That's sad.

> But pretty well every smaller shop or pub has a charity box beside
> the till: it's no sacrifice to drop the change in there if it's only
> a few pence. My children used to love the ones in which the money
> visibly did something interesting on the way in.

In Sheringham in the 60s, on the main street outside a shop (I forget
which) there was a fibreglass dog collecting, presumably for the
Blind Dogs, which had the most interesting effect I have ever seen.
Dropping a penny through the slot at the top of its head triggered a
recording of a barking dog. I thought this was simply wonderful
(remember, this is before home recordings were possible) and used to
happily feed the thing with pennies for many years (we went there for
our holidays). Eventually I discovered that the switch was quite
sensitive and could be triggered by blowing into the hole. I was
unstoppable.

I've never seen another one.

--
David
=====
replace usenet with the

Laura F. Spira

unread,
Jun 25, 2005, 1:04:26 PM6/25/05
to
Mike Lyle wrote:

> Roland Hutchinson wrote:
> [...]
>
>>One might point out, especially for the benefit of Lefpondian
>>readers, that The Spastic Society did good works in the UK under
>
> that
>
>>name right up until sometime in the 1990s when it changed its name
>
> to
>
>>"Scope". http://www.scope.org.uk
>>
>>When I first visited the UK, not all that long before the name
>>change, many shop counters featured a collection box in which you
>>could deposit your spare change for the benefit of the Society
>
> [...]
>
> You seem to have been a bit too late to see the original collecting
> boxes, which were free-standing little boys with appealing faces and
> leg braces. These were made of papier maché, unlike the Blind Dogs
> for the Guides (or maybe the RSPCA) one on Paddington Station, which
> was a real stuffed dead dog with a money-box on its back. (Can some
> Brit reader please perhaps confirm that I didn't dream all this? I'm
> beginning to doubt it myself.)

I think you dreamt the real stuffed dog. There was a ginormous cat that
lived at Paddington Station, though - I took the children to see it when
they were very young. But the free-standing children existed.

>
> I regret the passing of the seaside collecting boxes for the
> Lifeboats (bizarrely supported entirely by donations: the USCG's mind
> must boggle), which were de-activated mines painted red.

Ooh, yes, I remember those too! My mum collected for the Lifeboats for
years - I remember the boat-shaped collecting boxes. I collected for
Alexandra Rose Day but I don't think that happens any more.

>
> But pretty well every smaller shop or pub has a charity box beside
> the till: it's no sacrifice to drop the change in there if it's only
> a few pence. My children used to love the ones in which the money
> visibly did something interesting on the way in.

I think there are fewer boxes about these days at tills, although there
are often ribbons or other brooch-like items for sale in aid of charities.


--
Laura
(emulate St. George for email)

Mike Lyle

unread,
Jun 25, 2005, 1:37:04 PM6/25/05
to
Laura F. Spira wrote:
> Mike Lyle wrote:
[...]

>> [...]
>>
>> You seem to have been a bit too late to see the original
collecting
>> boxes, which were free-standing little boys with appealing faces
and
>> leg braces. These were made of papier maché, unlike the Blind Dogs
>> for the Guides (or maybe the RSPCA) one on Paddington Station,
which
>> was a real stuffed dead dog with a money-box on its back. (Can
some
>> Brit reader please perhaps confirm that I didn't dream all this?
I'm
>> beginning to doubt it myself.)
>
> I think you dreamt the real stuffed dog. There was a ginormous cat
> that lived at Paddington Station, though - I took the children to
see
> it when they were very young. But the free-standing children
existed.

Good God! And me a cat man, too! What on earth was the Gargantuan
feline in aid of? Or was it just an ornament? Brunel's pet, perhaps?

But there was a dog somewhere, I'm sure of it. A wolfhound in Dublin,
perhaps?
>
>>
[...]


>> But pretty well every smaller shop or pub has a charity box beside
>> the till: it's no sacrifice to drop the change in there if it's
only
>> a few pence. My children used to love the ones in which the money
>> visibly did something interesting on the way in.
>
> I think there are fewer boxes about these days at tills, although
> there are often ribbons or other brooch-like items for sale in aid
of
> charities.

Oh, just tell me about the brooches! I have to shell out considerable
quantities of specie to keep the niblings supplied. The gold hearts
are a Godsend, though: I ran out of ideas for home-made cards for the
children on Valentine's Day just about the time they came in, and I
find a gold heart and a packet of Swizzell's Love Hearts makes a
socially-responsible and effortless anonymous donation. (Yes, yes, I
know. But in this family even twenty-nine-year-olds get Christmas
stockings.)

--
Mike.


Ben Zimmer

unread,
Jun 25, 2005, 1:56:55 PM6/25/05
to
Joe Fineman wrote:
>
> Ben Zimmer <bgzi...@midway.uchicago.edu> writes:
>
> > If it meant anything at all to Dad, it surely meant "spastic" (i.e.,
> > uncoordinated). But because this sense of "spaz(z)" was considered
> > too offensive to be used in print in the '50s and early '60s, we
> > don't yet have any documentation of its use (beyond people's
> > memories) before that tasteless song of 1967. By that time the
> > secondary "uncool" sense had developed as well (though this sense
> > didn't seem to have much staying power).
>
> Here, FWIW, is the entry in my journal (1956) from a section on the
> language of Caltech students:
>
> SPAZ, n.R (shortened from _spastic_) 1. _Obsolete._ A person
> lacking in the common social skills & virtues. See TWITCH. 2.
> To surprise a person in a way that causes him to take some time to
> react. v.R
>
> The "R" means "regional or national" -- i.e., I was aware at the time
> that this was not just Caltech slang. The noun was, of course,
> obsolete only at Caltech, where it had been replaced by the allusive
> "twitch".

Excellent! If only more college students kept journals like that.
Fascinating that "spaz" was already considered obsolete at Caltech as
early as 1956. Do you think "spaz" and/or "twitch" might have been
mentioned in any Caltech student publications in the '50s?

Laura F. Spira

unread,
Jun 25, 2005, 2:07:14 PM6/25/05
to
Mike Lyle wrote:
> Laura F. Spira wrote:
>
>>Mike Lyle wrote:
>
> [...]
>
>>>[...]
>>>
>>>You seem to have been a bit too late to see the original
>
> collecting
>
>>>boxes, which were free-standing little boys with appealing faces
>
> and
>
>>>leg braces. These were made of papier maché, unlike the Blind Dogs
>>>for the Guides (or maybe the RSPCA) one on Paddington Station,
>
> which
>
>>>was a real stuffed dead dog with a money-box on its back. (Can
>
> some
>
>>>Brit reader please perhaps confirm that I didn't dream all this?
>
> I'm
>
>>>beginning to doubt it myself.)
>>
>>I think you dreamt the real stuffed dog. There was a ginormous cat
>>that lived at Paddington Station, though - I took the children to
>
> see
>
>>it when they were very young. But the free-standing children
>
> existed.
>
> Good God! And me a cat man, too! What on earth was the Gargantuan
> feline in aid of? Or was it just an ornament? Brunel's pet, perhaps?

You can read a little about Tiddles at
http://jelly.b3ta.com/newsletter/issue9/
(the link doesn't work). It was a horribly large animal and sat
enthroned in the ladies.

>
> But there was a dog somewhere, I'm sure of it. A wolfhound in Dublin,
> perhaps?
>
> [...]
>
>>>But pretty well every smaller shop or pub has a charity box beside
>>>the till: it's no sacrifice to drop the change in there if it's
>
> only
>
>>>a few pence. My children used to love the ones in which the money
>>>visibly did something interesting on the way in.
>>
>>I think there are fewer boxes about these days at tills, although
>>there are often ribbons or other brooch-like items for sale in aid
>
> of
>
>>charities.
>
>
> Oh, just tell me about the brooches! I have to shell out considerable
> quantities of specie to keep the niblings supplied. The gold hearts
> are a Godsend, though: I ran out of ideas for home-made cards for the
> children on Valentine's Day just about the time they came in, and I
> find a gold heart and a packet of Swizzell's Love Hearts makes a
> socially-responsible and effortless anonymous donation. (Yes, yes, I
> know. But in this family even twenty-nine-year-olds get Christmas
> stockings.)
>

Ah, Love Hearts <sigh: confectionery nostalgia>

Ben Zimmer

unread,
Jun 25, 2005, 2:06:54 PM6/25/05
to
Mickwick wrote:
>
> Ben, would it be possible for you to look up the hip adjective
> 'street', the one meaning demotic or vernacular or (non-pejorative)
> vulgar or 'what real people are doing and saying right now without any
> help from the Man' or thereabouts? (It's very hard to define without
> using 'street' in the definition.) I'm half-hoping that I've found an
> antedating instance.
>
> It's unlikely, though. Since I first came across it I've realised that
> it's probably a different 'street', one connected with hobos rather
> than urban hipsters - not life on the street but life on the road.
>
> But I might as well post it. Whatever its meaning, it's pleasantly
> oxymoronic.
>
> It's in a transcript of a 1963 radio interview with Bob Dylan (in the
> latest _Granta_). Studs Terkel is trying to get Dylan to explain why
> he affects such a folksy mode of speech.
>
> Terkel: Some will say: listen to Bob Dylan, he's talking street
> mountain talk now, though he's a literate man, see.
>
> (Dylan says he 'got no answer' but he doesn't mind if people think
> he's literate.)

OED2 has the more urban sense from 1967:

-----
street, n.
4.e. attrib. passing into adj., with reference to the streets as the
focus of modern urban life, esp. among the poor and contrasted with
polite society. Often with the implication of illegal dealings (esp.
drug-trafficking), or the sharp-wittedness needed to survive ‘on the
streets’. orig. U.S.
1967 ‘T. WELLS’ Dead by Light of Moon xiii. 126 A street merchant is a
con artist who pretends to sell stolen goods.
1967 Trans-Action Apr. 5/1 Street culture exists in every low income
ghetto. It is shared by the hustling elements of the poor, whatever
their nationality or color.
[etc.]
-----

The OED's new edition (and the forthcoming volume of the Historical
Dictionary of American Slang, including 'S' entries) may take it back
further.

the Omrud

unread,
Jun 25, 2005, 2:40:16 PM6/25/05
to
Laura F. Spira spake thusly:

> Mike Lyle wrote:
>
> > Oh, just tell me about the brooches! I have to shell out considerable
> > quantities of specie to keep the niblings supplied. The gold hearts
> > are a Godsend, though: I ran out of ideas for home-made cards for the
> > children on Valentine's Day just about the time they came in, and I
> > find a gold heart and a packet of Swizzell's Love Hearts makes a
> > socially-responsible and effortless anonymous donation. (Yes, yes, I
> > know. But in this family even twenty-nine-year-olds get Christmas
> > stockings.)
>
> Ah, Love Hearts <sigh: confectionery nostalgia>

Still available, but they now have more up-to-date engravings, such
as "Text me", and "Meet me online".

Good grief, you can buy boxes of "Just Married" love hearts.
Something of a limited consumer base, I would have thought.
https://www.lovehearts.com/index.asp

Raymond S. Wise

unread,
Jun 25, 2005, 2:40:49 PM6/25/05
to

Bob Cunningham wrote:
> On Sat, 25 Jun 2005 00:05:29 +0000 (UTC), Areff
> <m...@privacy.net> said:
>
> [about "23 skidoo"]
>
> > This was youth slang from Sparky's generation.
>
> Not. It was a quaint echo of the dim past when I was a boy.
>
> Some rumors about the origin and meaning of "23 skidoo" are
> at http://tinyurl.com/dk3mq .


That site quotes from Evan Morris, "the Word Detective," but fails to
include an interesting fact about the expression mentioned on Morris's
site at

http://www.word-detective.com/back-v.html#23


"[A]lthough most people who have heard 'twenty-three skiddoo' regard it
as the quintessential silly slang of the 'Roaring Twenties,' the phrase
actually appeared a bit earlier, just before World War One, so it was
relatively old hat as slang goes by the 1920's."


>
> But "23 skidoo" seems to be in current use in some circles,
> as shown by Google's "about 36,100" hits on it. Taking one
> example from the 36,100, see http://www.23skidooland.com/
> where it tells about "swing dancing in Denver".
>
> > You'd have to ask him
>
> No, you'd have to ask my grandfather -- if you could, but
> you can't, because he died in 1932. He was 39 in 1900.
>
> > -- I don't really understand it either.
>
> Me too, I don't.


--
Raymond S. Wise
Minneapolis, Minnesota USA

E-mail: mplsray @ yahoo . com

John Dean

unread,
Jun 25, 2005, 2:47:31 PM6/25/05
to
Raymond S. Wise wrote:
> Bob Cunningham wrote:
>> On Sat, 25 Jun 2005 00:05:29 +0000 (UTC), Areff
>> <m...@privacy.net> said:
>>
>> [about "23 skidoo"]
>>
>>> This was youth slang from Sparky's generation.
>>
>> Not. It was a quaint echo of the dim past when I was a boy.
>>
>> Some rumors about the origin and meaning of "23 skidoo" are
>> at http://tinyurl.com/dk3mq .
>
>
> That site quotes from Evan Morris, "the Word Detective," but fails to
> include an interesting fact about the expression mentioned on Morris's
> site at
>
> http://www.word-detective.com/back-v.html#23
>
>
> "[A]lthough most people who have heard 'twenty-three skiddoo' regard
> it as the quintessential silly slang of the 'Roaring Twenties,' the
> phrase actually appeared a bit earlier, just before World War One, so
> it was relatively old hat as slang goes by the 1920's."

Moreover, 23-skidoo is earlier slang than is "old hat". Howja like
*them* apples?
--
John Dean
Oxford

John Dean

unread,
Jun 25, 2005, 2:50:52 PM6/25/05
to
Mike Lyle wrote:
> Roland Hutchinson wrote:
> [...]
>> One might point out, especially for the benefit of Lefpondian
>> readers, that The Spastic Society did good works in the UK under that
>> name right up until sometime in the 1990s when it changed its name to
>> "Scope". http://www.scope.org.uk
>>
>> When I first visited the UK, not all that long before the name
>> change, many shop counters featured a collection box in which you
>> could deposit your spare change for the benefit of the Society [...]
>
> You seem to have been a bit too late to see the original collecting
> boxes, which were free-standing little boys with appealing faces and
> leg braces. These were made of papier maché, unlike the Blind Dogs
> for the Guides (or maybe the RSPCA) one on Paddington Station, which
> was a real stuffed dead dog with a money-box on its back. (Can some
> Brit reader please perhaps confirm that I didn't dream all this? I'm
> beginning to doubt it myself.)

Don't remember the stuffed dog but I'm not surprised someone thought up
the idea.
Remember the angelic little children.


>
> I regret the passing of the seaside collecting boxes for the
> Lifeboats (bizarrely supported entirely by donations: the USCG's mind
> must boggle), which were de-activated mines painted red.

Remember the mines very well.

--
John Dean
Oxford

John Dean

unread,
Jun 25, 2005, 2:54:12 PM6/25/05
to
Ben Zimmer wrote:
> Joe Fineman wrote:
>>
>> Ben Zimmer <bgzi...@midway.uchicago.edu> writes:
>>
>>> If it meant anything at all to Dad, it surely meant "spastic" (i.e.,
>>> uncoordinated). But because this sense of "spaz(z)" was considered
>>> too offensive to be used in print in the '50s and early '60s, we
>>> don't yet have any documentation of its use (beyond people's
>>> memories) before that tasteless song of 1967.

>>


>> Here, FWIW, is the entry in my journal (1956) from a section on the
>> language of Caltech students:
>>
>> SPAZ, n.R (shortened from _spastic_) 1. _Obsolete._ A person
>> lacking in the common social skills & virtues. See TWITCH. 2.
>> To surprise a person in a way that causes him to take some time to
>> react. v.R
>>
>> The "R" means "regional or national" -- i.e., I was aware at the time
>> that this was not just Caltech slang. The noun was, of course,
>> obsolete only at Caltech, where it had been replaced by the allusive
>> "twitch".
>
> Excellent! If only more college students kept journals like that.
> Fascinating that "spaz" was already considered obsolete at Caltech as
> early as 1956. Do you think "spaz" and/or "twitch" might have been
> mentioned in any Caltech student publications in the '50s?

Are we actually sure that "spaz" is a shortening of "spastic"? Because I
would have thought a shortening of "spastic" would retain the sibilant
whereas "spaz" sounds more like a shortening of "spasm".
--
John Dean
Oxford

Mike Lyle

unread,
Jun 25, 2005, 2:55:14 PM6/25/05
to
Mickwick wrote:
> In alt.usage.english, Mike Lyle wrote:
>
>> More raw data, tho not on "street". Just had a postcard from the
>> little one at Glastonbury, reading in part: "Cheers for the like
>> totally chilled out text dude. Having a rad time." (The SMS
message
>> referred to had been in similar lingo.)
>
> Did you see (The?) White Stripes on the telly last night? Dirty old
> man that I am these days, I kept watching in the hope that the
inept
> drummer would stand up and give us a better view.
>
> Did she?
>
Dunno: I rather forgot the proceedings were on the box. I'll text the
adored brat and get back to you, though I imagine she was several
hundred yards away and bobbing about among the other flotsam. But I'd
have been with you in spirit, though such circling mammaries grab me
more as a circus turn than as a turn-on. (A clergyman friend did,
however, email me some thing where you had to spot where the
whatever-it-was went, and I duly failed because distracted by the
whirling boobs they'd thoughtlessly added just above whatever it was.
If it had been legs, I blush to think...)
[...]

--
Mike.


Ben Zimmer

unread,
Jun 25, 2005, 3:12:20 PM6/25/05
to
John Dean wrote:
>
> Are we actually sure that "spaz" is a shortening of "spastic"? Because
> I would have thought a shortening of "spastic" would retain the
> sibilant whereas "spaz" sounds more like a shortening of "spasm".

The pronunciation could very well have been influenced by "spasm" or
"spasmodic". But the noun "spaz(z)" meaning a physically or socially
inept person pretty clearly derives from the noun "spastic", originally
referring to a person with spastic paralysis (from 1896) and later
taking on the same pejorative sense as "spaz(z)".

Jitze Couperus

unread,
Jun 25, 2005, 3:28:33 PM6/25/05
to
On Sat, 25 Jun 2005 17:38:36 +0100, "Mike Lyle"
<mike_l...@REMOVETHISyahoo.co.uk> wrote:

>... unlike the Blind Dogs


>for the Guides (or maybe the RSPCA) one on Paddington Station, which
>was a real stuffed dead dog with a money-box on its back. (Can some
>Brit reader please perhaps confirm that I didn't dream all this? I'm
>beginning to doubt it myself.)
>

I can confirm - this was way back before they re-did the place
for the umpteenth time. There was a series of booths (toward the
left - looking toward rear of Great Western Hotel as you exit
from the trains) where you could have a photo taken, or make
a 45 rpm disc of your voice, and sundry activities. Near these
booths was a very large St. Bernard type dog. I don't know
whether it was real deceased and taxidermied, or a good facsimile
thereof. But good enough to make one wonder. And on its back
was a collection box.

Reminds me of the country hick who took a ride down to Paddington
to see the big city. He sat on a bench on the platform there and
watched the various city slickers going into the various booths,
putting money in slots and having various services performed.

One intrigued him mightily. Occasionaly a gent would go into
a booth, put a half-crown into the slot, undo his fly and then
assume a belly-to-machine stance for a minute or so. After a while
the gent would step back, do up his fly and walk away with a
satisfied look on his face.

Our hero decided that this was a service he had never encountered
before and that he should try it too. So he ups and approaches the
machine, deposits his half-crown, undoes his fly and assumes the
position.

Seconds later he lets out a scream of pain... A new button had been
neatly sewn on the end of his John Thomas.

Jitze

Pat Durkin

unread,
Jun 25, 2005, 3:40:47 PM6/25/05
to

"the Omrud" <usenet...@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:MPG.1d27b57a7...@news.ntlworld.com...

Are these "love hearts" about 1/2 inch or less in size? I am not sure what
ours were called. I think we only saw them around Valentine's Day. The
most tasteless pastel-colored candies one can imagine, with short 1- to
3-word messages.

As to charity boxes. . . depending on the store, there may be up to 3 or 4
such clear plastic canisters on the counter next to the till. That is, in
addition to the penny tray, from which the clerk can take the requisite
number of pennies to make your payment complete without your having to
"break" a $20. It really helps the store, too, if there is a line of
customers waiting for the clerk. I think a lot of us contribute to that
charity, as well, not wanting to walk around with our pockets a-jingle.


Maria Conlon

unread,
Jun 25, 2005, 4:26:34 PM6/25/05
to
de...@aol.com wrote:
>
> "Spaz" as meaning "dork" or "suck up" seems ridiculous to people my
> age. A "spaz" is simply a spastic person, whether the person is a
> clutz, absent-minded, spacey, or looney.

I was hearing "spaz" in the early 1960s (in Detroit). As Joe says,
"spaz" means (and meant) "spastic person." I didn't use the term,
because it seemed cruel, even if those it referred to were not
_actually_ spastic -- that is, suffering from spastic paralysis.

Maria Conlon

Mike Lyle

unread,
Jun 25, 2005, 5:02:48 PM6/25/05
to
Laura F. Spira wrote:
> Mike Lyle wrote:
[...]
>> find a gold heart and a packet of Swizzell's Love Hearts makes a
>> socially-responsible and effortless anonymous donation. (Yes, yes,
I
>> know. But in this family even twenty-nine-year-olds get Christmas
>> stockings.)
>>
>
> Ah, Love Hearts <sigh: confectionery nostalgia>

OK, as long as you and your no doubt heavily-armed and
preternaturally muscular husband understand that they aren't from me,
I'll do what I can. I won't remember, of course, so that will mean
they couldn't possibly have been from me. I'd suspect Ray Wise, or
maybe Bob Cunningham -- both of them the darkest horses a bookie's
bank manager could find in his worst nightmares, but I have an
instinct for these things.

--
Mike.


Laura F. Spira

unread,
Jun 25, 2005, 6:10:55 PM6/25/05
to
Mike Lyle wrote:

<chortle>

Raymond S. Wise

unread,
Jun 25, 2005, 6:14:53 PM6/25/05
to


"Twenty-three skiddoo" was cool decades before "cool" was cool.

Mike Lyle

unread,
Jun 25, 2005, 6:18:37 PM6/25/05
to
Jitze Couperus wrote:
> On Sat, 25 Jun 2005 17:38:36 +0100, "Mike Lyle"
> <mike_l...@REMOVETHISyahoo.co.uk> wrote:
>
>> ... unlike the Blind Dogs
>> for the Guides (or maybe the RSPCA) one on Paddington Station,
which
>> was a real stuffed dead dog with a money-box on its back. (Can
some
>> Brit reader please perhaps confirm that I didn't dream all this?
I'm
>> beginning to doubt it myself.)
>>
>
> I can confirm - this was way back before they re-did the place
> for the umpteenth time. There was a series of booths (toward the
> left - looking toward rear of Great Western Hotel as you exit
> from the trains) where you could have a photo taken, or make
> a 45 rpm disc of your voice, and sundry activities. Near these
> booths was a very large St. Bernard type dog. I don't know
> whether it was real deceased and taxidermied, or a good facsimile
> thereof. But good enough to make one wonder. And on its back
> was a collection box.
>
> Reminds me of the country hick who took a ride down [he meant "up",
of course] to Paddington
> to see the big city. [...good story snipped...]

Happy days! (Areff, get outta here! This isn't any Fonzie stuff.) I
don't at all see why we shouldn't expose people to stuffed dead
critters: the buggers _eat_ them, after all.

Stuffed-animal-wise, my very last EFL job before I went straightish
was as course director in a summer school. The day the inspectors
arrived just had to be the one the Fates had already inked in for one
of the more spectacular cases of double-booking in the history of
pedagogy: The room my teacher's class of Bolshie French, blasé
Italians, and plutocratic Germans rolled up to, as scheduled, already
contained an expectant gaggle of teenage English girls in skin-tight
pants and boots, a selection of well-grown potted plants, and a
bloody great expertly-stuffed 15 h.h. chestnut gelding with little
wheels let into his hooves. I gathered that my display of managerial
aplomb on the occasion was what led the organisation to offer me a
bigger job; but my nerves had already made other choices. But the
plants, the plants...somehow they impressed me quite as much as,
perhaps even more than, the stuffed horse and his little wheels. I
mean, that's baroque, isn't it?

Back, OT, to Paddington. You know, I actually took the _sleeper_
from Carmarthen to do a day's shopping in Town. Proper steam Castles,
of course. And staggered into the Great Western Hotel at Paddington
to have a bath and a Christian breakfast on arrival. The steam
services to Scotland were generally as fast as (or faster than)
today's privatised abortions, so I wonder if the West Wales sleeper
set-up was some kind of one-upmanship: just there to make Wales seem
as important as Scotland, even though it was as near as Leeds. As
late as the sixties, you could put your car on the train at
Paddington, but you had to deal with a functionary called "The
Horse-box Master". Now, you're lucky if the train will accept your
bike (and most people's push-bikes are worth more than my car).

--
Mike.


Areff

unread,
Jun 25, 2005, 5:13:07 PM6/25/05
to

Sounds right. But I'd note that when I was in my early teens kids used the
word "spasmodic" as well as "spasticated" to mean "like a spaz" or even
just "stupid" (as of things -- for example, "that test was
spasticated/spasmodic").


Frances Kemmish

unread,
Jun 25, 2005, 6:25:26 PM6/25/05
to
Laura F. Spira wrote:

> Ah, Love Hearts <sigh: confectionery nostalgia>
>

One Sunday, I came home from Sunday School with a bag of heart-shaped
bath salts which we were given to pass on to our mothers. My mother took
one look and said "Oh, Love hearts! I haven't seen them for ages", and
popped one in her mouth. Was she sorry.

Fran

Harvey Van Sickle

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Jun 25, 2005, 6:23:21 PM6/25/05
to
On 25 Jun 2005, Frances Kemmish wrote

Made her foam at the mouth, I suspect.

--
Cheers, Harvey

Canada for 30 years; S England since 1982.
(for e-mail, change harvey.news to harvey.van)

Frances Kemmish

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Jun 25, 2005, 6:27:32 PM6/25/05
to
the Omrud wrote:

> Good grief, you can buy boxes of "Just Married" love hearts.
> Something of a limited consumer base, I would have thought.
> https://www.lovehearts.com/index.asp
>

My friend had M&Ms made with her and her husband-to-be's name on them,
and the date of her wedding. She had seven pounds of them. I don' know
what the minimum oder was.

Fran

Donna Richoux

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Jun 25, 2005, 6:58:29 PM6/25/05
to
Ben Zimmer <bgzi...@midway.uchicago.edu> wrote:

Cassell's Dictionary of Slang has spellings with S and Z:

spas/spaz n. [1960s+] (student/school) one who is
useless, clumsy, incompetent and is thus socially
unacceptable. [Snip etymology, several lines about
spastic paralysis]

spas/spaz/spas out/spaz out v. [1980s+] to act
foolishly, to lose control, to act in an
uncoordinated manner - either mentally or
physically.

spaso n. [1970s+] (Aus.) a spastic, either actual or
as a derogatory term.

spastic adj. [1960s+] l. convulsed with laughter and
thus incapable of coherent mental or physical
activity 2. uncoordinated, socially unacceptable
[Standard English spastic, afflicted by spastic
paralysis, characterized by sudden muscle spasm;
meaning (2) generally considered unacceptable since
it is, in effect, a derog. attack on those who
suffer this paralysis]

None of this goes quite as far as your sunglasses story.

--
Best -- Donna Richoux

John Dean

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Jun 25, 2005, 7:06:37 PM6/25/05
to

Fonzie used to wear a T-shirt with a picture of Kojak on the front and
"23 Skidoo" on the back. It was brought to Earth by Mork from the planet
Ork.
--
John Dean
Oxford

John Dean

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Jun 25, 2005, 7:10:34 PM6/25/05
to

So was it ever pronounced "spass"?
--
John Dean
Oxford

Paul Wolff

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Jun 25, 2005, 7:58:42 PM6/25/05
to
In message <1gyqnap.sutxmu1j80g1tN%tr...@euronet.nl>, Donna Richoux
<tr...@euronet.nl> writes

>Ben Zimmer <bgzi...@midway.uchicago.edu> wrote:
>
>> John Dean wrote:
>> >
>> > Are we actually sure that "spaz" is a shortening of "spastic"? Because
>> > I would have thought a shortening of "spastic" would retain the
>> > sibilant whereas "spaz" sounds more like a shortening of "spasm".
>>
>> The pronunciation could very well have been influenced by "spasm" or
>> "spasmodic". But the noun "spaz(z)" meaning a physically or socially
>> inept person pretty clearly derives from the noun "spastic", originally
>> referring to a person with spastic paralysis (from 1896) and later
>> taking on the same pejorative sense as "spaz(z)".
>
>Cassell's Dictionary of Slang has spellings with S and Z:
>
> spas/spaz n. [1960s+] (student/school) one who is
> useless, clumsy, incompetent and is thus socially
> unacceptable. [Snip etymology, several lines about
> spastic paralysis]
>
If Mr Cassell is talking BrE, he should put this derogatory usage back
to the mid-1950s and extend it to other people-oriented objects, like
despised schoolmasters, weedy games, and best friends' foopball[1]
teams.

[...]

[1] Now Quidditch:
<http://www.alice.dryden.co.uk/ho_for_hoggwarts.htm>
--
Paul
In bocca al Lupo!

Paul Wolff

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Jun 25, 2005, 7:59:17 PM6/25/05
to
In message <d9ko6i$v10$1...@newsg2.svr.pol.co.uk>, John Dean
<john...@frag.lineone.net> writes

Yes.

Robert Bannister

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Jun 25, 2005, 8:16:48 PM6/25/05
to
John Dean wrote:


> Are we actually sure that "spaz" is a shortening of "spastic"? Because I
> would have thought a shortening of "spastic" would retain the sibilant
> whereas "spaz" sounds more like a shortening of "spasm".

Absolutely certain. The word first started being used widely by British
kids round about the time I started teaching in London (early 60s) and
was used interchangeably with the full form "spastic".
--
Rob Bannister

Areff

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Jun 25, 2005, 10:43:12 PM6/25/05
to
Frances Kemmish wrote:
> what the minimum oder was.

Let's not start *that* subthread again.


R J Valentine

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Jun 25, 2005, 11:26:03 PM6/25/05
to

Frankfurt? No, that was the Main thread.

--
R. J. Valentine <mailto:r...@theWorld.com>

Steve Hayes

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Jun 26, 2005, 12:05:27 AM6/26/05
to
On Sat, 25 Jun 2005 19:47:31 +0100, "John Dean" <john...@frag.lineone.net>
wrote:

>Moreover, 23-skidoo is earlier slang than is "old hat". Howja like
>*them* apples?

Maisie dotes and dozy dotes and lid'll lamp seed ivy.


--
Steve Hayes from Tshwane, South Africa
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/7734/stevesig.htm
E-mail - see web page, or parse: shayes at dunelm full stop org full stop uk

Steve Hayes

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Jun 26, 2005, 12:05:25 AM6/26/05
to
On Sat, 25 Jun 2005 09:16:04 +0000 (UTC), Areff <m...@privacy.net> wrote:

>Steve Hayes wrote:
>> It was popular when I was 11-14 as well, which, in accordance with the Kojac
>> conjecture, must have been about 10 years after you were 11-14.
>
>Actually, according to the Hayes Corollary, that must have been closer to
>25 years after I was 11-14. You must be younger than Joey.

Ok, Grandpa. I didn't realise you were THAT old.

What did you think about the Locarno treaty at the time?

Ben Zimmer

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Jun 26, 2005, 3:41:37 AM6/26/05
to
Areff wrote:
>
> Another thing to note is that "spaz" was given a later boost of
> popularity by _Meatballs_ (Ivan Reitman, 1979), a film about a summer
> camp starring Bill Murray. There was a nerdlike character in that film
> named (= BrE 'called') Spaz (or Spazz).

Another side note: a year before _Meatballs_, Bill Murray began doing
the seminal "Nerds" sketch on _Saturday Night Live_, playing Todd
DiLamuca opposite Gilda Radner's Lisa Loopner. On two shows in 1978
(Apr. 22 and Nov. 4), host Steve Martin joined in, playing the character
Charles Knerlman, or "Chaz the Spaz" as he was known to Todd and Lisa.
In one of the sketches ("Nerds Science Fair", Apr. 22), Chaz the Spaz
says to Lisa, "That's a fabulous science fair project... not!" Though
this was hardly the first use of "not" for sarcastic negation, it may
have laid the groundwork for Wayne and Garth a decade or so later.

Charles Riggs

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Jun 26, 2005, 4:22:07 AM6/26/05
to

Do British women chortle? I had thought only men chortle, but then I
tend to have an American slant on things: our women giggle, but they
never, as far as I know, chortle.

Charles Riggs

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Jun 26, 2005, 4:22:07 AM6/26/05
to
On Sun, 26 Jun 2005 03:26:03 +0000 (UTC), R J Valentine
<r...@TheWorld.com> wrote:

>On Sun, 26 Jun 2005 02:43:12 +0000 (UTC) Areff <m...@privacy.net> wrote:
>
>} Frances Kemmish wrote:
>}> what the minimum oder was.
>}
>} Let's not start *that* subthread again.
>
>Frankfurt? No, that was the Main thread.

Cry me a river.

Mickwick

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Jun 26, 2005, 7:52:19 AM6/26/05
to
In alt.usage.english, Ben Zimmer wrote:

>OED2 has the more urban sense from 1967:
>
>-----
>street, n.
>4.e. attrib. passing into adj., with reference to the streets as the
>focus of modern urban life, esp. among the poor and contrasted with
>polite society. Often with the implication of illegal dealings (esp.
>drug-trafficking), or the sharp-wittedness needed to survive ‘on the
>streets’. orig. U.S.
>1967 ‘T. WELLS’ Dead by Light of Moon xiii. 126 A street merchant is a
>con artist who pretends to sell stolen goods.
>1967 Trans-Action Apr. 5/1 Street culture exists in every low income
>ghetto. It is shared by the hustling elements of the poor, whatever
>their nationality or color.
>[etc.]
>-----
>
>The OED's new edition (and the forthcoming volume of the Historical
>Dictionary of American Slang, including 'S' entries) may take it back
>further.

Thanks. That's very good of you.

With 1967 as the current dating, it looks like Terkel might have been
using that meaning of 'street' after all. I've since looked in Fowler's
_A Dictionary of the Underworld_ and there aren't any extended,
non-locational hobo uses of 'street' - only uses where an adjectival
'street' means that something occurs in the actual public streets.

Speaking of which, that first 1967 example comes very close to being
straightforwardly descriptive. Fowler has similar examples from much
earlier - 'street grizzler' for busker (grizzling was busking) from 1926
and 'street ganger' (one who gangs, or goes, on the streets) for beggar
from 1887.

--
Mickwick

Mickwick

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Jun 26, 2005, 7:51:48 AM6/26/05
to
In alt.usage.english, Mike Lyle wrote:
>Mickwick wrote:

>> Did she?
>>
>Dunno: I rather forgot the proceedings were on the box. I'll text the
>adored brat and get back to you,

Oh lawks, don't do that! 'A dirty old man of my cyber-acquaintance wants
to know ...' Do you want her to worry about the company you keep?

> though I imagine she was several hundred yards away and bobbing about
>among the other flotsam. But I'd have been with you in spirit, though
>such circling mammaries grab me more as a circus turn than as a turn-on.

They didn't circle, or even wobble, a great deal - some sort of
industrial-strength sports bra, I imagine - they were just very large;
and my investigations were inspired more by the Spirit of the
Enlightenment than by a dribbling lasciviousness. Priestley had his
phlogiston, Stubbs his flayed horses, and I the upper half of a
large-breasted woman. How would the parts relate to the whole? Would the
morphology be aesthetically, functionally, even structurally coherent?
Would there be a rotational symmetry, a corresponding steatopygia, to
provide balance, or would ambulation require a resupine vergency? In
shorts, did she have a waist and how large was her bottom?

[blushes pared]

--
Mickwick

Robin Bignall

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Jun 26, 2005, 8:49:31 AM6/26/05
to

Interesting. I remember kids in my Midlands neighbourhood using the
full "spastic" as a derogatory term in the 1950s, but by the early
1960s I was at uni in London and don't recall "spaz" or "spass" at
all.

--
Robin

Ross Howard

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Jun 26, 2005, 8:52:59 AM6/26/05
to
On Sun, 26 Jun 2005 13:49:31 +0100, Robin Bignall
<docr...@ntlworld.com> wrought:

I can confirm "spaz" from mid-'60s NW England.

--
Ross Howard

Mike Lyle

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Jun 26, 2005, 9:14:19 AM6/26/05