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1. John Chaneski’s quiz really should have tipped the hat to Victor Borge, and his “Inflationary Language” routine: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YY6kElOYcd8
(Someone has even come up with the “Victor Borge Website Inflater”: http://www.kor.dk/borge/inflate.php)
2. Grant suggested that calling a nerdy person a “poindexter” might be a reference to Vice Admiral John Poindexter. Isn’t it more likely to refer to the character Poindexter (http://www.felixthecat.com/friends-poindexter.htm) from the Felix the Cat cartoons (ca. 1960)?
It’s also possible to deflate language. Years ago my mother picked up a set of tableware in which the forks had one tine fewer than the ones you normally get at restaurants. We took to calling them threeks.
Since this seems the closest thing so far to an official thread for this week’s show, I had a couple of points about the “Romper Room” Magic Mirror poem. Martha recited the first line in a slightly different order from what I remember; is there a definitive answer to whether it’s “Romper, stomper, bomper boo” or “Romper, bomper, stomper boo”? Or did the various Misses do it different ways in different cities, or at different times?
Further on the Magic Mirror verse: there’s something about that meter that practically forces me to mix it with lines from Blake’s “The Tyger”, the “Star light, star bright” wishing poem, and “Late Lament”, the recitation that follows the Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin”.
Threeks. Love it. Here’s another language deflation example, but in a qualitative rather than quantitative sense. My wife once mentioned that she needed to stop at Great Clips and get a permanent. The muse came over me. I replied, “You mean you’re gonna get another temporary, right?” She immediately got my point, smiled, but persists in calling them permanents.
Grant Barrett said
The Felix the Cat connection is possible, but it’s a big gap between that show and 1981, which is the first recorded print use of “poindexter” ‘nerd’ I know of.
I disagree with the connection to John Poindexter. Mainly, I don’t think his personality was known well enough to the public to brand him as a nerd in this way. I believe it is the Felix character in spite of Grant’s comment above because even though the TV show ended in 1961 there were syndicated reruns for years. I watched it with my kids for several years in the 80s. I can not quickly find evidence, but I am sure it was in wide circulation in 1981 and the years immediately prior.
Wikipedia’s disambiguation page for the name Poindexter mentions the Felix character with an indented bullet-point indicating that this is the source of the “nerd” meaning. And seriously, just look at the guy:
Maybe someone can make contact with the screenwriters of 1984’s Revenge of the Nerds and ask what they were going for when they named Timothy Busfield’s character Poindexter.
A dime isn’t the only coin that drops. A penny does as well, and when it finally drops, a light comes on,and we then understand what we’d previously overlooked.understand.
Obviously, there’s some kind of vending machine involved. A gumdrop machine doesn’t involve a falling coin; it turns in a wheel. Ditto for parking meters. Your Weight-and-Fate has a falling coin, but I’ve never recalled one that had the slightest hesitation. The Duncan parking meter folks used to make pay toilet mechanisms (yes, the same folks that made yo-yos and spinning tops), but I don’t recall how they worked. It’s been, what, forty years since they were legal, when we all sat all broken-hearted, spent my dime, and only passed gas. A newspaper rack? Back when the daily newspaper was 7c, there was no vending, just a tube with a slot for honor-system sales, so I can’t imagine ending a newspaper for a penny.
Pop was 5c or 10c when it was first bottled, depending on whether you were treating dyspepsia, or hooked on cocaine; Harry Golden says soda water was 2c plain.
So what kind of vending machine had a product for a falling penny with hangups?
I’ve got a slightly earlier cite now for “poindexter” to describe a nerd.
Just rewatched the 1980 movie Midnight Madness on TCM, and the “green team” (made up of jocks, including Dirk Blocker) pushes aside the “white team” (made up of geeks, led by Eddie Deezen) at the miniature golf course, as one of them says “outta my way, poindexter”. (This was, I believe, Disney’s second non G-rated film, and doesn’t bear the Disney name in its packaging; the only obvious sign of what studio it came from is some small print at the end of the closing credits assigning copyright to Buena Vista Productions.)