Just in the Nick of Time: A History of Interesting Idioms and Colloquial Phrases – Part 7

Sometimes the idioms or colloquial phrases that we use in our every day language sound completely ludicrous, but much to our surprise they have very real and amazingly explainable origins. Today we will look into origins and meanings of some of the silliest sounding idioms and colloquial phrases that have pretty unbelievable origins. Today we will look at: Cry crocodile tears, Grandfathered in, What in tarnation, Blowing smoke up your a**, Brand spanking new, and Throwing a hissy fit. 



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Cry crocodile tears” – 

Origin: There is an ancient myth that alludes to crocodiles crying while they devour their prey. This allusion is partially due to the fact that the crocodile has a lachrymal gland which produces ‘tears’ that lubricates their eyes just like humans do. The animal does not however show remorse while it is devouring a deer or even a human…so they do not cry as a result of an emotion. There have been stories about this crying myth for many centuries but the first printed references to this myth is found in French reports as far back as 1230. In The Voyage and Travail of Sir John Maundeville, (circa 1400) the writer says that “…there are many crocodiles – these serpents slay men, and then, weeping, eat them…). This is a direct reference to the myth but in the 16th century; Edmund Grindal, the Archbishop of York and Canterbury, used the phrase as it commonly used by saying that: “I begin to fear, lest his humility…be a counterfit humility, and his tears crocodile tears.” So it would appear that the scientific realization that the tears of a crocodile are insincere and thus the phrase made its way across the ocean and has continued on throughout the years.

Meaning: Putting on an insincere show of sorrow.



Grandfathered in” – 

Origin: In the Southern states of the United States, the term ‘grandfathered in’ is used frequently, but if they were to have used it in the late 1800s…it would have had a completely different meaning. The dictionary states that a grandfather clause is ‘a portion of a statute that provides that the law is not applicable in certain circumstances due to preexisting facts’ and the specific grandfather clauses which popularized this phrase were the use of clauses that were originally intended to prevent Blacks from voting. These provisions were adopted by the constitutions of some states and were sought to interfere with an individual’s right to vote by setting forth difficult requirements. The common requirements were ownership of a large amount of land or the ability to read and write portions of the state and/or federal constitutions. The name grandfather clause arose from the exception that was made for veterans of the Civil War. If the veterans were qualified to vote prior to 1866, their descendants were also qualified. This literally, in effect, mean that if a person’s grandfather could vote…then so could they. This of course was created to benefit white Americans and to keep black Americans from voting. Thankfully this was found to be unconstitutional later and Despite the extremely negative past, the phrase has continues to be heard (specifically when your cell phone company wants to tell you about some program that you were grandfathered into).

Meaning: a clause exempting certain classes of people or things from the requirements of a piece of legislation affecting their previous rights, privileges, or practices.


What in tarnation?” – 

Origin: “What in tarnation” was one of those colloquial sayings that was even too country for my family. The euphemistic expression gained popularity in the 18th and 19th century throughout America as a replacement certain four letter explanations which would offend the Puritan ears of that time period. The phrase is similar to the “what in Sam Hill” which strangely enough was NOT named after a guy named Sam Hill. While we do not really know who in the Sam Hill that Sam Hill was or why that saying gained popularity; we do know that ‘tarnation’ is a euphemism that is a modification of the word ‘darn’ation which is a cleaned up version of the word ‘damnation’. The root of the word ‘tarnation’ is a derivative of the word ‘tarnal’ which means ‘eternal’. So…how would the religious invocation of ‘eternity’ be used as a curse? At some point, someone in a moment of high emotion took the word tarnal and joined it together with damnation to say ‘you eternal enemy’. Maybe? Sounds logical to me.

Meaning: Euphemism for the word ‘damnation’.


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 “Blowing smoke up your a**” – 

Origin: You’re probably hoping that this figure of speech is not based on anything but I hate to break it to you; its based on a real thing. The figure of speech, which now a days mostly means that you are a insincerely complimenting someone in order to ‘inflate’ the ego of the person being flattered; but back in the 1700s, doctors would quite literally blow smoke up your butt. Believe it or not, it was a regular medical procedure that was used, among many things, to resuscitate people who were otherwise presumed to be dead. It was in fact such a commonly used procedure for drowning victims that ‘smoke blowing equipment’ hung along the River Thames. This equipment was donated so kindly by the Royal Humane Society. Yeah let that sink in. SO….people would keep the ‘smoke blowing equipment’ near swimming holes, much like we keep defibrillators at gyms, hospitals, etc. So….how did it work? Well I’m glad you asked. Smoke was blown up the person’s butt by inserting a tube that was connected to a fumigator which bellowed the smoke into the rectum when compressed. They thought that the nicotine in the tobacco stimulated the heartbeat and that the rectum was a quicker way into the body…than lets say…the nose or mouth. The use of tobacco didn’t just start in the 1700s (early Greeks and Native Americans were using smoke enemas to treat people and animals); but thankfully, over the decades to come, scientists realized that nicotine was toxic to the cardiac system and ‘blowing smoke up someone’s butt’ became a thing of the past.

Meaning: A mostly insincere compliment to boost the ego of the recipient.


Brand Spanking New” – 

Origin: Mostly every single human being on this planet has experienced the origin of this idiom. It happens right after the birth of a baby usually calls for a slight slap on the hind end of the baby to get it to cry…thusly causing the baby to take its first breaths and to stimulate the baby. The practice is not necessarily used anymore but it is a wildly known practice. The other part of this idiom is the use of the word ‘brand’. Most of us think of ‘brand’ as a brand of jeans or our favorite brand of soda but since at least 950 AD, to brand something meant to ‘make an indelible mark of ownership. This practice was usually the name (you get it now) of the person that owned the livestock that received the ‘mark’. So if something if ‘brand new’ then that something has a fresh branding while if something is ‘brand spanking new’…well that means that it is so new that it is baby spanking new.

Meaning: Something that is entirely new.


Throwing a hissy fit” –

Origin: The origin of the idiom or colloquial phrase ‘throwing a hissy fit’ quite literally has two direct links. The term originated during the mid 20th century in the United States and is an expression alluding to someone hissing and spluttering their words during a temper tantrum…or it is just a contraction of the word hysterical. And hysterical is definitely what you are when you are ‘throwing a hissy fit’.

Meaning: A temperamental outburst or tantrum.


 

Images:
Tears of a Crocodile by and accredited to Sankalp Ranjan – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49511935
A 1776 drawing of a tobacco smoke enema device by Unknown – Medical textbook published in Berne, Switzerland, 1776. Reproduced in André Holenstein (Ed.): Berns goldene Zeit, p.76 [ISBN 978-3-7272-1281-9], Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5290890

Nacho Libre and the real Priestly Luchador

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In the summer of 2006, the world was introduced to a half-Mexican priest who secretly wrestled as a masked luchador to raise money for the orphans at his monastery. The sports comedy starred the always funny Jack Black in a movie written by Mike White, Jerusha Hess and Jared Hess (yeah…Napoleon Dynamite). My family and I fell in love with the simple, family friendly comedy; but recently I unexpectedly found out that the movie is loosely based on a true story.

320px-Jack_Black_(25747103295)Nacho Libre, though loosely based on the life of real-life Catholic priest in Hildago, Mexico, centers around a priest who works as the monastery’s cook but dreams of being a luchador. The priest, Ignacio, loves the orphans that he works with but the orphanage does not respect him nor do they give him money for the quality ingredients needed for good food. This causes his food to become more and more inedible (much to the literal and metaphorical distaste of the head priest). One night while collecting the free leftover chips from a restaurant in town, he was jumped by a street vagrant named Steven. He and Steven eventually joined forces once Nacho had reached his breaking point the next day when the already terrible meal was without the only redeeming factor…the chips. Even though he is losing almost every match, Ignacio is enjoying the fruits of being a semi-pro 640px-Jackblackandtomhowardluchador. To keep his identity secret (because the monastery thinks that wrestling is a sin), Ignacio adopts the name “Nacho” and Steven becomes “Esqueleto” (Skeleton in Spanish). The reason that wrestling is a sin? Because they are wrestling for vanity. When Nacho finally realizes that the Lord will bless him if he wrestles for the children…he becomes a professional luchador and even beats the greatest wrestler to ever live.

The man who inspired Nacho Libre, Sergio Gutierrez Benitez, got his inspiration after watching two Mexican wrestling movies in which the protagonists of the stories are poor priests who support the children of their orphanages by becoming lucha libre wrestlers. Sergio went to Rome and Spain to train as a priest and even taught in many Roman Catholic universities when he got back to Mexico. After a time, he became a priest in the Diocese of Texcoco and founded an Orphanage; just like the movies that had influenced him to become not only a priest but a luchador wrestlers. He founded “La Casa de los Cachorros de Fray Tormenta” and he became the masked luchador Fray Tormenta. He hid his face, much like Nacho Libre, because he was afraid that no one would take him serious in the wrestling ring if they knew he was a priest (and vice versa).

180_FrayTormenta-01Fray Tormenta retired from the wrestling business in 2011 after a 23 year professional wrestling career. He still works passionately with the orphans as a priest. The soft spoken Fray Tormenta has lived an epic life but humbly still preaches in a simple old church in Mexico. The larger than life character has influenced movie writers to create amazing characters; as well as comic book, cartoon and video game creators. The Mexican padre might not be exactly as Nacho Libre portrayed him to be but this loyal luchador did what he had to to provide for the orphans. Which just happened to allow him to intertwine the two things that he was truly passionate about: wrestling and his orphanage. He managed to bring his beloved religion into the sport that he loved and even managed to bring some of his sport into the church. Fray Tormenta still dons his lucha libre mask while carrying out his priestly duties. Seriously, did you think I meant that he would throw an unrelenting church member into his the figure four leglock called “the Confessional” if they weren’t listening to his sermon? I do know that I would never fall asleep in his church. 🙂

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Featured Image: Luchador masks image by and accredited to StellarD – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=56891280
Nacho Libre movie poster by and accredited to Paramount Pictures, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3953967
Jack Black red carpet photo by and accredited to Eva Rinaldi from Sydney Australia – Jack Black, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47516745
Jack Black and Tom Howard training for Nacho Libre image by and accredited to Tom Howard, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8302967
Fray Tormenta black and white image by and accredited to alchetron.com, Fair use, http://www.traditioninaction.org/revolutionphotos/Images%20(101-200)/180_FrayTormenta-01.jpg
Fray Tormenta Priest and Luchador by and accredited to Vice Sports, sports-images.vice.com/images/2015/01/08/addict-priest-luchador-the-incredible-semi-true-life-of-fray-tormenta-body-image-1420677603.jpg

 

Top Cat’s Top 10: Best of 2016 and Most Anticipated of 2017

As I looked glanced to the bottom of my MacBook screen the other day at work, it occurred to me that we are almost through the first month of 2017. SO much has already happened within the first 24 days of 2017 but this doesn’t take away from the memory of the most memorable events of 2016. From North Korea conducting missile/nuclear tests to the Donald quite controversially being elected our 45th President to the Chicago Cubs winning a World Series after a 108 year drought. (Glad the curse of Murphy the Goat was finally lifted.) We had a lot of ups and quite equal amount of downs, so I think its important to now look back at the Top 10 Most Memorable Moments in Pop Culture that happened in 2016. These lists are completely based on my opinion….so, here we go. 🙂

Top Cat’s Top 10 Most Memorable Moments of 2016: Pop Culture edition

10. Carpool Karaoke – It doesn’t seem like that long ago that James Corden was the reluctant flat mate of Matt Smith’s Doctor in the fifth series Doctor Who episode “The Lodger”. As we not only have a new Doctor Who, it seems that James Corden has done very well for himself since his short stint on one of my favorite TV shows of all time: Doctor Who. Corden succeeded Craig Ferguson as host of the Late Late Show. Corden’s Late Late Show’s popular segment Carpool Karaoke tipped the scales of popularity in 2016 when the sketch with pop singer Adele became the biggest YouTube viral video of 2016. The segment which aired in January of 2016 was viewed over a staggering 135 million times! I say that the reluctant companion of Doctor Who has done well for himself and doesn’t look like he shows any signs of stopping.

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By Siebbi – ipernity.com, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14740864 

9. Leonardo DiCaprio gets an Oscar – Dare I ask if there is a more versatile actor in Hollywood than Leonardo DiCaprio. I didn’t think so. Leo has been everything from a booger eating mentally challenged boy in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape to the reluctant lover boy in the Titanic to a broken father in the movie that would bring him his Oscar: the Revenant. The movie which gives us a glance inside of the dark window that is our nation’s past. Besides the amazingly written script, the spectacular cast, the breathtaking scenery or even a completely terrifying showcase of what it would be like to be attacked by a bear; the movie allowed us to see just how dedicated to his craft that Leo was and is. Leo deserved his award and his Oscar win most definitely deserves a spot on the top 10 memorable events of 2016.

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By Ethan Doyle White at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50463988

8. Ghostbusters – The Cultural icon that is the Ghostbusters brand was rebooted with an almost exclusive Saturday Night Live, all-female lead cast. Leslie Jones, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Kristen Wiig did their respective nod to the original Ghostbusters movies while cementing their own legacy as the ‘new’ Ghostbusters. I’m still not sure how I feel about the movie it was definitely memorable.

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By Gage Skidmore – →This file has been extracted from another file: Cast of Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them.jpg, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53413122

6. Fantastic Beasts and where to find more Harry PotterHarry Potter fans around the world rejoiced with the release of the first companion (or prequel if you will) book to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them allowed Harry Potter fans to delve deeper into the wizarding world. The movie which showcased a world that took place almost a century before Harry Potter was even born, allowed us to fall in love with new characters and fill the void that has been in fan’s hearts since 2011’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2.

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By Lowtrucks – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50284157

5. Stranger Things and the year of the Woman – 2016, could possibly go down as the year of the woman. From Hillary Clinton to both DC and Marvel Comics putting a woman in the forefront of their own show (both Jessica Jones and Supergirl) to the almost all female ghost killing ensemble in Ghostbusters (who are helping to redefine what it means to be a leading lady) has help solidify the influence of women in the world and Pop Culture. We are seeing women discussing Hollywood wage gaps based on sex and seeing more and more parts being written for women. In the case of Millie Bobby Brown’s character Eleven from Netflix‘s Stranger Things, the psychokinetic preteen impressed us more and more with each episode. The 80s sci-fi series truly set itself apart from anything else out at the time. Thankfully for us, Netflix renewed the show for a second season so we can witness the strange story unfold even further.

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By Pierregagne98 – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10879401  

4. Civil War – To we ‘geek types’ the term Civil war doesn’t refer to the Boko Haram conflict in northeastern Nigeria or even the American Civil War fought from 1861 to 1865..no no…to we geek types Civil War is Team Captain America or Team Iron Man. A decision that is harder to make than trying to figure out what to put on  your Subway footlong. I, of course, followed blindly to whatever side that Scarlett Johansson would meander but it did cause quite the stir to movie goers and serious fans. The controversial ‘ownership’ of certain characters caused the original Marvel Comics storyline  to be altered but despite the set backs, the movie was a box office success.

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By Incry – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=202115

3. “Where have all the cowboys gone?” – After losing the lead singer Lemmy Kilmister ,of one of the most iconic rock bands of all time, it would seem like losing the singer of Motorhead was the hardest thing for us to handle but it was not the end…it was merely just a break until the beginning of 2016. 2016 was not an easier pill to swallow in regards to losing some of our most loved celebrities. I don’t know whether we had a lot of celebrities die, or if we just have a lot people famous for a lot of different things. But most notably we lost some musical icons that have shaped the face of music for decades: Prince, George Michael and David Bowie. In their respective fields, each of these entertainers have been and will continue to be innovators. As the pantheon of celebrities gone too soon would be done due to the end of the year coming soon; we lost Carrie Fisher and her mother, Hollywood icon Debbie Reynolds.

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By vagueonthehow from Tadcaster, York, England – Suicide Squad, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49480910

2. Suicide Squad – Much like 2014 was the year of the Guardians of the Galaxy for my family, 2016 was definitely the year for Harley Quinn. I mean the year of Batman’s bad guys. I mean Suicide Squad. The now Oscar nominated film (despite any and all negative reviews) dominated the box office, DVD sales, digital downloads and merchandise throughout the pop culture world. This antihero team not only unveiled a new Joker, but this blockbuster hit gave us our first glimpse at the big screen version of everyone’s lovable yet psychotic hottie: Harley Quinn. Suicide Squad was not only one of the highest grossing movies of 2016 but it has made DC comics A LOT of money in merchandise. I’m pretty sure that my family has watched it 6 times since it was released for Digital download and that was after the initial time at the theaters. As a matter of fact, just talking about it makes me want to watch it again this weekend. 🙂

1. Pokemon Go – Okay, so I won’t deny the fact that I am a grown man that has chased digital Pokemon down the street. I’ve ridden in the passenger side seat while my wife drove Daniel and myself to Pokemon gyms or to catch another Dratini. It seemed like everyone in the world became completely engrossed in Pokemon Go. It seemed like everyone you saw walking down the street had their phone in their hand. People who had had nothing to do with Pokemon in their whole entire life suddenly knew Bulbasaur and wanted the illusive Pikachu. Alas it seemed that Pokemon Go faded just as quickly as its popularity skyrocketed. People got tired of not being able to find 25 Squirtles much less a Pikachu. I still pull it up every now and then for nostalgia purposes but its short lived. I’ll see a Weedle or maybe even a Rattata on a good night. I don’t think I can ever delete the app from my phone based on how awesome the memories were and how much time was put into it but 2016 will be remembered as the year of Pokemon Go. Just thank God its 2017.

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By Flirtey – Flirtey, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=54823032

Wonder what fad I’ll get into next. From a new President to Amazon delivering food via drone; we’ll have a really entertaining year.

I mean look what we have to look forward to: Lego Batman: The Movie, Logan, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Taboo (TV Show), Ghost in the Shell, Fast and Furious 8, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Game of Thrones (TV Show) – Season 7, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Legion (TV Show), Wonder Woman, Cars 3, Despicable Me 3, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok, Justice League, and Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi.

Separating the Wheat from the Chaff: Upcoming Movies

People Watching a Movie in Movie TheatreIt’s so easy to get caught  in the whirlwind of videos that just get continuously thrown your way on youtube and this is especially true when you find the upcoming movie trailers lineup. I have always loved the movies and the movie going experience; so I watch new movie trailers to see which movies that I should get excited about. The bad part about watching movie trailers to see which ones that you will be excited about is that you have to (to crudely use a biblical reference here) separate the wheat from the chaff. The reason why….well let’s face it, some movies are bad and sometimes even the movie trailers can’t hide how bad that the movie is going to be.

Since I am definitely a trusted authority on the quality of a movie (oh that is just bleeding with sarcasm), I am going to give you my opinion and a short review on the upcoming movies that I think is the wheat or what should be tossed in the garbage:

Separating the Wheat from the Chaff:

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wheat isolated

Sweet Wheat

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

 

Ever since we found out that they were doing stand alone Star Wars stories, everyone got excited; but when the trailer for Rogue One played when we watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens in theaters back in 2015, excited was not the word that you could use to express how excited everyone was. So this stand alone Star Wars story (which would fall chronologically between Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: Episode Iv – A New Hope) introduces Jyn Erso, a Rebel soldier and a Han Solo-esque criminal, who is asked to steal the plans for the Death Star. Should be exciting to see old faces (ie Darth Vader, Bail Organa) and finally see the on screen debut of Saw Gerrera and K-2SO (who is played by Alan Tudyk!). And don’t worry if you think that you’ll be confused because you are confused why you don’t see Luke and Leia.

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garbage

Trash!

Office Christmas Party

Besides having a cast made up of a couple of Hollywood’s hottest actresses (Jennifer Aniston and Olivia Munn), this crap storm of a ‘holiday’ film will not be worth the price of your bucket of popcorn. The movie showcases everyone’s second favorite pothead, T.J. Miller (coming in a cold second to weed giggles himself – Seth Rogen) whose uptight sister tries to stop their epic company Christmas party. The party gets out of hand and you get to see wasted people do stupid things. Sorry but I have better things to do…..like stump my toe on a coffee table or….accidently step on a thumb tack…..or you forget to take all of the shell off of your boiled shrimp and it gets stuck in the back of your throat and you almost choke to death. I think those scenarios would work out better than watching that movie.

 

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half-trash

Half Trash

Transformers 5: The Last Knight

SO……They made another Transformers movie. Some of you are over joyed but most of you are probably like me, wondering why in the world Michael Bay is talking these production companies into sinking millions and millions of dollars into a failing movie franchise. There are so many other dynamic movie ideas (IE other 80s toy lines that could be made into Blockbuster movie franchises (Thundercats, He-Man, or M.A.S.K.). The movie’s storyline is much like the rest of the Transformers movies: Optimus Prime realizes that his home planet of Cybertron is now a dead planet and he feels like he is the one who is responsible for its destruction. Now that he feels that way, he tries to bring his planet back to life but the artifact that he needs is on Earth. And people are trying to kill him. People will work with him to help him find it. Blah blah blah. Honestly the graphics for the movie look great; and the storyline looks pretty dark nor does it look any worse than the other Transformers movies. It definitely won’t be a movie that I’ll be seeing before it comes out for free on Amazon Prime.

 

why-him

garbage

Trash!

Why Him?

Loathe is a extreme word to use in regards to a movie but I almost LOATHE all romantic comedies. I especially loathe romantic comedies that use shock value to gain more viewers. Why Him? stars everyone’s favorite meth making high school chemistry teacher Walter White. Well this time we have a conservative Midwestern Bryan Cranston as a father of a beautiful young daughter who has fallen deeply in love with a sweet yet overwhelmingly vulgar internet billionaire named Laird (played by the almost irrelevant James Franco). The movie looks like your usual ‘dad hates guy that daughter loves…so lets try to get her to see how terrible he is but I end up falling in love with him just like the rest of my family does’ movie. Throw in the extreme vulgarity that Franco’s character spews in the previews and it looks almost unbearable. Of course, if you’re into that sort of thing….feel free to fill your mind with this mind numbing piece waste of film.