Geezer Week

Cidu Bill on Jul 4th 2013

As if to remind me of my upcoming birthday, multiple people each sent me one of these “Geezer Alert” strips, none of which gave me a moment’s hesitation. To be fair, two of the three contained references from well before I was born.

So the question is, are all of these references well-known enough to take them out of geezer territory?




Filed in Bill Bickel, Dennis the Menace, Hey Geezers! Comics!, Norman Rockwell, Pardon My Planet, Tom Batiuk, Vic Lee, comic strips, comics, humor | 64 responses so far

64 Responses to “Geezer Week”

  1. Powers Jul 4th 2013 at 07:53 am 1

    The Four Freedoms bit is (or should be) well known. Same with “Kil(lj/r)oy was here”. “Blame It on the Bossa Nova” could be a geezer reference. As it is, I know the title but nothing else about it without looking it up.

  2. Judge Mental Jul 4th 2013 at 07:59 am 2

    My 2 cents:
    “Blame it on the bossa nova” is firmly entrenched in geezer territory.
    “Killroy was here” may not be geezer, but is becoming progressively more obscure.
    I have no idea what reference in the Dennis the Menace comic is in question.

  3. ANDREA Jul 4th 2013 at 08:03 am 3

    Pig Latin - ixnay . . .

  4. mitch4 Jul 4th 2013 at 08:58 am 4

    I understand “Killroy was here” but may be off in associating it with the “hands and upper face over a fence edge” drawing that I was looking for unsuccessfully here.

    Underlying the Dennis here is the reference from Wikipedia:

    The Four Freedoms were goals articulated by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt on January 6, 1941. In an address known as the Four Freedoms speech (technically the 1941 State of the Union address), he proposed four fundamental freedoms that people “everywhere in the world” ought to enjoy:

  5. Bob in Nashville Jul 4th 2013 at 09:07 am 5

    “Kilroy was here,” originally started out as a quality control inspector named Kilroy’s note that he had inspected whatever it was he inspected. However, after Styx’s style-breaking album of that title from 1983, the saying became a graffiti cliche for a generation now turning 50.

  6. Judge Mental Jul 4th 2013 at 09:10 am 6

    If the geezer reference in DtM is the pig Latin, then that definitely isn’t geezer, kids still use it. If it is “The Four Freedoms”, I don’t consider that geezer either; once a student gets to a certain age, they will hear about it in history class. That would be like saying “Is Thomas Paines’ ‘Common Sense’ a geezer reference?”. Sure its a geezer reference if you are talking about who remembers it first hand, but people still learn about it.

  7. ANDREA Jul 4th 2013 at 09:13 am 7

    I must’ve skipped class that day . . .

  8. Nate Jul 4th 2013 at 09:52 am 8

    I knew all about Pig Latin as a kid, but “Ixnay!” whenever I came across it, complete puzzled me. It didn’t correspond to any word I’d ever heard before. (”‘Nix!’ Why would anyone say that?”)

  9. Jeff S. Jul 4th 2013 at 09:55 am 9

    “Kilroy was here” was a graffiti LONG before the Styx album. I remember seeing it in the early 70s in reprints of even older Mad magazines.

  10. ANDREA Jul 4th 2013 at 09:57 am 10

    Put an end to; cancel: “he nixed the deal just before it was to be signed”

  11. zookeeper Jul 4th 2013 at 10:16 am 11

    Kilroy was WWII era.

  12. Molly J Jul 4th 2013 at 10:49 am 12

    Did the Wilsons ever have children of their own? Why do they need such a huge house?

  13. fj Jul 4th 2013 at 11:05 am 13

    re: nix

    I was somewhat entertained that both the Winkerbean and the Dennis strips referenced “nix.”

    Maybe its “nix” week, too.

  14. Elyrest Jul 4th 2013 at 11:15 am 14

    I’m still not sure if the geezer reference in Dennis was to the Four Freedoms or pig Latin. I couldn’t even figure out what the geezerism would be until I read the comments. As Judge Mental said, the Four Freedoms is history class material and ixnay is so common that I didn’t even think of pig Latin. I’m about the same age as Bill, but I never learned it as a kid and was always confused.

    Kilroy is very familiar as it was still very common in the 1950-60s and my Dad was a WWII vet.

    I loved “Blame It On The Bossa Nova” and it’s definitely in the geezer realm. It belonged to the generation of high school kids whose kids I babysat for though. Here’s a real geezer meld Annette Funicello singing - Blame It On The Bossa Nova.

  15. Morris Keesan Jul 4th 2013 at 12:29 pm 15

    The inclusion of the religious reference in the Pledge of Allegiance places the “Dennis the Menace” in 1957, at the earliest (Wikipedia says that those two words were officially added in 1954, and 1957 was the next time that June 30 was a Sunday).
    I’m aware of “Kilroy was here” and “the four freedoms” as originating before I was born, but neither seems particularly obscure to me.
    I had to look up “Blame It on the Bossa Nova” to discover that it was written after I was born, but I certainly recognized the title, even though I don’t know the song.

    None of this crop seems particularly geezerish to me.

  16. Chakolate Jul 4th 2013 at 01:56 pm 16

    zookeeper is right - my dad used to say that during WWII in the Pacific, the Marines (his unit, anyway) used to leave ‘Kilroy was here’ wherever they went, so the Army, coming later, would feel like they’d been beat to the finish line. So to speak.

  17. DemetriosX Jul 4th 2013 at 03:39 pm 17

    Yeah, I’m not sure just how geezery any of these are. Anyone certainly ought to know Kilroy through cultural osmosis if nothing else. The Styx album came out when I was in college and my first (and only) thought was the graffito.

    The Four Freedoms may be the most problematic. It may get a little more mention in history class today than when I was in school, since our history books pretty much ended with WWII or maybe Korea and all the stuff at the end got short shrift anyway. I really only know it, because I collected stamps when I was a kid and remember the stamp dedicated to them from when I cataloged everything 30+ years ago.

    I was a little surprised to learn that I beat “Blame it on the Bossa Nova” into the world by 7 months. I really only know it because my wife’s choir where we used to live sang the German version a lot. Catchy tune, though.

    And @8 Nate, nix (which Andrea defined @10) comes from the Yiddish/German “nicht”, which literally means “not” but in the context where Mrs. Wilson uses it, it translates to “don’t”.

  18. Elyrest Jul 4th 2013 at 04:31 pm 18

    This is a famous Variety newspaper headline from July 17, 1935.

  19. Lola Jul 4th 2013 at 05:33 pm 19

    While I’d heard the phrase, I’d never heard the song and it seems amazing that that could be the case, but there it is. Well familiar with Kilroy and his here-edness, and ixnay but not the 4 freedoms. Must have slept through that. So 50/50 unless there’s partial credit for having heard the phrase. Either I’m too old, not old enough or just none too observant?

  20. Mary in Ohio Jul 4th 2013 at 06:18 pm 20

    I thought the way the Bossa Nova people were costuned it was a “Dancing With the Stars” reference, where it has probably been used “lately”.

  21. James Pollock Jul 4th 2013 at 06:51 pm 21

    See, looking at the first cartoon, my first instinct is to blame it on Rio…

  22. Mark in Boston Jul 4th 2013 at 07:00 pm 22

    You could also blame it on the blues or put the blame on Mame.

  23. Morris Keesan Jul 4th 2013 at 10:32 pm 23

    Google suggests blaming it on the boogie, the rain, “my add”, and the alcohol. Interestingly, these auto-complete suggestions come in different orders in my browser address bar and google’s search box. I haven’t bothered completing the search to find out what “my add” means.

  24. Chakolate Jul 4th 2013 at 11:42 pm 24

    Morris Keesan,

    I suspect it means ‘ADD’, Attention Deficit Disorder’.

  25. jjmcgaffey Jul 4th 2013 at 11:56 pm 25

    I had no idea about the bossa nova one. Kilroy is completely familiar, primarily from WWII fiction/non-fiction. Ixnay I also didn’t notice as anything odd (nor nix) - I do use nix now and then, though I wouldn’t use ixnay. I’m familiar with the Four Freedoms…and I know exactly how, it was in the All-Star Squadron comic book series. They put their fortress in the Worlds Fair grounds in New York(?), and the statues of the Four Freedoms were extensively discussed. Oh yeah, and the Norman Rockwell series of paintings, too, now that I think about it - though the only one I can actually remember the painting is Freedom from Want, the Thanksgiving picture. As far as I can recall they were never mentioned in school.

  26. minorannoyance Jul 5th 2013 at 12:11 am 26

    “Killroy was here” turned up on the moon in a Bugs Bunny cartoon; not sure if it was used in others. In the sixties Disney’s “World of Color” had a light comedy about a young ex-marine settling into a small town. A running joke depended on knowing about the “Killroy was here” legend. Now it’s known for somebody else’s later reference, more or less stripped of the original gag of a guy who was everywhere.

    “Blame it on the Bossa Nova” I’d call a geezer reference, unless there’s been a a comparatively recent movie or TV usage.

    It never occurred to me that pig latin might have become a geezer thing, but in my lifetime it’s always been a joke: Somebody trying very, very badly to conceal something. “Ix-nay” is a too-obvious verbal substitute for the kick under the table, the negative version of the broad wink that involves the entire face.

  27. Morris Keesan Jul 5th 2013 at 12:34 am 27

    This has been bugging me more than it should:
    “killjoy” has two ‘l’s, because it’s someone who kills joy.
    But “Kilroy”, the name of the person who “was here”, has just one ‘l’.

  28. Lost in A**2 Jul 5th 2013 at 01:05 am 28

    Powers noted the difference in the second sentence of the first response, Morris.

  29. Morris Keesan Jul 5th 2013 at 07:52 am 29

    Yes, and more people have been getting it right than wrong, but there are still enough “Killroy”s on this page to make me disproportionately annoyed.

  30. The Bad Seed Jul 5th 2013 at 08:07 am 30

    I’m 50, and I’m about equally middlingly-familiar with the bossa nova and Kilroy references, but had to look up “Four Freedoms”. Sorry, History class was never my favorite - and every single year we didn’t get to that era until the last part of the school year, when my attention was definitely waning. Every year I’d open up my history book on the first day and look up Marian Anderson, because I knew we’d never get to her, and we never did in any year.

  31. Molly J Jul 5th 2013 at 11:19 am 31

    Actually, nix is even closer (phonetically, anyway) to the German “nichts” which means “nothing.”

    All I think of when I hear “ix-nay” is Marty Feldman in Young Frankenstein. “Ix-nay on the otten-ray.”

  32. Elyrest Jul 5th 2013 at 11:26 am 32

    The Bad Seed - I wonder what period they get up to now? I think that they taught too much early American, Revolutionary War and Civil War history and not enough of the 20th century history. I got rather tired of history of wars and battles. I’m not sure if it’s because all my history teachers were male (yes gender stereotyping) or if that was just easier. Luckily I’m a reader and have now read tons of books about many of the gaps in my knowledge.

  33. James Pollock Jul 5th 2013 at 12:25 pm 33

    I had high-school history in the early 80’s, and we ended with the civil rights movement. Apparently, we were involved in some war, then, too, but we put all our emphasis in events at home.

  34. Cidu Bill Jul 5th 2013 at 12:41 pm 34

    Elyrest, all my elementary school teachers were female (all the teachers were), and our history classes went from war to war to war. Well, they are pretty good historical touchpoints, aren’t they?

    Just for the record, I knew the Four Freedoms less from FDR’s speech than from the Rockwell paintings; but it all comes down to the same thing, I guess.

  35. Elyrest Jul 5th 2013 at 01:11 pm 35

    Bill - All my teachers up till 9th grade were females - at least I’m pretty sure they were. They were all nuns and covered up from head to toe. All my high school history teachers were male though and so were my college ones. I was a history major too so I had a lot of history classes. Wars are good touchstone for understanding history, but if all the stuff between the wars is ignored then there is no real understanding of the causes and the ultimate repercussions.

    I know the Four Freedoms from FDR, but I remember them from Norman Rockwell.

  36. fj Jul 5th 2013 at 02:46 pm 36

    I, too, knew of (or at least remembered) the four freedoms from the Rockwell paintings. However, this knowledge is not at all required to get either the main gag of the “Dennis” strip, nor even the secondary gag (freedom from Dennis). Is a comic strip a geezer strip when the knowledge of the geezeresque text is not necessary to get the joke, and the person uttering the geezeresque text more or less qualifies as the epitome of geezerishness?

  37. Mark in Boston Jul 5th 2013 at 06:08 pm 37

    Let’s see, Freedom from Want, Freedom from Fear, Freedom from Religion, and Freedom from Speeches. Right?

  38. Todd Jul 5th 2013 at 10:11 pm 38

    Maybe the “freedom from want” should be “freedom from need”. I want one of those cars that Magnum drove and, if it gets damaged, I want it fixed without cost to me, including insurance payments.

    And I thought the geezer was the “pledge of allegiance”, since school children aren’t required to say it anymore.

  39. James Pollock Jul 5th 2013 at 11:06 pm 39

  40. Bob Jul 6th 2013 at 08:43 am 40

    JP - not quite a “requirement” but definitely a catalyst for bullying should a student not participate.

  41. mitch4 Jul 6th 2013 at 09:10 am 41

    I work with the Chicago Public Schools system, and have found myself at many different schools at the start of the school day. There’s a wide variety of what they do for the “morning ritual” but almost all do include the Pledge of Allegiance.

  42. Molly J Jul 6th 2013 at 11:08 am 42

    a map showing states in which the pledge is required by law — nearly all of them

  43. Molly J Jul 6th 2013 at 11:10 am 43

    Actually, here’s a more easily viewable image. Sorry for the double post.

  44. Elyrest Jul 6th 2013 at 11:13 am 44

    I’m curious if the requirements are only through grade school or in place for middle and high school. I have no memory of saying the pledge after a certain age. Of course, that might just be because it was 35-40 years ago and my memory’s shot.

  45. Elyrest Jul 6th 2013 at 11:33 am 45

    Looking at the map that Molly J linked to, I’ve lived in states that have required the pledge, a state where it was optional and a state with no law. I didn’t notice all that much difference in attitude in any of them.

  46. NoAlias Jul 6th 2013 at 04:21 pm 46

    Any kid worth his DVD has memorized Genie/Robin Williams’ speech from Aladdin “and ixnay on the wishing for more wishes.”

  47. Chakolate Jul 6th 2013 at 07:57 pm 47


    You may not be able to wish for more wishes, but they didn’t say anything about wishing for more genies. ;-)

  48. Kamino Neko Jul 7th 2013 at 05:39 am 48

    I didn’t recognize the Four Freedoms (the only Four Freedoms I know is the building where the Fantastic Four have (had?) their headquarters…I hadn’t realized it was named for anything), but that’s not a ‘not a geezer’ thing, that’s a ‘not an American’ thing.

  49. James Pollock Jul 7th 2013 at 04:52 pm 49

    I’m against mandatory recitation of the pledge of allegiance, because there is no surer way to ensure that children grow up to be able to recite the words without ever reflecting upon the meaning than to force them to repeat it over and over and over.

  50. James Pollock Jul 7th 2013 at 04:53 pm 50

    The Fantastic Four live in the Baxter Building. Or at least, they did for the first 30 years of their existence. Have they moved?

  51. Chakolate Jul 7th 2013 at 05:53 pm 51

    James Pollock @49, Yes, and lots of very young children don’t even say the words properly, let alone what they mean (witness the witless Dennis).

    It always struck me that repetition was a good way to prevent thinking; I used to be able to kill the whole hour of Mass by saying a rosary or two. You’d be amazed how easy it is to say the Hail Mary while thinking of something else entirely.

  52. Kamino Neko Jul 7th 2013 at 07:33 pm 52

    They moved into Four Freedoms Plaza after the Baxter Building got smashed. They were there in the brief period I was actually reading FF comics. Apparently, they haven’t used it since the whole Onslaught thing, and it was destroyed in 1998. Pity, it was a much better designed building for their purposes.

  53. Mark in Boston Jul 7th 2013 at 09:07 pm 53

    Why doesn’t it bother anybody that the Pledge of Allegiance was written by a Socialist?

  54. Chakolate Jul 7th 2013 at 09:34 pm 54

    Mark in Boston wrote:

    “Why doesn’t it bother anybody that the Pledge of Allegiance was written by a Socialist?”

    Well, that depends. Was he a Capital ‘S’ Socialist, or just a run-of-the-mill lower-case ’s’ socialist? Because I’m of the latter persuasion myself.

  55. Lost in A**2 Jul 7th 2013 at 10:28 pm 55

    Chakolate, according to Wikipedia, Francis Bellamy was a Socialist, before it was a Bad Word.

  56. Chakolate Jul 7th 2013 at 11:47 pm 56

    It’s still not a bad word. Not even Capital ‘S’ Socialism.

    Socialism is the *radical* notion that you deserve to eat every day. And if you as an individual can’t manage that right now, we as a society will help you out til you get back on your feet.

    Republicans can try all they want to make it a bad word.

    Sorry, but you hit a hot button.

  57. Lost in A**2 Jul 8th 2013 at 06:47 am 57

    I mostly agree with you, thus my use of capitalised ‘bad word’ above, Chakolate.

  58. Chakolate Jul 8th 2013 at 11:40 am 58


    Yeah, I see that now. I keep finding myself on these damn soapboxes.

  59. ANDREA Jul 8th 2013 at 11:42 am 59

    As you get off yours, I’ll get on mine - it’s too bad the words “under god” were added (ducking) . . .

  60. Chakolate Jul 8th 2013 at 11:55 am 60

    Nope, I’ll climb right up there with you. Ike did the US a big disservice in encouraging that addition. In an effort to demonize the ‘godless communists’, he made all the godless pay for it. We’re still paying for it.

  61. ANDREA Jul 8th 2013 at 12:01 pm 61

    When I was in sixth grade (I graduated high school in ‘67, so that must’ve been 1960 or so), I refused to stand up and say the P of A every morning. My parents were called in for a ‘discussion’. It was explained that I was not a US citizen and therefore had every right not to do so.

    The subject was dropped and as far as I can remember, I didn’t have to recite the P of A ever. I did become a US citizen and am very proud to be one (legal . . . my parents applied to emigrate from the Netherlands in ‘54 and were accepted, after taking language lessons, citizenship lessons, history lessons . . . but that opens an entirely different subject).

  62. Morris Keesan Jul 8th 2013 at 12:18 pm 62

    Agreeing with ANDREA and Chakolate, not just because it was a bad idea and blatantly unconstitutional, but because it takes away the little kids’ mondegreen “one naked individual”.

  63. Another Josh Jul 9th 2013 at 12:07 am 63

    Regarding the Kilroy graffiti, back in 1955 Isaac Asimov wrote a short story that cast a time traveler George Kilroy as the originator of the graffiti. I’d seen it before I read the story from Bugs Bunny cartoons, but that was the first time I realized it was of WWII vintage.

    Kids today have it easy, they just google something to find out about it, as someone born in the 70s I had to put these things together, and maybe remember to look things up when I went to the library.

  64. mitch4 Jul 9th 2013 at 08:34 am 64

    #63 Another Josh — I’m not sure exactly where it was, but maybe Heinlein’s The Door into Summer, in a subsidiary anecdote within the time-travel part of the plot, a somewhat unpredictable time machine may throw the “payload” (or passenger) one direction in time and the equal-mass ballast the other way, with pretty close controls over the time displacement but no control over which mass goes which way. So one day, a disgruntled grad student named Leonard Vincent has gone missing, the tme-machine shed has been broken into, and the controls seem to have been set for 500 years. Maybe Leonard will realize his dream of seeing the far future of technology … or maybe he went back and took on the identity of Leonardo da Vinci.

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