51 Comments

  1. Who was the old-time animated cartoon character who liked to use the word “connoisseur”, and gave it a very distinctive pronunciation?

  2. Ben Franklin once composed a mock epitaph for himself:

    The Body of
    B. Franklin
    Printer;
    Like the Cover of an old Book,
    Its Contents torn out,
    And stript of its Lettering and Gilding,
    Lies here, Food for Worms.
    But the Work shall not be whlly lost:
    For it will, as he believ’d, appear once more,
    In a new & more perfect Edition,
    Corrected and Amended
    By the Author.

  3. @Mitch: Bugs? Daffy? I can kind of hear it in both of their voices, though more likely Bugs.

  4. Is it worth mentioning that his jacket is dusty?

    The art threw me off–it looks as if the guest and Mr. First Edition are groping the speaker.

  5. Thanks DemetriosX, but I think of the “con-NIZE-ier” pronunciation as one of the character’s signature quirks, and that he was a feline of some kind – – if not a domestic cat like Sylvester, then a big-cat like the Pink Panther. Who was the one with a sort of sputtery speech pattern that could be interrupted/corrected by energetic head-shaking.

  6. Obviously a gathering of literati. Translation: “First husband, and yes, his taste in clothes is atrocious.”

  7. TY, DX, it may well be Snagglepuss! His page on Wikipedia and some cartoon wiki both have a “catchphrases” section, that mentions “Heavens to Murgatroyd!” and “Exit, stage left!” but not “connoisseur” (or “con-NIZE-ier”) — but that’s just one word.

    Oh, and TY woozy as well. I don’t think I was as familiar with Top Cat rtho.

  8. We used to share a common zeitgeist, didn’t we? You could say, “Heavens to Murgatroyd!” and everybody would understand you. You could cross your arms an blink hard, and people would know. Now I say something like that and get laughs from grandparents, and blank stares from students.

    Not that I want to get into a ‘ah, the good old days’ dealie. I’m much happier in the here and now.

  9. ” I don’t think I was as familiar with Top Cat rtho.”

    He’s the most tip top!

  10. One of my favorite threads was lost in the Apocalypse: six or seven years ago we were discussing how, since an entire family watched the same television set, and to a lesser extent saw the same movies, we were more likely to share cultural references.

  11. Yeah, when Armstrong landed on the moon, most people saw it on their only TV, with the whole family (and possibly the extended family, watching together.

  12. I’m not so sure that we’ve lost common cultural references. Sure, we don’t all watch the same television programs, but we almost all use the internet, and there are a lot of memes and viral sensations that the majority of the population is familiar with. e.g. “what color is this dress?” or “covfefe.” It’s true that there are people – many of them on this blog – that aren’t up on the latest internet memes. But there were also people, back in the day, that didn’t watch TV, and weren’t up on the latest pop culture references back then.

  13. Let’s face it.

    We just can’t fathom that there has been enough time for such a huge and significant group of people to reached sentience without being exposed to the reference that we consider obiquetuous. Nor can we fathom that such a large group of people not only reach sentience but are considered more culturally relevant than we are. Like wise we can’t really get that there is a singnificant block of cultural relevance that has popped up in the short time that has elapsed in such quick ascension to sentience. And perhaps, weirdest of all, we don’t understand when we point out the obvious shortcomings of their meteoric rise to sentience to these strange but poorly deprived young souls they don’t seem to appreciate it. The seem to have to weird concept that what they know is enough.

    In other words, we’re getting old.

  14. I remember a Snagglepuss TV commercial for a breakfast cereal where he starts off with the word of the day:

    “The word of the day is GOURMET. Now I know it looks like gour-mett, but it’s pronounced gour-may. French, you know.”

    At the end: “Come back tomorrow for the word CONNOISSEUR. Now I know it looks like con-noisier, but it’s conness-sewer.”

  15. I was not able to find the gourmet Snagglepuss commercial but I found several other for Cocoa Krispies and learned something new. Bert Lahr sued Kelloggs on the grounds that kids would think it was him doing the voice and endorsing the cereal. Outcome: every commercial has “Snagglepuss voiced by Daws Butler” displayed.

  16. Old is not merely recognizing old cartoon characters, but knowing what actors they were inspired by.

    Snagglepuss & Funky Phantom: Bert Lahr
    Top Cat: Phil Silvers as Sgt. Bilko
    Yogi Bear: Art Carney
    Doggie Daddy: Jimmy Durante
    Foghorn Leghorn: “Senator Claghorn” from Allen’s Alley
    Snooper (of Snooper and Blabber): “Archie” from Duffy’s Tavern
    Odie (King Leonardo’s faithful retainer): Ronald Colman
    Jabberjaw: Curly Howard of the Three Stooges
    Beaky Buzzard: “Mortimer Snerd”, Edgar Bergen’s other dummy
    Clyde Crashcup: Richard Hadyn

    Should be noted that many voice artists, when not doing a direct parody, mutated the voices away from simple impersonations to better match the cartoon characters.

  17. re Inspirations, add
    Calvin and the Colonel: Freeman Gosden (Kingfish) and Charles Correll (Andy), of Amos and Andy

  18. Mark in Boston sez

    At the end: “Come back tomorrow for the word CONNOISSEUR. Now I know it looks like con-noisier, but it’s conness-sewer.”

    Yesterday, when I spent an unmentionable amount of time searching things like “comic mispronunciations connoisseur” I ended up with many well-meant guides to approved pronunciations of mostly French-derived words. There was a strong leaning among these that the ending of connoisseur in English could best be -sir or possibly -syur, but definitely NOT -sewer. (I think the “syur” is aiming at a palatalization but not a full vowel from the y)

  19. See, now that I look at it, it’s pretty obvious that Jabberjaw is Curley Howard (he’s even drawn to look like him); back in the day, I thought it was obvious he was based on Rodney Dangerfield, because he used the “don’t get no respect” line. (I was confused for a while there, and had to make sure there wasn’t a different anthropomorphic late seventies Saturday-morning cartoon shark that I was remembering… which actually isn’t really all that crazy, when you think how desperate those Hollywood types are for an idea, any idea, and how often stuff does get copied.) Anyway, it makes sense it retrospect, because the voice artists rarely do just a one-note impersonation; they usually blend several sources together. Like The Brain from “Pinky and the Brain”, the voice actor said it’s like 60% Orson Welles and 40% Peter Lorrie, or something like that, possibly with a third reference thrown in too..

  20. “Old is not merely recognizing old cartoon characters, but knowing what actors they were inspired by.”

    Actually, I think that’s in indication of being being curious and having a trivia mindset. All the original voices (except Bert Lahr in the Wizard of Oz) were before my time so I never *had* to learn who the original voices were and many of my generation didn’t care, but I couldn’t *help* but get curious.

    Or it’s a sign of being ancient but… sadly… my parents who… well, my father… my mother had a radio and television deprived childhood … would know the original (who’d lecture “Don’t you get that they are imitating??” To which we’d mutter “geez, what an out of it old fogey”) are in their late 70s at the youngest.

  21. “voice artists rarely do just a one-note impersonation; they usually blend several sources together.”

    And then impersonators repeat phrases over and over until the original personage is best known for a line they never said. “Luke, I am your father”

  22. The “known best for a line they never said” trope precedes radio/TV, of course. Sherlock Holmes in the canon never said “Elementary, my dear Watson” either (and certainly never said “Quick, Watson, the needle!”).

  23. “Sherlock Holmes in the canon never said ‘Elementary, my dear Watson’ either”

    He was in a LOT of movies, though. Are you sure it isn’t a line of dialogue from any of them?

  24. That’s why I specified “in the canon.” Sherlock has also been in a lot of other stories, movies, TV shows, comics, jokes, songs, etc. by authors other than Doyle. Some are interesting and/or good. But they Don’t Count.

  25. “Sherlock has also been in a lot of other stories, movies, TV shows, comics, jokes, songs, etc. by authors other than Doyle. […] they Don’t Count.”

    You are, of course, free to determine for yourself what counts as “canon” and what does not. But insisting “Sherlock never said that!” when confronted with a film clip of Sherlock saying that might look a bit silly. (Assuming such a film clip exists). Not as silly as the Mormon revisionism of whichever novel it was they rewrote when it hit public domain, but silly.

    Now, I’ve done a few such decisions, myself. The Mentalist was a fine TV show that only has three seasons… shame it was never renewed for a fourth. Frank Herbert never wrote any sequels to Dune. I wonder what JJ Abrams has been up to, since he was never hired to ruin either Star Trek OR Star Wars.

  26. “You are, of course, free to determine for yourself what counts as “canon” and what does not. But insisting “Sherlock never said that!” when confronted with a film clip of Sherlock saying that might look a bit silly. (Assuming such a film clip exists). Not as silly as the Mormon revisionism of whichever novel it was they rewrote when it hit public domain, but silly.”

    That’s what Canon is.

    If I said (and I have many times) that Sherlock Holmes never said “Elementary, My dear Watson” and you showed by a film clip, I wouldn’t feel in the least bit silly. I’d simply say “Well, that’s a movie. He never said it in any of the books” and I wouldn’t feel I was in anyway moving any goal posts. And if you ask me rhetorically with a wave of the hand “Well, what do you considered ‘canon'” I’d answer with a perfectly straight-face “any of the short stories or novels written by Arthur Conan Doyle and published for commercial sale in his lifetime but not any of the stage plays or unpublished manuscripts or advertising ventures.”

  27. “That’s what Canon is. ”

    No, it isn’t. Canon implies a shared definition of what is, and what is not, included. People can (and frequently do) disagree, and the definition is only “binding” on those who share that definition.

    Allow a slight digression.
    Suppose I make the claim that Luke Skywalker’s father is not Darth Vader. When you ask “uh, didn’t you see ‘The Empire Strikes Back’?”, and I answer that TESB isn’t canon because it was written by Leigh Brackett rather than by George Lucas, well… that in no way obligates you to indulge in my definition.

    Sherlock has fans, of the devoted sort, who form societies and go to meetings and such, and THEY have strong opinions on “canon”, and they also like to pretend that the different Sherlock stories all form a single narrative despite having internal inconsistencies. So it would be just as valid to have a “canon” constructed that omitted stories with inconsistencies, resulting in a smaller, but more cohesive universe of stories than the set “everything Mr. Doyle published in his lifetime”.

    And, yes, a more expansive definition of canon, which includes unpublished works, or stories authorized but not written by Mr. Doyle, or even (gasp) if someone was familiar with the movies and NOT the original stories, maybe even a definition of “all the movies”.

    Circling around back to the original point.
    It’s possible, that while the print stories of A.C. Doyle don’t contain “Elementary, my dear Watson”, one (or more) of the movies does, and that’s why people remember this as the “essential” Holmes quote. It’s just one of a whole bunch of possible sources of the misquote, which also includes the possibility that people who just casually read the stories (and thus don’t even have a “canon” understanding of them) misremember the dialogue. A lot of people remember parody better than the original… ask Sarah Palin, who is best remembered for a line Tina Fey used while impersonating her, because, to a substantial portion of the populace, it sounded like something she would have said.

  28. ” It’s just one of a whole bunch of possible sources of the misquote,”

    If you accept that it is in fact a “misquote,” as I indicated in the first place, I’m not sure what we’re still arguing about. (Unless you just like to argue, of course.)

  29. “If you accept that it is in fact a “misquote,” as I indicated in the first place”

    It’s a misquote of AC Doyle. It may or may not be a misquote of Sherlock Holmes (for the reasons stated previously). Your assumption that the one implies the other is what was being challenged.

  30. I mean, an easier way to resolve this is if I agree that “Sherlock Holmes never said that” is categorically correct, in the sense that nonexistent people don’t say things.

  31. “You are, of course, free to determine for yourself what counts as “canon” and what does not. But insisting “Sherlock never said that!” when confronted with a film clip of Sherlock saying that might look a bit silly. (Assuming such a film clip exists). Not as silly as the Mormon revisionism of whichever novel it was they rewrote when it hit public domain, but silly.”

    Except it’s canon what is canon.

    Thing is, although it’s arbitrary and up to individuals, plural, it is not up to individuals singular. That’s how folklore and common knowledge and evolution of language work.

    And Sherlock Holmes canon is more straightforward than most. It’s the works by Conan Doyle. And movies and radios don’t count.

  32. Actually, I really do hate the concept of Canon.

    But the statement “Sherlock Holmes never said ‘Elementary, my dear Watson'” as meaning he never said it in the books by Conan Doyle and nothing else counts is so eminently reasonable and level-headed any argument that what one chooses as authority is subjective is just silly and frou-frou and nutty.

    Sherlock Holmes never said “Elementary, my dear Watson” is just fact.

    And Squirrel Girl did defeat Thanos… the watcher *said* it was the real Thanos and not an alternate reality or a projection nor any way non-occurant so… it’s canon…

  33. “Except it’s canon what is canon.”

    Literally doubling down, eh?

    “Thing is, although it’s arbitrary and up to individuals, plural, it is not up to individuals singular. That’s how folklore and common knowledge and evolution of language work.”

    Everybody can make their own decision on the matter. If you assume (note this word) that what you have decided is same as what someone else has decided, you may be right. There are certainly cases where this likelihood is high. But it’s still just an assumption. This is true whether you’re arguing about Sherlock Holmes or books in the Bible.

    “And Sherlock Holmes canon is more straightforward than most. It’s the works by Conan Doyle.”
    “But the statement “Sherlock Holmes never said ‘Elementary, my dear Watson’” as meaning he never said it in the books by Conan Doyle and nothing else counts is so eminently reasonable and level-headed any argument that what one chooses as authority is subjective is just silly and frou-frou and nutty.”

    You’ve switched from arguing from facts to arguing from faith.

    It doesn’t matter how reasonable a definition of which works are canonical you’ve settled on… that still doesn’t require anyone else to follow your choice. Assuming that other people MUST share your opinion because no other opinion is possible is the height of hubris.

    “Sherlock Holmes never said ‘Elementary, my dear Watson’ is just fact.

    Agreed. Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character, and as such has no real existence. Non-existent people don’t say things. Therefore, Sherlock Holmes never said “Elementary, my dear Watson”. QED.

  34. “You’ve switched from arguing from facts to arguing from faith.”

    Who ever said I was arguing from facts?

    “Assuming that other people MUST share your opinion because no other opinion is possible is the height of hubris.”

    And yet, language and traffic laws not only exist, but function.

    What’s wrong with hubris?

    “Agreed. Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character, and as such has no real existence. Non-existent people don’t say things.”

    Disagreed. Fictional characters have fictional but not real existence and to say they, the character[1], did something is to say in their fictional existance they did it. So Sherlock Holmes plays the violin and never said “Elementary, my dear Watson”.

    Which is to say the movies, radio shows, and cartoons, parodies and stage plays are not Sherlock Holme’s fictional existence.

    No if you want to get *weird* consider Billy, Sherlock Holme’s page and errand boy. He was invented for the stage (and played by Charlie Chaplin) and thus should not exist. But he was retro-written in and does appear.

    [1] Not to be confused with they, the concept of the character. The subject of “Yogi Bear brought joy to millions of Baby Boomers in the 60s” is not the same subject as in “Yogi Bear frequently stole picnic baskets”.

  35. “‘You’ve switched from arguing from facts to arguing from faith.’
    Who ever said I was arguing from facts?”

    Well, besides you? Nobody. (““Sherlock Holmes never said ‘Elementary, my dear Watson’ is just fact.”)

    There are at least two possible definitions for what makes a “Sherlock Holmes story”. One, offered by you, is “any of the stories authored by AC Doyle and published within his lifetime.” That’s a reasonable definition. But it isn’t the only one possible. I suggest that as a definition for what makes a “Sherlock Holmes story”, “A story in which the character Sherlock Holmes appears.” is ALSO a reasonable definition. You’ve chosen to reject it, but that doesn’t make it any less reasonable.

    “Fictional characters have fictional but not real existence and to say they, the character[1], did something is to say in their fictional existance they did it.”

    Saying they did it doesn’t make it true.
    I remain constrained by objective reality, and now that we’ve established that you are not, well…. whatever.

    So I’ll fix your original assertion so that it is actually true, and walk away.
    “AC Doyle never put the words ‘Elementary, my dear Watson’ in Sherlock Holmes’ mouth.[2]”

    [2] unless he did, and someone edited it out prior to publication.

  36. “Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character, and as such has no real existence. Non-existent people don’t say things. Therefore, Sherlock Holmes never said “Elementary, my dear Watson”. QED.”

    Couldn’t the same argument be made about him having a mouth to put words into?

    “Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character, and as such has no real existence. Non-existent people don’t have mouths. Therefore, AC Doyle could never have put the words ‘Elementary, my dear Watson’ in Sherlock Holmes’ mouth. QED.”

  37. In the case of Sherlock Holmes, “canonical” is the foundation of the game of Sherlockian “scholarship”. Pretending Holmes was real and that Watson was a usually honest biographer, intellectual fans would make and defend assertions about the Great Detective and his cases. The idea is to combine what’s in the text of the stories with actual historical and scientific data, with flashy Holmes-style inferences a major part of the fun. If you’re going to claim Watson is accidentally or deliberately inaccurate, you better make a case (Example: there is no such rank as Prince of Bohemia, so scholars claim Watson was concealing the identity of a very real and very famous person. The debate is who Watson was protecting.). The game is enlivened by the fact that Doyle, cranking out freestanding magazine yarns, never really worried about consistency between or even within stories. And if some historical or scientific impossibility made for a good story, so be it.

    The game encompasses everything from impressive real-world research to sheer whimsy (mystery novelist Rex Stout wrote a piece “proving” that Watson was in fact a woman — the invisible and long-suffering Mrs. Holmes! FDR, a bit more straight-faced, asserted that Holmes was in fact American). The challenge is to work within the constraints imposed by Doyle’s actual stories. There are many highly regarded books, pastiches and movies that don’t always play according to Doyle — questioning the death or even the original existence of Professor Moriarty, for example. Sherlockians may praise some of these as excellent renderings of the characters, but they’d disallow the use of, say, “Seven Percent Solution” in their mock scholarship (except to the extent Nicholas Meyer based details on the canon).

    In modern times the concept of fictional canons has spread. In the world of comic books, it began as an effort to keep characters and history consistent across a wide range of monthly magazines (You can’t kill off a villain in Batman and have him pop up in a Superman story. Not without explaining, anyway). As other fictional franchises began to grow, the choice became a mass of freestanding works (like the Bond films, up until the Daniel Craig era) or an approximately coherent universe and timeline.

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