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Happy Birthday, jbadger!

For your present, here's today's Forgotten English (© Jeffrey Kacirk):

ballocks up
The word ballock (Old English bealluc, "testicle") with its variant bollock, is archaic in metropolitan usage at least, save the phrase to ballocks up, variously spelled, in which it is employed frequently with no sense of its original significance and hence no idea of impropriety. Barnacle Bill the sailor, a sort of nautical Paul Bunyan, was Ballocky Bill in the original ballad commemorating his adventures -- usually amorous and on a scale in keeping with his name. The popular song heard a few years back was presumably a bowdlerized version of this ballad, with toning down of subject matter. ... There can be no doubt however that bollocks has attained complete respectability in the verb phrase to ballocks up, and may be freely and innocently used even by persons of unimpeachable modesty.
--Thomas Pyles' Words and Ways of American English, 1952


Birthday of François-Marie Arouet (1694-1778),
...who is better known by his pen name, Voltaire. According to an 1817 letter from Lord Byron to a John Murray, Voltaire offered a novel explanation as to why women had never written a "tolerable tragedy." Voltaire was said to have remarked bluntly, "The composition of tragedy requires testicles."


Actually, Barnacle Bill was a character in "Thimble Theatre", an old shipmate of Popeye's. What relation he may or may not have had to the folksong, is debatable unless we can ask the great Segar's ghost.

-The Gneech

PS: No Perry White gags, you yokels!

Comments

hossblacksilver
Nov. 22nd, 2007 06:16 am (UTC)
As for the shipmates of Popeye, in the years leading up to the second world war didn't Popeye have a scrawny little buddy called Sadsack, or something to the effect. I remember seeing a sad little guy that looked like an animated Rick Moranis in a naval uniform.

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