Saturday Morning Oys – April 23rd, 2022

Thanks to Andréa for this subtle groaner:

And another from Andréa:

Sources say that either the exclamation “Great Scott” is not attached to any particular person with that name; or else may be associated with Sir Walter Scott, or with U.S. General Winfield Scott. But here, with the talk of Antarctica and the South Pole, surely they intend some kind of glance at famous and unfortunate polar explorer Robert F Scott?

And another from Andréa, who calls this “Barely an oy”. Also fodder for you dialectologists out there.

34 Comments

  1. So is “Saladins” a reference to Salah ad-Din (Saladin), founder of the Umayyad dynasty of Caliphs?

    Or “paladin”, from the Latin, meaning originally something like “high official” but which later came to mean “eminent warrior” or similar?

  2. Carl: I couldn’t resolve that one either.

    I also can’t figure out the pun in the “marvelous” panel. I mean, I know it’s worms/words, but what do worms have to do with the illustration?

  3. Carl Fink, I wouldn’t put much significance on pinning down a historical understanding of “Saladins”. All the artist needed was a sense that the name would fit with picturing a siege and attack on a castle. With just that much reality, it could just be used for the “salad” contained within it.

  4. I guess the Frog Applause isn’t really a pun. But there is something startling about hitting the word “worms” after seeing what is going to be celebrated as a marvelous scene. And the worms can be standing in for “the grave” which casts a serious air upon the dancing. (Also mysterious but a little disturbing is the glint of light flashing out from the center of the panel.)

  5. The worms one reminds me of the Two Ronnies sketch

    “Good evening. I’m squeaking to you tonight, once again, as the chairman for the Loyal Society for the Promention of Pismronunciation, a society formed to help people who can’t say their worms correctly. I myself often use the wrong worms, and that is why I was erected charming of the society.”

  6. The XKCD title text was even more Oy: “At first I didn’t get why they were warning me about all those birds sitting on the wire, but then I understood.”

  7. What is the problem with the house offer that is too much? If I were a real estate broker, or if it were my house, I might want to go with that one.

    There is good evidence that “Great Scott!” refers to General Winfield Scott, the hero of the Mexican-American War and the longest-serving commanding general of the U.S. Army. But most people don’t know that, so I like the Robert F. Scott suggestion.

  8. Thanks, padraig, that additional joke was indeed a good one.

    I trust that most are familiar with the very old joke about a person who is said to be “outstanding in their field”, and turns out to be a farmer, visualized literally standing out in their field of land.

    But recently I have been noticing scenes of church services (maybe particularly funeral services, or that may be an artefact of watching murder mysteries) where the pastor says “Let us now be upstanding for [deceased person]” and the congregation stands up! The first time I saw it, I thought it must be a joke, just like the “understood” and “outstanding” ones. But then I’ve seen it multiple times, and begin to think it’s just a peculiarly standardized way of saying “Stand up now, please” and not at all meant as a quip.

  9. I was about to quip that the “Great Scott!” reference might have meant either “Eric…” or “…Hilburn”, but then I noticed that the “Buz Sawyer” strip was dated 1958, which was 13 years before Hilburn was born. This happened to lead to the following quote by Roy Crane: “…graphic pictorialization is the essence of the comic strip medium and that is what makes it a unique art form. When newspapers cut the size of the comic strip until there is no room left for anything but dialogue, then that will be the end of comics”, or as Watterson put it:

  10. “But recently I have been noticing scenes of church services (maybe particularly funeral services, or that may be an artefact of watching murder mysteries) where the pastor says “Let us now be upstanding for [deceased person]””

    Also for weddings, when the bride comes in.

  11. Assuming that the Saladins are salad-based entities, wouldn’t they be expecting and welcoming oil and vinegar?

    Maybe dumping ketchup or Pepsi Cola or something that doesn’t go with salads on them would be more effective?

  12. It makes me shiver just to think of it.

    And seemingly another stereotypical physiological reaction to the cold.

  13. I also find the “too marvelous for worms” on to be a CIDU, though I do get that “words” has been replaced.

  14. Etymonline says that the original meaning of upstanding is to be standing and today’s more common meaning only goes back to 1863. I was familiar with the phrase (and haven’t lived in the US for 23 years now) and associated with non-religious ritual, like for groups such as Rotarians or something. Sort of an alternative to “All rise” in a courtroom. I ran “please be upstanding” through Google Ngrams, and it seems to have had occasional popularity, finally becoming consistent in the 1960s, really taking off in the mid-80s and peaking in the early 2010s. Looking at some of the early uses confirms my original association. It’s from stuff like the Masons or professional societies, especially when proposing a toast.

  15. I’m utterly puzzled about the “Too marvelous for Word” picture. For example, to add to the confusion: To me it looks like she is kicking him between the legs. Which might explain the “explosion” effect (though the bright light seems to be a bit too far to the left for that).

  16. I agree with Markus that they are making contact, but I don’t think it’s a “kick”, except in the sense that they both might be enjoying it. As for “worms”, there is a crude German expression “der böse Hosenwurm”, effectively equivalent to “one-eyed trouser snake”.

  17. I’ve been viewing some court videos of late. There are certain groups, largely in the US, that believe they are not subject to most laws. I won’t mention the name as it could attract some outsiders. Anyway, part of their modus operandi is idiosyncratic interpretations of words and phrases. As an example, they frequently claim that “driving” only means operating a vehicle for commercial purposes, so they don’t need a driver’s license as they are “traveling”.

    Another you see on occasion is when a police officer or judge tells them something and asks them if they understand, they reply “no”. When pressed, they will further expound with something like “I do not stand under your laws! That’s what it means when you ask if I understand.”

  18. I made myself be upstanding when the pastor said “Please be upstanding.”

    Now I’m banned from that church.

  19. Carl Fink, I wouldn’t put much significance on pinning down a historical understanding of “Saladins”. All the artist needed was a sense that the name would fit with picturing a siege and attack on a castle. With just that much reality, it could just be used for the “salad” contained within it.
    Plus the army of Saladin (is it really so unreasonable for the members of which to be called Saladins?) did lay siege to Crusader fortresses.

    And it sounds reasonably similar to “Saracens”.

  20. “I made myself be upstanding when the pastor said “Please be upstanding.”
    Now I’m banned from that church.”

    So when I left I saw a sign outside that said “WET PAVEMENT.” And I did, and I got arrested.

    Following orders is hard!

  21. I do suffer from what Frank Muir called “literalism”.

    “Men’s Room Out of Order. Please Use Floor Below.”

    “Dogs Must Be Carried On The Escalator.” Now we have to drive all the way home and get the dog.

  22. While I cannot come up with any – I also tend to take to things literally. I will actually sometimes have to ask Robert what is meant as I read whatever it is and come up with ideas which make absolutely not no sense. While my grammar (written and spoken) is not the best – some things that I read have such poor grammar that I am confused by what is meant.

    And I grew up thinking that Paladin was a name and it belonged to someone who was “a knight without honor in a savage land” – so it, of course, it must have something to do with cowboys.

  23. As a kid seeing the old show, I misunderstood “HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL”. It’s two disjoint statements, but I thought it meant he had to travel because he carried a gun or something like that.

  24. And of course Paladin’s first name was “Wire” — it’s right there on his business card:

    Have Gun, Will Travel
    Wire Paladin, San Francisco

  25. Brian in STL, I also did not for a long time understand the intended structure of the title “Have Gun Will Travel”. I didn’t have a firm idea of what it must mean, but similar to you, thought it must be some form of a conditional.

  26. My son was once cought pointing his phone at a ready meal. When asked why he said the instructions said “remove sleeve and film lid”.

    I believe there is/used to be some canned food with the heating instructions “pierce can and stand in boiling water for 15 minutes”.

    I remember a one-liner from a comic: “You know when it says on a packet ‘Open Here’ – what’s the drill when it says ‘Open Somewhere Else’?”

  27. Remember that every character in a wire was at a premium. Senders almost always opted for concision over avoiding ambiguity. Sometimes this did result in confusion.

  28. I guess Paladin’s business-card printer charged by the word.

    It used to be that you could get your very own cable address within your city, at which you could receive telegrams. It was like registering your own domain name, except that it was only within a particular city. Nowadays the card would say “email paladin@paladin.com“.

    When Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley set up shop in New York City, they got the cable address PARKBENCH.

  29. I guess they would have charged Paladin more for adding “I have a” and “I will” and “to work for you”.

    It always made sense to me – but then again, my dad might have explained it to me.

    It was not until just a few years ago that I knew what otherwise a paladin was. Made sense the song mentioned that he was a knight.

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