Saturday, September 12, 2009

Parvum Opus 338 ~ Rememberies

More on Necker Knobs

From Anne DaBee:

Okay — re necker's knobs", which is the name my 80-year-old remembery recalls: the knob was on the left for left-handed driving, leaving the right hand free for whatever it wanted to try to get away with, assuming a female passenger... That's MY story, and I'm sticking to it. And I don't believe I'm a "blue nose", thank you, and certainly not male. I also don't believe I told Dave a whatever-knob could get stuck in either his chest or his sleeve, but a desperate mother can say strange things, and sometimes fear is more effective than a thousand words of good advice.

I agree with Anne. Don’t know why Herb H. called people blue noses who used the term necker knobs. According to Fred, the people who used the term were usually jocks who used the knobs, but oddly enough, not the car guys, the street drag racers, car modifiers, and so on.

And from Bill R:

“Risking death to look cool is the ultimate in cool.”

Remember the fighter pilot’s credo: “I’d rather die than look bad.”

A variation on “Death before dishonor.”

Floy Floy Revisited

I could make an entire career writing about floy floy. Somewhere in the world right now, someone is thinking about floy floy and may find the Parvum Opus columns about it. Here’s the newest entry and a most interesting one, from new reader Ben W.

I read your post on the Slim Slam song, found it interesting, and wanted to add my two cents. I'm Black, adopted into a white family, enjoy House music, am familiar with elements of club culture, and grew up listening to 50's doo wop and rock and roll. [Note: Ben told me he’s 40 years old, when I asked, so he was listening to 50s music after the fact.]

Floogie: a male reference. The flat-foot reference seems to be male in this case. I'm sure a female could have been told she was flat-footed but she would have to be a very bad dancer perhaps with male-ish attributes. Generally flat-footed was a term used with males. Floogie could be good (hip or a hipster thus a play on words) or bad (a hip slacker or just a slacker).

Floy floy: a feminine reference. An easy person.

When I read the lyrics I see two hip or semi hip people out on the town. They are skating through life, living fast, and perhaps involved in an illegal activity.

I heard that Little Richard (LR) developed his version of Tutti Frutti from Slim & Slam and what piqued my interest was LR's reference to an*al sex in the original dittie. With that in mind I thought Slim & Slam may have been making similar innuendo in some of their songs. I think this is the wrong track, however; I think it is good to think of the two terms as masculine and feminine. Not that the actual genders match the roles. [*Asterisk inserted to evade filters. Not sure what the reference was in Tutti Frutti, though.]

I think the reference to "get those floy floys straight" is fascinating and potentially revealing. Set them straight as in straighten up and fly right, clean up your act, lead an upright life, or get your act together? I think this may be the case. If floy floy's are boys then would they need to be "straightened" out? I am not familiar with Black gay culture in the 1930's so I do not know if the term "straight" would be used.

Ben’s second note:

Black cultural aesthetics are so interesting: reinventing meaning — bad/good, defining and promoting one's own heroes, and defining positive and negative based on the subject's intent, not inherent value, among other things. After a closer reading I'm wondering if the lighthearted feel good song is an homage to jitterbuggers, floogies, and floy-floys. People (floogies and floy-floys) seen in a negative light who can actually help alleviate/take your troubles away? Sounds similar to the perception some people held of black folk in the 1930’s. A veiled allegory? A party song? Are Floogies and Floys-Floys heroes or anti-heroes? Did the jitterbuggers see themselves as floogies and floys-floys?

The last sentence “Well, all right then; get those floy-floys straight!” takes on interesting possible meanings given these questions.

Appreciating your floy-floy.

A lot to chew on here. Again, here’s a link to the song by Slim Gaillard. And another one, the complete recording by Slim and Slam. And here it is by The Mills Brothers and Louis Armstrong. It’s just too good.

Idiots Are the New Dummies (She Screamed)

Contribution from another new reader, Rebecca R.:

ripped from the headlines --- an Amazon book review i found…we've officially reached the end of culture. Welcome to the new depths of mediocrity:

2.0 out of 5 stars overly complicated
For a "Dummies" book, this was overly complicated and difficult to read. If you need clearer information, I would recommend the complete idiots guide. Published 3 months ago by C. Tuley

Bee & Flower

Perhaps you’ve used Bee & Flower soap from Shanghai, China. I first saw it when my brother brought a box home as a gift from Vietnam. It seemed wonderfully exotic then; I’ve since bought it in Chinese groceries here. Beautifully packaged in flowered paper with a pretty paper band around it and a gold seal, it has a charming promotional insert in four languages, Chinese, French, Spanish, and English. So often packaging material from abroad features some pretty entertaining English, but this is almost perfect, with only a couple of dubious constructions:

“Bee & Flower” Rose Soap

Another sparkling product of “Bee & Flower” brand

We now recommend you a new product of ROSE scented soap for your enjoyment. It is made of selected materials and natural ROSE essence, which gives you a delightful and lasting fragrance. Just give it a try and you’ll no doubt be convinced.

First, it should be “recommend to you”. Perhaps the writer confused the indirect with the direct object construction (“we recommend the soap”), or confused the verb with tell or sell (“we tell you about the soap”; “we sell you the soap”). I also thought you’d have to be convinced before you buy the product, but that’s just quibbling. You may have doubts, and still purchase.

The Sandalwood Bee & Flower soap description on tells us the manufacturer is Prince of Peace, and is even more seductive, in a refined way, with no discernable errors though again the convincing time line is a little confusing; that is, using the soap is convincing after you’ve bought it, but the promo must convince before purchasing, except that the printed material is sealed inside the wrapper:

Bee & Flower Sandalwood Soap gently and luxuriously cleanses the skin and has a pleasing sandalwood scent. It is so delightful to your skin! Our "Bee & Flower" Sandalwood Soap, made from selected materials, gives you delightful and lasting fragrance. It not only possesses all the merits a sandalwood scented soap may have, but also does no harm whatever to your skin. Just try it, and you will see our sincere recommendation is rather convincing.


Los Angeles

Lately I’ve heard Los Angeles pronounced with a hard G in movies from the 1950s — Ang-el-es, which must have been in common use then and there, keeping in mind that those movies were made in Hollywood. Los Angeles grew from a small town founded in the 18th century and of course the Spanish pronunciation is An-hel-es. Since the ‘50s, pronunciation seems to have stabilized in the Anglicized version with the G sound of the City of Angels: An-jel-ez.

New on

Remember 9/11

Friday, September 11th, 2009

Russian artist Zurab Tsereteli created a monument to 9/11 called “To the Struggle Against World...

UK convicts 3 men of huge terrorist plot

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

In Great Britian Abdulla Ahmed Ali, Assad Sarwar, and Tanvir Hussain have been convicted of plotting terrorist...

Release of Lockerbie bomber sets precedent for future deals

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

An arithmetic thought problem: If you divide 270 dead people into 900 million pounds, how many of the dead...

Truth smears Van Jones

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

Green Czar Van Jones is gone, forced to resign by smears, he says. Actually he was forced to resign because of...



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Trivium pursuit ~ rhetoric, grammar, and logic, or reading, writing, and reckoning: Parvum Opus discusses language, education, journalism, culture, and more. Parvum Opus by Rhonda Keith is a publication of KeithOps / Opus Publishing Services. Editorial input provided by Fred Stephens. Rhonda Keith is a long-time writer, editor, and English teacher. Back issues from December 2002 may be found at; 2009 issues are at Feel free to e-mail me with comments or queries. The PO mailing list is private, never given or sold to anyone else. If you don't want to receive Parvum Opus, please e-mail, and I'll take you off the mailing list. Copyright Rhonda Keith 2009. Parvum Opus or part of it may be reproduced only with permission, but you may forward the entire newsletter as long as the copyright remains.

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