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Lone figure at Getty Museum © Robert Sommers 2017

Friday, May 19, 2017

Heavens to Murgatroyd

Vlad was asking me how I decided what to write when there is so much low hanging fruit waiting to be picked?

Good question. There are plenty of people out there commenting, pontificating and hair splitting so although I was once much more thorough, I really don't see the need anymore to turn over every topical rock.

Although some of you do get your news from the blast, I would not recommend it. While I think I get closer to fair and balanced than Fox News does, we all have our slants. I'm just a little more honest about mine.

But I am in no way comprehensive. I suggest Google News and Politico, perhaps Real Clear Politics if you want comprehensive and truly balanced. That villain of the right, the New York Times, does a pretty good job. Or do what I do, read everything, left and right and figure it out for yourself. Townhall gives you a pretty good snapshot into the conservative mind, albeit in a somewhat evangelical and red meat fashion.

When I want candy or to merely reinforce my pre-existing political preconceptions, I grab for Huffington Post or Talking Points Memo. That's pretty much my news round up.

And then there are you guys.

Vlad said something funny yesterday which got me laughing. He and his wife Natasha were talking about the etymology of the phrase "Heavens to Murgatroyd." She thought it was Shakespearean. "No honey," he said. "It is Snagglepussian."

And Vladimir was indeed right. I looked it up. If you don't remember, Snagglepuss was a character on the Yogi Bear cartoon put out by the folks at Hannah Barbera.

Snaggletooth
Snagglepuss was a mountain lion. He actually first appeared on the Quick Draw McGraw show in 1959 as Snaggletooth. He got his own gig on the Yogi Bear Show, a show which debuted in 1961 and ran two seasons.  He also had bit parts on Augie Doggie & Doggie Daddy and Snooper & Blabber. Not easy for a coral colored feline to find work. Later he managed to eke out an existence on some Yogi spinoffs in the 1970's.

Heavens to Murgatroyd is a close linguistic cousin to Heavens to Betsy. And while there are plenty of Betsys, Murgatroyds are apparently a rarer breed. There are ten Murgatroyds in Gilbert and Sullivan's comic opera Ruddigore from 1887.

But the name is far older.
Where then did the librettist Sir William Gilbert get the name? It seems that Murgatroyd has a long history as a family name in the English aristocracy. In his genealogy The Murgatroyds of Murgatroyd, Bill Murgatroyd states that, in 1371, a constable was appointed for the district of Warley in Yorkshire. He adopted the name of Johanus de Morgateroyde - literally John of Moor Gate Royde or 'the district leading to the moor'.
By the way, Snagglepuss is a gay icon in some circles, said to be one of the gayest cartoon characters ever to inhabit a cell. Actually came out in a later incarnation even.

Heavens to Betsy?

First usage found was in the US journal Ballou's dollar monthly magazine, Volume 5, January 1857 as part of a dialogue. While some have made allusions to flagmaker Betsy Ross, jury is still out on this one. Some lexicographers feel that the origin will never be solved although there is a school of thought that a betsy might have been a pet name for a frontiersman's gun. Davy Crockett named his favorite rifle Pretty Betsy. In the TV show where he is portrayed by Fess Parker, the flintlock is known as Ol' Betsy.

And that's how I come up with my material. Now exit, stage left.

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