4/1/10

MoToR manual - Endorsed by unborn actors.

It's a quaint idea that you could once own a book that had complete repair information on every type of car. In 1945, cars were much, MUCH simpler. So, the claims made in this ad for the MoToR repair manual are plausible, even if their rules of capitalization aren't.

"Now any repair job can be 'duck soup' for you! Take it from me, Sean Penn. I'm from the future!" I don't like what MoToR is implying about Future Sean Penn. It seems thay mean to say that repairing old cars is so easy, Sean Penn could do it. Did they even see Mystic River? When Penn is (was) born, MoToR will have regretted their pejorative attitude about his intelligence.

 What's he doing with his hand? Maybe in years past holding your hand in this way was a gesture of reassurance? Maybe he's having his elbow reattached just out of shot? Maybe he's shielding his eyes from flying metal debris as he mills the cylinder walls of a Hudson with his other hand... while simultaneously doing an endorsement? This book really must make car repair "duck soup"! Future Sean Penn should be wearing goggles while doing that, even if a book is making it "duck soup" for him. He'll need his sight to read all the scripts he'll receive in his career as a successful actor, once he's exists.

Speaking of anachronistic phrases, there's another one in the ad copy: "dope".
One million years ago (in the 1940's or something), "the straight dope" meant information, especially from a reliable source, or of a secret nature. If someone was telling you how to do something, they were giving you "the straight dope". The word origin is originally Dutch "doop" for any thick gravy or dipping sauce. It came to be used for liquid opium, and after that, for drugs in general. The use of the word to mean "inside information" is probably from horse racing, and being tipped off before the race which horse had been drugged to improve performance.

In traditional cartoon animation, the work is planned out on large sheets of paper, printed with a grid. Animation being what it is, without these "dope sheets" it would be impossible to keep track of what drawing goes where and for how long each drawing is exposed to the film. The other term for these is "exposure sheets", but "dope sheets", apart from being fun to say, shows us when the mechanisms for cartoon animation were established: 1940something.

Lastly, The Straight Dope is a question and answer column that's been published in the Chicago Reader since 1973. Readers send questions to writer Cecil Adams and he researches the answers to interesting questions like "can fire ant bites kill you?". Always fascinating. There are much worse ways to spend a lunch hour.

Good luck finding out why "duck soup" means "something easy". Apart from the Marx Brothers film, there's only speculation.

3 comments:

Mat Black said...

Sean Penn, Hugo Chavez, Raul Castro? Enough said.

Ypek said...

What is the difference between a "Hesselman" and a gasoline engine?

PhilAreGo@gmail.com said...

I didn't know either, but I looked it up and apparently it was...

"a hybrid between a petrol engine and a Diesel engine introduced by Swedish engineer Jonas Hesselman in 1925. It represented the first use of direct gasoline injection on a spark-ignition engine used to power a road going vehicle. The Hesselman engine saw use in heavy trucks and buses in models produced in the 1920s and 1930s."

Sounds crazy, huh?

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