As a college student in the mid-1960s, I shared an apartment with three other guys. The four of us had relatively few things in common, except that twice a week we would gather around our TV and watch "Batman" together. It was always good fun.
I am not at all sure that the brooding Batman of the recent films is an improvement on the old television series that starred Adam West. A grown man who drives around in a Batmobile while dressed as a bat is, after all, rather silly behavior, much better suited to a campy comedy than a serious action movie.
Lately I have been watching those "Batman" episodes again and reliving not just the program but, in a sense, my college days.
Each "Batman" episode followed a predictable pattern. There was always a special guest villain who would commit some outlandish crime, and Batman would by summoned on the Batphone by the police commissioner. Superman may have changed into his costume in a phone booth, but Batman and Robin would change into theirs while sliding down their Batpoles - a much neater trick, if you ask me. Villains would always be caught by the end of the second episode each week, but they were never held in custody for long, apparently, because they would always be back within a few weeks to attempt another dastardly crime.
At least once per episode, Robin would coin a new expression of surprise or discovery appropriate for whatever was happening in the show at that time. Here are a few I've heard lately: holy guacamole, holy mush, holy Hamlet, holy deposit slip, holy flight plan, holy Audubon, holy crackup, holy ghostwriter, holy miracles, holy Luther Burbank, holy alter ego, holy voltage, holy sedatives, holy haberdashery, holy popcorn, holy lodestone, holy flypaper, holy memory bank, holy hoodwink, holy multitudes, holy jellymolds and holy holocaust.
And always there would be at least one fist fight per installment, with comic-book exclamations after each solid blow. These included Kapow, Boff, Zap, Sock, Whamm, Eeyou, Zowie, Thunk, Ooooff, Zwap, Whack, Crunch, Zlopp, Urkkk, Klonk, Touche, Zlonk, Whap, Clunk and Sock!
It must have been a lot of fun writing those "Batman" episodes back in the '60s.
In a book review several years ago I described a new book by a local author as being "a doozy." A reader, obviously unfamiliar with that bit of slang, called me to complain. He took the word to be a slam against the book, and he thought I should be more supportive of a local author. I had to explain that the word was actually highly complimentary. I even read the definition of the word from my dictionary to prove it.
I had grown up with the word doozy and
it never occurred to me that anyone else might not know what it meant.
But, in fact, there are scores of slang terms for excellence, and it is
unlikely that any of us is familiar with all of them.
book "Slang Down the Ages" by Jonathon Green devotes a dozen pages to
slang words meaning excellence. The book was published in England, so
many of the terms are more familiar there than on this side of the
Atlantic. Here are some of the words Green mentions:
rum (This is believed to be related to Rome, not the alcoholic beverage.)
wicked, nasty, bad, vicious, mean (Our youth seem to favor negative words to express positive opinions.)
pink or in the pink
yummy or scrummy
that's the ticket
just the hammer (This is believed to be related to the auction house, not the workshop.)
number one or numero uno
neat, keen, peachy-keen
Green mentions a lot more slang words meaning, more or less, the same thing, but somehow he misses doozy. Apparently he never heard of it either.