Historically Speaking

Making sense of it all!

Posts Tagged ‘1960s’

Cool Beans

Posted by Admin on September 22, 2016

When you hear someone comment with cool beans (aka kewl beans, kool beans, and cool beanz), it means that the speaker approves of the comment or the situation that prompted him/her to say cool beans.  Not only is this an idiom, according to Time magazine, it’s been in the Oxford dictionary since 2014.

For fans of the sitcom, “Full House” which aired from 22 September 1987 through to 23 May 1995, DJ Tanner used the expression so often that fans and followers of the show followed suit.  But the writers of “Full House” weren’t the originators of the expression.

The idiom shows up in Marlene Fanta Shyer’s book “Grandpa Ritz and the Luscious Lovelies” published by Scribner Books (an imprint of Simon and Schuster) in 1985.  There on page 30, this appears:

“It’s cool beans!” That’s what Betsy always says when she thinks something is fantastic, and I couldn’t help wondering what she’d say if she could see me now.

In the 1960s, quaaludes, amphetamines and barbituates known as uppers and downers were referred to as cool beans because they resembled jellybeans. They were also known as beans, wacky beans, and cool beans.

The drug-induced positive reaction would therefore be attributed to cool beans thereby creating a positive impression of cool beans.

The reference to cool beans didn’t appear elsewhere in Idiomation’s research. While cool beans as an item is from the 1960s, the expression indicating approval is from sometime between the 1960s and 1985 when it appeared in Marlene Fanta Shyer’s book.

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Tune In

Posted by Admin on June 20, 2011

The phrase “tune in, turn on and drop out” was THE buzz phrase kicked off by Dr. Timothy Leary on September 19 1966.  The man most associated with encouraging an entire generation to drop acid — LSD — made the most of the expression “tune in” which means “to pay attention or be receptive to other’s beliefs or thoughts.”  By the time Timothy Leary spoke to over 30,000 hippies at the Human Be-In at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco on January 14, 1967, the buzz phrase had been turned around a bit and was now “turn on, tune in, drop out.”  The meaning of “tune in” however remained unchanged.

When the October 9, 1960 edition of the Miami News hit the streets, it carried an article written by Clarke Ash, Sunday Editor of the newspaper, about Round 2 of the “Great Debate” between then-Senator John F. Kennedy and then-Vice-President Richard M. Nixon.  The headline read:  “The Decision? Tune In Next Month.”

A generation before that, and with the phrase growing in popularity, the Portsmouth Times ran a story on January 25, 1936 entitled, “Tune In On Al Smith.”  The Al Smith in question was former New York Governor Alfred E. Smith with his message of constructive government and sound Americanism.

On May 24, 1929 the Spokesman Review newspaper of Spokane, Washington published an article entitled “Classics Furnish New Words.”  It indicates that the expression “tune in” was part of the vernacular in 1929 and understood by newspaper subscribers.  The article read in part:

With the correct logical training that comes almost imperceptibly as one reads an inflected language, there goes along with it in Latin and Greek the matter of important, interesting and exhilarating content.  To tune in mentally with Homer, Euripides, Lucretius or Vergil is a real experience.  It has been often done.  The saddest thing about it is, of course, that those who don’t do it, can’t see it.

Radio hit a fevered pitch as the new “in thing” for households in 1922.  The New York Times along with other notable major newspapers began running radio columns to keep their readers in the know about the new medium.  In fact, radio editor Lloyd C. Greene of the Boston Daily Globe wrote a column on September 10, 1922 about the success of single tube radios and their users in the story “Citizen Radio Broadcasts.”

I have been interested in reading the different articles on remarkable reception appearing in the Globe as I myself have been experimenting with a single tube outfit with more or less success.

He added that “all could be tuned in at will by varying the value of the secondary condenser.”  And so began the induction of the phrase into every day language.

The expression was picked up by flappers and such and injected into the jargon of that generation and so successfully that the Boston Daily Globe edition of May 8, 1921 ran an article entitled, “Movie Facts and Fancies” which that identified “tune in” as part of the “new slang evolved through the popularity of the motion picture.”

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Outside The Box

Posted by Admin on October 4, 2010

Think outside the box ” originated in America in the late 1960s and is based on the nine dots puzzle.  The concept is that limiting one’s thoughts is like thinking inside a box that can hold a finite number of ideas. 

By reaching outside the box, the assumption is that one will find other — perhaps more exciting — ideas that are not found inside the box.  It is believed that these new ideas from outside the box will invigorate the creation process and bring fresh  meaning to some of the ideas still in the box.  In the end, the final product will look and feel innovative.

Various authors from the world of management consultancy claim to have introduced it. The earliest citation that I have found comes from the weekly magazine of the US aviation industry entitled Aviation Week & Space Technology.  On July 1975 the magazine reported:

We must step back and see if the solutions to our problems lie outside the box.

The concept of thinking outside the box, as mentioned before, comes from the nine dot puzzle.  It appears in Sam Lloyd’s  Cyclopedia of Puzzles published in 1914. 

The nine dot puzzle is an intellectual challenge where one has to connect the dots by drawing four straight, continuous lines that pass through each of the nine dots, all the while never lifting the pencil from the paper.  It’s difficult to achieve and yet achievable however only by thinking outside the box.

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Fuzz

Posted by Admin on August 24, 2010

The word came to mean the police  in American in 1929, when it was used as underworld slang and it gained popularity in the 1930s.   The Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang marked the word as being  of unknown origin in its 1929 edition.  Two years later in 1931, it was recorded in Tramp and Underground Slang as meaning: “a detective, prison guard or turnkey.”

The explanation for hanging the term fuzz on the police is that when the police arrived at the scene of a crime, there was always a fuss.  And so, when a gang of small-time drug or liquor dealers and runners were  about to be raided by the police, they would refer to this as a fuss which eventually became fuzz.  The word fuzz stuck as slang for law enforcement officers.

The term surfaced in Britain in the 1960s and was used in both the UK and the US during the hippie era of the 60s.

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Cop Out

Posted by Admin on August 19, 2010

Some time during the 1930s, the phrase “cop out” became slang for pleading guilty, especially to a lesser charge as the result of plea bargaining. But the big change came in the 1950s when to “cop out” meant the individual made a full confession of some crime or misdemeanour.  This was also known as “copping a plea” and usually, but not necessarily, involved confessing to the police.

It didn’t take long before it meant backing down or surrendering, especially a criminal or unconventional lifestyle. By the 1960s, the phrase “cop out” morphed into meaning a person who sidestepped issues, avoided fulfilling a duty or promise, or refused to fulfill expectations despite previous assertions to the contrary.  This was achieved by making excuses or taking the easy way out, usually by finding some somewhat believable pretext that excused the individual from a situation. 

In other words, “copping out” became slang for refusing to shoulder responsibilities in an attempt to avoid real or perceived personal or professional troubles.

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Garbage In, Garbage Out (or GIGO)

Posted by Admin on March 25, 2010

This term is from old-school computer days.  In 1964,  the term was shortened to GIGO.  Both the term and the acronym refer to the fact that a computer will process any input data regardless of whether it makes sense and what results is gibberish for output.  A well written compute program will reject input data that is obviously incorrect however such programs require considerably more effort to create.

The term and the acronym is the response most IT people will use when a non-IT person complains that a program didn’t perform as anticipated despite the fact that incorrect information was inputted.  Over the past few years, the term and acronym have also been used to describe misfires in human decisions based on incomplete or inaccurate information.

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