Tuesday, August 01, 2006

August 1, 2006
Finally, a break in the case of the moving “supper” usage:

“I just wanted to drop by and toss my two cents in on the Supper vs. Dinner thing. Ever since I can remember the noon meal has been lunch or dinner and the evening meal supper.

“BUT—Keep in mind in Victorian times and even shortly thereafter, it was common to refer to eating as ‘supping’.In old diaries and novels from this time it is not unusual to find phrases along the lines of: ‘Let's sup before we go’, ‘We supped upon Chicken’, and so on. In a Civil War era diary that was kept by my great, great Grandfather Martin V. Eckley he wrote of having some hard bread for his breakfast and ‘not knowing when next I'll sup’. In another entry he mentions getting and accepting an usual invitation to ‘sup at noon’ with an apparently well-to-do family. When he later describes this noon meal he says, ‘The supper was laid out grand!’. So, there ya go. My two cents!"
—Chris Casey, Maniac #946, Sierra Vista, AZ

Thanks Chris. For me, this totally nails the newspaper reference of James Talbot having “supper” at the Goddell home in Caldwell, Kansas before going to the classic gunfight (at 1 p.m.) where he killed Mike Meagher. The year was 1881 and in Victorian parlance, he supped before he whupped.

And speaking of Victorian times and vernacular, I got a great book last week in Bisbee (at Va-Voom!), “The Encyclopedia of Erotic Literature Vol 1” edited by C. J. Scheiner. For all the naysayers who claim cowboys and miners didn’t swear in the Old West, here is an example that blows that canard to kingdom come (both puns intended): “F--- me, dearest, one quick f---, since we were born to f----, and you adore c---, like I like c--t, and a world without c--- play is a meaningless nothing.” The date for this bawdy little sonnet is 1527. Moving right along, most of the words in HBO’s Deadwood are rife in erotic literature, with examples from 1833 (Two Nights of Excess), 1866 (Nunnery Tales), 1875 (Pauline the Prima Donna I), 1879 (The Pearl), 1887 (The Autobiography of a Flea) and 1888 (My Secret Life) to name but a few.

But, with that said, the glaring unauthentic aspect of the dialogue in Deadwood is the incessant usage of the F-bomb as in f ----in’ this and f---’in that. There are no examples of this in any of the above tomes, and this kind of usage appears to date from WWII, although my ex-mother-in-law insists it started with the movie version of Mash.

I’m not kidding (she was a sheltered Catholic).And in a perverted sense she’s about half right. it was about the time of Mash (early 1970s?) that those words came out of the closet.

Here’s a good example of a bawdy paragraph from the 1880s. See if it compares in your mind to Deadwood’s so-called Victorian meter:

“I have seen both [French whores] on the same day, and then both were f----ed, but I usually copulated but once daily. I was in good health, and one daily emission of semen kept me so and seemed as needful to me as sleep. I had much lewd pleasure in comparing mentally their two c---ts, there being a most striking difference in the look of the two.”
My Secret Life, 1888

I don't hear it. To my ears, the dialogue in Deadwood sounds like Detroit, 2006. Still, Kathy loves the show, and stops the tape from time to time and raves about the "Shakespearean lilt to the language," but, to my ears, it's like rubbing cock on a blackboard.

"It is much easier to quote Shakespeare than to read him"
—Old Vaquero Saying

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