Do You Know Who Captain Queeg, Howard Beale, and Chauncey Gardner Are?

By Keyes, Ralph | The Christian Science Monitor, May 26, 2009 | Go to article overview

Do You Know Who Captain Queeg, Howard Beale, and Chauncey Gardner Are?


Keyes, Ralph, The Christian Science Monitor


We've heard a lot lately about "Harry and Louise." Nearly any well-informed news consumer of a certain age knows who they are: the fretful couple in a 1993 ad who helped scuttle Hillary Clinton's health initiative. But what about those who were in grade school then, or who lived in another country? Are they likely to get the further thought by Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse that when it comes to healthcare, we've gone beyond a "Harry and Louise moment" into a "Thelma and Louise moment" (referring to the 1991 movie whose protagonists drove themselves off a cliff)? Think of this as "retrotalk": continued allusions to past phenomena. That could be a person, product, past bestseller, old ad, antique radio show, comic strip, movie, or sitcom character. When a Newsweek writer says actress-singer Kristin Chenoweth resembles a kewpie doll, has a Billie Burke voice and goody-two-shoes past, those not around a few decades ago might be mystified by these allusions to a onetime carnival prize, an actress who died 40 years ago, and the 1765 novel "The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes." In the same magazine another writer recently observed that disgraced former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer continues to seek attention "in an 'other than that Mrs. Lincoln' way," referencing the old gag based on the assassination of Abraham Lincoln "Other than that, how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?" Retroterms like these are verbal fossils that hang around long after whatever they refer to has galloped into the sunset. Retrotalk puts a spotlight on generational divides, puts them in the limelight, if you will, as when "New Yorker" writer Jon Lee Anderson called Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "Chauncey Gardnerish," referring to Peter Sellers's simple-minded character in the 1979 movie "Being There," or when "Atlantic" blogger Andrew Sullivan referred to "Obama's rope-a-dope ways," alluding to a crafty tactic used by boxer Muhammad Ali when defeating George Foreman in 1974. To younger cohorts, retroterms such as these might as well come from Serbo-Croatian. "You sound like a broken record" doesn't make much sense to a generation that grew up with iPod buds in their ears. "Stuck in a groove" and "flip side" could also be puzzling. Today's Gen-whatevers may not know what Mrs. Robinson was up to, how big a breadbox is, or why going postal refers to murder and mayhem. Younger inquiring minds want to know: Where did all those 98-pound weaklings come from, the ones who get sand kicked in their face? …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Do You Know Who Captain Queeg, Howard Beale, and Chauncey Gardner Are?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.