OVERRIDE

I Love It When You Talk Retro

Hoochie Coochie, Double Whammy, Drop a Dime, and the Forgotten Origins of American Speech

Ralph Keyes

St. Martin's Press

An entertaining and informative book about the fashion and fads of language

Today’s 18-year-olds may not know who Mrs. Robinson is, where the term “stuck in a groove” comes from, why 1984 was a year unlike any other, how big a bread box is, how to get to Peyton Place, or what the term Watergate refers to. I Love It When You Talk Retro discusses these verbal fossils that remain embedded in our national conversation long after the topic they refer to has galloped off into the sunset. That could be a person (Mrs. Robinson), product (Edsel), past bestseller (Catch-22), radio or TV show (Gangbusters), comic strip (Alphonse and Gaston), or advertisement (Where’s the beef?) long forgotten. Such retroterms are words or phrases in current use whose origins lie in our past. Ralph Keyes takes us on an illuminating and engaging tour through the phenomenon that is Retrotalk—a journey, oftentimes along the timelines of American history and the faultlines of culture, that will add to the word-lover’s store of trivia and obscure references.
 
"The phrase “drinking the Kool-Aid” is a mystery to young people today, as is “45rpm.” Even older folks don’t know the origins of “raked over the coals” and “cut to the chase.” Keyes (The Quote Verifier) uses his skill as a sleuth of sources to track what he calls “retrotalk”: “a slippery slope of puzzling allusions to past phenomena.” He surveys the origins of “verbal fossils” from commercials (Kodak moment), jurisprudence (Twinkie defense), movies (pod people), cartoons (Caspar Milquetoast) and literature (brave new world). Some pop permutations percolated over decades: Radio’s Take It or Leave It spawned a catch phrase so popular the program was retitled The $64 Question and later returned as TV’s The $64,000 Question. Keyes’s own book Is There Life After High School? became both a Broadway musical and a catch phrase. Some entries are self-evident or have speculative origins, but Keyes’s nonacademic style and probing research make this both an entertaining read and a valuable reference work." --Publishers Weekly


BOOK EXCERPTS

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Chapter One

Talking Retro

 

A list compiled every fall at Beloit College attracts much attention. This list gathers cultural references that might puzzle first-year students. "You sound like a broken record," for example, doesn't make much sense to a generation that grew up with iPod buds in their ears. Terms such as "stuck in a groove" and "flip side" could also be puzzling. Today's eighteen-year-olds may not know who Ma Bell is, why 1984 was a year to be concerned about, or how to get to Peyton Place.

 

Watergate is problematic too. Three de cades
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REVIEWS

Praise for I Love It When You Talk Retro

Praise for I LOVE IT WHEN YOU TALK RETRO:

"The phrase “drinking the Kool-Aid” is a mystery to young people today, as is “45rpm.” Even older folks don’t know the origins of “raked over the coals” and “cut to the chase.” Keyes (The Quote Verifier) uses his skill as a sleuth of sources to track what he calls “retrotalk”: “a slippery slope of puzzling allusions to past phenomena.” He surveys the origins of “verbal fossils” from commercials (Kodak moment), jurisprudence (Twinkie defense), movies (pod people), cartoons (Caspar Milquetoast) and literature (brave new world). Some pop permutations percolated over decades: Radio’s Take It or Leave It spawned a catch phrase so popular the program was retitled The $64 Question and later returned as TV’s The $64,000 Question. Keyes’s own book Is There Life After High School? became both a Broadway musical and a catch phrase. Some entries are self-evident or have speculative origins, but Keyes’s nonacademic style and probing research make this both an entertaining read and a valuable reference work."--Publishers Weekly

“At last, a genuine study of the sort of history you will actually want to know about. This book reveals the root of a large part of our culture and the way modern language has developed.”--Albert Jack, author of Red Herrings and White Elephants and Shaggy Dogs and Black Sheep

“We love I Love It When You Talk Retro. How modern language came to be, and how it trickles into our daily speech is a fascinating subject. Ralph Keyes has done a fine job.”--Jane and Michael Stern, authors of The Encyclopedia of Bad Taste, The Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, and Roadfood 

“A fun, fact-packed and eminently browsable guide, which cuts the mustard, hangs a few myths out to dry, and should play in Peoria.”--Henry Hitchings, author of The Secret Life of Words

 “Everyone needs this book. Younger people need it to decipher the allusions and metaphors of their elders and older people need it to remind them of the days when today’s retro was cutting edge. Ralph Keyes has outdone himself with this intensely useful and highly entertaining work. I Love It When You Talk Retro is an absolute gem.”--Paul Dickson, author of The Dickson Baseball Dictionary, Family Words, and War Slang

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Ralph Keyes

  • RALPH KEYES is the author of The Quote Verifier, The Writer’s Book of Hope, and The Courage to Write. He lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where he lectures and is a Trustee of the Antioch Writers’ Workshop.

  • Ralph Keyes Nindy Silvie
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Available Formats and Book Details

I Love It When You Talk Retro

Hoochie Coochie, Double Whammy, Drop a Dime, and the Forgotten Origins of American Speech

Ralph Keyes

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

St. Martin's Press

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