I Love It When You Talk Retro: Hoochie Coochie, Double Whammy, Drop a Dime, and the Forgotten Origins of American Speech

Ralph Keyes, Author . St. Martin’s $25.95 (310p) ISBN 978-0-312-34005-6

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. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/16/2009
Release date: 03/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 310 pages - 978-0-312-60640-4
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-4299-5247-7
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