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October 17, 2002
12:09 AM   Subscribe

Imagine my glee in finding Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable online and searchable. Then, imagine my glee in finding out that Tom and Jerry have a non-animated past. AND they're a drink. AND they're a play!
They (the originals, that is) used to be wildly popular. Now they're all but forgotten, except in cat / mouse form. What wildly popular "works" will our great grandchildren forget completely? (I had to wash my cache out with soap after that last one)
posted by condour75 (11 comments total)

 
Ooooh... gleeful indeed.
Thanks! These are just the sort of links I come here to find.
posted by FilmMaker at 12:14 AM on October 17, 2002


I would call that a predecessor, but not exactly a past. Is there anything solid to indicate that the cartoon's originators were in any way influenced by the book? Personally, I suspect it's just the name of the drink.

But hmm. I think I'm making Tom and Jerries this Christmas. Sort of an alky cocoa.
posted by dhartung at 1:23 AM on October 17, 2002


Wow, thanks! I've been looking for something along these lines.
posted by Hall at 3:33 AM on October 17, 2002


(I had to wash my cache out with soap after that last one)

And well you should! Thanks for the laugh!
posted by nofundy at 4:45 AM on October 17, 2002


Didn't Simon & Garfunkle originally perform as Tom & Jerry?
posted by kerplunk at 4:50 AM on October 17, 2002


kerplunk, yes, they did.

A quick search of Tom and Jerry cartoon links seems to indicate there's no connection other than coincidence. Apparently, Tom was originally named Jasper, and at least one website suggests the names were chosen out of a hat.
posted by UnReality at 5:44 AM on October 17, 2002


Thank you! Brewer's is an incredible resource--I've been meaning to find a copy, never thinking it might be online, right under my nose on Bartleby's (which is already on my favorites).

If you enjoy Brewer's, you might also really enjoy the works of Jeffrey Kacirk, including his Forgotten English desk calendar. (His use of original sources such as 17th-19th s. and early 20th s. dictionaries makes you want to somehow find them and read them all yourself. Kacirk is surprisingly entertaining and rarely as dry as the material might sometimes suggest.)

There are some interesting Word of the Day sites, too--this one, available in email, can be fun and goes pretty deep into etymology/history.

Here's part of an old calendar entry from Kacirk:

GRAVE-MERELS

It is thought unlucky on the Borders to tread on the graves of unbaptized children... He who steps on the grave of a stillborn or unbaptized child, subjects himself to the disease of grave merels... There is a remedy for the grave merels, though not of easy attainment. It lies in the wearing of a sark*, thus prepared: The lint must be grown in a field which shall be manured from a farmyard heap that has not been disturbed for forty years. It must be spun by an old Habbitrot, that queen of spinsters; it must be bleached by an honest bleacher, in an honest miller's milldam, and sewed by an honest tailor. On donning this mysterious vestement, the sufferer will at once regain his health and strength.

-William Henderson's Folk-lore of the Northern Counties of England, 1879

..............................
*Evidently "sark" is a Scottish word for shirt, unlike snark or snark.

posted by Shane at 7:20 AM on October 17, 2002


It must be spun by an old Habbitrot, that queen of spinsters; it must be bleached by an honest bleacher, in an honest miller's milldam, and sewed by an honest tailor.

Gosh what if you went through all that only to find out the tailor was cheating on his wife. Ho hum back to the undisturbed-for-forty-years manure heap.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:47 AM on October 17, 2002


Thanks Shane, great link. I actually have a hard copy of Brewer's. It was apparently permanently borrowed by my mother from the East Meadow Public Library on June 12 1956. What a classic to own. But I'm glad it's online for people whose parents had more conscience, or less foresight.
posted by anyasar at 3:10 PM on October 17, 2002


It was mixed in Tom & Jerry bowls and served in mugs of the same name.

Fascinating. This has just solved a mystery of mine.

I became a homeowner this spring. In the basement of the house was a little alcove that apparently was used as a bar a long time ago. In one of the alcove's cabinets we found a stack of very old (pre-rock&roll) LPs, in another an old-fashioned ice crusher -- and in another was a set of a dozen white mugs with "Tom & Jerry" on them in somewhat gothic script.

We've spent months wondering idly why anyone would inscribe ceramic mugs with the names of a cartoon cat and mouse, or if there was a couple named Thomas and Geraldine who decided to get personalized mugs...

The photo on that page (of a Tom & Jerry bowl) has the same inscription with almost exactly the same font. Another mystery solved. Thanks, Metafilter!
posted by sesquipedalia at 3:28 PM on October 17, 2002


I actually have a hard copy of Brewer's. It was apparently permanently borrowed by my mother...

Cool, anyasar! There's something reassuring about a real book that feels and smells like a real book. Also, I have a certain similarly "borrowed" foreign language dictionary that constantly conflicts me between greedy joy and guilt! I know what you mean...

posted by Shane at 8:12 PM on October 17, 2002


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