Friday, December 05, 2008

Great Googly Moogly!

As you can see in today's picture, it's a windy, cold, and damp day on the island, more like that Connecticut Yankee weather I grew up with. So the mind wanders to other pursuits, such as Oogedy Boogedy and such irrelevant things.

But first let's start with the boogies, from which all these terms arise. The boogie itself was inspired by black history and their blues form of music. It had a dual meaning of a scary, mean, ghostly bad man ("boo") but also having a very good time with some music and some booze and some fun. In fact, the terms voodoo chile and boogie chillen are almost interchangeable, since their music came over from the tribes such as in Mali, Africa. The important concept was the mixture of extreme danger and extreme fun, all at once: be afraid and smile.

Great Googly Moogly dates back to exactly the same concept, although perhaps more fun and more extreme at once, if that is possible. The Wikipedia entry fails to grasp this duality very well although it does have some nice references to both the blues artists of the 50's and current humor. It is a difficult concept unless you know a little about the blues and what "the boogies" are.

This is all leading up to Kathleen Parker's editorial about oogedy-boogedy. In this she conveniently lays out as an attack on the over-religious right in the Republican Party, and it perhaps her third editorial about their problem with the "God squad."

Not so fast, Kathy!

The term originally comes from ooga-booga and while its origination is unclear and does seem to be associated with superstitious beliefs, it is basically a parody on dumb people who are depicted as living like apes. Ask a kid about how cavemen or tribes in Africa communicated, they will probably say "like oogabooga." In a sense it was a deliberate slam on black people, perhaps the same people who celebrated the blues: one can almost hear a KKK person saying it. But significantly, notice the b-o-o-g part on the end, which should mean something to us now, both linguistically and etymologically speaking.

So Kathy's column today invented another variant of that slam-phrase, twisting its meaning in a very sardonic and sarcastic manner. I'm sure she has no idea of what she was saying with those words. Ho-ho-ho, you bad girl, Kathleen! Oogedy-boogedy, girl chile!

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