Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Dog's Bollocks Part Two


Ten more awesome canine idioms and dog metaphors.



The first ten include The Dog's Bollocks.


Hound Dog

Elvis Presley's Hound Dog was actually written for Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton in 1952.



The label is a derogatory reference to a mixed-breed or mongrel with implications of dog like promiscuity.


Two young songwriters met the blues singer and described her as brusque and badass. 

"We saw Big Mama and she knocked me cold. She looked like the biggest, baddest, saltiest chick you would ever see. 

And she was mean, a 'lady bear,' as they used to call 'em. She must have been 350 pounds, and she had all these scars all over her face."


In a Rolling Stones interview, the writers recalled coming up with the idea of a "tale of a woman throwing a gigolo out of her house and her life". 

At issue was the acceptable vocabulary. Once the euphemisms were determined, it took "like twelve minutes" to write the song.


You ain't nothin' but a hound dog
Quit snoopin' 'round my door
You can wag your tail
But I ain't gonna feed you no more


Hair of the Dog

An expression meaning a small measure of an alcoholic drink, intended to cure a hangover. 

The original expression "the hair of the dog that bit me" was a medieval cure for rabies. Applying the hair of a rabid dog to the dog bite would cure the resulting rabies . . .


or make additional severe infections hastening death from rabies.


Keep a dog and bark oneself.
If, let us say, you are in an elected, high profile position with intense global scrutiny and you can't manage to stop making asinine claims . . .


and you have an inability to stop broadcasting fraudulent accusation on social media . . . 


and you are under investigation . . . 


you might want to follow the guidance of your legal council or your press secretary (before you fire him) or your caddy, chef, gardener, or almost anyone else you employ . . .
  

and stop pretending you make good decisions while on your own.


In other words, there is no point in having advisors if you refuse to follow their advice.


Top Dog and Underdog

Aside from the obvious connotation of a dog fight or dog pile, Gestalt therapy uses the term to describe internal sabotage. (Feel free to engage in a preemptive eye roll.)



Basically, the top dog keeps you employed and out of jail while the underdog wants to stay in bed eating chocolate (at least that is what my underdog wants to do.)



The therapeutic goal is awareness of both dogs resulting in insight and healthier relationships. . . . or lithium may be an option.


See a man about a dog.

In the early to mid-1800's, the phrase was originally an euphemism for betting at the dog races. The phrase became a way of excusing oneself in polite society to engage in vulgar activities like using the restroom or going to the bordello.


That dog won't hunt. 

Along with other folksy terms involving barking, wrong trees, and old dogs, the saying is a reference to plans that will not work. 

It was a down-home favorite of some politicians including President Lyndon B. Johnson.


Originally, the expression was, Pride is a dog that won’t hunt. After the Antebellum era, abstaining from the seven deadly sins were less important than things like survival. 


However, we will see if hubris, pomposity, and egomania is a dog that won’t hunt. 


Spectre Dogs, Black Dogs, and Hell Hounds
The story of canine spectres goes something like this:



Someone who was a relative to someone went by someplace where something bad may or may not have happened . . .

at midnight, while inebriated . . . 

in fog, with no moon . . . 

when an immense black dog (always compared to a Newfoundland), with shaggy hair and eyes like fire . . .
appears before the terrified and inebriated wanderer . . . 
and then disappears with or without smoke and the smell of brimstone.


The idea for the Sherlock Holmes story, The Hound of the Baskervilles was based on tales of the notorious Squire of Dartmoor, Richard Cabell. He was so disliked he was called "Dirty Dick".


Strong language.


Rumored to have sold his soul to the devil, he appeared as a ghostly huntsman, riding over the moors with a pack of black dogs. 

In Arthur Conan Doyle's tale, a bloodhound and mastiff mix was painted with phosphorus to appear ghostly.


Because potential encounters with Hell Hounds required a constant vigil, feelings of anxiety, fear and depression were euphemistically called a black dog

Horace, in 40 BC, wrote about the symbolism.

"When I rise my breakfast is solitary, the black dog waits to share it, from breakfast to dinner he continues barking." - Samuel Johnson 1783


Gabriel's Hounds

Apparently, avoiding packs of spectral hounds, led by monstrous deities who were seeking human souls, was a concern at one point in history. The hunting packs have gone by several names including the Devil and his Dandy-dogs and Gabriel's Hounds.


In some areas, flocks of migrating geese are called Gabriel's Hounds, referring to the ungodly noise they make which coincidentally sound like Gabriel's Hounds.


Dog Days of Summer

Sirius, the Dog Star, becomes prominent during the summer months. Per astrology, the star is connected with a myriad of unpleasant things including mad dogs.



"The Sea boiled, the Wine turned sour, Dogs grew mad, and all other creatures became languid; causing to man, among other diseases, burning fevers, hysterics, and phrensies (frenzies)." - Clavis Calendria, 1813



That is lots of summer unpleasantness.



Dog Eat Dog

"A dog-eat-dog world" describes the ruthless nature of the world with an implicit warning to completely annihilate your competition, potential competition, and pretty much everyone else or you are in danger of your own annihilation. (That is the Trump version.) 


The saying, like several idioms, started as the opposite. "Dog does not eat dog" was the original reference meaning that although dogs fight and kill each other, they are typically less vicious than other animals.


The Dogs of War

Cry 'Havoc!', and let slip the dogs of war - William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar


Dogs of war can mean to the soldiers in war, actual dogs used in combat or the chaos and destruction of war.

"We have already given in example one effectual check to the dog of war by transferring the power of letting him loose from the Executive to the Legislative body." - Thomas Jefferson


The label war dogs currently describes mercenaries, private arms dealers, black marketeers, or shoddy military journalists. The Dogs of War by Frederick Forsyth popularized the term and describes war dogs as "enthusiastic and amoral proponents of military action."


The dogs of war don't negotiate
The dogs of war won't capitulate,
They will take and you will give,
And you must die so that they may live
Pink Floyd


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