Batty stuff

Over on ADS-L, there’s been riffing on batshit and other bat-crazy stuff. Which led things to the comic strip Shoe and its character Batson D. Belfry:


Senator Batson D. Belfry, beltway blowhard, was originally a take-off of former Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neil. He has evolved over the years and, these days, typifies what outside-the-beltway Americans consider to be the quintessential politician: You can’t trust him as far as you can throw him, and he’s so big, you can’t throw him very far. (link to the strip site)

On the strip, from Wikipedia:

Shoe is an American comic strip about a motley crew of newspapermen, all of whom are birds. It was written and drawn by its creator, cartoonist Jeff MacNelly, from September 13, 1977 until his death in 2000. It has since been continued by Chris Cassatt, Gary Brookins and Susie MacNelly.

While not politically oriented in the style of strips such as Doonesbury, Shoe often pokes fun at various social and political issues of the day (especially when Senator Batson D. Belfry makes an appearance).

Two representative strips:


characters, left to right: Shoe, The Perfessor, Belfry


The Perfessor and Shoe

Backtracking a bit: the association in English between bats and insanity (presumably from the erratic flying of bats), as in the slang adjactive batty ‘crazy’ and the idiom (have) bats in the belfry seems to be originally American and relatively recent (beginning of the 20th century), despite some ingenious story-telling that would make it earlier.

On to batshit, N, Adj, and Adv, from GDoS:

batshit n. also batcrap. 1. lies, nonsense, rubbish; also as excl. [play on bullshit] [first cite 1943]

batshit adj. … insane, crazy, also as adv.; thus go batshit v., to become insane, to act crazily; drive batshit v., to drive mad. [first cite:] 1966 R. Stone Hall of Mirrors (1987) 202: You’re batshit.

An entertaining development this morning on ADS-L, from Stephen Goranson:

Speaking of Batson D. Belfry…, in 1990 an American Egyptologist using the name Batson D. Sealing submitted an article to the British periodical Discussions in Egyptology. The article claimed to reproduce from an old New Orleans periodical a text in an unknown language. It was a fake periodical issue, but imitated an issue of a real one. The text was in Demotic, which the new article misleadingly translated. It was actually a (modern) translation into Demotic of parts of the Coptic Gospel of Thomas. It was set in type for publication and was written up in The Financial Times as a great discovery before being recognized as a hoax the next week


One Response to “Batty stuff”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    Addendum with the irrelevant West Indian slang batty ‘anus’ < botty ‘bottom’, as in Janaican offensive slang batty boy ‘male homosexual’.

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