this guy

Today’s One Big Happy, with a now-classic mishearing:

(#1) the sky’s heard as this guy’s

In my 5/30/12 posting “Annals of mishearing”, discussion of the sky misheard as this guy, on several occasions.

From Gary Martin’s Phrase Finder site:

What’s the meaning of the phrase ‘The sky’s the limit’?

There is no apparent limit.

What’s the origin of the phrase ‘The sky’s the limit’?

Some sources claim that ‘the sky’s the limit’ was coined by Cervantes in Don Quixote. This appears to add to the list of popular fallacies about coinages attributed to Cervantes; for example, ‘wild goose chase’ and ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’. These phrases were introduced in early translations into English of Don Quixote which are now regarded by scholars as loose paraphrases of the original. None of these phrases appear in Cervantes’ original text.

The latter two phrases given above are both quite old, that is, 17th century. ‘The sky’s the limit’ is much more recent. It originated at a time of optimism and progress – in the USA just before WWI. The earliest citation I can find is from the New York newspaper The Syracuse Herald, September 1911:

“Then good luck, and remember the sky’s the limit.”

A slightly earlier, modified version of the phrase appeared in the US newspaper The Stevens Point Daily Journal, in August 1899:

“When the papers were arranged, the players got a new deck of cards, and there was not a word passed while the cards were being chuffled. The sky was to be the limit until the $50,000 was reached.”

The adoption of the expression was no doubt influenced by the invention of the aeroplane. The phrase was picked up and used as the title of a Fred Astaire/Joan Leslie film at another time of intense interest in powered flight, in the middle of WWII – 1943.

On the movie, from Wikipedia:

(#2)

The Sky’s The Limit is a 1943 romantic musical comedy film starring Fred Astaire and Joan Leslie, with music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by Johnny Mercer. The film was directed by Edward H. Griffith, and released by RKO Radio Pictures. Astaire plays a Flying Tiger pilot on leave. (Robert T. Smith, a real former Flying Tiger pilot on leave before joining the Army Air Forces, was the technical adviser on the film.) The comedy is provided by Robert Benchley (in his second appearance in an Astaire picture) and Eric Blore, a stalwart from the early Astaire-Rogers pictures.

This was an unusual departure for Astaire, one which caused some consternation among film critics and fans at the time, though not enough to prevent the film from doing well. Aside from the dancing – which contains a famous solo performance to the standard “One For My Baby”, described by Astaire as “the best song specially written for me” — the script provided him with his first opportunity to act in a serious dramatic role, and one with which his acting abilities, sometimes disparaged, appear to cope.

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