Famous wolf on the Yellow Brick Road

In today’s comics feed, the One Big Happy from 10/4, in which Ruthie mondegreens:


Yes: the song “We’re Off to See the Wizard”, from the 1939 movie of The Wizard of Oz, with we’re off (mis)heard as Rolf.

On the name, from Wikipedia:

Rolf is a male given name and a surname. It originates in the Germanic name Hrolf, itself a contraction of Hrodwulf (Rudolf), a conjunction of the stem words hrod (“renown”) + wulf (“wolf”).

So ‘wolf of renown’, or ‘famous wolf’. Then, if your personal or family name is Rolf (or some variant) or Rudolf / Rudolph, the wolf is your onomastic totem animal, available to you “off the shelf”, should you choose to use it. (Since Arnold is, roughly, ‘strong as an eagle’, my onomastic totem animal is the sea eagle, though I haven’t adopted it.)

That brings me to one notable bearer of the name. From Wikipedia:

Ida Pauline Rolf (May 19, 1896 [in the Bronx] – March 19, 1979) was a biochemist and the creator of Structural Integration or “Rolfing”.

… Rolf graduated from Barnard College in 1916 … In 1920, Rolf earned her PhD in biological chemistry under the supervision of Phoebus Aaron Theodore Levene, of Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. … After graduating, Rolf continued to work with Levene at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research in New York City.

… Structural Integration (or Rolfing) is a type of manual therapy that aims to improve human biomechanical functioning as a whole rather than to treat particular symptoms. Rolf began developing her system in the 1940s. Her main goal was to organize the human bodily structure in relation to gravity. Rolf called her method “Structural Integration”, now also commonly known by the trademark “Rolfing”.

(#2) 1989 edition of the book Rolfing

Structural integration is a pseudoscience and its claimed benefits are not substantiated by medical evidence.

And then to a play on the name Rolf, suggesting the growl of a dog. From Wikipedia:

(#3) Rowlf at the piano: risible, irenic, and musical

Rowlf the Dog is a Muppet character, a scruffy brown dog of indeterminate breed, though part Corgi, with a rounded black nose and long floppy ears. He was created and originally performed by Jim Henson. Rowlf is the Muppet Theatre’s resident pianist, as well as one of the show’s main cast members. Calm and wisecracking, his humor is characterized as deadpan and as such, is one of few Muppets who is rarely flustered by the show’s prevalent mayhem. He is very easy going and a fan of classical music (particularly Beethoven) and musicals.

Rowlf is one of the clearly adult Muppet characters. Since he’s given to deadpan wisecracking and loves show tunes, we can speculate about his sexuality (though the Sesame Street people just hate it when people do that).

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