Follow-up: BOOIESUZYKQHHHH

From the annals of Cartoonland spelling bees, in my 5/31 posting “Ultimate spelling bee”, this Bob Eckstein cartoon:


(#1) The contestant offers BOOIESUZYKQHHHH as the spelling for the given pronunciation /búwisúzikyú/ (or something very close to that)

In creating this cartoon (hastily — if you’re doing a bunch of cartoons a day, you don’t have a lot of time for reflection), Eckstein pulled some pronounceable nonsense out of his head as the contest word. The result is an expression with recognizable parts, two of which, /súzi + kyú/ form a familiar name — Susie Q — while the other, /búwi/, might be heard as any of several names, but in Eckstein’s mind was just two nonsense syllables that bubbled up in the heat of the moment.

Our Facebook exchange on this point, slightly edited, with some interpolations from Wikipedia on the /búwi/ part (I’ll get to Susie Q in a while):

— Arnold Zwicky: Were you aiming at Bowie (as in Bowie knife) + Susie Q (the 1957 Dale Hawkins song, much covered by others)? Or something else?

— Bob Eckstein: Even though I am a huge Bowie fan, this wordplay did not occur to me.


(#2) An original design posted 12/19/16 on the Honeypot Designs site, in memory of David Bowie, who died in January 2016

— Arnold Zwicky: No no, not David Bowie /bówi/, Jim Bowie /búwi/. BOO-ee.

James Bowie (/ˈbuːi/ BOO-ee) (c. 1796 – March 6, 1836) was a 19th-century American pioneer who played a prominent role in the Texas Revolution, culminating in his death at the Battle of the Alamo. Stories of him as a fighter and frontiersman, both real and fictitious, have made him a legendary figure in Texas history and a folk hero of American culture. (Wikipedia link)


(#3) Knify replica of a historical Bowie knife

A Bowie knife (/ˈbuːi/ BOO-ee) is a pattern of fixed-blade fighting knife created by James Black in the early 19th century for Jim Bowie, who had become famous for his use of a large knife at a duel known as the Sandbar Fight. (Wikipedia link)

— Arnold Zwicky: So you had nothing in mind with “booie”?

— Bob Eckstein: Baba Booey?

Gary Dell’Abate (born March 14, 1961), also known by the nickname Baba Booey, is an American radio producer who has been the executive producer of The Howard Stern Show since 1984. His autobiography, They Call Me Baba Booey, was released on November 2, 2010. (Wikipedia link)

— Arnold Zwicky: Baba Booey. Did you actually have him in mind, or was it just a nonsense word that you’re now casting about for a meaning to attach it to? Nonsense word is fine, though we will of course reserve the right to speculate about your subconscious. (I don’t think you can avoiding taking full responsibility for “Suzy Q”. Not that you’ve attempted to.)

— Bob Eckstein: total nonsense word.

Other /bu/ things, besides Bowie knives and Baba Booey, that might have been floating about in Eckstein’s mind include the the standard pronunciation of buoy, /búwi/; the interjection boo!; various exclamations beginning with /bu/; and the American regional stew booyah (with its possible associations  with bouillon and bouillabaisse) — and maybe even booty, bougie, the boonies. Notes on a few of these:

(a) From NOAD:

excl. boo-yah (also booyah): [informal US] exclamation used to express joy, especially over a well-played or victorious moment in sports.

GDoS has the excl. booya! / boo-yah! as (US black/campus): 1 ‘term used to indicate suddenness or surprise’ (cites from 1989 on) — 1997 Ya turn on the tube and boo-ya you got cartoons — and 3 ‘an excl. denoting ‘I told you so!’ (cites from 1997-2002 on) — this is the sports victory use

(b) Meanwhile, apparently on an entirely separate track, there’s booyah in military slang, generally noted as a variant of hoo-ah ‘hell yeah!’, itself used as a battle or team solidarity cry. From Wikipedia:

Hooyah is the battle cry used in the United States Navy and the United States Coast Guard to build morale and signify verbal acknowledgment. It is comparable to Oorah in the United States Marine Corps and Hooah in the United States Army and the United States Air Force.

(c) The stew. From Wikipedia:


(#4) From the A Farmgirl’s Dabbles website with her booyah recipe

Booyah (also spelled booya, bouja, boulyaw, or bouyou) is a thick stew, believed to have originated in Belgium, and made throughout the Upper Midwestern United States. Booyah can require up to two days and multiple cooks to prepare; it is cooked in specially designed “booyah kettles” and usually meant to serve hundreds or even thousands of people. The name can also refer to a social event surrounding the meal.

In cooking booyah, one makes a base or broth derived from meat bones, to which vegetables are added. Beef, chicken, and pork are popular varieties of meat for booyah (with all three often in the same kettle), with vegetables such as carrots, peas, onion, and potatoes also in the mix. A wide variety of seasonings are used, sometimes lowered into the kettle in a cheesecloth bag.

… The term “booyah” may be a variant of “bouillon”. It is thought to have derived from the French language words for “boil” (bouillir) and “broth” (bouillon). The spelling with an H has been attributed to phonetic spelling by Wallonian immigrants from Belgium. The Dictionary of American Regional English attributes the term to French Canadian immigrants; others attribute it to a derivation from the Provençal seafood dish bouillabaisse.

Suzie Q, Susie Q, Suzy Q, Suzi Q. The Wikipedia entry disambiguating these items is long and complex; contrary to my usual practice, I’ll quote almost all of it, with Wikipedia’s links to other articles, because this is a rich world — the expression keeps been reinvented or extended in its use. I’ve marked early uses with > and the most important one of these — the one most likely to have popped up in Bob Eckstein’s head — with >:

— In arts and entertainment: music

Susie Q (born Susan Banfield), a member of rap duo Cookie Crew

>“Susie Q” (song), a 1957 song by Dale Hawkins, covered by many artists [among them: the Rolling Stones, Johnny Rivers, Bobby Vee, Creedence Clearwater Revival, José Feliciano]

“Suzi Q” (Ammonia song), 1996

Suzi Quatro (born 1950), singer and actress also known as “Suzi Q”

“Suzi Q”, the Hawkins song covered by Suzi Quatro on the 1990 album Oh, Suzi Q.

Suzie Q (dance move), a dance step in the Big Apple, Lindy Hop, and other dances [from the following:]

>”Doin’ the Suzie-Q”, 1936 song by Lil Hardin Armstrong

“Suzie Q”, song by American rapper Skillz on the 2005 album Confessions of a Ghostwriter

Suzy Q (group), a 1980s Canadian studio project

— Other uses in arts and entertainment

Susie Q (film), a 1995 American TV film

Suzie Q (manga), a fictional character from Part 2 of the Japanese manga JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Battle Tendency

Suzi Q. Smith (born 1979), American poet

Suzy Q, a 1999 Dutch film starring Carice van Houten

Susie Q, a nickname for Susan Delfino (Teri Hatcher) on the TV show Desperate Housewives

— Other uses

>Suzy Q, a Hostess snack cake [invented in 1961]

Quetiapine (Seroquel), an antipsychotic drug known as Susie-Q [developed in 1985]

>New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway (NYS&W), also known as the Susie-Q [variant of Susquehanna]

>Susie-Q, a B-26 bomber flown by James Muri during the Battle of Midway

The Dale Hawkins original recording, which moved me to dance when I was in high school:

(#5) Dale Hawkins ’57

And 11 years later, the most famous cover:

(#6) Credence Clearwater Revival ’68

Boo-yah, Susie Q!

2 Responses to “Follow-up: BOOIESUZYKQHHHH”

  1. joecab Says:

    I dunno if I’d call a panel yanked from a comic book “original”. The penciller is definitely Gene Colan but I’m not sure what story it was from.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      The creator of the Honeypot Designs site claims this image as their own, while admitting that they get their inspiration from many places. There is of course a fine line between copying and stylistic inspiration. I just don’t know the facts in this case.

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