Friday, February 2, 2024

I wouldn't eat you 'cause you're too tough

Yesterday William Wright posted "Purple People Eaters," referencing the 1958 Sheb Wooley novelty song, a nickname used by the Minnesota Vikings in the 1970s, and a character called the People Eater in the 2015 movie Mad Max: Fury Road. The People Eater character has a false nose made of metal, and William links to my mention of Tycho Brahe's metal noses in my January 27 post "Worm Jacob." What he doesn't mention is that in that same post I talk about having once had the nickname Woolly -- pronounced the same as Sheb's surname.

The Minnesota Vikings reference was interesting, too, since earlier the same day I had posted about another Minnesota sportsball team, the Timberwolves, in "Wolves, swans, mirrored cities, and Kubla Khan." William had already read my Timberwolves post when he posted about the Vikings, and he himself lives in Minnesota, but his Vikings reference was independent of either of those facts. He was wondering where he had heard the phrase "Purple People Eater" before, and that's the first thing that came up in his online search. (He must have searched for the plural, which does in fact yield the Minnesota Vikings as the first result.)

Back in July 2022, the Jordan Peele film NOPE began to come up in the sync stream; see for example "Pythagoras, NOPE, and the green tube-man." That was shortly before the movie even came out, but I didn't get around to watching it until about a month ago. I almost never watch movies or TV except with my wife (I bought my first TV after we got married), and she's unwilling to watch anything that shows animals being killed. NOPE features a flying monster that eats people and horses, plus a chimpanzee being shot, so that was out. Last month though, while she was out of town, I decided to watch it on my own as a sort of belated synchronicity homework.

There's a scene where one of the characters dramatically recites some of the lyrics from the Sheb Wooley song:

As William Wright notes in his post, when the Purple People Eater says the singer is "too tough" to eat, it presumably means "old and sinewy." The recitation in NOPE, though, clearly gives it more "tough guy" connotations.

When your name is Tychonievich, it's inevitable that a lot of people are going to shorten it to T. Two people have independently decided to take it a step further and make the T stand for tough. The first was my banjo teacher, Lee Ruff, who used to joke that we should perform together as Ruff 'n' Tuff. Later, in Utah, fellow missionary Boyd McKinnon used to call me "Elder T -- and the T stands for tough!" So it's interesting to have the Purple People Eater telling a guy named Wooley that he's too tough.

William connects the Purple People Eater with my William Alizio story, in which

the aliens had a lot of purple things (including their ship).  William remembers having written the aliens themselves as wearing purple, but it turns out he actually wrote them as wearing blue robes.

This is interesting because the Purple People Eater in NOPE is a reference to a UFO which the characters first assume to be a spaceship but later discover is a flying monster. It's not actually purple, but they connect it with the Wooley song because it flies and eats people. William also mentions the aliens' blue robes. In my November 22 post "Two cunning wise ones, 'wizards,' Blue gowned," I connect the aliens' blue robes with the blue denim clothing worn by Jay Leno, and I discuss the etymology of the word jean. In NOPE, the characters give the flying monster the nickname Jean Jacket.

One last sync note: William mentions that the People Eater in Mad Max: Fury Road is "the mayor of a place called Gas Town." A week ago, I was tutoring a junior high school student. He had taken a reading comprehension test, and we were going through what he had gotten wrong and why. This was one of the questions:

The correct answer was "Chinatown," but he had chosen "Gas Town." After we had gone through the reading together and he understood, I said, "Trust me, you wouldn't want to have dinner at a place called Gas Town." He didn't get it, so I explained the intestinal meaning of gas, and after that he couldn't stop laughing.


WanderingGondola said...

Back when I was still a major gamer-consoomer (sometime around 2016-18 IIRC), on impulse I bought one of several Pokemon hoodies available at a favoured store. That Pokemon, Gengar, has never even been one I particularly liked -- it's more that purple/violet is my favourite colour and the hoodie design was less cluttered than the others (those using a lot more linework to represent different features). It's still in my usual rotation of jumpers, and is the only one that a family member has nicknamed. If you didn't immediately guess that that name is "Purple People Eater", there's something wrong!

Gengar and its previous evolutions, Gastly (primarily made up of gas) and Haunter, were the only Ghost-type Pokemon included in the original Red/Blue/Yellow games. Gastly and Haunter could only be found inside a tower serving as a cemetery, the main attraction of Lavender Town -- so "Gas Town" would be a fair alternative name for the place. The tower also contained a class of Pokemon trainer called the Channeler, which was renamed to Medium in a spin-off game. Actually fighting (against and with) the ghost Pokemon was tough due to the type system and a few quirks.

It's been over a decade since I've played any of the main Pokemon games -- going by "generation", I stopped after V and they're now up to IX -- so have only passing knowledge of anything newer. The "Mega" and "Gigantamax" Gengars shown on that wiki page are apparently temporary transformations; the latter is more synchy, with the -max and that open mouth, "rumored to not lead into its body ... [but instead] into the afterlife". Mega Gengar has a small connection for WW, though, as it sounds like two stones are required to enable the transformation, one actually called a Key Stone!

On another note, Wiki's page on Sheb Wooley proved interesting. He had an alter-ego named Ben Colder, and appeared in the 1950 movie Rocky Mountain (based on a story called Ghost Mountain). His recording of a parody of "Achy Breaky Heart" also struck me, as I woke up thinking of that song yesterday.

William Wright (WW) said...


That "Ben Colder" alter-ego name your found was interesting for a few reasons.

I assume it is meant to be a play on words when said "Been Colder". Kind of like in the spirit of Bart Simpson's prank calls to Moe asking for names.

Anyway, prior to reading your comment, I had discovered that Mad Max's last name is "Rockatansky". The rock stood out to me as a stone - no surprise there, but I had the funny thought that if you pronounced the 'sky' like an english 'sky', and soften up the 'a' sounds, you have a phrase from name that goes "Rocket in sky". Which was funny because in my post that included the People Eater I made a specific point to say that at least that bad guy wasn't launching rockets into space.

So, Ben Colder struck me as a similar word game as Rockatansky.

I also saw that Ben Colder/ Sheb Wooley produced a record titled "Wild and Wooley". This brought to mind an old Disney short cartoon I had watched as a kid called "Lambert the Sheepish Lion". There are lyrics in the song that say Lambert is "always trying to be a wild and woolly sheep". Anyway, the story's antagonist is a wolf (and this particular wolf gave my older sister nightmares). So I guess we have another wolf story to share.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...


The test question shown in the photo had to do with a reading about a tour of Vancouver. "Gas Town" and "Rocky Mountain" stood out to me as errors. The historic district of Vancouver is called Gastown (one word), so that's a minor error. "Rocky Mountain," though? The Rockies are well to the east of Vancouver, and while there are apparently several individual mountains known as "Rocky Mountain" (singular), they all seem to be on the east coast, nowhere near Vancouver. So Sheb appearing in a movie called Rocky Mountain. is an interesting coincidence.


"Wild and Wooley"? I mention my old nickname Woolly in this post, and you've recently posted about how your old nickname was Wild Bill.

It occurs to me that "Wooly Bully" by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs has a certain amount in common with "Purple People Eater":

Matty told Hatty
About a thing she saw
Had two big horns
And a wooly jaw


Well I saw the thing comin' out of the sky
It had the one long horn, and one big eye

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

WG, I just clicked the link. That hoodie is something else!

WanderingGondola said...

Hehe, I do get the occasional comment from Pokemon-loving strangers! Sometimes I wonder what unknowing people might make of it -- a menacing exterior for one whom is quite the opposite.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

Re “gas” jokes, today I happened to read Jeremiah 4:19, a verse we used to laugh about in early-morning seminary:

“My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart; my heart maketh a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war.“

Obviously teenage boys are only going to read that one way! This inescapable misreading was reinforced later when I read Dante and was introduced to the immortal line “For he had made a trumpet of his ass.”

WanderingGondola said...

Another Pokemon connection came to mind just now, this one involving the English version of the anime's first movie (something I can't have seen since my mid-teens).

Scenario: Movie-villain Mewtwo has invited trainers (including the heroes) to his island, surrounded by an artificial storm intended as a test. The heroes's Pokemon aren't strong enough to assist them through the storm; conveniently, regular-villains/comedy-relief Team Rocket show up in an odd disguise, offering a boat ride. Cue dialogue.

I'm fairly sure that line wouldn't exist in the original Japanese. 4Kids, the company responsible for localising early seasons of Pokemon (and other anime deemed marketable to children) likely still gets criticised and memed on for its often cringeworthy efforts, though Wiki claims TV networks dictated many of the changes made.

Behold, the Lord esteemeth all flesh as one

I was listening to an audio recording of the Book of Mormon, and when it got to the part where Nephi says they "did live upon raw meat ...