June 7, 2019

"There's only one 'Tom Terrific,' and that's Tom Seaver."

Said Congressman Peter King, complaining about Tom Brady's application for a trademark on the name "Tom Terrific," BBC reports.

All honor and respect to Tom Seaver, but if you want to say there's only one Tom Terrific, it's this guy:



That was part of the "Captain Kangaroo" TV show in the late 50s and early 60s. Wikipedia:
Drawn in a simple black-and white style reminiscent of children's drawings, it featured a gee-whiz boy hero, Tom Terrific, who lived in a treehouse and could transform himself into anything he wanted thanks to his magic, funnel-shaped "thinking cap," which also enhanced his intelligence. He had a comic lazybones of a sidekick, Mighty Manfred the Wonder Dog, and an arch-foe named Crabby Appleton, whose motto was, "I'm rotten to the core!" Other foes included Mr. Instant the Instant Thing King; Captain Kidney Bean; Sweet Tooth Sam the Candy Bandit; and Isotope Feeney the Meany....
"Terrific" is an old-fashioned word of praise. It felt old-fashioned when it was used for Tom Seaver half a century ago, and Brady doesn't really want to be called that. He says he doesn't like it, and I believe him. I presume he's simply trying to prevent other people from profiting off of his brand.

By the way, "terrific" originally meant causing terror. In "Paradise Lost," there's "The Serpent... with brazen Eyes And hairie Main terrific." "Terrific" became "an enthusiastic term of commendation" in the late 19th century. (I'm quoting the unlinkable OED.)

I almost never use the word. I associate it with FDR, whose last words were, "I have a terrific headache." I can't say I've never used the word. I once said a cartoonist had "a terrific drawing style," and I've blogged about other people using the word, notably: 1. the woman who was thrown clear of the car wreck that killed Jackson Pollock, who wrote that she and Andy Warhol had "a terrific crush on each other," and 2. the WaPo columnist who wrote in 2013, "Barack Obama has what it takes to be a terrific law student. It’s less clear those are the ingredients of a successful president."

33 comments:

tim maguire said...

Trademark law is garbage. It needs to be returned to its original purpose of protecting the public, not the Trademark holder.

The sad thing here is, if Tom Terrific is not already owned by someone, Brady will probably get it. That’s a problem.

Danno said...

You are bringing back old memories with post.

Danno said...

And not about the jocks named Tom.

Rob said...

Great last words by FDR, on a par with the apocryphal last words of General George Custer: “Where did all these damn Indians come from?”

gilbar said...

Horror... horrific
Terror ... terrific?

RMc said...

I can't say I've never used the word (terrific).

As long as you don't use it whilst singing along to a rap song, you're good.

Big Mike said...

By the way, "terrific" originally meant causing terror.

And how do think defensive backs feel when iit’s the fourth quarter, the game is on the line, and theTom Brady is looking them over as he calls signals?

Nobody said...

The English language is a great hoarder of words, many of which are perfect in some infrequent context or other but become limp and bedraggled when dragged out and overused.

Nobody said...

And how do think defensive backs feel when iit’s the fourth quarter, the game is on the line, and theTom Brady is looking them over as he calls signals?

If they are not thinking “This is what I was born for” they probably aren’t playing in the NFL.

Hagar said...

"off of" is not permissible. Use "from."

Wilbur said...

Wilbur loved him some Captain Kangaroo. I still remember many of the songs and stories repeated endlessly on the show. The songs are serious earworms.

rehajm said...

Now ask Tom about GOAT.

(GOAT is a funny word since it means the best and the worst in sport.)

Wilbur said...

My name is Crabby Appleton
I'm rotten to the core
I do a bad deed everyday
And sometimes three or four

Temujin said...

Thank you for posting that. Mighty Manfred the Wonder Dog. Have not heard or thought of Tom Terrific for...oh...60 years? Is that possible?

After reading your first two daily insane posts from the NY Times, the Tom Terrific clip is a cut from a more sane time. Yes, I know there were things going on then that would make an SJW's head blow off. But then...when isn't there?

I don't know how you can read the NY Times any longer. Honestly. I used to quietly thank you for doing the dirty work. Now I just gloss over those stories. Too much BS, trash, and insanity posing as critical thinking.

Imagine reaching the point where Tom Terrific seems sane and the NY Times insane.

Big Mike said...

GOAT is a funny word since it means the best and the worst in sport.

Almost. In capitals it means “Greatest of all Time.” Lowercase it means the idiot whose mistake cost you the game. I’m trying to think if it’s ever been the same person.

Ann Althouse said...

""off of" is not permissible. Use "from.""

I will... in all my formal writing.

She threw a ball at me and it bounced off of my head.

She threw a ball at me and it bounced from my head.

Big Mike said...

Imagine reaching the point where Tom Terrific seems sane and the NY Times insane.

It’s been that way for decades already.

JAORE said...

I recall those long past times when Spike Lee tried to own the name Spike and the letter X.

Of course he was the very first to use either, so it's not the same after all.

Roger Sweeny said...

"Scat! Scat!" "Where? Where?"

I didn't get that joke when I saw this back in the day.

"I'll become a giant calendar and we'll change the season to fall."

Early post-modernism! The social construction of reality.

buwaya said...

Well, there you go, and me I guess overusing "terrific" all these years.
It actually sounds like a Teddy Roosevelt sort of word, interjected whenever "bully" wouldn't do. Maybe I should start using "bully".

Francisco D said...

Captain Kangaroo was a terrific kids show. I remember Tom Terrific, Crabby Appleton and Mr. Greenjeans.

In Chicago we also has Frazier Thomas with Garfield Goose.

rcocean said...

Terrific is rarely used. Too close to Terrible.

rcocean said...

Terrified, Terrible, Terrific.

Which one is out of place?

RichardJohnson said...

When I was a kid, I considered Tom Terrific to be rather lame.(As we didn't get a TV until I was 8 years old, I was probably too old to like Tom Terrific.) In looking at the Tom Terrific cartoon that Ann posted, my opinion is unchanged.

The cartoon did have one redeeming point. The cartoon is about Crabby Appleton's stealing and returning all the trees. Mighty Manfred, the wonder dog, ends the cartoon with a pun: "Honestree is the best policy."

That reminds me of Rocky and Bullwinkle. Both kids and adults liked Rocky and Bullwinkle. The adults liked the puns. Kids liked Rocky and Bullwinkle, even if they didn't catch the puns.

Paul Sand said...

This made me look at my own blog for usage of "terrific". As near as I can tell, outside of quoting others, it's only appeared once, in 2014, when I referred to a "terrific pair" of posts by ... Ann Althouse.

Narr said...

N-E-S-T-L-E-S, Nestle's makes the very best.

Narr
Chock-lett

Bilwick said...

I was more of a Diver Dan fan, mainly for the theme song.

Unknown said...

Tom Terrific was technically a "Terrytoon" from the studio that brought you "Mighty Mouse" & "Heckle & Jeckle", although I think Paul Tery was either dead or out of the picture by that time.

The name Terrific survives in DC comics where "Mr. Terrific" is a genius superhero who bills himself as the "Third smartest man in the world" (Because he feels that sounds believeable, and doesn't make people want to prove it wrong).

Although that is not how he was created, the name has resonations with another genius "Reed Richards" who billed himself as "Mr. Fantastic" at Marvel and Mr. Terrific now leads a hero team called "The Terrifics" whose adventures call to mind those more carefree days of the early Fantastic Four.

Bilwick said...

I like to use the word in a sarcastic, Vince Vaughn way. "I'm supporting Bernie Sanders because I think the US needs breadlines!" "That's just terrific. . . . "

rcocean said...

Tom Seaver = old man's reference.

No one under 55 knows who he is.

rcocean said...

Sports Heroes fade fast. I've met young wipper-snappers at work, who can't place Larry Bird. Larry fucking Bird! At least they know who Magic and Jordan are. But Scottie Pippin or Karl Malone? Forgetaboutit.

Going back from there is even worse. Joe Montana is a state. Larry Czonka a NHL Player. Gail Goodrich? a tire dealer. Reggie Jackson? Wasn't he a civil rights leader?

You can listen to old time singers on Youtube or I-tunes. You can see old movie stars on TV or Netflicks or DVd. But old sports stars? They just get forgotten. Unless they live in LA or Boston or NYC and the sportswriters write a million books about them.

bonkti said...

In a similar vein, I thought awe was the experience of looking into the face of God.

Terrifying.

Awesome.

Rory said...

Seaver recently withdrew from public life due to onset of dementia symptoms.

The Captain also showed Lariat Sam and his horse, Tippytoes.