November 17, 2012

“The opera ain’t over till the fat lady sings.”


THE FAMOUS SPORTS QUOTATION:

“The opera ain’t over till the fat lady sings.”
      
Dan Cook (1926-2008)
       San Antonio sports journalist and broadcaster
       Cook is widely credited as the person who popularized this saying, though he probably didn’t coin it. According to a June 3, 1978 article in the Washington Post (
cited by many sources), Cook first used it in his regular sports column in the San Antonio Express-News around 1975 or 1976.
       In 1978, he said it during a sports show on San Antonio’s KENS-TV, while discussing the Washington Bullets basketball team. Bullets coach Dick Motta heard Cook say it and started using the line himself when talking about his team’s odds of winning the NBA championship that year. It soon became a popular slogan among Bullets fans. When the Bullets won the championship on July 7, 1978, Motta crowed: “The Fat Lady is singing.” Dan Cook later said that the lady he envisioned was an iconic, hefty female opera singer, the popular image many people have of characters like
Brunnhilde in Richard Wagner’s Götterdämmerung).
       The opera version of the saying may have been inspired by an earlier one used by African-Americans in the southern United States:
“Church ain’t out till the fat lady sings” (a humorous reference to the sometimes plump ladies who sang hymns at church services).


THE TWINKIE OFFENSE:

“The fat lady – the one who apparently ate too many 150-calorie, nutrition-free Twinkies – has sung...Hostess announced early this morning that it would ‘promptly’ liquidate the company immediately and lay off its nearly 19,000 workers. The trigger was a strike this month by members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union. ‘We deeply regret the necessity of today's decision," Hostess said in a statement, "but we don't have the financial resources to weather an extended nationwide strike.’”

      
David A. Kaplan 
       American journalist
     In a CNN/Fortune article about the news that Hostess Brands, maker of Wonder Bread, Ding Dongs, Ho Hos, and Twinkies, the “Golden Sponge Cake with Creamy Filling,” was planning to shut down due to financial woes and placing the blame on its union workers.



THE FEDERAL DEBT DEBATE VARIATION:

“It isn’t over until the Tea Party squeals.”
      
Taylor Marsh 
       Political analyst and blogger 
       A comment
on her blog about the debate over America’s federal debt problem and the reluctance of Republican conservatives to increase taxes as part of the solution.



THE FRENCH BIKE RACE VARIATION:

“[The] Tour de France...has been marred for years by performance-enhancing drug scandals. Forget ‘it ain’t over till the fat lady sings.’ In this event, ‘it ain’t over till the urine-sample lab results come back.’”
      
Greg Cote
       Sportswriter for the Miami Herald
       A quip about illegal “doping” by professional bike racers,
in a sidebar of his sports column in July 2011



THE JAPANESE BASEBALL VERSION:

“When the game is over, a fat lady will sing to us!” 
       A Japanese interpreter’s translation of the famed saying, as shown in subtitles, in the movie
Mr. Baseball (1992)


THE LAST RITES VERSION:

“It ain’t over till the fat priest reads extreme unction over your almost corpse. Oh, I forgot, the correct term has been changed from ‘extreme unction.’ Now it has been watered down to something like ‘anointing of the sick.’ God forbid that anyone might imply that the poor soul might actually be dying.”
      
David Skibbins
       American novelist and psychotherapist 
       Lines spoken by a character in Skibbins’ mystery novel The Hanged Man (2008)
       The quip refers to the Vatican II edicts issued by Pope Paul VI in 1965, which changed the name of the last rites Catholic priests give to dying people from the traditional phrase “Extreme Unction” to the nicer-sounding modern version,
“Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.”

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