Friday, October 26, 2007

Cowboy Up

'Pokin' around with my Manhood

The Red Sox "cowboy up"

This morning I was shivering as I stopped by the Gallery Cafe to get my morning fix of Pumpkin Spice coffee.

"Man, it's cold outside!" I said to Gallery co-owner Dave as I plopped my coingage down on the counter.

"Man up, Tom!" Dave replied. "It's Fall, it's rainy and windy, be a man and embrace it!"

He was right. Despite my metrosexual tendencies (loving ballet, one-handed tennis backhands and Sweet & Low sugar substitute), I was, chromosonically speaking, a Man (full disclosure: I was born with a penis).

"Is that like Cowboy Up?" I asked Dave.

"Yeah, Cowboy Up, Tom. I like that term better," he concluded. "Cowboy Up, Tom!"

It's funny, I had never heard the term "Cowboy Up" until the Red Sox won the World Series a few years ago, when it was their official clubhouse slogan that season. I thought they had invented it (Red Sox Nationalists insist former Bosox first baseman Kevin Millar coined the phrase in 2003 and it became their mantra when the Sox rallied from that 3-0 deficit to the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS), but apparently it's been around for years, though anything "Cowboy" the last few years under the Cowboy Diplomacy of the Bush Administration, tends to have negative connotations (thank you, George Dubya!).

According to, "Cowboy Up" means "when things are getting tough you have to get back up, dust yourself off and keep trying" or "quit your bitching and be a man" (definition 2) - though I suppose the Annie Oakleys and Calamity Janes out there can also "Cowgal Up."

And, according to (yes, Virginia, there is a, it means "tuff-up, get back on yer horse, don't back down, don't give up, and do the best you can with the hand you're dealt."

Tim, the brains behind Mother Tongue Annoyances, a weblog on English communications, reports that the term is now (unsurprisngly) copyrighted (this being capitalist/litigious America, what isn't copyrighted today?):
Both Semantics etc. and Legal Spring report that a company out of Jackson, Wyoming called Wyoming West Designs owns the trademark on the phrase Cowboy up. Evidently Wyoming West Designs produces and distributes an extensive line of T-shirts, stickers, magnets—you name it—containing the phrases Cowboy up, Cowgirl up, et cetera, ad nauseam. I wonder if they have a sticker that says Cowborg up? Anyway, read Andrew Sinclair's blog for more infos.

As far as etymology of Cowboy up is concerned, the best online source I could find was an archived LISTSERV posting that cites a 1975 usage of the phrase:

1975 _Reno Evening Gazette_ (Nev.) 4 Jan. 9/4 "It hurts," he exclaimed, putting on a pantomime of a clobbered cowboy dragging a game leg away from a bull wreck. "You're crying. You're bleeding. You're screaming. And there's Gay [sc. rodeo instructor Don Gay] right behind you saying, 'Cowboy up. Get tough. Get tough.'"

"Cowboy Up!": The Movie
Anyway, I'm curious about the term because the name of the new film by my friend Laurence Arcadias (who teaches experimental animation at Maryland Institute, College of Art) is "Dust Off and Cowboy Up!" The 4-minute short film questions the different meanings of the Cowboy image in our culture by presenting a collage of cut-outs from popular Hollywood Westerns. Part of the fun in watching this film is trying to figure out all the movies she samples clip from (I could name Red River, High Noon and Calamity Jane, but all the John Ford westerns get mangled in my head).

You can see "Dust Off and Cowboy Up" at; click here to watch.

This film will also be screened as part of the "BALTIMORE EXPOSED: Short Films by Local Filmmakers" program at the Enoch Pratt Central Library on Saturday, November 17.

By the way, seeing the footage of "High Noon" in Laurence Arcadias' film made me think back to my second favorite cowboy short (after "Dust Off and Cowboy Up!", of course, and ahead of my #3 fave, the 1971 Lenny Bruce animated short "Thank You, Mask Man" and my #4 fave, the Santa Claus/Western spoof "The Great Toy Robbery"), "High Tech Noon" by Darryl Gold (founder of "Darryl's Hard Liquor and Porn Film Festival" and the mind behind "My Name Is Jack Valenti" and "Death Star Repairmen"). I remember airing it on Atomic TV years ago, but the version available on YouTube is much better quality. You can "High Tech Up" and watch it below:

HIGH TECH NOON (Darryl Gold, 2000, 4:05 minutes)

Related Links:
Laurence Arcadias Website


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, let's make this clear, cone and for all: Tom doesn't like ballet. He likes ballet DANCERS.

Let me clarify further: Tom likes FEMALE ballet dancers.

1:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Make that "ONCE and for all," not "CONE and for all."

1:34 PM  
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5:36 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Ein Mann ist, wenn es dir gut im Bett geht und eine Frau gut ist. Für unser männliches ego ist dies das wichtigste Bewertungskriterium. Also, wenn das Problem Sex ist, dann er wird sich darum kümmern.

2:07 PM  

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