Date: Thu, 24 Mar 1994 09:29:25 -0700 From: Rudy Troike Subject: Info from Sigmund Eisner at UArizona On March madness and other matters, I'm passing along information from my Chaucerian colleague Sigmund Eisner. --Rudy Troike (rtroike[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] From: UACCIT::SEISNER "Sigmund Eisner" 24-MAR-1994 08:21 To: UACCIT::RTROIKE CC: SEISNER Subj: March madness Rudy: Certainly "as mad as a March hare" must have some connection, other than obvious alliteration, with "March madness." "As mad as a March hare" is a Briticism refering to a fact that in March the hare (in Arizona read "jackrabbit") enjoys his mating season and as a result is careless about his personal safety. The expression, of course, is used by Lewis Carroll in the mid nineteenth century. But certainly it was as old as "Mad Hatter" and equally known to Carroll's audience. "Mad Hatter" comes from an ingredient used in pressing hats. It was said to have an intoxicating effect on the hat makers, who used a large quantity of it. Still, in spite of the relationship, I think it comes from sportswriters' love for the pithy phrase. Take, for instance, "he doesn't have a china man's chance": Peter Tamony, mentioned by one of your correspondents and an old friend, once pointed out that nineteenth century British sportswriters called a boxer who would fly into pieces when hit "a china man." He also showed me nineteenth-century British sports newspapers to back up his claim. The expression went from England to Australia and came across the Pacific to California with the "Sydney Ducks" about a century ago. It has nothing whatsoever to do with either the Chinese or the California gold fields, as has often been said. Sportswriters have given us many expressions, especially from cock fighting: "pit them together," "in the ring," "spur them on." Enough? Sig