Here are the answers.
Ken Shoemaker and Phil Hochstetler started calling each other "Gravy Sucking Pigs" in 1980/1981. It was meant as an insult and was originally said by Steve Martin in his "A Wild and Crazy Guy" (1978 Warner Bros, HS3238) album describing the cheers he wrote for his high-school team. Thanks to Steve Higgins for providing me with a copy of this (out-of-print) album.
Another favorite phrase is "He Hates These Cans" also from Steve Martin. This is from the scene where a gunman has picked Navin R. Johnson out of a phone book and is trying to kill him. He hits the cans instead and Navin thinks "he hates these cans."
Don Wegeng's Origins of the GSP Terms
Date: Mon, 17 Jul 1995 06:16:18 PDT
Subject: On the Origins of GSP Terms
I'm copying this reply to Ken Shoemaker and Ray Clark, since they may be able to fill in some of the details... I'm sure that others who were present during the Purdue days will correct my mistakes.
As I recall, the first time that the phrase "Gravy Sucking Pig" was used by the Purdue EE crowd was in a email message from Ken Shoemaker to Phil Hostetter (cc'ed to a large number of others) where Ken greeted Phil with something to the effect of:
Phil, you Gravy Sucking Pig!
I believe that Ken got the phrase from comedian Steve Martin's first album, where Steve describes one of the cheers that he wrote when he was a high school cheerleader. Steve's cheer was:
Die, you Gravy Sucking Pig!
My memory of how the phrase was expanded to the rest of the group, and how it was shortened to GSP, is very hazy.
As for "He hates those cans", that's a line from a Steve Martin movie titled "The Jerk". In one scene Steve is working at a gas station, when a sniper begins shooting at him. This was back in the days when gas stations often kept stacks of oil cans near the pumps, and the sniper kept hitting the cans of oil instead of Steve Martin. Steve's character wasn't very bright, and after he saw several oil cans get hit he concluded that the sniper was aiming at the cans. Steve then exclaimed "He hates those cans!".
As I recall, one night several of us walked into the Boarding House (?) and turned on a cable tv movie just in time for this scene. Apparently it struck us as being pretty funny, because we kept using the phrase.
Or at least that's how I remember things.
PS. You didn't ask about "Nobody sleeps!", but I can fill in some details about that too if anyone is interested.
Don Wegeng and Paul Carlile on you GSP
Subject: On the Origins of the term GSP (revised)
Paul Carlile reminded me of some details... here is an update/rewrite.
The first time that the phrase "Gravy Sucking Pig" was used by the Purdue EE crowd was in a email message from Ken Shoemaker to Phil Hostetter (cc'ed to a large number of others, since this was during the days of "mass mail abuse") where Ken greeted Phil with something to the effect of:
Phil, you GSP!
This prompted much speculation about what a GSP was. The discussion went on for a few days, until Ken finally admitted that a GSP was a Gravy Sucking Pig, and that he borrowed the term from Steve Martin ("Die, you gravy sucking pig!").
Or at least that's how Paul and I remember things.
Don Wegeng and Nobody Sleeps
Date: Tue, 18 Jul 1995 12:51:03 PDT
Yeah, "Nobody sleeps!" was first heard at the Indy 500 in 1980 (or was it '81?). Shortly after the gates opened at dawn a very drunk fellow kept waking up anyone near him by shouting "Nobody sleeps!". Karen Suitor finally got tired of all this and told him to shut up. When he refused, she walked over to him and poured a beer over his head. He was shocked, and walked away. Malcolm captured the beer pouring on film.
I think Wolfey was his friend.
Greg Boebinger's Origins of the GSP Terms
Date: Mon, 17 Jul 95 11:31:14 EDT
From: bo (Greg Boebinger)
"He hates those cans" comes from the Steve Martin movie "The Jerk".
While working as a gas station attendant, Navin R. Johnson (I think that's right...played by Steve Martin) becomes excited when the new phone books arrive. He hurries to find his name and exults that "he's somebody" when he finds his name in the new phone book.
Unfortunately a crazed killer picks out his name at random from the phone book and decides to sit in the hills overlooking the gas station to try to shoot Navin. When shots suddenly ring out, Navin cowers behind the gas pumps... Upon noting several shots which pierce the oil can display nearby, Navin utters "He hates those cans!" and runs for new cover.
(I'm ashamed to remember this.....now I've apparently forgotten why it is relevant to the GSP's)
"Gravy Sucking Pig" also comes from Steve Martin....in a comedy routine when he talks about his days as a cheerleader. They did all the popular cheers like "Die, you gravy sucking pigs" and .....(I can't remember, but I probably have the album at home. It is my understanding that Ken Shoemaker began using that expression in correspondence to Phil Hochstetler one summer.
If you want to know how "Brought to you by the nice guys at HKN" came into being to grace the HKN bronze statue at Purdue, just ask.
Origins of He Hates Those Cans
Subject: He Hates Those Cans
Bo-----'s description of the film is right on the money. What he didn't mention is that the GSPs started using the term after several of us walked into the Boarding House one night, and turned on cable tv just in time for the infamous scene. Someone (probably either Ken or Phil) started repeating the phrase, and it caught on.
Origins of the GSP Logo
Subject: GSP Logo
BTW, I believe that it was Ray Clark who originally designed it, back in 1981, for some beer mugs. Kirk Smith (I think) later wrote some Postscript code to draw it. This info probably ought to be captured somewhere in the GSP history...