… What you would have him say.
But now and then he’ll say something
The thoughtless things he’ll do
Will hurt and worry you
Then all at once he’ll do something
He has a five-point plan
That won’t come true
You know that he believes in it
And that’s enough for you…
From an article about Chopin’s bicentennial this year.
The astronauts who blasted into orbit on the Endeavor space shuttle Feb. 8 carried with them a CD of Chopin’s music and a copy of a manuscript of his Prelude Opus 28, No. 7 – gifts from the Polish government.
The Endeavor commander, George Zamka, who has Polish roots, told the Polish news agency PAP ahead of his trip to the International Space Station that listening to Chopin in space would enhance the majesty of the cosmos.
I like Chopin too, but this seems excessive praise.
UD learned this lesson rather late in life.
Well into their teens, she and her older sister, Barbara, would say the name Moise Tshombe together, the Moise very soft and then, explosively, TSHOmbe, and laugh hysterically.
But then, when La Kid was seven or so, UD encountered, in one of her books, Chrysanthemum the mouse. People make fun of Chrysanthemum’s name until one day her dance teacher, admired by all, discloses that her name is Delphinium Twinkle, and she’s proud of it. After that, people stop making fun of Chrysanthemum.
And yet… isn’t it true that even when you’ve learned this lesson, certain names and titles arise that make it difficult to contain your laughter?
I’m not talking about grossly ridiculous names intended to make you laugh, like Incontinentia Buttocks and Biggus Dickus. I mean real names and titles.
For instance — while the name Dr. P. “Som” Somasundaran isn’t particularly funny (It’s one of many long foreign names that Americans decide they can’t handle, and so they take the first syllable and make that a nickname. The long-name-as-funny thing only works if the name is insanely long, as in the Simpsons character, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon.), “Som”s title is, I think, funny. “Som” is La von Duddleson Krumb Professor, Director Langmuir Center for Colloids & Interfaces, Director National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center for Advanced Studies in Novel Surfactants at Columbia University.
La von Duddleson Krumb is a funny name. Go ahead and tell me it’s not.
And then there’s the insanely long tripartite title itself: Professor, Director, Director again… and then if you’re not so exhausted that you haven’t given up, you get to teeny little whimpering Columbia University at the end…
The underlying joke principle here I guess is that in going to amazing extremes to impress you with the amazingness of his titled amazingness, “Som” has accomplished the opposite of his intention.