Sunday, July 4, 2010

"...Who You Callin' An Eponym, Pal?..."

Was a time when kids wanted to be astronauts when they grew up.

Or president.

That aspiration started to lose its appeal around the time Nixon walked out of the Oval Office on his feet of clay and climbed aboard the chopper.

Hopes of finding show biz fame were big in the day, too. Dreams of becoming a movie or, at the very least, TV, star very nicely filled in the other forty six weeks, give or take, that weren't reserved for visions of sugar plums dancing.

Making it in show biz still ranks pretty high, but with the advent of Idol, America's Got Talent, So You Think You Can Dance and all of their offspring, fame and/or noteriety are more easily acquired.

Fact is, You Tube technically makes a "star" out of anybody and everybody who's even remotely interested.

So, since the once lofty dream has now become a more down to earth possibility, the bar has naturally been raised on what's required to achieve genuine immortality.

Frankly, it's simply become too easy to clock in for fifteen minutes of fame.

You want forever, you gotta become an eponym.

(n); the name of a person, whether real or fictitious, after which a particular place, tribe, era, discovery, or other item is named or thought to be named.

Becoming part of the culture is fleeting. Becoming part of the language is eternal.

A hundred years from now, a lot of people will either forget Kardashians ever mattered or, at the very least, will confuse them with the Kardassians that gave Picard and Riker such a hassle.

But do something inappropriate a hundred years from now and chances are your name will still be mud.

As in Dr. Samuel Mudd who, without knowing who he was treating, set the broken leg of John Wilkes Booth on the night of Lincoln's assassination and was tried, and later posthumously pardoned, for conspiracy in the killing.

Examples are many and memorable.

When somebody offers up a solution, how often do we say "way to go, Sherlock"?"

A person who is disloyal is still called a "Benedict Arnold".

Some well known epppies have lesser known origins.

You've likely never heard of Ernst Grafenberg. But ladies appreciate him even if men are vexxed by his claim to fame.

The G spot.

And let's not forget the veritable plethora of "-esques".

As in, "Capra-esque", "Reagan-esque", "Beatle-esque" and, the king (or more precisely, the queen) of all left handed compliments, "Ruben-esque".

Here's a more recent arrival that pops up with increasing frequency.

"the next Susan Boyle".

Unless you've been living just west of Andromeda for the past few years, you know the Susan saga. (If not, Google/You Tube away, it's a very touching fact, it is, I daresay, Shakespeare-esque..)

Individual perceived to be average or less in ability blows the audience away with a totally unexpected world class performance, creating a buzz heard round the world.

Here's the latest buzzee.

His name is Carlos Aponte.

Okay. Credit where due.

The guy has game. And it's undeniably poignant and inspiring when we witness somebody not only exceed our expectations but churn up a little guilt in us for having been so snide in the first place.

But here's a little trap door in the whole eponym concept.

You either have to be completely unique.

Or you have to be first.

That same hundred years from now, only sports scholars and/or baseball geeks are going to instantly recognize either the names Mark McGwire or Barry Bonds.

But Babe Ruth will remain iconic.

And while I join you in what I know is a heartfelt cheer for this young Puerto Rican who knocked the naysayers on their asses, I also know how this eponymy thing works.

The next talent who meekly takes the stage and proceeds to bring the house down won't be the "next Carlos Aponte".

They'll be "the next Susan Boyle".

No matter how "Wagnerian" they are.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Monuments Ain't the Only Things That Mildew In the Moisture

Stop me if you've heard this one.

Hot enough for ya?

Almost anyone and everyone who might be inclined to be reading what I'm writing here has already experienced some of the hottest weather in recent years.

And sparing you the tempting "Al Gore dun been warnin' us" schpiel, suffice to say that we have already come through a chunk of a pretty hot damn summer.

And it's just now the first week of July.

Can't wait for August.

Having lived most of my life in the South, though, I, like many of you, am fully aware of one's of life's most set in stone maxims.

It ain't the heat, it's the humidity.

Anyone who lives or has lived in a tropical climate knows the drill.

A 95 degree day, with a moderate percentage of humidity, is a warm, but arguably delightful, summer day.

An 85 degree day, on the other hand, can deplete not only one's energy, but their will to go on living, should the humidity be up there in the " man, are you kiddin' me with this muggy thing?" range.

And I've never once, honest efforts notwithstanding, been able to find anything redeeming about high humidity.

It is simply one of life's little inevitable miseries.

Like mosquitos, the stench of garbage and any TV show whose title starts out "The Real Housewives..."

Here's an interesting fact, though, that I have stumbled across after years of witnessing and/or experiencing the cause and effect of high humidity.

It makes people stupid.

Allow me to elucidate.

So many times, over so many years, I have witnessed seemingly intelligent people, people who are blessed not only with a far above average intelligence and endless supply of common sense but also a near pristine social and moral conscience morph almost over night into stammering, stuttering, confused and confusing candidates for the not so coveted position of village idiot.

For example, an individual sees a simple problem that requires a simple solution. They study and research possible solutions and find there are several available. They put themselves into a position to be able to implement those solutions and begin what, by any reasonable definition, is a generic and basic process of applying the simplest available solution to said problem.

When suddenly, as quickly as the process begins, it begins to unravel in direct proportion to the rise in the ratio of the partial pressure of water vapor in a parcel of air to the saturated vapor pressure of water vapor at a prescribed temperature.

Or as we non-Weather Channel geeks say, "damn, it's muggy out here, aint it?"

From there the process of problem solving rapidly deteriorates as the problem solver not only becomes incapable of simple implementation, but compounds the problem by allowing themselves to be drawn into useless and counter productive debate with fellow problem solvers who are both distracted by detractors opposing the original solution for reasons both selfish and self serving as well as finding themselves drawn, as if unable to resist, into the black hole-ish definition of insanity...doing the same futile thing over and over and over again and expecting a different end result each time.

The sad, said end result is, inevitably, in fact, the same each time.

The problem goes unsolved.

The solution remains unapplied.

And seemingly intelligent people who were blessed with a far above average intelligence and endless supply of common sense, not to mention a near pristine social and moral conscience morph into stammering, stuttering confused, and confusing, candidates for the not so coveted position of village idiot.

To wit; high humidity makes people stupid.

While admittedly, to my knowledge, there is no scholarly, let alone empirical, data to support this theory, I would offer that unimpeachable evidence exists and said evidence validates one of the most accurate of metaphoric axioms.

"Proof's in the puddin".

Because, as it turns out, the highest number of recorded instances of common sense solutions to simple problems evaporating as if they had never existed has been documented, time and again, as occuring in a place almost continuously subjected to high humidity.

Washington, D.C.