Friday, August 24, 2012

Eggheads (Part 1: "Cambwidge")

In the late 1990s, when I was developing software for Bank of Absurdity, a co-worker, whom I'll call "Mr. Ed," like to challenge his colleagues with trivia questions.  He was a devoted fan of the TV quiz show Jeopardy! and felt a tinge of intellectual superiority whenever he stumped someone.
But over the months, I never game him a wrong answer, and he became frustrated with me. Finally, one morning he pointed his finger at me and said "I am going to stump you right now !"
I replied "O.K."
"What is the deepest lake in the world?"
"That would be Lake Baikal in Siberia"  I retorted, without hesitation.
"You bastard!  What, do you go home and read encyclopedias at night?"
(Reader, it was perfectly acceptable to use foul language at BofA, because the managers did so with gusto as they pissed their ways to the tops of piles of cash)

Mr. Ed never asked me any silly questions again.
13 years later, my wife and I were watching the trivia quiz show Cash Cab on television. The show's driver / host proffered the following question, which I now paraphrase:
"Author Salman Rushdie won what famous literary prize available only to citizens of the United Kingdom?"
"How is anybody supposed to know that?" my wife complained.
"That would be the Man Booker Prize" I snapped.
"Hah! What an egghead!" she exclaimed. (This reminded me of a comment that Sarah Palin had made  in a speech condemning the "liberal elites").
"No, you should know that" I  tweeted in snark.
"NOT!"..."I dub thee Lord Booker !"  she proclaimed in a royal tone.
Recently, I was fortunate enough to visit with the exiled Argentine poet and raconteur Juan Barrí.  We were having a pleasant discussion until I used the word "neologism" in conversation. I did not pronounce it to Juan's liking:  I put the accent on the third syllable:  NeoLOgism.
It's pronounced "NeOlogism"  he insisted, and then fetched a dictionary.
"Right here -- you see -- "NeOlogism."
In my defense, I asserted that I had heard the word pronounced by an esteemed intellectual from Cambridge University who had appeared on CSPAN.  "So there!"
Juan paused, and then presented me with the following gem:
"If we all spoke as they do at Cambridge University, we'd all be fucked.  There wouldn't even be a United States!"
Even Lord Booker of Scottsdale can't win them all.



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