Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Wanderers 2008.3.12

I showed up at the Pauling House earlier than usual, given the school's early field trip to a local judicial branch facility. Glenn showed up later than usual, tricked by a laggard clock, not yet on PDT.

A lot of today's conversation, expertly steered by Bunce, was about the origin of Oregon, as the name of our state. One can find when the whiteman explorers started using it, in connection with the Great River of the West, but why? Many myths circulate, no one really knows. A most plausible hypothesis is it's a mistranslation of Wisconsin.

What's true though is locals take pride in saying Orygun. That's like secret insider knowledge. So if you're like a tourist from "New Yawk" or something, trying to pass for native, and say Oregon (as in polygon), then you're the legitimate object of concealed titters, behind paper fans or whatever. Of course if you're not pretending you're not a tourist, OK then, you're forgiven.

We also discussed the perennial need for a more Christmas-like holiday in July, ostentatiously commercial, designed purely to galvanize the economy (not conflicted like Xmas, where we're supposed to be pious and greedy at the same time (i.e. kinda schizo)).

I proposed a "fourth king" folk tale and cover story (he shows up way late, other kings long gone), for those wanting to revise and extend within the Christian tradition.

David Tver was among us, and suggested more Judaic approaches.

Other religions welcome to step up to the plate on this one, or give us something scientific to celebrate, some annual migration or something (what are penguins up to in July?).

Of course some killjoys say we already have July 4 for a pig out and BBQ, lots of merchandise up in smoke. But I'm thinking of something less loud, more demur. How about something more geeky (lots of shopping online (where the penguins fit in?)) with a dash of gothic (ala Happy Halloween)? Summer movies play a role.

We also discussed the ethnography of joke-telling, how certain ones stay popular at like the 4th grade level, have probably passed kid to kid since Roman times and before, and yet don't seem worth telling once you're out of that head space (which isn't to cast aspersions on 4th grade humor necessarily -- some say IQs apex at that age, all downhill from there).