Sunday, April 11, 2004

able was i ere i saw emily

A reader from Through a Glass, Dorkly has e-mailed the following retort to my recent happy nostalgic post regarding palindromes:
i was just thinking about how irritating that palindrome invitation is.

and also how stupid people are for being impressed by it. liking
palindromes is classic dork behavior. i mean, [expletive]ing TMBG has a song
about palindromes!* any dorky loser worth their salt has sat around
playing [expletive]ing word games with palindromes and anagrams. sheesh!
but then i started thinking that if YOU, jeremy jay freese**, really want to

set yourself apart from the rest of the dorky masses, you should start
collect [sic] palindromes in other languages. yep. then i will have some
respect for you.

when you feel ugly & petty
awkward & unsteady
just try not to forget
there's so many people who like you***
--jeff lewis, "alphabet"
* TMBG = They Might Be Giants, not quite Kraftwerk but still one of the pre-eminent old-school dork bands.**** However, the author's assertion in this is not actually correct. TMBG do not have a song called "I Palindrome I", they have two songs called this. The author of this e-mail is trying to claim the dork high ground on me in this e-mail, and yet she doesn't know this. Besides, she seems to think that either song is about palindromes, but neither really is. The only palindromes in the more well-known song are "manonam" (sung in the background) "Dad", "Mom", and "I." This version of the song does have a word palindrome in the middle*****, but for people serious about palindromes--which, the above author, despite regular claims to dork-hood, apparently is not, word palindromes are not palindromes at all. (Numerical palindromes--like the last four digits of my phone number, by my choice--do count as palindromes). On the basis of this alone, I will leave it to the reader's discernment who in this exchange is really the dorky loser less worth her veruca salt.

** The author of this e-mail knows very well that the use of my middle name is the ultimate fighting word in any discussion with me.

*** While we're talking about dork credentials, I'll also note here that the author of this e-mail has been for months now using this song lyric to fill her gullet from a false reservoir of hope. Anyone worth enough dorky salt to listen closely to the song can hear plainly that the lyric is not "there's so many people who like you", implying of course that there presently are people who like you, but actually "there's so many people who'd liked you," implying you were once liked by many but are no more.****** It's not nearly so hopeful a song as this reader has been long comforted by supposing. I have hitherto politely refrained from pointing this out to her, but now that the word "jay" has been placed between my first and last names, the gloves are off.

**** Regarding TMBG, there is this first-year student in our program who looks strikingly like John Linnell (the thin, talented, introverted one--as opposed to John Flansburgh, the portly, less talented, but more gregarious one).

***** A word palindrome is a sentence that reads the same whether the words (but not letters within the words) are read forwards or backwards. The word palindrome from "I Palindrome I" (other than its title):
"Son I am able," she said "though you scare me."
"Watch," said I
"Beloved," I said "watch me scare you though." said she,
"Able am I, Son."
****** If I were at the office, I would use my sound-editing software to splice out this line from the song so readers can hear for themselves. I am dorky enough both to do this and to make a big deal out of doing it.

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