3.02.2005

Do Geese See God?

NOTE: This certainly will qualify as SPASTIC's geekiest post yet.

"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."
-They Might Be Giants, I Palindrome I
. . . . . .
During cocktails at our last meeting, Bob stood up and yelled "Oh, no! Don Ho!" We thought this was simply one of Bob's numerous non sequiturs, until Anna realized he had just blurted out a sweet palindrome (then fell unconscious onto the divan).

Palindromes, of course, are most often words or phrases spelled the same way backwards as forwards*. The most famous is "A man, a plan, a canal: Panama!"** Not nearly as catchy as "Rats live on no evil star" or "May a moody baby doom a yam?" but famous nonetheless.

Now, why is it that so few can take true joy in something like a palindrome? They're seen as trivial, silly, a waste of time.
EXACTLY!
Do people not see that this is why we must appreciate the palindrome (and the spoonerism, and the anagram). We can spend our lives running willy-nilly, never stopping for a rest, or we can take a break and let our brain work in an area it doesn't often use: the, um, backward - word - thinking - up, uh, lobe.
I can sit in the living room, looking out my window thinking: "Was it a car or a cat I saw?" or I can get to work thinking on truly important things, like "when's the next palindromic date?" (01-02-2010).

When your man loses the election, you can complain all you want, but how about complaining in style:
"Loss? Alas! S.O.L."

In addition to the traditional palidrome, there's also the Word-Unit*** Palindrome, such as:
"Better doctors like people treated well because well-treated people like doctors better."
The lyric from the TMBG song at the top of this post is a word-unit palidrome. These are just as fun to create. Here's another:
"You can cage a swallow, can't you, but you can't swallow a cage, can you?"
Pure beauty.

So here's the thing: the few minutes it might take to ponder the lovely palindrome will add minutes onto your life. It's a halt. A mental rejuvination. Even if, after 30 minutes, your list reads:
1. DAD
2.
it's OK! It's the procees more than the product. Of course, if you've got some sweet ones, send 'em our way!

We panic in a pew
Oozy rat in a sanitary zoo
God! A red nugget!
A fat egg under a dog!
Go hang a salami, I'm a lasagna hog
-"Weird Al" Yankovic, Bob

*Lisa Bonet ate no basil
**America: The Book version: "A man, a plan, an American attempt to control shipping lanes in the Western Hemisphere: Panama!"
***Word-Unit is 50 Cent's newest protégé. He's gonna blow up big!

6 comments:

qflux said...

"Wo, Nemo, toss a lasso to me now"

I wonder if you could combine: a unit pallindrome where each 'unit' is a pallindrome itself. I think this would be quite difficult but worth pondering. Here's a very weak, absolutely non-sensical one:

"Wow mom, dad, a civic race-car, civic a dad, mom, wow."

Convincing one's mother that you are not a prostitute particle ("ho-non":
"I am ,oh, non-ho-non, ma, Aye."

I guess we could call this a "second-order" pallidrome (where it's a unit pallidrome, with each unit a pallindrome.) Notice also the use of phonetic similarity - "I" & "Aye" (is this allowed?)


Discovering someone with a prostitue:

"Oh no, on ho" (sorry)

Another challenge I've thought of is a pallindromic haiku, that's also oxy-moronic . . . ?

krow ot kcab, salA.

Eric "Babe" Morse said...

A palindromic oxymoronic haiku. Dude, you have just received SPASTIC knighthood. And this shall be our Holy Grail.
To Camelot! (On second thought, it is a silly place.)

durandkid said...

From the Mensa Puzzle Calendar:

Overheard when they banned flowers and cards on Valentine's Day:

"Won't lovers revolt, now?

Those smarties...God love 'em.

paul furnas said...

There is a musical example of a "secondary pallindrome" by Friedrich Kuhlau. The Latin text is "Otto tenet mappam madidam, mappam tenet Otto," which can be loosely translated as "Otto has a wet diaper, a wet diaper has he."

The musical form that Kuhlau uses is a "crab canon." A "canon" is a melody that can generate its own harmony ... if you know the "canon" (or rule) to apply to the original melody. For a "crab canon," the "rule" is to play or sing the original melody backwards in order to create the harmony.

This particular melody also works as a three-part round (like Three Blind Mice), and the backwards version of the melody works as yet another three-part round. Both three-part rounds can be sung simultaneously, creating six-part harmony.

The central word "madidam" (which means "sopping wet") has three syllables evenly placed in a space normally occupied by only two syllables, making the rhythm seem to droop at that point. Perhaps a bit inelegant, but nonetheless an effective example of "word painting" in music.

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