Thursday, December 27, 2012

Gershwin Carry-Out? NO: Takeaway Gershwin (15,842 New Words)

In moving on from a battuta, the last word I found that I didn't know (four months ago) I was able to skip gracefully -- well, as gracefully as I can -- over a fortiori, a Latin word(s) I already know because I have read the book Catch 22 three times in my life, the last time being just over a year before I looked up a battuta, and a fortiori, as everyone who's read that book (which ought to be everyone) should know, is the kid who Yossarian switches places with in the hospital so that he (Yossarian) can be by Dunbar; the switch ends up not working because when the Army decides to send Yossarian home, A. Fortiori gets to go instead, because of the switch.

a fortiori means "to express a new conclusion for which there is stronger evidence than an earlier one," That is not the word today, though; as I said, I knew that word because I looked it up long ago when I first read the book.  a fortiori is just a word I came across that I knew as I looked for the next word I didn't know.

I also skipped over, as known, a cappella, a deux, "A game" and landed on a gogo, which I decided to make the new word today because I wasn't sure if I really knew what it meant, or not.  Here is what I thought when I read a gogo:

"Oh, I know that word.  Like in Whiskey A Gogo,"

which I then realized meant nothing to me.  It was like a string of nonsense syllables.  What, I wondered, is Whiskey A Gogo?  Is that even a thing?

First, the word: a gogo, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, means "in abundance; galore." The example Oxford uses is "Gershwin a gogo -- all the hits" which is kind of a dated reference.  I'm not sure whether I could name a Gershwin tune, so a gogo has, in essence, worked like a negative image of my mind, revealing all the areas where I thought I knew something but maybe didn't.  In my mind, I kind of thought a gogo would mean "able to be taken to go" or something like that.

(As an aside:  I am jealous of British expressions, which always seem so much more charming to me.  Like to go or carryout, which we use.  The British say takeaway, as in "Let's get some takeaway pizza," if my extensive research [Reading Nick Hornby books, watching Hugh Grant movies] is accurate.  I have always wanted to import that term: takeaway pizza, but I've been too shy to get it started here in Wisconsin.  Maybe someday when I am rich and living in Hawaii -- 2014 is my goal, now -- I will use some of those riches to start Takeaway Pizza and run a pizza shop.   I could work it with Mr Bunches and Mr F.  Although let's be honest; they're not going to do much of the work, as Mr Bunches is very busy these days with his four different Star Wars Legos sets that he got for Christmas.  He got those little sets that make a small spaceship and a Lego man; the spaceships fit in the palm of my hand and still use 70-80 pieces.  Each time I assemble one for him, I marvel at how many pieces it takes to make a tiny X-wing, and each time, too, I think to myself: this is someone's job, designing Legos for people to build.

Imagine that as your job: each day, you go into work and sit at a desk, or probably a table, and figure out how to build whatever it is Lego wants to make.  Right now, probably a lot of Hobbit stuff: "Build us a Smaug," the bosses will tell you, and you've got to do it, but, I figure, there's some rules here.  If you ever look at those Lego sets, they use a weird combination of standard Lego pieces.  They'll use, say, a bunch of little two-hitchers (as we used to call them when I was a kid, "give me a two-hitcher," which was a block with two bumps) to build a cockpit for the Avengers jet, and I'll think "Why can't they just use on 8 hitcher," but then I realized: Lego doesn't want to rejigger the entire factory every time they make a new set.  They want to make the fewest number of blocks possible, and just recombine those into new things, which is the whole point of Lego (from kids' perspectives) and which also makes sure they can make a profit, because this way they can just keep churning out 2-hitchers and people can make them into a Mars Rover, an X-wing, or Smaug.

So: your job is Lego Guy, and you get told to make a Smaug, and it's got to look like Smaug, and it's got to be possible to do, and it's got to use the fewest possible bricks to do it.  Go!

Could you do that? Like most jobs, at first blush it seems great: "I can play with Legos all day and get paid for it?" But after you think about it, it's work.  Playing with Legos for a living seems like fun because when you play with Legos in real life, you're doing it on Christmas Day, assembling Naboo fighters...

...Actual Dialogue:

MR BUNCHES:  What is it, Daddy? (holding up one box)

ME:  It's a Naboo fighter.

MR BUNCHES:  A NEW fighter.

ME:  Na-BOO fighter.

MR BUNCHES: New Boo Fighter.

ME: Close enough.
 ... so it seems like that would be an awesome job.  But it's different when you've got to get up early and go there and spend your entire day building your Smaug and then Steve in the next cubicle does it but uses two fewer blocks, which doesn't seem like much but translated into sales that saves Lego, Inc., 35,000,000,000 blocks, which is a lot of money, and you have to go home and tell your wife that you didn't make Smaug and you're not getting that promotion and you probably will get transferred to MegaBlox next week, building a "House."

It's pressure, is what I'm saying.

Each of those Lego sets comes with a little round, hollow planet to keep them in.  They are Star Wars planets, but Mr Bunches has never watched Star Wars; we started once but he got scared by the intro, so his exposure to Star Wars is based entirely on this:

 which he loves to watch and gives him the basics.

Because he doesn't know Star Wars planets, but he does know Our Solar System planets, Mr Bunches calls the planets what they look like to him: rather than Tatooine, Naboo, and such, he has "Earth, Venus, and Mercury."

But the fourth one, which is grey and metal and has that big ion cannon, he cannot pass off as a planet, so when he asked me what it was, I said "Death Star."

And now he has Earth, Venus, Mercury, and Death Star.  That will make him a hit when they study the planets in school.)

a go go, which is what this post is about, comes from the French, being derived from gogue, which means "fun" in old French, which I find interesting: fun in the olden days now translates into having a lot of a thing, which is an apt metaphor for our times, isn't it?  We're two days past Christmas and the boys got so many toys they haven't even had time to play with them all -- toys from Grandma and Grandpa and their brother and sister and us and some of their teachers, and they have a whole roomful of toys already -- and relatives still to come, this weekend.  And it's not just them; older people, too.  The older kids got gift cards on top of their presents, and Oldest was gleeful that she could get two outfits from her favorite store.  After checking the prices on her phone app (yes, she has a phone app for her favorite store because Oldest makes good choices) she announced that she could get three outfits.  Shopping a gogo = fun, as do legos a gogo, as more = fun in our lives.

There is a Whisky a gogo.  I was spelling it wrong.  It's some kind of famous bar in Los Angeles, apparently big in rock and roll history, as there's a page of "famous quotes" about it.  I read them, and don't recognize any of the quotes, so I'm not sure how "famous" the quotes are.  I don't even recognize most of the people who said them.  But you can get yourself some Whisky a gogo merchandise there, in case you don't have enough stuff to make your life fun yet.

Me, I'm going to listen to some Gershwin:

Turns out I knew some, after all.  Knowledge a gogo.


Michael Offutt, Speculative Fiction Author said...

I would not want to play with legos for a living. It does look like an astounding amount of work and I don't understand how some people can undertake such huge projects with them.

Liz said...

I have in fact heard of the Whisky A Gogo. Of course, that's because I live close enough so that I could go if I was of a mind to (I'm not) and I listen to the radio stations that play the music that the club plays. Or used to. Back in the '90s. When I was young and as cool as I ever got (I was a band geek with glasses--I was never very cool).

Andrew Leon said...

My younger boy wants to be a Lego designer. That's his goal in life, at the moment.

Just so you know, those planets Mr Bunches got are the same ones we have hanging on our Christmas tree, because my son decided that they should be Christmas ornaments, so you are well on your way to your own Star Wars Christmas next year.

Rusty Webb said...

The grey planet isn't a death star - its Mimas. You would know that if you'd finally buckle down and memorize all my old blog posts.

Briane P said...

OH MAN I GOT YOU THIS TIME RUSTY, thinking you are so smart and all. It IS a Death Star. It comes with the little TIE fighter and it has the ion cannon in it.

MIMAS. It is to laugh.

Aw and crap.

I just looked at Mimas and it is.

*shakes fist*


Rusty Webb said...

See? Even if I don't post anything new, the world can be improved just by perusing my archives.