Frivolity


If you’re like me, you’re not the most organized person in the world. This leads to what I like to call the “joy of discovery,” when you finally clean up a desk or a bookshelf or a table and find something you didn’t know you’d lost. It’s the same feeling I had yesterday driving in to work on an uncannily clear SoCal morning. Every detail of the mountains was sharp and clear, and I could see mountains fifty miles away that I see maybe a couple of times a year. Wow, what this place must have looked like before people and pollution moved in…

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So, making major life-changing decisions like leaving your teaching-centered institution for a Big 10 research-centered institution takes up a lot of time. Who’d’a thunk it? It’s not official yet, but unofficially, it’s off to Midwestern State U next year for me and my spouse. More on that later, as it continues to sink in that this is actually happening.

On to more important things (or at least more interesting ones). A friend of mine went to Malta over winter break and brought back a copy of the bus map for me (I’m an easy person to get souvenirs for). Besides being one of the most confusing and yet plainest transit maps I’ve seen (and just how many bus routes do you need in a place that’s only eleven miles by eleven miles?), it has some really wicked keen place names. I would expect place names in Malta to be a fascinating combination of Italian, Arabic, Turkish, and English, and they don’t disappoint.

Tarxien. Senglea. Qrendi. Ghaxaq. (Too bad you can’t use these in Scrabble.) Siggiewi. Naxxar. Dingli. The runner up is Kuncizzjoni, but the coolest name on the map, and possibly the coolest place name ever, is:

M’Xlokk.

I rarely ever say this about names or words in other languages, because I hate sounding like a dumb American who thinks English is the only acceptable language and anything else is weird or abnormal, but I have no idea how you pronounce that. But I love it.

(Aha! Five minutes of Googling has determined that it appears to be an abbreviation for Marsaxlokk, where the “x” has a “sh” sound. Still looks cool to me.)

I’m sure I won’t be the only commentator to notice that this is going to be a Midwestern Super Bowl, just like it was a Midwestern World Series. And as exciting as it would have been to see the Bears crush the Patriots again, it’ll be even better to see them defeat some Hoosiers. Illinois and Indiana in the Super Bowl: who’d’a thunk it?

“Bear down, Chicago Bears
Make every play clear the way to victory
Bear down, Chicago Bears, put up the fight with the might so fearlessly
We’ll never forget the way you thrilled the nation
With your T formation
Bear down, Chicago Bears
And let ’em know why you’re wearing the crown
You’re the pride and joy of Illinois
Chicago Bears, bear down!”

Wow, what a way to win a football game: in overtime, with Robbie Gould making the longest field goal he’s ever made. Now that’s exciting! In any other year, I would totally be cheering for the Saints next week, since I’m a perpetual fan of the underdog. But not this year: Bears all the way!

I grew up near Chicago, and my ten-year-old self was such a big fan of the Bears that I memorized the numbers of all of the players in the glorious 1985 season. (I still hate the Miami Dolphins for ruining that otherwise undefeated season, just like I will eternally hate the San Diego Padres for keeping the Cubs out of the World Series in 1984.) So when I was watching today’s game, I kept thinking “Otis Wilson!” when #55 made a big tackle, or “Dan Hampton!” when #99 got a sack. If I could just clear out of my head all of the useless stuff like the 1985 roster of the Chicago Bears, I would have room for a lot more important information…