Tuesday, August 09, 2005

NAME THAT NEW PLANET



Or, who put the ram in rama-dama-ding-dong...I'd like to shake his hand?

By Ovid Publius Hadweenzic, an errant Knight-In-Shining Armor, with a trusty thirty-pound encyclopedia under his arm to keep him warm at night, a bag of dog biscuits to keep strange critters happy, and a wooden hobby-horse which he rides every now and then to remind him that he’s destined to become the world’s first cosmic cowboy catapulted into space

The world is too much with us late and soon. Frankly we're now faced with a new conundrum on our hands, (as if we haven't got enough to do just getting and spending, much less laying waste our power for the next millennium or two).

The burning question of the day is, "What to call the newly discovered 10th planet of our solar system?"

Scientists were sick and tired of calling the nameless nuisance holding up the rear of the universe, "2003 UB313". And, politicians the world over needed something to distract the hungry hordes. The latter were totally bummed out about having to put up with the usual ration of bread and circuses, and were preparing to stomp all over the newly-planted flower beds, hurl hanging baskets about with glee, and encourage their precious pets to piddle or poop on the well-manicured lawns outside the seats of government.

While spin doctors spun their wheels aimlessly and birds began to twitter off-key, bigwigs stopped clipping their coupons, playing a round of golf and pressing the flesh. Minor minions also decided to get in on the act of being totally dumbfounded as to what to do.

They were all in a deep and dark funk. And, popping "happy" pills did not seem to relieve them of their profound perturbation about the possibility that some “rogue astronomer” might leap up and take credit for discovering the newest heavenly body. More to the point, they feared their worst nightmare might actually come true ...and shudder the thought ...that some renegade rascal of a rapscallion would name the latest addition to our solar system ... “The Big Bopper”.

So, while it’s comfy to know that "2003 UB313" regularly orbits the sun (like anyone really gives a hoot), and is larger than Pluto (not that anyone’s been out there lately with a measuring tape to confirm this of course), the real issue at hand is giving the number a human face as it were.

After all, if there’s one thing savvy, consumer-conscious human beings can’t stand is not having a brand-name label and a familiar image they can trust attached to all their stuff. And, who knows what treasures and treats lie waiting beneath the surface of "2003 UB313" to be pinched and poked or potentially pillaged and plundered by all manner of light-fingered folk!

In order to avoid a long, drawn-out competition between roving bands of nincompoops, ninnyheads and UFO fanatics inhabiting Earth, (all of whom claimed that with the aid of their backyard binoculars they had spotted a wandering ‘whatchamacallit’ whizzing about the sky), it was decided by the global power brokers that something had to be done, and fast.

Concern that the identification of a new planet might spark a celestial civil war, (as the other nine blessed bodies with deep roots among the Greek and Roman Gods were not exactly thrilled about the news of a new mythical deity in the neighborhood trying to horn in on their sacred solar system), all of which prompted the United Nations to convene an extraordinary meeting to deliberate upon the matter.

Meanwhile, long-forgotten mythical deities seeking a new lease on life were threatening to cash in their "Get Out of Jail Free Card", not to mention demanding a "Free Lunch" in addition to exercising their "Equal Opportunity Rights".

Fortunately, one dedicated diplomat from the land of ice and snow stepped forward to announce that he had a suggestion. Why not invoke the “not withstanding clause” in a repatriated Canadian constitution -- it might just do the trick. When asked what this had to do with the price of tea in China or the finer points of English grammar, he replied tersely if not curtly, "such a clause permits Canucks to do anything we please as long as an emergency has been declared". He was politely thanked for his tangential contribution to the esteemed gathering of well-known windbags and hot-air enthusiasts by the Third Under-Secretary to the Snooze-Button Control Operator (seated quietly next to a somnolent-looking Secretary General who was indulging in his favorite passion -- navel-gazing).

So, in the absence of an answer that everyone could live with, the powers that be sent out a 911 call on the Transcendental Meditation Hotline. Since the "Big Guy in the Sky" was busy performing miracles on 34th street, burning bushes, and whipping up loaves of bread and oodles of fish for supper that night, I took the call.

This was a fortunate stroke of fate as it turned out. Fending off one-eyed-one-horned-flying-purple-people eaters and gritting teeth like grand pooh-bahs do certainly appealed to my keen spirit of adventure. However, it seems the ornery overlords were a tad miffed at being put on hold for four and a half hours. As if that were not enough, they complained constantly about the miserable choice of mood music and weren’t at all impressed with having to navigate a newly-minted maze of dulcet toned, voice-activated digital telephone instructions, (affectionately called the “Tree of Useless Knowledge”).

Anyway after much consternation and constipated consideration, I perused the pithy pages of my encyclopedia for a hint as to how to solve this disturbing dilemma, namely, how to come up with a marvellous moniker for the new planet. After much too-ing and fro-ing, not to mention more than the occasional hemming and hawing, the answer popped out of my snorting cerebellum. Just install a big suggestion box in a mall somewhere and let everyone toss in their two-cents worth.

The names below represent a sample of those submitted, (just to prove this was a fair, legitimate, and totally transparent community consultation process):

  • Bacchus (He puts on a terrific beer garden, organizes nifty wine & cheese affairs not to mention hosting more than a few hot-tub & toga parties)

  • Buddhabot (A Warp-Speed Wisdom Wonderkin)

  • Captain Kangaroo (A terrific child-minder on a Saturday morning)

  • Cleopatra (In honor of "The Queen of Face-Lifts, Tummy Tucks & Botox Injections")

  • Cronos (Nominated by Father Time to celebrate the "World's First 'Clockwatcher'")

  • Cupid (He deserves a bigger and better target practise range don't you think?)

  • Hades (The Daring Duathalon Dude who invented "The Burnt Barbecue Beef Challenge" and the "Walking on Hot Coals Contest" ...for macho men of course!)

  • Hera (In honor of the "Diva of Domestic Drudgery")

  • Hermes (Didn't he invent the typewriter?)

  • Juno (In honor of the patron saint and power-broker behind the miracle of "Immaculate Conception")

  • Joan of Arc (Nominated by "International Society of Trojan Horse Engineers" to honor the world's first under-cover hobby-horse rider)

  • Leprechaun (Nominated by the "International Association of Environmentally-Friendly, Vertically-Challenged, Transparent Entities" for "exemplarly service above and beyond the call of duty")

  • Loki ("Mischief-Makers Anonymous" voted him the most popular "Master of Mayhem" for 2005)

  • Poseidon (Nominated by "The International Association of Sea Monsters & Shipwrecks" for his invaluable contribution to establishing fraternal relations with the "Bathing Beauties Mermaids Society")

  • Puck (Someone has to poke fun at the folks on the newest planet in our solar system!)

  • Robin Goodfellow (Nominated by "The Goody-Two-Shoes Society of America & Friends" for his swarthy looks and swooning charisma, award-winning pearly-toothed smile, and unparalleled jolly-jump-up capabilities)

  • Satyr (In honor of "The King of Canoodling, Spooning & Romping About In the Holly-Fuds")

  • Spiderwoman (A wickedly wonky weaver-of-webs if ever there was one!)

  • Titan (Nominated by "The International Association of Windbags & Hot-Air Enthusiasts" as "The Next Best Thing to 'The Big Bopper'"!)

  • The Pit Stop At the End of The Universe (The "International Commode, Outhouse & Tinkle-Pantry Manufacturers' Association" and the "Fast-Food Franchise Owners of the Universe" recommended this planet as the best place to showcase their cutting-edge "Cosmic Water-Closet Technology" and new veggie-burger vending machines)

  • Thor (In honor of the "Father of Firecrackers" who adores letting the sparks fly and putting on a great "Thunderbolt & Lightening Spectacle" every now and then!)

  • The Queen of Sheba (Now there's one very 'Saucy Sylph of Shebang'!)

  • Tom Dick & Harry (Nominated by "The International Association of Innocuous Individuals" because these guys are more qualified than the "Three Musketeers" to keep up with the Jones', not to mention fill every "Joe Job" going in the universe!)

  • Vulcan (Voted "Playmate of the Year" by the "Vacuous Vixens of the Universe")

  • Wink’n Blink’n & Nod (Nominated by the "European Union of Fairy Tale Writers", The Sandmans' Society", the "North-American Sleep-Deprivation Research Institute" and "Sleepwalkers' Anonymous")

  • Xena (In honor of the world's first "Weed Whacking Wizardess"!)

  • Yahoo (Nominated by the "International Association of Podunk Places", for solving a pressing social problem - where to accommodate hard-to-house "Yammering Yokels")

  • Zorro (An equal opportunity, incognito, Hunky Halloween Hero)

With all the mall ballots and entries counted in the “Name That New Planet Contest", the gruelling selection task began. After 48 excruciating hours, a talented tollbooth attendant, one Heaver Herstmonceux, (from Three Legs Town, Ohio) was declared the winner. As luck would have it, the name chosen eloquently expresses the essence of those who have made a lonely planet at the end of the universe their home.

For the nail-biting nosey-parkers who've been waiting anxiously for the answer so they can fill their rumor mill with the lastest gossip -- quit complaining, cool your heels and hold your horses! And, if that doesn't work, take my advice humble advice - "Get a Life!"

Okay, okay ...so who do you think would dare to live on a remote “Bob-Fearing" planet at the end of the universe?

Who else ...but a band of boisterous do-gooders with a devil-may-care attitude to life, liberty, and the pleasurable pursuit of puttering about (entailing a well-stocked refrigerator full of beer, frozen pizza and ice-cream -- the staple diet of these casually-dressed cosmic critters).

For those who are still in a quandary, the winning entry was you guessed it ...an easy-to-remember, four-lettered word that just trips off the tip of your tongue …“DAVE”!

___________

Artist's rendering of the newest fun-loving alien in our universe, from the dare-devil planet "Dave" of course!

For those nosey-pokers who just have to see if this planet really does exist (and it's not a figment of this flighty author's fanciful imagination), check out: http://www.nasa.gov/vision/universe/solarsystem/newplanet-072905-images.html

So you need more stuff to feast your eyes upon, NASA's gleanings weren't good enough? ...check out: http://www.gps.caltech.edu/~mbrown/planetlila/

And for the busy-bee bookworm types who can't get enough cosmic crackers in their Christmas stockings, please see: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/08/0801_050801_newplanet.html

"New Scientist" names the top 10 moniker submissions for the newest planet on the block: http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn7811









6 Comments:

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