Friday, October 06, 2006

Princeton Dinner

I joined fellow alums (hi Connie), a couple prospectives, parents of a current undergrad, and the staff of Pyramid Brewery (NW warehouse district), for a Princeton Club of Oregon celebration of our somewhat cerebral heritage last night. All told, about fifty of us showed.

Dr. Joshua Katz was there, hot off a jet, to stand and -- after either chicken, salmon, pork or pasta; wine, water or beer -- deliver Etymology: The Glamour of Grammar.

Among the words Dr. Katz was excited about last night and/or is known for in the etymological community, are: etymology (the word itself), you (the pronoun, Old English), eel & snake (Hittite through Latinate transformations), vespers (evening prayers) and badger (the mammal).

Princetonians lapped it up, then asked traditionally brilliant questions.

For example, I wanted to know if there was any precedent for this explosion of made up commercial words, like Tylenol and Toyota Camry. He joked about Häagen-Dazs (very made up) and all the obvious psychology that had gone into that. And no, probably no precedent.

He called on me as "Mr. Angil" because I'd earlier distinguished myself by fishing up the Latin root for eel (he'd polled his audience, just like he polls his students). I'd flashed on Angillara on Lake Bracciano in Rome's outskirts.

The Korean couple next to me featured a charming more loquacious mom (of a Princeton student, also of an NYU student), and a quiet dad who chuckled knowingly but never said anything. That reminded me of the cute Korean couple in Lost, which Tara and I were just watching, and I even caught myself blathering about that for a few seconds. A Being There moment.

To my right, the Latin teacher from Cottage Grove, with her two high school aged wards. They lapped it all up with the rest of us. My response to tough-to-get-in good schools is we just need a lot more of them. Princeton is great and we joke about God going there, but really its our wholesome Global University that's great, meaning this planet for starters, where God does indeed teach, with a special spin just for each of us.

Also yesterday, Uncle Bill came by, yet better versed in self-publishing, and we updated his website, plus I briefed him on iPods and Internet lore.