Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Daytime TV

Because it is summertime and we are afforded the luxury of a little down time, I must admit to watching more TV during the daytime than usual. Mind you I said TV during the day, not daytime TV. Daytime TV is usually considered to be soap operas, game shows, and sleazy talk shows. These are not what we have been watching. The TV is most often tuned to the Food Network, HGTV, CNN, or whatever channel is showing reruns of Law and Order or CSI.

This afternoon Brooke happened to be watching reruns of a show from the 2002-2003 TV season called John Doe on the Sci-Fi Network. Having never seen this show before and having not been paying close attention today, the best synopsis of it that I can give is this: A man found himself in Seattle not knowing who he was but knowing almost everything else. As he sought to uncover the mysteries of his own existence, he also helped the Seattle Police Department solve cases as well. (My apologies to any of you that are fans of this series. I am sure that there is more to it than this)

The episode that was on today was about a 10 year old boy genius who was conceived by artificial insemination after his mother visited a sperm bank. Somehow (I was not paying attention at the outset of the show), this little boy believed John Doe to be his father. One of the things that was integral to determining the boy's father was the intellect that they shared. A series of questions was asked of John Doe to prove exceptional intelligence as well as his knowledge of almost everything.

He was asked if he knew the derivation of the word "nerd". Because the word nerd is as common a word as food and toilet paper at our house, my attention was suddenly drawn to the TV. John Doe responded that the word nerd was first used by Dr. Seuss in 1950 in a line from his book If I Ran The Zoo. I was quite surprised by this.

I am a huge fan of Dr. Seuss. Like most children of my generation, I learned to read with the Cat in the Hat and Sam I Am. Back then, I was familiar with the characters and I had a grasp of the silliness illuminated in the literal stories. A few years ago, I was again drawn to Dr. Seuss. Right now, I can't even remember why. The result was that BK and I wrote and taught an adult Sunday school series on the Spirituality of Dr. Seuss. I suddenly met these characters and stories on a totally different level. Theodore Geisel was a story teller with an imagination beyond compare. I could go on and on about this man and his work, but that would be a huge digression from this post.

Back to the word nerd. I went to my Seuss collection to verify Seuss' use of this word because I could not remeber it in If I Ran The Zoo. There it was in the line, "And then, just to show them, I'll sail to Ka-Troo, and bring back an It-Kutch, a Preep and a Proo, a Nerkle, a Nerd and a Seersucker, too." Cool! Then I went to the Internet to see if this was indeed the first use of this word in print. Most sources that I found agreed that it was.

Another theory is that the word nerd originated with the word drunk spelled backwards. There was not as much evidence to support this possibility. It was not until the 70's that the word nerd became accepted as part of the English language. Back then, the term was generally applied to a person who was socially inept. Overtime it has evolved to mean a person who interested more in intellect and academics than in the social aspects of life. The latter is certainly how we have come to use it at our house - a place that is proud to call itself home of the nerds.

I am not going to go as far as to advocate more watching of TV during the daytime, but I was pleasantly surprised by the piece of trivia that today's viewing brought.

Power To Nerds!

1 comment:

Luanne Fose said...

Kris,

If you have never seen Dr. Seuss' "The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T" you must rent it. I'm sure you can appreciate the gruelling piano lessons scenes. To learn more, see this link in Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_5,000_Fingers_of_Dr._T
In this movie you can see the beginnings of Dr. Seuss icons that became a staple for him. I think you'll find it interesting. He got better with time obviously. I mean "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" is a classic! I'm a huge Seuss fan.
You'll probably also like the UCSD website catalog of his political cartoons at:
http://orpheus.ucsd.edu/speccoll/dspolitic/Frame.htm

Luanne