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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

DOUI versus the FONZ - Part VI - Tai What???

The National Zoo of the United States has announced the name of its new panda cub.



No, it's not Stew, either. I know you're disappointed.

No, in a direct affront to this web site and our dozens of fans (and I mean dozens in terms of counting everyone's fingers and toes as individuals), they have named the panda cub "Tai Shan".

Like many of you, at first I thought Tai Shan was the name of the space princess in Star Trek, whose tears caused Captain Kirk to fall in love with her, until he found that he had a greater love, that being himself...excuse me, I mean the Enterprise. I was then corrected, as that individual was Elaan of Troyius, who, incidentally, is in no way related to Elian Gonzales.

In actuality, the name "Tai Shan" is Mandarin for "Peaceful Mountain."

Peaceful Mountain?? Peaceful Mountain??!!??

OK, I realise that the folks at the National Zoo are zoologists, and bureaucrats at that, but this has to be the worst of the names on their list after "China, Washington, Magnificent." Why not just name the poor blighter "Beat Me Up, Please?"

All right, I know I'm repeating myself, but I'm vexed.

Of course, the greatest offence is not recognizing the efforts our own Stew Miller went to, in order the get the panda cub a proper name. The winner was "Bon Bon", sent in by Elizabeth K. of parts unknown. I should add that she is a real person...not one of us, as would be the usual case.

Since "Bon Bon" was rejected, I repeatedly requested, via two representatives of FONZ (The Friends of the National Zoo and Henry Winkler), that the National Zoo staff add "Stew" to the panda's name, in honour of the 30 minutes effort he took to post the contest and collect the names (all right, "name") and make up a few more himself. All of Stew's hard work was in advance of the National Zoo's contest no less, so far as we know.

Their response has been like a slap of ice water to the face on a January morning in Edmonton, Canada. Which is a colourful way of saying that they haven't responded. I could be writing the wrong people, but these were the addresses off the website. So, of course, I must make one last, monumental, diligent, belligerent effort to change their minds, or at the least, to acknowledge they have been receiving my mail. This effort thus follows:

Dear You Know Who from Happy Days,


Well, you've gone and done it now. You've named the poor little newspaper-coloured tyke "Tai Shan." Unfortunately, not only have you deeply offended my colleague Stew Miller, who put his heart and soul, and at least 30 minutes effort, into the panda-naming contest we started (see previous messages), but you also have overlooked that "Tai Shan" in Cantonese means "bird poop."

All right, I was kidding about that last part, but I bet you zipped over to the "Big Book of Cantonese Names: US Zookeepers Edition" (Irving Wallace, Bantam, 1973) just to make sure, didn't you?

Nonetheless, the choice of the name "Peaceful Mountain" is bound to be unsuitable to the Chinese, who, upon the wee bairn's arrival in China two years hence, will no doubt change the little cubby's nom-de-panda to something more institutionally acceptable, such as "Invade Taiwan" or "Bite Us Dalai Lama!"

After looking over your list of sponsors, I now relaize you have been buying time to get an appearance on the Today Show with noted panda-shmoozer Katie Couric. For shame. Shame! Shame! Shame! (If it helps to capture the effect, please reread the last three words while imagining a large Anglo-Saxon man slowly shaking his head over a half-empty glass of ale.)

Of course, this deliberate attack on our integrity, as well as these cheap attempts at publicity, cannot go unanswered. Therefore, I have resolved to conduct one of the following forms of protest:

1. Parade around the grounds of the National Zoo in a thong, with the words "Tai Shan is Stew!" tattooed to my body.

2. Replace Matt Lauer's cue-cards on Today with cards containing the words "Help me, I'm am a panda named Bon-Bon Stew being held captive by the National Zoo" and "My pants are full of Jello!" Admittedly, the latter one has nothing to do with this dispute, but would be highly entertaining.

3. Stand outside the offices of the National Zoo singing Wayne Newton's "Danke Schoen" at the top of my lungs for days on end. This would be nasty indeed.

4. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever write you people again (maybe).

I shall only resort to number 4 upon receipt of a response to this e-mail, or the public promise of "I Love Tai Shan" baseball caps or t-shirts, size XXL for myself and the other 3 regular members of this blog.


Earl Fando
Co-Editor and Contributor
The Dictionary of Unfortunate Ideas

P.S. Say hello to little Peaceful Bon-Bon Stew Mountain for us, please.


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