Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Klingon for Social Occasions

Being a fan of CBS's Big Bang Theory, I wasn't exactly surprised that this week's episode opened with the characters speaking Klingon.  But I laughed anyway.  The fact that a fictional language -- or maybe it's a real language created to flesh out fictional characters -- remains such a fixture of popular culture is funny in itself. And that was the inspiration for a column I wrote about ten years ago for Howdy, then the humor section on AOL.  In celebration of the wonderful, unrepentant geekiness the interest in Klingon represents,  I thought I'd take this occasion to resurrect that column here.



Admit it. You've always wanted to attend a Star Trek convention. But you're afraid you just wouldn't fit in. Sure, you're a fan, and you watched all the various episodes. But you don't have a Starfleet uniform, and you can't do that split-finger Vulcan salute. Somehow, you feel that you just don't measure up to the dedicated Trekkers, the ones that know the names of every female character who has ever locked lips with James Tiberius Kirk. Well, have no fear.

The Klingon language is a very hot topic among trekkers. If you take a moment to learn a few simple phrases of conversational Klingon, you'll be rubbing appendages with pointy-eared, exotically-garbed Trek-heads faster than you can say "Live Long and Prosper." Learning the following phrases will take a little practice. Just remember that the key to proper Klingon pronunciation is to pretend that you are walking barefoot on broken glass while trying to cough up a hairball.

Here's your lesson:

"h'Yarg! b'Nok ----- . mM'i d'weebik duRg"
Translation: "Hi! My name is _____. I'm 45 and I live with my mother."

"y'hHah! g'uTza oRomol'a zaSla ak'chEz s'Umuj aPnat!"
Translation: "Whew! Those Romulan burritos are murder! Sorry about the wallpaper!"

"w'ikkEe mukO i'gboy wOoo tookIe'ookie mAa'gne!"
Translation: "Picard might be smarter, but Kirk gets all the chicks."

"oO'eE Oo AhHa wAllaH bIng b'Ang!"
Translation: "Hey, baby, I've got my phaser set on 'love'."

"yAkY blEicka Ima w'oo bAgg'ag G'er!" Translation: "No , this isn't Klingon make-up!"

"hIya ffutS oStsa Ah'ma gG'ahna aMah'Ahnklas!"
Translation: "Hey, watch this, I can do the Vulcan nerve pinch on myself!"

"dAfeIg haArdfi nUmoite pOtue vilGuNe zlIfgna blAdrfo."
Translation: "I'd like to see Patrick Stewart in one of Shatner's wigs."

"uiHo VaZieg yOnbi gdIlrg mUflit gUgh!"
Translation: "Something about bony ridges on a woman's forehead gets me all squishy."

"gIcola uhTifoy mlEgthi fhUtomu varfGiO!"
Translation: "I got your logic, pal. RIGHT HERE!"

"g'Hak! g'Hak! g'Hak! g'Hak!"
Translation: "I'm not talking, I'm choking! Quick! Someone Heimlich me!"

Now, that wasn't so hard, was it? Practice a few minutes every day. Eventually, your larynx will stop bleeding and your throat will develop the thick scar tissue necessary for that authentic Klingon accent. Then, when the next Trek convention comes to town, lay in a course and....Engage!


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

My Election Night

I voted by absentee ballot a couple of weeks ago because I had to be in Denver for a technology conference on election day. 

Given the reported voter registration issues -- real and contrived -- and the way things played out for the last couple of presidential elections, I assumed it would take several days before we'd know the real winner.

So I was completely surprised when I returned from dinner with a colleague to find the bar in the lobby of my hotel crowded and very noisy. People were cheering, and my first thought was that they were watching some sort of sporting event. But then I noticed that the TVs were tuned to CNN, and that the text along the bottom the screens proclaimed Obama the next president.

The people in the bar were grinning and laughing and generally behaving as if their team has just won the Super Bowl.  I ordered a drink, sipped it a bit while watching the action on the tube, and then headed to my room.

I called my wife, and together -- though some 2000 miles apart -- we watched John McCain's moving and gracious and classy concession speech, and then watched Obama's even more moving and incredibly powerful acceptance speech.  It was an inescapably emotional moment.  The sense of change was -- and still is -- tangible.

Maybe I'm a sentimental, overly optimistic old fart. Maybe not.

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