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Burrs under the saddle

The big troubles tend to bring out people’s strength—that “keep calm and carry on” spirit of the Blitz in London. It’s the little irritations that accumulate and wear away one’s patience and equanimity. Like these.

You would think that people who work for a classical music station would take the trouble to learn how to pronounce names properly. But no, you regularly hear the disyllable Dvorak mangled as “DUH-vor-zhak.”

Mind you, I’m calmer now that I work evenings instead of listening on the early-evening drive home the relentless cycle of the Dvorak Slavonic dance, the Strauss waltz, the Brahms Hungarian, and the von Suppe overture that some sadist programs day after day.

Apparently Comcast’s On Demand has dropped Law and Order UK, the bastards. Never mind that it was basically the plot lines from the American version with wigs and Received Pronunciation. What am I supposed to watch now, that sappy remake of Hawaii Five-O?

I’ve had my fill of commercials for automobiles in which trick drivers zoom along stretches of empty road. Everyone knows perfectly well that we will either creep along a beltway at fifteen miles an hour or be menaced by some cowboy who mistakes Hillen Road and Perring Parkway for the Bonneville salt flats.

It makes no sense that nearly every liquor store carries that ersatz bourbon they distill in Tennessee while Old Forester is hard to find.

Mentioning Tennessee brings to mind that they have another moronic legislator attempting to smuggle creationism into the science curriculum under the guise of “teaching the controversy.” You’d think that after the Scopes trial the state would be a little more jealous of the tattered remnants of its reputation. But if they think “teaching the controversy” is such a fine idea, let them dictate that Marxism and Facism be taught alongside capitalism and democracy.

I am still waiting for word that Paula Deen is to be tried for crimes against humanity.



Posted by John McIntyre at 12:07 PM | | Comments (17)


The new "Hawaii 50" is a remake of "Miami Vice."

And that Tennesee spirit is bourbonic plague.

Prof. McI.,

Hmm........... I believe that's how they pronounced the acclaimed Czech classical composer, Dvorak's name, i.e., "DUH-vor-zhak", on the popular animated series, The Simpsons ...........DUH......... or was it DOH.

I vaguely recall the sole brainiac in this chronically dysfunctional cartoon family, Lisa, was at one point wrestling w/ her saxophone phrasing on Dvorak's slightly obscure 4th Concerto for Saxophone and Full Orchestra in "G" Minor/ Opus 13, and doofus brother Bart queried, " Is that DUH-vor-zhak, or Brew-bek? I can never get those two cats straight. It's all classical-jazz to me, dude."

And who said the Simpsons lacked class? (Well, other than lower class. HA!)

Ducky "Czech-Liszt" Isacksson........................ DOH!

Look, a disyllable there ain't easy. Go easy. Teach us to care and not to care. Teach us to sit still. Outside, the sun is shining. Drink Scotch, not bourbon. All manner of things will be well. Probably...

Very few characters on "Law And Order UK" use Received Pronunication.

The ones wearing wigs do.

I shd hope so, indeed.

What is Law and Order UK, by the way?

Paula Deen is a female impersonator, who calls her sons "son." Nearly every 'cook' on the Food Network is hideously overwight, save for the skinny woman with the big head, and perpetual toothy grin. Most unattractive. And why Law & Order SVU is still on the air is a mystery to me: if I were attacked, the last two I'd want to see coming at me would be the likes of them. And I believe all classical music stations have their problems with pronunciation:probably as it is so difficult to get qualified announcers/programmers now.


I believe Law & Order: UK is a Benny Hill-esque sitcom, akin to the frenetic antics of the Keystone Cops of the early silent film era, where a bunch of British 'bobbies' chase down various no-count 'perps', billy-clubs and truncheons in hand. Just imagine that crazy sped-up action accompanied by the ragtime-like, slightly tinny music featured in Benny Hill's wild and wacky shows, and you've pretty much got an encapsulated "L&O: UK" scenario. Kind of one-dimensional, I have to admit. (Picky, don't believe a word I just said. HA!)

But seriously, old lad, I would think Law & Order: UK is likely very close to the basic narrative format, and story content (but London-based) of the original, long-running U.S. version, w/ a showcasing, each week, of both the criminal and judicial aspects of big city law enforcement, w/ the usual regular ensemble cast of 'coppers', and high-roller attorneys taking center stage.

Personally, I'm not a huge fan of these cops, forensics, court/ trial themed shows like Law and Order, or the myriad CSI dramas. Although back in the '80s I thoroughly enjoyed the then ground-breaking cop drama Hill Street Blues. The show's very mellow, saxophone-dominant ilead-in theme music was so captivating, and the cast of lead characters was well defined, and always engaging.

Picky, my girlfriend and I have recently discovered a cracking good Brit series on our local PBS station(s) that has apparently been running for several seasons in the UK----Dr. Martin.

Martin Clunes, the actor who portrays the small-town 'doc' is just a superb in capturing the
never-suffer-fools-gladly, abrupt, almost antisocial character of this conscientious, yet ofttimes bumbling GP. There something very charming, and comforting in having a window into the daily ordinariness of mostly just plain village folk, who are so cleverly interwoven into the continuing Dr. Martin narrative.

I imagine folks in Britain might have had their fill of the show, as Dr. Martin seems to take forever to come out of his shell. He's just so set in his quirky ways. A doctor who even gets nauseous at the mere sight (and smell) of blood is just priceless. And his romancing of the sweet local public school teacher just crawls along at a snail's pace. Yet hope springs eternal. HA!

By-the-by Picky, are you celebrating India's big World Cup cricket win over rival Sri Lanka? A little mussaman curry, saffron basmati rice, and a chunk of warm garlic naan, washed down by a few drams of your favorite, Laproaig, sounds like a fitting celebratory repast, no?

Have a great week, Picky.

Ducky "On the Lam...... Masala" Isaksson................ pass the mango chutney, Lassie. HA!

I have to agree with you about the too-often failed pronunciation of composers' names on classical music stations. I listen to WQXR in Manhattan, formerly owned by the New York Times, and their presenters routinely mispronounce certain names. My favorite peeve is Debussy. They routinely pronounce it DEBYOUsee. It should be pronounced duhbyouSEE.

Marc: are you sure there's a y in it?

Alex: it was a good game. It was great for the vast Indian crowd, and for India. Very sad for a highly talented Sri Lankan team.

My brother-in-law's mother - and, therefore, his siblings; his neices and nephews and his great- neices and nephews - call him "Son". His mother is more than a tad whacky but when the chips are down, she's all woman.

I just checked out the proper pronunciation of French composer Debussy's name, online, listening to an audio version, which to my tin ear broke down phonetically as DEBUT-SEE....... the French word for one's first-ever public performance (debut), followed by SEE.

For those folks more hip to the 'Hollywierd' crowd, one could also pronounce Debussy, phonetic-wise, as DE-BYOU-SEE....... a combination of the French "de" (of), and the last name of the oft-troubled, spacey actor (Gary) Busey (BYOU-SEE)

I don't know if my offering(s) muddies the debate even more, or perhaps adds a little clarity. But, for now, that's all I got, folks.

(Currently, the over-the-top Gary Busey is on the brink of banishment from the cheesy ABC reality show, Donald Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice". On last evening's 'Apprentice'' installment, the verging on over-the-hill rock singer, Meatloaf, suddenly went into an hysterical, angry fit because he suspected teammate Busey had ripped off his precious art supplies. At one point, 'Meat' was threatening to literally rip Busey's head off, as Busey just stood his ground, in a frozen, non-aggressive, almost catatonic state of shock and awe. Thankfully, clearer heads prevailed. But i digress.)

Oh Picky, old lad, I'm glad you thoroughly enjoyed the big cricket finale. I trust the best team on that day, the Indian squad, took the much-coveted World Cup title. I find it amazing and heartening how sport, played out on the big stage, can often, at least temporarily, ease long-festering cultural/ political tensions, and antipathies between neighboring nations.

Even though it was more symbolic than anything, it was still nice to see the leaders of both India (Mr. Singh) and Sri Lanka (can't recall HIS name) seated seemingly amicably together in the VIP boxes watching their respective teams battle it out on the pitch below. I'm sure both statesmen were very proud of their sporting countrymen's efforts. To merely make it to the final was a major accomplishment for both sides. Sadly, there had to be just one winner, and one loser.

Ducky "The Obfuscater" Isaksson

(1) For all of you who are complaining about TV programs, please remember the simplest solution: Turn the damn box off. The Boss and I have been practicing this strategy for the last several years, to great effect.

(2) And may I venture, as a native Tennessean, to remark that it ill becomes a native Kentuckian to be sneering at Tennessee's stance on creationism? The Creation Museum is located in Kentucky, after all.


Actually, the "BYU" section of Debussy in my non-IPA, tries to replicate the French "U," as Alex suggests, but my real problem with the faux pronunciation which I forgot to nitpick about yesterday, is the De part of the name. In French it's pronounced "duh," but most presenters say "day," which is the proper Spanish pronunciation. The composer, last time I looked, was French.

He was, poor chap, he was. Which means, I suspect, that he wouldn't have pronounced debut as day-byoo or duh-byoo, but as de-boo, and the boo very short, giving his name the approx values de-boo (very short) - si.

You should hear what those same people to do Italian and English,not to mention Russian!

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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