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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A long-overdue explanation

So my girlfriend asked where the name "CommaCommaCrash" came from, and I was dismayed to find I hadn't already written a post on the subject. The name comes from a poem I discovered back in high school, during Web Design A, a class which mainly consisted of sitting in the back row, downloading music with WinMX, and playing ridiculous flash games. Web Design B, by the way, which was the Flash [read: fun] portion of the course, never fit into my schedule, much to my chagrin. But I digress.

The version of this poem that I came across (don't ask me how, it takes me a few attempts at Googling to find this particular version every time) is at the self-proclaimed "Definitive Tech Humor Collection", whose design, in retrospect, is a blight upon the internet (link later, I don't want to ruin it yet). To my credit, I had never actually visited any page except for the text-only poem anecdote, and besides, there are much worse offenses out there.

But more to the point, the poem is a punctuation poem. It goes as follows:

<> !*''#
%*<> ~#4
As you can tell, this is no ordinary poem. Which is perhaps why I like it - I am no ordinary person. In fact, I did a metric analysis (is that even what you call it? Nope, Wikipedia says it's scansion) of this poem for A.P. English, since its discovery coincided with the poetry unit in said class. But anyway, it is read as each character's name - sometimes rather arcane, arbitrary, or archaic names, but it only works if you read it out loud, to wit:
Waka waka bang splat tick tick hash,
Caret quote back-tick dollar dollar dash,
Bang splat equal at dollar under-score,
Percent splat waka waka tilde number four,
Ampersand bracket bracket dot dot slash,
Vertical-bar curly-bracket comma comma CRASH.
Seriously. If you got here and haven't read it, read it out loud. Go somewhere where no one will give you funny looks if you must. Then read it out loud, go back up to the punctuation version, and see that it actually does read that way. After a few times, you can read it straight from the punctuation. It's magical. Or maybe it's just me.

Anyway, as you can see (helped by my tasteful emphasis), I lifted the name of this blog straight from the last line, because it sounded vaguely geeky, and is an allusion to a poem that I find quite amusing, and which you do too, now that you've read it out loud. Right?

Oh, and most of the pronunciations make sense, but why "waka waka"? It's an allusion to the sound that PacMan (whose open mouth is implied by the angle brackets) makes as he gobbles up dots. The page I found it on asserts that it was voted as the proper pronunciation, winning out over "norkies".

Also, sidenote: who knew that Pacman's name was originally pakku-man (パックマン), from paku-paku taberu (パクパク食べる), a Japanese onomatopoeia* for the same thing? Amazing the things you can learn on the internet.

You can find the full text over at the aforementioned Definitive Tech Humor Collection. I admit, I lifted the intro to the pronunciation straight from the description, but it's only because that is how I find it (really - I Google "punctuation poem to wit magazine"), and I like to think that I would, left to my own devices, introduce it similarly.

*I totally almost spelled that right on the first try. I just switched the last "o" for an "a". So close. Ah well. Thanks, Firefox spell check.

1 comment:

Sebastian said...

I thought I was a big geek.

But having read that poem, and then your sound analysis of it, I will sleep soundly tonight knowing that there are new reaches -- new echelons -- for my geekiness to reach!