(In which Job is sooo condescending.)

Posted by Job O Brother, May 18, 2007 12:50am | Post a Comment

I’m looking around my room for gems of pop culture (or, as is more often in my case, unpopular culture) that I can gab about.

A good starting point is whatever’s playing on my iPod. Right now, that’s “La Transfiguration de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ”, a piece by the composer, Olivier Messiaen.


Um… That’s Olivier Messiaen.

Hee! You did it again! The way you’re pronouncing it in your brain is – you must forgive me – hilarious. It’s that cluster-f**k of vowels at the end.

Now, before you get all huffy and pronounce a few crueler things in your brain at me, you should know that I too once pronounced Olivier Messiaen the same way you… titter!… you just did.

But now I know better, and I’m going to pass this knowledge on to you. For free!

The first name is easy. It’s the Freedom version… I mean, the French version, of the name Oliver. Oh-LIVE-ee-ay. Like that one actor who won a lot of awards and inspired everyone with his performances and drank to numb the pain of his crushing depression and repressed homosexual desires.

No, silly – not Tom Cruise. Tom Cruise doesn’t inspire anyone. Pay attention!

Beloved actor and all-around doomed soul, Lawrence Olivier

The surname is the challenge, and requires making a couple sounds that don’t appear in the English language. I’ll break it down, syllable by syllable:

Messiaen: Mee-seh-YA-choo.

I know, I know. It doesn’t look like it’s pronounced that way, but it is French after all. We’re talking about a people who can’t be bothered to pronounce half their words most of the time.

Now you can walk into any music hall, concert at the park, conservatory, or the classical music section at Amoeba Music, and, with confidence, use the name Olivier Messiaen.

Here’s some examples of sentences you can now use, just to get you going:

1.) “Wow, this Amoeba is huge! I’m totally overwhelmed! Excuse me, but where might I find records by OLIVIER MESSIAEN? …Yes? Why, thank you! Also, what do the different colors of price stickers mean?”

2.) “Oh darling! Life is so much better now that I have found you! Come, let me cover you with kisses! Oh, look! There on the horizon! The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, thus signaling the end of the world! I guess there’s no point in bidding on that OLIVIER MESSIAEN c.d. I saw on eBay.”

3.) “I don’t see a much reason in being able to pronounce OLIVIER MESSIAEN when I have no f**king clue as to who he is.”

Or, my personal favorite:

4.) “That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud puddles, or gives me any best place, and ain't I a woman? ... I have plowed, and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me -- and ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man (when I could get it), and bear the lash as well -- and ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children and seen most all sold off to slavery and when I cried out ‘OLIVIER MESSIAEN!’ with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me -- and ain't I woman?"

Well… that about wraps up this blog. It’s been pretty educational, don’t you think? Except for the part where I teach you the wrong way to pronounce Olivier Messiaen. And also how I never really explain who he is, which is the real shame, because he was a genius composer. If you’re into that sort of thing.

Oh well. Not every blog can re-invent the wheel, right? Even so, as a token, I’ll leave you with a picture of one. Good night!

Beloved actor and all-around doomed soul, Tom Cruise

Relevant Tags

Sojourner Truth (1), Classical Music (31), Lawrence Olivier (1), Ipod (21), Olivier Messiaen (1), Gays (71), Tom Cruise (4), French Music (11)