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Friday Morning Latin Lesson: XXXVI

August 21, 2009

Defici epicus, my friends![1] Last Friday, as Elliot reminded us, was the 32nd anniversary of the day Elvis died. Instead of showing you what a dirty old man Ovid was, I should have been talking about the death of the King of Rock 'n Roll. That, my friends, is a failure of an epic proportion.

The reason this is important to me isn't so much because of the King himself. No, my love for Elvis comes from an Elvis Impersonator. Oh, no, wait. An Elvis Tribute Artist, and arguably one of the finest in all the land. His name is Keith Henderson, and he's a propane man by day and an Elvis tribute artist in the evenings and weekends. I say "the best" because he has won awards declaring him as such.

When I first moved down to North Carolina, I tried to tutor chemistry as much as possible in order to help pay the bills and offset the meager restitution offered by the biotech I worked for. My very first job was tutoring this lovely young lady in high school chemistry, and so every Tuesday night I'd head down to her house and we'd work through some problems and worksheets and such and that would be it. I, of course, met her parents and her dogs, and then one night I was in the kitchen and noticed a room that was filled with Elvis memorabilia. And then, one night, Keith walked through carrying a blue jumpsuit with rhinestones sewn onto it, and it was then that I knew what was going on.

And I loved it. This was one of the greatest jobs I ever had. I got to hang out with a lovely family for an hour a week, talk chemistry, and one of the members of the household was a Elvis tribute artist. What wasn't to love? So, when her brother (who was away at college) needed help with college-level organic chemistry the following summer, I jumped at the opportunity to help him, too. I did such a good job helping them both that I was given some tickets to one of Keith's shows. My wife and I were so excited to go. And we went. People, I even forsook the second half of the Notre Dame/Michigan game that year (which Notre Dame won, thankyouverymuch) to see this.

To say I loved it is an understatement. It was hilariously good fun, mostly because Keith does a great job and pours a lot of energy into the role, but also because he doesn't take himself too seriously, which just helps with the fun. We've actually seen him twice. We're kind of Keith Henderson groupies. And that's not something I am ashamed to admit.

So, if ever you get a chance to see Keith Henderson and his band the Illusions, do it. If for nothing more than the chance to say you did. And, if you get to meet him after the show, tell him I sent you. Also, tell him this:

Credo Elvem vivere!

Pronounced: "Cray-doh El-waim wee-ware-aye!"

Translation in the hovertext. Also, THAT'S the blue jumpsuit! And his daughter that I tutored is on the right side of the picture.


The reason I like this little Latin phrase is because it's simple and teaches quite a bit about not only the language but also the grammar. So, I'll do a quick dissection here:

Credo is the first principal part of of the verb credere, which means "to believe (that)". It's the first person singular form and translates as "I believe," and it is from where we derive words such as "creed", "credence" and "credit."

Elvem is a Latinized form of the name Elvis, and since it ends in -is it takes what is called the "third declension". Declensions are ways of changing the ending to nouns depending on how they're used in the sentence, i.e. subject, direct object, object of a preposition, etc. The -em ending is in the accusative case because it is the subject of the indirect statement.

vivere is the verb "to live", and a word-for-word translation would be "I believe Elvis to be living", which is kind of...meh...so cleaning up the translation leaves us with "I believe that Elvis lives".

And there you have it: an actual Latin lesson. Have a good weekend, everyone.

[1] "I have failed epically!"

18 comments:

snowelf said...

True Story-and Ironic Conicidence of mixing Elvis and Latin...

When I was in High School I was not only in Latin, but I was in Latin Club. (I know, I know...but all my friends were doing it so it was obviously cool.)

One night at one of the meetings, we were given a video camera and told to make a video--any plot, etc. I somehow became the ring leader (I was also in Drama Club-racking up the coolness points here) so I decided we would make our movie about Elvis. It started with a seance where we raised the ghost of Elvis, who quickly escaped and therefore we then had to chase him all over Charleston. The people in my group were hilarious and the whole video ended up so ridiculously funny that it became the most popular one and our teacher showed it to every class. I kinda wish I still had that video. Anyway, more proof that Elvis mixed with Latin obviously leads to good things. :)

--snow

Mr. Condescending said...

Hey jenks if that girl was legal, you should have tutored her about the fascinating reaction of semen with saliva! Okay that comment was uncalled for but I'm still in bed and groggy.

Samsmama said...

I completely lost my train of thought after reading Mr. C's comment.

Have a great weekend!

Eric said...

I like how Italian and Latin are so similar (credo / vivere), it's almost as if one evolv... oh yeah.

Bev said...

Mr C! I'm shocked and turned on... um, I mean APPALLED.

Great lesson, MJ. I just know that THIS is the Latin phrase I will get to whip out to impress my friends someday soon, because I too believe that Elvis lives.

PS. This would make a great t-shirt. Just sayin'.

red said...

That's a great story. I'm always amazed how well some of Elvis' songs hold up. My band, now called The Let's Make Outs, plans on covering "Suspicious Minds." It's gonna be MAJOR!!!

otherworldlyone said...

My boss's ex boyfriend is an Elvis impersonator. But he has herpes.

P.S. - I mentioned you on my blog today. ;)

Jeney Peney said...

You missed half of a ND/Michigan game to see him?! Seriously? He MUST be damn good.

The Vegetable Assassin said...

I used to be a big fan of Elvis impersonators until Nic Cage ruined it for me and everyone else with that skydiving Elvis movie.

I actually remember when Elvis died - I wasn't very old at the time but I still remember the lady next door wailing like someone was digging out her entrails with a spoon and blasting "Wooden Heart" for two days straight. Even now that song makes me want to hit someone with a frying pan. The Latin for "Beat" is "battere", if we're being topical here.

corticoWhat said...

Elvis died of nocens sapor. I live near Memphis.....the proof is everywhere.

BeckEye said...

Yeah, most guys would have totally tried to act out their naughty teacher/student fantasies, but you were just using that poor girl to get close to her Dad.

JenJen said...

I tickled my way over here by tickling the keys on...damn I can't remember who's page....Sass! It was Sass' page. We were both part of the "press conference"
Nice to e-meet you.
Friggin' hilarious posts.

Margo said...

Credo Elvem vivere! I seriously can't wait to yell this next time I see an elvem tribute artist. I'll keep an eye out for your friend... South Carolina's Grand Strand loves that stuff.

Soda and Candy said...

"the meager restitution offered by the biotech I worked for"

I read biotech as biotch, and I was like, man I guess she really WASN'T paying you enough!

I love that I could actually tell what that meant without the hovertext by dredging up my high-school Italian.

Jill Pilgrim said...

My mind? It is enriched.

coolred38 said...

Elvis is DEAD?!!!!

mo.stoneskin said...

I'm wondering whether you should become an tutor-cross-Elvis impersonator, you could combine Latin lessons with an Elvis costume, burners and occasionally sing Latin versions of Blue Suede Shoes.

Nej said...

You said 'propane man by day' and now I picture Keith as Hank from King of the Hill. :-)