The Wasatch Behind: Spud's planet commentary
I found Uncle Spud standing outside under the stars, waving a handkerchief at the sky.
"What gives?" I asked cautiously.
"I'm waving goodbye to Pluto," he said. "They're not going to let him be a planet anymore."
"Who's not going to let him be a planet anymore?"
"The International Brotherhood of Spaced-out Planet-ologists," he said. "Or some group with a name similar to that. You know Ã¯Â¿Â½ those scientists who get to name the stars, planets, and black holes in the ozone layer."
"So why can't Pluto be a planet anymore?" I asked.
"He's too small," Uncle Spud said sadly.
"Sounds like discrimination to me," I said. "Is there a height and weight requirement to be a planet?"
"No," he conceded. "But scientists now say that Pluto is just a big rock and not a real planet."
"Aren't all planets big rocks?" I asked.
"Well, yes and no," he said. "They are all big rocks in orbit around the sun, but each has unique characteristics that qualifies it as a planet: Mercury has an automobile, Venus is a foxy chick, Earth provides habitat for environmentalists, Mars is a candy bar, Jupiter is an ICBM rocket, Saturn is a car company, Uranus is the patron Saint of proctologists, and Neptune is the name of a submarine. Pluto has no redeeming qualifications."
"Pluto was the Roman God of the underworld," I offered.
"Yea, but the Romans are Italians now, and no one remembers the god of the underworld," he said.
"Pluto was also Mickey Mouse's dog," I said.
"Yes," he agreed, "but no one remembers Mickey Mouse's dog anymore either. Nowadays cartoons are full of super heroes, power rangers, and morphing space aliens."
"So there's the solution," I said eagerly, "all we've got to do to save Pluto is find another name, or have the name "Pluto" mean something cool."
"Like what?" he asked.
"Well, to me, Pluto sounds like something on the menu in an Asian restaurant," I said. "Maybe we could get some good publicity with Pluto snacks or Pluto TV dinners."
"I think someone already did that with Kung Poo Chicken," he said.
"Yea, but some of us don't eat things with Poo in them," I said. "Our Pluto snacks would be something extra special."
"I don't think so," he said. "I think we'd be better off to change the name."
"Okay," I offered, "how about we call the planet "Buzz," after Buzz Lightyear? The little space rock buzzes around the outside of our solar system. I think Buzz would be a perfect name for our smallest planet."
"Buzz-off," he said. "Toy Story was a great movie, but we've got to do better than that."
"Well then, how about we call the planet "Rocky," after Salt Lake City Mayor, Rocky Anderson. Our little planet is way out in space somewhere, and going in circles."
"Too political," Uncle Spud said.
"How about we name the planet "Butch," after Butch Cassidy," I offered. "The little space rock is an outcast now, and sort of an outlaw among the planets."
"Too controversial," he said. "And besides, Paul Newman played Butch Cassidy in the movies. He's a star and not a planet. Brad Pitt is more of a planet."
"What do you suggest then?" I asked
"I think we should re-name the planet "Algore," he said, "after the inventor of the internet and the inspiration for the movie, Love Story."
"Hmmm," I mused. "It does have a certain charm, and fits all the criteria for being far-out and spacey. I'm sure the little planet would never be completely eliminated with a name like that. It would always keep coming back. Let's see: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Algore. Sounds good to me."
"Done," Uncle Spud smiled. "Get NASA on the phone."