Back to previous post: Open thread 34

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: Holiday hits

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

December 21, 2004

Marlowe in action
Posted by Teresa at 10:34 AM * 369 comments

Kip Williams quotes from Act I of Christopher Marlowe’s The Tragedy of the Big Slumber:

For long and weary hours, I bored myself Counting the old, tired webs of spiders
In my narrow office. Just then I heard
A ringing sound from the bell out front,
And in my dismal garret I beheld
A wench who made a good first impression
To my eyes. Her face, I thought could launch
A thousand or so ships, her eyes burn down
A hell of a lot of topless towers.
I took in her form and her tear-streaked face
She beseechingly asked, “Mister Marlowe?
I’m in trouble. They told me you could help.”
(First published in rec.arts.sf.fandom, January 2003)
Comments on Marlowe in action:
#1 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 11:06 AM:

AAARGH.

I guess my H/H/L/F Wittenberg story wasn't nearly as clever and original as I thought.

Damn. I guess it was too much to hope for. And here I am working my way through Doctor Faustus, Hamlet, and a biography of Luther to do research for a rewrite.

Oooh, I'm in a bad mood now. Damn you, Kip Williams! *shakes fist* DAMN YOU!

(PS Yes I know it doesn't matter.)

#2 ::: Elizabeth Bear ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 12:32 PM:

*snicker*

I've been wrestling the temptation to write a hard-boiled detective named Jonson for years. I'm sure there's valuable critical work to be done in the field of Literary Detectives Named After Elizabethan Poets... Spenser, Marlowe, Fletcher.

Why *is* that so attractive, anyway?

#3 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 12:54 PM:

Alex, on behalf of those who read the first version of your Wittenberg story--and those who didn't, too, what the hell--please don't stop now.

#4 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 01:17 PM:

Could this be this year's Christmas game?

#5 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 01:25 PM:

There'd been a drought in March, and enough rain in April to raise false hopes, but that night there was a desert wind blowing--one of those hot dry Santa Anas that can wither tender crops in a single night. They come roaring down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. It's a good night to sleep with your eyes open. Small foolish men with their veins full of liquor pick the kind of fights that end with a bunch of cheap flowers on a cheap wooden coffin. More respectable citizens look for any excuse to go on pilgrimage. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks--then hastily book themselves into a weekend religious retreat where the murder victim is a holy blissful martyr, and the police will never turn up asking questions about him.

#6 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 01:32 PM:

Sigh. You never seem to learn, Teresa, that you can't start a good competition with the winning entry...

Just kidding. Loved it. Not sure what I'm going to try, but have to try SOMETHING, obviously.

#7 ::: Tim Kyger ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 01:42 PM:

Kip, that's bloody fucking brill. I wish I had half or a quarter, or a tenth, of your talent.

#8 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 01:46 PM:

Me, the winner? In a universe that has all the rest of you in it? Including, may I point out, someone who had the temerity to finish Mike Ford's verse for him? Go have another look at last year's game. I mostly sat back and said "Oooooh!" a lot.

So: Are you or aren't you going to identify the other author?

#9 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 01:49 PM:

Darn it, I woulda read Chaucer twenty years ago if he'd been translated like that.

#10 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 01:50 PM:

The kid had the equipment, I'll give him that. The armor was class-A, better than the stuff I had worn when I was in the service. The shield was silver, and had seen plenty of action. But the kid -- well, my guess was that he hadn't wielded any arms in his time. And underneath that cheer, I could tell there was something pretty sorrowful. I thought I should get him to talk to Susan.

"Look, Mr. Spenser, I don't need your help. I'm not afraid of the Dragon."

"Don't be an idiot. That Dragon would eat you alive. Literally ingest you. In the mean time, you need something to eat."

We headed into the kitchen, and I started a wine sauce for the chicken.

#11 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 02:09 PM:

One point to Jimcat, zero to Xopher.

The rules are the same as last year: One point for a correct identification. No points if the identification is phrased as a suggestion or guess. No points for figuring it's so obvious that everyone else will have guessed already. Universal admiration is awarded for a good pastiche--which this year shall be Raymond Chandler's subject matter in another author's style, or another author's subject matter in Raymond Chandler's style. There will be minimal penalties for substituting Dashiell Hammett for Raymond Chandler.

#12 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 02:15 PM:

And we're off and running with Alex Cohen. Any takers?

#13 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 02:18 PM:

And we're off and running with Alex Cohen. Any takers?

I should note that I posted before our fair hostess established the rules. Neither the content nor style inspiration are directly Chandler, although obviously indirectly.

#14 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 02:21 PM:

To begin with, Marley was dead. And when a man's partner is dead a man has to do something about it.

#15 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 02:24 PM:

Oh -- Alex Cohen. Spencer's The Faerie Queene.

#16 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 02:24 PM:

Oh, very nice: A Christmas Carol meets The Maltese Falcon.

#17 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 02:28 PM:

Maybe I should give two points for identifying both source documents, which means there's still a point available on my pastiche. Alex, yours is just in the general style of, yes?

#18 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 02:33 PM:

Alex Cohen is channelling Robert Parker.

#19 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 02:35 PM:

Well then. Red Wind

#20 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 02:36 PM:

Not Robert Parker. It's a different Spenser:

A Gentle Knight was pricking on the plaine,
Y cladd in mightie armes and siluer shielde ...

#21 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 02:36 PM:

A point for Jim Macdonald.

#22 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 02:37 PM:

once again, I'm lost. could someone explain what the heck the "Christmas Game" is? Small words would probably help me.

#23 ::: Stephan Zielinski ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 02:37 PM:

Silent. Night.

The baby sat there in his mother's arms like a slice of toxic pizza covered with enough powdered cheese to make a tourist think he put one over on the wop. Mox the Taciturn waved his arms in a way almost but not quite totally unlike actual ASL, thereby conveying to me, "But sure the Wittgesteinein principles in this matter must take a back seat to the basic quid pro quo of the implicit exchange of worship for grace?"

Beside me, Mirabelle-- dressed in an outfit that made me wonder why I never took her up on her offer of a quick blow job back in the days before she became the poster girl for motherhood despite inconveniences of plumbing-- merely rechecked her makeup. "Blame the fool, red ham the school; shotgun blast by the yard to pool," said the Pastor.

Across the street, the Vole blinked behind his glasses, and fired a particle cannon straight through the earth's crust to wipe out a content spammer. I think Larry knew that the spammer wasn't really a Nazi, but nowadays it's all he can do to get his dad to get out of bed for anything less than a full platoon of hidden SS war criminals. "Happy Chanukah, Krauts," they sang together.

Close. To. The. Edit.

I thought about my beloved Daisy, and how I'd buggered Rosemary on her grave-- and then Rosemary went away, so I took up with Violet and buggered her on Daisy's grave, but then she betrayed me so I fed her to the Vole's dogs and tried to bugger one of them on Daisy's grave, which is when it all came off the rails and the Pastor came for me. "Yule deploy brought fang to drool; harpsichord rack phlegm tin gruel," he'd said. I still think of that, on the cold nights when the city's grit blows around the cracked windows of my 3' x 6' home. I sit and wonder if maybe the Pastor might be getting just a wee bit senile around the edges.

Snow settled down on the babies and the baby rapers alike. This city is like the fruitcake that will never rot that gets mailed back and forth from house to house like a foster child, gathering more and more fingerprints and dents until the day comes there's nothing left in the house to eat and you unwrap it to find out it was full of maggots the day it was baked.

Bring. Me. An. Egg. Nog.

#24 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 02:43 PM:

Maybe I should give two points for identifying both source documents, which means there's still a point available on my pastiche.

Red Wind. Do I get a point for that?
(I've never read Chaucer, I confess)

#25 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 02:44 PM:

Damn, took too long on the preview button.

#26 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 02:44 PM:

Greg, it's a formally declared amusement for the holiday season. Last year we did Tolkien as written by other authors, with points for identifying the author being imitated, and applause for a good imitation.

#27 ::: Seth Breidbart ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 02:45 PM:

Stephen, you made it too easy to identify Vachss by using easily identifiable character names.

#28 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 02:47 PM:

Seth, is that an identification?

#29 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 02:53 PM:

Also, if you're going to criticize other people's pastiches, please feel strongly encouraged to contribute one of your own.

#30 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 02:53 PM:

Specifically, the Tolkien versions can be found:

here

and here

#31 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 03:12 PM:

Hm. So, this year it's to rewrite a bit of someone's story using the writing style of a detective novel?

===

He was an old man with skin suntanned like a pair of leather shoes that had walked through the rain and then been left out in the sun to dry out and cracked. The locals told me that he fished alone in a skiff just big enough for him and his gear. His favorite fishing grounds were in the gulf stream, where the tuna weighed a thousand pounds and swordfish would skewer you just as soon as look at you. It was the bad side of the sea. The old man was unlucky too, unlucky like a three legged dog with one eye and a name from better days. He was the worst kind of unlucky, and he had gone eight-four days now without taking a fish.

#32 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 03:17 PM:

Not Robert Parker. It's a different Spenser:

Jim gets a point for identifying the Faerie Queene, but perhaps loses half a point for mispelling Spenser.

Teresa would get the half-point for spelling it correctly, but loses it again for missing that, yes, it *is* Robert Parker. In particular, it's his Spenser books. Point to Jon Meltzer.

Umm, it was supposed to be clever: Edmund Spenser, Private Eye. I think of it as Spenser for Hyre.

#33 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 03:23 PM:

Greg - Hemingway. "The Old Man and the Sea."

#34 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 03:26 PM:

Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea.

#35 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 03:35 PM:

It was about 3:30 in the afternoon; the animals were playing around in the back yard, next to the sundial, when the Old Man came in to give me some advice -- Big J was back in town, and looking for me. His pals J-Bird and FB were in on it, and they were looking to eat me for lunch.

#36 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 03:36 PM:

Mazeltov, Alex: an elegant entry. No wonder you were fretting about having posted it without knowing the game. You may take it as a meta-rule that sufficient grace will always trump the rules proper.

#37 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 03:43 PM:

Robert Parker completed an unfinished Chandler Philip Marlowe manuscript and wrote another Marlowe pastiche on his own. So one can bend the rules here, I think ...

#38 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 03:46 PM:

Tom - Jabberwocky. "Sundial" gave it away, but it took me longer than it should have to work out the rest of it.

It's too bad that Joe Miranda doesn't have his story "Sam Beowulf" online anywhere, or I would post a link.

#39 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 03:53 PM:

Sergeant Williams turned a new page in his notebook and tapped his pencil against his teeth.

"So, why were you out so early this morning, sir?" he asked.

The young man ran his hands through his already disordered hair. "I went out to the hazel wood because a fire was in my head!" he declared.

"Yes sir," Williams said, writing it down slowly. "Had you been drinking sir?"

The young man shook his head.

"What time was this exactly?" Williams asked.

The young man blinked. "White moths were on the wing, and moth-like stars were flickering out..." he ventured.

Williams sighed. "Before dawn then? Just before dawn, which would make it --" He counted on his fingers. It was September. "Let's say six o'clock, sir?"

"I cut and peeled a hazel wand and hooked a berry to a thread," the young man went on, dreamily.

"Ah, fishing!" Williams smiled, relieved. "I remember a time the Inspector went off fishing before dawn, up in Scotland."

"I dropped the berry in a stream and caught a little silver trout."

"Trout. That's what the Inspector was after as well. Best caught early, eh?"

The young man nodded. "When I had laid it on the floor I went to blow the fire aflame --"

"Mrs Williams usually pan-fries them in a bit of butter, but I suppose you could cook one over a fire in the open, fresh caught, like." Fishing, Williams wrote. Caught a trout and prepared to cook it over a fire. The young man had relapsed into a dream. "Was it then that you saw her, sir? You're the last person to have seen the missing girl, the only person to have seen her today, so it's very important that you tell me everything you can remember."

"Something rustled on the floor, and some one called me by my name."

What time would this have been?" Williams asked. "Which direction was she coming from?"

"It had become a glimmering girl, with apple blossoms in her hair who called me by my name and ran and faded through the brightening air."

"Just after sunrise?" Williams surmised, then caught up to what the young man had said. "Ran in which direction -- no, wait, what did you say?"

The young man obligingly repeated himself from the beginning, looking at Williams the whole time as if a Scotland Yard sergeant was the most astonishing and unlikely thing he'd ever seen in his life.

"Yes, sir," Williams repeated, over and over, licking his pencil and writing: Clearly a lunatic, probably did her in himself.

#40 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 03:57 PM:

Interlude. Let's take a break and watch TV! (no points)

A smiling baby sun rises

Announcer: In a colorful village far away,
nameless numbers come to play.

A childlike creature in bright yellow fur runs by, giggling, followed by a large ball, as a red-furred creature pushing a penny-farthing bicycle watches happily. A newcomer with green fur enters and is greeted by a speaker rising out of the ground.

Speaker: You are twosey.
Green: No-o-o-o....
Speaker: You are twosey.
Green: Who onesey?
Speaker: You are twosey.

Newcomer and others roll to the ground, kicking their feet in the air with delight.

All: Again! Again!


Yes, I do have a small child. Why do you ask?

#41 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 04:01 PM:

Jo, I am 30 minutes from the end of _Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency_ on audiobook, which I'd read before but remembered nothing of (except Coleridge and [spoiler involving Reg]). I can't identify your entry, but it makes me happy in the same way that some of the better parts of that book have.

#42 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 04:05 PM:

Jo's entry is Yeats, "The Ballad of Wandering Aengus".

The style is a police procedural; which one I'm not sure.

#43 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 04:09 PM:

I'll guess 87th Precinct.

Um, there's no forfeit for being wrong, right?

#44 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 04:10 PM:

Kip W's entry is Dipsy, Laa Laa, and Po, the Teletubbies, in The (Prisoner's) Village. (But where's Tinky Winky?)

#45 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 04:12 PM:

Teletubbies meet The Prisoner in Kip's entry.

Jo: "The Song of Wandering Aengus," Yeats, but I don't know which modern writer.

#46 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 04:22 PM:

for some reason reminds me of The Maltese Raven

once upon a nighttime foggy, while i brooded morose and groggy
over some bills that needed paying
and a backlot of cases I got a call
it's some bill collector, I heard myself saying
a shyster, and i ain't paying.

yeah to the day, i recall that muggy may
when the sweat is like a saxophone playing
hot and all night long
from the nightclub there was playing
in the alley two dogs was baying
when a rat-face fellow came in.


----sorry, to mangle the scheme so bad.

#48 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 04:24 PM:

Kip's crossover of The Teletubbies and The Prisoner is tolerably obvious.

I shall just note for British readers that The Prisoner is being released here as one of those DVD part-works, and is also being shown on one of the BBC's digital TV channels (BBC3 or BBC4), starting next week.

The trouble with this whole idea is that Terry Pratchett has already thoroughly worked over the seam.


#49 ::: ElizabethVomMarlowe ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 04:27 PM:

Lost Dog

Round the city flows the desert;

Eucalyptus look on as

I carry you, wine-drunk and loose limbed,

Like a sage gazing by a pool and carried away by the moon.

Your cab arrives and away we go, together,

To that place you live.

So polite and yet so poor, as some are,

Wealthy in manners and poor in pocket,

Clear voiced and cut with the fashionable knife,

You thanked me, just enough.

Oh the bottle of Scotch and worry for a stranger!

I go on my way, pricked under my skin by the

Sting of empathy, watched by Heaven.


Also hoping there are no negative points! I am so not a poet, but I had a lot of fun. I could not seem to resist.

#50 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 04:29 PM:

That's why there were no points. It was a mere lagniappe, meant to point up how oddly similar the two universes were.

...but tell me where I can find the Pratchett!

#51 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 04:29 PM:

Dave, the Tolkien game last year started with me reporting that another online venue had thoroughly worked over that subject. It quickly became apparent that that other venue hadn't used it up. I trust the same will happen here -- especially since the game appears to be mutating. No doubt it'll outrun its topic headers, and wind up being a discussion of geography in movies.

#52 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 04:31 PM:

When you're doing pastiche, short is good.

#53 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 04:32 PM:

I was having thoughts about taking character A and shoehorning him into a character B role, both being insufferably brainy junior scions of noble houses embroiled in long-running relationships with socially inconvenient ladies.

Then I realised how alike the characters were.

#54 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 04:33 PM:

We should be going in the other direction, too:

so much depends
upon

a red-haired
dame

glazed with rain
water

holding a white
pistol

#55 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 04:36 PM:

Point for Dan -- the sundial was the likely giveaway, I admit it.

#56 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 04:36 PM:

Hm, the last one was simply going for style. Didn't occur to me that it should be hard for people to guess too. lemme try one more.

---

His head throbbed like an overpass exit to a open-all-night truck stop. He pulled himself out of bed, and smacked his cotton mouth like a kid chewing bubble gum. He slipped on his worn bathrobe and slippers and shambled to the bathroom like a resident at the old folks home. He couldn't remember what exactly had happened the night before other than he had gotten drunk like a sailor on leave from a submarine and a six-month silent-running tour. Drunk and loud. He remembered he had been extremely loud about something or other that was vastly important last night, but evaded his memory this morning the way your keys evade you when they move from where you left them last.

He found a toothbrush and started to scrape the carpet off of his teeth in a half-dazed state. He glanced out the window and then returned to the mirror.

Big.

The word floated through his mind like a balloon searching for the three-year-old who had accidently let it go to eat his ice cream. He continued to brush his teeth like a half-dazed sailor stuck on KP duty. A little while later, his eyes flitted open long enough to focus out the window again.

yellow

Another moment later, he was outside lying in the mud.


#57 ::: Trent Goulding ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 04:37 PM:

No question, the boys and I were in a tight spot. We'd been in plenty before, of course, sitting around watching our ride home fall to pieces down on the strand and taking a long crawl into a deep bottle just to see what was on the other end. That, along with the occasional dance with the crowd of toughs up the road--the kind of dance that paints the floor a shiny red and makes the crows fat and happy--had left us feeling confident we'd seen it all before. We hadn't, not by a long road. This time, this time the boys and I could tell it was different. Because Pretty Boy was in a rare taking, and this was no garden-variety snit, easy material for a quip and a chuckle at tomorrow's game. This was a killing rage, the kind with a dame at the heart of it. The kind that would see more than a few of the boys turning cards at Old Scratch's table before it burned itself out. The kind that makes the broad sing.

#58 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 04:40 PM:

AGAIN I mistake the game. I thought we were going to compete for the best pastiche of Elizabethan poetry in noir- or hardboiled-style. And I couldn't imagine anyone doing better than Teresa's hardboiled version of Canturbury Tales' famous opening.

I suck at this. And all games. [beats self with stick]

#59 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 04:43 PM:

Greg - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

#60 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 04:48 PM:

No stick, Xopher. It's mutating as we watch.

#61 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 04:50 PM:

By the way, Elizabeth's lost dog has me completely stumped.

#62 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 04:55 PM:

"The Long Goodnight"

I pushed the door open. The green hit me like a wall of sea-water. An old-style telephone sat on a night-stand next to the table, under a lonely red balloon trailing its string. Pictures of nursery rhymes hung on the wall. The clock on the mantelpiece laid down the beat to a slow funereal march. In the chair was the old woman.

I checked her pulse and shook my head. "Goodnight, lady."

#63 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 04:56 PM:

"Tom!"

No answer, since Tom was leaking the last of his life's blood into the gutter.

"Tom!"

No answer, since Tom was leaking the last of his life's blood into the gutter.

------------

(No points, since the one side is obvious and the other side doesn't
have a specific style -- sorry. Hard-boiled isn't my genre.)

#64 ::: JamesG ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 04:57 PM:

They story so far:

In the beginning the Universe was created.

This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.

Many races believe that it was created by some sort of god, though the Jatravartid people of Viltvodle VI believe that the entire Universe was in fact sneezed out of the nose of a being called the Great Green Arkleseizure.

The Jatravartids, who live in perpetual fear of the time they call The Coming of the Great White Handkerchief, are small blue creatures with more than fifty arms each, who are therefore unique in being the only race in history to have invented the aerosol deodorant before the wheel.

However, the Great Green Arkleseizure Theory is not widely accepted outside Viltvodle VI and so, the Universe being the puzzling place it is, other explanations are constantly being sought.

For instance, a race of hyperintelligent pan-dimensional beings once built themselves a gigantic supercomputer called Deep Thought to calculate once and for all the Question to the Ultimate Answer of Life, the Universe and Everything.

For seven and a half million years, Deep Thought computed and calculated, and in the end announced that the answer was in fact fourty-two-and so another, even bigger, computer had to be built to find out what the actual question was.

#65 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 04:59 PM:

Trent -- Sing, oh Muse, the snit of Achilles...

#66 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 05:01 PM:

And Alex -- Goodnight (my lovely) Moon!

#67 ::: Stephan Zielinski ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 05:01 PM:

I'm using a shotgun approach. If I come up with enough of these, at least one will actually match whatever the rules of the game are...

* * *

A siren comes across the night. It has happened before, but there is nothing to compare it to now.

It is too late. The Investigation still proceeds, but it's all theatre. There are no lights inside the cars. No light anywhere. Above him lift garters cold as the hanged queen, and brass somewhere far above that would let the case of "Jane" slide. But it's work. He's afraid of the way the brass will bitch-- soon-- it will be a chewing out: the fear of the Mayor's pet thugs. But he was paid in total for truth; without him to shed light, only great injustices take place.

#68 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 05:01 PM:

Andrew Plotkin: Tom Sawyer for the content source. Can't ID the style source.

#69 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 05:03 PM:

And again I suck. I missed Andrew's last paragraph.

#70 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 05:04 PM:

Janet beat me to Goodnight Moon. I'll take a chance on being ignominiously found wrong and assert that the other half is The Long Goodbye.

#71 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 05:11 PM:

Greg - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Bah! I shouldn't have put the word "yellow" in there. Yellow is always a dead giveaway...

#72 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 05:12 PM:

I can't take credit for this, but this thread would be incomplete without Kim Newman's brilliant "Big Fish":

I pushed the door and found myself in the temple's waiting room. It was what I'd expected: subdued lighting, old but bad paintings, a few semi-pornographic statuettes, a strong smell of last night's incense to cover the fish stink. It had as much religious atmosphere as a two-dollar bordello.

"Yoo-hoo," I said, "Dagon calling..."

---

On that note, it's worth pointing out that Chandler himself beat everyone to the Chandler/Lovecraft punch. In his short story "The King in Yellow" (I swear I am not making this up) detective Steve Grayce (who is indistinguishible from Philip Marlowe) finds the dead body of jazz musician King Leopardi, who's wearing yellow silk pajamas. Grayce mutters, "The King in Yellow. I read a book with that title once." Which means that he is probably insane, which explains a lot.

#73 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 05:14 PM:

Stephan, that is Thomas Pynchon.

#74 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 05:14 PM:

Ah, since the last one didn't count, here's one that does. Yes, both
sides are identifiable from the one line. I'd say it's a tricky one,
except that someone will get it immediately. I know this crowd.

"It was a carpenter -- a carpenter to make an electrician kick a hole
in a plate glass window."

#75 ::: sean bosker ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 05:16 PM:

Sure he’d seen things, things we people wouldn’t believe. All you had to was ask him and he’d rattle on like a winner on Oscar night. That was before he died. One minute he was C-Beams this and Tanhauser gate that, the next he was just a sack of meat past its sell-by date. You could say he expired, and you’d be right. Speaking of right, maybe he was. Maybe we wouldn’t believe those things. And maybe was was wrong. Then again, I’d seen plenty in my time. I never claimed to see an attack ship on fire, but I had seen a blonde with a face that would make a programmer stick his foot into a 23” cinema display.

#76 ::: ElizabethVomMarlowe ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 05:16 PM:

Does it help if I say that the title comes from a characterization of a character, made by two other characters, in one of Chandler's works?

I'm too late on Alex's but loved it; the juxtaposition is great.

#77 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 05:19 PM:

The carpenter and the electrician puzzle me. The blonde doesn't.

#78 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 05:33 PM:

Andrew: Flanders & Swann, The Gasman Cometh.

#79 ::: Berry Kercheval ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 05:34 PM:

When he knocked at my office door, I could tell that he had travelled far. By the cut of his coat he was from the old country. He was on his last legs.

"Desert" he gasped. "Out in the desert."

"What's out in the desert, old man?" I asked him.

"Near the legs. You know, the stone legs?"

He meant the the ruined statue halfway to Vegas. Some crooked contractor shorting the mix again. "What about it?"

"My trunk, it's missing. You gotta find it for me. I last saw it out there. All my work is in it. You have to find it." I could tell he was sinking into despair.

#80 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 05:40 PM:

Alex, there's another possibility tangled up there. What fictional detective wore bright yellow pajamas?

Barry: Ozymandias!

#81 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 05:43 PM:

WRT coyness, which while not specifically illegal1 is better viewed in a scenario wherein the subject2 is placed in relationship to the amount of territory and temporal leeway she has available to her in the current situation.

1 although certainly outside of the normative behavior paradigm for the current situation

2 who I stare at with horrified fascination as I watch the spinach on her teeth go up and down and up and down as she repeats once again her trope about Not Spoiling It

#82 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 05:43 PM:

he’d seen things, things we people wouldn’t believe

(I thought they were Z-beams, not C-Beams)

Did you get your precious things?
(shakes head) There was a man.
A man?
(no reply)
A policeman?
(nods)

#83 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 05:46 PM:

Oh my god! They've killed Obi Wan! You B*st*rds!

#84 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 05:50 PM:

"Please, Sitt, not the plums. He'll beat me if you eat the plums."

"As you are well aware, he has never beaten anyone. It is a poor sort of husband who would begrudge his wife a plum."

"But it is his breakfast, Sitt."

"In any case, I propose to visit the market on Saturday."

"Bruise me, Sitt, so that I can show that I have defended the plums."

"Don't be silly. I will leave him a note."

#85 ::: Berry Kercheval ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 05:50 PM:

Kip, you got it. But it's "Berry", not "Barry" please.

#86 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 05:51 PM:

It was getting dark when Constables Pym and Wilson came out of the front door and walked down to their coach, pulled up beside the road in front of the house. From a chamber inside, Wilson figured, a hollow voice said something indistinct. Wilson listened a moment. "You ever hear the old people say a raven repeating the same thing over and over will drive a person to melancholia?"

Pym grunted and got in. Wilson climbed in beside him. "Take more'n a bird to cause a mess like that," said Pym, taking the reins.

#87 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 05:53 PM:

Apologies to all in advance:

I was in my office, just finishing off my thirteenth math publication of the day: "More numbers that spell naughty words on calculators upside down."

The door swung open, and in walked Tessa Needle-Hardin. "Well? Have you made progress on my case?"

I leaned back. "Interesting that you should ask that. I once worked as an astronaut, while I was co-writing a novel with President Taft."

She looked crossly at me. "What does that have to do with anything?"

I could see that she was going to be a tough client. "I can see that you're going to be a tough client, just like when I had famous rock-star Jim Morrison as a client. Did you know that "Mr. Mojo Risin'" is an anagram for Jim Morrison? Here are some more anagrams for names of rock stars:

twelve pages later

There was a loud slam, and when I looked up, the door was closed and Tessa was gone. Well, she'd be back. I just had an idea for another math proof...

#88 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 05:56 PM:

Sean, I managed to figure out Blade Runner (or more properly Phil Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), but I can't identify style closer than general hardboiled.

And Xopher, you can't be half as bad at this as I am.

#89 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 05:57 PM:

Alex, you are a very evil man.

#90 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 05:58 PM:

OK, Alex, that's Philip Marlowe channelling JvP.

#91 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 05:58 PM:

Andy, that's proof that this year's contest has mutated, because I don't think Amelia Peabody is the least bit hard-boiled. Even if she did eat the plums from William Carlos William's icebox.

#92 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 05:59 PM:

My apologies, Mr. Kercheval. You are Berry, and my eyes were Blurry. I promise to pay closer attention to things for at least fifteen minutes.

#93 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 05:59 PM:

Both points to Janet. And sorry about the rule-bending.

#94 ::: Berry Kercheval ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 06:01 PM:

Heh, when I first saw the title of this thread "Marlowe in action" in my RSS reader, I thought to myself "Kit or Phil?" Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be both.

#95 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 06:10 PM:

James McDonald is of course correct about Flanders & Chandler & Swann.
(Okay, he didn't say "Chandler", but I don't think anyone was in doubt
about that part.)

The next lines, which I didn't think of until after I'd hit POST, would
be:

He asked, "Mr. Sanderson?"

"That's my name," I said cautiously. (It wasn't, quite.)

#96 ::: Marc G. ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 06:16 PM:

I'd thought I'd been as low as I could get, but I hadn't figured on getting a taste of the high life before I was dragged back down into the sewer. It didn't help that I got nicked by the gang's pretty boy, always dressed to the nines someone else had ditched to draw to an inside straight. To top it off, the old man's bully boy, Bill, had got it into his head I'd ratted the gang out while on the cure, and he was looking to leave me back where I'd started my career, 6 feet underground in a cold pine box.

#97 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 06:20 PM:

I’d been staking out the carpenter’s shop for hours, but my patience paid off. The proprietor, a young guy with a beard, dashed out the door and hurried down the street towards the market. I strolled into the shop the minute he turned the corner. A brass bell over the door jingled; the place smelled like freshly-sharpened pencils. The girl behind the counter looked up. She looked tired and a little cranky, like she hadn’t been sleeping well lately and she didn’t know why. “He’s not here,” she said. “The carpenter. He’s gone to get us some falafel. He’ll be back soon, though.”

“No worries, kid, it’s you I’m here to see.” I slapped my envelope down on the counter. “Have I got news for you.”

#98 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 06:27 PM:

That's an odd bit of new testamentary there andrew.

#99 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 06:27 PM:

Marc G. is that Oliver Twist? Wait, no, to get the points, I have to actually state it, so: Marc's is Oliver Twist. I think.

#100 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 06:29 PM:

Alex, that's Philip Marlowe channelling JvP.

Darn. And having grown up reading IASFM, here I thought it was Martin Gardner.
[It was the "twelve pages later" that got me.]

#101 ::: Marc G. ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 06:32 PM:

Got it in one, Andrew!

#102 ::: Francis ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 06:33 PM:

I hope it's kosher to use pastiches one has written already:

lugergun, past Spade and Archer's, from screech of street to barf of beer, picked up by a fedoratopped flatfoot of discernification back to Smoky Office and Environs. Mike Finnegan, private d'etective, fr'over the laundromat downthestairs, had powder-dust contrived from Precinct Serpentine on this side the crummy megapol down Canal Street to pinkyprint his evidentiary gat...

#103 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 06:38 PM:

>“No worries, kid, it’s you I’m here to see.”

Luke 1:26-28

#104 ::: Tiger Spot ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 06:38 PM:

Francis, that's Finnegan's Wake, by, er... someone other than James Joyce...

#105 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 06:39 PM:

Finnegan's Wake!
Hammett

#106 ::: Francis ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 06:49 PM:

I like to think of it as "Finnegan Gets the Shaft". I suppose "Finnegans Falcon" is more accurate, though.

#107 ::: Daniel S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 07:00 PM:

A breeze battered the corn in the moonlight. It was a little late for crime in a sleepy Kansas town, but it was my first case in weeks and the bank was on my ass about the mortgage.
My client waved me over to a smoking hole a few rows into the field. I knew John in passing, but we'd never been close. Must've been his truck I'd seen parked along the road. A woman stood next to him holding a baby swaddled in blue. I recognized his wife, Martha, but the kid didn't look familiar. He was cute, if you like that sort of thing.
"Hey there," John said, holding out his hand. "Thanks for coming out here."
"What's wrong, John?" I pulled out a cigarette and lit it up. The smoke drifted upward to merge with the column pouring out of the crater.
"We were driving home when we saw the crash," he said, pointing to the hole. "When we came over to see what happened, we found this little tyke."
The kid coughed. A sudden breeze knocked the cigarette out of my hand. I watched it fall onto the dirt and smolder. I looked at the kid. Something about it didn't sit right with me. I can smell trouble a mile away, and this kid could market his own cologne.

-
Soft-boiled, at best, but I couldn't refuse the challenge.

#108 ::: PinkDreamPoppies ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 07:03 PM:

"It's meaningless," the Don said. "It's meaningless. Everything; it's meaningless.

"Of all of this, what am I going to get to keep when somebody wacks me someday?

"My father, God rest his soul, had New York in the palm of his hand and he died. My son, my Michael, my pride, could someday do the same thing, but he's gonna die, too. New York's still going to be here, but who gets it? Who gets it when we're dead? Who gets it when they're dead?

"My father worked from sunup to sundown every day to get this family to where it is, but the sun that set on his last day is gonna set on my grave.

"The wind that's blowing today, the wind that was blowing when I wacked Joe B., it's gonna blow all around the world, it's gonna be whirlwinds and hurricanes, and it's gonna blow on my grave.

"It could rain tonight, but all of that rain is gonna go into the bay and evaporate and become the cloud that rains on my grave and on your grave and on my father's grave and on my son's grave.

"All things are full of labour; you can't even begin to imagine. Somebody built this restaurant, my father built this family, I'm building a house for my kids, but look: they're remodeling and rebuilding this place. The man who built this place . . . His work didn't last, or they're not happy with it, but theirs isn't going to last, either.

"Those new things are going to fall apart just like the old things because that's what happens. You can't stop it; you can't unbuild this restaurant, I can't stop being the Don, I can't bring Joe B. back from the dead. Everything that's done, is done and there is nothing new under the sun.

"Really, can you show me something that you can really say is "new"? Everything is just like something else, something from the past.

"People might not think that this place is like some other place, some place that got torn down, but it is. Maybe no one remembers that place that this place is like, but no one's gonna remember this place when it's torn down and something just like it comes up."

#109 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 07:04 PM:

Superman's origin, Daniel.

#110 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 07:05 PM:

And Lamentations as done by Mario Puzo.

#111 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 07:10 PM:

The Old Man sat listening to me, tapping his desk lightly with the point of a dry goose quill, staring past me with mild blue eyes that sheltered no human emotion. When I had brought my story up to date, he asked pleasantly:

"What remains to be done?"

"Nothing. Everybody who was anybody in the place is dead now, except the best friend, and it's not likely we'll get anything more out of him, but we'll keep squeezing. Outside of him, it's a dead fire.

"And what do you make of it?

"Murder. Suicide. What you will. The kid had a bee in his bonnet ever since his old man died, and one night he just snapped. Told the friend he'd seen his dead pop, and after that, he was a sort of killing engine, bent on revenge."

"And did he?" The Old Man's smile was polite, and nothing in his eyes showed that he probably knew more than he was saying. "Did he see his father?"

I looked away a moment. "He saw something that convinced him. After that, he charted his own course, and satisfied himself he was right. He was, too. I'm sure of that."

"But we never could have proved it," the Old Man murmured softly, "Without evidence, it would have all blown over. Perhaps we should thank him."

We talked a little while longer and he dismissed me. There wasn't anything else I wanted to say. The stained sheet was one expense that wouldn't go on my account.

#114 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 07:24 PM:

Daniel battered the corn in the moonlight

superman

#115 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 07:27 PM:

Which Hamlet? (This straight line is worth 50 cents on the open market.)

#116 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 07:32 PM:

Kip W.'s up there is Poe's "Nevermore" and Thurber's "The Whip-Poor-Will."

#117 ::: Seth Breidbart ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 07:32 PM:

Yes, that was an identification of Vachss.

#118 ::: PinkDreamPoppies ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 07:33 PM:

It's not Lamentations, but close.

#119 ::: Jonquil ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 08:00 PM:

Ecclesiastes. My favorite.

#120 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 08:02 PM:

I have no skill for this wonderful game, but I do know that the other detective who wore yellow pajamas was Nero Wolfe. I'm waiting for Archie to appear.

#121 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 08:03 PM:

Correct twice, Mary: It's the Whip-Poe-Will. (Gee, I should've folded in a quarter cup of Shakespeare while I was at it) The Thurber's a real favorite of mine.

#122 ::: Brad DeLong ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 08:08 PM:

And here is Andrew Willett's, in a more familiar version, as told by Doc Lucas:

'And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, "Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women." And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, "Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end." Then said Mary unto the angel, "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?" And the angel answered and said unto her, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God."'

#123 ::: Jonquil ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 08:12 PM:

It was a cold day in November; the grass was long dead and the birds had headed off to their relatives in Tampa. The rich had locked up their treasures and followed suit; the poor were huddled up hoping to make it to the thaw. He stumbled into the office, a man who might have had better days once but wasn't likely to again.

"You must help me."

"Six bucks a day, plus expenses." He looked feverish; a TB case if ever I saw one. Not that I cared; we've all got something waiting on the final doorstep.

"There was this dame. I met her in the Park. A looker. Straight out of Hollywood. Long blonde hair. I bought her flowers; roses, gardenias, violets, whatever she wanted. I took her for carriage rides. She sang like nothing on Earth. You couldn't help listening."

Right, I thought. A nightclub songbird moonlighting for a sucker. It happens.

"She took me back to her place. She cried a little. She really wasn't that kind of girl --"

*They never are*, I thought, but I kept it to myself --
"And then when I woke she was gone."
"And your wallet?"
"No, no, she wasn't that kind of girl! But her room -- it was full of pictures."
"Of?"
"Men. "
I couldn't suppress the snort.
"No. The Mayor. Generals. Airmen. Famous guys. And I swear they were talking to me! "
"Told you to leave, right?"
"How did you know?"
"Just a guess. Listen, kid. Lay off the booze, lay off the drugs, and you might make it through the winter. Dame or no dame."

He walked out. I wouldn't bet on his seeing another Spring.

#124 ::: Maggie ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 08:21 PM:

Here's four related attempts. Apologies if the style's a little rough; I need to get back to reading Chandler.
--
He gave me another long look, the kind that a drill sergeant would have just before assigning "special duties." "You look kinda like me. How about we switch for a while? I got someone I need taken care of."

"We don't look anything alike."

He grinned, and those red-eared dogs of his grinned too, all looking at me like I had an Alpo label on my forehead. "We will when I'm done with you. Besides…there's a woman in the deal. My own wife, and if she doesn't notice the difference, I can damn well guarantee no one else will."
--
It didn't start with the letter from my sister, but it might as well have. After all, I'd introduced her to her husband. Irish guy, with the less than gentle Irish temper. She said he'd been hitting her, and she wanted out. I took another drink and shook my head; this didn't look good. If things went wrong, after all, I could end up nothing more than a talking head in Harlech.
--
He'd been a lot of things. Shoemaker, saddlemaker, shieldmaker -- hell, survivor was the least of them; he was a man who knew when to get out of town. And now he was judge, jury, and executioner -- even if it was just for a mouse.
"You can send the goddamn bishop himself," he told me. "But between me and God, there's nothing gonna save this little thief's life."
--
There are few things more pathetic than a lovesick kid. One of them happened to be my lovesick brother, and the way he'd been bending my ear all day, I knew more about the king's little foot-warmer than anyone with half a brain needed to know.

"I gotta have her," my brother groaned. "I'll die if I don't."

"Well, what do you want me to do?"

"I don't know. Distract him. Do something."

"Forget it. Nothing short of a war will distract him." The moment I said it, I knew I'd gotten myself in too deep. I'd rather turn into a pig for a year than start a war, but the way things were going, it looked like I'd get both.
--

Sorry if those are too obscure; I can never tell when I'm holding too much back.

#125 ::: Jonquil ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 08:23 PM:

One half is the Mabinogion; don't get the other half.

#126 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 08:26 PM:

All are the Mabinogion - branches 1-4.

#127 ::: Jonquil ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 08:31 PM:

Yes, but what are they spliced with? That's the half I'm missing.

#128 ::: Ben Lehman ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 09:29 PM:

Did you get your precious things?
(shakes head) There was a man.
A man?
(no reply)
A policeman?
(nods)


Greg, this is Paddington Bear's "valuable chunks" scenario, correct?

yrs--
--Ben

#129 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 09:32 PM:

No points, just writing because I can't help doing it from the other side.

"The Long Goodnight, Part II"

In the town without pity
There's a veteran
Who talks gritty
And his ex- and now new wife is really pretty.

And three tough goons
Dancing to whose tunes?
And a big house
And a dirty louse.

And a hard-boiled PI
With a bottle of rye.

And a dame, and a gun,
And a Mexico run.

And a twisted plot
that had Marlowe fooled
(In the '71 film, he's played by Elliot Gould.)

Goodnight, ex-wife.
Goodnight, old life.

Goodnight big house,
Goodnight, dirty louse.

Goodnight booze
Goodnight despair
Goodnight Marlowe in his chair.

#130 ::: ElizabethVomMarlowe ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 09:33 PM:

Just popping in to say thanks for this wonderful game. I'm without internet for a week while I visit relatives. I thought I'd let you know my attempt was Li Po doing the opening of the Long Goodbye.

#131 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 09:50 PM:

Jonquil, half of that's John D. MacDonald -- and the other half is right on the tip of my typing finger....

#132 ::: sean bosker ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 10:02 PM:

Claude,
Right you are. I was just trying to update the line about the stained glass window. I don't even remember which novel that was in, but it's one of my favorite lines, along with my favorite scene in Blade Runner. This is a really fun game, I can't believe these are.

#133 ::: Maggie ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 10:03 PM:

I know there's a penalty for Hammett, but I can't resist:

"You can call me Ishmael. It's not my name but it'll do."

#134 ::: Sally Beasley ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 10:04 PM:

Jonquil's post is La Belle Dame Sans Merci, by John Keats. Can't identify the hard-boiled half, though.

#135 ::: Jonquil ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 10:11 PM:

Sally gets the point. I wish I could award the other point to Tom Whitmore, but unfortunately I haven't read MacDonald; it's generic noir style.

#136 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 10:29 PM:

Was the Tolkien back-and-forth really a year ago? Wow.

#137 ::: Darice Moore ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 10:49 PM:

Somewhere up there, Julia did Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress."

This is fun, though I'm quickly realizing that I haven't read enough hard-boiled mysteries!

#138 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 10:57 PM:

I deny that Julia did Marvell. I'm thinking that was Sarah Caudwell.

#139 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 11:02 PM:

Um, it was Marvell, but who by?

#140 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 11:11 PM:

Um, it was Marvell, but who by?

Dave Eggers. Or David Foster Wallace. Or possible David Ogden Stiers.

In my head, I always run Marvell together with Sandra Boynton.

Had we but world enough and time
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
And down once more, but not so fast,
They're on their way to bed at last!

#141 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 11:13 PM:

Oh, OK, it's David Foster Wallace.

Although, now that I look back at it, it does sound like Caudwell.

#142 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 11:29 PM:

It was raining in the City By The Bay, a hard rain. Hard enough to wash the slime out of the streets and back into the holes they crawled out of.

She walked in. Her clothes had once been fine; it seemed that she'd once been proud, before she was reduced to scrounging for her next meal.

"How does it feel?", he wondered.

#143 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 11:43 PM:

This should be pretty easy:

I looked around at the circle of people. Blair and Palmer were gone, of course; they had been the first to die. I had tracked this thing around and around this little circle, like a dog leashed to a stake. But its luck had run out.

I turned to Norris. "Funny, how you keep accusing Copper."

Norris turned bright red, and answered in a voice tight with anxiety -- or something else. "You're always saying things like that. Don't test me, you're just wasting your test."

I sighed. It had already been a long, long night. "I vote we test Norris."

#144 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 11:56 PM:

I am *so* not the Thing

#145 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 11:57 PM:

Hmm, The Thing of course, but in what style?

#146 ::: Brad DeLong ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 12:32 AM:

Of all the caves on all the islands in all the Mediterranean, we had to wander into his. I don't want to think what kind of meat he served in his joint. But one thing was clear: he couldn't hold his liquor. I had to do the thinking for both of us. "You know, Poly," I said as he dropped off and my men hardened the stake in the fire, "I don't think ours will be a beautiful friendship after all."

#147 ::: Greg Ioannou ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 12:33 AM:

OK, an embarrassingly easy one first:

I sat there with Gregor
We sat there we two
And I said, "how I wish
I had segments like you."

Too strange to go out
too ugly to be borne
so we sat in the house
and did nothing but mourn.

And a tougher one:

Alexander (sneering): Have you ever had conjugal relations with another woman?
The Monkey (looking at Alexander): I have not.
Alexander (striking the table): What I want to suggest, wench, is that you would like to do so.
The Monkey (standing): Would you like that of me?
Alexander (firmly): That I would.
The Monkey (offended): I'm sure you would like to look on as I make this spectacle of myself.
Alexander (walking over to The Monkey): That I would.
The Monkey (turning to the audience and speaking softly): Then it is possible that it might be arranged.
Alexander smiles.
CURTAIN


#148 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 12:39 AM:

OK...I'll try this in English first. Apologies for the abominable rhymes.

Arms and two men I sing, whom duty led
The first away from his admiral's wife's bed,
His new-met friend in dire financial straits
Now on the Sophie's sick and wounded waits,
With orders to sail from Gibraltar's shore
Long labours both by land and sea they bore,
And in the doubtful war, until they won
The Chilean shores, and there to lend their guns,
The captain's long awaited pennant flown
Blue, from top mast, as they sail home.

#149 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 12:39 AM:

OK...I'll try this in English first. Apologies for the abominable rhymes.

Arms and two men I sing, whom duty led
The first away from his admiral's wife's bed,
His new-met friend in dire financial straits
Now on the Sophie's sick and wounded waits,
With orders to sail from Gibraltar's shore
Long labours both by land and sea they bore,
And in the doubtful war, until they won
The Chilean shores, and there to lend their guns,
The captain's long awaited pennant flown
Blue, from topmast, as they sail home.

#150 ::: Greg Ioannou ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 12:40 AM:

Urgh! As soon as I posted that I noticed the line in the first one that doesn't scan. An extra point to anyone who can fix the broken scansion!

#151 ::: Brad DeLong ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 12:42 AM:

May I enter Ken MacLeod's _The Sky Road_ in this contest? It is, after all, nothing more than "True Thomas and the Queen of Elfland" in the style of Britain's Angry Young Post-WWII Men...

#152 ::: Brad DeLong ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 12:48 AM:

For Jennie:

>jennie ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 12:39 AM:
>
>OK...I'll try this in English first. Apologies for
>the abominable rhymes.
>
>Arms and two men I sing, whom duty led...

In the style of Virgil (although I would have been tempted to try this one with the "Gilligan's Island" theme song). And you are definitely a Master, if not a Commander, to have thought of this subject...

For Greg Ioannou:

Until I noticed the "segments", I thought it was Dr. Seuss doing Lois McMaster Bujold. But does a cockroach have segments?

#153 ::: Greg Ioannou ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 12:53 AM:

Dr. Seuss is doing neither LMB nor her cockroach.

#154 ::: Greg Ioannou ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 12:55 AM:

Fixed it myself:

I sat there with Gregor
We sat there we two
And I said, "how I wish
I had segments like you."

Too strange to go out
too vile to be borne
so we sat in the house
and did nothing but mourn.

#155 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 12:57 AM:

Let's see who's done what, and who's spotted them doing it:

Kip Williams, Faust/The Long Goodbye.

TNH, Chaucer's General Prologue (Jimcat)/Chandler's "Red Wind" (Jim Macdonald).

Alex Cohen, Robert Parker (Jon Meltzer)/Edmund Spenser (TNH).

Jim Macdonald, A Christmas Carol (TNH)/The Maltese Falcon (TNH).

Stephan Zielinski, Andrew Vachss (Seth Breidbart).

Greg London, Hemingway (Jill).

Tom Whitmore, "Jabberwocky" (Dan Blum).

Jo Walton, "The Song of Wandering Aengus" (James Burbidge)/Josephine Tey (TNH). (I cheated on that one. I identified Sergeant Williams from a discussion of him I once saw.)

Kip Williams, Teletubbies/The Prisoner, Jon Meltzer.

Bryan, "The Maltese Raven."

ElizabethVomMarlowe stumped us all with The Long Goodbye as done by Li Po.

Alex Cohen, William Carlos Williams/Dashiell Hammet -- and unless someone's called it while I've been typing this, I get both points for that one.

Greg London, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Dan Blum).

Trent Goulding, The Iliad (Janet Croft).

Alex Cohen, Farewell, My Lovely/Goodnight, Moon (Janet Croft, both).

Stephan Zielinski, Thos. Pynchon (TNH).

Andrew Plotkin, Tom Sawyer (Xopher).

Around this time, Andrew Plotkin and Sean Bosker almost simultaneously posted pastiches of the same passage from Farewell, My Lovely: "It was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained glass window." Jim Macdonald ideantified Andrew's as Flanders & Swann's "The Gasman Cometh," and Claude Muncey spotted Sean's as Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Julia, David Foster Wallace (not Sarah Caudwell)/Andrew Marvell

Greg London, Paddington Bear (Ben Lehman).

Andy Perrin, William Carlos Williams/Elizabeth Peters (Janet Croft, both).

Then Alex Cohen did something very, very wicked, which nearly caused me physical injury. Julia said he was a very evil man, which was true but scored no points; whereas Claude Muncey got both, for explaining why.

Andrew Willett, the Annunciation (Tom Whitmore and Jon Meltzer).

Marc G., Oliver Twist (Andrew Willett).

Francis, Finnegans Wake/Dashiell Hammett (Kip Williams, both).

Daniel S., Superman's origin story (Tom Whitmore).

PinkDreamPoppies, Ecclesiastes (Jonquil)/Mario Puzo (Tom Whitmore).

Kip Williams, Red Harvest/Hamlet (Claude Muncey).


I'm going to have to finish this recap tomorrow. I'm too tired to go on. Goodnight, all.

#156 ::: Seth Breidbart ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 01:08 AM:

Brad DeLong: Howard Koch, Julius Epstein, Philip Epstein; I don't recognize the source.

#157 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 01:14 AM:

Brad, The Odyssey, Casablanca style.

#158 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 01:16 AM:

Hmm, Jennie, are you suggesting that this was The Thing from Another High School?

#159 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 01:36 AM:

Christopher Davis: Bob Dylan channeling Hammett.

Oh, and James D. Macdonald:
Thank you for the Dickens/Hammett hybrid.
I had to call people on the phone to share that because I couldn't wait for them to check their email.

#160 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 01:39 AM:

The girl walked into my office. I'd seen her before, but she'd been younger then. She was back to using, and knew that I had what she wanted. She was ripe for me now. Damn bitch, I didn't know I was ripe for her plucking -- she undid me without cracking a sweat.

(Generic noir, but get specific on the plot point)

#161 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 01:57 AM:

Marlowe was a good little detective, and always very curious.

#162 ::: Greg Ioannou ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 01:59 AM:

Marlowe could count by twos and tie his shoes.

Shudder!

#163 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 02:01 AM:

Greg Ioannou -- The first one is Kafka.

#164 ::: Greg Ioannou ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 02:10 AM:

Indeed, Kafka. In this company I probably should have tried to write it in German. But German with a suitable Seussiance was beyond me.

#165 ::: Mark D. ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 02:59 AM:

More shape-shifting on the Christmas Game. As others have said, I just couldn't resist...
______________
I was in the alcove good and early, so it was a long wait for the doorbell. Hattori tipped me a wink as he passed by to answer it, and seated our guest in the red leather chair where I had a good look at him. The same blue kimono and pudgy smirk, but with a difference – he had shaved his head completely bald.

After a decent interval I heard the elevator and a minute later Kaga stalked past the peephole and sat behind the big desk.

“So, Kandagawa-san, your Otah faction wishes to try my tetsujin again…”

#166 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 03:09 AM:

I get the Nero Wolfe half, Mark, but not the other.

#167 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 04:28 AM:

Jesus, it was cold. 'Twas the season not to be going somewhere. Dirty ice on the roads, the weather filthy, winter-dead. Two flats in ten miles. I could've been in Miami, with girls bringing me sherbets. Had to pay seven dollars for a goddam sawdust burger, but we stayed on it. In the end we did it mostly nights, sleeping whenever. They kept telling me it was a fool idea.

Finally: over a rise and down, and there it was.

Yeah, I know. Long time ago now. But we got the evidence, and somebody kicked off for it, and we went back home. I wonder sometimes if it was worth it.

#168 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 04:31 AM:

Harry Connolly: Is it Kipling, "The Elephant's Child"?

#169 ::: Edo ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 05:40 AM:

Mark: that would be the Iron Chef

#170 ::: Eimear Ní Mhéalóid ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 06:56 AM:

Dave Luckett's is "The Coming of the Magi" by T.S. Eliot. If the style is anything other than Chandler, I don't know it.

#171 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 07:50 AM:

This one isn't even trying to hide, and for all I know it's been done. It is so last year. No point or points.

[Frodo sidesteps the last Orc and dashes to the top of a vertiginous peak off of some 50's classical album.]

Sauwon: Oh no! Oh no! I didn't KILL THE HOBBIT!
Frodo: Aha! Aha! He didn't kill the hobbit!
And now I'm at the top
And now it will be gone--
On second thought, I'll wait
And try the darn thing on.

[Just then, the miserable little black duck runs in]

Gollum: No! You can't have it! It's ours! It's ours! [Grabs the ring; teeters on the edge. Frodo offers a hand, but he slaps it away, sending himself plunging.] OH NO YOU DON'T! HAHAHAHA! [He hits the lava -- not Bill Lava, just the lava.] We win! We're rich! We're powerful! We're a happy miser! [Lava closes over him.] Happy birthday to us! Happy birthday to us...

Sam: Well, he's g-g-g-... he's g-g-g-... that's all, folks!
Frodo: Actually, Sam, we have to trek our way back home for another 45 minutes.
Merry: Thufferin' Thnaketh!
Frodo: Well, whaddaya expect from a trilogy?

#172 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 07:51 AM:

...an ending?

#173 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 07:54 AM:

Oh, and "Red Harvest" is close enough to win the kewpie, and indeed fits the spirit of the occasion perfectly. For future historians' use, I was specifically cribbing from the short story "Fly Paper," because it had a lengthy conversation with The Old Man. (The Old Man'll see us through. The Old Man ain't afraid of hell!)

But yes, the answer I was looking for was Dashiell Hamlet.

#174 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 08:35 AM:

Saturnalia was coming. I am a private informer after all; the carts of wine and garlands clogging the pre-dawn streets were a dead giveaway. I shivered and hitched my cloak tighter as I tossed grain to Juno's sacred geese. "Getting fat and tasty, are you," I grumbled darkly at them. Caesar's idea of a joke, that was; you did so well on that last job, lad, here's a nice juicy plum of a sinecure for you. Right.

On the way home I tossed a few coins in a beggar's straw hat. Don't tell that high-class piece who condescends to run my office, she’ll think I've gone soft.

#175 ::: Chad Orzel ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 08:57 AM:

It's probably much too obvious, but I'm a lousy judge of these things:

---------

He was a burglar on whom the sun shone only when he needed darkness. Now, like a signal fire catching on a distant mountaintop, a piercing red light grew to illuminate the tunnel mouth, and the great hoard below. And yet, he knew that this giant dragon, sleeping on a pile of gold in a mountain hall in the most distant corner of the map, very near the Iron Hills, was not awake at ten minutes past two in the morning. That's why he was here.

#176 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 09:00 AM:

B-b-b-ut f-f-father, what do you want me to do? I'm only a very small prince.

Oh dear.

#177 ::: Paul Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 09:00 AM:

Delurking...

She had no more business there than an honest man has in advertising. Worse, she was young, single and blonde - just his type. I'd told her not to go, that she'd lose her jewellery, her fancy fur coat or her innocence getting out; she took as much notice as a mudslide does of a stop sign. She just combed her hair back, hiked up her skirt and headed out as fast as the cab would take her.

#178 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 09:09 AM:

Mrs. Bean was sitting on the porch steps shelling peas when Freddy came up. She looked tired. "Hello, Mrs. Bean," said Freddy. "Jinx said you wanted to see me about something."

"Hello, Freddy," said Mrs. Bean. "I think we have a ghost in the house." Her round face was unusually serious.

"Golly!" said Freddy. "What happened?"

"Yesterday on the stair, I saw a man who wasn't there," said Mrs. Bean. She stopped, looking pale.

"Golly!" said Freddy again. There'd never been a ghost on the farm before.

"He wasn't there again today," Mrs. Bean went on after a minute. He voice shook. The unexpected apparition had obviously unnerved her. "I wish that man would go away!" she said.

Freddy couldn't think of anything to say for a minute. This wasn't really a job for a detective.

#179 ::: Sally Beasley ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 09:19 AM:

Janet Croft: Falco, from Lindsay Davis' Falco series. It actually reads just like Falco to me, so I don't get the source if there's anything else there.

Chad Orzel: The Hobbit is one part of it, don't recognise the other.

Brad deLong's source is The Odyssey.

#180 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 09:37 AM:

Brad DeLong: If you can nominate the Ken MacLeod, then I nominate Thurber's "The Macbeth Murder Mystery."

--Mary Aileen (not "Mary," please)

#181 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 09:45 AM:

Mary Aileen, that's Walter R. Brooks retelling "The Little Man Who Wasn't There."

He was, of course, a writer of detective fiction, as my bookshelf will attest. (A talking bookshelf?? Lemme outa here!)

#182 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 09:48 AM:

OK, that wasn't completely fair.

B-b-b-ut f-f-father, what do you want me to do? He's such a big, strong uncle and I'm only a very small prince.

Oh dear.

#183 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 09:50 AM:

Janet Croft's source: the carol "Christmas Is Coming".

#184 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 10:03 AM:

Eimear Ní Mhéalóid got it in one, except that it's "Journey of the Magi", (no article) and generic Chandler, not very well done. By me, that is, not him.

#185 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 10:03 AM:

Julia's I think is A. A. Milne's Hamlet, or Shakespeare's Piglet, depending on how you look at it.

#186 ::: Chad Orzel ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 10:19 AM:

Chad Orzel: The Hobbit is one part of it, don't recognise the other.

Two other hints, in the form of bits of dialogue I can't really work up scenes to go with, but can't get out of my head any other way:

---------
"Diddums?"

"It's Numernorean."

---------

"Everybody expects you to go east along the mountains, and come around the end, but you get the traffic that way, and there's always construction in Ithilien. So what I did is, I went through the Paths of the Dead, and came out in Umbar, where I grabbed the Corsair ships, and came up the Anduin. It's much faster that way."

----------

I seem to still be playing in last year's contest, though. Shame on me.

#187 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 10:26 AM:

My take, then. I just hope it's good enough. Shouldn't be too hard, anyway.

===

Yoshihide was sitting opposite the escort. I nodded. He ignored. We went way back. I had to pimp him an "apprentice" in exchange for a fairy painting for the Lord of Horikawa. Me, post war: pimp, man-eater, bare-fisted stag quarterer, executionner.
The lord gave me the signal, jizô face, Emma smile. I put the cart on fire.
The Lord and I went waaay back.

The show started.
Daddy Yoshihide, ran toward his burning daughter. Feeble old man Yoshihide begged and screamed before my blade. Monkey boy Yoshihide jumped into the fire. Soul Monkey blackened and disappeared. Twisted artist Saruhide watched his daughter die, creaming his old orange hunting pants.

===

I just realised it may not make perfect sense if you don't know the original.

#188 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 10:33 AM:

Brad de Long gets one and a half points. If Teresa will permit me to dictate the conventions for this, for full points, you need to identify whose style of translation I used for Vergil's Dominus Praefectusque.

Any takers?

#189 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 10:40 AM:

Hum... there's a comma that has nothing to do where it's standing. "Daddy Yoshihide ran toward his burning daughter." it should have been.

I'm blushing, in case you can't see.

#190 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 10:49 AM:

"You bitch!" he shouted at her where she lay on the floor, hand covering her reddening cheek. "I sold my father's watch for you, to buy these goddam combs, and you cut your fucking hair!"

Obvious/generic.

#192 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 11:17 AM:

Jennie:

The Virgil pastiche is modelled on Dryden's translation.

#193 ::: Brad DeLong ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 11:20 AM:

>jennie ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 10:33 AM:
>
>Brad de Long gets one and a half points. If Teresa
>will permit me to dictate the conventions for this,
>for full points, you need to identify whose style of
>translation I used for Vergil's Dominus Praefectusque.
>
>Any takers?

Jeebus save us! It's eight in the morning here in California!

Ummm... Alexander Pope?

#194 ::: Red ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 11:29 AM:

OK, in this company I can only embarrass myself, but this is too nifty not to make an attempt:

Nurse not the memory of another four-flusher, neither flip ye her pearls before gulls, lest they rise off the water and swoop at the splashes…

#195 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 11:30 AM:

James gets the half-point.

Sorry, Brad...I didn't mean you had to guess it now! If it's any consolation, the weather is probably a lot nicer where you are than it is where I am, the youth of the morning nothwithstanding.

#196 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 11:35 AM:

It was all there in the encyclopedia the whole time. I was just too blind or too dumb to see it.

Five years ago. The Old Man and Ceasar were up all night, talking about mirrors and mystics. Must have been a hell of a night. Or one hell of a woman. I never liked mirrors. One of me was more than I could stand but two of me was just too much to think about.

#197 ::: Dru ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 11:50 AM:

First attempt, and only a generic noir backdrop...

----

The woman was trouble, no doubt about it. With her silvered stare and take-no-prisoners attitude, I knew nothing good would come from the job. They'd made it sound easy enough, just a targeted smash and grab from a vault in the middle of downtown. The thought of the hardened vault sent shivers of anticipation up my spine.

The money was what I needed though, hard currency to get the collectors off my back. A man in debt in this town is quickly cut to pieces. I ordered another double from the barkeep, a one-armed man who was proof positive of that fact.

----

#198 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 11:52 AM:

Red, it's a Raymond Chandler story, also mentioned above. I'll be vague, in hopes of not spoiling it for anybody. The story, I mean. One of the greatest endings ever -- even better than the famous and oft-quoted beginning -- and who knows how many suicides it's triggered? If I had to take one single guess on the style, I'd say it's from the Book of Armaments.

#199 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 11:56 AM:

Red, potentially embarrassing oneself is indeed part of the game. Thanks for playing; IMO, you didn't. If it's not Jonathan Livingston, I have no idea what gulls you're flirting with.

#200 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 12:06 PM:

Wait, was I definite enough?

IT'S THE BOOK OF ARMAMENTS! YEAH!!

#201 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 12:11 PM:

jennie: Sounds like John Dryden's translation of the Aeneid.

#202 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 12:17 PM:

Keith's sounds like the content is The Phoenix and the Mirror; not sure where the style comes from.

#203 ::: shosh ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 12:22 PM:

Dru's is Neuromancer.

#204 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 12:54 PM:

Dave Luckett, it's not Kipling.

I must say, I'm terribly at spotting the sources. It's embarrassing.

#205 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 01:00 PM:

Sally Beasley gets the point for Falco, and John Metzler for the carol!

Chad, that's Westlake, specifically Dortmunder (the Hobbit bit and Diddums) and Murch (the driving directions -- very funny!).

#206 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 01:01 PM:

Red, it's Red Wind again, this time as revealed to the group calling itself Matthew.

Xopher: Even if it's obvious, nobody seems to have called O.henry The Gift of the Magi.

O.k. back to work.

#207 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 01:02 PM:

Xopher's is "The Gift of the Magi." Good one.

#208 ::: Shosh ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 01:08 PM:

In no particular style other than perfectly-dreadful-hardboiled:

The old guy was a swindler and I knew it, but when you're on the run from a hunter you take work where you can find it. Seven years is a long time but he had a dark-haired daughter who was plenty friendly, which didn't hurt the deal any. The older sister was another story, a dame on the lookout for the main chance, and the three of 'em conned me good. Even the youngest was in on the bait and switch. They figured they'd stick me with paternity but good. It was twenty years before I made it out of that hell hole.

#209 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 01:14 PM:

Shosh:

Genesis. In particular, Jacob, Rachel and Leah.

#210 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 01:20 PM:

Bob Oldendorf gets one point for the Dylan, but it's not Hammett. (Hint: the books are farther away than the other media when I'm on the desktop machine at home.)

#211 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 01:55 PM:

Jim is close. The author does like pheonix's and mirrors. Though I should have pointed out that I'm not employing any particular style, other than generic hardboiled, so you only need concern yourself with the author and story.

#212 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 02:24 PM:

Phoenices?

#213 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 02:27 PM:

Obvious, but carrying on the tradition:

The hole was on Bagshot Row in the Bywater section of Hobbiton, a big, solid, cool-looking hole with green grassy walls, a green door, and a white stone trim. The front windows were leaded. From the front wall and its attendant flowering bushes a half acre of so of fine green lawn drifted in a gentle slope down to the street, passing on the way an enormous deodar around which it flowed like a cool green tide around a rock. The sidewalk and parkway were both very wide and in the parkway were three white acacias that were worth seeing. There was a heavy scent of summer on the morning and everything that grew was perfectly still in the breathless air they get over there on what they call a nice cool day.

All I knew about the guy was that he was a Mr. Frodo Baggins, and that he wanted to hire a nice clean wizard who wouldn't drop pipeweed ashes on the floor and never carried more than one staff. And I knew he was the heir of an old coot with hairy feet named Bilbo Baggins who had made a lot of money helping out the community, and got his photograph in the Hobbiton paper every year on his anniversary, with the years of his birth and disappearance underneat, and the legend: His Live Was His Service....

#214 ::: Paul Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 02:28 PM:

I seem to have left out anything that would sparks anyone's memory from mine, so here's the next bit:

Later, she told me what happened. She strode into Carter's Bar as though she owned the place. It was empty, and a girl with more survival instincts than a lemming on a cliff would have turned around and slinked out. Instead, she walked over to the vase on the bar and plucked a couple of roses from it. That's when Tommy walked in, and he wasn't happy - Tommy doesn't like people messing with his flowers. She wouldn't tell me exactly what happened after that, but when she got out of there she still had her jewellery and her fur coat.

#215 ::: Cam ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 02:28 PM:

Everyone knows, from the boy who mucks out the stalls to the owner, that a jockey with money needs a wife. When the jockey won enough to move to the big house, it was time for her to begin. Her machinations were barely subtle.

Her husband came first, meeting us out by the stables. He was a middle-aged man, balding and vaguely distant in his manner. I trusted him, until I met her. She, I felt from the beginning, was trouble. That woman knew how to use a man.

"Come by any time," he offered.

My friend, whose daily work was bet on legally and illegally across the county, should have known better. “Great idea,” and turned to me.

How could I argue? “Sure,” I said. “Why not?”

She used her daughter to get to my friend, and I nearly fell into her trap as well.

#216 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 02:33 PM:

Cam - that seems to be Dick Francis, with a nod to Jane Austen in the first sentence.

#217 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 02:36 PM:

Paul - it's Tam Lin. Didn't get part one at all though.

#218 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 02:43 PM:

When I said I didn't get part one, I don't mean that in a bad way.

I am in awe of all you people who can do this. Maybe if I had been reading hard-boiled books, or classic poetry, lately I would try, but it's only Austen again.

#219 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 02:44 PM:

Drat! Laura got in before me with Tam Lin.

#221 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 03:00 PM:

I hope this fits in whatever the rules currently are. Thanks to Mark (gaukler) for the ending!

The tall thin woman walked silently through the woods. They were not the woods of her people, and their Little People were not hers, to be pleased with a gift of tobacco, willing in return to watch over a stranger.
The client had been given a new name, a solid, unremarkable name. The others who lived in this wild place were eccentric, not prone to ask about someone's past. It should have worked. But sometimes a client was careless. Old appetites, old habits resurged, and were hard to deny when the new life seemed safe, cosy, and eternal. It had been his sweet tooth that had brought him back to his pursuers' attention.
The door under the gold lettered name was unlocked, and swung open at her touch.
The heavy body rolled down the stairs, bump, bump, bump, casually, as if it was the only way of coming downstairs.
She was too late.

#222 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 03:00 PM:

It's not all classic poetry here, Laura -- some of us play with downright popular media tropes, and still nobody leaps on the answer!

#223 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 03:08 PM:

Alan's is Tolkien (but of course) filtered through the jaundiced eye of Raymond Chandler.

After all, baby birds have to learn to fly sometime.

#224 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 03:23 PM:

Barbara's is A. A. Milne again (that's Winnie-the-Pooh's door, there), but crossed with what I can't say.

#225 ::: sundre ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 03:30 PM:

Only one source. I didn't think this would be easy, but it's still harder than i thought it would be.

----------

It looked like an old granny's house, neat and sweet. But there were bones buried in the garden, and they'd found the old dame's body stuffed into the furnace.

The kids were long gone.

#226 ::: Tom S ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 03:44 PM:

(MARLOWE Enters, his cap and hose darkened)

MARLOWE: Ah, the night's awash in grief so deep it would beggar a man to pay to seek its purpose.

SECRETARY VAL: 'Tis only the rain.

MARLOWE: Aye, but it falls when the gods weep in vain for the scant progress of men.

VAL: That woman had come while you were away.

MARLOWE: Nunnery-bound wench! She made a castle with words that by day's end did show it nothing but a hovel made of straw. But there was more than proof to cunning, my lady. Something was hidden in that airy castle and, by Heaven, I'll have it out.

VAL: But she has not proffered, my good Sir. She has not yet paid.

MARLOWE: Listen, now, and mark you well: I accept myself as a man of reason, bound betimes with guile, and claim no hold on things except the truth -- that weak and precious sprig of green which, standing upright and taking root, blinds us with its beauty when it finds the light.

And any born of woman who spends power to hold that flower from its destiny and keep it from the sun -- they, my girl, they be our enemy, and should the dreams of Ozymandus be offered, it means nought if the truth be stayed.

VAL: But there's these rooms, and the dog-gnawing sounds in my belly, and coats you wear that've seen gayer seasons or too many snows. Are these not as real as your flower? Do we go hungry for your pride's sake?

MARLOWE: Not for pride, my honest girl, for honest you are -- but our slumber each night should fall easily upon us; and on rising with the day we must find ouselves in a looking-glass, and regard with approval the features of a face we can recognize. The truth's the thing!

VAL: Ha! Truthful features a bailiff will recognize as well, my good Sir, if we haven't pence even to lay upon your eyes when you die in Gaol!

MARLOWE: Enough! Are you not wearied by the running of your own fears, girl? Fetch me some ale.

VAL: Not fear but common sense makes this horse gallop, dear Sir.

(VAL Exits)

#227 ::: Brad DeLong ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 03:46 PM:

Laura Roberts wrote:

>I am in awe of all you people who can do this.
>Maybe if I had been reading hard-boiled books,
>or classic poetry, lately I would try, but it's only
>Austen again.

One serving of _Pride and Falconry_ coming up, Ma'am...


"It is a truth universally acknowledged that when one's partner succumbs to homicide, that propriety requires that one cannot simply let the matter remain unexplored. Moreover, the only way that I could have concealed your portion of the affair would have been..."

"I cannot believe my ears," she said. "Could you possibly mean to imply that..."

"Excuse me for interrupting. I know my manners are abominable. But there is no consistent explanation I could offer to the authorities that would leave you uninvolved and not subject me to the most dire of legal punishments. Moreover, if I may say, your credibility is somewhat... impaired. You have not behaved like a lady. And you may not be being entirely truthful and straightforward with me even now.

"Moreover... But I have said far more than enough. All of these weighty reasons stand on one side of the argument. I grant that some of them may be quite unimportant. But can all of them be unimportant? They weigh heavily on one side of the balance. And what is on the other side? On the other side, perhaps you have conceived a tender passion for me, and perhaps I have conceived a tender passion for you."

"Surely," she whispered, "you have knowledge of whether your own passions are tender?"

"I confess that I do not. Your attractive neck and vivacious manner have made you an ornament to the society of this county." [I cannot do the next sentence and stil remain in character.] "But how long do such tender passions and infatuations last--a month? A year? And then what is the consequence: look at the unhappy situation of the elder Bennetts. And it would be deeply wounding to feel that you have deceived me yet again. I will no doubt have sleepless nights--but they will pass. And I cannot escape my suspicion that all your actions have presumed that you will succeed in arousing a tender passion in me--as you no doubt have in others."

"About one thing I am still curious," she said. "Speak, truthfully. Would you be acting differently if the falcon had in fact been genuine, and if as a result my jointure were 10,000 a year?"

#228 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 03:47 PM:

Sundre: Hansel & Gretel?

#229 ::: sundre ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 03:48 PM:

point to eric

#230 ::: Red ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 03:58 PM:

Thanks for the kind words, Tom. Points to Kip and jennie, though the _Book_of_Armaments_ sounds like something I need to find. I should have considered the spoiler risk.

I'm glad I'm not alone in loving that ending out of all proportion to the rest of Chandler. Marlowe and Dalmas are always shadows of the perfect knight, but I think that in those last two scenes we're taught a lesson in masculine honor that Galahad would never have learned.

#231 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 04:05 PM:

I dragged myself over to the box the bastards had locked her in, trying to ignore the wound in my leg. I'd only had six bullets in my gun, and the last of the little fuckers had stuck me with his pick before I splashed his brains all over the wall.

She didn't have much time left, if she wasn't already dead -- I couldn't see her comely breast moving at all. Her lips were turning blue, which would have made a nice contrast with her paler-than-cream complexion if it hadn't meant she was...

Dying! Dammit, Marlowe, I told myself, get a grip! I was dizzy from blood loss, but I tried to smash the case: no go, the glass was bulletproof. But I managed to smash the lock and get it open.

I started CPR right away; she was so petite that I could blow into her nose and mouth at the same time. After a couple of breaths, she started choking -- then sat up, and coughed out a chunk of something that had been caught in her throat.

She sobbed against my chest. "Don't ever die again," I mumbled, "or I'll fucking kill you."

#232 ::: sundre ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 04:06 PM:

xopher: half of that is snow white. no clue about the other.

#233 ::: S. Dawson ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 04:08 PM:

sundre's is half Hansel and Gretel.

#234 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 04:09 PM:

Point to sundre. No particular other. Being hardboiled, but not doing it very well.

#235 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 04:11 PM:

Xopher: It's Snow White and the Seven -- no, six -- no... -- Dwarfs (Grimm). Despite the presence of Marlowe, that effing can't be Chandler.

I drew a cartoon once of a rather EC-looking Snow White, with the prince asking a dwarf, "Um, are you sure she's just sleeping?"

#236 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 04:12 PM:

Just can't hit "refresh" fast enough around here...

#237 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 04:13 PM:

No, Kip, you're right. I dunno. Maybe that's my own style. Or something.

But no, there are seven of them, practically a regiment. He was short one bullet, see? (And I thought I was being so clever.)

#238 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 04:14 PM:

jennie said: Drat! Laura got in before me with Tam Lin.

Well, you got in before me with Gift of the Magi, so we seem to be even : )

Tom - don't know if I'd do any better with the popular media.

Brad - great job on The Maltese Prejudice. I think Austen would have some way to say "But how long do such tender passions and infatuations last. A month? A year?" - seems like something she would entirely agree with.

#239 ::: oryto ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 04:16 PM:

I hesitate to disagree with our august hostess, but I believe
Keith is actually doing "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" by Jorge
Luis Borges.

#240 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 04:26 PM:

sundre, that Hansel & Gretel is very nice, as nice as Macdonald's Dickens.

#241 ::: Brad DeLong ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 04:33 PM:

Re:

>[I cannot do the next sentence and stil remain in character.]
>
>Brad - great job on The Maltese Prejudice. I think
>Austen would have some way to say "But how long
>do such tender passions and infatuations last.
>A month? A year?"

Ah. That's not the sentence I can't figure out how to do. I omitted the sentence because I could not figure out how to do it in Austenese. The sentence is: "He looked hungrily from her hair to her feet and up to her eyes again." How do you write that in Austenese?

#242 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 04:49 PM:

"He looked hungrily from her hair to her feet and up to her eyes again."

Brad - something like this?

"With troubled countenance, he cast his eyes over her from head to toe and then returned his gaze to hers."

"Hungrily" is a very un-Austen type word, I think. That's hard to do.

#243 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 04:56 PM:

"He looked hungrily from her hair to her feet and up to her eyes again."

Brad - something like this?

"With troubled countenance, he cast his eyes over her from head to toe and then returned his gaze to hers."

"Hungrily" is a very un-Austen type word, I think. That's hard to do.

(Hope this only gets posted once - there was an error.)

#244 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 05:41 PM:

I think maybe a good Austenish substitution for "hungry" might be "avid"

#245 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 05:58 PM:

The old man lived in a one-horse burgh out on the plains, and he played at being an aristocrat, although as far as I could see all he had to his name was an old flintlock, a spavined gelding, and a lame mutt. Most of his dough went for ham hocks and collard greens, and sometimes a scrawny chicken or two on Sundays.

#246 ::: Paul Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 06:05 PM:

Laura,

When I said I didn't get part one, I don't mean that in a bad way.

No problem, reading part one again I don't think I'd get it either - the parts that map to Tam Lin don't include specific enough clues. I was impressed with Trent Goulding's _Iliad_ and the way the certainty of what it was coalesced out of all the little hints, so I aimed at something similar. And missed.

Now I'm going to go back to sulking because every time I recognise anything someone has already identified it.
.

#247 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 06:10 PM:

The sentence is: "He looked hungrily from her hair to her feet and up to her eyes again." How do you write that in Austenese?

He considered her carefully, alighting at last upon her brow.

#248 ::: sundre ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 06:19 PM:

kate: thanks. i'm astounded and flattered.

(s.dawson: there is no other half. i kind of made it up.)

#249 ::: derrida derider ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 06:55 PM:

I reckon Tom S above is Phillip in the style of Kit.

#250 ::: derrida derider ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 06:56 PM:

And Emma is Don Quixote, but in what style I'm not sure.

#251 ::: Greg Ioannou ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 07:07 PM:

I'm starting to tinker with another twisted piece of theatre, and still no-one has even tried to guess my first thesbian bit. Sigh. Neither half of it is THAT tough. I even give you two characters' names, one of then rather distinctive. (Of course, I'm only able to guess the really really easy ones myself, so who am I to talk?)

Teresa, I'm ignoring the Raymond Chandler bit. I don't find it interesting to imitate his writing style, and don't really know his stories well enough to use them. Anyway, "rules" are not one of my stronger life skills.

#252 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 07:11 PM:

oryto is correct.

#253 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 08:34 PM:

Marlowe was a good little detective, and always very curious.

I'm surprised no one got this yet.

It's Curious George and the Big Sleep.

It would continue:

The man with the yellow hat had been following me all day. I ducked into the bar on Sunset and took a seat with a view of the door. He wandered in a minute later.

I noticed a small door behind the bar. I became very curious. Where did it go? I was going to get to the bottom of this.

#254 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 08:35 PM:

What a day to be caught offline. Here's an easy one:

I put up with a lot from Lucky, but when he started bad-mouthing me, it was time to even the score.

#255 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 08:49 PM:

mayakda- Is there a Jackie Collins in there?

#256 ::: Rose ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 08:56 PM:

Yay, I get to identify one!

That's Waiting for Godot, mayakada.

#257 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 09:04 PM:

Probably far too obvious.

...Please, please, take me with you.

No, I'm through with everything here. I want peace. I'm taking my oar and going to see if somewhere there isn't something left in life of charm and grace, where men don't eat acorns and women schedule weddings around their unfinished craft projects.

Odd, if you go, where shall I go? What shall I do?

Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.

#258 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 09:04 PM:

*laughs* I was sure off the mark on that one.

#259 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 09:24 PM:

Xopher: practically a regiment

Maybe second-rate musicals are \next/ year? Or maybe second-rate offspring, although that sounds like something out of Maybe He's Dead.

#260 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 09:28 PM:

Julia--The Odyssey, colliding with Gone with the Wind.

#261 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 10:06 PM:

With help from my husband:

"Sir. Might I suggest such a vibrant shade of blue in one's braces might be less than couth and could conceivably cause distress to some of our more delicate friends and relations."

#262 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 10:18 PM:

Oh, just worked out one more (I hope I'm not too late with these):

I knew that dame was trouble the moment she walked into town. The old minister and his wife were dead, and all she wanted to do was play games.
I expected the worst when she knocked on my door. Calf's-foot jelly was just an excuse. Next thing I knew, she was opening the windows and trying to brighten up the place.

#263 ::: sundre ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 10:44 PM:

Julia: I see fidelio's guess, and admit the character. But his discontent sounds like Tennyson's Ulysses to me.

#264 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 10:56 PM:

Dan has A.A. Milne right. The other half, well, I suppose if you haven't read the Thomas Perry books the clues really don't work. I was inspired by the idea of Pooh living "under the name of Sanders".

Lis's first one is Christopher Robin's braces, as interrogated, I'd say by Jane Austen, though I'm not sure about the usage of couth - for some reason that sound more like Henry James.

#265 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 11:02 PM:

Well, you've got it half-right. Not Jane Austen, though. Think about a century later.

#266 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 11:15 PM:

Jane: the valet correcting his master is Wodehouse -- which I will swear on a stack of dinner rolls I realized \before/ your hint. But I'm so far from Milne that I'd completely forgotten the scene (if I ever read it).

#267 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 11:37 PM:

Xopher -- that wasn't generic, it was straight-out Spillane whether you meant it to be or not!

Really didn't expect my last one to be a stumper -- I think it would have been obvious to me! But then, there's something about redheads....

And no trackbacks? Amazing. I've been telling friends about it in several venues, and I'd have thought the blogerati would have found this a very tasty place....

#268 ::: JenN ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 11:47 PM:

Lis the 2nd entry is Pollyanna.

#269 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 11:51 PM:

CHip and JenN, you are both keerekt!

And, Tom, I linked to this thread, but don't have trackbacks thru Blogger. You can see several links thru Technorati, though.

#270 ::: david Smith ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 11:54 PM:

The second one by Lis is "The Man Who Came To Dinner" by Kaufman and Hart.

#271 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2004, 12:09 AM:

Tom -- Straight-out Spillane? That's great! I knew I was imitating SOMETHING, I just didn't know what.

#272 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2004, 01:34 AM:

Ms. Riba and Mr. Whitmore, I linked to this through MT, but it didn't ping. Dunno why not.

#273 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2004, 02:07 AM:

Linkmeister: as did I, with the same apparent effect (to wit, none).

#274 ::: Rose ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2004, 03:04 AM:

Even now I don't like talking about it. One minute I was worn-out, but definitely hot on the right trail, and the next I was waking up with trees for company and no idea how I got there. I picked up my stout frame and shook off the dirt. The sun was coming up on the shoulders of the city, so I started walking out towards those hills.

I looked back over the most recent twelve hours the way a man who'd escaped drowning would look back at the sea – last night I'd almost drowned in my troubles, and I didn't even know why.

I limped up the road, using my good leg to steady myself. But just where the street veered up, a looker in a leopard-skin coat managed to block my way. I almost went straight to the office to tell the Old Man I'd had enough. At twenty I might have been for it, but the fifteen years that had passed since then meant that I was about done chasing up and down deserted San Francisco streets.

#275 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2004, 04:27 AM:

mayakda's is not Jackie Collins or Waiting for Godot: it's "The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe.

#276 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2004, 06:02 AM:

This is the town. Pretty, how it looks in the sunshine. Anyone could live here. But the women and men who do live here don't care -- little and small, they sow and reap their little negations. And noone loves anyone -- eventually, folks die, and noone will mourn. That's how life is in this town -- spring, summer, fall, winter.

#277 ::: Eimear Ní Mhéalóid ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2004, 06:02 AM:

I stood outside the barber shop looking up at the jutting neon sign of a dive called Thingol's. A man was looking up at the sign too. Slim quiet elves passed up and down the street and stared at him with darting quiet glances. He was worth looking at. He wore a ghastly wolf hame with fangs for buttons. He looked for all the world like a werewolf, except for the grim clean light in his eyes and the missing hand. His skin was pale and he needed a shave. He would always need a shave.

He pushed open the double swinging doors and moved inside. Before the doors had entirely closed they opened again, violently, outwards. Something sailed across the sidewalk and landed in the gutter. It was a thin, narrow-shouldered elf in a gray cloak and a niphredil flower. It had long chestnut hair. It kept its mouth open and whined for a moment then sidled off.

I pushed open the doors and went in. A hand I could have sat in came out and took hold of my shoulder and squashed it to a pulp. The big man stared at me solemnly. "A goblin," he said, "I just thrown him out. You seen me throw him out?"

"It's that kind of place," I said, rubbing my shoulder. "What did you expect?" "Don't say that, pal", the big man growled softly, like four wolves after dinner. "Tinúviel used to dance here. Little Tinúviel."

#278 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2004, 06:05 AM:

Eimear's confounding last year with this, with JRRT.

#279 ::: Eimear Ní Mhéalóid ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2004, 06:24 AM:

I think it fits this year's rules, and it's certainly not the first Tolkien in this thread. It's not meant to be hard to identify, though it has specific sources.

Tom's latest is ee cummings "anyone lived in a pretty how town".

#280 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2004, 06:32 AM:

Very good (both your original and your catch of mine)!

#281 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2004, 08:24 AM:

Eimear, I recognize that as the beginning of either "Try the Girl" or "Farewell, My Lovely." That's Slapsie Maxie Rosenbloom playing the big guy. Tolkien's already been called for that one, so I'll just nod sagely and munch a carrot. (Dipped in Mustard!)

#282 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2004, 08:26 AM:

Rose is channeling Hammett, but I don't recognize the plot. I figure I'd best grab whatever partials I can, unless Chandler and Hammett are now considered as gimmes.

#283 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2004, 08:46 AM:

Yes, David G is right -- The Cask of Amontillado.
(Fortunato => Lucky)

#284 ::: Brad DeLong ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2004, 09:14 AM:

Rose is channeling not just Hammett, but an Italian poet of the thirteenth century. I suppose it was inevitable: this has been willed where what is willed must be...

#285 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2004, 09:23 AM:

Damn. This seems to be my year to miss my guesses. Tell me that at least it makes others feel braver.

#286 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2004, 09:31 AM:

Here's a mishmash, rather than a pastiche. Guess both sources:

Ms. Halsey was not young, but she was still impressive, large of stature and girth, and though dark for an Englishwoman, yet wearing always the clearness of health in her brunette cheek, and its vivacity in her shiny, black-button eyes. She was attired in a somber but well-made day gown, which suited the sepulcher atmosphere of the oak-panelled study. Without preamble, she declared: "I require a gentleman."

#287 ::: MikeB ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2004, 12:15 PM:

[delurk]
I cannot compete in this thread. My ignorance of the classics is terrifying. Fortunately, my friend loaned me a copy of "The Big Sleep", so I can start my remedial education.

In the meantime, this came into my head and refused to go away until I wrote it down. Now, it demands to be posted. My apologies:


A palm tree was growing at the far end of the Vegas strip.
Near the tree were a couple of rotten gamblers, who had drunk up the last of their chips
and had collapsed on the bronze-painted sidewalk to sleep it off.

In the tree was a falcon with gold feathers,
singing some song that I couldn't understand.
The notes ran up and down my spine and I took out my gun.

I knew then, staring up at that damn bird,
that this case wasn't going to make me happy.
The bird with the shiny feathers just sat there and sang.

As the tree loomed above me, and the wind blew,
I began to wonder where else I could go.
All of a sudden the bird blew up. I hit the floor rolling as burning feathers fell around me.


[relurk]

#288 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2004, 12:35 PM:

Brad and Kip already beat me to the punch with Rose's Hammett, but I'll be even more specific and guess the narrator is the Continental Op.

Alex nailed Curious George.

I stink at this game.

#289 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2004, 12:36 PM:

I dunno about that Teresa. After a point, all I can do is sit here wondering how people can do this, even when I am not too sure I understand what they are doing . . .

This stuff is just too good.

#290 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2004, 01:00 PM:

A patient man, if not a holy one,
I leant against the bar at some low inn
Until milady's errands might be done
(To purchase Yuletide gifts for all her kin).

And then a maiden garmented in blue
The gentle pallor of midsummer's sky,
Approached and spake, "Sir Nicholas, is it you?
You were my father's friend in days gone by."

I knew her then -- she'd been the merest child
When last we met -- and wished her father well.
She laugh't and said he'd left, unreconciled,
And if she sought him, "Mother would raise hell."

Yet she had come to ask me if I might
Exert my modest talents and pursue
That vanished parent, famed both for his height
And slenderness, his locks of wint'ry hue.

#291 ::: Rose ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2004, 01:06 PM:

Points to Kip and Brad and Harry; deduction from me for Hammett rather than Chandler, but Continental Op stories are what I've been reading for the last two weeks -- I didn't know I was boning up for a test, though!

Despite my not picking Chandler, it was a line in The Long Goodbye that gave me the idea to do Dante: "There is the pale, pale blonde with anemia of some non-fatal but incurable type. She is very languid and very shadowy and she speaks softly out of nowhere and you can't lay a finger on her because in the first place you don't want to, and in the second place she is reading The Waste Land or Dante in the original, or Kafka or Kierkegaard or studing Provencal."

#292 ::: Rose ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2004, 01:09 PM:

Faren Miller is retelling The Thin Man, but I 'm not sure of the verse style being borrowed.

#293 ::: Big Sleeper ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2004, 01:18 PM:

What a blonde she was. A tall, striking blonde. Enough to make a monk head straight back to the whorehouse. I had always tried to stay away from friends’ wives. Too much trouble. This one was different – I’d bumped off her husband, just a couple of days before. And here I was, walking behind the coffin with her. The coffin wasn’t much. It had more silk than the pope’s bed and cost about as much as one of the new houses in Santa Monica. She was wearing her grief like a medal, and she knew I’d done it. How many dames have fallen for their husband’s killer? Probably more than you or I want to know. She gave me the normal kind of lip. Even spat at me, as we walked behind the coffin. That’s when I knew she was ready for me. A guy with my looks needs a couple of flattering lines up his sleeve to keep the gals coming. Practice, that’s all. Just a few words. Some modulated vibrations in the air. She melted when I told her I’d killed him for her; give a dame some passion-talk, and they all melt. Still, I’d never done it like this. That afternoon, I could have talked her into kissing a hippo.
[with apologies to R. Chandler and Richard III]

#294 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2004, 02:07 PM:

I sat there with Gregor
We sat there we two
And I said, "how I wish
I had segments like you."

*slaps forehead*
Metamorphosis, by Kafka.

#295 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2004, 02:11 PM:

Oh, already solved. I should read the thread more carefully .. that's embarassing.

#296 ::: sundre ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2004, 02:27 PM:

I needed my cat back. Half of it, even. The mice were becoming a problem.

"Can you help me?"

"Tell me about the fat man," he said. I wondered if he'd seen any mirrors lately.

"What fat man? What does this have to do with my cat?"

"All things are connected," he said, and took a bite of his lunch. There were murkier things on that pizza than I had even dreamed possible. "I have to find the elf first. I'll meet you at your place before midnight. Have something on hand to feed a reindeer, if that's not too much trouble."

#297 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2004, 02:45 PM:

sundre--I just finished listening to this! I call _Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency_ (oh, plus a dash of holiday seasoning). I enjoyed the story a lot, even if the ending fails to make sense even by the standards of its sub-genre.

#298 ::: Shannon ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2004, 04:02 PM:

I haven't read detective novels for years, and even then, they weren't hardboiled. So the style is awful and very unspecific. But the source is very well-known, although the focus is on a more minor (but very important) character. Extra applause for identifying the specific character.

The girl was out on the streets again. She didn't like the normal things - racing cars, TV. Said she was happy picking flowers. Asked too many questions for her own damn good too. Let me tell you, she was a dame looking for trouble. That firefighter friend of hers didn't help the situation. Always hanging around that pretty young thing. If he knew what was good for him, he would have been inside with his wife watching TV.

#299 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2004, 04:42 PM:

Hint for former English majors: "The Eve of St. Nick".

#300 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2004, 04:57 PM:

Apologies for intruding, and for the length; the original author was even more verbose. But I couldn't resist.

The crowd must have been the last thing Carton saw before the blade fell. Then the blood pressure in his brain dropped to zero, and he was dead.

Dad and I went to Rosie's that night. She was wearing her brightest floral muu-muu, but her face was somber when she came to take our order. "You want the goulash, yah, Doctor?" she asked, without her usual skittishness about ordering for us.

"Why so glum, Rosie?" my father asked.

"I was in the square when that man died," she said. "I seen lotta deaths, bad things. But he was so peaceful. Like a prophet, yah." She shook her head and waddled away to get our dinner.

Dad picked up his beer. "What do you think he was thinking then? When he went up the stairs?"

"I think he was seeing the end of the system that did away with him." I wasn't sure how I knew this, but it seemed right. "I think he saw the cops who framed him and the judge who let it happen, saw them as crooks who would get their own in time. Why? What do you think?"

He took a long pull from his bottle. "I think he was seeing you. I think he was picturing your life, now that you and Charles are safe. Hoping you'd remember him as a good man."

EPILOGUE

Charles and I were married on Santa Teresa Beach a few weeks later. I was already throwing up behind the sand dunes by the time the reception started, and little Sid was born nine months to the day after Carton died.

He's only two now, but he's already a good shot with his water pistol. I think he's going to be a cop. I hope he'll be a good one.

Respectfully submitted,
Lucie Darnay

#301 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2004, 05:00 PM:

Clarice McClellan, Fahrenheit 451.

#302 ::: Brad DeLong ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2004, 05:25 PM:

Abi, it is a far, far better thing that you have done, than you have ever done before; it is a far, far better rest that you go to than you have ever known.

But I must punt on the style...

#303 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2004, 05:34 PM:

I just read through all this, and most of what I've recognized has already been called, but I'll take partial points for the newst:

Abi is doing Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone, but I'm not sure whose style.

#304 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2004, 05:37 PM:

Half points to Brad, half to Vicki for recognizing my attempt at "G is for Guillotine". (R is for Revolution? T is for Thermidor?)

#305 ::: sundre ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2004, 05:45 PM:

Kate: yes, it's dirk all over.

there is a source for the holiday spice, but i'm not sure if i pulled it off.

here's a later excerpt:

----------

I heard him shout, and there was a loud rattle on the fire escape. I knocked carefully on the bedroom door.

"Are you all right? Have you found the cat yet?"

"He got away," he called out, "but I caught one in the bathroom."

He opened the door. He seemed to be limping, and his clothes were torn, but he looked terribly pleased with himself.

"A cat?"

There was a loud clatter in the bathroom, and a ringing of bells.

"Er, no," he said, and rubbed at his nose. "Somewhat larger than a cat."

#306 ::: Shannon ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2004, 05:47 PM:

Abi, very good! I hoped the firefighter bit would be obvious enough...

#307 ::: Greg Ioannou ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2004, 06:34 PM:

OK, I think all the bits of my first one are in place. Brad picked off that the style was Dr Seuss. Mark identified that the writer was Kafka; Mayakda identified the story as Metamorphosis.

It seems my second one was either too difficult or two dull -- still no guesses. So a second hint: I took one of the raunchiest pieces of writing I could think of and recast it into the style of the stuffiest writer I've ever read.

#308 ::: Sally Beasley ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2004, 08:22 PM:

Wow! I recognised both halves of a piece, for a change.

abi is doing A Tale of Two Cities in the style of Sue Grafton

#309 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2004, 08:26 PM:

Greg -- too difficult. :)

Sundre -- The first excerpt reminded me of the Maltese Falcon; not so sure after the second one, though.

#310 ::: S. Dawson ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2004, 08:37 PM:

MikeB's poem is modelled on "Of Mere Being" by Wallace Stevens.

#311 ::: CD318 ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2004, 12:42 AM:

I'd parked my camel a couple of miles back for this stoll to the rail crossing. It was less than clear how I'd been roped into this job. In fact I remembered little from the night before. But here I was at the first light of daybreak breaking over the dunes and the windblown sand ten thousand hypodermics punching pinprick holes in my face. The Turk was stupid and he would pay, again and again in a hundred bleak little tragedies. I dropped the detonator.

#312 ::: Greg Black ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2004, 01:44 AM:

Teresa: “Tell me that at least it makes others feel braver.”

I don’t need brave; I’d need a clue to do this stuff. But it’s been really great watching; I’m loving it.

#313 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2004, 02:23 AM:

Hint, Greg B -- it is often easier to toss a quasi-quote out there than it is to guess what these folks actually mean. And I'm amazed that what I thought might be difficult (Jabberwocky or Cummings) is easily guessed, within minutes -- where a Buffy reference, slightly quirked, remains unguessed even now.

So toss out something for us to play with -- this crowd is incredibly forgiving if you're willing to make an attempt.

#314 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2004, 09:02 AM:

We were staked out on the banks of a little stream that had been domesticated by generations of Jap gardeners until it learned to do its own weeding. Sis had her nose planted in a book. I peeked over and decided she had to be faking -- it was about as enthralling as a list of random numbers -- but before I could call her on it, he showed up and I was all business again.

He looked like someone's ancient uncle, a rabbity little apology whose pinkish eyes matched his thinning dome as he muttered past us, seemingly oblivious to everything else. It wasn't the best place for a tail, but I peeled off and did my best, following his waistcoat until he ducked into his door and on through. Only an idiot would follow him, so I did.

I didn't feel a blow -- you never do -- but I had just enough presence of mind to figure there must have been one as I executed an impressive one-and-a-half gainer into the inviting, cellar-flavored darkness.

#315 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2004, 09:59 AM:

At last I see something first. (I was \just/ too late for the cummings -- Tom, IMO "spring summer fall winter" made it easier than you might have thought.) CD318 is doing Lawrence of Arabia; I'll say Hunter Thompson style just to be definite. Kip W. is doing Alice in Wonderland (very well, IMO); I don't recognize the specific style.

#316 ::: Greg Ioannou ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2004, 10:26 AM:

All this happened, more or less. The parts on the farm, anyway, are pretty much true. There really was a Farmer MacDonald, and there really was a blackberry patch. I nearly was nearly murdered, just like my father had been murdered. And so on. I've changed all the names.

#317 ::: Greg Ioannou ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2004, 10:28 AM:

Sigh. Gotta learn to proofread. A New Year's Resolution!

All this happened, more or less. The parts on the farm, anyway, are pretty much true. There really was a Farmer MacDonald, and there really was a blackberry patch. I nearly was really murdered, just like my father had been murdered. And so on. I've changed all the names.

#318 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2004, 11:34 AM:

Kip's latest is Alice in Wonderland.

#319 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2004, 11:43 AM:

Greg: "Peter Rabbit", but the story you're pastiching escapes me; I'll say "For Esme, With Love and Squalor" out of desperation (and because it doesn't read like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

#320 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2004, 11:48 AM:

"Jap gardener" was my attempt at a stylistic clew. Spot on with the story ID, of course.

#321 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2004, 12:00 PM:

Greg's style was Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five. But I missed Peter Rabbit because ours was a Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle household.

#322 ::: Elric ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2004, 12:02 PM:

I hate jobs that take me out of the city, but the client offered good money plus expenses, so here I sat. He ran a bar out in the middle of nowhere, and I couldn't figure out how he stayed in business, unless it was because of his daughter. Bess was her name, and her dark hair shadowed a face that would make half of Hollywood hide in shame, and bring the other half here for a drink if they only knew about her. The rye was pretty good, too.

I couldn't stay inside much longer. It was night now, one of those clear nights with a few clouds where the full moon turns everything purple. Through a window I could see that the only road gleamed as it aimed toward the hills. I'd rather have stared longer at the lush slopes beneath Bess's white blouse, but duty called. Somewhere over the border there was a two-bit hood who'd be coming soon to bother my client's daughter, just like he did every time the moon was full. He probably would have fit in with the Hollywood crowd, if it ever found this place, because I was told he had style of a sort--if you can call carrying a sword, riding a horse, and wearing a lace-fronted shirt style. But I wasn't here to be a fashion critic. I just had to keep him from coming back.

#323 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2004, 12:04 PM:

Poorfreadign is overated.

#324 ::: DonBoy ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2004, 12:08 PM:

Note ancient example, although not a guessing game: The Night Before Christmas, Hemingway-style, by James Thurber, 1927. Seen at No More Mr. Nice Blog who got it from somewhere else.

#325 ::: Greg Ioannou ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2004, 12:10 PM:

So it take this crowd about an hour and a half to identify Peter Rabbit as told by Vonnegut, but no-one even tried to guess Portnoy's Complaint as told by Ibsen, even with clues. Says interesting things about our communal reading habits! One point each to CHip and Jennie.

#326 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2004, 12:16 PM:

Elric's source is The Highwayman. Don't know whose style he's using, unlesss it's generic hardboiled.

#327 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2004, 01:26 PM:

Fresh out of jail, I was playing it straight-- found a job doing maintenance for this building, sounded like an easy gig. All I had to do was stay outta the boss's special place. But when the ceiling underneath sprang a leak, what else could a girl do but unlock the door and go in?

I hadn't been looking for any trouble, but there she was, waiting for me with hot lips and a cold beer. When she batted those violet eyes at the labrys on my arm, I dropped the keyring straight into the puddle in the foyer. Never even noticed the stains all over it until we heard the boss coming back, and by then it was too late.

#328 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2004, 07:51 PM:

Not to fret, Claude. It's one of the knacks, like making rhymed verse, or singing harmony, or spotting swipes in visual art. (There are lots more.) If you don't have one, watching someone who does feels like sleeve, sleeve, sleeve, rabbit!

#329 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2004, 09:54 PM:

Greg, a lot of Ibsen is in the construction; and while Updike's prose is good, it isn't all that recognizable on a sentence-by-sentence basis. That's why certain authors are far more likely than others to turn up in these games. For instance, it would take a pastiche of some length, and the use of some identifiable sentences, to do Gene Wolfe; but certain other writers aren't nearly so recondite:

"How, they left together?" the man said in amazement. "You pretend that an Owl and a Pussycat would thus take up arms, and travel as companions?"

"I very nearly think they have done so," said the other. "Furthermore, I am prepared to offer just such proof of it as your eminence would wish to have before setting out."

"Proof -- by which I mean, information of proven accuracy and usefulness -- would be a most welcome companion on my errand," the first man said, gesturing for a waiter to refill his own cup with the harsh red local wine; "and yet I have often observed that, like a footman whose wages have been paid in advance, what at first seemed a sturdy and reliable proof will prove feebler than one's errand requires. Worse, it may vanish as soon as one has traveled a sufficient distance for the prospect of a return to one's starting-point, to reclaim the footman's services or wages, to be more irritating than the thought of his impudent and unpunished fraud."

"That may be so," his informant said coolly. "Still, I know what I know; and in my line of work, that is everything. That the fugitives left in a boat, anyone might guess; and we have had the roads closely watched. They did not leave by land."

"And this is the entire fruit of your labors, that you have proven what anyone else might have guessed a great deal more quickly?"

"What anyone might guess, my lord, is very often true," the smaller man said, choosing his words carefully; "but when I say "proof," I mean that I can tell you the exact boat on which they took passage: a most handsome vessel, whose owner has, to please his wife, painted it the precise shade of the young spring vegetation on her ancestral estate."

"You cannot mean that you have found a way to track them that closely?"

"Shards! I have been saying nothing else for the last half-hour!"

(Teresa pulls out a stopwatch, clicks once, and stands back to see how long this will take.)

#330 ::: vicki ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2004, 09:55 PM:

Do I credit Paarfi, Mr. Brust, or Dumas' translators for the style in which you did Lear's "The Owl and the Pussycat"?

#331 ::: vicki again ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2004, 09:57 PM:

One minute, to within the accuracy of your timestamps.

On second thought, "Shards!" nails it down to Paarfi, but Paarfi is of course a pastiche himself. Is meta-pastiche a recognized sub-genre?

#332 ::: S. Dawson ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2004, 09:57 PM:

"Bumping off a guy, fair enough, but his wife and all his little kids? Why'd he want to go and do something like that?"

"If you ask me, it was his wife who planned the thing. He was no better than he should have been, but the way I figure it, she was the brains of the operation."
-----------------------------------------------------------
In a lot of ways it was a classic murder-suicide. Some people said it was his years in the service that finally got to him--he was shouting about the war when he put the bullet in his brain--but me, I always thought it had more to do with her, or her and another guy, maybe. It was something about the way he'd untwisted the sheets and smoothed them again around the face that bloomed with black and blue.
---------------------------------------------------
"Sorry, run that by me again. Forensics says we're dealing with how many stab wounds?"

"One each, apparently."

#333 ::: vicki ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2004, 09:58 PM:

That is, makes it Paarfi or Brust, not the Dumas translators.

And now I'll let someone else get a word in, when you're all done discussing bad Christmas music.

#334 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2004, 10:21 PM:

P: Then what do they call it?
M: They call it a Lembas Wrap.
P: What do they call mithril?
M: That's still Mithril, but they say it mee-thril.

#335 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2004, 10:24 PM:

Macbeth, Othello, and Hamlet(?) respectively.

#336 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2004, 11:03 PM:

Kip, that's Tolkien meets Pulp Fiction.

#337 ::: gesso ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2004, 11:11 PM:

Kip - Lord of the Rings meets Pulp Fiction.

#338 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2004, 11:13 PM:

Vicki, thanks for so promptly confirming my theory. I was hoping for five or ten minutes at best.

I'd have avoided saying "Shards!" if I could, but there's not a wide selection of expletives to use there, and the others are giveaways too.

#339 ::: S. Dawson ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2004, 11:15 PM:

Mark is correct about the first two but not the third.

#340 ::: gesso ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2004, 11:21 PM:

Maybe this time I can get in first! Julie's is Bluebeard meets the Wachowski Brothers' Bound.

#341 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2004, 12:03 AM:

Yes, and yes. I couldn't remember -- did somebody do that last year? (And every year?) Ah, well. Goodnight and everybody have a Hipy Papy Hoholla Luddy!

Incidentally, this record is for sale in the foyer. Drive safely!

#342 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2004, 12:50 AM:

S. Dawson: given the theme, I'd say your third is Julius Caesar. (My first reaction, before seeing "Macbeth", was Murder on the Orient Express (and shame on me, since I saw MacBeth just last month).)

Greg: my guess would have been Pinter's The Birthday Party (which I know only fragments of) from the tone. Peter Rabbit is something most of us read (or had read to us) back when our brains had more room for new things; Portnoy's Complaint ... is not. (I'd have said your PR had too many dead giveaways in it; your PC has just one that I can see in hindsight.) I'm also not sure how enduring it is; I can place it time, and remember reading it because I was the age to read that sort of thing for causes other than its (alleged?) merit, but how many people would have read it once the novelty wore off? I suspect Ibsen is also tricky because the style depends too much on the translator; this piece might almost be Shaw, except that it's not quite direct \enough/.

Teresa: I suspect that would have been gotten quickly even if cut off well before "'Shards!'" -- the style was \very/ much in character -- but I'll bet going on at such length was half the fun.

#343 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2004, 01:08 AM:

When I finally got to Claus's office, it was like an assembly line at Ford, or maybe the reception line for the Pope. I cooled my heels next to a vacant hulk who tried to engage me in very small talk, but I managed to convince him without many words that I really preferred looking at the nice ceiling decorations, thank you.

Finally, the flunkies came and herded me to the big man himself. Weary, but still massive and -- I knew -- powerful, he looked at me like I was the most important mote of dust he'd seen all day and said, "What do you want?"

I had my answer ready. "I want Ryder to go in the chamber for about a hundred shots he took in while encompassing his stock racket -- or at least serve hard time," I said, just a little too fast.

Claus shook his head at me. Nicely but regretfully, like I'd just taken myself off the good list and gone to the other one. The one that's not so good. He shook his head, and I could feel myself being shaken away with it, with no more effort than when you open up your hand. "He'll outshoot you, P.I."

Nobody had to tell me what was going to happen next.

#344 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2004, 03:45 AM:

(I still think it's Orient Express, myself)

The guy seemed less concerned than I'd expect. I figured I'd summarize for him.

"So your wife's in the hospital, and you're hoping she'll come to your temporary house pretty soon. Your daughters have been seeing odd stuff, and you're a bit worried about them, even though you're doing your best not to let them know. Things came to a head when your wife got held back from a visit, and one of your daughters ran away. But the other one found her and brought her back, and they don't want to talk about how. What you want me to find out is what really happened, and whether your daughters are doing drugs. They're a little young for that, don't you think?"

#345 ::: S. Dawson ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2004, 03:24 PM:

Yeah, it was meant to be Julius Caesar. I thought the context would rule out Murder on the Orient Express (along with the fact that it's already a mystery, so unless I'd made it really noir-ish, there wouldn't be much of a point).

I also realized belatedly that "Forensics" should probably be "the coroner" or "pathology" or something like that. Oh well.

#346 ::: S. Dawson ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2004, 03:29 PM:

Tom, yours is My Neighbor Totoro.

#347 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2004, 04:17 PM:

Indeed it is, S. Dawson.

#348 ::: Brad DeLong ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2004, 05:03 PM:

A potential solution to my dilemma?

I had been trapped trying to think up an Austenian way of saying: ""He looked hungrily from her hair to her feet and up to her eyes again." How about:

"He gazed at her, and she realized that he really was not very much of a gentleman at all."

?

#349 ::: Greg Ioannou ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2004, 12:16 AM:

Chip, interesting. I was going to do a scene with Harry Potter and his step-family as told by Pinter, but couldn't get it to work. (I also tried Tom Stoppard, but I'm not close to being a good enough writer to pull that one off.)

To me, Pinter is the exact opposite in style from Ibsen. Ibsen's writing is very stately but every sentence packs a whole lot of information, and I tried to play with that. (Teresa, although I basically agree with you on Ibsen, I thought that that compression of information, combined with the stuffy style, was distinctive enough to be guessable.) Most of the vocabulary, and all of the stage directions, I swiped by flipping through an anthology of his plays opened at random places. The scene was based on one of the many many scenes between a father and a daughter, but of course substituting in Roth's ideas.

Pinter sometimes yabbers on endlessly as nothing much happens. Ibsen's lines are spare and direct, totally focussed on creating the characters and moving the story forward. They are very heavy with drama and portent. Pinter's lines are playful, sometimes circumlocutious, often a bit unfocussed -- as if he's enjoying the language at the expense of actually telling a coherent story. Even though I sometimes scoff at Ibsen's stolidness, he is a far better storyteller than Pinter, and able to reveal far more about his characters.

Portnoy was probably too obscure a choice (I'm not sure Philip Roth is much read at all any more -- his time has definitely passed), though I thought that either the scene I chose (where Alex contemptuously talks his lover into trying lesbianism so that he can watch) or the one where he masturbates with some liver would have been memorable enough. I tried using the liver one first, but it wasn't a scene I could write a la Ibsen.

It was an interesting writing exercise, in a couple of ways. First, it was a surprise as I read the passage in Roth again and found that the female character talks herself into the lesbian adventure. Alex encourages her as she asks if that's what he wants. That's not at all how I remembered it. The second was simply the challenge of transcribing that conversation into language that Ibsen (or his translator) would have used. (Many thanks to Jennie for suggesting "wench" as a substitute for shiksa. Ibsen may never have used the word "wench" in one of his plays, but it sure fit better than shiksa!)

#350 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2004, 05:10 PM:

gesso: right on both :)

I keep pondering something that would start out something like "Elessar Telcontar has esprit up to here. He carries a sword, but he's never drawn it in anger. He drew it once in Bree when some furry little punks challenged him." but it never quite seems to work out.

#351 ::: Ian Whitchurch ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2004, 06:33 PM:

The fog had started to roll in from the river, a cold, dark melancholic cloak that covered this shithole of a city.

The Boss had called me about a job, ; I needed to play cleanup crew. Usually, the Boss was as hard to read as granite, but I could tell he was happy. I guessed he'd just got the OK from the bitch upstairs to do the French chick - the one with the dead husband, and the dead boyfriends. I didnt know how he was going to do her, but I guessed the bint would never know what hit her. She was a cousin of Scarface, so she had friends in Paris, so whatever it was, he'd need to do it smooth and clean, or we'd all need to hit the mattresses.

The mark was one of our old assets ; he'd become a liability, so we needed to square the ledger. He drank in one of the dives near the river, where even the rats knew three ways to make the king of trumps appear in the correct hand.

#352 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2004, 09:20 PM:

Hmmm. I can't resist trying... (but damn. I can't quite seem to sort out the right voice. Grrr!)

I guess it all began when you walked into that bar and into my life. Me an' Fox, hangin' out, lookin' for the next big thing - and there you are, child of two empires, cool eyes and high cheekbones - our meal ticket if we play it right. I shoulda know that the mark'd fall for you as hard as I did - but we never figured you were playin' us as slick as we were movin' him ... not then... not until it all started tumblin' down.

#353 ::: Cassandra ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2004, 06:49 AM:

Jo, that was a brilliant Yeats rendition. Thank you.

I also liked the Eliot.

Teresa--do Nancy Drew, Harvey Boys, and the like, count as "detective novels?"

#354 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2004, 07:05 PM:

do Nancy Drew, Harvey Boys, and the like, count as "detective novels?"

Hardy Boys. And they do if my Freddy the Pig did. :)

--Mary Aileen

#355 ::: Cassandra ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2004, 05:25 AM:

Oops. I've been doing some research on the Harvey Girls (railroad waitresses in the midwest and west at the turn of last century) and I guess I wasn't thinking clearly. Thanks, Mary Aileen.

#356 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2004, 03:47 PM:

Because I have come so late to the party I can't remember what the dress code was:

Of all the ham shacks in the world
Where this here boy could get re-girled,
And soil his sheets and slip his anchor,
It hadda be in Casablanca.

I do not like it occupied,
Nor sober, never mind when fried,
I do not like the whole backstory,
And should I mention Peter Lorre?

I do not like it in a fez,
Or Uber-alled or Marsellaised,
Not smoky jazzed or hotsy-totsy
And I can't stand it with a Nazi.

I don't like it this far from home,
Don't like it at an aerodrome,
And though I'm just a bit embarrassed,
I'm starting to turn sour on Paris.

Don't like it with a former flame,
Or with the suspects I could name:
I'll play the sap, but not the ham;
So hit the ivories, Sam-I-Am.

#357 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2004, 05:41 PM:

Mike: Groan

To briefly return to the original subject:

But that was in another country; and besides the dame is dead.

#359 ::: Sally Beasley ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2005, 02:34 AM:

John M Ford, that's a wonderful fusion of Dr Seuss and Casablanca.

#360 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2005, 04:56 AM:

(Specifically _Green Eggs and Ham_)

#361 ::: Tracina ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2005, 07:04 AM:

KipW: It's A Christmas Story, but I can't get the second part.

#362 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2005, 10:46 AM:

Lisa Spangenberg: Thank you very much! Those recipes look both yummy and easy. A good combo!

MKK

#363 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2005, 01:10 PM:

"You don't f*** around..."

[King, S., "From a Buick 8"]

"... with the infinite."

#364 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2005, 06:34 AM:

KipW: speaking as someone who read four Marlowe stories over Christmas, you have a real talent for sounding like Chandler. :-)

#365 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2005, 11:12 AM:

RAYMOND CHANDLER'S HAMLET

Something was rotten in Denmark, rank and gross, as rotten as a dame named Gertrude in bed with her husband's killer while the caterer recycled the funeral baked meats for the wedding reception, at which the bride did not wear white....

[winner of Honorable Mention in the 1995 International Imitation Raymond Chandler Competition; approx. 500 words; subsequently appeared in a textbook on Shakespeare]

#366 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2005, 12:48 PM:

Whereas that sounds like a poor over-the-top imitation of Chandler. Was the competition to see who could do the worst impression or something?

#367 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2005, 09:58 PM:

Paul:

To test your theory, try to identify the lines in that parody/homage that were ACTUALLY taken straight from Shakespeare's "Hamlet." You might be surprised. In any case, as a professional writer, perhaps I should be satisfied that the book publisher's check arrived on time, and cleared the bank.

#368 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2005, 07:02 AM:

I didn't realise you wrote it. The problem (I think) is mainly that the comparisons drag on way too long. If you stop the sentence after "husband's killer", it works much better. Even if you just ditch the bit after the comma, it's much improved.

But as you say, the main thing is that they paid you. :-)

#369 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2005, 10:42 AM:

Paul:

And I don't mind being criticized. Further, you're right: it WAS an over-the-top imitation of Chandler. Had I been willing to tone it down, I might have won one of the three cash prizes, but I was just having fun. Since I had fun AND collected money on the later anthology, I am satisfied. No need for you to apologize in any way. Having had over 5,000 rejection slips and rejection letters in my career, I learned not to be too thin-skinned, which is a subject that Teresa et al have thoroughly explored on a different thread here. The best editors are, in my experience, the ones who say "I like the story" [or poem, or Physics paper] "but this scene [or stanza or equation] sucks, and here's why." Then I know exactly what to rewrite, and in what direction. Patrick and Teresa are Very Good Editors. They are the only Blog moderators who have given me constructive criticism on my postings, which shows further evolution of the online wing of Publishing.

Welcome to Making Light's comment section. The moderators are Avram Grumer, Teresa & Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and Abi Sutherland. Abi is the moderator most frequently onsite. She's also the kindest. Teresa is the theoretician. Are you feeling lucky?

Comments containing more than seven URLs will be held for approval. If you want to comment on a thread that's been closed, please post to the most recent "Open Thread" discussion.

You can subscribe (via RSS) to this particular comment thread. (If this option is baffling, here's a quick introduction.)

Post a comment.
(Real e-mail addresses and URLs only, please.)

HTML Tags:
<strong>Strong</strong> = Strong
<em>Emphasized</em> = Emphasized
<a href="http://www.url.com">Linked text</a> = Linked text

Spelling reference:
Tolkien. Minuscule. Gandhi. Millennium. Delany. Embarrassment. Publishers Weekly. Occurrence. Asimov. Weird. Connoisseur. Accommodate. Hierarchy. Deity. Etiquette. Pharaoh. Teresa. Its. Macdonald. Nielsen Hayden. It's. Fluorosphere. Barack. More here.















(You must preview before posting.)

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.