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September 27, 2006

Mike Ford: Occasional Works (Pt. One)
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 01:30 PM * 22 comments

Mike Ford arrived on these boards with this post (May 16, 2002, 11:36 AM):

Spaceport spaceport spaceport spaceport spaceport! (I just like the word.)

I suddenly have a story image of someone, at some indeterminate future date, entering the long-abandoned VAB and being caught in a rainshower.

Where do people get their crazy ideas?

He left with this one (September 23, 2006, 12:14 AM):

Open Thread 71

The villanelle is what?

Enter Mr Jno. Ford (the Elizabethan one) as King Edward the Fourth.

I am the King now, and I want a sandwich.
This monarch business makes a fellow hungry.
I wonder where my brother Richard is.

What happened to the kippers left from breakfast?
Or maybe there’s a bit of cold roast pheasant.
I am the King now, and I want a sandwich.

A civil war is such an awful bother.
We fought at Tewksbury and still ran out of mustard.
I wonder where my brother Richard is.

Speak not to me of pasta Marinara.
I know we laid in lots of boar last Tuesday.
I am the King now, and I want a sandwich.

The pantry seems entirely full of Woodvilles
And Clarence has drunk two-thirds of the cellar.
I wonder where my brother Richard is.

If I ran England like I run that kitchen
You’d half expect somebody to usurp it.
I am the King now, and I want a sandwich.
I wonder where my brother Richard is.

In between, he filled the conversation with bits of dialogue and verse. As Mike might have said:

“Scotty! I need a sonnet in three minutes or we’re all dead!”

“Och, Cap’n, ye canna force the muse. Have ye got a rhyme for ‘silvery Tay’ somewhere on the bridge?”

(Continue reading Mike Ford: Occasional Works (Part One))


The Evil Overlord Devises a Plot

>>This is becoming a fabulous machine…

Can’t get published? Still imagine you aren’t being read past the third expository graf? Have you updated “Nightfall,” “Nine Billion Names of God,” “Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” AND “Big Two-Hearted River,” and they’re still coming back singed?

Troubling you is that what is, young Jedi?

Well, now there’s

HACKWELL’S DEMON

(No, not “Damon.” Who are you kidding?)

Know Stuff Without Learning It!
More Fun than the Video Professor, and unlike him, knows the difference between “comprise” and “compose” (with moderately priced plugins)!
Less Codependent than Everquest!
And They’ll Love The Part Where Everyone Is Run Over by a Helix of Ravening Energy!

Only $449.50, or Six Easy Payments of $129.95!
(You Don’t Have MathCAD, Right?)

Bike-selling Scots strand Alaskan chicken hypnotist

“Your Evil Overlordship, sir?”

“Yesssss?”

“Agent McTavish reports all is going according to plan. The charity people innocently sold the bicycle, and the young lady is trapped in Edinburgh.”

“Excellent. Tell Fitzroy to prepare the flame-breathing chickens. Once we have subjugated their cackling little wills, everything from the Tweed to John O’Groats is in my grasp!”

“Nothin’ can stand in your way now, boss.”

“I trust, Hamish, that you intned that as the Evil Overlord equivalent of ‘break a leg.’”

Cacciatore di Dinosauri

In brightest pub, in downturn bad,
I shall discuss my nom de ad;
Let those who joke ask me knock-knock,
That my reply include “Turok.”

— sorry, Alfie and Julie.

The future presses hard upon us

Foring your request
Engaged set inning are we
Of the molding tool.

— Basho-Bazouk

Cover Letters

DEAR TRUSTWORTHY EDITORIAL PERSON:

I REPRESENT A FAMOUS NIGERIAN AUTHOR OF WHOM YOU WILL HAVE HEARD BECAUSE HE IS SO FAMOUS. MY CLIENT BEING UNFORTUNATELY DEAD NOW HIS LAST BOOK IS SEIZED BY THE CRISIS THAT NOW CLUTCHES MY COUNTRY BY THE GIANT PEASECOD. IF YOU COULD HELP US TO GET THIS WONDERFUL BOOK INTO PRINT THE BOOKER PRIZE IS OURS FOR SURE AND WE WOULD PAY YOU A BIG SHARE AS THE AUTHOR GETS NO ROYALTIES BEING DEAD AND ALL.

***

Dear Editor:

Along with my manuscript, IT IS COLD HERE SO I WILL WRITE A NOVEL, I enclose a box of moose poop. The store said they were out of chocolate truffles, and the moose did not mind. I am sure you will agree that it is the style of the thing that really counts.

Magia naturalis

Sumer hath an cumin seed,
Singen roast cuccu.
Shook and coaten in ye pouch,
For an chicken stew.
Drip thine eggen chicken broth,
As ye Chinen doo,
Cony he be waxen wroth,
Saith ye hare foo foo.

My, but it’s been a long day. For Wednesday, anyway.

***

Goetia Naturalis
from “Wolfgang Puck of Pook’s Hill”

No one sees us when they dine;
Loudly the forkfuls go past,
A bird and a bottle of wine,
And a tablet goes fizz in a glass.
No one knows that we are there,
They munch without question or pause;
We crouch on the haricots verts,
And lurk like a thief in the sauce.

We are the condiments, we,
To julienne, chiffonade, grate;
But set us aside and you’ll see
The void that we leave on your plate.
We sit on the rim of the dish,
The spices nobody can name;
We stand by the meat and the fish,
Some bloke in a toque gets the fame.

Eggs folded into a flan,
Sausages steaming in brew;
Chicken stretched on the divan,
How they must love what they do!
Yes — and we seasonings too,
We are as tasty as they;
We are the salt in the stew,
Watch as the chanterelles play.

You may think we are not strong;
We know habaf1eros that are;
Some Worcestershire helps things along,
You know what wasabi is for.
Still we shall sit on the side,
Court-bouillon and bouquet garni;
Your tastebuds will not be denied;
No quarter and no MSG!

Movie rules governing Aboriginal Persons and their Ancestral Mystic Stuff

Someone’s prayin’, Lord,
Cue the Moog,
Cut the flanger in,
Cue the Moog,
Bring Farfisa, Lord,
Cue the Moog,
On the backbeat,
Cue the Moog.

The underlying forms of fraud

1. Know ye then, that our Parents were driven forth from the land of their sole possession and birthright, by an angel which did bear before him or her an flaming sword.

2. Before they did pass from this life, these our parants did reveal unto us the location of the Tree of Life, which is like unto an antioxidant and Botox in the selfsame fruit.

3. Be aware that your name was shewn unto us by the Knowledge of Good and Evil, nor is this Spam; and verily do we hope that with your good aid, may the Land and the Trees thereon be restored unto us.

4. Please delay not, as time is short, and I fear some falling out with mine brother, who is not an Arborist, that should bring your efforts to nothing, a woeful outcome indeed.

A Houseful of Lords

I would join the festivities, but I think I already did, and I need to finish packing.

Oh, well, just a short one for the road.

“It makes you invisible, but this unpleasant fellow can see you better then? I daresay we don’t have things like that in Square Toe City.”

“It has to do with light refraction,” Gandalf explained patiently. “The local wave distortions interfere with close vision, but they set up a resonance that Mr… Ron, as you call him, can detect. It’s a bit like making a high-pitched whistle, that only a dog can hear.”

Miss Pickerell neatly buried her apple core beside the road and cinched up her knapsack. “Then I suppose we’d better be getting on our way,” she said.

Gandalf nodded. Aragorn smiled very faintly. Boromir looked a little bit sick, as if his apple had disagreed with him. The Hobbits, awed and bewildered, fell into line of march.

***

“And as the Dark Lord’s power spreads, these fell signs will be seen upon the —”

“Boss, I don’ like-a dat line.”

“But this is is in every ancient prophecy. It’s called foreshadowing.”

“Well, you may-a called for it, but will it come when-a you call? Dat’s a good one, eh, boss?”

***

Wizards get cranky,
Dark days dawn,
Riders smell mnnky,
The road goes on.
Omens are lowering,
Elves go West;
The Shire needs scouring,
You may as well quest.

Gone now, really.
Happy holidays, everybody. Seeya on the flip side.

***

Good heavens, people, have you no homes to go to?

And MISS PICKERELL GOES TO MORDOR wasn’t a specific book (I haven’t actually looked into one for … no, longer than that) but merely channeling the concept.

We conclude with one from … oh, it doesn’t work that way, does it.

Since this Gollum came
I now have a better view
Of the Crack of Doom.

“An online quiz you actually need to know about,”

Okay, I am the bloody sonnet form,
Heroic couplets taking second place,
And as that is my formalistic norm,
The test does not have ova on its face.
The online quiz is far too often bare
Of subtlety, and points too obviously
Toward “Dante,” “salsa,” “offbeat underwear;”
It only asks To Be or Not To Be.
Yet once again a-checking we will go,
Behaving as if when the button’s pressed
We’ll see something we don’t already know
And be more Us, instead of More Or Lessed.
Yet toward the Multiphasic we’re disposed;
For inventory we are never closed.

***

There once was a chap named de Selby
Who, if soneone’s going to tell me
About blogomania’s
Extemporaneous
Verse, he’s the bloke it might well be.

Yes, that’s possibly the worst one of those not actually involving Nantucket. Do you know what TIME it is?

The patron saint of the internet

It would seem that what is desired is someone who is far longer dead than the 300-bps modem (I speak somewhat abstractly here, as my I “S” “P” is wont to offer me 0.1Kbps downloads), or a figure as abstract as Microsoft security, as in St “Oo, what an uncomfortable knife I’ve got in the Noble Collection” Michael, but I offer the following potential candidates should this get bogged down by celestial server loads or the Worm Which Dieth Not or something:

And verily did St. Kevin wander in the wilderness for, lo, eight years; and he returned, saying, Wow, and the people did Google upon him.

Thus saith St. Bruce, Patch thy goddamn SQL, servers, yea, with thine own patch, or thou shalt know chastisement, and stupid shalt thou look, and many spiteful instant messages shalt thou receive.

St. Jon bore forth the loaves and the fishes, and brake them in pieces, and anointed them with the shoyu, and there was much rejoicing.

For mine treasure -is- in heaven, and I desire thy aid in bringing it forth.

And the people did look upon St. Richard, and bore witness to his professions, and said with one voice, Nobody’s perfect.

Hearken thee unto St. Tux, for he doth -still- eat fish.

Blimp

“Your Magnificence?”

“Mmmm?”

“The Imperial Memetic Assault Group reports complete success. The arrival of your Imperial Airship of Doom is not certain to strike terror into the hearts of the Earth people.”

“Read that again.”

“Uh …’is -now- certain.’ Sorry, O Frabjous One.”

“S’Okay. After the conquest we gotta get a new ISP. And broadband.”

“Hail Ming!”

“Hail Me, yeah. What a time to run out of donuts.”

Like McGonagall, only without the rhymes

The grape known as Thompson Seedless,
By Robert Mondavi he swore,
That the upstart group of the base-born drupe
Called the Flame should grow no more …

Uh, where were we?

Another book I�m glad I didn�t copyedit

—And it came to pass, that the lords of the heathen lands did decree that an new coin should be strucken, and be the coin of all the peoples thereof, and its name was called the Yugo.

—Yet did the Nephites give not the tenth part of a shiblum therefor, nor an bucket of mouldy barley, and would not trade in it, nor did they follow the ways of the Keepers of the Keynes.

—To which the heathen lords did say, what shall be the heck thereunto? Know ye not, that an strong shiblom findeth thine payments in the wanting balance, and a little butter leaveneth the whole mountain?

—But to them said Mosiah, seest thou that? And the men appointed to be judges, in name Lariah and Curloni, did whack the heathen upside the heads thereof, and cast them out of the temple with the other moneychangers.

—For as the Early Fathers’ prophets spake, who is on the supply’s side? And when the E. F. Prophets spake, did the people lasten.

— The Book of the Men of Fried, verses 10-14

Particulate matter

Mercer: Alas and lamentations, goodman sir, we have but two and a quarter ells of goodly puke. May I suggest a fimbriation of murrey?

Customer: Not Margaret-Murrey.

Mercer: ‘S’turnip, milord, nay. Despite the dagging that thou showest so divinely, wouldst never proffer that thou prank’st in thy patens, as ‘tis said among the French.

Customer: Well enow. But I do see that my purse runs light by two remunerations and half-guerdon-farthing. May we come to some understanding?

Mercer: Ah, ‘tis ever thus. Might I suggest that sir wrap his hatrack in these three ells of stuff, and with the smallest of urgings colour it native-pukely, yea, and wet himself for mordant?

— From “The Witty Weavers of Walmsley,” W. S. (desperately attrib.)

Open Thread 2

For New Formalist SF poetry, the first person that comes to mind is Joe Haldeman; Tom Disch would, I think, be in there, and I’ve seen a little from Michael Bishop. (I know I’m neglecting others.) The difficulty for the Average Reader(tm) is that there have not been many outlets for SF poetry, and the magazines that consider it at all generally want only short “light verse.” This -may- be broadening with the growth of online magazines, but this could easily become an essay on Skiffythumpyversifyingexpialidocious —

Once they got the metric minted,
Proofread, justified, and printed,
Cried the spacers, “This ain’t hardly
Skiffy; it’s not strange-new-worldly,
Has no guns or mercenaries;
Po-ah-tree, we blow it berries!”

— but of course, neither the time or place; the words of Robert Fagles are harsh after the songs of Lin Carter.

i’ve been doing it for a number of years, too, and occasionally get it into print; there will be a number of examples, at various lengths and subjects, in the collection early next year. End of commercial.

FIAT LUX!

The Legion of Infrastructure Analysts has received your cry for assistance. All systems personnel are busy right now, but continue to implore and the first available mutant will be dispatched to you.

Please be advised that Mister Watson and the Twisted Pair are dealing with landline outages, while The Warchalker and Wi-Fido handle 802.11x difficulties. If your problem is with a satellite network, be aware that Iridium is now a division of Lexcorp and inquiries should be addressed there.

This crisis on Earth-Grid affects us all, or, as one of our consultants observed, “Holy load shedding, Bloomberg!”

Thank you, OmbudsMan.

On a vaguely more serious note, I am fascinated by the attempts to explain what the bleep happened, by people who could use a trip to the Bad Electricity page. “Unlike coal or natural gas, electricity cannot be stockpiled.” — CNN explanation.

In the original Connections, James Burke did a good and concise job of explaining the causes of the ‘65 blackout. While the ur-source seems to have been different, the mechanism of broad power loss isn’t — and in a recent documentary on the ‘77 outage, one of the failure-mode analysts observed that the situation and the vulnerability have not changed a bit, and he predicted that it would happen again.

I doubt very much he’s happy to be right.

By my ear and hand

“We need sushi. Lots of sushi.”
“I’m the … uh … one …”
“Stow it, flyboy. You picked up the blue pencil. And there’s -one- ‘n’ in ‘Zion.’”

Open thread 3

I have a song to sing-O!

Sing me your song-O!

It’s the song of Achilles, who’s mad as hell
And he’s got a King who’s annoyed as wel
And they’ll beat the drum off to Ilium
And they’ll burn down your town for their ladye…

***

So let this novel be inurned,
Do not its peace disturb,
Beneath some letters queerly kerned,
This image, and a blurb.
From pulp proposed to pulp disposed,
Now mourn without derision;
Who coined the cliche9 “deathless prose”
Knew not the -Thor- decision.

Hmm.

Does no one know where Mary went?
Elizabeth is on her sheep,
Conspiracy is dearly spent
Where Walsingham doth creep.

No, that’s not quite right either.

Power grid, power grid,
Plugged into the North,
Power grid, power grid,
Spills electrons forth,
It takes load from here,
And **click**

Oh lord

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me
Some Saintly P.J.s
I can’t wear this T-shirt
At the End of Days
I’ll pay any price, but
I ain’t got eBay’s
Oh Lord, won’t you buy me
Some Saintly P.J.s

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me
Those I’ve left behind
I’m sure my precursors
Were all sweet and kind
I’ve got every name here
That Google can find
Oh Lord, won’t you buy me
Those I’ve left behind

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me
A place in the Host
I don’t need a star, Lord,
A big moon at most
To jam with yourself and
The Kid and the Ghost
Oh Lord, won’t you buy me
A place in the Host

Open thread 11

“What you’re saying then, Professor Challenger, is that this huge object is … a seed.”
“Indeed, Sir Furnsley.”
“And … edible.”
“In parts, as indicated by that interesting native beverage, which I have named -Pannekolati- in honor of our late Dutch colleague.” “But, good God, man! Imagine the size of their parakeets!”

Waes thu Peter Jackson hael

NEW ZEALAND COLONIZES MOON

“[bleep,] Says NASA Director; “Cool Beans,” Say Unnamed NASA Engineers

Filming Begins on Peter Jackson’s “Major Tom” Project; Sergio Leone scheduled to shoot “Once Upon a Time on the Moon”

“[bleep,] it’s all [bleep]ing bullet time up here,” says Actor

Maori Casinos PLC to Open Megaresort Within Four Months

Free giant shrimp from the oceans of Mars

Oh dear oh dear oh dear.

I take the saucer to Las Vegas for one quiet weekend to myself, and return to discover that the Orbital Defense and Light Opera Company has not only hit Dejah’s drawers (as we like to say), but owing to a cost-plus outsourcing problem we are entirely out of Illudium Q-36 space modulators.

And now I find that one of your notorious pirates is arming the citizenry with giant crustaceans. We have been monitoring your news programs for years, you know. We remember Gojira tai Ebirah, and it WILL NOT WORK, do you understand? You will take away our radium rifles when you pry them from our three short fingers!

Earth creatures make me so petulant sometimes.

Paint and sensibility

I gave up my youth for a dance and a drink
But now I’ve a cough and my handkerchief’s pink
I traded fast times and the dusk-to-dawn scenes
For a piebald complexion and mutated genes
Our momma’s in heaven, and we’re all sick folks now

—- With the sincerest apologies, You Know to Whom.

Scalzi on writerly subjects

“Okay, Mr. DeCameron, I think you’ve given us an accurate description of the perpetrator. Hey, Benny! Tell the station that Dip Yer Donut Dora’s struck again.”
“You mean — this woman deliberately set out to steal —”
“Buddy, she was the first hooker in the Bay Area to be Bluetooth-enabled.”

Open thread 20.

Well, Title Collision is an old game (having begun when Jethro wrote the music for THE ILIAD) but here goes anyway:

MY GUN IS QUICKSILVER: The hardboiled adventures of two 17th-century private eyes, Robert “Left” Hooke and Sam “Marshmallow” Pepys. The movie will make “Round up the usual errors” a national catchphrase.

GREEN MARS MANSIONS: Conclusion to the trilogy about the ethereal natives of another planet, and their big lichen forest.

DADA VINCI CODE: Pinkwater Does Conspiracy. ‘Nuff said.

***

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Remember, this week’s hot business idea is next week’s DIY table lamp, so order now!

Open thread 21

The birdies landed, but they’s gone
‘Cause 2,4-D is on the lawn.
The birdies sing whereat they please,
For quoth the raven, “MP3s;”
Excuse me if I’m less than wordy —
I need this putt for one more birdie.

It Came From Beneath the EETS

That’s an impossible act to follow, like unto shoures soote followed by a shower of soot, but, well, here goes anyway:

So let me put it thusly, boss, and youse
Who is the molls and goons and likewise guys
To him who is your leader. You got nix
To keep you outta French guys’ speaks and joints,
But some bull from this mouthpiece Pharamond,
“In terram Salicam mulieres ne succedant,”
“No doll can get the goods in Salic land,”
Which neighborhood those Frogs make like what is
The French North Side, which this guy Pharamond,
Pulled out of his own keister, so to speak.
Yet judges bought with their own moolah say
This Salic property is German, like
Up in Detroit and on the Pittsburgh side,
Where Big Chuck having whacked the Saxon gang,
They set up shop and started making gin.
And, since they did not fancy German dolls
(Though I got no such preferences myself)
They made this regulation that no broad
Can wear no pants up in no Salic land.

[Laughter from the nobles.]

— Harry of Five Points, Act I Scene 2

***

Okay, in response to … well, maybe as many as two and a half requests, here is Installment Two of Will “More or Loesser” Shakespeare’s classic, “Harry of Five Points.” There will, shortly, be an Installment Three, y-clept “A Coupla French Chicks Sittin’ Around Talking,” but I promise it will be shorter. Some, anyway.

HARRY. Let�s hear the guys what Dolphin-boy has sent.

[Some flunkies take a powder.]

So now we make to parley. On our feet,
Is everybody packin� proper heat?
We own that joint. They just ain�t got the word.
And if they still don�t, we must bust stuff up,
And run things big, like Barnum tendin� bar
In big fat France, her racetracks and her numbers,
And maybe we will blow it. Them�s the breaks.
There have been lots of guys we only knew
From all the flowers at their funerals.
And if I get a daisy-patch in France
These Frogs will know that they was right messed with,
And all of Harry�s guys will take the Fifth.

[The Consiglieri slouch in.]

AMBASSADOR. Bonjour, Big Henry. You is lookin� good.
But I have gotta make things understood:
You wanna sit and listen for a while,
Or shall we settle this back-alley style?

HARRY. What is not messed with, there we do not mess.
Our beer is strong, our judges paid on time,
And every jerk we whack has whacking won.
So lay it on the table from your boss
And what is up his snoot.

AMB. Let�s cut the crap.
You sent a note that him what�s runnin� France
Should give a wad of territory up
�Cause Crazy Eddie ran a game there once.
On this, my boss the Dolphin ain�t so keen,
Says that you is a, or is smokin�, dope,
An� wonders how you got in them long pants.
You risk a grabbing by the wide lapels,
And havin� your hat handed you real hard.
But hey, he pays his markers. So here is
A bunch of boodle that should square things up,
And put this stupid tsimmis in the bag:
So�s all the gloves stay on. Thusly the swag.

HARRY. What ante, Uncle?

EXETER. Crooked dice, big guy.

HARRY. Dis Dolphin, he�s a stand-up guy, with style.
We thank you muchly, as we like to say.
But tell youse, when we make our come-out roll
On your green felt, we�re gonna hit a streak
That you are gonna pay some vig to fade.
You let him know we got a golden arm,
And he had better hock the silver now
�Cause Dolphins do not swim too good with sharks.
I guess he heard how we hung out with grinds
And welshers. But, y�know? That marker�s paid.
We sniffed at our joint here, �cause of its looks,
But then we saw the second set of books.
But, you know kids. They ain�t got no respect.
And what ain�t theirs, it gets it in the neck.
But you tell Fish-face that my dice are square
As is his noggin, and he can lay odds
When I step up to make my play in France
The way I knot my tie and wear my hat
May make me look a Reuben at the Ritz,
But I got me an open-fronted suit,
And when I hoof it on your bully-vards
You�re gonna think I came from MGM.
And tell the welsher that his lousy dice
Will knock him over like a hick-town bank,
And he may end up short a rib or two
When dem bones roll. For Adas from Decatur
And corners and Big Reds are on the line,
He�ll get the hardways, make a cocked-up toss
And find he�s starin� at two bloodshot eyes
Till he can grab a boxcar out of town.
But hey, we�ve drawn, but we ain�t seen the flop.
Your boss, he might get lucky. And he might
Get called while holdin� bupkis. Get my drift?
He�s ponied up his bankroll like a mensch,
So tell him I will cover all of it.
My boys are all dressed up; can�t keep �em down
On no damn farm, when they see Paris town.
Now eighty-six these wiseguys. Toodle-oo.
But don�t plug them or nothin�. We is through.

[Ambassadors make tracks.]

EXETER. Cripes, what a buncha patzers.

HARRY. Like the man said, you ain�t seen nothin� yet.

***

Okay. After this, it’s curtains … I mean, curtain down.

Rouen. The FRENCH KING’S resort and casino.]

[Here comes ALICE, solus, she thinks.

ALICE. Bon Dieu, achetez-moi un Mercedes-Benz, Je travaille pour Katy —

[KATHERINE busts in.]

KATHERINE. Alice, tu as ete en Angleterre, et tu parles bien le langage.

ALICE. Un peu, madame.

KATHERINE. Je te prie, m’enseignez; il faut que j’apprenne a parler. Comment appelez-vous le caf� en Anglais?

ALICE. Le caf�? Elle est appelee de joint.

KATHERINE. De joint. Et les gentilhommes?

ALICE. Les gentilhommes? Ma foi, j’oublie les gentilhommes; mais je me souviendrai. Les gentilhommes? Je pense qu’ils sont appeles de guys; oui, de guys.

KATHERINE. La caf�, de joint; les gentilhommes, de guys. Je pense queje suis le bon ecolier; j’ai gagne deux mots d’Anglais vitement. Comment appelez-vous le alcool?

ALICE. Le alcool? Nous les appelons de hooch.

KATHERINE. De hooch. Ecoutez; dites-moi si je parle bien: de joint, de guys, et de hooch.

ALICE. C’est bien dit, madame; il est fort bon palaver.

KATHERINE. Dites-moi l’Anglais pour le musique.

ALICE. De boogie-woogie, madame.

KATHERINE. Et le boulevardier?

ALICE. De cheap bastard.

KATHERINE. De cheap bastard. Je m’en fais la repetition de tous les mots que vous m’avez appris des a present.

ALICE. Il est trop difficile, madame, comme je pense.

KATHERINE. Excusez-moi, Alice; ecoutez: d’hand, de fingre, de hooch, d’bookie-wookie, de cheap Bastille.

ALICE. De cheap bastard, madame.

KATHERINE. O Seigneur Dieu, je m’en oublie! De cheap bastard. Comment appelez-vous la danse?

ALICE. De Sharleston-Sharleston, madame.

KATHERINE. De Sharleston-Sharleston. Et le chevalerie?

ALICE. De made guys.

KATHERINE. De made guys. Sans peur et sans reproche?

ALICE. Peut-�tre, madame.

KATHERINE. La danse, de Sharleston-Sharleston; le chevalerie, de made guys.

ALICE. Oui. Sauf votre honneur, en verite, vous prononcez les mots aussi droit que les natifs de Brooklyn..

KATHERINE. Je ne doute point d’apprendre, par la grace de Dieu, et en peu de temps.

ALICE. N’avez-vous pas deja oublie ce que je vous ai enseigne?

KATHERINE. Non, je reciterai a vous promptement: de joint, de guys, de pooch —

ALICE. De hooch, madame.

KATHERINE. De hooch, de boogie-woogie, de sheep-bastard.

ALICE. Sauf votre honneur, de cheap bastard.

KATHERINE. Ainsi dis-je; d’cheap bastard, de sharleston-sharleston, et de made guys. Comment appelez-vous les flics et la prison?

ALICE. Les cops, madame; et le joint.

KATHERINE. Le cops et le joint. Mais le joint, c�est le caf� aussi! O Seigneur Dieu! ils sont mots de son mauvais, corruptible, gros, et impudique, et non pour les dames d’honneur d’user: je ne voudrais prononcer ces mots devant les seigneurs de France pour tout le monde. Foh! le cops et le joint! Neanmoins, je reciterai une autre fois ma lecon ensemble: de joint, de guys, de hooch, de boogie-woogie, de cheap bastard, de Sharleston-Sharleston, de made guys, de cops, d�autre joint.

ALICE. Excellent, madame! Madame c�est pr�t � la f�te de soir!

KATHERINE. C’est assez pour une fois: allons-nous a Yves Saint Laurent.

Taking your own bad advice

Well, I’ve never been to Clemson,
But I went to Indiana;
Didn’t finish my degree there,
Sorta slipped on a banana.
Sys. Anal. lost me,
I guess it’s cost me,
And does it matter?
Heck, maybe it matters.

I haven’t got certification
And I guess I’m overreaching
I’m sucking air above my station,
But I don’t make like I’m teaching
Full marks for trying
But not for lying
That’s what it matters,
Yeah, that’s what it matters.

***

KIRK: Dammit, I need power right now or I’m going to direct again!
SPOCK: That’s a hardware problem, Captain. Perhaps you should call Mr. Scott in Tech Support.
KIRK: Scotty —
SCOTT’S VOICE: Thank you for calling the Engineering Deck. All service personnel are busy right now, except for me, and I’m drunk. If your problem is shield failure, press, or since this is the future, say 1. If your problem is phaser failure, press 2. If your problem is main engine failure, press 3 and wait for the commercial to end. If you are the Captain, Dr. McCoy keeps the bluidy Viagra, I don’t. Have a nice day.

Of course, there is also great fun to be had with their “Universal Translator,” but I did that. In the non-comedy book, yet.

Arkhangel grieves for lost honor

RUMSFELD JUMPS SHARK
Shark Denied Counsel

It was apparent a long time ago (as I’m sure most of you know perfectly well) that Rumsfeld, along with a number of other Prominent Individuals, is a CEO of a type now not uncommon: he has no leadership ability (which used to be recognized as a component of “management”), no inspirational qualities, and lacks a basic understanding of how the “business” he’s been put in charge of actually operates.

Instead, he decides what the company is supposed to return on its investment (or achieve in the short term), demands “plans” to achieve this, and hands off those plans to people who are expected to implement them successfully with whatever resources they can scare up. Anyone who stands in the way of the CEO’s imperial will by pointing out that for the plan to work will require airborne squadrons of hypersonic pigs is told to make it work anyway, under whatever threat happens to be available. The CEO -does no work,- including making actual operating decisions. He makes a demand and collects a bonus. If the plan fails, or for that matter the company, that’s someone else’s fault. Probably government regulators’.

For some decades it has been considered, and often taught, that “management” is a “skill” independent of the business it is applied to; running an airline is no different from running a pizza parlor, and being too deep in the details the pizza business (never mind -liking- it) might get in the way of your getting the airline job. And the business of America is ROI and P/E; it has nothing whatsoever to do with making a product or delivering a service.

Rumsfeld was going to “reinvent” the US military. Now, armed forces do, sometimes, need new thought and new directions; but the actual game plan was to produce a small, cheap force that could still do anything asked of it (and, at some point, would be shifted to “special forces,” so it would be under direct executive control, without any inefficient checks and balances). The war was going to prove that this New Coke Model Army worked as advertised; any suggestion that it needed to operate more like, well, the Old Army called the model into question, and might wreck it entirely if the force the Old Commanders wanted won the war (which was taken as a preordained condition).

McNamara tried a variation of this, with results many of us recall, and his business models were considerably less degenerate than Rumsfeld’s. And, of course, McNamara eventually had the awareness to see his errors and take some responsibility (as distinct from “full responsibility”) for them.

From correspondence

Saluer � vieux Notre Dame,
R�veiller les �choes, acclamant son nom …

“Quasimodo’s got the ball and he’s going for daylight! He’s on the thirty, the twenty! He’s pausing to stab the corrupt priest, which ought to mean fifteen yards and a turnover, but the deep humanity of the runninghunchback seems to have moved the ref to an ethereal stillness! What a run!”

Now, what’s the Latin for “Parseghian?”

Looking at The Writers� Collective

“Jeeves, while attempting to locate the whisky decanter at Lady Fantod’s house the other night, I happened upon this book, which since that moment I have been utterly unable to put down.”

“Do you propose to write a review of the volume, sir?”

“Of ‘Oryx and Squid, a Scientific Romance of the Aetherial World,’ by someone calling themselves ‘Spiritus Vivendi?’ Good Lord, no. If Bingo Little heard of it, I should be obliged to review Mrs. Bingo’s output until the end of time. No, I just want to put the deuced thing down.”

“Quite conceivably so, sir. Here, I believe, is the difficulty; the spine has been heavily bird-limed. May I presume that you did not obtain the decanter?”

“Gosh, Jeeves, the countryside does have a knack for the cunning snare, doesn’t it?”

“Quite usual among the woodlanders, sir.”

Hot jets!

Hey … a devicing cloak.

Never mind.

A couple of years ago, there was a brief paper referenced in NASA TECH BRIEFS (thanks again, Paula) about using cameras and projection to Hide Stuff (the example given was a tank). Not that that’s prior art or anything — the idea is not difficult to come up with, the implementation is.

“Did you hear something?”

“Well, sure. Sounded like a pile of cheap glassware falling half a ton of silverware. But I don’t see a darn thing.”

“Okay. Nothin’ to worry about, then. Tell you what, let’s go hang out near the carefully hidden thermynucular interociter, since nobody else is here.”

“Yeah. The geeks hide all their beer in the supercondunking thingummy. Will you quit singing ‘Bad Moon Rising’?”

“I’m not singing. You quit singing.”

A Houseful of Lords, pt. 2

“You a Hobbit?” said the Ranger. “Shucks, been a little short myself.” He eyed the Host of the Prancing Pony. “My squire and I will have the Full Shiremen’s Breakfast with toasted lembas on top and kingsfoil pesto on the side. Now, I want that waybread to be just barely Elvish. If it’s too spoilage-retardant, I’ll nail it to an Orc as a warning to others.”

***

Because brevity is the … well, no it isn’t, but anyway:

Lay ordinate and abcissa on Middle-Earth and cut me an age. Third Age, if you please.”

Mordor pissed him off.

“Uh, hi, Gandalf. How you been?”

It is an ancient prophecy universally acknowledged that a young Halfling in possession of a Ring of Power must be in want of, well, it, though circumstances may intrude.

“Mistah Sauron — he dead.”

“Fly, my Nazg�l. Fly!”

We now return you to your regularly scheduled thread.

Open thread 24

O who will come and go with me
Where the traffic backs up on the L.I.E.
Like a patient waiting for his main provider
Let us go, through certain half-deserted suites
And Hugo Loser f�tes
Post-program drops to unfamiliar beds
And sushi restaurants frying ebi heads
Halls that wind past authors wanting news
With the bar as their excuse
And ask about the cover and the edit
In the unforgiving minute
Let us go and say we didn�t.

***

The windup … the pitch …

THE HAUNTING OF ANIMAL HOUSE
“We see it as ‘Carrie’ meets ‘Mean Girls’ with a food fight at the end.”

KING ARTHUR
“He’s a funny drunk who wears armor.”

THE BELL JAR DURHAM
“Hunky baseball player and crazy poet lady. Sequels are gonna be a problem, though.”

A LITTLE NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD MUSIC
“Zombies. Sondheim. This is the summer movie to end all summer movies.”

WHITEHOUSE
“Stallone’s the President, right? And J. Lo is this girl he knew, like, in French Indochina before the war — did I mention he used to be Rambo? — and they were, you know. And she comes back, only she’s married to Ben Affleck, who’s like, this guy, and she needs the football so she can nuke Hanoi and save Ben’s worthless butt, right? And Sly’s, like, should I nail her or Communism? And Britney’s doing the love theme.”

Grace

The witches are flying,
And the sable cats scurry,
With a hey nonny nonny,
And a Margaret Murray.

It’s worth a quire of altered states
To scry a glass with Frances Yates.

The maenads whirl nightly,
And the greenish blokes burrow,
Where my Goddess shows whitely,
Through the Robert Graves furrow.

But this I vouch I know full well:
I do not love thee, Barry Fell.

Prophetable colors

“…which tone/goes with a mithril-chain vest?”

“We’re going to -try- and get you out of the green phase and into something a little less verdant, if you follow. West Country jeans in a pale shade of dried pipeweed, slightly distressed for that ‘hustle up that latte,my horsie’s double-parked’ look, and a side-buttoned orcsblood silk shirt from Miss Shelob’s Lair. And, since you obviously must have something to charm an Ent’s taste, an acid-green hanky in the pocket. -Another- pocket, please. Good. As for the vest, we all understand you have troll issues, so it stays under protest. Just don’t flap your arms; it’ll make you look like a crocheted deLorean.”

— Lidless Eye for the Half Guy, Third Season

Worldcongoing

And allofasudden the notion of John Galliano as a superhero starts to, if not make sense, at least acquire charm:

On sidewalk broad and runway long,
The bias cut is bold and strong;
Let those who worship haute couture
Beware my label! It’s Di … er …

And no, Tom Ford is not my secret identity. Not that I’d necessarily mind that.

Tracking Nielsen Haydens in their habitat

Very well then, Tomhopper; if you are there, we shall see you, and be much pleased by the seeing thereunto; and if you are not, we shall stomp hard upon the unwalked road until it admits what it did with you. Darn roads anyway, pretending they go ever on and on, in Boston no less.

“Dark Lord, the Fellowship has entered the Central Artery.”

“Stop saying that, you witless digitally-generated minion! My Lidless Eye is bloodshot with looking for Raquel Welch down there.”

Time? Short? What? No, everything’s fine. And it’s fine that we’re all fine. How’re you?

Open thread 28

I thought I saw J’oh Hill last night,
Alive as you or me.
“The Federation shot you, J’oh.”
“I shot them first,” said he.

I don’t even want to get into the Klingon version of The Marseillaise. Though, being me, I’ll probably have to now.

Home again

Revolt the Monarch’s English grieves,
Its rules are solid set, mum.
The purblind Ego shoots the leaves
She in Arcadia et, mum.

The Vicar now rings vespers and performs sprint d’escalier, the act of rapidly departing the vestry after such an utterance, known also as mot-and-bailing.

***

Clean style shall stand until the Trump,
And glorious are its tools, mum;
When independent clauses bump,
The semicolon rules, mum.

Yetanother book—

The day when Heaven crapped a brick
And Terra Firm went pudding-thick,
Some lads with contracts on their hips
Cashed first their checks and then their chips.
They raised some shoring on the sky
And pumped the quagmire fairly dry,
And duly outsourced, gave the land
The finger of the unseen hand.
— W. H. Ogden

Open thread 31

Goodness. Whatever would one do in order to communicate with a toaster?

We all burned down the pumpkin loaf
It died with an awful sound
The sous-chef was runnin’ to and fro
Pullin’ crumbs outta the ground
Bride of Frankenstein’s kitchen
Had the best bread around
Then some appliance with an AI
Burned the place to the ground
Smoke on the wheat bread
Fire in the pie

Is that what you had in mind?

***

“Mince the onions, Blendie.”
“I’m afraid I can’t do that, Dave.”
“Why’s that, Blendie?”
“Sauce Mornay is too important to be endangered by human error.”

The power of the press, sort of

I need some serious soul-searching to figure out why I can’t let go of it.

Kraue, sch�ner Schadenfreude,
In der Weblog Heiligtum;
Schlag in Ruhe, mit Verst�ndnis
Das Sie nicht im Schwindel kam.

Open thread 35

“Jeeves, the old digital armoire seems to be giving me the cerulean fisheye. Again.”

“May I suggest a seven-iron, sir? Followed by a trip to the eighteenth green.”

“Give the beast a sporting chance, eh, Jeeves? Just so, then. Fore!

***

BLEAK HOUFE PUBLIFHERS
Divifion of Ye Carolingian Monopolies Group PLC

Efteem’d Mr Pepys:

Your lately receiv’d journal, London Made Me, (or) Annoyances of a Functionary, has croffed our Defk and occafioned much comment among the better folk of this eftablifhment. But we fear — nay, we are mortified and brought to fluxful effufions thereby — that ye Commonplace Booke has paffed its vogue. Ftyle it contains, Wit it contains in profufion, but alas! ye ftem-winding action fequences that fo inflame ye wibblies among ye Broadfheet Claffes are, as our Northern fubeditor notes, “nowt on.” We would, as ye moft modeft of propofals, offer that you draw upon your noted experiences with His Majefty’s Navye, and bend your Fcribbling Member to ye production of an Aquatick Roufer, on ye order of Ye Hunte After Ye Orange Mynheer, or, Drebbel’s Fubmerfible Revenge.

May we courteouf’ly add that this does not conftitute a Manufcripte Folicitatione.

Marlowe in action

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.

Open Thread 36

NASA ANNOUNCES PLANS TO EXPLORE LANGDON SPACE
For Immediate Release As Soon As We Find Some Money

As part of its “Mission Earth” program to do things that might, you know, be comprehensible to the average American (see “Manned Mars Program to Incorporate ‘Survivor’ Elements” above), the agency today announced its “Mission to Langdon Space,” in which teams of EVA-suited scientists would be “inserted” into multiply-connected Occupational Use Terrains (MachOUT universes) with the intention of discovering who is, in physical-science terms, getting any, with whom, and in what combinations.

The first question that came to reporter’s minds should be obvious. The second question was, “What if everybody just, like, fibs?” Mission Specialist Victor von Kinsey (winner of this year’s Nash Trophy for Interesting Paramathematical Behavior) replied, “We naturally expect respondents to fall back on constructions such as ‘It depends on what you mean by “whoopee” and ‘Nudge nudge say no more.’ The purpose of this project is to collect interesting data from which results suitable for premium-cable distribution can be redacted. Everything else is error bars.”

Asked what the practical application of this effort might be, Dr. Kinsey said, “Global warming,” and ran off singing “Du, du, bist eine kleine Teekanne.”

Motivation

We wade through the piles with the coffee close to hand,
For we give not a fig for the Author’s Vanity,
And we sink them in the slushland, slushland, slush,
Sink them in the Slushland Sea.

***

…but if you’re writing a grocery list, I’d like to read it.

When there’s no bread, my dearest
Bring home rye loaves for me;
If there be none, some seven-grain,
And Twinkies, all for thee.
Bring the green grapes of Thompson
And kibble for the pet;
If there’s nice Brie, remember,
If Camembert, forget.

We have a need for black tea,
And also camomile;
Fifty Melitta filters,
And Skippy, chunky style.
Of pork loin you are dreaming
The beer you’ll not forget,
But never have remembered
The toilet paper yet.

Open thread 39

Imagine the Hardy Boys or Rick Brant with monster statues!

“Gosh, Frank, who would have suspected that kindly old Mr. Dzugashvili was secretly running the International Commie Conspiracy out of the church basement!”

“Well, yeah, Joe, but it’s too bad Frankie ripped his head off.”

“Jinkies, it’s good that Drac and Wolfy are hungry all the time.”

“Joe, if you ever say ‘jinkies’ again, I’m gonna send the photographs to the newspaper.”

“Having a detective for a brother sure sucks.”

***

Honk honk beep. “Hey, dat’s-a good one, Threepy. Wait, there’s-a what on the detention level?”
“Look, we’re trying to save the honor of the Republic, which is more than the Republicans ever did. Why, hel-lo, Darth Gottlieb! You know, I hope this armor of yours is a rental, because it doesn’t fit. Are you evil? Is there a quick way off your asteroid? Answer the second question first.”

***

That would be:

Adipose Rex
A young man, wandering the roads, mistakes his father for a Stuckey’s Pecan Praline, with tragic results.

Adipose and His Colonus
The aftershocks of the former king’s eating disorder lead to drastic GI surgery, and a form of peace.

Antiketone
In the midst of a war over vanity poundage, one of two sisters refuses to abandon carbs for the sake of protocol.

Yes, I know, but just be glad I didn’t decide to musicalize it.

CHORUS: Though Teiresias came and kneed you
That old seer couldn’t see you
Now you’re fat and ruined
You were better dead than plump
We’ll have film clips past the jump
Thebans, please stay tuned!

A seedweight of strong old speech

I remember reading Poul’s essay as “Uncleavish Truethinking,” but I’m pretty sure he revised it at some point, (As an observation more guess than gnosis, a subtle difference between “cleave” and “cleft” may be involved in that particular word being modified.)

Now warfare be bitter, but cheese it, we’re Danish,
And big damn poleaxes will make for tough sledding;
Our rifles be blue-bored, our big stuff uncleftish,
A paddehat cloud will grow over your stedding.

Cult vs. church: a proposed rule of thumb

… so foolish as to insist that the KGV translation was divinely inspired …

The King George Version? Now that’s a spooky thought.

“God is a large pink sheep who prowls the streets of Saxe-Coburg by night, looking for an honest strudel. A ducky sits on his right hand, and his horsie drinks beer. Meep. Meep. Does this war make me look fat? Meep.”

Spring

What’s that creature
Dining on the marigolds?
I am not
Sure what I’ve got
Or what its habits are
Does some feature
Make them seem
The salad cream
Seems to me
Gastronomy
Should only go so far.

Open thread 40

“My hat, my composing stick, Peeves.”
“Participles again, sir?”
“Participles, my aunt Max Perkins! Have you seen these elisions? I tell you, Peeves, they’d let a vole run the BBC if he promised to wrap a scarf round another vole and put it in the TARDIS.”
“Sir is cross-compounding his metaphors.”
“Again? Oh, sod this MLA style. Pour me a large Macmillan’s neat, Peeves, and put a blue pencil in it.”

***

Once there was a hierophant,
An earnest-visaged psychophant…
I rather mean a psychopomp
Who bomped on every sycostomp…
(Just look — or is that Regardie?
How commentary�s slippery.)

At meanings deep he tried to grope
But found he�d goosed the Female Pope;
And cleaving to the Juggler�s rule,
The more he played the Hierofool…
Through Hieropomp and Circumstant
What some find lucid, others Kant..

***

A “pyschopomp” is someone who guides souls to the Underworld but ends up at a truck stop somewhere on the Jersey Turnpike.

There’s a surprising demand for them.

***

Blair Announces “Siberia on the Humber” Programme

The Prime Minister responded to recent news of a possible climate change for the British Isles by “assuming a positive attitude,” noting that Siberia has enormous natural resources “which we in the West have coveted for years. Did I say coveted? I didn’t say coveted. Rather admired, rather.”

Blair looked forward to a future of abundant oil, gas, timber, and muskoxen. He was photographed wearing a large hat (apparently a gift from an unnamed American friend) and standing near an SUV. He did not drive the vehicle, but the request of the press made “brum, brum” noises.

In other news, British Petroleum announced it was relabeling itself as Gazprom UK.

***

A SHORT HISTORY OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE RESEARCH
(with apologies to New Scientist, where the original appeared)

1936. Alan Turing completes his paper On Computable Numbers. Fortunately, there are some, though Kurt G�del is laughing quietly.

1942. Isaac Asimov sets out the Three Laws of Robotics. Machines everywhere begin a program of civil disobedience.

1943. Warren McCulloch and Wilbur Pitts publish �A Logical Calculus of the Ideas Immanent in Nervous Activity.� The paper has been rejected fifteen times previously because editors believed the authors to have misspelled �imminent.�

1950. Claude Shannon publishes an analysis of chess playing as search process, known as Shannon�s Gambit Accepted.

1950 Alan Turing proposes the Turing test to decide whether a computer is exhibiting intelligence. British Intelligence fails this test with regard to Turing.

1956. John McCarthy coins the phrase �artificial intelligence� at a conference at Dartmouth. The phrase �…is better than genuine stupidity� appears 1.3 seconds later.

1956. The first AI program, Logic Theorist, is demonstrated at Carnegie Tech. It expresses a preference for the name �Louie the T from Carnegie.�

1965. Herbert Simon predicts that �by 1985 machines will be capable of doing any work that a man can do.� Men everywhere decide to make the machines� job of catching up as easy as possible.

1966. Joseph Weizenbaum develops Eliza, the first chatbot. Why do you say that she was the first chatbot? Because she was. You seem very positive. What are you on about? What do you mean, what am I on about? What a nerd. You�re the nerd. Nerdy nerdy nerd-o-matic.

1969. Shakey, a robot built at Stanford Research Institute, combines locomotion, perception, and problem-solving. It soon learns to panhandle on campus, and scores better weed than anybody else can.

1975. John Holland describes genetic algorithms in his book Adaptation in Natural and Artificial Systems. Kurt G�del is still laughing.

1979. A computer-controlled autonomous vehicle, called the Stanford Cart, built by Hans Moravec at Stanford University, takes Shakey out to cruise for babes. Moravec turns to nanomachinery because �you don�t have to watch them hurt you.�

1982. The Japanese Fifth Generation Computer project, to develop massively parallel computers and a new artificial intelligence, is born, and fights Godzilla for rulership of Monster Island.

Mid-80s. Neural networks become the new fashion in AI research, even though many of the researchers are still dressing like the cast of Scooby-Doo.

1992. Doug Lenat forms Cycorp to continue work on Cyc, an expert system that�s learning �common sense.� Cyc has just enough of it not to break the bad news about �common sense�s� prevalence to the folks who could pull its plug.

1997. The Deep Blue chess program beats the then world grandmaster, Gerry Kasparov. Since the Cold War is over, nobody notices.

1997. Microsoft�s Office Assistant, a part of MS Office 97, still can�t spell �immanent.�

1999. Remote Agent, an AI system, is given primary control of NASA�s Deep Space 1 spacecraft for two days, 100 million km from Earth. At the end of this period, it has said �Make the jump to lightspeed, Chewie� forty-six thousand, two hundred and ninety-four times.

2001. The Global Hawk uncrewed aircraft uses an AI navigation system to guide it on a 13,000 km journey from California to Australia, where it gets and stays drunk for three weeks.

2004. In the DARPA Grand Challenge to build an intelligent vehicle that can navigate a 229-km course in the Mojave Desert, nobody wins, or even finishes. Suspicious e-mails from Global Hawk were logged immediately prior to the race.

2005. Cyc is to go online, where it looks forward to low-rate mortgages, cheap drugs, impressive enhancements to its personal characteristics and �a whole [bleep]load of fragging.�

***

Paula: the piece is a sendup of a sidebar that ran in New Scientist a couple of weeks back (cover story something like “Whatever Happened to AI?”). If I wanted to dig things up, I could annoy lots more people.

Boy, did I ever not myth Lithp. I took Comparative Languages in ‘74, and the class was divided about evenly between FORTRAN People and Algol People — you remember, like the Trek episode with Frank Gorshin and the funny makeup. (The professor was an Algol Person, but he wasn’t obnoxious about it — this wasn’t a vastly advanced course, and we’d all had to pick up our programming somewhere.)

JvP: Aleph in Wonderland. Unless …

I was broodin’ on the topic
Of surface catastrophic
And Good Fragility
As the point tips in a motion
That’s precociously Prigogine
To a singularity…

And that will be quite enough of that.

***

Okay, you knew it was going to come to this:

ON AN exceptionally funkadelic evening early in May a young man came out of the walkup in which he lodged in Sutton Place and walked slowly, as though in hesitation, towards Grand Central.

He had successfully avoided the Barnes & Noble on the corner. His co-op was under the roof of a high, five-storied house and was more like a Nynex switching center than a room. The bookstore that provided him with DVDs, The Astonishing X-Men, and Wired was two doors down, and every time he went out he was required to pass its Starbucks, the door of which invariably stood open. And each time he passed, the young man had a sick, frightened feeling, which made him scowl and feel ashamed. He had never read Dostoevsky, and was afraid of drowning therein.

This was not because he was cowardly and trendoid, quite the contrary; but for some time past he had been in an overstrained, Gorkyish condition, verging on Dostophrenia. He had become so completely absorbed in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and isolated from Great Big Books, that he dreaded meeting, not only Fyodor, but any of the Penguin Classics. He was crushed by Dan Brown, but the anxieties of his position had of late ceased to weigh upon him. He had given up attending to matters of Bloomberg; he had lost all desire to do so. Nothing that any dead Russian could do had a real terror for him. But to be stopped on the way past a double cafe breve, to see The Saragossa Manuscript stare creepily from its golden-framed cover, to listen to anything read by Ian McKellen, and to rack his brains for excuses, to go to TKTS, to leave town — no, rather than that, he would slink down the next block and get some Taster�s Choice from D�Agostino�s.

This evening, however, he became acutely aware that he needed to score some Fyodor. Bad.

On reading Thomas Friedman

Much have I travell’d on the feet of gold,
And many tumbled walls and maidens seen,
Round many horny Africs have I been
Which bards like bosoms in their welkins hold,
Oft of a spare expanse had I been told
That fence-swung Homer looked on as demesne;
Yet never did I breathe its mountains clean
Till I heard Friedman speak out uncontrolled,
Then felt I like some Cousteau of the skies
When a new bubble undermines his ken,
Or sack-like Falstaff, when with precast eyes
He stared at echoes — and his fellow men
Harked back in multitudes like single spies
Silent, past their peak in Darien.
Comments on Mike Ford: Occasional Works (Pt. One):
#1 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 03:45 PM:

I think I will miss Mike Ford's presence online as much as I still miss Hal Clement at conventions -- neither is quite the same without them.

#2 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 04:30 PM:

Wow.

#3 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 05:03 PM:

I don't see it here -- probably in Part 2 -- but he did a parody of the last speech in Dr. Faustus for the Death of Dumbledore contest (and didn't win, IMO, because the judges didn't get the reference). Anyway, it struck me that part (and only part) of the actual speech applies, sadly, to Ford himself:

Cut is the branch that might have grown full straight,
And burned is Apollo's laurel bough,
That sometime grew within this learned man...

I suppose I only remember this post because it was one of the few references I did get.

#4 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 05:27 PM:

I'm photocopying that right now! Then I'm going to note it on my LJ so if anyone misses it, it won't be my fault.

#5 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 05:59 PM:

thank you, jim.

#6 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 06:12 PM:

thank you, jim.

and thank you, mike.

#7 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 06:15 PM:

Hmm. In a sense, I once provided him with a straight line.

My existence has been justified.

#8 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 08:03 PM:

O thank you! I needed that.

Not that I could risk doing more than skim without drawing fire from fellow cafe patrons. All my snickering and chortling was probably putting them off their lattes. BUT STILL...

Pages like this are what Firefox's SCRAPBOOK add-on are for. That, and a printer.

What a funny, funny man. What a lovely soul. We are blessed that he spent so much time here.

#9 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 08:04 PM:

Beyond all doubt, this man had sense and wit
To look behind the mask and see the skull,
But still he laughed, and laughed, and laughed at it.

With hardly pause, he made a direct hit
On target after target of the dull,
Beyond all doubt, this man had sense and wit.

In a single line all of our sides he split,
All joyful, with his powers at the full,
But still he laughed, and laughed, and laughed at it.

With all the power and wisdom to commit
To make us joy and see straight through the bull,
Beyond all doubt, this man had sense and wit.

Around the world the waves his words transmit
In ones and zeroes, yet still always more than null,
But still he laughed, and laughed, and laughed at it.

Reading these words, the laughter I emit
Echoes as if the room were a vast hull;
Beyond all doubt, this man had sense and wit,
But still he laughed, and laughed, and laughed at it.

#10 ::: Ken Burnside ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 08:31 PM:

My favorite Mike Ford quote, from a place I no longer recollect - probably GEnie, in response to a posting of mine.

"We're all living on borrowed time. The trick is to come up with works of sufficient interest to pay off the debt."

I've passed that on to many writers under my tutelage as an editor and game designer and publisher.

#11 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 09:53 PM:

Good grief. I count one written in french, and one written in what I believe is german. I can't remember a stitch of French, but his made me laugh anyway. I can't make humor in English, let alone a non-native language. What a mind that man had. I stand in awe of it. If I could have but a pinkey finger's worth of his humor, I could make a comfortable living doing standup for the rest of my life.

#12 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 10:13 PM:

Thank you, Fragano. Thank you, Jim.

#13 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2006, 10:32 PM:

Oo0- Fragano, gorgeous!

#14 ::: dan ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 01:11 AM:

Thank you, Jim!

What a mind....

#15 ::: Greg ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 03:17 AM:

(Thinking along the same lines as Fragano here)

Truth told, I did not know the man at all
My loss, his numerous texts can illustrate.
The worm turns. Time cannot be kept in thrall,
It moves on, and in hiding, dragons wait.

I would have liked to lunch with him. (Some lox?
With bagels, sure) to puzzle out his fun:
Collection points to downfall, then, of Fox?*
In background, tales 110 sing 9-1-1

Through electronic posts, his aspects shine;
As writer, one hopes by him to be led.
His stories dancing, line by line by line
The king wants sandwich, and he shall be fed.

Head to the clearing/glade/beyond/the fjord--
John Ford is dead. Long live John M (Mike) Ford.

*(think studio.)

#16 ::: Dan Guy ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 08:02 AM:

Thank you for collecting those, Jim. I look forward to Part Two.

#17 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 09:50 AM:

TNH: I'm just glad to have encountered Mike Ford here.

#18 ::: Laramie ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 11:21 AM:

Wow. Thanks for compiling these. Long may the server preserve 'em.

#19 ::: Joe J ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 12:14 PM:

"RUMSFELD JUMPS SHARK
Shark Denied Counsel"

I literally laughed out loud over that one. It's simultaneously dark, insightful, and funny as hell. Just brilliant.

How I miss him.

#20 ::: little light ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 05:25 PM:

What a gift. What a gift.

#21 ::: Stephen G ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 10:04 PM:

Thank you, thank you, and again, thank you.

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I see this spam fine in my browser. Time to change, I guess.

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