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October 5, 2006

Mike Ford: Occasional Works (Pt. Four)
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 12:04 AM * 21 comments

In Celebration of Talk Like Dr. Stephen Maturin Day

The names of these pirates, the Doctor thought, were not dissimilar to those of pigeons; a panoply of blacks and shades of gray, colourful in adjectives rather than hues.

As to the pirates as agents of political transformation, he had made some notes upon the subject, which indicated that their primary purpose was taking things from ships and trading them for rum and intimate favours, in places ranging from Tortuga to Whitehall. Some did affect views on individual freedom, though these would have rattled the brains of a Paine or a Wollstonecraft, and the notion that they were a seething mass of nautical Robespierres would not stand the light.

It was good to have an enemy, he reflected, and it was good to have an enemy who believed odd things that were incompatible with one’s own views. He had encountered sailors from English towns that were fiercely proud of having been sacked by ships scattered from the Armada. While the only evidence of such pillage was here a stack of cannonballs and there a public house named “Ye Dead Spaniardo,” every man from those villages stood ready, centuries later, to take the battle back to Philip II, with his dreadful religion and his incomprehensible consonants.

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


Je m’appelle Bluebeard.

Welcome aboard Honeymoon Cruise Lines. We’ll be having a Mixed Doubles Lifeboat Drill shortly, but first, I’d like to welcome you aboard, and ask you all not to go in the starboard aft cabin — that’s right side, back end of the floating thing — on C Deck, that’s the one with the large C on it. Really, don’t go there. Thanks awfully.

Talkin’ pirate-like be no more t’endorse robbin’, extortin’, tort reformin’, barratry, sodomy, or simony than speakin’ Shakespearean-like be to justify doin’ in yer uncle, or bein’ an uncle wot does in anybody in th’ immejit vicinity, hidin’ in boxes in ladies’ bedrooms, or holdin’ interestin’ banquets. Or that havin’ yer parley in BBC English means yer either an Ancient Roman or a Time Lord.

Besides the which, some o’ the early lot spoke like Jacobean gen’lemuns, like in yer fine best-sellery book Forever Up Yer Amber, while yer modern sea-rover, he don’t talk much but prefers goin’ Bang Bang Spee-yow a lot while shoutin’ in various untranslatered dialecks. F’r all I know, he’s sayin’ “Ho, Mister Pitt, prepare to fire on the uproll and have each man stand fast for boarding, accept any offered surrender and harm no ladies,” but I figger it’s more like “Will ye just bloody die already?”

Purely a piratical opinion, though. Arr.

Clifton, I think the point is that it’s the dialects of “specific pirate crews” from specific motion pictures. We haven’t got audio from the era, and the best record of the Common Speech is probably some of the drama (if I were going to try an Authentick Jacobean Phonification, I might start with Bartholomew Fair.*) The “Arr, me hearties, shiver the farthingales” routine comes pretty late in the run of Pirate Movies, as it can be sourced to Robert Newton in Blackbeard the Pirate (Raoul Walsh, 1952). The main act of theft is Newton vs. the other actors (and considering that he’s up against Torin Thatcher as Henry Morgan, this is an achievement). Tyrone Power never talked like that, nor did Laird Cregar, and thank god nobody thought to have Maureen O’Hara try it; Errol Flynn’s crew in Captain Blood have a nice assortment of British accents, but they’re not career pirates, they’re just in an entrepreneurial role while waiting for regime change. Even the Penzance crowd doesn’t do a lot of Arrring or timber-shivering, though the actual amount varies by production. (And anyway, they are all RADA men who have gone wrong.)

*In consideration of which, it is finally agreed, by the foresaid hearers, and spectators, that they neyther in themselues conceale, nor suffer by them to be concealed any State-decipherer, or politique Picklocke of the Scene, so solemnly ridiculous, as to search out, who was meant by the Ginger-bread-woman, who by the Hobby-horse-man, who by the Costard-monger, nay, who by their Wares. Or that will pretend to affirme (on his owne inspired ignorance) what Mirror of Magistrates is meant by the Iustice, what great Lady by the Pigge-woman, what conceal’d States-man, by the Seller of Mouse-trappes, and so of the rest.
— Ben Jonson, 1631

Th nxt lgcl dvlpmnt f ths prtclr Bttr Mstrp s DV-Rdstrbtr, whch wll xprt th hrvstd vwls t ths lngge, mny n rpdly dvlpng st rpn cntrs, tht hv lng bn ndrsppld thrwth. (Th fct tht mny f ths ppltns hv hstr f xtrml clrfl nvctv m nt b nrltd.)

f cn rd ths cn gt gd jb s frlnc rvwltr.

Reality Based Time
Now we have GPSes and suchlike, I think we can get rid of time zones and go back to continuous timezones.

Should I assume you’re joking?

On the chance that you’re not, this is a nonviable idea. Understand a basic principle of time: the only times that matter to you, as an individual, are when things happen and how long has elapsed/is remaining until those instants.

Understand that we never had “continuous time zones.” We had places setting the town clock by an approximation of local solar noon, and waiting for it to gain or lose enough to be noticeable.* Towns that might have been exactly a solar hour apart might, in terms of local time, be anywhere from thirty to ninety minutes — probably some odd number in between. Standard time was created not because the town clock didn’t serve the town adequately, but because commerce and communication required that you know, exactly, what time it was down the line.

With the system we have, everyone has the same minute count (with the very few exceptions of 30-minute subzones, which are frankly more a local notion of solar propriety than something necessitated by the system). There are now twenty-four discrete hour differences, but those are (relatively) easy to correct for, and more importantly, they are fixed. Constantly “correcting” one’s watch for local solar time would mean, in the temperate zones, moving by about a minute every time one went ten miles east or west. (It would vary by latitude, which makes it worse.) In other words, it would be impossible to compare watches with anyone who wasn’t exactly on your meridian, and as you drove east or west trying to get to an appointment, your timepiece would slip backward or forward. To arrive on time, you’d have to know the time differential to the nearest minute, and set an elapsed-time side counter to figure out how close you were to making it.

In short, nobody would have any useful knowledge of what time it was. This may be swell if you’re a particle and Werner Heisenberg is looking for you, but it’s not much good for human society. If you actually wanted to simplify matters and be “futuristic,” have everyone, everywhere, keep GMT and accept that local sunrise might come at 1800. Those of us who are already dissasociated from the day-night cycle wouldn’t care. Just remember that you’re still going to need an International Date Line somewhere.

*The old story of The Caliph’s Clock is applicable here.

Curiously enough, I first read “The Caliph’s Clock” in an old school reader I had when I was little. (No, littler than that.) I don’t think it cah have been People and Progress, since mine was definitely not written on a “Dick and Jane” level. As you can probably guess, I wouldn’t have read it, at least more than once, if it had been. The story list doesn’t sound right, either — I certainly read “Ben and Me,” but it was Robert Lawson’s version. My book also had a yarn about visiting General Cash-My-Check and the Dragon Lady of Long Island at Christmas during the war, which may charitably be said to be an artifact of its era. I would imagine that the Clock mentioned the same story, perhaps rewritten by the publisher for a different school reader haunted by the werblings of Baby Sally.

Maudlin Reminiscence Theater over, I know the story has broader provenance — a Google brought up a mention that someone’s doing it as a student opera — but it seems to be rarer than I’d thought.

Anyway: A Caliph, who is fascinated by new things, and his Vizier, who for the first time in such tales is not a scheming bastard, accept the visit of a Yankee Peddler, who sells the Caliph a fine chiming clock. The Caliph installs it on a marble pedestal in his garden, and decrees that from now on, the clock’s time is the official time of the country, and none other is to be followed for any purpose public or private. (Issues of prayer are not mentioned.)

The clock, as you might guess, begins to go off, and gradually the daily cycle of the country slips out of sync with the Sun. “When all the world was as black as your hat, the Caliph and the Vizier were watering the plants in the garden.” The Vizier tries politely to point out that something must be wrong, somewhere, but the Caliph refuses to believe that an object of such fine manufacture can be in error.

Finally, one night, the clock winds up to strike as usual, but instead it gives a great, rending metallic BONG and stops still. This wakes the Caliph, so to speak, and without any fuss the clock becomes a garden ornament, and the country returns to its usual cycle.

There probably should be an expression for the assumption that a story one knows very well from childhood must also be known by everybody (at least, everybody of a broadly similar ethnosocial background). Nonisoapheisis? Suitably unintelligible, but not even very good as a first approximation.

Open Thread 50
If The Road to Dune doesn’t have Hope & Crosby in it —

“Ride a worm? That’s it? And I get to be part of the sietch tau word-the-Hays-Office-won’t-allow? Yippee-ti-yi-oh.”

“Thought you’d say that, Junior. Here’s your suit, here’s your hook, there’s your worm.”

“Uh … that’s a … big one, isn’t it.”

“Modest, by the local standard, I understand.”

“There better be a Dorothy Lamour at the other end of this rope.”

— then I don’t think I’m buying.

Open Thread 51
Space-time continuum restored. Will soon be plenty to see here, please move along.

Paratime Custodial Services

Strawberries? Where’s the Bishop of Ely when you really need him?
A Coupla Blue Wizards Sittin’ Around Talkin’

“So, want to succumb?”
“I hear everybody’s succumbing. Except that swot Gandalf.”
“Well, yes, of course except Dynamite Dick, but what in the name of Feanor’s balls are you on about?”
“Succumbing. You know.”
“Up until this very instant I thought I did. What do you think it means?”
“Well, I mean, you know —” [whispers]
“I see. Well, in actual fact, succubi may be involved in certain particular cases, not that I am going to mention names, but I believe you have once again managed to grasp the warg by the wrong end.”
“Oh. Want to do it anyway?”
“Yeah, bugger this for a game of Rohirrim. Let’s go into the West.”
“What’s in the West?”
“Vegas, Ithron baby, Vegas.”

How Many Battalions Does the Pope Have?
After the President’s Spontaneous Unrehearsed Conversation with Actual Real Genuine US Soldiers:
Scott McClellan’s Briefing Notes

Question 1. Yes, it is a nice day, isn’t it? Are you not happy that your President has brought you this nice day? After this question, Katherine Harris will sing “Who Will Buy?” from Oliver Twist (note modified lyrics featuring unbid contracts, Attachment 1)

Question 2. The “Tehran” that the President referred to “invading” is actually an all-American suburb-like camp being constructed in New Mexico for the housing of some survivors of some disaster somewhere. “Tehran” is KBR’s code name for this project [laugh here] and “invading” is their ha-ha funny euphemism for crossing the electrified wire surrounding the gated community. The Halliburton Glee Club and Perimeter Gunnery Unit will then perform “Upon These Stones” from Les Misérables (new lyrics, Attachment 2).

Question 3. There is no question 3. There never was a Question 3. There never will be a Question 3. Questions numbered “3” are from this day prohibited by His Presidency’s Will in all US educational institutions or government questionnaires.

Question 4. Lance Corporal Phil Spitalny’s reference to his appearance in “La Cage aux Folles” is obviously a reference to a secret insurgency-de-insurgencicatifying operation, and cannot possibly refer to anything he might have done during some nonexistent Off-Broadway career.

Question 5. Paul Lynde to block.

Question 6. At this point Mr. McClellan will lead the White House Press Corps in a spontaneous and unrehearsed performance of “The Jet Song” from West Side Story (new lyrics, Attachment 3) followed by Mr. McClellan’s heartfelt and moving solo of “What I Did For Love” from A Chorus Line (new lyrics, Attachment 4).

Question 7. Yes, the White House Press Corps will indeed be touring major US cities following a tryout at the Guantanamo Harrah’s Matthew Hopkins Room.

Question 8. Unrehearsed and spontaneous adulation, follwed by a brief prayer and the Doxology (new lyrics, Attachment 5).

Judy Sings Holliday
Oh, dear, those Earth creatures have pushed my Warner cartoon button. It’s the large, red one that says “Do Not Push or You’ll Be Sorry.”

Warners did a string of movie-caricature toons, mostly before the war — “The Coo Coo Nut Grove,” “Hollywood Capers,” and so on. These naturally tended to feature Warners contract players. They were mostly spot gags, rather than plots, and now they’re useful for trivia competitions —
“Who the hell was that?”
“Arthur Treacher (Jerry Colonna/Fred Allen/C. Aubrey Smith, etc.).”
“Can I repeat the question?”
In “Hollywood Steps Out,” from 1941, Lorre’s dreamily watching Sally Rand (you know, Ayn’s cute sister*) bubble-dance, until Harpo Marx shows up with a peashooter … Karloff’s in there too, though he’s doing the Monster and has no dialogue.

In 1942, in “Horton Hatches the Egg,” there’s a “Lorre”-voiced fish.

In ‘46, Lorre’s in the first of the Mad Scientists, “Hair Raising Hare,” which is also the debut of the Big Orange Sneaker Monster, who doesn’t have a name yet (except the “Monster” on his door), though Bugs calls him “Frankenstein” and “Dracula.” (At the beginning of this picture, Lorre is watching Bugs on a “Televisor.” Obviously we should all object to the absence of this film from John Scalzi’s Canon.) Later that year there’s “Racketeer Rabbit,” with Lorre playing Second Gangster (“Hugo”) to an Edward G. Robinson caricature.

There are probably some other appearances, but Lorre left Warners at about the time the war ended, and the star-caricature toons also became a lot rarer.

The second Sneaker Monster appearance, from ‘52, is in “Water, Water, Every Hare” (if you went to that, wouldn’t you be expecting a monster picture, hmm?) has a different Mad Scientist, who has the lines about “Rudolf” and “spider goulash.”

The Monster doesn’t show up again until 1980, in “Duck Dodgers and the Return of the 24 1/2 Century,” where he is indeed called “Gossamer,” and is working for Marvin Martian. Or maybe they’re on the Sneaker Monster Planet (you know, like the Wookiee Planet, but with better art direction).

And, uh, the voice doing “My Old Flame” for Spike Jones isn’t Blanc, it’s Paul Frees.

*Well, not really, but she was a classmate of Robert Heinlein’s.

“Classmates” was the wrong word, but they were at high school together. When RAH was Guest of Honor at the 1976 Worldcon, Sally Rand attended, as I recall on her own initiative (rather than being invited by the committee). She was around and available for pretty much the whole con, and was quite popular with the crowd. And yes, she danced. Fans, what else?
Try this at home
I ran across a book years ago — and unfortunately remember neither title or author — that gave the history of two regiments of Home Guard who received quite serious irregular-warfare training, and were given actual military weapons. Both units had conventional Home Guard designations, and were assumed by their neighbors to be like any other unit, but their actual status was a military secret; the author, decades after the war, had to get a document from the War Office authorizing the surviving members to tell their stories before he could get a single one to admit a thing. (He’d originally run across some declassified documents while researching something else.)

There’s an account in the book of an exercise in which a tank company crossed a field, the crews wearing smoked goggles to simulate a night action, and the Guardsmen slipped out of the foliage, applied their magnetic mines, and went back to cover. The crews saw and heard nothing, and the observers concluded that the “Germans” would have lost every vehicle. (I can’t recall now if there were infantry supporting the tanks, which would almost certainly have been the real case, unless this action were being directed by Col. Klink.)

More immediately on topic, in addition to a quantity of time pencils* and other soundy-furious stuff, they had a handbook of IEDs** and other boobytraps, with a cover identifying it as The English Country Gentleman’s Farm & Garden Handbook for 1939.

*Self-contained mechanical time fuze. Never popular on movie bombs, because it doesn’t have a large display showing everybody how long it has left before the bang.
**Insert comment about underinformed American spokesmen here.

D&S: a story from Capclave
“Cue the Son of Hercules!”
“Ready when you are, C. B.!”
“Cue the Tyrant of Sodom!”
“Ready when you are, C. B.!”
“Cue the dinosaurs!”
“Oh, Cecil … you bitch.

And the phrase “Oh bugger. Let me fix that.” was in this context either chosen brilliantly, or … chosen brilliantly.

Igor go away now.

Hot Gingered Pygmy Mammoth & Jumbo Shrimp Salad

Feeds your whole tribe.

1 pygmy mammoth, boned and cubed (about ½ ton)
½ ton jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (many many ordinary shrimps, or one Ebirah claw)
10 buckets sesame seeds
60 pounds bean thread noodles if you are an Eastern tribe, whatever your tribe uses for noodles otherwise. If you have not yet invented the noodle, this might be a good time to do so.
1 bucket vegetable oil
1 bucket sesame oil
10 buckets minced fresh ginger
6 buckets minced garlic
15 buckets dry Sherry
15 buckets rice wine vinegar
60 pounds sugar
60 buckets diced fresh mangoes
15 buckets chopped green onions
Big Snorgul’s helmet full of red pepper flakes
10 buckets chopped fresh cilantro, plus 5 Big Snorgul’s helmets fresh cilantro, garnish
1000 large heads lettuce, cored and leaves separated (a raid on the People Who Grow Stuff may be necessary)
30 buckets thinly sliced, peeled, seeded, drained cucumbers, or just chop up the damn cucumbers and say “Fie to thee!” a lot
All the chives you got

Preheat a giant turtle shell over a fumarole. A big giant turtle. Put some oil in there. Make sure no other giant turtles are around to see you do this.

On a flat rock, stirring with your Stick of the Dining God, dry cook the sesame seeds over medium heat until they are brown and smell good. Remove from the heat. Add the noodles to the turtle shell and fry fast until puffy and the color of sunrise. Remove from the oil and drain on non-itchy leaves. Throw salt. Set aside.

Sear the mammoth meat on the flat rock. Salt but don’t overdo it, you remember what happened to the Chest-Clutching Tribe of the Plains. Drain.

Get a less giant turtle shell. Okay, think of this as a celebration dish for a good turtle hunt and shrimp catch. Make the vegetable oil and most of the sesame oil dance. Add the shrimp, mammoth, ginger, and garlic, and cook fast, stirring, until the shrimp are just pink and firm. Doom of Ten Thousand Wretched Canap’s awaits those who overcook shrimp. Remove from the shell with pole weapons. Add the sherry and vinegar, and sing the Song of Deglazing over medium heat. Add the sugar and stir until it is one with the sauce. Cook until half the fluid is gone. Feed anybody who thinks this is waste to the giant turtles. Add the rest of the sesame oil, mangoes, green onions, and pepper flakes, and stir to warm through and wilt. No, this wilt is good. Tell the people it is the wilt of the Wilt God. You need all the mojo you can get. Remove from the heat and add the shrimp and ginger, and the cilantro. Stir to warm through and do the Highly Dramatic Ritual of Adjusting the Seasoning to Taste.

Now your tribal status is on the thin edge of the cleaver. Have everybody bring what they eat off of. You know your tribe. Put lettuce on whatever they hold out and spread the hot stuff on it. Those who have no eating platters should be used to the drill by now. Arrange cucumber slices on top in whatever symbolic pattern seems propitious to you and sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds. If you have a really tough tribe, yell ‘Bam!’ until they get a groove going. Add fried noodles, cilantro sprigs, and chives, and watch for any signs of people keeling over that can’t be blamed on strong drink.

“Okay, I bought the dinosaur mp3 player. Where do I put the USB drive with the songs on it?”

“Haven’t you been following this thread?”

[As Tokyo crumbles, again:]

Supreme Commander, UN Anti-Godzilla Institute [UNAGI]: Gojo, would you mind answering a question about our new Mekagojira?
Gojo: And you won’t be angry?
Commander: I will not be angry.
Gojo: What would you like to know, sir?
Commander: Who, exactly, got the contract for Mekagojira’s AI programming?
Gojo: So-something.
Commander: So-what?
Gojo: Oh, very funny, Commander-san.
Commander: I’m waiting.
Gojo: So-nee, I think.
Commander: Sony? As in … Sony?
Gojo: Yes, I do believe they had the low bid.
Commander: You’re telling me that a one-hundred-meter tall, ten-thousand-ton, fusion-driven robot monster has a PlayStation 2 for a brain? And that while it is grinding public buildings into balsa and acrylic, it is playing “Planet Tokyo” by Puffy Ami Yumi at a hundred and fifty decibels? Is that what you’re telling me?
Gojo: It has a nice beat. You can dance to it. I give it an 89.


Which is, being interpreted,

Rolling On the Floor Laughing
‘Cause I Really Lost My Online Blues
It’s an HTML Hotlink
That I Think You Ought to Peruse
Roll Over Norbert Wiener, IM Claude Shannon the News

[Broken down by line for easier transcription:

[And the five-letter-group version, goin’ out especially for Bruce:
ROFLC IRLMO BIHTM LHTIT YOPRO NWIMC SN, followed by three nulls]

I don’t expect it to catch on, but heck, memory’s cheap and hotkeys are everywhere.

Quentin Tarantino’s Republic Dogs
Socrates: Hey, man, look, it’s f*ckin’ Solon.

Aristotle: Yo, Han Solo, where you been, man? Like the tan. Heat off at home?

Solon: Chillin’. Been to Saïs. Off in the east.

Aristotle: “Saïs?” Tell me you did not say “Saïs.”

Solon: Two damn dots and everything.

Aristotle: Doxa?

Solon: Eu-f*ckin’-doxa, my man.

Aristotle: Hey, you’ll wanna hear this — Socky gathered a bunch of hippies in Athens.

Solon: You mean Hippeis? A knightly class? Okay, I’m impressed.

Aristotle: No, hippies. Cool kids who listen to the guy, get blitzed, and don’t work.

Solon: I go away for a couple of years and —

Socrates (interrupting): So what is this Saïs place like?

Solon: Old, mostly. They got some gold an’ sh*t, an’ all the kings are married to their sisters an’ anybody else handy, an’ the mosquitoes are the size of mythical beasts, but mostly that sh*t is just old, man.

Socrates: And when you say their sucking bugs are like mythical beasts, what the hell do you mean? A mythical beast —

Solon: Look, dude, I have spent the last two years eating sand and takin’ off eye makeup. I am not in the mood for a dialogue.

Socrates: Well, then, what about their bosses? Are they wiseguys? Do they stand on, like, peaks above the rest of the clowns?

Aristotle: Where do you get that sh*t? And if you got more, can I have a hit?

Solon: They ain’t got peaks there. The first thing that place is, after old, is flat. Man, it is so flat they have to build their own damn mountains. Then they stick dead guys in the mountains and at night people come around and steal all the dead guys’ sh*t.

Aristotle: Nobody does anything about that?

Solon: Dead guys don’t deter. I mean, yeah, they put curses all over the place, but it’s all like “I curse you that sand will blow in your pants,” so it’s not like “I curse you while I beat you with this stick.” And they got paper boats.

Aristotle: “Paper?”

Solon: Flat stuff. You write on it. Doesn’t melt. You can fold it into birds and sh*t.

Socrates: Okay, okay, they write on boats and they got banking on the Austrian model. What about their bosses? They got areté?

Solon: Oh, man, they don’t have no f*ckin’ areté. got their own damn language that they write down on the paper and everything. They call it “Royale with two hats.”

Socrates: Two … hats.

Aristotle: You mean, like … two hats?

Solon: Sh*t, man, it’s about the river, see? There’s the Red Nile and the White Nile, ‘cept they’re both the same river, and they ain’t red and white. Red Sea isn’t, either, and do not ask me what kinda weird chariot sh*t goes on there. So, you got a hat for one Nile, and a hat for the other Nile, and you wear ‘em both, but with one turned around so you can see the Kangol label both f*ckin’ ways. An’ clothes that say, “My ancestors went to Atlantis and all I got was this f*ckin’ linen nightie.”

Socrates and Aristotle: Atlantis?

Solon: Now it gets hinky.

“The answer, reader, is yes”
When your literary models for erotic text are the Rands (Ayn* and the Corporation), you have to fall back on your imagination, and for some of these guys that’s a long drop.

On the other warm and supple appendage, as has been so often noted, Tom Clancy writes outstanding man-weapons system eroticism. But sometimes a submarine is just a diving boat.

And shouldn’t that damn Diana line — whoever wrote it — have been about, like, Brünhilde, or someone with a soprano profundo and horns on her hat?** I mean, while there’s a whole lotta Fricka goin’ on there, there’s not much, like, Roman. Never mind Greek.

*”What a remarkable … service station you have, Howard.”

**cf. “Herr Meets Hare,” Friz Freleng 1945, the other Wagnerian Bugs Bunny cartoon.

Wasn’t there a Bugs Bunny parody of the Ring Cycle?

As noted earlier, there are two Wagnerian Bugs Bunnies, both of which involve Bugs dressed as a Valkyrie: the better known is Chuck Jones’s What’s Opera, Doc? but there’s also Friz Freleng’s wartime toon Herr Meets Hare, in which Our Hero takes a wrong turn (you should all know where by now) and ends up in the Black Forest, interrupting Hermann Goering’s hunting trip. In addition to Brunhilde, Bugs appears in this one as Hitler (right after the Reichsmarschall has called his boss some naughty things) and Stalin.

Open thread 52
Molded cup bras, Ptui[etc.]

That’s odd, Barbie didn’t complain once in the bench tests.

Next up: Nitinol Underwires — It Knows When You Are(tm).* And for the gentlemen, Trojan Graphite and Durex DU.

BoingBoing can’t get all the, er, scoops.

*Slogan tested 13.4% better than “Deploys for the Boys.”

Open thread 53
OK, I’d listen to Leonard Cohen [commit anatomically difficult saurian/amphibian act].

Well, so much for everything sounding like Coldplay.

Looking forward to the “Make:Out” issue of Make magazine, with such articles as

Let’s Play “Hide the iPod”

MIDI Moan Enhancement

Eight Ways to Humiliate Your Roomba

DRM for Teledildonics: You Know Sony Wants It

Reich Meets Fuller and They Get to Talking: The Legend of the Dymaxorgone Chamber

John Marshall onna stick, next you’re going to be telling us that the role of defense counsel isn’t to make the Actual Guilty Party scream out a confession in the middle of the trial he or she has unwisely chosen to attend.

What I always wondered is, does DA Burger get to prosecute all guaranteed-guilty cases, or do they go to the B-squad prosecutors? The other good question is, what kinda actual you-know evidence do you need for a Murder One indictment in that part of California? (Cue Jack McCoy: “I’m not taking this crap to trial for the same reason I’m not gonna get drunk and drive the BQE at rush hour. I’m gonna end up in a bloody heap if I do.”)

Next week on CSI: Barsoom:
“It looks to me like he crashed a flier out in a desolate part of the planet and ran into something adventurous.”
“Eighth one today. Anything else?”
“It’s a little hard to tell, but my guess is that he’s swallowed some kind of critical plot device, but we can’t get at it until we find a way to remove these explosive radium bullets.”
“Hey, that’s only the third time this week.”

From a TV ad for a product-liability law firm:

“If you have used the Fentanyl pain patch and suffered injury or death, call the number below.”

While enough Fentanyl will definitely make you a zombie, I presume this also involves having one of those snazzy new phones, like the Motorola Samedi or the Vodafone Vodoun, that feature Post-Volitional Dialing.

Display dumps
Con Panel Blackout Theatre:

As one panelist monopolizes the hour with explanations of how his eight-book series about a Fighter, a Thief, a Wizard, and a Faith-Based Wizard is better than any other such eight-book series, ever, the other panelists (who were actually in the Green Room discussing the actual topic) begin one by one to face left, at the room wall, until all of them are staring at an ideal point in Mach space.

Finally the other panelist notices this, and asks, “What are you all looking at?”

“We’re waiting for the cutaway to Oprah.”

Ghosts of the Great War, 2005
Turkey — or, to be more exact, the Ottoman Empire in its much-declined 1914 form — had a treaty with Germany. The Kaiser had visited Damascus late in the previous century, and found other people who liked to wear military uniforms and talk big of Empire after his own fashion. While I said that sarcastically, it’s true; he was actually called “Haji” Wilhelm, though it was at best an honorary title.

Before everything went boom, Turkey was more worried about the stability of its own empire than a possible global war, and in fact shopped its alliance all over Europe, including with Russia and France; they didn’t go to Britain because they’d been turned down three times in the previous decade. These failed because every possible alliance annoyed someone else. At the end, Germany, which didn’t have a position to launch an imperial land grab against Turkey, got an offer — in July 1914 — and accepted it in early August, though Turkey was still formally neutral.

This was fine with the Allied powers, but the British made a series of bad policy choices. The Turkish navy had ordered two dreadnoughts from British yards, paid for by public subscription, but when the war started the British seized them — which they were contractually entitled to do, but, well, you can guess. Then, after a naval skirmish against German ships in Turkish waters (Cape Matapan) that had made the British Navy (and First Sea Lord Churchill) look rather bad, it was decided to blockade Turkey, a country very dependent on its coast. There was also an attempt to form a Balkan alliance, which could only reasonably have been aimed at Turkey. Finally, in October, the Turkish ruling triumvirate got enough backing to order their fleet to attack the Russian Black Sea fleet.

The Germans had agents in the Ottoman Empire and India, and decided to use them to open new fronts against Britain. In November, the Sheikh-ul-Islam declared — wait for it — jihad against the Allied Powers.

It goes on and gets worse, of course, but this is the Great War; that’s the central obbligato.

I know I am straining the topic and the laws of Fair Use, but this sudden turn of the thread has caused my bedside Viking Portable Dorothy Parker* to leap unbidden into mine grasp and open itself:

The Cardinal’s Mistress was written when Mussolini was a cunning little shaver of twenty-six, at which time he was secretary to the Socialist Chamber of Labor. There will be little kidding out of me on the subject of the Mussolini masterpiece, for I am absolutely unable to read my way through it. I couldn’t make head, tail, nor good red herring out of the business.”

*Between the Waterman fountain pen and the flask of bootleg hooch, if you must know. What, do I look like Charlie MacArthur?

Open Thread 54
With apologies to anyone who already saw this on Pyramid (hi, Stefan):

Stock Footage Theatre:

Following the much-praised guest appearance by film of Sir Laurence Oliver in Sky Captain, it has been decided, that under the First Principle of Liability Law* many more pieces of stock footage will be rented from Blockbuster and copied into new movies. First up: Castle of Dr. Freud, with several performances by Bela Lugosi as various mad scientists in the starring role. Tom Cruise, in what he describes as his “dream role” as philosopher and pasteurized-process literary product L. Ron Hubbard, armed only with his trusty E-Meter (now capable of time travel) and a very large gun, will invade the mad psychoanalyst’s laboratory in an attempt to “save the future.”

*The Dead Don’t Sue. Current title for the TV series originally announced as “Zombie at Law.”

If anyone could write a pointed, thorough, explicit, and effective-as-a-.50 cal.-through-Baccarat-crystal article on Why It is Inadvisable to Piss on the Third Rail, it would be Gardner. But I suppose he had to conform to house style.
Pat Robertson preaches gross heresy (again)
Bishop James Ussher’s calculation of Creation as taking place in 4004 BC (to be precise, on October 23rd) was written in the 1650s. The calculation, which you can find various places online, is not quite crank work, in that Ussher was a perfectly serious scholar, but it follows the crank patter of throwing various ancient documents and vaguely related stray facts into the Cuisinart and hitting pulse* until fully amalgamated.

*[The Welcome Waggon of Mahanarim] brought beds, and basons, and earthen vessels, and wheat, and barley, and flour, and parched corn, and beans, and lentiles, and parched pulse, and honey, and butter, and sheep, and cheese of kine, for David.” — II Emeril … uh, Samuel 18:28-9.

Sweetness and Light
Well, the ancient physicians observed that the urine of certain ill persons drew flies (more than, say, an equal quantity of vinegar). And indeed, the word is Greek, because diagnoses go back that far — about 3500 years, in fact — though the etiology came long afterward.

But by the Middle Ages, of course, not only had much of the earlier medical knowledge been misfiled, burned, or eaten, uroscopy — the technical name for “doing odd things with other folks’ wee with vaguely medical intent” — had become practically its own specialty, not to be confused with “urology,” which can involve getting a live TV feed from inside your bladder. Technology is swell.

I will note, because this does lead to some confusion, that there are two types of diabetes mellitus, creatively named Type I and Type II. Type I is usually diagnosed in childhood — it used to be called “juvenile diabetes” — and is (at least by current understanding) an autoimmune disease in which your body turns nasty on the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas (the beta cells, or islet cells). Eventually almost everyone with Type I completely loses the ability to make insulin, so replacing it is always necessary, by injection or subcutaneous catheter. (Exercise can lower blood sugar without insulin, but not enough to completely replace it.) Beta-cell transplants, which are an actual cure (though you have the problems of any organ transplant) are still experimental, but have had some success, and will likely only get better.

In Type II, “adult-onset” diabetes, insulin production is inadequate, but usually doesn’t completely disappear. Most of the symptoms are the same, though ketosis — the exciting transformation of your blood into paint thinner — is less common. Also, Type IIs tend to be overweight-to-obese, while Type Is at time of diagnosis are generally underweight. Some Type II patients can get by with dietary control and exercise. Some can take the various oral meds, most of which work by stimulating the beta cells to produce more (so obviously they’re useless in Type I). Some people still require insulin, usually in combination with the other therapies.

It is a disease whose therapies and outlook have changed a whole lot in the last few decades. Not very long ago, we didn’t have any remotely convenient way of doing blood glucose readings at home, never mind pocket-sized gadgets that would produce a quantitative reading in five seconds. (What you had was urine tests, which were always time-delayed and worthless for checking low sugar.) The variety of insulin mixtures available was much smaller, and they were all of animal origin,* rather than being recombinant human product from trained bugs. Even the needles for injection were a few gauge sizes larger. If you’re gonna get it — and if you have the option, I would recommend that you rent some Ed Wood movies instead — you now have a pretty decent arsenal to fight it with, and a lot more knowledge of the enemy.

*Made by spinning down pancreases from slaughterhouse cows and pigs. I sometimes wonder if Niven & Pournelle knew this when they let “Dan Forrester” croak so heroically — and have no doubt whatsoever, fighting hyperglycemia with your bare hands is a wretched way to go. Maybe they didn’t think to ask Dan Alderson.

The way to do well as a diabetic is to recognize that your doctor will not die for you if he gives you bad advice or fails to educate you. Learn everything you can.

There was only one Great Physician who specfically died for the patients, though a few did highly risky experiments on themselves.

But y’know, there are actually good doctors in the world. I have several, but keeping to the topic, my endocrinologist is intelligent, knowledgeable, and is willing to talk about any aspect of the disorder (not just my variation) — in fact, he likes it. (It’s true that I have a fairly large medical vocabulary, so he doesn’t have to translate for me.) If we’re going to change something, we talk about it — by which I mean I have input, not that he tells me what’s gonna happen. It took him a while to talk me into the pump, but that was me being skeptical — I have seen a great many changes in therapy, not all of which proved as good as they looked — and now I love my hip-mounted R2D2.

He also likes my work (the doctor, not the pump), but maybe I’m just lucky.

In fact, I probably am, and not just for still being above ground. My cardiologist also likes to discuss stuff, and also happens to be one of the top guys in the country for renal-cardiac patients. The transplant clinic wants to fiddle with my drugs, and the nephrologist’s approach to this was to have a long discussion about the options and their pros and cons, and then show me where to get the docs online so I could make my own decision (which I will naturally discuss with her).

I’m quite aware that there are also rotten doctors, but fortunately I’ve only observed the worst ones I’ve (*mutter*certain male gynecologists*mutter*).

And long ago, I developed the Talk To Nurses mutant ability (a certain amount of Danger Room practice was involved), and if you want a hospital survival trait, this is on the short list.

Well, I’ve just got about ten different drugs in my bloodstream at any given time (all prescribed, I assure you), and right after an injury or surgery serious enough to require transfusion is not when you want to get off the bed and mambo. (And I tried that, twice, but it’s at least as dull as leptospirosis. Which I make no claims to having had.*)

I spent many years with the ARC, though, helping take it away from other nice people. Attempt to balance the books, I guess.

*One of the Discover Channels has a show about grim survival experiences called “I Shouldn’t Be Alive,” which causes me to want to put together a show titled “I Shouldn’t Be 120/80.”

Wyth Referrence to Ye Pumps.

With the understanding that this is just my experience; what works is what works for the patient.

First, you aren’t permanently mated to the pump. There’s a small, soft catheter, a few mm long, that you put in subcutaneously (the introducer needle is immediately removed, so there’s no metal in you). This has a socket that connects to the pump with a quick disconnect. So if you want to take a shower, you disconnect the pump, put it on standby, and shower. (There are still plastic neck bags to tuck the pump in while showering, but I’ve never used one. Being disconnected for fifteen minutes is not a big deal for me, though I can see that for some very brittle folks it might be.)

Apart from this, yes, it is there all the time. In the daytime I wear it on my belt; since we now live in an age where darn near everybody has an electronic device on their belts, this is scarcely noticeable in public. In addition to the basic clip, I’ve got a neoprene pouch and a black leather model for dress wear.* It does have a length of tubing running to your catheter, which can get untucked and sometimes catches on things, but again, not a huge problem. At night I’ve got a soft fleece belt with a Velcro pouch, though sometimes I just tuck the pump in a pajama pock You change the catheter a couple of times a week, moving it around just like an injection site. I’ve only once had a problem with discomfort, and that was apparent as soon as it was installed; I pulled it and put in a new one, which was fine.

My pump has an RF link; it can receive BG data from my meter, which saves entering it manually, though that’s not a huge nuisance. It also allows boluses to be set remotely, from a keychain-sized gadget. This means that if you really dislike having the pump showing, you can put it somewhere inside your clothes, and set it from the remote. (Another use of the remote is with small kids or impaired elderly: you lock out the onboard controls and give their boluses from across the room.)

It does take a while to properly tune the pump, and some of it is trial and error, though using the monitor usually makes the errors minor. The basal rate — the constant trickle of insulin — can be set to change during the day, and it takes some experimentation to match it to your schedule. On the other hand, once properly set, this means your BG remains relatively constant.

At mealtimes you calculate and deliver a bolus, and this is one of the pump’s enormous advantages. You take the mealtime insulin when you’re ready to eat; you don’t take a slow of slow-acting and then have to cover it on its schedule. And the bolus is based on what you’re eating, not what you took four hours ago. If you’re having pizza, or something else high-fat (remember, this is not medical advice), you can set the pump to deliver, say, half the dose now and the other half spread out over the next couple of hours, so you’re covered as that fat slowly metabolizes. This flexibility is a major improvement (and yes, for a while before changing over I was doing the Lantus/Novolog deal,** with five shots a day. It was better control than the previous two shots of regular/Lente mix, but still not as good, and certainly not as flexible as this.

Again, this is just my experience. But I was resistant too, and I’m not at all sorry I changed. (I don’t miss shots, though after over twenty thousand of them they were not really a proble. And five a day, even with the nice portable pen injector, was a bit of a grind.)

*There’s a fairly broad aftermarket in pump accessories for gracious living, including satin pouches on lace garters. Not my style, but I’m sure they look really sharp with a slit Mizrahi dress.

**For everyone else: Lantus is a long-acting insulin*** with a very long, very flat action curve; it’s similar to the basal rate on the pump, though of course not adjustable. Novolog is an insulin with rapid and short action, which you use to cover meals. My pump is also loaded with Novolog.

***Ooh, nested footnotes. Natural human insulin loses its effect after about four hours. As this won’t get you through the day, there are a number of modified insulins that are released more slowly, with various curves of action. A lot of people take one that lasts for 24 hours, with a hypergolic starting slug of unmodified insulin to cover until the long-acting kicks in; for a long while I was doing this twice a day, and before a particular metabolic change (different, long, not very interesting story) that worked pretty well.

amysue: It’s not a stupid question — it’s the kind of thing that patients reasonably want to know, but the people who write the literature never think about.

When I stuff the pump in a breast pocket (and occasionally even if it’s in the Velcro pouch), it sometimes falls out. This has never been a problem — lying on top of it is unlikely to cause any damage (though the way I’m built, lying on top of a coconut cream pie might not cause that much damage), and any action that would change a setting or deliver a bolus requires at least two, usually three, button presses (and sometimes a menu access), so it would be pretty hard to mess up the settings (or worse, send a bolus) by rolling on it. (If this became a real problem, the keyboard can be locked out for the night, as I said above.) I suspect the worst thing likely to happen would be for it to fall on the floor, though they’re built sturdy. And I suppose a really good yank could pull out the catheter, but the sticky pad that holds it is very strong — it’s supposed to last three days, with showers — and I’ve never had that happen. It does tend to wander around the bed when it’s loose like that, but you can always follow the tubing.

On the other islet of Langerhans, I can see that this could be troublesome, and it’s worth taking into consideration.

When I was on the runup to dialysis, the clinic staff (with whom I would also have an extremely good relationship) asked me to watch an instructional video. Normally I don’t much care for them — I’d rather read something with diagrams — but this one had a fine moment where a woman being interviewed explained that, yeah, though they didn’t necessarily ask, people always wanted to know about sex with the catheter* in place, and she went on to say that sometimes the plastic dangly bits flopped around, but it was really irrelevant.

The important thing was that this information was there, up front, before you made the decision to as-it-were have the cable run into your house (which is outpatient surgery, but does kinda commit you for the duration). And y’know something? Sometimes it flopped around, but it was really irrelevant.

*Boring technical explanation which those bored by it years ago can skip: Peritoneal dialysis involves having a length of plastic tube implanted in one’s abdomen, which runs through a tunnel made in your flesh through a sort of skin kiri-gami and ends outside. There’s eight inches or so of external tubing ending in a valve, and a certain number ot times a day (depending on your exact mode of treatment, which varies) you run a bag of glucose solution into this valve, let it rest in your belly for a number of hours to suck crap from your bloodstream by osmosis (same way your kidneys would, if they were still working), and then drain and dump it. Some people use a machine that does automatic overnight bag swaps, but it’s also possible to do it manually, requiring nothing but the bags and a couple of clamps for temporary flow control.

Jon Singer’s turkey algorithm
“Mr. Clark? I’m Boris X. Birdhammer, of Butterball. Are you aware of how dangerous prop hams have been in the history of motion pictures? Lefty and Knuckles, here, would be pleased to illustrate.”
Stefan: One could probably call up two dozen writers, spreading the styles and genres as far as possible, and ask each for a story of, say, five thousand words or less on how that turkey came to be in that condition. (Rufus Wainwright could do “Dead Turkey in the Middle of the Road.”)

I am not suggesting that this should happen, mind you, my commercial sense being somewhere about three carlengths plus a double semi behind Cousin Edsel’s.* But just to make some kind of point or other, suppose we desecrate Ogden Nash’s memory once more:

O holiday, O holiday
O how we do adore thee;
We find, each in our pleasant way
A manner to ignore thee.

The children gathered round the box
With pixels shrill and violent,
While we had bourbons on the rocks
And drank them, wholly silent.

(How could we know, this Macy’s Day,
A float had quite escapéd.
It happened many streets away,
All that we saw was tapéd.)

When suddenly we heard a sound
A noise of stormy weather;
This many floors above the ground,
Con Ed, we thought together.

But when we looked into the back,
There was an apparition:
A turkey, on a roasting rack,
In lightly broiled condition.

We never saw the bird before,
We never made its stuffing;
It wasn’t saying “Nevermore,”
It wasn’t saying nothing.

Then Uncle Herbert said, “I’m rude,
But I’d like early dinner.”
The thin acceptance he’d accrued
Unlike him, got much thinner.

He cut into the breast with care
And made a choice selection,
As everybody gathered there
Looked in some odd direction.

He found some bread, he found some beer,
Got cutlery and fixin’s
For god’s sake, we’re New Yorkers here
We don’t know what’s in our kitchens.

Nobody else could say a word,
All tongues were slack and listless;
“You serve a guy a darn fine bird,
I’ll see you all at Christmas.”

Then Herbert went upon his way
A smile across his jowls,
The carving knife all ready lay,
But we’ve got all-white towels.

I got the tongs, I took it out,
I didn’t stop for wrapping;
But nights now, in the hours of doubt,
I think I hear it flapping.

*No, he isn’t really.

Dressing Down (and Sidewise)
Welcome To Ye Dungeon

Thys Be a Happy Plaice—Let Us XSwiveX Strive to Keepe Yt So

Ye Pryces Payeable Upon Entrie Wizzardes 5s. (leave all Gold on ye Irone Counter) Warriours 3s. (Barbarianns—thys bee Ye) Clericks 1/6 (proofe of Sanctitie req’d) Thiefes £5 (as iffe) Flunkeys, Linkboyes, Bearers, Mules, &c. 6d. Saucie Maydens, Crumpetts, Cheere-Leadres in Uniforme gratis Orckes, Groupe Rayte 3s. Unaccompany’d Orckes ye muste be kyddinge Golems varyes with pH and volatillitie Rattes gratis [strongge union]

Dayley Rates Looteing 1d. Looteing w/Pillageing 2d. Seekeing Experience 3d. Seekeing Enlightenement 5d. Questeing, Non-Epicke 6d. Questeing, Epicke 9d. Vengeance Issues 1s. Juste Lookeing Arounde 2s. Loste Tyckett £10

Speciale Charges, per each Plante Charmed 2d. Doore Bashed 3d. Rocke to Mudde Spelle 6d. Misfyred Rocke to Mudde Spelle £1 Botched Ambuscade 9d. Spelle of Masse Anythinge 1s. Accidentes w/Golems 1s. Conflagration 2s. Indescribable Messes varyes by indescription

Of the other items, the apron will eventually go with the aforementioned website, which will be called “Mike’s Café” after my namesake grandfather’s diner, and the mug has the Lunar rail map from Growing up Weightless, which for various reasons didn’t appear in the book but did, without spot color, with the relevant essay in the NESFA book. A matching cut ‘n’ fold ticket folder (about as basic as papercraft gets) is under construction and will go in the store shortly. The Warwick poster is what it is; the photo can be viewed considerably larger here.

And I appreciate your asking, and though I failed to say so, I very much appreciated the link. Thanks.

It’s practically cheating to use Shakes’s sonnets, since he uses so many monosyllables (that’s why I’m not doing my favorite, #94*) but, what the heck, them’s just words, and little ones at that, so here goes:

When luck is sour and men frown as they pass,
I cry on my own time, to no one’s ear,
And tell the clouds like stones, then find a glass
And look at who looks back, and hate him dear.
I wish that I had hope, like one I know:
I wish I had his looks, his charm, his friends,
I want to be like them, go where they go,
And not stop cold where all the old joy ends.
I think this, and could howl it at the moon,
Yet day to day the sun shines on a bird
Who wakes up in the grass, and makes a tune,
Who cares for song, and not if it is heard.
And then I have your face, your voice, your kiss;
And gold and fame are not so good as this.

*They that have power to hurt and will do none…

Film Crit One Oh One: Troy

The King of Greece, who had big dreams, was that Cox dude.
The guy that fought, but had no use, for him was Pitt.
Bloom swiped the Queen and ran for Troy to do what’s lewd.
The Greeks, they hit the beach and made a siege of it.
The Toole guy, who was King out there, said, “We are screwed.”
His son, who knew the script, said, “Things ain’t half bad yet.”
Pitt’s pal put on his hat and got a hole in him,
It was a big fat goof, but still the sand got wet,
And blood must pay for blood, so things got all too grim.
Sean Bean then built a horse and sacked the great big set.

Did someone say, “Shorter Swinburne”?

The No-Trump of Time
by Al Chuck Swin

Ere we split,
Here’s the bit:

Don’t you cry,
Whoops, we die.

Here’s my suit,
Tastes like fruit.

Love’s like wine,
I made mine.

What to do?
You ain’t true.

We’d be neat,
But you cheat.

Things go crunch,
Sun’s for lunch.

Things fall down,
Heck, let’s drown.

Drop the bomb:
I want Mom.

Wrack and rue,
Want you too.

Big sea drinks,
Death just stinks.

Can’t you see?
Me! Me! Me!

And what’s worse,
I write verse.

Give me ease,
Come on, please!

Dead as one
Sounds like fun.

And yet more
When you snore.

Still, we kissed
Ere you dissed.

What’s the use?
Guess I lose.

Did not hitch,
That’s a bitch.

I was pure!
Yes, I’m sure.

Here’s a gate.
‘Course I’m straight.

Ain’t been had,
Now I’m mad.

Girls and boys,
They got toys.

On their back,
Don’t know jack.

You won’t change,
Ain’t that strange?

Lone am I,
Guess I’ll cry.

And I’ve seen
You’re just mean.

Here’s a dress:
God, say yes!

Here’s my grief,
Old dead leaf.

Here’s my schtick,
I’m a dick.

Here’s my game,
Just the same.

Do I whine?
You’re not mine.

Where to go?
Mom will know.

Call me odd,
Mom’s my broad.

Sleep and blink
In the drink.

Time’s a cloak
Get the joke?

Mom, she’s cold!
I feel old.

I said old?
I’ve got mold.

What the heck,
Hope’s a wreck.

All of our
Grapes are sour.

One fair wench —
Nah, too French.

And her bard
Died real hard.

First you’re sung,
Then you’re stung.

But he’s gone,
I drone on.

Here’s a rose,
Up your nose.

Sense may rule,
I’m still cool.

I’m still here,
Is that clear?

See my art,
Stomp my heart.

Out of ink:
What you think?

Comments on Mike Ford: Occasional Works (Pt. Four):
#1 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 12:07 AM:

The continue reading link is borked.

God but this is good stuff.

#2 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 12:14 AM:

I have to post it in order to find what the link will be in order to put in the "continue reading" link. I have to add the link then resave.

And yes, it's good.

And there's more -- lots more. This is only a fraction of what's appeared here.

#3 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 12:20 AM:

I know. But to have it all in batches...

#4 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 12:27 AM:

Nit to be picked: 'Open Thread 52' isn't linked to its post.

I wonder what he'd do with this week's news. Something really wild, maybe, although it's hard to top reality.

#5 ::: dan ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 01:26 AM:

Thank you, Jim!

It's a ton of work, but much appreciated...

#6 ::: dan ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 01:27 AM:

Thank you, Jim!

It's a ton of work, but much appreciated...

#7 ::: Greg ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 03:50 AM:

This does make me think that in future, the necessary final volume in an author's collected works will not be "The Letters of..." but "The Blog Posts of..."

#8 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 05:09 AM:

I'm wondering a little why I didn't follow-up more on the Home Guard stuff, in October last year, but I suspect I was being overwhelmed by bureaucrats.

Still, a couple of bits for anyone who might be interested:

The Home Guard "irregulars" were known as the "Auxiliary Units", and that term will get you started on the subject. There is bibliography here which seems to give the cover title of the IED manual.

The thing about "Dad's Army" was that it was written by two guys who had been in the Home Guard, and (family history here) some of the standard Home Guard stories crop up everywhere.

On the other hand, the story about the drill session that coincided with Captain Clayton wearing his other hat as a Methodist local preacher, seems only slightly exaggerated. Captain Clayton was dissatified with the platoon's standard of drill, so Sergeant Bell was told to give them a proper drill session.

Captain Clayton's military service seems to have been limited to an office on a French Railway station, and much boasting about being at an improbable series of famous battles.

Sergeant Bell had the ribbon for the Military Medal on his tunic.

As the story arrived at my ears, the congregation were treated to the distant sound of the mating call of the Drill Sergeant. Although the distance does seem a trifle excessive. The rest of the platoon, while they did do some drill, had been warned in advance of what they would hear.

#9 ::: MD� ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 09:36 AM:

Thanks for all four of those (and all yet to come ?).

I had missed some of them posts, and it was nice re-reading the others.

#10 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 11:13 AM:

The words of one beat poetry is genius. I never tire of re-reading it.

#11 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 11:16 AM:

Can we start calling "something one learned as a kid that nobody else seems to remember" a mikeford? My personal one is the Curate's Egg....

#12 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 01:58 PM:

Is it possible to collect his postings (or as many as possible) into an edited volume?

#13 ::: Martin Wisse ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2006, 02:13 PM:

Very nice indeed. I had missed those posts of Mike talking about his medical conditions.

#14 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 04:06 AM:

Someone called "Dave Who Turns" (Dave Turner?) has rendered the worm sonnet into "words of one beat". Read it here. I have mixed feelings, myself; the poem has been altered so much that it's more a one-beat-verse inspired by the original than a translation.

#15 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 04:13 AM:

Someone called "Dave Who Turns" (Dave Turner?) has rendered the worm sonnet into "words of one beat". Read it here. I have mixed feelings, myself; the poem has been altered so much that it's more a one-beat-verse inspired by the original than a translation.

#16 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2006, 05:14 AM:

#11: good idea. I can see the evolution of the Mikeford Identification Request: "I vaguely remember reading/hearing about this obscure and interesting fact; can anyone help?"

#17 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2006, 02:57 AM:

I remember the curate's egg. Not from everyday conversation, though, only from reading fifty-year-old English adventure stories, so maybe it doesn't count.

#18 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2006, 09:45 AM:

Thank you for (re-)posting these. While I've been aware of John M. Ford for years, it's only since reading his comments on this blog that I realized just how amazing he was, and why. Condolences to all who loved him. Shame on us who never took the chance.

#19 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 01:55 PM:

I remember the Curate's Egg from reading back issues of Punch, where I saw the cartoon, though it was a reasonably common reference in British fiction of the 1920s-40s as well.
My mikeford is the story of the hundred thousand monkeys, from the Edwardian edition of the Book of Knowledge. The story is about a little boy in India who lets the meal burn and is smacked by his parents, so he runs off into the jungle. There he is invited to tell his sad tale to the hundred thousand monkeys so they can sympathise.
It turns out that he doesn't have nearly enough grief to satisfy a hundred thousand monkeys, and things get a little scary.
It's been a sort of benchmark for me - is this sad enough for all those monkeys? But no one ever knows what I mean unless I tell the whole story.

#20 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2006, 01:44 PM:

I only just noticed this on the main page banner:

"Say what you mean. Bear witness. Iterate." — John M. Ford


#21 ::: Cassy B. sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2014, 11:25 PM:

Fairy sunglasses spam???

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