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August 27, 2002
Leftover cacciatore
Posted by Teresa at 08:43 PM *

Turok update!

Those marketing geniuses at Acclaim are at it again. This time they’re offering $10,000 in savings bonds to the first family to have a child on September 1 and name it “Turok.” (via Derryl Murphy)

August 26, 2002
Seen along the highway
Posted by Teresa at 05:55 PM *

The best collection of actual roadside signs I’ve ever seen.

August 25, 2002
Lost fandoms
Posted by Teresa at 11:47 AM *

The article I discuss here is “An ‘Online Community’ of the Nineteenth Century” by Pat Pflieger, published at’s excellent site, Nineteenth-Century American Children & What They Read. You can have it unframed or framed; the latter version lets you see the interesting and substantial footnotes alongside the main text as you read. Here’s the intro:

Almost 150 years before the Internet, the letters column of Robert Merry’s Museum shaped its subscribers into a virtual community. Flame wars, gender-swapping — you name it, they did it. Illustrated; with links to pieces at this site.
“A virtual community” is one way to put it, though my home continuum would call it a fandom, and refer to its basic activity as letterhacking. She says MUD where we’d say confabulation. But we’re not so far removed; the underlying concepts are the same.

The basic story is that in 1848 a children’s magazine, Merry’s Museum, started making a regular feature of its letter column, “Merry’s Monthly Chat with His Friends”. What made it different was that readers weren’t just commenting on the previous month’s issue; they wrote little essays and descriptions of their own activities, and set puzzles for the other readers. The editor, and later the editorial staff, were given distinct personalities, and the readers were encouraged to think of themselves as a family, meeting in the parlor for an evening’s home-grown entertainment.

In retrospect, what happened was entirely predictable: The ongoing conversation mutated from talking politely about subjects of general interest, to talking informally to and about each other. They made puns (“Take everything for granted, and then grant everything taken, and may Grant take everything!”, said one youngster in 1864), developed idiosyncratic in-group language, and occasionally flamed each other. The participants started swapping portrait photos, and wearing membership badges in hopes of recognizing each other should they ever cross paths. Some of them finally got together in person in John N. Stearns’ parlor in 1865—a gathering which, by Ghu, they referred to as “the Convention”. (I hereby irresponsibly toss that date into the Leeds in 1937 vs. Philadelphia in 1936 (as opposed to New York in 1937) argument.)

Naturally, the volume of traffic swiftly outgrew the available bandwidth, at times filling up to 11 pages of a 32-page magazine. Is this not familiar?

Uncle Robert found as early as 1844 that not all the letters received would fit into the pages of the magazine: “… as to printing all your epistles, you must consider that I have Bill Keeler’s stories to put in, and the Old Man’s in the Corner, and a great many other things. I have, indeed, so many matters crowding into my columns, that I am this month obliged to leave out Dick Boldhero altogether! However, I find that our subscribers like Our Correspondence very well, and therefore I shall put in as much of it as my space will allow.” (1844.2.63)

The font size in the letters column decreased; leading grew lighter, to leave more space for words. The column expanded between months: “Last month [when the Chat was 3 pages long] we were compelled to break off in the middle, while several persons were watching their opportunity to speak,” Uncle Hiram wrote at the beginning of a 5-page column of letters. “Some, who had their speeches all ready, were obliged to hold in, for want of time and room. This time we have resolved to give every one a chance, and have therefore invited the company two hours earlier than usual.” (1854.2.252)

Sorting out those letters too difficult to read or written in such a way that the type setter would have difficulty didn’t filter out enough letters to keep the Chat manageable: “Last month we had ten pages of Chat, and this month—if we printed all that we want to—we should have twenty.” (1855.1.121)

The editor tried printing only extracts, but soon realized that “If I fill our space with extracts, I shall omit hundreds of letters as good as those that are noticed.” (1854.1.60) Instead, Hiram Hatchet wielded an imaginary ax to cut letters to a manageable size; and when this ax “burned up” in the fire that destroyed the Museum’s offices in 1861, a mechanical “double-back-action-high-pressure-condensatory-manipulator” went “Kerr-clickety-crunch-kerr-clickety-crunch” as it chopped the messages.

I have written and published editorials very like Uncle Robert’s. I’m only sorry I didn’t think up the double-back-action high-pressure condensatory manipulator that goes ker-clickety-crunch-ker-clickety-crunch.

So much is familiar: The slight paranoia of the perpetually WAHF‘d; the universally esteemed articles that get no comments because no one can think of anything to add; the cautious use of “The Problem” to refer to the great algebra flamewar of 1855 (and the use elsewhere of “algebra” to refer to something other than mathematics); the occasional assumed pen-name and persona that reeks of Mary Sue; and more besides. Do have a look. My descriptions aren’t enough.

The end was sad:

In 1868, with the Museum sold to publisher Horace B. Fuller, the party ended: the new editor, Louisa May Alcott, published only letters “of general interest,” usually with a little moral. …9The Chat (and the Museum) limped along until November 1872, when the Boston Fire apparently killed off both.

Through its 32-year history, the Chat moved in a circle: from Robert Merry talking to readers and readers talking back (1841-1856), to readers talking mostly to each other (1857-1867), back to “Uncle Robert” talking (sometimes crisply) to readers who occasionally got a word in edgewise (1868-1872).

And there, in a nutshell, is the drawback of fanac that consists of letterhacking the prozines.

Lost fandoms are one of my ongoing interests. My thesis is that whenever people have had the ability to disseminate their writing quickly, cheaply, and reliably (for variable values of all three), and the ability to reply to each other, communities have sprung up whose histories and characteristics have similarities those of our own beloved fandom.

Ray Nelson has said this of Blake and his wife and their circle. My own illumination—forgive me if you’ve heard me tell this story before—came when I was researching criticism on Colley Cibber in Columbia University’s great and compendious main library. I pulled a couple of works off the shelf, less than half an inch thick apiece, and discovered to my startled delight that they were original pamphlets from the Alexander Pope - Colley Cibber flamewars, rebound in boards for library use.

Hear now why primary-source documents are not satisfactorily replaced by even the most accurate collected reprints: Standing there holding these things in my hands, experiencing their weight and size and original typography and design, I knew in my bones what a few pages of reprinted text would never have told me: These were fanzines.

One could quibble with that. Yes, of course they weren’t fanzines in each and every particular. But they were written and produced relatively quickly, in editions of a few hundred copies, as part of an ongoing discourse, for an audience many of whose members were acquainted with each other; and, as I say, my bones knew them for what they were.

I’ve seen what looked like odd fugitive hints of such communities’ existence elsewhere: here a footnote about Mary Wortley Montague and “scribblers’ compacts” that dammit, I should have xeroxed; there an even more tenuous references to the strange slang used among the Union Army’s telegraphers. And in a magazine about American history—drat, I’ve mislaid the thing again, though Paul Kincaid and Maureen Kincaid Speller may remember its name and title, since they were looking at it last time they visited—I found an article about the late-19th-C. fannish universe of boy’s offset postcard presses.

Postcard-size offset presses using hand-set type were one of those beautifully-made educational toys aimed at the sons (and occasionally the daughters) of well-to-do American families. Can you guess the rest? The impulse to mail the postcards you’ve created. The various means by which these postcard publishers found each other and started exchanging messages printed on cards. The now-familiar yet always magical transmutation of these multiple exchanges into a self-conscious community. The gags, the slang, the flamewars. The urge to get together. The conventions! (The convention badges, lavish with ribbons.) And then … the discovery of Beer! And Girls! (Which is in fact the usual order.)

August 24, 2002
Posted by Teresa at 02:33 PM *

Goetia, non magia. (And when did He turn into a 133t d00d?)

August 19, 2002
110 Stories
Posted by Teresa at 08:37 PM *

UPDATE: Use this link to read the poem on my website—Elise’s journal is getting slashdotted. Let us know if you experience any display problems.

“110 Stories”, a poem by John M. Ford. It’s formal rhyming iambic pentameter, ABAB: one story told per line, 110 lines total for the stories in the World Trade Center. I first read it last fall. Someday I’ll be able to read it without crying.
There’s no one you can help above this floor.
We’ve got to hold our breath. We’ve got to climb.
Don’t give me that; I did this once before.
The firemen look up, and know the time.
These labored, took their wages, and are dead.
The cracker-crumbs of fascia sieve the light.
The air’s deciduous of letterhead.
How dark, how brilliant, things will be tonight.
It was good enough to be published anywhere at all, but most magazines weren’t opening mail from strangers; and even if they had, there was a tidal wave of writing about 9/11.

(Yes, but this bit’s by Mike Ford.)

I’ll confess: I passionately wanted it for my weblog, but didn’t ask for fear that he’d say yes—the paying venues where you send submissions like this want first rights. But none of them bought it, and they’re stupid, and it is altogether right and proper that Elise should have published it.

I told Mike at the time that as soon as this thing hit the net, it would start spreading like wildfire. I suppose I’m doing my bit to spread it now. So you, whoever you are: If send a copy of it to your mom, or your college roommate, or you mailing list, leave the author’s name on it. And if it comes back around to you again with the name missing, stick it back on.

August 18, 2002
Timebinders, in Ohio and elsewhere
Posted by Teresa at 12:23 PM *

Avedon Carol has snagged a splendid story from an Ohio newspaper. She had the great good sense to not give away the punchline, and I won’t either:

Clock runs out on long-told story of time traveler
European man ends up in Akron while getting to bottom of strange mystery

Is time travel possible?

Could evidence for it be found in the story of a man who appeared suddenly on the streets of New York City in 1950, bearing the property and identity of a man who had vanished in 1876?

Chris Aubeck loves a good mystery, so the Londoner who lives in Madrid, Spain, decided to get to the root of a tale that has received a lot of press in Europe.

This month, the Spanish magazine Enigmas will publish the yearlong odyssey of Aubeck, who doggedly traced a piece of paranormal folklore through six countries and back six decades to its source — in Akron.

Aubeck, 31, who researches modern and ancient mysteries as a hobby, said fellow researchers in Europe often use the case of Rudolph Fentz as proof of time travel.

“They had been using the story for years in articles and books… and many of them accepted the Fentz story at face value,” Aubeck said in an e-mail interview. “When I asked them if it had been solved, I was told it had been tried but never successfully.”

To Aubeck, that sounded like a challenge he couldn’t pass up.

(We’ll pause here while you read the story.)

Ghu, Foo, and Roscoe besides, not to mention the ineradicable stain of purple. (You can look that up here, under “purple”. I don’t guarantee it’ll be comprehensible, but I find it amusing.)

The funny thing is, I’ve seen time travellers in NYC. Or at any rate I’ve seen people I thought were time travellers, and one case where I was sure.

This happened one day back in the 1980s. I was riding the subway home from work, and this kid got on at 34th or 42nd. He was at most twelve but I think younger, and slightly built at that. What caught my eye first was that he was wearing a jacket with a waistline seam—not a full-blown norfolk jacket, less obtrusive than that, but in that class. Which was odd; it had been over half a century since boys’ and men’s jackets stopped having waistline seams.

I started noticing more things about him. His pants ended just below his knees. That was unobtrusive too; his pants were dark, and so were his long woolen socks. If you weren’t really looking, the combination would register as black trousers, and you wouldn’t think anything of it. He had a flat woolen cap, and a sweater on under the jacket, and his shoes were what you’d expect with the rest of the outfit. Think newsboy, turn of the century or a little later, and you’ve got it.

But what struck me as genuinely odd was that he wasn’t wearing his clothes like a costume. Those were just his clothes, and they weren’t new, either. I honestly believe that if he’d gotten onto the same subway in the same clothing but had felt like he was dressed up for a masquerade, half the car would have noticed him right away.

As it was, he stood there for a few moments, then somehow spotted me without looking at me directly—a very self-possessed kid—and came and sat down right next to me. There were lots of available seats, so I waited a little while to see if he’d say something, but he didn’t.

Then I realized what he was doing. It happened that that day I was wearing a long full black wool skirt, boots, a thick knitted jacket, and a hat. I also had my crocheting with me and was working on a sweater. In short, I looked more like a respectable matron of his era than anyone else on the car. He was following the old advice for kids traveling alone: Find a nice woman and sit down next to her.

I puzzled it over as we rode along. Seen up close, that really didn’t look like a theatrical costume he was wearing, and anyway nobody in their right mind would send a little kid out alone into the Manhattan evening in a period costume. And though back then there were a few high-end clothing stores selling historical knockoff threads for rich yuppies’ rugrats, the kid’s clothes didn’t look like that, either; and besides, rich yuppies’ kids whose parents dressed them funny wouldn’t be catching the northbound A Train from midtown by themselves. No backpack, so he wasn’t a student coming home from school.

I came to the only possible conclusion, which was that he was a time traveller who for some reason found it convenient to take the subway.


I hoped he was all right, but somehow it seemed hard to ask. As I say, a very self-possessed kid. He got off in the eighties. I got one last good look at him. Everything still checked out. He disappeared into the crowd.

Since then I’ve seen a few more, like the guy who looked like he decided in a fit of enthusiasm to follow Peter the Hermit, and had come to really, really regret it. There’ve been others. And once I saw a couple of bright-eyed young men on the subway who had a different kind of not-from-here look. It wasn’t their clothing or haircuts; those were correct in every detail. But they somehow managed to look separate from the scene, as though the worry and weariness and day-to-day engagedness of the subway ride touched upon them not at all; and yet the way they were openly looking at the rest of us was avid, proprietary, amused, almost too knowing…

Like they were on a ride at Disneyland. Or in a museum.

“Bloody hell,” I murmured to Patrick, as I nudged him to look at them. “The little jerks are from the future.”

“You’re right,” he said, after a moment.

Hear me now, future generations: Knock that off. It’s really irritating.

August 17, 2002
Dogs in Elk redux
Posted by Teresa at 10:53 AM *

Ever since I put together my list of weird classics of the ‘net, I’ve been bothered by a sense that there’s stuff I left out. I have now remembered one: Dogs in Elk. It was a thread that ran in Salon’s “Table Talk” for several days in September 1999, and primarily consisted of Anne Verchick’s ongoing reports concerning her two dogs and an elk carcass.

Here’s Anne Verchick, confirming that yes, this really did happen, and giving a little more background on the story. And here’s the famous thread itself, now enshrined in a nicely designed web page called Dogs in Elk in Vegetables: A Halloween Tribute. It’s been illustrated with pictures of a pumpkin carved into a splatterpunk ribcage plus two small dog-fetish figures. The entire setpiece plus the surrounding area is lavishly spattered with pumpkin innards, tomato sauce, and port wine. The overall effect, says Anne Verchick, is “… on a smaller, more vegetative scale, really pretty faithful to what was one of the messier experiences of my recent life.”

(I’ll add “Dogs in Elk” to the weird classics list, in case anyone ever looks at it in my archives.)

August 12, 2002
Cacciatore di Dinosauri
Posted by Teresa at 02:11 PM *

You’ve seen those cars on the road whose owners have, in return for a fee, volunteered to have their car turned into a moving billboard? My former employers at Acclaim want to go that one better by enlisting actual human beings to become Turok, Dinosaur Hunter for a year.

(A quick recap for the Turok-challenged: In the original 1950s version he was Turok, Son of Stone, a brave Kiowa warrior who gets trapped in a Lost Valley populated by dinosaurs (which he calls honkers), prehistoric tribes, aliens, lost civilizations, meat-eating plants—all the usual stuff. It was irresistibly cheesy—Indians and dinosaurs!—and had the weightless joy of a cool idea that hasn’t been ruined by thinking about it too hard.

The Turok license was picked up in the early 90s by Valiant Comics. They moved the Lost Valley to an alien dimension, changed the dinosaurs to malevolently intelligent bionosaurs, and changed the title to Turok, Dinosaur Hunter (in the Italian editions, Turok, Cacciatore di Dinosauri). It was at Valiant that I first got to know Turok, and learned the book’s prime directive: Never let your colorist paint a dinosaur purple, or it’ll look like Barney.

Acclaim, the game company that got rich off Mortal Kombat, bought Valiant, acquired the Turok license, and turned him into the star of several video games. There’s a major new one out. They’re promoting it. Add one more datum, which is that Acclaim’s corporate genius appears to consist of finding new ideas by randomly tripping and falling on top of them—a few are good; most aren’t—and you have the whole backstory.)

Got that so far? Back to this promo campaign:

Become ‘Turok’ for $785

LONDON (AP) — Wanted: Adventurous video game fans willing to change their identities. Must sign names, pay bills and otherwise identify themselves as a dinosaur hunter called Turok.

It’ll be interesting to see how that interacts with the trademark status of “Turok”.
Hoping to push back the frontiers of advertising, a British marketing firm said Monday it would pay 500 pounds ($785) each to five people for the right to transform them into human billboards for a fantasy superhero.
They want people to face down their bank, landlord, girlfriend, university financial aid counselor, insurance agency, medical records office, personnel department, and the local newspaper’s human-interest columnist, not to mention the IRS, the Department of Motor Vehicles, and pretty girls they’re chatting up in bars, all for the right to call themselves “Turok” for a year—but all Acclaim will pay them to do this is a few hundred pounds? Ho. Igor say Acclaim ad/promo guys cheapskates, campaign doomed to fail.
Acclaim UK is seeking applicants who will legally change their names for one year to promote the latest installment of its video game series about Turok, a time-traveling American Indian who slays bionically enhanced dinosaurs.

The Institute of Science in Marketing, a business group supporting the effort, expects that its so-called Identity Marketing technique will catch on as the next big thing —

Somehow I doubt this.
— for companies eager to reach consumers dulled to the impact of conventional ads and clothes that bear product logos.

“It’s not a gimmick, like they’ll tell their mates down at the pub they’re name is Turok. Every form of their identity will have to change for this to work,” said Acclaim spokesman Andrew Bloch. “They’ll be walking, talking, living, breathing advertisements.”

Everything? The hairdo? The diet? That fetching loincloth? The habit of casually dispatching the local livestock? The omnipresent tomahawk, knife, bow, and arrows, which are gonna go over big at airport security checks? All this, when Acclaim isn’t even going to help pay for the wardrobe?

But if Acclaim’s not going to have them go whole-hog spread-eagle Turok, what is it going to have them do?

Acclaim UK, whose parent company Acclaim Entertainment is based in Glen Cove, New York, is launching a Web site Tuesday where would-be Turoks can apply. The firm expects thousands of people, male and female, to participate.
I expect there are quite a few citizens of the third world who look reasonably similar to Turok, consider five hundred pounds a non-trivial sum, and wouldn’t find it a hardship to have Western courts legally change their names to “Turok” for a year.
Acclaim UK will cover the legal costs each winner incurs in changing his or her name. In addition, winners will received a computer game console, as many video games as they can play and a token sum of 500 pounds ($785), Bloch said.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen Turok play a video game.
“The type of person that would apply to become a human billboard is the type of person who would like to speak about it. They won’t be doing it for the hard cash,” Bloch said.
He’s kidding himself. Turok’s a good character, but he doesn’t attract devoted freebie emulators. Furthermore, and I’m not being the least bit judgemental about this, people who are that devoted to comics and video games don’t tend to look like Turok.
The plan grew from the need for companies to generate attention for their products amid the daily white noise of advertising. Acclaim hopes that each new “Turok” will act as an ambassador for the game, taking time to explain the origin of his or her name to anyone who asks.
Hoo boy, that sure is effective advertising. No touring, no appearances, no ad/promo backup, no nothing; just casual conversations about where you got your silly name. What makes this idea even more effective is that in the new game, Acclaim has changed the character’s name to Tal’Set.
“The video games industry has a habit of always striving for newer and more unique ways of targeting customers and with Identity Marketing, I think we’ve topped the lot,” said Acclaim spokesman Shaun White.
Did you think that comics and gaming companies were somehow immune to the Dilbert-nature?
The firm’s target audience ranges from teen-agers to Turok enthusiasts in their 40s. It expects that the first five Turoks — others may come later — will be socially active and may even work in the video games business.
These prospective Turoks are most likely active in the gaming community. So who are they going to talk to? Why, their friends, of course—who are already into video games, and know all about Turok.

And a deal like this is just what someone working in the video game industry would want: Having to wear the name of one character, from one video game, from one company. The only way that’s not a problem is if you already work for Acclaim.

Bloch described the original Turok as big and good-looking.
True; and never so much so as when he was drawn by Rags Morales. (Just thought I’d mention that.)

Anyone who’d make a plausible Turok is already employable as a professionally pretty person. I can’t see them agreeing to spend a year as this one character for a few hundred quid, or having all the publicity glory attach to that character’s name and career instead of their own. Or maybe athletes? Some of them would make pretty good Turoks. Can’t you just imagine the sportscasters having a field day with that one?

“You’d be quite proud to call yourself Turok if you knew who he was,” he said.

Applications for the Turok name-change project can be made via the Web site The closing date for entries is Sept. 2.

Don’t everybody jump at once.

UPDATE: Dorothy Rothschild says the BBC says Acclaim says they’re getting takers. I am puzzled and curious, and will keep watching.

August 05, 2002
The future presses hard upon us
Posted by Teresa at 09:54 PM *

For many years now I’ve had a theory about the coming world language: In the future, everyone on the planet will speak a language they believe is English. Many of these versions of English will be mutually unintelligible.

Look, there goes one now:

Rather wave company for hero wave molding tool factory creating set upping in 1980, is a profession be engaged inning noting the molding tool the design, manufacturing. Our company’s design manufacturing of set request for notinga0 the molding tool the quantity attaining act foring importing, at go together to inside possess the.
I’m awed. That’s like something out of a skiffy story where the universal translator is on the fritz. They’re treating English the way English treats other languages.

A prudent approach to child abuse
Posted by Teresa at 04:21 PM *

If you look long enough on the net, you can find how-to instructions for doing just about anything. This is one set I never thought to see. The site says it’s into “child protection reform”. The following are excerpted from a page called Protect Yourself from False Accusations of Child Abuse. Nothing I can say can do justice to its opening paragraph.

Step 1: Don92t abuse your kids

*9If you get great satisfaction from seeing fear in your kids92 faces, or from dreaming up new and better ways to torture kids in ways that leave them unmarked — get help NOW, TODAY! You need it! Your kids need it! America needs it! (…)

*9Practice the full range of disciplinary techniques. Timeouts, extra chores, and mandated apologies are all pretty effective. If you just have one bag of tricks — namely physical discipline — you92re setting yourself up for failure as your kids grow up. (…)

Step 2: Be careful in your application of physical discipline

* Regardless of what92s right, of your own past experiences, of anything you believe — understand the system, in the words of one counselor we92ve contacted, “clearly hates spanking.a0 The system wants spanking eliminated from the face of the Earth.”a0 In using physical discipline, you are indeed in the mainstream. a0 You are also at odds with the governing elite.a0 They92re convinced they know best.a0 They will get you if they can.a0 They won92t be sorry.

Everybody does it. They’re just out to get you. And nobody’s gonna tell you how to raise your kids.

Actually, the statistics say you can get away with just about anything short of life-threatening physical abuse; and even then, the state’s extremely unlikely to remove your kids. Your biggest worry is that your wife will leave you, and sue for custody on grounds of abuse.

*9Don92t spank in public.a0 A classic is the “grocery store parking lot spanking”. Some busybody Boomer is sure to get your license plates. And the cops, lacking serious bad guys to chase, will be waiting for you at home.

*9Don92t spank in ways that leave bruises. The system treats a welt on the posterior —

What kind of “spanking” leaves welts that take a day or more to subside?
— with the same seriousness as a cigarette burn, a broken bone, or a severe beating.a0 State laws provide NO distinction between a single mark from legitimate discipline, and devastating injuries from willful, sustained torture.

Step 3: Protect yourself

*9If, Heaven forbid, you do bruise your child — do NOT allow him/her to attend school the next day. —

If the bruising is severe enough to excite alarm, it wasn’t a spanking. And if the bruises are visible in the classroom, it definitely wasn’t a spanking. School teachers aren’t conducting daily inspections of their students’ bums.
— Services to Children and Families (SCF) indoctrinates teachers to turn OFF the brain and get ON the phone to report “any” suspected child abuse. As mandatory reporters, teachers are told they are at serious risk of prosecution for not reporting. That is not true. However, most teachers believe it is true; they will act accordingly.

*9If you spank, strongly consider taking your kids out of public schools. Statistics verify what we92ve been told by SCF caseworkers: most reports of child abuse come from public school teachers. (…)

Isolating your kids makes it harder for them to get help, and less likely that others will notice there’s a problem.
*9Be a devoted spouse or family member.a0 You need the mutual support of someone who loves you to be strong in everyday life.a0 If you are accused of abuse, you will need to depend on each other more than ever.a0 Don’t let second-guessing or blaming come between you and your spouse. —
That is, don’t alienate the person who’s in the best position to testify against you.
— This is about the system, not about your relationship.a0 Be strong with each other.a0 Your loving spouse or family member is the first part of your support network.
Yeah, I know, guys like this exist. It’s just that one so rarely sees them explain themselves.

Brooklyn Haiku
Posted by Teresa at 07:47 AM *

We dream of closets,
high ceilings, rows of windows,
but wake in Brooklyn.

The Slope ends at Fourth,
unless you’re a realtor
and have an angle.

Union Street station:
the R is the Right train,
the N is Not.

Turn the front-door key,
then four more, in two more doors.
It’s good to be home.

Sort out your bottles.
The mayor says not to, but
that’s hard on the bums.

Time to move my car —
eight to eleven, Mondays.
Alternate Side Rules.

The sky’s a cool gray.
It lies. The day will be vile.
Heat. Humidity.

Move it. Your mother.
Your grandmother. Yeah, bite me.
And have a nice day.

How long you’ve lived here
is what counts with my neighbors,
though Italian helps.

Cops appear at eight —
I slide between their fingers!
Ticket this, brownies!

Fire’s gutted three floors
above the bagel place. Them?
They’re making bagels.

Orange slips on windshields.
They’re nailing double parkers.
The war continues.

Unwanted bookshelf
vanishes from the sidewalk:
instant recycling.

Big marmalade tom
hunts birds in my yard. That’s fine.
He catches rats, too.

I check my mail queue:
Cash Only Home Based Business!
I wait. You’ll come home.

August 02, 2002
A debate for the Silly Season
Posted by Teresa at 07:46 AM *

Over on Pigs and Fishes, Avram Grumer takes exception to Meryl Yourish’s analysis of the dating potential of various superheroes. As he says, “…[I]t92s clear from her comments about Superman that she92s never read Larry Niven92s classic (and pre-Crisis) speculative essay, ‘Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex‘.94

Before adding my own quibbles, let me invoke Meryl’s disclaimer:

Now, this may put me down in the Internet history books as both a comic book geek and a total freak, but hey, I can’t stop my mind from goin’ where it wants to go. Just because most comic fans are guys doesn’t mean that we girls can’t make lists like this, too.

So, uh, I was thinking: What kind of dates would the various superheroes be?

Yup. If there’s a female comics fan out there who’s never once thought about this, would she please raise her hand?


First, I don’t know how Meryl feels about Lobo, but the question ought to have at least been addressed.

Second, Wolverine. Her superficial analysis:

Another bad boy. Yeah, we have that attraction to the bad boys. So what? And short? So’m I. I do have to wonder, though97would there be a snikt during the heat of passion? Could be extremely hazardous to your health. Or at least to the health of your bed. Best not use a waterbed.
Not enough. There’s got to be another reason why he’s had more girlfriends than anyone besides Iron Man. Ever consider what that healing factor means to his recovery time? On the other hand, it could just be that he knows how to dance.

Third, she entirely overlooks Beast, the only superhero who talks like the people I normally hang out with. He’s kind and polite. He pays a lot of attention to his girlfriends. He’s also cheerful, inventive, energetic, inquisitive, and a techie; and without going into a lot of detail, let me assure you that that’s a fun combination.

Fourth, she only flags a couple of ‘em as being Jewish. Doesn’t she know that unless otherwise specified, all superheroes are assumed to be Jewish? This is an insight of Paul Krassner’s. He explained once in an interview that when he was a kid, he figured all superheroes were Jewish, because where he was growing up, if your name ended in “-man”, you probably were: Feldman, Feinman, Superman, Lieberman, Aquaman, Zuckerman, Iceman, Bergman, Sandman, Goldman, Silberman, Hawkman, Wolfman, Batman, Spiderman, Schneiderman—how much more obvious can you get?

August 01, 2002
Dynamite rabbit, listless parrot
Posted by Teresa at 04:05 PM *

A stuffed-toy manufacturer named is making Monty Python stuffies. As of this date, three shall be the number of their products, and the number of their products shall be three: the Rabbit with Big Pointy Teeth, the Live Parrot (which is alleged to be sleeping), and the blood-covered Rabbit with Big Pointy Teeth.

I found this via, which claims to be the ultimate Monty Python website. I don’t know; they could be. Their script collection is great. Just remember: Cuidado las llamas.

BEDEVERE: And that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana-shaped.

ARTHUR: This new learning amazes me, Sir Bedevere. Explain again how sheeps’ bladders may be employed to prevent earthquakes.

BEDEVERE: Oh, certainly, sir.

LAUNCELOT: Look, my liege!

ARTHUR: Camelot!

GALAHAD: Camelot!


PATSY: It’s only a model.


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