On Improbable Memories

Because this needs to be preserved forever…

Jay Smith posted on a Facebook status feed last night. “[Jay Smith] wants you to comment on this status about how you met me. But I want you to lie. That’s right. Just make stuff up. After you comment, copy to your status so I can do the same.”

I don’t know Jay very well, but I said, “Oh, why the fuck not?” But what to say…?

I really don’t know where these ideas come from, but here’s what I wrote:

It was the summer of 1967. (Note: I was born in 1973.) Jealous of Thor Heyerdahl and the stories of the Kon-Tiki expedition, we decided that we were going to show that Norwegian up at his own game — we would build a leather boat like St. Brendan, and we would sail it from Craggy Isle, off the coast of Ireland, and we would reach Newfoundland. You, me, and Phil, we spent all summer building that boat, and we launched on September 4th. We sailed, and we sailed, and Phil went batshit on us. I had to bean him, and we lashed him to the mast for seven days. God, I still hear his screams in my dreams. Phil still doesn’t speak to us, but he’d have killed us both. When we ran out of supplies, thankfully we sighted land two days later. We didn’t make it to Canada, but damn we made it to Greenland in that leather boat, lashed together with twine. Never forget it, man. Never forget it.

What’s so puzzling about this? I haven’t thought of Thor Heyerdahl and the Kon-Tiki in, oh, ever, and I’ve read up on St. Brendan’s expedition, oh, once.

Certainly nothing in last night’s episode of Downton Abbey, which was relentlessly downbeat in its final fifteen minutes, would have suggested oceanic voyages in primitive boats… :-/

For Ross Vincent, I wrote this:

I’m a production coordinator for Bridezillas; I met you and your (now-)wife when you applied to be on the show. I could see why you both enquired about being on the show; dude, if I’d married your wife, I’d have skipped drinking the vodka and gone straight to intravenous a long damn time ago. Your episode is considered one of the big highlights of the season; I don’t know where your wife got the idea for a woodland creatures wedding, but that whole thing with the chipmunks didn’t work at all like she wanted, and the less said about the unfortunate deer carcass the better. If you’re ever in Los Angeles give me a call; we’ll try that intravenous vodka.

Dayton Ward got this one:

It must have been twenty years ago now. I was a reporter for the local newspaper, the Brownton Populist. My first real writing job after J-School. I was so proud, everyone had to get their start somewhere, right? Well, six months of covering tractor pulls and livestock shows, I got my first real piece of action — I got to interview you, the local celebrity. Looking back, I wonder just why you were a celebrity; turning your Victorian-esque home into a shrine to Anne of Green Gables was more than a little creepy, especially when you insisted on doing the whole interview wearing a red yarn wig. I imagine you still take your annual pilgrimage to Prince Edward Island.

Okay, these ones are easy to explain, unlike Thor Heyerdahl and the Kon-Tiki. I saw my first-ever episode of Bridezillas yesterday, and it was fucking hilarious. And MPT showed Anne of Green Gables just before Downton Abbey.

David Mack’s improbable meeting memory went in an entirely different direction:

It was said you would be the next Baryshnikov, that you would be the ballet dancer of the generation. I do not know what happened that brought you to my door; in the monastery, we do not ask the brothers why they have come, and I shall never forget that look of anguish, as though something had rended your heart in two, that showed so clearly on your face that rainy night you arrived. I have wondered, it is true, why you walked away from a successful life and took up the cloth, but you took your vow of silence fifteen years ago so there is no point in asking. You do your duties diligently and, if I dare say so, you are an inspiration to the younger brothers for your piety and your devotion.

Since everyone else seemed to be writing improbable memories of Dave that involved guns, zombies, vampires, and booze, I thought Dave deserved something more gentle. The other option I considered was that Dave decided to become an Amish farmhand.

I think the next time I see a Facebook status like that, it’s going to start with: “Keith Richards wanted to do a couple more lines of coke, but my nose just wouldn’t take it anymore, so I stumbled through the mansion, and I tripped over you making out with Mick Jagger, and he mumbled words along the lines of ‘Fuck off, mate, can’t you see I’m fucking busy here?'”

Yes, I really do amuse myself. Thanks for noticing. ;)

On Random Video Silliness for a Late Sunday

Three recent video discoveries on YouTube…

Vader Sessions, a Star Wars fanfilm that takes classic Star Wars scenes and remixes them with James Earl Jones’ dialogue from other films:

A Young Sherlock Holmes fanvid. Okay, yes, it uses Evanescence’s “My Immortal,” which is a song that I tired of, oh, five years ago, but it’s surprisingly effective:

Finally, Doctor Who‘s Karen Gillan stars in a Katy Perry parody video:

I should note, by the way, that I’m completely unfamiliar with Katy Perry, except for the fact that she looks remarkably like Zooey Deschanel. If I heard one of Perry’s songs on the radio, I wouldn’t know what it was.

On Piratical Songs

No true pirate can let International Talk Like a Pirate Day pass without a rousing rendition of “The Pirate Song” from Pirate Bob (better known as George Harrison) from Eric Idle’s Rutland Weekend Television:

On Piratical Pirate-ness!

As tomorrow is International Talk Like a Pirate Day, here’s a quiz from the official website for all ye scurvy dogs!

You are The Pirate

Do you remember the last time you took a chance? It was when you decided to leave the security of your mother’s womb and headed for the bright light. It’s time to head for the next bright light, my friend. Creativity is not your strong suit. You are good at doing what you are told to do and that, in itself, is a gift. It’s not a gift to you, mind you, but a gift to those who will be there to tell you what to do. You like long walks on the beach and cuddling, but would never admit that to your pirate pals who think you are okay but can’t always remember your name. Tapioca pudding seems a bit extreme for someone such as yourself, what with all the bumps and stuff. It’s a good thing you are on a pirate ship, otherwise, you would be walking because you are positively pedestrian. Have a nice day.

What’s Yer Inner Pirate?
brought to you by The Official Talk Like A Pirate Web Site.


On the Sarah Palin/Larry King Interviews

About two months ago, the Internet was abuzz with a computer-generated video of a feline-woman who went into a story to buy an iPhone 4, even though she had no idea what it was.

Having worked in retail for more years than I would like to mention, I can tell you that these conversations happen all the time, and yes, I really really really wanted at times to take sales conversations where this fictional conversation went.

Then I discovered that a number of people have used XtraNormal, the program used to generate that video, to create goofy videos of Sarah Palin getting grilled on Larry King Live.

I don’t expect anyone to enjoy these, but I found them amusing. Some are more serious than others, and some are downright hilarious. Humor is, I suppose an “eye of the beholder” kind of thing… Continue reading “On the Sarah Palin/Larry King Interviews”

On Writing Silly Short Stories

I Tweeted this morning that “I woke up with the feeling that I dreamt a short story, but the feeling doesn’t tell me what it was or anything about it, just that it was.”

What that story was came to me, somewhere around 11:30. Unsurprisingly, my immediate thought was, “Wait, I dreamt that?‽!” Clearly, Sunday’s post on The Rutles: LUNCH touched unsuspecting parts of the subconscious.

Without further ado, “Ouch!”… Continue reading “On Writing Silly Short Stories”

On the Archetypal Allyn

Within the last month, comment spam on my blog has gone from fairly minimal to fairly insane. Fortunately, I have traps in place to catch, but I’ve had to implement something I’m not a fan of — setting it so that comments don’t appear until I approve them if the person has never commented before. I feel this is a bad system, because it penalizes first-time commenters over something that isn’t their fault.

However, I found the greatest comment spam ever in reviewing the traps today:

You are an Archetypal figure in our lives, a masculine image of love and goodness and truth telling, and keeper of our dreams

Thank you, Christian Louboutin Sale. Yes, I am all of those things. An archetypal figure. A paragon of love and truth. A dreamer and a mystic. Yes, Christian Louboutin Sale, you are quite right. I should take this as a personal motto.

Too bad you had to post this on a long-ago post on limping, where it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

There is one thing I never do, never ever do, when I complete a Sudoku puzzle.

I never guess.

Sherlock Holmes famously said in The Sign of Four that a guess is “destructive to the logical faculty,” and I am not inclined to disagree. When it comes to Sudoku I puzzle it out, I think it through logically. I never put down a number until I am absolutely sure, even though that may mean that a puzzle will go unsolved.

I never guess.

Today, today I guessed.

On the train in the morning and evening, I will do the Sudoku puzzle printed in b, a local free daily paper. Usually, I’ll finish the puzzle on the train in the morning between State Center and Timonium, a ride of roughly twenty minutes. Sometimes, I’ll work on an unfinished puzzle on the evening train back home.

(Morning, I use a red pen, evenings blue. If I have to go back to the puzzle a third time, say on the subway out of town, I use black.)

This morning’s puzzle, in its early going, was simply, easy, perhaps deceptively so. As General Chang said, I was “lulled into a false sense of security.” The low-hanging fruit picked quickly, leaving behind more challenging fruits. I stared at the puzzle for whole minutes, stymied in my logical deductions, not putting down a single digit. All the tricks I knew came up short. I had the puzzle half done, I knew where certain numbers had to go, but I wasn’t sure. I couldn’t prove anything.

In one square of nine, I had five digits filled in. For the rest — the 2 could only go here or here, the 6 could only go here (overlapping with the 2) or here, the 1 and 8 could only go in the corners (overlapping with the 2 in one corner, overlapping with the 6 in another). I kept looking at this, and I reasoned. “If 2 goes here, then 6 goes here, and the Schrödinger’s 1 & 8 go here and here. Or, if 2 goes there, then 6 must go there, and the Schrödinger’s 1 & 8 must therefore go here and here.” I could not prove one state or the other; based on the solved state of the puzzle at that moment, both solutions to this nonant of the puzzle were correct. And even if I could place the 2 and the 6, I couldn’t solve the 1 and the 8; like Schrödinger’s Cat, these numbers were simultaneously in two states.

I wrote down “maps” of both solutions in the paper’s margin. I stared at them. I thought about them.

But there was nothing to think. I couldn’t prove anything. Either the first solution was true or the second solution was true, and one was as likely as the other.

I went with the second solution. I wrote down the 2. I wrote down the 6.

I couldn’t even say I had had an intuitive leap. All I could say, truthfully, was that I had made a guess.

And I never guess at Sudoku.

If my guess were wrong, I would know very soon. Numbers would double up somewhere. I would scrawl a giant “X” across the busted puzzle.

Instead, numbers kept falling into place.

In very short order, I had the puzzle solved.

All because of a guess. A 50/50 guess, but still a guess nonetheless.

I got lucky. I could so easily have gone for the other solution, and I would have ruined the puzzle irrevocably. Like Schrödinger’s Cat, the puzzle existed in a state of indeterminacy. Until I made a decision on the nonant, until I placed the numbers, the puzzle could not be solved. And like Schrödinger’s Cat, my very act of determining the numbers produced a result — the puzzle could live (and be thus solved) or die (and be thus busted), but unless I acted, I would never know. The uncertainty had to be broken down.

I never guess.

On My Steampunk-Style

Seen on others’ blogs…

If I were to dress in a steampunk-style, what would I be? Hmm…

Your result for The Steampunk Style Test…

The Ragamuffin

25% Elegant, 41% Technological, 30% Historical, 24% Adventurous and 46% Playful!

You are the Ragamuffin, the embodiment of steampunk playfulness.  Chances are, you approach the genre from a much more casual and lighthearted standpoint than most other fans.  To you, there is always an element of play inherent in the genre, and you may very well enjoy fashion as much for the opportunity to dress up as for the style itself.  You probably wear goggles as an accessory, and rarely as actual eye-protection.  Your outfits are likely to incorporate a lot of brown or cream, and combine large boots, Victorian corsets or vests, aviator caps or bowler hats, and gypsy skirts or slacks, simply because you like them all.

Take The Steampunk Style Test at HelloQuizzy

The Ragamuffin!

I like the sound of that. It rolls around the tongue well… :)

Oscar November Tango Hotel Echo Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Mike Echo Mike Echo

Bravo Echo Charlie Alpha Uniform Sierra Echo India Tango India Sierra Tango Oscar Oscar Echo Alpha Romeo Lima Yankee Alpha November Delta India Charlie Alpha November November Oscar Tango Tango Hotel India November Kilo

India Foxtrot Yankee Oscar Uniform Charlie Alpha November Uniform November Delta Echo Romeo Sierra Tango Alpha November Delta Tango Hotel India Sierra, Charlie Oscar Papa Yankee Alpha November Delta Papa Alpha Sierra Tango Echo India Tango Tango Oscar Yankee Oscar Uniform Romeo Lima India Victor Echo Juliet Oscar Uniform Romeo November Alpha Lima

Alpha Sierra Foxtrot Oscar Romeo Mike Yankee Sierra Echo Lima Foxtrot

Yankee Echo Sierra Tango Echo Romeo Delta Alpha Yankee India Hotel Echo Alpha Romeo Delta Tango Hotel Echo Charlie Oscar Oscar Lima Echo Sierra Tango Sierra Oscar November Golf India Tango Whiskey Alpha Sierra Lima India Kilo Echo X-Ray Kilo Charlie Delta Alpha Sierra Tango Hotel Oscar Uniform Golf Hotel Sierra Echo Tango Tango Oscar Mike Uniform Sierra India Charlie

India Tango Whiskey Alpha Sierra Foxtrot Uniform November November Yankee Alpha November Delta India Tango Whiskey Alpha Sierra Sierra Mike Alpha Romeo Tango Alpha November Delta India Quebec Uniform India Tango Echo Lima India Kilo Echo Delta India Tango Alpha Lima Oscar Tango

India Tango Whiskey Alpha Sierra Alpha Bravo Oscar Uniform Tango Tango Hotel Echo Uniform November India Victor Echo Romeo Sierra Echo Alpha November Delta Oscar Uniform Romeo Papa Lima Alpha Charlie Echo India November India Tango Delta Oscar November Echo India November Alpha Romeo Alpha Tango Hotel Echo Romeo Charlie Hotel Alpha Romeo Mike India November Golf Sierra Oscar Romeo Tango Oscar Foxtrot Whiskey Alpha Yankee

Sierra Uniform Romeo Papa Romeo India Sierra India November Golf Lima Yankee India Tango Charlie Alpha Mike Echo Oscar November Alpha Charlie Hotel Romeo India Sierra Tango Mike Alpha Sierra Alpha Lima Bravo Uniform Mike Bravo Uniform Tango Tango Hotel Echo Romeo Echo Whiskey Alpha Sierra November Oscar Tango Hotel India November Golf Foxtrot Echo Sierra Tango India Victor Echo Alpha Bravo Oscar Uniform Tango India Tango

India Tango Whiskey Alpha Sierra Hotel Oscar Whiskey Echo Victor Echo Romeo Sierra Charlie Oscar Tango Tango India Sierra Hotel

India Tango Whiskey Alpha Sierra Tango Hotel Echo Kilo India November Delta Oscar Foxtrot Sierra Oscar November Golf Tango Hotel Alpha Tango India Whiskey Oscar Uniform Lima Delta India November Charlie Lima Uniform Delta Echo Oscar November Alpha Mike India X-Ray Tango Alpha Papa Echo Alpha Sierra Sierra Uniform Mike India November Golf India Mike Alpha Delta Echo Mike India X-Ray Tango Alpha Papa Echo Sierra

India Tango Whiskey Alpha Sierra Sierra Mike Alpha Romeo Tango Alpha November Delta India Lima India Kilo Echo Delta India Tango Alpha November Delta Tango Hotel Alpha Tango India Sierra Alpha Lima Lima Tango Hotel Alpha Tango Mike Alpha Tango Tango Echo Romeo Sierra

Sierra Tango Alpha Yankee Tango Uniform November Echo Delta

ETA: So I’ve basically slashdotted my own damn blog by copying a meme I picked up from Dayton Ward and David Mack. *sigh*

If you’re coming in, via a search engine, because you’ve seen a bunch of words that begin “India Foxtrot Yankee Oscar Uniform Charlie” and you don’t know what they mean, I’m here to let you in on the secret.

The NATO Phonetic Alphabet.

I learned this in high school from Tom Clancy books. It’s used by military personnel to communicate over radio, with the letters of each word replaced by a standardized list of words.

Naturally, I saw the jumble of words that began “India Foxtrot Yankee Oscar Uniform Charlie” and understood it instantly. :cool:

What does the mass of wordage mean? Well, that’s pretty easy.

What I posted reads:

Because it is too early and I cannot think

If you can understand this copy and paste it to your LiveJournal

It’s that latter line that’s shown up in lots of places today across the ‘net. Perhaps you saw the second paragraph at the top of this post on LiveJournal. Or maybe you saw the following on Facebook:

India Foxtrot Yankee Oscar Uniform Charlie Alpha November Uniform November Delta Echo Romeo Sierra Tango Alpha November Delta Tango Hotel India Sierra, Charlie Oscar Papa Yankee Alpha November Delta Papa Alpha Sierra Tango Echo Tango Oscar Yankee Oscar Uniform Romeo Sierra Tango Alpha Tango Uniform Sierra

That, by the way, means:

If you can understand this copy and paste to your status

The first line, the “Because it is too early and I cannot think,” was me introducing the meme. And then I decided, “Well, fuck, I’ll write a whole message in the phonetic alphabet.” Because I’m silly like that. :h2g2:

As for myself

Yesterday I heard the coolest song it was like xkcd as though set to music

It was funny and it was smart and I quite liked it a lot

It was about the universe and our place in it done in a rather charming sort of way

Surprisingly it came on a Christmas album but there was nothing festive about it

It was however Scottish

It was the kind of song that I would include on a mixtape assuming I made mixtapes

It was smart and I liked it and that is all that matters

Stay tuned

It is not, all things considered, the most profound of messages. I also thought, briefly, of using a different phonetic alphabet, just to keep people guessing. The Wikipedia article lists the phonetic alphabet used by British soldiers during World War I, in which case “As for myself…” would have read “Ack Esses Freddie Oranges Robert Emma Yorker Esses Edward London Freddie.” And that actually would have confused people. :P

I also didn’t type out the phonetic alphabet. I wrote the message in Microsoft Word, and used some killer search-and-replace routines to do the heavy lifting. Wild card searches are your friends. ;)

The song, by the way, was notA Glorious Dawn,” which I have raved about since I first heard it a few months ago. It wasn’t even really a song, now that I think about it. More like a spoken word piece set to music. Still really cool.


If you’re arriving here, trying to make sense of a mass of words that look like words but make absolutely no sense, hopefully I’ve managed to edify you.

The NATO Phonetic Alphabet. It wants to be your friend.