The blog incarnation of the Desperado mailing list, the voice of the apocryphalypse since 1978.

Monday, December 27, 2004

'Twas brisling, and the stilly toes 

From the invaluable Bulletin of the Burned Out Newscreatures Guild (a/k/a the BONG Bulletin, but a/k/a on the web as newsgorilla.blogspot.com) comes:


San Antonio (Texas) Express-News copy editor Andy Thomas ran "Jabberwocky" through a CCI spell-checker. Here is the original, followed by the corrected version. (Where the spell-checker made no suggestions, the word is omitted. The seventh verse is omitted because it duplicates the first.)

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And, hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

- ---

'Twas brisling, and the stilly toes
Did gyre and gamble in the wade.
All missy were the ***,
And the mamma rates ***.'

Beware the Jabberwocky, my son,
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch.
Beware the jujube bird, and shun
The furious ***.'

He took his sword in hand;
Long time the Manxmen foe he sought.
Then rested he by the tom-tom tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in offish thought he stood,
The Jabberwocky, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffing through the bulgy wood,
And burbled as it came!

One! two! and through and through
The blade went ***!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went *** back.'

And hats thou slain the Jabberwocky?
Come to my arms, my bearish boy!
O day! Callow! Chalet!'
He chortled in his joy.
Ed's Note: If I reveal my ignorance, it has happened before, but does CCI really stand for Canine Companions for Independence?
posted by Tom  # 12/27/2004 04:38:00 PM

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Generous holiday thoughts from Martha Stewart 

I'm an admirer of Martha Stewart, now more so than every. Here, from her prison, she calls for reform of the drug laws:
When one is incarcerated with 1,200 other inmates, it is hard to be selfish at Christmas -- hard to think of Christmases past and Christmases future -- that I know will be as they always were for me -- beautiful! So many of the women here in Alderson will never have the joy and wellbeing that you and I experience. Many of them have been here for years -- devoid of care, devoid of love, devoid of family.

I beseech you all to think about these women -- to encourage the American people to ask for reforms, both in sentencing guidelines, in length of incarceration for nonviolent first-time offenders, and for those involved in drug-taking. They would be much better served in a true rehabilitation center than in prison where there is no real help, no real programs to rehabilitate, no programs to educate, no way to be prepared for life "out there" where each person will ultimately find herself, many with no skills and no preparation for living.
And my earlier tribute, Martha isn't Mothra.

And, of course, I loved it that she was caught smuggling brown sugar and cinnamon into the prison.

posted by Tom  # 12/26/2004 07:20:00 PM

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

My mother died yesterday and there are some stories I want to share 

She was 90 and worn out, physically and mentally. She lived next door, with my brothers, among her family and her things. She had been smart and funny, and she certainly wasn't smart any more, far from it, but she was still funny. Day before yesterday she had been ill with a cough. My brother Jim went to get her up, always a tricky process. She was breathing pretty hard. "You sound terrible," Jim said. "You should hear me sing," came feebly from under the blankets. Later that morning, I asked how she was feeling, "Like the back end of nowhere".

This was digging very very deep for someone who couldn't always remember her children's names or recognize carrots. I hope I'm as funny the day before the final taxi.

A few years back, she was administered an electrocardiogram that produced a pretty unwavering line. Mom looked at it dubiously and said, "Well, am I dead?" Another time, when she was really sick and had to go to the emergency room, she interrupted her illness to look me in the eye and say, "Don't worry, this isn't it".

She was a real southern lady and a real southern liberal. She had run for the school board in Valdosta, Georgia, in 1952 when along came Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. The school board appointed a committee to look into the effect the decision would have on their operations. This normal bureaucratic action appeared to be the worst sort of radicalism in those overheated segregationist times. In fact, the state of Georgia had decreed it a capital crime – electrocution, that is – for any public official in the state to think about integration.

She weathered that one. I don't know exactly how. I was young and she kept me out of it and somehow in later years we never got around to talking about it. She continued thinking about integration, though, and capital punishment. She demonstrated against the execution of Ted Bundy the night he died. I don't think I would have followed her there, but she was fearless against the crowd of fraternity louts who had come to demonstrate in favor of the death penalty.

My father died 20 years ago, but he and Mom remained in communication, meeting a few times when it seemed that Dad thought she needed reassurance. You may think what you think. Mom didn't know the day or the year or even the century when she died, but she died on the hundredth anniversary of my father's birth.

I'm puzzling now over whether they would have preferred centenary or centennial. That was another feature of our family life, the dictionary on the dining table.

posted by Tom  # 12/21/2004 11:59:00 AM

What was my mother's last dream? 

This was written by Brother Dave, who, with Uncle Jim cared for our mother in her last years and last days.
What was my mother’s last dream?

As she moved further and further from reality, her ability to distinguish dream from waking became more and more feeble. And, indeed, her dreamworld must have been preferable to the severely constricted life she enjoyed in her last days.

She napped before supper. Waking her was often an adventure in time travel. She would wake convinced that she was on a steamship sailing into New York about 1925, or on a train trip to Virginia and the conductor had some questions, or that a wedding was in the works, whose we never knew, and how were we ever to get ready in time, or there was the new baby to think of.

Her dreams must have been very vivid, because it was quite a job, impossible sometimes, to convince her that she was in fact, dreaming. No one was expecting her, she had no unmet obligations, there is no meringue pie.

I hope that her last dream was as pleasant as most of her dreams seemed to have been, that her last dream trip was smooth, easy and enjoyable.

posted by Tom  # 12/21/2004 11:54:00 AM

Monday, December 20, 2004

Our experts agree: Headline of the year 

Middle-Aged Transvestite Paperboy
Faces Additional Charges After
"Cheerleader" Incident
The whole story is to be found in the invaluable www.badjocks.com, your source for everything about athletes in trouble.

As we have been told so often, cheerleaders are athletes too. And so they are. In addition to the incident headlined above, the web log also has all the skinny on the naughty video made by the pep girls, the yell squad, the cheerleaders of Danvers High. I smell a movie coming.

Ed's note: You'll have to search for these once you get there.

posted by Tom  # 12/20/2004 06:59:00 PM

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Strine government Xmas warnings 

Via the Matron of Honor, who reports, from our antipodal sister continent, "Don't know where this came from, but it rings very true!"

Christmas cheer for all from the Australian Bureau of Statistics

*31 Australians have died since 1996 by watering their Christmas tree
the fairy lights were plugged in.

*19 Australians have died in the last 3 years by eating Christmas
decorations they believed were chocolate.

*Hospitals reported 4 broken arms last year after cracker pulling

*101 Australians since 1997 have had to have broken parts of plastic toys
pulled out of the soles of their feet.

*18 Australians had serious burns in 1998 trying on a new jumper with a
cigarette in their mouth.

*A massive 543 Australians were admitted to casualty in the last two years
after opening bottles of beer with their teeth or eye socket.

*5 Australians were injured last year in accidents involving out of
scalextric cars.

*3 Australians die each year testing if a 9V battery works on their

*142 Australians were injured in 1998 by not removing all the pins from

*58 Australians are injured each year by using sharp knives instead of

and finally:

*8 Australians cracked their skull in 1997 after falling asleep (passing
out) while throwing up into the toilet.

posted by Tom  # 12/19/2004 11:33:00 PM

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Everybody knows this stuff except George W. "W" Bush 

In the maniacal movie, Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003), the president of Mexico ("el presidente de Mejico") is being walked into a trap by his treacherous aide ("Carlos Rove"). The aide says,
"Mr. President, history teaches us, no matter how great your armies are, you will always need the favor of the inhabitants to take possession of a province."
Scriptwriters know it. Comic-book writers know it. I know it. How come all these people whose job it is to know it never know it?

posted by Tom  # 12/18/2004 01:59:00 PM

Op-eds we never quite got around to reading 

Paul Smyke is senior adviser to the Managing Board of the World Economic Forum. No, I haven't heard of him either. He wrote an op-ed piece for the Boston Globe this morning titled
A role for three "wise men"
. The "pull quote" (extracted and printed larger to draw us into reading the article) was
President should ask Carter, Bush Sr., and Clinton to solve Mideast conflict
I see the word gravitas somewhere down in there, but I didn't read the article. Is there anything less likely under the sun, moon, and stars than that George W. "W" Bush would call on his father and two Democrats to pull his potatoes out of the fire he has been building so enthusiastically and incompetently since the day he took office?

posted by Tom  # 12/18/2004 09:21:00 AM

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Every heh heh is a million-dollar tut tut tut 

For temporary tactical advantage, it's proposed that we take the side of the Bizarro Beavis and Buttheads A million-dollar-fine for every Heh-heh. He said dick.
If they go after Rush Limbaugh it will be The Vagina Monologues next and Puppetry of the Penis better look out.
Freedom of speech. If it's so good for the extremists, why are all of them against it?

posted by Tom  # 12/16/2004 01:00:00 AM

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

And how did you happen to hear about our clinic, Mr. Limbaugh? 

All the top liberal web logs have their thongs in a tangle because Rush Limbaugh made a dick joke on his radio program. Atrios and Oliver Willis think the self-righteous left should rise up and smite the villainous Limbaugh via FCC.

Yeah, give Rush the old Howard treatment. Sic the feds on him. See how he likes it. More FCC censorship. Cleansing America nipple by nipple and dick joke by dick joke. As Bob Hope used to say, I've heard that we're supposed to surge to the right to get those all important narrow-minded voters, but this is ridiculous.

Why aren't we siccing Limbaugh on the Feds instead of the other way round? Why aren't we mounting a free speech campaign instead of running off to tell momma that Rush said a dirty word? Freedom of speech for Rush and Howard. Fight back against the morality clampdown, don't join it. We should be sending telegrams to the FCC telling them to stop suppressing free speech.

We could put Howard and Rush on cable TV. They wouldn't even have to be all sincere and clammy either. They could be themselves and embody freedom of speech, they could insult each other, Rush could talk up his gay boys and Howard his beloved lesbians, they could make rude allusions and vulgar and unfair comparisons, leading up to a climax where they both interrupt themselves to say, and that's why we have freedom of speech, so we can talk about the things we think are important in common everyday language without having a lot of prudes and politicians telling us what to say and what to think. Don't ever vote for anybody who tries to tell you what to say and think.

That's the best way to turn the tables on Rush. Defend him. Make him a Democratic party poster boy.

Ed's PS – If you follow one of those links to Limbaugh's dick joke you will see I have made my own in the headline. His is awfully vulgar. You'd probably die if you looked and then somebody would report me to the FCC. This dick joke frenzy must be stopped.

posted by Tom  # 12/15/2004 10:29:00 PM

Monday, December 13, 2004

Three cheers for the red, blue and purple 

A whole bunch of red-state/blue-state maps.

Guess what, except for the election itself, the blue states win every time. And that purple stuff isn't imaginary eithe.

A summary of the maps, from one of the commenters:
Yes! This list is proof of the elitism of the Blue states!

Let's look at all the absurd things these elitists consider important:

-graduating High School;
-earning a decent living;
-paying your taxes;

This is outrageous -- what next? How about:

-Staying Married
-Not having Teenagers get pregnant
-Not getting Chlamydia

What about their crazy views on the the law? These insane Blue staters are against:

-Drunk Driving;

What will these dastardly liberals come up with next?
The summary omits the map that shows the blue states are also better at baseball.

posted by Tom  # 12/13/2004 01:20:00 AM

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Follow my suggestion and no one will be pissed 

Confluence of some sort. I had a blind item go dead on me here. I posted another item about RMS complaining about receiving mail on a list. And a list I am on had one of those periodic dustups about someone sending too many blind items to the list (where, as it happens, I find things that I post here).

I was moved to verse:
Give a little context when sending to the list
Don't send at all without that extra twist
Please omit the URL if you can't provide the gist
In a world full of blind items, one more just won't be missed

posted by Tom  # 12/11/2004 01:14:00 PM

Thursday, December 09, 2004

No room at the inn, nor in the manger either 

The scholarly JO, upon finding his tots-meet-strippers item here yesterday, recalls yet another Christmas sign pairing:
Seeing the sign was deeply satisfying, the best seasonal posting I've seen since these two on someone's front door in Carlisle, PA thirty-some years ago:



posted by Tom  # 12/09/2004 10:48:00 AM

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Everyone else has had more sex than me 

This, via Tess, Spawn of JO, is a music video by TISM, who appear to be an Australian version of the Residents, in which a rabbit makes the complaint quoted in the headline.

posted by Tom  # 12/08/2004 09:50:00 PM

The fishnet stockings were hung by the chimney with care 

Per the popular and pure JO:

A business sign on Rt. 20 in MA, in or near Webster:




posted by Tom  # 12/08/2004 09:39:00 PM

Reassuring confirmation that I'd make a lousy racist 

A tough test from PBS. Sorting faces by "races".

As it turns out, it can't be done. Neither the faces nor the "races" cooperate.

posted by Tom  # 12/08/2004 09:08:00 PM

RMS is a root-mean square 

This will be amusing to a tiny group of people (who may well already know about it) and bemusing to the rest.

Last week, a silly bobo named Brooks wrote a column about "natalism" (don't bother to read it) alleging that Republicans were going to breed their way to electoral success.

Out of curiosity, I googled on "natalism -brooks" and found the first hit (from way back in '93) dealt with the testy Richard Stallman (RMS), who apparently fears that geeks are going to breed their way to some unspecified something-or-other (possibly not involving his beloved GNU is Not Unix), and worse, were bragging about it on a West coast brie-and-bytes mailing list. Stallman replied to this bragging, an innocent birth announcement, completely in character.

After the predictable flamabaloo, someone ran Mr. GNU's original reply through Mr. GNU's version of the "doctor" program in GNU Emacs to produce a startling demonstration of successful artificial intelligence.

I have several Kevin Bacon paths of one leading to Stallman, but I don't think he is speaking to any of those people. I do wonder that RMS, with a networking pedigree even longer than your present ancient author's, could still have been so naive as to start a letter to an established mailing list with
"Could people please not use this list to announce information of no particular interest to the people on the list?"
We settled all that no-branching nonsense back on SF-lovers in 1979, didn't we?

Ed's note: So Desperado is a year older than SF-lovers? Too cool. No wonder they wrote me up in Wired.

Ed's PS: GNU Emacs is a towering programming achievement, and Stallman's response to his doctor's appointment was graceful.

posted by Tom  # 12/08/2004 07:43:00 PM

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Another damned blind item 

I'm giving in to the temptation and posting another blind item. Click here, Red Sox fans, and be quite filled with schadenfreude and, who knows, fahrvergnügen too.

Tip o' the tan galan to the trés gallant JO.

posted by Tom  # 12/07/2004 01:30:00 PM

Inhuman monsters! 

I'd been meaning to tout Tony Millionaire's Maakies comic strip again, and the chance arrival of this ridiculous gone-to-Atlanta message from Tony makes this a good time to jump in.

The strip is in dreadful taste, "telling tales of drunkeness and cruelty", not to mention doing the dirty. And beautifully drawn, with sailing ships and seascapes a speciality, but also the best-rendered vomit since Barry McKenzie.

Funny as hell, too. Click up there.

posted by Tom  # 12/07/2004 11:11:00 AM

Monday, December 06, 2004

An ongoing thought experiment 

As we work our way towards the Iraqi election, imagine that to the Bush government the election is just a fig leaf and that we're going to cut and run as soon it's over.

Then, imagine that the last thing the Allawi government wants is an election that will vote them out.

What then? The Iraqi election is supposed to fall somewhere around American inauguration day.

posted by Tom  # 12/06/2004 10:35:00 PM

Friday, December 03, 2004

George W. "W" Bush says: "Nervous? Me nervous?" 

Number Two Son has long maintained that the Bush presidency is actually the Bill Murray presidency, reprising characters from Ghostbusters and Stripes who are passingly amusing being stupid and full of themselves.

But www.dubyamovie.com has another theory, one that I guarantee will amaze, amuse, astound, and gratify.

posted by Tom  # 12/03/2004 06:14:00 PM


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