Tuesday, 12 May 2009
We, Such As We Are, Are Here!

"Where is everybody?" you ask, Mary.

"Busy, busy, busy," I reply, "Running the world and all that sort of stuff. I had to get up to Harrods for new supplies of The Widow and some fresh caviar before they closed. Then I had to dash over to Paris and examine the new plans for that City. Then it was straight back to the emergency bunker in downtown Nashville in order secretly to inject some massive and cruel misdirection into some of the clues in next month's NER Crossword."
"As if that wasn't enough to fill my day Rebecca roped me into helping her get Hugh out of the cryogenics storage unit and warm him up so that he could write all next month's articles and posts - well, all apart from yours and mine (well, all excepting yours, at any rate, for I tend to leave cerebration to Hugh because he is better at it than I - as you can see)."
"But don't worry, dear Mary, for when your time to go home approaches Rebecca's loyal assistants (zombies, actually, but one just can't get the staff these days, you know) will come and get you and I can assure you that she has a wonderfully comfortable cryogenic pod especially reserved for you. God willing, you should be able to post for centuries yet."
"Isn't technology wonderful? At any rate, it does mean that Rebecca and I don't have to do the difficult stuff like writing and I'll bet that you have never noticed that Artemis and Esme are both radio controlled from our new Cray Supercomputer - they are both robots, don't you know. Latest Japanese technology and all that rot - good, aren't they?"
"Of course Jerry Gordon and Richard L. Rubenstein aren't real. They are just very clever holograms created by our new supercomputer. They're offline at the moment for servicing and upgrading but I can assure you that they will be back before long - in new and improved versions. They are in beta testing at the moment and will be released soon - after all one cannot be too careful with artificial identities: they could have original and disturbing insights into the Islamic mind and one wouldn't want to rock the boat too much, would one?"
"Ares Demertzis is, of course, a total fiction. He is a composite character written by a committee based at a famous restaurant on Hanover Street in Edinburgh, Scotland. He is supposed to be partly F. Scott Monument and partly Orson Welles (a small, misspelled spa town in Kentucky). He will be fully automated by October after which event he will feel and perform much better."
"Theodore Dalrymple is a split personality - even the best of plans can go wrong, you see. This program was originally conceived to be an agreeable old fogey which upheld good, old-fashioned morality. Regrettably, it/he was first tried out on an Apple Mac and the program therefore developed a few independent quirks and ticks which Rebecca and I have never been able to solve. It split into two and can take over any website whenever it wants to - not altogether a bad thing given its take on the world."
"Normal Berdichevsky and Ibn War Rag were originally designed as special reporters but somehow, after a lightening strike on Area 51's computer, morphed into the very useful personalities which Rebecca and I deploy on this site today whenever you, Mary, let us down. Rebecca, of course and as you have probably guessed by now, is an alien from the planet Zog. I, myself, am merely a super-clever and undefeatable virus created by Andrew Bostom and Nidra Poller - who are also natives of Zog - I can be a real bastard at need."
"It's bad news I'm afraid, Mary. You are the only real human being here. Yes, I know that it shows. Sorry! But do keep up the good work. You are needed – I just can’t remember why at the moment, because I’m busy giving Norton the run around – again! It’ll come to me, just give me a moment or two. Damn, I wish these Cray’s had better and faster processors!
Posted on 05/12/2009 7:08 AM by John M. Joyce
12 May 2009
Send an emailMary Jackson

I'm not a human being - I'm a virus too. In fact I'm Swine Flu.

12 May 2009

We are here, but they are there.

12 May 2009
Send an emailreactionry
Duke, Duck of Erlkönig
Or: Ol' Man Styx
Or: Young Man Reiver 
Or: The Nina, The Pinto, The Senta Berger***
Or: Bedtime Tales For Tots
[forwarded after channeling]
"Dear NER:
I had pegged Mary, not as mere virus, but rather, ala The Matrix (starring Keanu Reivers as the outlaw deprogrammer, "Norton"), a "sentient program"  -or would that be "sentient programme" on your septic isle, now sinking 'neath its crown of Royal Overhead?  And granted that while a virus is not, strictly speaking, "alive," could your passing be noted under a heading of Swiney Todt (also see flick starring Johnny Death)? After my passing I left England for my old haunts in the States.
Many thanks to JMJ for his fine tell-all tall tale of a post and one hopes that he someday takes a Bath (or similarly-sized city) in the market and that he does not go to the Orson Welles too often.
-Time for this loyal fanner to be scuddin' along and be lookin' up de ol' Queen ob de Nile to be layin' thisin' on
Dead, the House of Ptolemy
Once livin' large
(Now be as rotten as Egyptian cotton)
Death do hath a hold of thee
Now Todt, dat barge
B.S. Eliot
Ape Neck, New York" 
Because of my less-than-rudimentary command of Krautsprach, I went to Google's Language Tools For Fools in order to confirm the spelling and umlauting or lack thereof for "Todt"; only to find "Tot."  I know even less of the works of Goethe (and less of James Joyce than JM Joyce and less of a girder or joist* than the evil engineer, Fritz Todt) and was familiar with Die Erlkönig only because my Old Man once read it to us [sic**]kids.  I haven't the foggiest why he did so, since the poem could be summed up as "Tot, Todt."  Likewise, I was familiar with the "Mad King," Ludwig II of Bavaria, only because said Old Man once gave an opinion that said King of the Castles was given something of a raw deal. 
Which suggests a quiz; not that I've ever had many takers - mad or otherwise; dope springs eternal:
What easily Googleable fact about Ludwig (no, not von Drake) reminds, or should remind one, of a word popularized, if not quite birthed, by Vladimir Nabokov?  -Sorry; no prizes; no "cream Cougar," Corvette  (nor even a combustible Pinto), or beautiful launderette, nor anything Frenchette or leatherette.  Hugh could answer this one, but probably won't, and because of her association with National Public Radio (I often listen to it but am proud to be a non-contributor), I'm compelled to disqualify Nina Totenberg.
* No, not plargarism; homage to Irish day-laborers everywhere
**  Please, we happy few, see again "Nobody here but us Chechens"
*** Why Senta Berger?  Why not?
What's happened to what's in your pocket?  Aren't you still glad to see me?

12 May 2009
John M. J.



Ah, the lost son and the elf king, it’s a powerful Scandinavian myth. This tale from deep within our collective past of the journey from childhood into adulthood and eternal sleep in the arms of the Elf King’s daughters has some very obvious symbolism – mostly concerning the age old conflict between truth and myth and the male and the female, love and adventure, the yin and the yang, emasculation and the dominance of the feminine, need and love. It’s explored, from the male point of view (and no less valuable for that), in the Erlkoenig poem. Given the age of the original tale and its remarkable persistence into modern times – didn’t Pagan Altar record ‘The Erl-King’ – it obviously has a resonance for males even today. Wasn’t the 1988AD film ‘Brennendes Geheimnis’ (‘Burning Secrets’) based on this tale? Oh, and of course, there is always Schubert and his LiedErlkoenig’, replete with its own tale of complicated gestation (six years) and eventual birth.


However, your cold-blooded use of the German word umlaut, a very ugly word, when English possesses a perfectly correct word for that diacritic mark is completely unforgivable. Read, mark, learn and digest the word: it’s ‘diaeresis’. You may also, if you wish, call the double dot mark above a letter a ‘trema’ – even when it replaces the tittle, the single dot above an ‘i’ or a ‘j’. Historically, the diaeresis mark, or trema, is far older than the umlaut mark, and tremas, though hidden, are still part of modern English. A reasonable first step to understanding this diacritic can be found on this web page.


Enjoy (and learn), but do please respect our great language and use its words – words which are hard won! You should pay attention to every jot and tittle (St. Matthew’s Gospel, Ch. 5, V. 18), to every iota and keraia, to every serif and apex, to every tagin, every hypogegrammeni and every yodh – and not just the yodh, or every tenth letter, alone, but every yud and ya and all their marks, all their diacritics, for that way, with care and study, understanding of what we face if Islam is allowed to triumph does lie.


Thanks for your comment – I laughed, as I hope others did. You have a wonderful take on life and language – a brain in freefall through our modern culture is how you strike me – and it’s very, very funny, and witty and thought provoking, in a good way.