Eight of Diamonds: The Village of Silver

Although many stories end up coming full circle, the first step is always finding a few good lines to lead into it. The steps are too steep for me to climb, I will wait and watch.

All the best pictures have canoes in them. As the boat left the wharf, they did not know that they would soon be the first victims of the biggest eruption in history. They used the clock tower to localise themselves in time and space. The people did not know that the tower would soon fall. It was big.

The butterfly said, “Some creatures are bigger than they have any right to be. The problem with rankings is that the first and second always crowd out the third. I am not going to react to that in the way you expect.”

The butterfly does not know what you have called him, he just lives.

The frog said, “I know a man who collects frogs. Hair brushed back to impress you, he has addled your brains, you no can no longer call yourselves human.

Why do you keep calling me a bull? I don’t wear armour and spikes to threaten you, but to protect myself. Standing on the stump of what was my home, I can’t help but wonder if there is any more of a future for those who destroyed it. After all their adventures, one diamond is still missing.”

A line of spikes separated the riches from the untamed sea. Many colours, reaching to the sky. Each stalk is topped with a permanent snowball. Scientists rushed to tend to the glowing backbone. The crowd rejoiced as they saw their work fall away.

Their neighbour was richer than they thought. A giant living diamond thrashed its way forward through the sea. A single female to perpetuate the genes of a thousand men.

And a gold-crazed fool said, “This is no more possible than a flower growing from another flower. I sent e-kisses over the internet before my first real kiss. I have two pillows, but there is no room for another in this bed.”

The trick in gathering treasure is to leave room for more. They got on like two flowers in a pod.

A village of silver, covered in white snow, one lasts and the other is precious.


Rearranging the components of your point does not make it any sharper.

Several of the cards this week gave me ideas, mostly related to my trip around the world in 2004. I thought I’d lead in with the same sentence I started this with, and then write an abridged version of my travellog so that it would relate to some of the other cards, and end up almost coming back to where it started, so that the cards (and the story relating to them) would resemble a circular accelerator with a linear one leading into it. But I ended up getting bogged down in the details of that, and on Sunday afternoon I scrapped most of it and decided to do some training for what I intend to do for the second joker in the pack. Yes, I started with a joker, and I’ll finish with a joker.

In The Solitaire Mystery by Jostein Gaarder, each four years each of the playing cards comes up with a sentence, and on Joker Day the Joker arranges them to form a story. I intend to do something like that for my second joker. There will be audience participation, though I haven’t decided exactly how it will work yet. This week I decided to see how much of a disaster that is likely to be. I wrote down the first sentence that came to my head upon viewing each of the eights of diamonds, and then I printed them all out and arranged them in an order which almost makes sense. I used every eight of diamonds I have, plus a few jokers. The jokers all say, ‘The [thing that’s pictured on the joker] said:’ Rearranging the components did not make it much clearer. Still, this year is all about experimenting, and this experiment at least turned out better than Lake of Many Rivers.

I tried not to think too much about a storyline while writing the individual lines, but it’s inevitable that they’re more related than a random set of sentences from many people would be.

You’ll see which card inspired which sentence in the hastily-shot video, and then perhaps it will make some kind of sense. I’m not sure though, it makes less sense to me each time I watch it. You’ll also see that I made a few minor changes to some of the sentences, mainly to change the tense or the person, or make a sentence more specific in a way that I would have done anyway, had I not been trying to make it easier for myself to stick the sentences together. See below for a few explanations on how the cards triggered some of the sentences.


Perhaps you’ve already come up with your own idea of what the story is, and perhaps you like it, in which case, you should stop reading now, and marvel at my genius. Otherwise, here is a summary of the story I intended to tell. Some kind of disaster befalls a village. The animals blame this disaster on human greed, and indeed, it is a village of people who seem to value silver and gold more than more important things such as life. So perhaps they ended up destroying their own habitat. Anyway, this disaster somehow kills all the women, and also destroys the barrier constructed by the villagers either to keep tidal waves out, or to stop their poor and uncultured neighbours from stealing their riches.

Even if these neighbours don’t have as much gold, they do have at least one woman, which makes them the richer village since they’re at least not going to die out. However, one of the rich villagers doesn’t want to share his bed with this woman, either because he’s rich and greedy. Perhaps he’s also shy and doesn’t know what to do with women in the real world, I’m not sure (I had to put the e-kiss line somewhere!) I am not entirely sure why this matters, since apparently there were 999 other men who could have taken his place, but let’s say she fell in love with him at first sight, for some reason.

But once he makes room in his heart for her, he finds that he actually really likes her, and they all live happily ever after, and perhaps learn something about things that are more important than silver.


Perhaps you understand now why I chose Jonathan Coulton’s ‘Millionaire Girlfriend‘ for the background music.

I would have used the background music to ‘Flickr‘ if I could, since it’s a song he made for a video he made for a song, where the video consists of random images harvested from Flickr. But alas, there’s no karaoke version or source tracks available for it. I think Millionaire Girlfriend sounds great with it though, and it just happened to be the right length.


I’ll explain some of the cards where the link to the sentence is not obvious. For many cards, I drew inspiration from the words (which might not be clear in the video) rather than the pictures. For instance:

  • The butterfly is called ‘Rostfarbiger Dickkopffalter‘ in German. If, like me, the first word you recognise out of all that is ‘kopf’, it sounds like quite an insult to the butterfly.
  • For the bird known as Fischadler, I just picked up on ‘adler’ being close to ‘addled’.
  • Port Wilson reminded me of Wilson, the neighbour in Home Improvement. The picture on the card makes him seem richer than I realised.
  • The tree crataegus monogyna made me think of a single female, from the prefixes mono and gyneco.
  • I first learnt the word ‘pinto‘ as an anagram of ‘point’ which was sometimes useful in word games.

The only other rather obscure one is the Fry’s Cocoa card from the Cadbury Heritage Collection deck, with the slogan ‘Exclamations of delight’. This immediately made me think of the first demonstrations of the CoreData framework in the Cocoa API. (If you don’t know anything about programming, you can stop reading here.) I went to the conference where this was introduced in 2004, and every time somebody dragged their data model into Interface Builder to instantly create an interface (and indeed, a fully working application), the audience cheered, even when they’d seen it several times before. It saves a lot of work.

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  1. Second Joker: This is how the world goes mad… not with a blog but with a Twitter « Writing Cards and Letters

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