“The Texas vote leaves loopholes for teaching creationism, so consider this your duty. It is so important to get into the Word of God,” said the speaker. “Some say that the New Testament is a sad tale of a kitteh who could not find a loving home, but the forgiving Ceiling Cat that C.S. Lewis called Aslan is on the move. For even when they just nail these pieces of him to a cross, He says, ‘thanks for following me.‘”
The crowd clapped enthusiastically. “But however you feel about Jesus, Leonard Cohen is still the coolest human being on the planet. When he doesn’t deliver, you know it’s not that profundity pressure produces protean prattle, no, today’s song will be posted late due to disheartening technical problems. Why is my internet being so slow? Internet spies from China, probably. But we can put our faith in Leonard Cohen.”
A chorus of “Hallelujah” broke out.
“Honey, I’m home!”
“Hi, Dave!” said Bea. “I’m repeatedly telling myself I don’t need the 50th Anniversary hardcover edition of Elements of Style, but it’s so tempting. I need you to convince me to save a few trees.”
“But Daddy, I don’t understand how paper is made out of wood!” interrupted James, their eldest son.
“It just is,” said Dave. “You can’t make books without killing trees. It’s just one of those things that suck. Having to order in pizza because you look too terrible to leave the house, but have no groceries, is another. Thanks for ‘cooking’, Bea.”
Bea poked her tongue out at him. She knew he was only teasing; they were comfortable enough with her facial deformity to joke about it. “I didn’t get pizza, I got cheesy stir-fry. Besides, You don’t have to be photogenic to be a good wife. Remember what my mum used to say: in a photo gallery, mostly dead people are displayed.”
“Yeah, and in an art gallery…” Dave began, leaving Bea to finish her aphorism.
“Only the adults need art. Psychiatrist holds up doll and asks kid, ‘show me where Santa was naughty and where he was nice’ and the kid just takes the doll and plays. It doesn’t matter whether Santa made the doll disfigured, it’s a gift.”
“As the great Leonard Cohen said, ‘A scar is what happens when the word is made flesh.’ Hey, and about gifts…” Dave pulled a box of chocolates from his bag and gave it to Bea. “I saw John Pridmore speak at a men’s conference today. He reminded me to read more Cohen. I found this quote, ‘I taught him how to dress, he taught me how to live forever.’ And I know it’s not what he meant, but it made me think of James. He learnt to dress himself and I wasn’t even here to see it. I don’t want it to be that way with Bart. It really got me thinking that men should take more of a role in child-rearing. I’m sorry for not serving you, my queen Bea; I didn’t know I was a drone.”
“Bwahaha! Your turn now,” said the mummy to the daddy as she pointed at the little monster’s full and smelly pants. “9 months from today, hundreds of babies will be born to those who get turned on by fleeting conscience.”
“I know exactly what you mean,” he said, though he did not understand the full significance of her remarks. “I am full of angst and gouda. Full of stir-fry. But also, my pants are nowhere near empty, as I am happy to see you.”
As the months went by, his pants got less and less empty, but not for the same reasons as before. He was getting fat. One day, as he was checking the weather and making plans… skiing, shopping? a button flew off his trusty pants. He tried to sew it back on, but the pants were hurt; the pants were broken, and could never trust again. So he went shopping, bought some bigger pants and ski pants, and then went skiing.
He was out-of practice, and his increased girth made it difficult to balance. He fell, and as he sat in the snow, he felt a huge pressure in his abdomen, as if he needed to do the biggest poo of his life. He pulled his pants down and pushed, trying not to touch the cold snow with his bare buttocks. For he was just a sheep following a sacred cow named God, and in their mysterious wisdom, the cows on the moon shaved the sheep’s buttocks.
He gasped when he saw what was coming out. An egg! His wife had been telling the truth; it was his turn, his turn to bring a child into the world. Laying there in the snow he wondered whether it was really worth the effort.
The birth of his new baby caused a great upheaval in his life, not least because he was the first of hundreds of men to give birth. And yet, somewhere, he was sure, that life continued normally for a great many people.
Another upset came when he asked for paternity leave.
“Given your recent performance, I’d be better off firing you,” said his boss.
“You completely forgot to file our tax returns. Remember, If you have a corporation, the tax return due date is 3/16/09!”
“Oh, man… must have been the hormones. They’ve thrown my migraines out of control again. But I’m doing better now. We’re looking for some community feed back for the next round of developments. I got excellent feedback from my readers about this recommendation.”
“Mr. Jones, do you know how much your mistake cost us?”
“Please? I really need the time and money to raise my kids.”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Jones. I am only leaving severence now. You understand, it’s a recession. We’re all in the same boat, and we can’t have somebody sailing close to the wind.”
“Boat ride in the dark, coming right up,” Dave mumbled to himself as he left the office for the last time.
With that, he became the house-husband. He searched for jobs on the internet, but was too depressed to really try. Bea got a job as a journalist.
One Sunday, as Dave was tweeting on PSP while burping baby, Bea asked him, “If you could tweet with anyone from history, who would it be?”
“Steve Wozniak, for sure. We could talk about the good old days when Macs were still around. Does anybody know why gnome-screensaver is using 2.1% of my 2GB of RAM when the system is active? I’m moving from CoreGraphics to OpenGL for this?! If I could just get a Mac again, it’d be like going from a 16 tonne bus to a tiny smart car. If all you care about is freedom and sharing, then sure, a bloated gas-guzzler with lots of seats will do the job. Me, I’m happy with something smart and efficient that goes where I want.”
“Well if you weren’t wasting so much time on facebook instead of promoting your favourite OS, maybe we wouldn’t have that problem. Thanks to all of your forgetting, the ‘Woz’ word outlook is pretty grim.”
“What do you mean, wasting time on facebook? Do you need a reminder? The Official Vote For Woz Facebook group is found here!”
“And you really think Woz would make a good president? He’s smart, but not a politician.”
“Exactly! And that’s just what we need. Perhaps we should force the political leaders to play chess, and declare their victories, without shedding blood. Then there’d be no more unnecessary pain. As the great Leonard Cohen said, ‘Let generals secretly despair of triumph; killing will be defamed.'”
“Crustaceans feel pain, but are still boiled alive. We’ll never have a world without pain. I think you’re just on facebook because you can’t keep away from it. You know, anyone these days could create a stunning new design for your website in five minutes, no skill needed, but you, you spent an hour to get it all done. And I’m really feeling the effects of the lost hour this morning.”
“Okay. Maybe you’re right. I think I may have finally developed a full-on internet addiction. But life is so much better there. The world is so much sparklier when it’s reflected on the side of my toaster, even… when reflected on the internet, it’s a woot off!”
“You got that right… heck, even from the command line it’s great. I love using tar in verbose mode, it makes me feel cool. Gimme that,” she wrestled the keyboard from him.
“Hey, I’ve got an idea… let’s get the internet to write a story. All those ugly geeks stuck at home ordering pizza for their kittehs could really do something to please the Ceiling Cat!”
Here’s a passage from Jostein Gaarder’s The Solitaire Mystery:
‘During the four years that pass between each period, every one of the fifty-two dwarfs has to come up with one sentence. It might not sound that impressive, but you have to remember they think very slowly. The sentence also has to be remembered, and to go from day to day remembering a whole sentence is not a simple task for dwarfs whose heads are practically empty.’
‘And they all say their sentences at the Joker Banquet?’
‘Right. But that’s only the first part of the game. Then it’s the Joker’s turn. He hasn’t thought of any sentence himself, but when all the sentences are being spoken he sits on a throne and makes notes. During the Joker Banquet he shuffles the order of the cards so that the characters’ sentences make a coherent whole. He positions the dwarfs in the right order, and then they repeat their sentences, but now every single sentence is a tiny piece of a big fairy tale.’
‘Yes, clever indeed, but it can also be pretty amazing.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘You might think that the Joker — with all his talent — attempts to create an entirety out of something which began as pure chaos. After all, the figures have devised their own sentences quite independently of each other.’
‘But sometimes it seems as though the entirety — that is the fairy tale or story — has existed before.’
Soon after I got 52 Twitter followers, I asked each of the drones in my hive mind to send me a sentence by direct message. I asked for the sentence by direct message so that the ones who were following each other would not influence each other. I didn’t expect everybody to send a sentence, but I wanted to give the opportunity to those who wanted to participate. From each of the rest, I took a sentence from their most recent public tweet, not counting replies. You can tell from the dates on these tweets that I didn’t actually start working on this until Sunday afternoon; I’ve been lazy this week. This story is mostly by you, and still I’ve had to ignore the daylight saving change to get it up on time. Feel free to mix up the tweets and make your own story, if you think you can improve it. I’d love to see what other people do with the same tweets. Or different tweets, for that matter.
The links are to the tweets quoted, or to the twitterers whenever the tweet itself was sent by direct message. I only used one sentence from each tweet, although sometimes I changed the punctuation so that it spread over two sentences. Sometimes I fixed grammatical errors or typos, other times I used them to my advantage. I allowed myself to add other sentences between the tweets, because my previous attempt at the Joker Game without them didn’t turn out particularly comprehensible.