The Jenoviad Entry #51

January 29th, 2010 by Wordsman

“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” he said with haste
“I’m Cloud: all that is man”
“I know,” said Aeris, giggling
“But what’s a better plan?”

Cloud, half-stunned, did not protest
As she dragged him about
First there was the dress shop
Said the maker: “We’re sold out

“You see, I need a challenge
Something new,” he said with sigh
Aeris grinned.  “That’s perfect!
For you see, it’s for this guy”

The old man grinned most creepily
“You . . . swing that way . . . down south?
I’ll make you something silky soft”
Cloud threw up in his mouth

“Just a dress won’t be enough
You’ll also need a wig
I have a friend who . . . swings like you
They call him Bro the Big

“He’s o’er in the gymnasium
It, uh, smells kinda gross”
She said, “We’ll be back for the dress”
Cloud was near-comatose

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Brevity=Wit Entry #10

January 25th, 2010 by Wordsman

As I write this, I find myself thinking about sports.  At any given moment, people all across the country are eagerly anticipating some big game somewhere.  It seems to me sometimes that the world of professional sports spectating is defined by waiting.  You have to wait during commercial breaks.  You have to wait during timeouts.  You have to wait during pitching changes.  And, from hockey rinks to baseball stadiums to football fields, before anything can even get started, you have to wait through someone singing our national anthem, the Star-Spangled Banner.  And when you’ve been thinking all week long about that first pitch, jump ball, or kickoff, it can feel like our friend Francis Scott Key wrote not just a song but an entire opera.

To be fair, the duration of the anthem is not entirely the fault of its author.  Let’s not forget the performers, those people who (if they bothered to learn the lyrics) can put eighteen or more syllables into the word “free.”  But I thought that it couldn’t hurt to take a look at the text and see if I couldn’t cut it down to a more reasonable length, for the sake of all those impatient sports fans out there.  My first attempt looked something like this:

“O, say can you see
By the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed
At the twilight’s last gleaming
Whose broad stripes and bright stars

Sure, it’s shorter, but it’s also just about incomprehensible.  All I get is that we’re supposed to be looking at something with stripes and stars.  That could be anything: a tiger eating Lucky Charms, a zebra who was rewarded by his elementary school teacher for doing well on his homework, or a group of Hollywood party animals who got too rowdy and had to be sent off to prison.  Clearly, it takes more than twilight’s last gleaming to shed some light on this mess.

Now, you could argue that many people don’t know what the song is really about even in its full version, but I like to strive for clarity.  So here is the comprehensive abridged anthem:

“Look at that flag with the stripes and the stars.  You can see it by the gunfire.  Up there on the ramparts with those free and brave folks.”

There you go: you’ve got the flag, the stripes, the stars, the ramparts, the free and the brave, all the fun stuff.  Plus you don’t have to spend nearly as long on your feet before you get to sit down and enjoy the game.  And you know, it wouldn’t have to just be for sports.  Now that I think about it, I see no reason why you couldn’t replace the interminable full version of our national anthem with this baby (let’s call it “Starry Flag”) whenever you want.  Why, even in the most formal situations . . . what?  He actually wrote three more verses to this song?  Oh, come on, Key.  No wonder the British locked him up.  They must have been sports fans.

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The Jenoviad Entry #50

January 22nd, 2010 by Wordsman

“Tifa?” Cloud asked puzzledly
As cart from playground tore
“That’s Wall Market,” Aeris said
“Could your friend be a whore?”

Cloud saw lights flashing, smelled the booze
Heard invites to come in
He had entered Midgar’s
Glowing capital of sin

“Tifa went up this way”
He said, following the cart
Wondering what was the scene
In which she would play part

At road’s end, a mansion house
Decked out in Far East style
In the front, a surly guard
Whose heart was full of bile

“Dis place belongs to Corneo
So scram; he don’t like guys”
Cloud wanted to beat him up
But Aeris said, “Disguise”

“What’s the big idea?” asked Cloud
Trying rage to suppress
“Simple,” she said.  “All we need’s
To get you in a dress”

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Movie Two-Liners Entry #49

January 20th, 2010 by Wordsman

This week’s puzzle:

A gamer tries to help a friend deal with disappointments in his career, emotional troubles, and a boss who doesn’t care if he lives or dies. When he grows concerned that he might lose his friend, he tries to secure the relationship by making an important delivery, but in the end it only gets in the way.

Last week’s puzzle:

A man gets a new job as a result of assaulting his boss. He teams up with a man who lost his position when he was assaulted by a child, and together they work to thwart the ambitions of a man who makes it a point to hire employees of a variety of ethnicities and backgrounds.

And the answer is . . . ▼

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This Day in History Entry #49

January 19th, 2010 by Wordsman

Into war, Art tried to a wrench throw
Turn the U.S. against Mexico
But the plan did backfire
For the Brits tapped the wire
Anyway, the Mexicans said “No”

Event: The Zimmerman Telegram is sent to the German Ambassador in Mexico
Year: 1917
Learn more:

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Brevity=Wit Entry #9

January 18th, 2010 by Wordsman

This week on Brevity=Wit, we take a break from our more literary investigations to examine a different genre of composition: giving directions.

The field of direction-giving is one in which brevity is perhaps even more important than in literature.  Lengthy directions are confusing and impractical; as you’re driving to your destination, you don’t want to be holding up a direction sheet the size of a newspaper (since this concept may be difficult for some to understand, think of it instead as being the size of about 30 iPhones) in front of your windshield.  The person being guided does not want to know about landmarks that are no longer there, or how to get to other places that are sort of on the way, or how it would be possible to get there if it weren’t for all this construction.  Keep it short and sweet.

For your further education, here is an example I once heard of how NOT to give directions:

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could”

And, if you can believe it, it goes on like that for about three more paragraphs.  These directions, given by a guy named Bob, are entirely unhelpful.  First off, directions should not be seasonal.  Just because the wood was yellow when you went there in October doesn’t mean it still will be when you’re telling me how to get there in February.  Second, there is absolutely no reason to discuss your feelings about a route.  Tell me that you tried both ways and one didn’t work, or that the other path is a decent alternative if you’re not in a hurry and want to avoid the highway.  Don’t tell me that you felt sorry for a road.

Thirdly, as you’ve probably noticed, our friend Bob presents us with a fork in the road and then doesn’t say which way to go. He does get to the topic eventually, in paragraph four, but even then his description is useless.  “The one less traveled by?”  How am I supposed to know?  What if the Department of Transportation came through and paved it since you were there?  C’mon, Bob.

Now, in this day and age, you could say that the art of giving directions is no longer necessary, that you can just go to Google Maps and type in “the yellow wood” and you’re all set.  But some people don’t fully trust internet directions.  Some still want to hear it from the mouth of someone who has been there, and if nothing else, Bob does convince you, at length, that he has been there.  For those people, I have prepared these succinct instructions:

“At Yellow Wood, the road splits.  Turn left.  Actually, you could go right, as long as you still get on the turnpike, but left is easier.”

Not being late to your job interview because you spent hours sitting in the woods wondering which way to go?  That’s what really makes all the difference.

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The Jenoviad Entry #49

January 15th, 2010 by Wordsman

“Where could you be going now?”
The naïve girl inquired
“How come you got up so soon?
Are you not really tired?”

“Oh, uh, nowhere,” Cloud replied
“Just felt like a late walk”
“Since we’re both up,” Aeris said
“You wanna sit and talk?”

They went into a sad playground
Whose atmosphere was dank
Aeris sat down on the slide
“What was your SOLDIER rank?”

Cloud could not remember
How could this have come to pass?
Suddenly, his mem’ry flashed
“Of course I was First Class”

“Just like he was,” Aeris mulled
Cloud sensed some competition
‘Fore he could speak, he was stunned
By a strange apparition

A gaudy cart passed by, decked out
With tassel and with bell
Frowning in the back there was
A girl he knew quite well

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Movie Two-Liners Entry #48

January 13th, 2010 by Wordsman

This week’s puzzle:

A man gets a new job as a result of assaulting his boss. He teams up with a man who lost his position when he was assaulted by a child, and together they work to thwart the ambitions of a man who makes it a point to hire employees of a variety of ethnicities and backgrounds.

Last week’s puzzle:

Two men who lost their jobs for doing something foolish try to make their way home. Meanwhile, two revisionist historians and two merchants guide a woman with famous relatives on a journey so that she can kill a feeble old man.

And the answer is . . . ▼

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This Day in History Entry #48

January 12th, 2010 by Wordsman

How to conquer untreat’ble disease?
Just get your body put in deep freeze
In the future you’ll wake
When it’s a piece of cake
To use techniques that no one foresees

Event: Dr. James Bedford is the first human to be cryonically preserved
Year: 1967
Learn more:

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The Noble Cardboardery

January 11th, 2010 by Wordsman

This is a follow-up to last week’s entry, specifically to the fifth resolution on the list.  It is intended to serve as a reminder that with the arrival of new things comes the passing of old ones, that the new year cannot start unless the old year finishes.  Or, in the words of Dan Wilson, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

Remember the fallen

The noble Cardboardery had humble beginnings. A crate left over from moving in. A box that once contained spoons. Pieces of a table. A hanger. In those primordial days none suspected how far it could go.

Soon, however, the raw materials that would fuel its awe-inspiring expansion were discovered. Diet Pepsi. Beer. Box upon box of Little Caesar’s pizzas. In time it seemed that no amount of cardboard, however great, could satisfy its rapacious appetites.

Yet the noble Cardboardery was ever the gentle giant. Never did it do harm to its neighbors. Never did it lord its might over the lesser -eries. Not once did it catch fire, despite the protestations of critics.

Sadly, like all Mankind’s purest, most laudable endeavors, the noble Cardboardery came to an end. When this seemingly unstoppable juggernaut surpassed the bounds of the closet, its fate was sealed. Just like Icarus flying too high on his wings of wax, the noble Cardboardery achieved a greatness too great for mere mortals, and it drew the wrath of the Gods.

Their vengeance was swift and horrible. They decreed that the noble Cardboardery be disassembled at once, else they would rain down sulfur and brimstone upon its majestic peaks, turning the surrounding apartments–and perhaps all the Earth–into a Hellish holocaust. In an act of typical divine cruelty, they further stipulated that those to take apart the noble Cardboardery would be the very same that had so lovingly given it form. For days the halls were filled with the lamentations of those who had tasted the capriciousness of the Gods at its most bitter.

And then there was nothing.

But do not dwell on this catastrophe, this act of inhuman destruction. All good things must come to an end. Remember the noble Cardboardery as it was: a shining symbol of Man’s triumph over nature, a testament to his tenacity in the face of unbelievable odds and his ability to look into the Void and see what might be. And remember too the miracle of construction: that which has fallen can always be rebuilt.

The author apologizes for his bizarre closet fixation, and would like to assure readers that the site will return to more traditional content next Monday. However, we all have things that we would like to do, not all of which can be achieved: hence the New Year’s resolution. So the author will simply say: tune in next week.

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