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[Peter Cooke and Dudley Moore sketch]
- Miss Rigby! Stella, my love! Would you please send in
the next auditioner, please. Mr. Spiggott, I believe it is.
Mr. Spiggott, I believe?
- Yes, Spiggott by name, Spiggott by nature.
- Yes...if you'd like to remain motionless for a moment,
Mr. Spiggott. Please be stood. Now, Mr. Spiggott you are,
I believe, auditioning for the part of Tarzan?
- Now, Mr. Spiggott, I couldn't help noticing almost at
once that you are a one-legged person.
- You noticed that?
- I noticed that, Mr. Spiggott. When you have been in the
business as long as I have you come to notice these things
almost instinctively. Now, Mr. Spiggott, you, a one-legged
man, are applying for the role of Tarzan - a role which,
traditionally, involves the use of a two-legged actor.
- And yet you, a unidexter, are applying for the role.
- A role for which two legs would seem to be the minimum
- Very true.
-Well, Mr. Spiggott, need I point out to you where your
deficiency lies as regards landing the role?
- Yes, I think you ought to.
- Need I say without overmuch emphasis that it is in the
leg division that you are deficient.
- The leg division?
- Yes, the leg division, Mr. Spiggott. You are deficient
in it to the tune of one. Your right leg I like. I like
your right leg. A lovely leg for the role. That's what I
said when I saw you come in. I said "A lovely leg for the
role." I've got nothing against your right leg. The
trouble is - neither have you. You fall down on your left.
- You mean it's inadequate?
- Yes, it's inadequate, Mr. Spiggott. And, to my mind, the
British public is not ready for the sight of a one-legged
apeman swinging through the jungly tendrils.
- I see.
- However, don't despair. After all, you score over a man
with no legs at all. Should a legless man come in here
demanding the role, I should have no hesitation in saying
"Get out. Run away."
- So there's still a chance?
- There is still a very good chance. If we get no two-
legged actors in here within the next two months, there is
still a very good chance that you'll land this vital
role. Failing two-legged actors, you, a unidexter, are just the
sort of person we shall be attempting to contact telephonically.
- Well...thank you very much.
- So my advice is, to hop on a bus, go home, and sit by
your telephone in the hope that we will be getting in touch
with you. I'm sorry I can't be more definite, but as you
realise, it's really a two-legged man we're after. Good
morning Mr. Spiggott.
- Miss Rice! Condi, my love! Would you please send in the
next one please? It's Mr Bigot, I believe.
Mr. George W. Bigot, I believe?
- Bigot by name, bigot by nature! Yet you can call me
- If you'd like to remain totally thoughtless for a moment,
my good fellow...
- Easily done!
- Tea, George?
- I'd rather have a bottle in front of me!
- Now, truthfully George, you're applying for the position
of President of the United States of America?
- Mr Bigot...George...I couldn't help noticing that you only
seem to have evolved, at a conservative estimate, with half a brain.
- So you noticed that?
- Yes, it's slightly obvious. Now, George.. this is most
vital...yet you're applying for the position of U.S.
President, a role which, traditionally, necessitates
involving the use of an entire brain?
- Duh? Slow down, slow down!!
- And yet you, George, now how shall I put this politely
...a hemicerebrate...are applying for the role?
- Why, yes indeedy I doody! It's to the White House for me,
- A politically intellectual position for which, I'd
suggest, an optimal, twin-cylindered brain would,
logically, seem advantageous to have. The minimum
- Need I point out where your intellectual shortfall is, as
regards landing that U.S. Presidential role, George?
- Guess so.
- Use your noggin, stupid...
- Huh? What's that?
- George, it's in the grey matter division that you're,
might I suggest, quite vastly down.
- Huh? The grey matter division?
- Yes George, the grey matter division. One doesn't need
to be an eminent neurologist, genealogist, neontologist,
speleologist...or any other ologist for that matter...in
order to recognize that niggling vital statistical fact
that you're deficient to the tune of exactly one little
hemisphere. Now, your right hemisphere I like. I like
that hemisphere. That's a lovely hemisphere. It's quite
exceptional. That's what I said when I just saw you come
in. I've got nothing against your right hemisphere, George.
The trouble is, neither have you. And ultimately, to my
mind...even after Slick Willy Clinton...I'd suggest the
American public is possibly not ready to contemplate a
dozy, language-mangling, gung-ho, stetson-wearing Texan
halfwit running the country. However, don't despair...
should John Kerry ever come in to us, we'll call you up
straight away, George...promise!
- Say goodnight now, George!
- Goodnight now George!
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The poem presented here is an anagram of Edgar Allan Poe's To Helen - no, not
the famous one that you probably know ("Helen, thy beauty is to me"), but the
1848 poem with the same name written by Poe to Sarah Helen Whitman.
First, here is the text of Poe's poem:
I saw thee once -
once only - years ago:
I must not say how many - but not many.
It was a July midnight; and from out
A full-orbed moon, that, like thine own soul, soaring,
Sought a precipitate pathway up through heaven,
There fell a silvery-silken veil of light,
With quietude, and sultriness, and slumber,
Upon the upturned faces of a thousand
Roses that grew in an enchanted garden,
Where no wind dared to stir, unless on tiptoe -
Fell on the upturn'd faces of these roses
That gave out, in return for the love-light,
Their odorous souls in an ecstatic death -
Fell on the upturn'd faces of these roses
That smiled and died in this parterre, enchanted
By thee, and by the poetry of thy presence.
Clad all in white, upon a violet bank
I saw thee half reclining; while the moon
Fell on the upturn'd faces of the roses,
And on thine own, upturn'd - alas, in sorrow!
Was it not Fate, that, on this July midnight -
Was it not Fate, (whose name is also Sorrow,)
That bade me pause before that garden-gate,
To breathe the incense of those slumbering roses?
No footstep stirred: the hated world an slept,
Save only thee and me. (Oh, Heaven! - oh, God!
How my heart beats in coupling those two words!)
Save only thee and me. I paused - I looked -
And in an instant all things disappeared.
(Ah, bear in mind this garden was enchanted!)
The pearly lustre of the moon went out:
The mossy banks and the meandering paths,
The happy flowers and the repining trees,
Were seen no more: the very roses' odors
Died in the arms of the adoring airs.
All - all expired save thee - save less than thou:
Save only the divine light in thine eyes -
Save but the soul in thine uplifted eyes.
I saw but them - they were the world to me!
I saw but them - saw only them for hours,
Saw only them until the moon went down.
What wild heart-histories seemed to he enwritten
Upon those crystalline, celestial spheres!
How dark a woe, yet how sublime a hope!
How silently serene a sea of pride!
How daring an ambition; yet how deep -
How fathomless a capacity for love!
But now, at length, dear Dian sank from sight,
Into a western couch of thunder-cloud;
And thou, a ghost, amid the entombing trees
Didst glide away. Only thine eyes remained;
They would not go - they never yet have gone;
Lighting my lonely pathway home that night,
They have not left me (as my hopes have) since;
They follow me - they lead me through the years.
They are my ministers - yet I their slave.
Their office is to illumine and enkindle -
My duty, to be saved by their bright light,
And purified in their electric fire,
And sanctified in their elysian fire.
They fill my soul with Beauty (which is Hope),
And are far up in Heaven - the stars I kneel to
In the sad, silent watches of my night;
While even in the meridian glare of day
I see them still - two sweetly scintillant
Venuses, unextinguished by the sun!
And here is an anagram, composed as a tribute to Poe on the occasion of
his birthday in January, 2005:
As on a bitter, late
black night I sensed
A pang of hunger for serene, lost times,
Outside occult December, hued in white,
Ethereal in every wise, repealed a chime.
Lento time, latent swells: tinny, rusty bells;
On this vain and haunted heap,
Two friends in passion deep.
A gold fire issued shadows of the shapes
That occupied my nearby twilight watch,
As haltingly I heaved a weary cry
And for a time my bloody tunic touch'd:
"Thy youth, thy heart's extent, thy knotty truth,
Shall it not, in our world, pass by tonight?
Ah, ghastly death thy wits shall hence annul,
In hidden morgues thy youth, thy spoil unite."
In pain, in worry, gloomily I sat
Then sampled wines of finely mellow hues:
Vintages of mountain yeast, of thyme,
Ardent, earthen, native county brews,
Then imitated true and witty visions
Of airy themes: a throne, a nude Athene,
A trove of frightful, stupid, mutant woes,
Cold poverty, and this trite world unclean.
Heartened by some tacit undertone
("Just my crowing raven's rant", I swore),
Silently I felt a fleeting throng
Call me to his shrine near Baltimore.
Finely, the bells tapped their hints
With a tune: the ascetic tune,
The tinny tone of man by love unhinged,
To weep alone, and next to swoon.
To go I hired a makeshift limousine,
And man to helm it for the outward course;
We spared no time, and forth to see him drove,
Indeed appeasing not that famous horse.
Ah, thou lathe: the hated pit
Of heaven's lathe our soul besets,
With the feeble weeping wetness
Which a silken drapery imbues to Lenore,
The deathly gentle saint of Poe's.
Shortly we came to a gate
Worn by the sea mist - the inner door,
The fair, pale stag within baying
On and on in gaunt, woeful attitude.
Tunes he evoked to me - philosophies,
Sans grace, in unseen, cruel visions.
Demented untruths, such as these:
An odious, eerie hamlet of half-paid stone;
Unholy humiliations, the ire they awakened in me;
Night after bland night of ochre-hued tones,
Nineteen rows of graves deep;
Deep holes, little holes, trite poetry
Of finding a lost heathen herewith redeemed.
Alone, I stirred and ambled yon and near
Then paused by the vault, that solid granite there,
To touch, to choke, to grieve, to take within
Inferno's fumes and wasting human sleep.
Eden's valley of unrest, whose moonlight
Dales with scars are gently strewn,
Ghastly shouts that show death's hold live there,
Awaiting thy wife, the blonde pride of the moon.
Removed, as sent from nymph-joined heaven's hold,
As prayers for her, when night-born winds assume;
Lethe deep has wholly washed his head -
Lost within, for aye, its white, high tomb.
An author skilled who rhymed in woeful ways
Near shallow graves unread by human seer;
Poets that embrace those heavy dirges
Of fears and love's law will worship here.
and sleep in peace.
The anagram tries (as best it can) to tell a story, of the narrator's
journey to pay homage to Poe, and it also incorporates an acrostic of Poe's
full name in the initial letters of the final 13 non-indented lines of
But none of these is the real constraint.
Consider the following scheme for turning a piece of text into a grayscale
(1) Break the text up into its sequence of words. This sounds trivial,
but some rules have to be settled on to avoid ambiguity or illogical
results. I decided on these rules as being the most natural:
(a) Apostrophes do not (of course) cause a string to be split. E.g.,
"love's law" is a 5-letter word followed by a 3-letter word.
(b) The hyphen ("-") is a delimiter. "Half-paid stone" is three
words, not two.
(c) All other punctuation is ignored.
(2) Take each word of three or more letters and do the following:
First, sum up the values the letters in the word (with the usual
A=1, B=2, C=3, etc.).
Then, reduce the sum modulo 9, giving a value in the range 0 through 8.
(Note that the second step is equivalent to continually together adding
the digits of the sum until a single digit is left - i.e., "casting out
nines" - except with that method, if the final result is a 9 it is replaced with 0.)
(3) Take the resulting series of 0-to-8 values and arrange them in a
two-dimensional grid. The dimensions of the rectangle will in general
be ambiguous, so it either has to be specified or you can just try various
different possibilities and see if any of them are interesting. The
one to try first, we suggest, is the rectangle with the largest
possible size in X such that the X size is less than or equal to the Y size.
For example, for 396 this would be 18 x 22.
(4) View the result as a gray-scale image, with 0=black and the
other values evenly distributed up to 8=white.
For instance, the beginning of the anagram turns into numbers as
2+9+20+20+5+18 = 74 = 2 mod 9
L+A+T+E = 12+1+20+5
= 38 = 2 mod 9
2+12+1+3+11 = 29 = 2 mod 9
14+9+7+8+20 = 58 = 4 mod 9
19+5+14+19+5+13 = 75 = 3 mod 9
so that the series of numbers begins 2, 2, 2, 4, 3.
Here is the complete sequence of (what a coincidence!) 396 numbers, arranged
into an 18x22 array:
2 2 2 4 3 2 1 3 3 3 3 3 2 1 2 2 2 3
2 3 2 3 2 0 0 1 4 5 2 1 1 1 3 4 3 3
3 2 2 5 8 6 5 4 4 2 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 3
2 1 4 8 8 8 8 8 7 8 6 6 7 4 0 0 1 3
2 2 8 8 7 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 6 4 0 0 4
2 7 7 8 8 8 7 8 7 8 8 8 8 8 4 2 0 1
1 7 8 8 7 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 7 4 1 2 0
0 7 8 7 8 8 7 8 7 8 8 8 7 6 1 1 0 1
2 5 8 6 5 8 6 7 6 6 6 6 6 6 1 0 1 0
1 4 2 1 0 5 8 2 0 1 1 2 3 6 3 0 0 2
1 4 2 3 1 5 7 4 4 3 2 1 1 6 2 0 2 1
0 4 7 6 6 8 7 6 6 7 6 6 6 6 3 0 0 1
0 4 6 7 6 7 7 6 6 7 6 7 7 2 2 4 1 0
1 1 7 8 7 8 7 6 5 8 7 6 6 3 2 6 5 0
3 1 5 6 6 5 4 1 4 5 6 4 4 2 1 5 3 0
3 3 5 6 5 0 0 0 3 7 6 5 2 3 1 1 0 1
2 2 3 6 4 4 5 2 2 4 6 3 1 2 1 1 1 3
3 3 2 5 7 7 5 5 6 6 6 2 0 2 3 4 2 3
3 3 2 3 8 7 6 7 7 6 3 1 4 7 4 3 2 3
3 3 4 5 4 4 6 6 5 3 1 5 6 0 0 3 2 3
4 3 2 5 5 2 0 1 1 1 5 2 0 0 0 3 2 3
4 2 4 7 8 4 1 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 3
Below are three renderings of this in grayscale: (1) as a collection
large blocks in the proper grayscale (to be viewed from a distance), (2) at
"native size" (with each digit represented by just one pixel), and (3) the native view enlarged by a factor of 1.5.
Although crude (as a result of the fact that 18x22 isn't a whole lot of
pixels), the image should be recognizable as a portrait of The Man.
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What's the point of going abroad if you're just another tourist carted around in buses surrounded by sweaty mindless oafs from Kettering and Coventry in their cloth caps and their cardigans and their transistor radios and their Sunday Mirrors, complaining about the tea - "Oh they don't make it properly here, do they, not like at home" - and stopping at Majorcan bodegas selling fish and chips and Watney's Red Barrel and calamares and two veg and sitting in their cotton frocks squirting Timothy White's suncream all over their puffy, raw, swollen, purulent flesh 'cos they "overdid it on the first day." And being herded into endless Hotel Miramars and Bellvueses and Continentales with their modern international luxury roomettes and draught Red Barrel and swimming pools full of fat German businessmen pretending they're acrobats forming pyramids and frightening the children and barging into queues and if you're not at your table spot on seven you miss the bowl of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup, the first item on the menu of International Cuisine, and every Thursday night the hotel has a bloody cabaret in the bar, featuring a tiny emaciated dago with nine-inch hips and some bloated fat tart with her hair brylcreemed down and a big arse presenting Flamenco for Foreigners. And adenoidal typists from Birmingham with flabby white legs and diarrhoea trying to pick up hairy bandy-legged wop waiters called Manuel and once a week there's an excursion to the local Roman Remains to buy cherryade and melted ice cream and bleeding Watney's Red Barrel and one evening you visit the so called typical restaurant with local colour and atmosphere and you sit next to a party from Rhyl who keep singing "Torremolinos, torremolinos" and complaining about the food - "It's so greasy isn't it?" - and you get cornered by some drunken greengrocer from Luton with an Instamatic camera and Dr. Scholl sandals and last Tuesday's Daily Express and he drones on and on about how Mr. Smith should be running this country and how many languages Enoch Powell can speak and then he throws up over the Cuba Libres. And sending tinted postcards of places they don't realise they haven't even visited to "All at number 22, weather wonderful, our room is marked with an 'X'. Food very greasy but we've found a charming little local place hidden away in the back streets where they serve Watney's Red Barrel and cheese and onion crisps and the accordionist plays 'Maybe It's Because I'm a Londoner'." And spending four days on the tarmac at Luton airport on a five-day package tour with nothing to eat but dried BEA-type sandwiches and you can't even get a drink of Watney's Red Barrel because you're still in England and the bloody bar closes every time you're thirsty and there's nowhere to sleep and the kids are crying and vomiting and breaking the plastic ash-trays and they keep telling you it'll only be another hour although your plane is still in Iceland and has to take some Swedes to Yugoslavia before it can load you up at 3 a.m. in the bloody morning and you sit on the tarmac till six because of "unforeseen difficulties", i.e. the permanent strike of Air Traffic Control in Paris - and nobody can go to the lavatory until you take off at 8, and when you get to Malaga airport everybody's swallowing "enterovioform" and queuing for the toilets and queuing for the armed customs officers, and queuing for the bloody bus that isn't there to take you to the hotel that hasn't yet been finished. And when you finally get to the half-built Algerian ruin called the Hotel del Sol by paying half your holiday money to a licensed bandit in a taxi you find there's no water in the pool, there's no water in the taps, there's no water in the bog and there's only a bleeding lizard in the bidet. And half the rooms are double booked and you can't sleep anyway because of the permanent twenty-four-hour drilling of the foundations of the hotel next door - and you're plagued by appalling apprentice chemists from Ealing pretending to be hippies, and middle-class stockbrokers' wives busily buying identical holiday villas in suburban development plots just like Esher, in case the Labour government gets in again, and fat American matrons with sloppy-buttocks and Hawaiian-patterned ski pants looking for any mulatto male who can keep it up long enough when they finally let it all flop out. And the Spanish Tourist Board promises you that the raging cholera epidemic is merely a case of mild Spanish tummy, like the previous outbreak of Spanish tummy in 1660 which killed half London and decimated Europe - and meanwhile the bloody Guardia are busy arresting sixteen-year-olds for kissing in the streets and shooting anyone under nineteen who doesn't like Franco. And then on the last day in the airport lounge everyone's comparing sunburns, drinking Nasty Spumante, buying cartons of duty free "cigarillos" and using up their last pesetas on horrid dolls in Spanish National costume and awful straw donkeys and bullfight posters with your name on "Ordoney, El Cordobes and Brian Pules of Norwich" and 3-D pictures of the Pope and Kennedy and Franco, and everybody's talking about coming again next year and you swear you never will although there you are tumbling bleary-eyed out of a tourist-tight antique Iberian airplane...
Don't you hate going to a critically-acclaimed film that happens to be popular, which means paying a Friday night visit to the ugly Megaplex cinema, blandly named Grand Paradise or Manhattan Deluxe or some other generic nonsense, and standing in a long, Disneyland-esque queue that never moves behind some bald yuppie who gossips on his annoying, Bolero-ringing cell phone, casually blurting out the ending of your movie when you least expect it, even though he's going to a different one, some dull Bulgarian crap that the New York Times once mentioned, probably on that one day they ran out of fabricated international stories to print. And then a menacing, bearded bully in an old, randomly torn Metallica T-shirt and an even older black Pleather jacket cuts in line, mumbling something about being there before and calling you Buddy as he swirls his tongue-stud around, and you stand there nodding like an idiot as you feel your innards flapping about, but you stay behind the bastard and edge one tiny step at a time until ninety nerve-grinding days later you reach the ticket counter, only to discover that, rather predictably, the film is sold out, and all the other films playing are dreary parades of third-rate celebrities in stock yarns even an infant would find nap-inducing. And when you try and inquire on which is the lesser evil, the girl in the counter, who's plump and acne-ridden yet looks like she turned ten yesterday, answers your query with a blank glare, eventually suggesting you to see some horror cross-over, in the midst of blowing a giant Bazooka Gum bubble, then names a price which sounds not unlike ransom for a newborn son, and you grudgingly pay her, channeling your grandpa as you snarl that you could've seen twenty films for that price eleven years ago and still have enough left for some hard candy and a ferry ride. And incidentally, next in line is a man that may very well BE your grandpa - the odd lobby attendant, a squinty-eyed WWII veteran dressed like a bellboy, who insists on frisking you on account of 'November Ninth', and you tip the old man out of compassion, only to watch him rip your dollar in two and hand you a half, then pocket the ticket and grin lovingly. Then it's moving right along to the concession stand, where you have a moment to decide between wrinkly popcorn and waxy candy bars that lost popularity three decades ago, and settle for a soda drink as large as a whale's stomach and just as fragrant, and you hurry inside, though Lord knows why, as all that's displayed are endless trailers for mind-numbing special-effects films about natural disasters of biblical proportions or awkward, star-studded 'dramatic' vanity-projects, and cryptic commercials that turn out to be for something trivial like a litter box, yet for some odd reason the audience is applauding these, and at all the wrong moments. And finally the film opens with a bland narrator who tries to explain how the 'Alien' and 'Predator' monsters ever came to know one another, but as soon as the first consonant is uttered it's interrupted by another cell phone with a Bolero ringtone, and before you get a chance to think about the ringtone's appeal it's followed by a laser-pointer dot darting across the screen. And halfway into the film, a portly woman in a shapeless Hawaiian dress, that dragged her wailing baby to a violent, graphic bloodfest in order to save a couple of bucks on a sitter, parks herself directly in front of you, and the baby's brother, a four-year-old boy with big puppy eyes and some Dickensian-Orphan face-dirt, wanders the aisles and asks you if you'll be his buddy while fishing for boogers, and though the kid's variation is much more cordial than that Metallica Biker prick from earlier on, you rapidly decline, for the first murder is imminent, but the monster is stopped in its tracks by yet another Bolero ringtone, but you soon find that it isn't coming from the theatre seats as, before your widening eyes, the monster answers ITS OWN cell phone and growls into it for a while, and when the alien eventually lifts the phone up and slams its Nokia logo at the camera, thus insuring more dead-presidents for the director's gore budget, you sit there transfixed, simply nonplussed at what can only be termed 'Dadaism On Film', and after making sure you're not under the influence of some cannabis, you let out the bellowing roar, "Un-fucking-real!", cuing a teenaged usher to rush in, who, in an ironic twist, tells YOU to pipe down and mind YOUR manners - not the mother of the blaring human larva, not the beeping cell phones or the hooting and hissing hecklers, not even the damn bootlegger five feet to the left of the usher, cramped in his seat with a video camera fixed under his raincoat. And at that point the laser-pointer's beam penetrates your eye socket, liquefying an essential part of your brain, though not nearly enough to be entertained by latex Alien puppets, and you snap and run around, growing madder and madder as you scream: "Fridays are doomed! Aliens are among us! They're after our dime! They spend it on cell calls!", and as you run by the weird old attendant, his rabid spasms make sense at last, and you hotwire a van and pair up to incinerate all of the world's bad films, and after a few chants of Bolero, you hug him and declare, "You and me are a dying breed, buddy... a dying breed."