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March 17th, 2005

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11:52 am - to fserve and protect
I was sitting quite nicely by the keyboard earlier this morning, tapping away as innocently as one could, when I heard a knock at my door. Now as a rule I like knocks on the door about as much as I like pox on the face, but as the knocking grew more insistent I realized I had to investigate. I discovered two men in gray flannel suits and matching hats, bending over slightly to get around the slanted ceiling of the stairwell.

"Mr. D. Spatchel?" one of them asked.

"Who's calling?" I replied. They fished out little badges with lanyards around them. One lanyard read "dotBoston 99" over and over and over.

"Officers Tilde and Interrobang," the one on the left said. "Internet Police."

"I assure you those MP3s were original compositions freely distributable under the Creative Commons License," I said, somewhat unsteadily.

"That's not our jurisdiction," said the one on the right. "We're responding to a possible 461 and were wondering if we could come in and ask a few questions."

"A 461? What's a 461?"

"Cat Blogging In Progress, sir. Now may we come in?"

"Well I'd prefer you not, what with it being St. Patrick's Day and all," I said, but they marched right in anyway.

"Do you do much writing online?" one of the men asked.

"You tell me," I responded. "You're the ones who seem to think there's cat blogging going on."

They remained tight-lipped as I ushered them through the spacious foyer and ultra-clean kitchen to the amazingly clutter-free living area--which, in this day and age of trendy abbreviating, I have begun to call the LivArea. Then Officer Tilde (I think) piped up as we reached the computer desk.

"Oh, it starts innocently enough," he said. "Cat does something extremely interesting, your average Joe Internet decides to describe it to his friends, who enjoy the story enough..."

"But from there it turns into a downward spiral of post after post full of boring details nobody else would really care about," Officer Interrobang (I guess) finished. "You weren't planning on writing anything... mundane, were you?"

"Well, now that you mention it," I began, "There was a funny incident this morning involving cat snot, which turns out to be an irritant, just like cat spit, and--"

"Is this the cat in question?" Officer Interrobang asked, motioning at Martha.

"That's her, that's the one," I said.

"Ma'am," Officer Tilde said, nodding at the cat. She was too busy pretending not to care to, well, care.

"...b-but I was going to put a humorous spin on it," I continued hastily, "and maybe add in a little something for St. Patrick's Day, you know, maybe a little quote from Ken Nordine, a passage from his piece on Green..."

"Sir, cat blogging is a serious offense," Officer Interrobang said, taking a picture of my computer.

"You've got nothing on me," I defiantly replied.

"We've got enough."

"I'm a good guy. I use proper spelling and grammar. I register my shareware. I don't use the 'Mood' or 'Music' fields in LiveJournal. I invite discussion and comment and--heck, I don't even use the word 'blog'. So why're you trying to pin an inanity rap on me?"

"We're just doing our jobs," Officer Tilde said. "Keeping the Internet interesting, one post at a time."

"What's this?!" Officer Interrobang asked, pointing at the screen. "A collection of user avatars, one for every theme or mood reaction?"

"So? They'd be inadmissible in court and you know it!"

"And your website hasn't been updated in over a year."

"Oh, and is that a crime?"

"Not yet," Tilde said softly. "Just wait."

"Listen," Interrobang said soothingly. "Take it from us. Stay on the straight and narrow. Don't settle for posting mediocre What Did I Do Today posts. You've got standards to keep, you know." Then he took a picture of the cat, startling her from her grooming.

"Hey, no pictures!" I snapped.

"It's not my fault you set the bar so high," he said, putting away the camera. "But now it's your responsibilty to maintain that bar. So maintain it. Think outside the box. Embrace new technology. Use it to look good, fresh, new."

"Maybe I don't want to--"

"Maybe it's time to bring it to a new level," Tilde said, a conspiratorial lilt in his voice. "Raise it up a notch. Ring the bells, blow the whistles, integrate! A thousand and one shiny new ways to remain interesting are out there, and it's up to you to grab that paradigm and shift it for all it's worth."

"I think I'm beginning to see what you're really here for," I said, "And I don't like it one bit. Why don't you make like stock options and implode?"

"Tough talk from someone who's not even using del.ici.ous," Tilde said. "Listen, what if we were to leave you with a trial copy of this podcasting software--"

"That's it!" I cried. "Out! And don't come back without a signed EULA, you dotcom nostalgians!"

"We were just leaving anyway," Interrobang sniffed.


"Ma'am," Tilde said to the cat, who licked a very private area in response.

"Glad you stayed so long," I snarled, ushering them back to the door. "I've got to go to work now. And rest assured, if something even remotely interesting happens on my commute, you can be sure as spitting that--"

"--you'll keep it to yourself," Interrobang glared.

"We'll be watching," Tilde said, and started down the stairs. I slammed the door shut, then ran over to my window and listened to them murmur as they walked through the yard.

"What makes a person do it, Joe?" Interrobang asked. "What makes them ruminate upon such details as cat snot?"

"Strange times make strange people do strange things," Tilde answered. "Sad to see. Say, about those pictures..."

"Already uploaded to Flickr," Interrobang said, grinning, as they disappeared around the corner and on to another poor sucker's journal.

I guess I am unable to tell you about my bus ride to work, and how we got stuck in a giant circus parade, and how a gaggle of dancing ladies begged me to sign on as their official Tassel Consultant and travel with them as they toured the Crown Heads of Europe (but who'd wipe the cats' noses while I was away?) ... but then again, that'd be everyday ho-hum. I can, however, tell you that my current mood is quixotic, and the music I'm currently listening to--and I'm taking poetic liberties here, which has never been done before--is "the clicking of office keyboards."

(21 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:March 17th, 2005 08:28 pm (UTC)
you're sick.
[User Picture]
Date:March 17th, 2005 08:52 pm (UTC)
My first thought was "crap! Messrs. Croup and Vandemar have gone digital-hipster!" But I like your idea better.
[User Picture]
Date:March 17th, 2005 10:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you Spatch.
[User Picture]
Date:March 17th, 2005 10:21 pm (UTC)
Aw man, why you gotta go with Kate Tuesday?

Pat Monday is the REAL pre-Scully of MathNet.

And if I remembered their names wrong, there will be HELL to pay.
[User Picture]
Date:March 17th, 2005 10:28 pm (UTC)
Actually, yeah, you got the names wrong. Kate Monday is the one in the avatar, and she was first. Pat Tuesday showed up after Kate and George moved from LA to New York City. I like the first proto-Scully the best, myself.
[User Picture]
Date:March 18th, 2005 12:07 am (UTC)
Okay. I got a little carried away. I meant everything I said except you have to switch the first names and pretend I totally didn't fail to realize which chick was in the avatar.

Monday was way better than Tuesday. Tuesday was a shell, a hollow, soulless automaton.

She never loved Frankly. You could tell.

My mom, to this day, is prone to answering the phone saying "Mathnet, frankly!"

And I to this day am prone to rapping about how many cheeseburgers I am eating right now, or grumbling like the Nefarious Mister Glitch.

On the other hand, I have retained fuck-all information in re: mathematics.
[User Picture]
Date:March 18th, 2005 03:22 am (UTC)
George Frankly couldn't have loved her back, though -- he was married to Martha.

But I'll always be grateful to the Fat Boys for getting me to remember "one thousand times one million -- that's one billion!"

(and then there was the Bruce Springsteen-type in Mathnet who was kidnapped and, blessed with perfect pitch, sang his captor's phone number in touch tones)
[User Picture]
Date:March 18th, 2005 05:47 am (UTC)
"please do what these people say...!"

I remember his name had something to do with vegetables, but I'm not ready to swear it was Stringbean.
[User Picture]
Date:March 17th, 2005 11:17 pm (UTC)

Thomson and Thompson.

Those cops were misleading you. Their names are actually Interrobang and Chatauqua.
[User Picture]
Date:March 17th, 2005 11:22 pm (UTC)
I would have bailed you out. FYI.
[User Picture]
Date:March 18th, 2005 04:30 am (UTC)
You are all heart.

And maybe some liver still.
[User Picture]
Date:March 18th, 2005 04:31 am (UTC)
That would be optimistic.
[User Picture]
Date:March 17th, 2005 11:52 pm (UTC)
You are a sick, sick, twisted individual. Thank God for that.

Hey, in all seriousness, there is a little cadre of Information Science students here at IU who are studying blogging in a very serious scholarly-type fashion, some of whom would probably fall over laughing at this (and then probably sue somebody for any injuries caused from said over-falling, but that's their problem and anyway Martha doesn't have enough money to be worth suing). Mind if I pass this along to a couple of them?
[User Picture]
Date:March 18th, 2005 03:12 am (UTC)
Sure, go ahead and link! Don't mind one bit... that is, of course, you're forwarding it to THE INTERNET POLICE
[User Picture]
Date:March 18th, 2005 03:17 am (UTC)
Oh, much worse... I'm forwarding it to PEOPLE WHO THINK THEY CAN MAKE A LIVING WITH A DEGREE EARNED FROM STUDYING BLOGS! LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!!!11!! (darn library-school kids anyway)
[User Picture]
Date:March 18th, 2005 01:25 am (UTC)
*grin* Croup and Vandemar were my first thought as well. That's beautiful, though, just as it is.
[User Picture]
Date:March 18th, 2005 02:32 am (UTC)
Bastards. If it wasn't for the money and the women I'd put no effort into being interesting online.
[User Picture]
Date:March 18th, 2005 03:00 am (UTC)
It's the hard-knock life!
[User Picture]
Date:March 18th, 2005 10:29 am (UTC)
Personally, I was just thinking that perhaps I needed a visit like that. I've been terribly mundane recently...
[User Picture]
Date:March 18th, 2005 05:47 pm (UTC)

You're the best

I always enjoy reading your stuff, Spatch. Don't ever change.
[User Picture]
Date:March 19th, 2005 11:35 pm (UTC)

Interrobang and Ken Nordine

I have to comment on an entry that references my favorite punctuation mark and my favorite Word Jazz artist. Well, maybe he's the only Word Jazz artist, but that's another matter.

While doing work on putting together a Central European single-byte font for the Polish and Hungarian localizations of our last game, I happened to notice that the interrobang is officially part of the Unicode specification: U+203D. It made me happy in a tiny, nerdy way.

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