|Once noble a fighter, his body fell, dash'd;|
Small children then plundered his innards to hoard
His head now serves warning to those who would dare
To do battle against Ciampa Manor.
010. I especially enjoyed this New York Times article (registration may be required, blah blah blah) describing the trend of retirees getting hooked on games like PopCap's Bejeweled and Pogo.com's offerings. PopCap's most recent customer survey showed that 76% of its players were women, and that 47% of its players were older than 50. I am not particularly surprised by this news, not when I know my grandfather has been playing Freecell for eight years now -- and by playing Freecell, I mean that he is playing each game in order, in an attempt to prove to himself that all 32,000 deals in the Microsoft Windows release are winnable. He won't move on to the next numbered hand until he's beaten the first. (Either he doesn't know of the collaborative project in the mid-90s which determined that one deal out of 32,000 was unbeatable, or that people have written algorithmic Freecell solvers, or he chooses to ignore them and work on the task himself.) Sure, when you're retired, you have a lot more time to devote to certain pet pursuits, and it may be a bit strange for us workin' folk to understand, but read that NYT article and check out Sister Jean-Marie's score on Bookworm.
011. I found an absolutely wonderful Flickr set of color photos of Boston and Cambridge in 1971. Subjects include a ragtag-looking parade in Harvard Square (with a great view of Out Of Town News and almost-The Pit); gatherings on both Boston and Cambridge Common with longhairs and dancers and recorder players; a shot of the Modern Theater in Downtown Crossing as The Mayflower (advertising "2 Adult Color Films"); a "Beacon Hill social gathering"; a concert by Brewer & Shipley (best known for their hit "One Toke Over The Line", most commonly attributed to The Grateful Dead on music sharing services) and a performance of Jesus Christ Superstar. The colors are amazing, the people are interesting to look at and a regular slice of life is captured quite wonderfully. The smoking gentleman in this shot, for instance, is no doubt scutinizing the young lady's blue bandana, all the better to appreciate its intricate patterns. Yup. No doubt about it.
100. Confidential to Slashdork: When you run your traditional goofy April Fools' stories ("Microsoft To Switch Entierly[sic] To Linux! Bill Gates Buys Stuffed Tux Mascot!" Ha! Ha! I'm Using THE INTERNET!), tagging them with "aprilfools" sort of, oh, I don't know, defeats the purpose of the whole damn thing. You're not fooling anyone; now you're just using the day to bring about an Oniony scent to the website. However, the "Slashdottit!" system is a brilliant joke, and -- oh, Mr. Demon Echidna -- smacks entirely of the Mr. T Points shenanigans a few years back.
Of course, tired April Fools' jokes go back a looooong time. I remember it seemed that every ISCA moderator and sysop decided to step down from their posts on one April 1 or another. Of course, the joke was always on us when they didn't.
101. I am reminded for absolutely no reason whatsoever of a story pertaining to one Harpo Marx, summering one year at a Mediterranean villa as a guest of Alexander Woollcott, mercurial drama critic and great friend of the comedian. Woollcott had learned that Mr. and Mrs. George Bernard Shaw were vacationing rather nearby, and after one or two invitations and contacts, felt he had engineered the social coup of the season by inviting the Shaws to a dinner party held in their honor. Woollcott had advised Harpo to keep things entirely serious for this visit, as Harpo was often known to pull splendid jokes to Woollcott's chagrin. He once completely mortified Aleck at a posh cliffside restaurant by crashing the joint with Ruth Gordon (a frequent partner in crime), tossing his fish entree over the side, and in a very Groucho move, loudly asking the waiter "Fish didn't look good. What's the Blue Plate Special?"
At any rate Harpo promised to be on his best behavior, but spent the afternoon of the party stretched out on a towel near the waterside, sunbathing in the nude. (Nudity is not an uncommon motif in Marx Brothers stories, but we'll get to that some other time.) Harpo was sunbathing a little too close to the villa's driveway, however, and leapt up suddenly when he heard the Shaws approaching. Realizing that social protocol must be followed, Harpo quickly wrapped the towel around his waist, approached the couple and introduced himself, one hand outstretched in welcome, the other clutching the towel.
"Pleased to meet you, Mr. Marx," the playwright said, shaking Harpo's free hand. "I am George Bernard Shaw." Then, with an agile deftness remarkable for a man nearing his eighties, he quickly yanked the towel out from Harpo's other hand and continued, "And this is Mrs. Shaw."