Heard By a Bird
"Instead of prayer, atheists have Scrabble."
- Jonas Salk
Did you see the cloud resembling a sideways walrus over Pine Hill last Thursday?
"Ask Sparrow" is an increasingly regular feature of this column, in which the bewildered write in seeking answers.
My dear friend Nicol got married in style this past weekend. The day after, we agreed that the word "wife" is extremely unappetizing. Can you help us find a better word?
Also, how do mosquitoes know to only bite the backs of your hands?
Yes, the word "wife" is quite limiting. May I suggest the term "wedded pal"? As for mosquitoes, they orient themselves by fingernails.
Yours in Schubert marches,
My friends are listening to the jazz-emo band Chocolate Hornet.
I found out where deer come from, according to American Heroes of Legend and Lore by Frank Shay (Willow Books, N.Y., 1964). Apparently, Paul Bunyan ("Mightiest of Loggers") "did all sorts of crazy things to the animals of the North Woods" as a youth. "When he was really happy he liked to race about the forest shouting at the top of his voice, singing, whistling, making any noise that suited his immediate mood. He frightened all the wild animals out of their natural growth... Moose became so afraid of him that they lost their great courage and became emaciated and a new race grew up and became known as deer, noted for their timidity."
WARNING: I'M A CHARACTER
IN A THOMAS PYNCHON NOVEL
Shandaken Poetry Countdown
If, like a
- Alice Deetre
- Mark Elward
Birth of the Typoizer
I spoke to local computer programmer/inventor Hugo Bratt.
Sparrow: I understand you invented a "typo-izer." Can you explain?
Bratt: One day I was sitting in Brio's reading The Washington Post when I became nostalgic for typos. When I was young, they still existed: those little hermetic phrases like "mxgur fnaagl." Or sometimes, you'd just have a whole row of "e"s. For some reason, they were often at the bottom of articles. You almost felt that Martians had infiltrated the newsrooms, to dictate their messages.
Today, because of SpellCheck, a whole generation has grown up without seeing these thought-provoking phrases. Of course, what the computer hath wrought, the computer can unwork.
Sparrow: So you created a program to insert typos.
Bratt: Yes, it's quite simple, actually. You just use a random letter generator. My one refinement was to add a gauge regulating how much of the text to typo-ize. If you like, you may reduce an entire New York Times article to gibberish (online, of course). It gives readers a sense of control over their news source.
Sparrow: What kind of reception are you getting?
Bratt: Indie rockers love it. I suspect a few of them are using it to write songs. My only problem are "typo purists," who feel the Typoizer is unnatural.
[For more information, see www.typoizer.com.]
Tags: Sparrow , Bratt , Became , Computer
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