or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

O Yes!

Okay, this is going to take a bit of setting up.

A few months ago I wrote about a device called an orrery, a little mechanical model of the solar system.

Lolcats are captioned pictures of cats (usually--sometimes they're other animals), and I've talked about them before and won't bore you; you can read all about them on the admirably concise yet thorough Wikipedia lolcat page, and then you can see thousands of examples of the form, surprisingly many of the hilarious and/or adorable, on the premier lolcat site, I Can Has Cheezburger?

One of the most famous non-cat lolcat pictures is this owl:

She's saying--in case you can't read the particular oddball lolcat patois*--"Oh, really?" I can't tell if she's shocked or sardonic or dubious, which is part of the genius of the thing.

There are, of course, this being the Internet, all sorts of offshoots of lolcats, most of them short-lived: lolzillas, lolgays, and the like. Someone has recently come up with lolscience, which you can check out here, if you have a mind to. You probably should, just for completeness.

I was flipping through it the other day. Most of the images aren't especially hilarious, which is the usual way of such things: to employ a common paraphrase of Sturgeon's Law, ninety per cent of everything is crap. But one of them had me laughing for a good thirty seconds, because of the sheer brilliance of it.

I could never have come up with that--my mind just doesn't work that way--but I know extreme cleverness when I see it. Would one person in a thousand have found that funny? One in a hundred thousand? I don't know, but I did, as did Jim, and I hope you do, too, because it's delightful.

*Some of it, such as "o rly" itself, stems from text messaging, whose users delight in cramming as much information into as small a space as possible, since the fewer characters you use, the less button-mashing you have to do. I briefly skimmed a rant the other day by someone who thought that texting was ruining the minds of the young, but I don't think it is, or at least not without a whole lot of help. I'm sure that back in the day, people who loved the massive compound-complex sentences of Henry James had the same feelings about the telegraph, which also encouraged people to write tersely. Of course, that had a profound impact on literature: would Hemingway, for one, have come up with his brief, crisp sentences without the effect of the telegraph? I don't think texting will have quite the same seismic effect, but you never know; maybe it'll lead to a really clipped, herky-jerky kind of prose of the sort that James Ellroy filled an entire book with in "The Cold Six Thousand", which I found nastily unreadable, just an unending string of teeny, subject-verb-object sentences. Here's an example, not even the worst:

Oswald stepped out. Oswald wore handcuffs. Two cops flanked him. They walked through the basement. They faced some reporters. They cleared a path fast.

A man jumped out. Dark suit / fedora. Right arm outstretched. He stepped up. He shot near point-blank.

Wayne blinked. Wayne saw it -- oh fuck.

Oswald doubled up. Oswald went "Oooh."

The cops blinked. They saw it -- oh fuck.

Commotion. Dogpile. The gunman's down. He's prone. He's disarmed. He's pinned flat.

The whole book is like that. The whole thing!


Post a Comment

<< Home