Monday, 3 December 2007

Grumpy old Harlot exceeds 100-character limit

God curse the mobile Phone,
Sony and Ericsson,
God curse that Phone.
Drop it - splash! - in the loo,
Bash it with four by two,
Store it inside a shoe:
God curse That Phone.

O Lord, how to express,
In just an SMS,
What I disdain?;
Is it the ring tones six?,
Phone-induced nervous tics?;
Or nudie voda-pix?:
Oh Lord, the pain.

Oh God, thou hear'st us grown
Bring back the telephone,
The landline phone.
People wrote "you", not "u",
Did not ring from Peru*
To ask about shampoo:
God kill the Phone.

* Not that I'd mind being texted from Peru. If you're in Peru, please send me a text. Don't ask about shampoo, though. Ask about William Blake or something.

17 comments:

TimT said...

Ah, the old mobile phone may have a 100 character limit, but thank heavens! There is no word limit!

Now, I'll just reach for my dictionary of words that are less than 1 character long...

TimT said...

From Songs of Innocence and of Hair Dye

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Gave thee thy fearful green hair dye?

alexis said...

You've got to watch out for those green-haired tiggers. They camouflage something awful.

TimT said...

Aphorisms about hair dye, by William Blake

The fox provides for himself, but God provides for the lion. If you want shampoo, however, you'll have to go to the supermarket.

Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Then don't forget to wash your hair.

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction, but the gnus of fashionability are really the only ones to go to with questions about Pantene.

Where man is not, nature is barren. Where hair is not, shampoo is a waste of money.

The eyes of fire, the nostrils of air, the mouth of water, the beard of the earth. It won't happen overnight, but it will happen!

The cistern contains, the fountain overflows, but the shower is probably the best place to apply shampoo.

TimT said...

And of course -

He who buys a cheap shampoo
Doth utterly ruin his hairdo;
But he who a quality shampoo buys*
Doth live in eternity's sunrise.

A wise man, that William Blake.

*Such as is recommended in Dolly, Cleo, or the Critical William Blake Studies Journal About Shampoo.

alexis said...

He had nice hair too, that Blake, so I guess he'd know.

Dale Slamma said...

A guy I know won an sms competition. His sms poem was scrolled across a giant screen at a festival somewhere in Victoria.

Maria said...

SMS has accounted for the demise of much of the English language, spelling, grammar and punctuation, but has accounted for a rise in the skill of humans to quickly comprehend unpunctuated short messages, often without spaces between words.

So it hasn't made us all completely dumber.

Mr Mean said...

Dear Harlot,

SMS messages have always been able to accommodate 160 (7-bit ASCII) characters each, for as long as I can remember. Any 100-character limit is, therefore, self-imposed.

There is also an art to communicating as much information to the recipient unambiguously, based on context and shared understanding or grounding, as would fit within a single SMS message, a form of wordplay in itself.

In any case, another suggestion for expressing your displeasure at your phone is to microwave it. (Try 90 seconds on the high setting in an 800W microwave oven. I suggest keeping it inside a covered glass dish or jar while you nuke the phone, to contain the flames and the toxic fumes.)

afzhrwtp

alexis said...

160 characters, y'say? Well, that makes all the difference. I'll just whip out my James Joyce and quote a sentence or three.

You make a good point, though, Mean, as does la Slamma, that brevity has its own merits. I think of Mr Pound, for instance, who for all his fascism did a damned pithy poem.

Martin Kingsley said...

My only coherent thought on the matter: According to what I've heard (on the grapevine, don'tcha know?), Video Killed the Radio Star. God was not mentioned. Possibly He/She/It just has really good (Michael Clayton-esque, even) PR people.

So I suppose it's only one short step for Godkind from Video and Radio to Telephony. No doubt this thought will keep you warm on cold nights.

P.S: Yay for hypertext!

TimT said...

A lot of exercises in so-called minimalist writing are quite restrictive. The examples that come to mind are 50 word fictions, haiku (exactly 17 syllables), rhmying couplets (two lines long), or six-word fiction. (Sarsaparilla had a good six-word fiction competition here.)

100-character essays make an interesting addition to this genre.

Problem is, I'm not sure if it really is minimalist - in all these writing genres, you have to meet quite exacting criteria. A 50-word fiction breaks the rules if it contains 48 words! So much for brevity! What's the good of a 50-word story if the simplicity is spoiled by two pointless words?

That's why I'm taken with this: the longest speeches in the world. They're not a genre, really, but they should be. The only restriction on your speech - and it's not much of a restriction, really - is that it should last longer than the other speech.

It suggests a story idea that I'm going to work on some time: "Very small animals attempts to break the records for the longest speech in the world."

It also suggests a corollary: entries for the shortest essay in the world. Though you can only progress so far with that concept: 'My essay is 30 words long!' 'My essay is 2 words long!' (etc, etc).

Hmmm, ideas, ideas...

alexis said...

Edifying, my dear Timson. So edifying they'll start calling me Ed.

Maria said...

How about short speeches mentioned by Character number (and of course, the impact of the speech), TimT?

You will find the greatest speechgivers will come up with hours of meaningful stares and silence.

This talk of character and word limit reminds me of an assignment I had to do in a TAFE course.

We had to write an article of 600 words (approx) on a topic of our choice, the criteria being that it be of some current affairs interest and that we read it to the class the next day.

We got up and read our articles in turn.

Then one girl got up to read hers and for some reason hers was only about three sentences long, whereas everyone else had written at least a page and a half.

"Didn't you do your assignment?"

"Yes."

"600 words on a current affairs topic ...?"

"600 words ...?" she faltered. "Oh dear, I thought the assignment was 600 characters!"

TimT said...

She certainly sounds like a character.

Imagine telling a playwright to write a play with 'only 600 characters'. They'd have a heart attack!

Maria said...

A heart attack?

Playwright's epitaph: "Here I lie - because all my world's a stage and and I was limited to one character."

JahTeh said...

I am so old I can't read text. It does not compute. My brain is hardwired for English not little squiggles.