Monday, September 2, 2013

Tortured and "Twitter"pated: Day 7: Mania

[This was my very favorite day from the week I spent doing only "twitter length" updates. I was getting pretty good at it. The pain of brevity didn't hurt much, anymore; I had "snapped" and no longer cared. In "short," I went absolutely bloomin' barkin' bonkers. Berserk, even. --Gail]

Gail Homer Berry
[Part 1]
A baker's dozen years and week ago,
I married Jon (he's cute!), my bestest friend.

[Part 2]
Despite the ways I tease and cause him woe,
Yet loyally he laughs at me. The End!

Jon Berry I wouldn't have it any other way. You're wonderful, Sweetheart! I love you.

Commentary: I wanted to do say something nice about Jon who had been providing me with an appreciative audience throughout this ordeal. I tried to make the stanza eight syllables per line instead of ten, in the hopes that I could then squeeze it into one post, but I couldn’t get it to work.

I also considered abbreviating it brutally, like this:

A bAkrs dozn yrs & wk ago
I mArEd Jon (hEs cute) my bestst frend.
DespIt the wAs I tEz & cauz him wO
Yet loyalE he lafs at me. The end!

It was a love poem. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Instead I sacrificed my pride (for you, Jon!) and broke it into two posts.
Gail: I thought maybe you'd say that you laugh at me because I'm funny.
Jon: ...I laugh at you for many reasons...

Kristine Kirkeiner Low I seem a bit behind, what are your numbered statuses referring to? Is it part of a quote book? Just curious!

Jon Berry Letter count. She's trying to avoid being verbose for a week. Brian Thomas challenged her to keep her posts within Twitter length limits.

Kristine Kirkeiner Low Ah! Ok I see!

Brian Thomas She's getting rather good at it, too

Gail Homer Berry
Oh, Brian, would t'were so, but, *sigh*, not true;
Jon's stanza should be one update, not two.

2 gener8 a plot, I always say,
Just torture karacters. O dire day!
4 now I no exactly how it feels
+ theres no plot, just silly poem peals.


“To generate a plot,” I always say,
“Just torture characters.” O dire day!
For now I know exactly how it feels--
Plus there’s not plot, just silly poem peals.

And commentary:

I faced layered irony.

Reading Lois McMaster Bujold taught me something amazing. When I’m writing a fictional story, I think “What’s the worst thing I could possibly do to this character?”—and then I do it.

And it works! You get all kinds of interesting and funny results that way. (Bwahaha!)

Now I was doing it to myself. And it worked! I got all kinds of interesting and funny results.

It was uncomfortable, though, and it gave me sudden sympathy for all the characters I’ve ever forced to experience messy minions, asphyxiation, orange polka dots, and long division. If things were reversed, what would they do to me?

This silly poem claimed that I was torturing myself to no good purpose since the exercise wasn’t generating a plot, just bad verse. (And I don’t believe suffering innately confers good karma: taking the epidural does not mean you’re a spiritual cripple who loves your baby less.)

The lack of plot was not entirely true, though. Yes, the length restriction were driving me batty, but I was also enjoying how the challenge was generating an awesome conversation among my friends, and that conversation, plus my “hammed up” suffering, were all becoming part of a greater, funny story.

I was torturing myself and tickling myself at the same time.

Yes, I’m crazy.
A new dIrectiv: 2 sAv spAs, I vow
2 spel "long vowls" w/capitals, lIk now.
& also swAr that I'l elimin8
rEdundant leters. This'l B so gr8!


A new directive: to save space, I vow
To spell “long vowels” with capitals, like now.
And also swear that I’ll eliminate
Redundant letters. This will be so great!

Phillip Porter And so it begins.

Gail Homer Berry @ Phillip--so what begins? The rapid devolution of "twitter/texting" English is already underway, and my insanity is also well documented. (138)

Matthew Calabresi I feel like I'm witnessing some sort of triumph of the human spirit, but it's of someone whose only goal in life is to bounce off of padded walls.

Gail Homer Berry
A padded cell no prison makes
if I have paper, quill,
And no restrictions on their use.
(Plus real food, not swill.)

Gail Homer Berry
A second thought--I'd get more done
Without my kids in tow;
But with no reader feedback...?
Nah, I guess that I won't go.

Gail Homer Berry
@ Matthew--I am laughing, still,
@ comment u just made.
My big regret? My meter changed.
I've played, strayed, prayed, and paid.

Commentary 1: 

It drove me crazy that I switched from straight iambic pentameter (10 syllables per line with alternating accents) in my original poem posts to a pattern of 8/6/8/6 syllable lines, albeit still in iambic feet in the comments. That’s what I mean by my “meter” changing.

Every time I re-read this section, I wince at the awkward transition. My readers should built up anticipation which helps them to “hear” the poem “correctly” the first time. If they’re expecting 10 and they get 8/6, it throws them off. (At least, it throws ME off, and I wrote the things.) Similarly, going from 8/6 back to 10 is also awkward. Sigh.

On the other hand, doing 8/6 couplets did let me avoid the horrible “mixd cAs” (mixed case) spelling I was forced to use for longer verses.

At this point, it was all about finding the best possible compromise.

Commentary 2:

I saw Matthew in the hall at church and told him how funny I’d found his comment. He had worried it might have sounded too mean.

I shrugged. “Oh, no,” I answered. “I’m used to hearing MUCH worse from my family…”

He said he’d be glad when the week was over, because the mixed case abbreviations were…”Aaaah!” He clenched his hands.

Exactly. Yes. I agreed it was horribly obnoxious. Again, one of those awful compromises.

Carolyn Homer Thomas I feel like Brian and I should have also imposed a "no non-standard abbreviation" limit on you, too. I HATE l33tspeak with a fiery passion.

Gail Homer Berry
I hAt it 2! But how else cud
I skwEz a 4-lIn stanza
In2 restrictions u impOzd?
Cant soar, just glide. Lufthansa!


I hate it, too! But how else could
I squeeze a four-line stanza
Into restrictions you imposed?
Can’t soar, just glide. Lufthansa!


Well, obviously “Lufthansa” was a stretch. I was trying to evoke imagery of a majestic bird hobbled by a clipped wing, or a sleek airplane hampered by silly governmental regulations. Something that should be soaring but is just managing an awkward glide.

The best I could do there was to reference “Lufthansa” and hope it conveyed the idea of a commercial airline that had sacrificed comfort for cramming people together. Since it’s the primary airline in Germany, and since Germans are all about Following the Rules, it was the best I could do. Plus I was desperate for a rhyme.

Carolyn Homer Thomas considering you had another 30 characters with that one, I'm pretty sure you could have done it.

Gail Homer Berry
That last one, true. I did it to
Annoy you, natcherly,
But pause and think: though it pained you,
the "scorched earth" burned, more, me.

Gail Homer Berry
Some "triage" principles apply
to all my verse, I fear.
If I must change 1 vowel, then
perhaps I /all/ should shear.

Commentary: I did consider, seriously, capitalizing even words where it was unnecessary, like “mE” and “hE”, just for uniformity. I refrained. Aren’t you proud of me?

Clint Kimball If it were me I would have truncated your original post to:

"I've got it! I'll replace long vowels with capital letters and eliminate redundant characters! (95)"

Then again the truncation would defeat purpose of the post in the first place. Hmm...

Gail Homer Berry @Clint:

Two motivations have I: first,
From all this pain, make art;
The second--it's ignoble, aye--
To others, pain impart.

2 Ne 2:27

Commentary: I’m particularly proud of that one. I think it was the favorite poem I wrote that week.

The scripture reference is about how Satan is selfish and “seeks to make all men miserable like unto himself.”

It’s petty and cruel and I ought to be ashamed of myself. But I will confess I took an unholy pleasure in spreading the suffering around. And it DID help me feel better.

As Alcatraz Smedry would say, “I am not a nice person.” Also “
Authors write books for one, and only one, reason: because we like to torture people.”


Tricia Reynolds Humberstone This is just awesome. You are brilliant.

Gail Homer Berry
Dear Tricia -- I appreciate
Such comments from the crowd.
They keep me going, and suppress
My screams from "*ROAR!!!*" to "loud."

Tricia Reynolds Humberstone I am feeling particularly loved, now that I have my name beginning one of your poems...glad to be part of the fan club to keep you going.

Bottom of Form
If U cud undrstand my prEvyus pOms,
I pity U, mE, languj & al tOms.
The rIming is such fun thO; I intend
2 kEp it up 'til I or English rend

Tedra Richter thk u, e.e. berry. Lol


If you could understand my previous poems,
I pity you, me, language, and all tomes.
The rhyming is such fun, though; I intend
To keep it up ‘till I or English rend.
I wonder how stylometry wud pars
This wEks depar2r in2 vers and fars?
Wud it compAr & sA I am the sAm
or diffrent authors shArEn but 1 name?

Translation and context:

"I wonder how stylometry would parse
This week's departure into verse and farce?
Would it compare and say I am the same
or different authors, sharing but one name?

The article is by a man who wrote a computer program that analysis the stylistic fingerprint of authors. He described his method in more detail in the article, but the summary is that people tend to make unconscious word choices, favoring certain (for example) prepositions over others.

His program looks at several different factors, such as average word length, compares sample texts, and spits out probabilities.

I found myself wondering what it would make of a typical week of my Facebook updates, compared against the last week of chaotically spelled, terse posts.

Supposedly it’s very difficult to change one’s linguistic “fingerprint” in a sustained way. I believe that, but I also think this week-long experiment might, just possibly, succeed.

No comments: