Thursday, December 1, 2011

Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First?" meets the 21st century ...

From one of my always-reliable WikiSources:

ABBOTT: Ultimate SuperDuper Computer Store. Can I help you?

COSTELLO: Thanks. I'm setting up a home office in the den, and I'm
thinking of buying a computer.


COSTELLO: No, the name is Lou.

ABBOTT: Your computer?

COSTELLO: I don't own a computer. I want to buy one.


COSTELLO: I told you, my name is Lou.

ABBOTT: What about Windows?

COSTELLO: Why? Does it get stuffy?

ABBOTT: Do you want a computer with Windows?

COSTELLO: I don't know. What do I see when I look out the windows?

ABBOTT: Wallpaper.

COSTELLO: Never mind the windows. I need a computer and software.

ABBOTT: Software that runs on Windows?

COSTELLO: No, on the computer! I need something I can use to write
proposals, track expenses. You know, run a business. What have you

ABBOTT: Office.

COSTELLO: Yeah, for my office. Can you recommend anything?

ABBOTT: I just did.

COSTELLO: You just did what?

ABBOTT: Recommended something.

COSTELLO: You recommended something?


COSTELLO: For my office?


COSTELLO: Okay, what did you recommend for my office?

ABBOTT: Office.

COSTELLO: Yes, for my office.

ABBOTT: Office for Windows.

COSTELLO: I already have an office and it already has windows! Let's
say I'm sitting at my computer, and I want to type a proposal. What do
I need?


COSTELLO: If I'm writing a proposal, I'm going to need lots of words.
But what program do I load?


COSTELLO: What word?

ABBOTT: The Word in Office.

COSTELLO: The only word in office is office.

ABBOTT: The Word in Office for Windows.

COSTELLO: Which word in "office for windows?"

ABBOTT: The Word you get when you click the blue W.

COSTELLO: I'm going to click your big W if you don't give me a straight
answer. Let's forget about words for a minute. What do I need if I
want to watch a movie over the Internet?

ABBOTT: RealOne.

COSTELLO: Maybe a real movie, maybe a cartoon. What I watch is none of
your business. But what do I need to watch it?

ABBOTT: RealOne.

COSTELLO: If it's a long movie I'll also want to watch reels two, three
And four. Can I watch reel four?

ABBOTT: Of course.

COSTELLO: Great! With what?

ABBOTT: RealOne.

COSTELLO: Okay, so I'm sitting at my computer and I want to watch a
movie. What do I do?

ABBOTT: You click the blue 1.

COSTELLO: I click the blue one what?

ABBOTT: The blue 1.

COSTELLO: Is that different from the blue W?

ABBOTT: Of course it is. The blue 1 is RealOne. The blue W is Word.

COSTELLO: What word?

ABBOTT: The Word in Office for Windows.

COSTELLO: But there's three words in "office for windows!"

ABBOTT: No, just one. But it's the most popular Word in the world.


ABBOTT: Yes, although to be fair, there aren't many other Words left.
It pretty much wiped out all the other Words.

COSTELLO: And that word is the real one?

ABBOTT: No. RealOne has nothing to do with Word. RealOne isn't even
part of Office.

COSTELLO: Never mind; I don't want to get started with that again. But
I also need something for bank accounts, loans, and so on. What do you
have to help me track my money?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: That's right. What do you have?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: I need money to track my money?

ABBOTT: No, not really. It comes bundled with your computer.

COSTELLO: What comes bundled with my computer?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: Money comes bundled with my computer?

ABBOTT: Exactly! No extra charge.

COSTELLO: I get a bundle of money with my computer at no extra charge?
How much money do I get?

ABBOTT: Just one copy.

COSTELLO: I get a copy of money. Isn't that illegal?

ABBOTT: No. We have a license from Microsoft to make copies of Money.

COSTELLO: Microsoft can license you to make money?

ABBOTT: Why not? They own it.

COSTELLO: Well, it's great that I'm going to get free money, but I'll
need to track it. Do you have anything for managing your money?

ABBOTT: Managing Your Money? That program disappeared years ago.

COSTELLO: Well, what do you sell in its place?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: You sell money?

ABBOTT: Of course. But if you buy a computer from us, you get it for

COSTELLO: That's all very wonderful, but I'll be running a business.
Do you have any software for, you know, accounting?

ABBOTT: Simply Accounting.

COSTELLO: Probably, but it might get a little complicated.

ABBOTT: If you don't want Simply Accounting, you might try M.Y.O.B.

COSTELLO: M.Y.O.B.? What does that stand for?

ABBOTT: Mind Your Own Business.

COSTELLO: I beg your pardon?

ABBOTT: No, that would be I.B.Y.P. I said "M.Y.O.B."

COSTELLO: Look, I just need to do some accounting for my home business.
You know -- accounting? You do it with money.

ABBOTT: Of course you can do accounting with Money. But you may need

COSTELLO: More money?

ABBOTT: More than Money. Money can't do everything.

COSTELLO: I don't need a sermon! Okay, let's forget about money for
The moment. I'm worried that my computer might .... what's the word?
Crash. And if my computer crashes, what can I use to restore my data?


COSTELLO: Okay. I'm worried about my computer smashing and I need
something to restore my data. What do you recommend?


COSTELLO: How many times do I have to repeat myself?

ABBOTT: I've never asked you to repeat yourself. All I said was

COSTELLO: How can I go back if I haven't even been anywhere? Okay, I'll
go back. What do I need to write a proposal?


COSTELLO: But I'll need lots of words to write a proposal.

ABBOTT: No, you only need one Word -- the Word in Office for Windows.

COSTELLO: But there's three words in ... Oh, never mind.

ABBOTT: Hello? Hello? Customers! Why do they always hang up on me?

Oh, well. Ultimate Super Duper Computer Store. Can I help you?

Recipes rendered by literary giants

Hysterical. The Chaucer and Chandler recipes are all-timers. Cooking directions by Chaucer:

On a floured board roll pastry that it be thinne,

Caste thereto with thyme and line a deep tinne.

Trimme the edges neat with a cooke's knyfe,

Then bake it blinde at gasse mark fyve.

Melt the butter and oyle in an heavie panne,

Covered wiv a lidde, as knoweth every man.

Then adde onyons in slices fine ywrought,

And caste thereto sugar and salte.

Cover the panne and turn the heat down low,

Stirre every while, else the onyons stick to.

Remove the lidde and seethe for ten minutes mo,

That the sauce reducteth and darke growe.

Strewe thereto nutmeg grated, tho keep some by,

And grounde gyngere, and return to the fyre.

Lightly beat the eggs and zolkes together,

And season wiv both salt and black pepper.

Heat the crème till just warme with saffron rich,

Then adde the eggs for to mix.

Spoon the onyon sauce into the pastry case,

Then pour egg and crème custard into the base.

Bake in the oven for minutes xxv,

Til golden brown our tarte be.

And hard-boiled Raymond Chandler:

I sipped on my whiskey sour, ground out my cigarette on the chopping board and watched a bug trying to crawl out of the basin. I needed a table at Maxim's, a hundred bucks and a gorgeous blonde; what I had was a leg of lamb and no clues. I took hold of the joint. It felt cold and damp, like a coroner's handshake. I took out a knife and cut the lamb into pieces. Feeling the blade in my hand I sliced an onion, and before I knew what I was doing a carrot lay in pieces on the slab. None of them moved. I threw the lot into a pan with a bunch of dill stalks, a bay leaf, a handful of peppercorns and a pinch of salt. They had it coming to them, so I covered them with chicken stock and turned up the heat. I wanted them to boil slowly, just about as slowly as anything can boil. An hour and a half and a half-pint of bourbon later they weren't so tough and neither was I. I separated the meat from the vegetables and covered it. The knife was still in my hand but I couldn't hear any sirens.

In this town the grease always rises to the top, so I strained the juice and skimmed off the fat. I added more water and put it back on the heat. It was time to deal with the butter and flour, so I mixed them together into a paste and added it to the stock. There wasn't a whisk, so using my blackjack I beat out any lumps until the paste was smooth. It started to boil, so I let it simmer.

I roughed up the egg yolk and cream and mixed in some of the hot sauce before putting the lot back into the pan. I put the squeeze on a lemon and it soon juiced. It was easy. It was much too easy, but I knew if I let the sauce boil the yolk was gonna scramble.

By now I was ready to pour the sauce over the meat and serve, but I wasn't hungry. The blonde hadn't showed. She was smarter than I thought. I went outside to poison myself, with cigarettes and whisky.

From Inkspots: Rosetta Stone's latest language software package

Notice, the sheer bulk of the item.

Some previews:

Fidelity and Granularity – This pairing illustrates the characteristic Pentagonese phenomenon of using two distinct and relatively uncommon standard English words to mean the same very specific thing – in this case, “details.”

“No sir, we, uh, we don’t have enough fidelity on that to give you a good answer at this time” or “we need to get a bit more granularity on the resources piece before we can move out on this.”

Kinetic – Lethal, violent, traditional. Contrasted with “non-kinetic actions,” a neologism coined to better elaborate the sort of mindset shift encapsulated by the publication of a handbook entitled “The Commander’s Guide to Money as a Weapons System.” (Money is a decidedly non-kinetic “weapons system.”) This is the part with the shooting.

“We can dominate the kinetic fight, but if we can’t protect the people, we’ll lose.”

Metrics – What DoD uses to assess situations, evaluate activities, and measure progress. Metrics are used to demonstrate rigor and obtain granularity. “Munitions expended in the calendar month” might be a metric – so too might something fuzzier and more subjective like “districts under government control.” Typically reflective of the military’s efforts to make qualitative judgments through the collection of quantitative data, metrics must be established in order to populate stoplight charts.

“We need to work up some metrics so we can show the Boss we’re doing something out here. Can’t you get me a number for the hearts and minds we’ve won, or something?”

FYI/FYSA [eff why eye, eff why ess eh], abbr. For your information, for your situational awareness. "FYSA: I have your tasker and am working it"; "FYI/SA: Gulliver has another Learn to Speak Pentagon post up on the blog."

These two abbreviations are used interchangeably, most often as the introduction to email (particularly forwarded communications from a third party). Those who thoughtlessly swap the two make a grave mistake, however, because there is a fundamental difference in meaning. While each indicates "you should know about this, though I don't expect you to take action as a result," the latter expression carries an additional connotation: "I am a douchebag who has worked in the Pentagon too long to write like a normal human."

Ok, I'm being a bit judgey, aren't I? I'll cop to dropping this one into emails from time to time, and I think there is actually a distinct meaning: SA is somewhere in the uncertain quantum space between "for your information" and "for your action." As in this might pertain to you and it might not, but if I use "FYI" you might wrongfully conclude that you don't need to do anything. You know, keeping you in the loop. You can't say "FYI" to your boss, after all -- who the hell are you to tell him what he needs to know?! But if you just want the guy to be situationally aware... then it's like you're trying to keep him from getting surprised. That's good staff work!

Funny stuff.