Friday, January 23, 2004

Fred the Unlucky Black Cat

Fred the unlucky black cat gets put out once a day, so that he can get some exercise. Unfortunately for Fred, Fred's idea of exercise consists of attempting to beat up other neighbourhood cats to demonstrate to them what is self-evident to Fred: that he, Fred the cat, is the toppest, coolest, dangerousest, bossest cat there is.

The other cats just think he's a tosser.

Fred was a stray who only became an inside cat after receiving a gaping leg wound (Sharon Stiteler, official Bird Lady of, thinks it was an owl-inflicted wound) which meant that he lived at the vet's for a month before he was allowed home, and it was another month before he was allowed outside. Once that had healed there was the oozing head wound. This morning I noticed he was limping, and not using his left front paw. An expensive visit to the vet's later they've discovered another ulcerated wound. So now he's taking his antibiotics and limping around the attic, looking faintly martyred, and all the other cats of the neighbourhood are glad of the peace and quiet.

I wish I could explain to him that if he left the other cats alone, they'd leave him alone, and they don't react to every tiny wound by going into some kind of septic meltdown, and he does. But there's no explaining things to cats.

(I was heartbroken to discover just now that you can no longer watch Sharon Stiteler, official bird lady of, in full televisual action with the Mouse Incident, over at, but as soon as it's up somewhere I'll put up a link to it.)

I keep playing the new Magnetic Fields CD over and over and over. I know it's a proper album, because my favourite songs keep shifting and changing and rising and falling, like wax in a lava lamp. I'll ask Claudia Gonson whether I can review/talk about it here or whether everything including the title and why the tracks are in alphabetical order is under a wossname of utter secrecy until the time is right. Clampdown.

With no wish to be difficult I would like to enquire on why the order of stories in The Sandman: Endless Nights. I've played with several posibilities, but the only one plausible seems to be based on the last names of the waiters.

They're more or less in the order they were written, with Barron Storey's in the middle because it was written in three or four sections between the beginning and the end of the project. (Waiters? There were waiters in it?)

Yesterday's mystery post brought many responses -- too many to put up here. This was probably the most informative:

Hi Neil,

Please allow me to be your online youth culture Babelfish.

The email says:

"Y halo thar buttsekcs!1! LOLOL! You bought an N-Gage didn't you Neil..

The first bit is relatively straight forward and translates as, "Why hello
there, buttsex!"
~~Buttsex has a funny sound you see...and is used most effectively at
utterly random intervals...that's as good as it gets on that one I'm

The "1" in the middle of the exclamation points began as a typo, marked by
the lack of a shift key...however as online chat culture progressed it
became an entity in its own right, and has since become a bit like a clever
quip and inside joke.

"LOLOL" began life as a simple anagram for "Laugh Out Loud" among chatters
on mIRC and other chat programs...the trend now is to add "OL"s to the end
to signify just how hard and/or long someone is, in fact, Laughing Out Loud.

The "N-Gage" reference is a new handheld gaming device, created by Nokia,
that is the butt[sex?] of jokes by avid computer game players. Hence
purchasing an N-Gage would be a disparaging comment about one's choice in
personal electronic equipment.

The "PWNz0r3d" is a convoluted phenomenon. Its humble origins are from the
"Doom" and "Quake" (both online video games) scene during the mid-late 90's.
A player, after killing another online player, would gloat by saying that
they he had "owned" the now dead player.
When trying to type quickly, often the "o" would be missed and the "p" would
be hit instead, creating "pwned." This took off as yet another
typo-turned-inside-joke and lots of people in online games became "pwned"
instead of "owned."

The random capitalization and numbering of the word is what is
affectionately known as "HAXXOR" speak, and is used mostly by kids online as
a way to psudo-code their correspondence. The 0 is equivalent to a "o," the
3 is a backwards "E" and thusly close enough to merit using in that vowel's

Below is an oft-used, but hardly comprehensive decoder list of HAXXOR.

A - 4
B - 8
C - <
D - d or D
E - 3
F - f or F
G - 6 or g
H |-| or h
I - 1
J - j or J
K - |< or k
L - |_ or L
M - /\/\ or m
N - Usually /\/, sometimes just N.
O - 0
P - p or P
Q - q or Q
R - r or R
S - 5 or S
T - 7 or T
U - u or U
V - v or V
W - \/\/ or w
X - >< or x
Y - y or Y
Z - 2 or Z

And there you have it. Probably much more information than you'd
expected/wanted, but I'm a fan of the etymology of online communication so
thought I'd help.

Kind regards,

~~Jeremiah J. Shaw~~

and this was the funniest --

In regards to the undecipherable message, this is my best attempt at a translation.

Translation from l33t to English (Babelfish should have a setting for this, but doesn't yet, to my knowledge):
"Why hello there, butt-sexy, I am laughing out loud. You bought an N-Gage, didn't you, Neil? Owned."

Translation from l33t English to normal conversational English:
"Why hello there, Neil, I find you very attractive. I think it is amusing that you have bought an N-Gage because it is an infinitely inferior piece of technology to the one that I own. Behold, as I demonstrate my superiority via the use of poor grammar."

That last sentence is implied, although not directly stated.

Best of luck in translating future l33t-based messages.

Elena Perez

I'm not entirely clear on whether buying an N-Gage is something one does literally here or metaphorically. Ah, mysteries. Anyway, no, I haven't got one. On the other hand, just when I thought all my gaming interests were one with Nineveh and Tyre, this came in:

Are you aware of the appallingly addictive Hamlet text adventure found here: ?

I miss text-based adventures like Zork and Adventure. Stab Claudius With Scissors. Talk To Ophelia. Get Fluff.

and in just five minutes' playing I was hooked. (Play flute. Talk to ghost.)


Lots of people wrote from Angouleme to let me know that Season of Mists won the Angouleme prize for best story which is a real honour, most of which goes to Anne Delcourt, who translated it, and to Guy Delcourt, who last year took a huge chance on publishing Sandman in France when the conventional wisdom (at least as explained to me by French publishers who didn't want to publish it) was that the French readers didn't like, and wouldn't read, story-driven comics. Thank you Guy, thank you Anne.


Elise Matheson is putting together a care package for someone who had her house burn down, and asked if I could mention it here, what with there being lots of nice people with hearts the size of oceans who read this journal, and I said sure. The details of the family and the fire are at