JUNE 8, 2009 1:20AM

If I Say It in a Weird Voice, That Means It Doesn’t Go In

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The Three Predicaments

This post is dedicated to dj, who seeded it. Peece!

Melissa: These posts are getting way too long. We’ve gotta make a short one.

Michael: Yeah.

Melissa: (typing comment)

Michael: No winkies.

Melissa: Smiley.

Michael. No winkies. No smilies. No series of exclamation points.

     What would a series of periods be?

Melissa: An ellipsis.

Michael: Eight of them.

Melissa: In a row?

Michael: Yes, in a row. What would eight periods be? You know, like eight exclamation points means you’re really excited. What would a lot of periods mean?

Melissa: (typing)

Michael: (singing)

     Bromo Seltzer poisoning

     Bromo Seltzer poisoning

     Bromo Seltzer poisoning

     Bromo Seltzer poisoning

     I wish I had some Bromo Seltzer . . .

     (A) Now here’s the thing, Melissa. What does that imply? I mean the last line.

Melissa: (A) I know—our reader may not realize that we’re laughing while you’re making up those lyrics.

Michael: (I) Should we really say “hysterically”? We should just tone it down a bit. We can say that we were laughing, but just not “hysterically.” Is that possible?

Melissa: (I) Maybe.

Michael: (A) Well then, why didn’t we indicate that? Is that important to indicate? Or is it like a laugh track?

Melissa: (A1) Ooh.

     (A1) Haha.

Michael: (A1) What?

Melissa: (A1) (typing)

Michael: (A1) What, love?

Melissa: (A1) What I said “Ooh” about was thinking about how to incorporate a laugh track into our conversations. Which made me laugh.

Michael: (A1) You would want to do that?

Melissa: (A1) No!

Michael: (A1) That’s ludicrous! It would be as heinous as laugh tracks in television programs are.

     (A1) It is an art, though.

Melissa: (A1) No, I wasn’t seriously considering. It was the consideration of it that made me laugh.

Michael: (A1) I see. You were responding to its own ridiculousness.

Melissa: (A1) Yeah, but getting back to the idea of a laugh track being an art form. Whaddyou mean by that?

Michael: (A1) Well, I mean there was a person who created that laugh track for every episode. Knowing what elements of the laugh track to add—because it was made of all the different kinds of laughs that they had isolated probably from just recording their studios. So putting one of these together so that it was believable so the person watching it would forget that it’s a laugh track and laugh along with “everyone”—in quotes. So I was saying it was an art putting one of those together. A well-done laugh track would probably be indiscernible from a regular studio audience.

     (I) That thing is ridiculous!

Melissa: (I) “So, so, so . . . ”

Michael: (I) What’re you doing? What is that? Is that from a movie? Are you skipping?

Melissa: (I) In a way, yes. I’m skipping forward—I’m playing off a pattern that is established later in the post.

Michael: (I) Mmm. I see. So you’re using your prior knowledge, your foreknowledge—

Melissa: (I) My editor’s clairvoyance.

     (A1) Right, and then you have the individuals—the laughers—who are practicing their art—

Michael: (A1) Wait, you mean the people who actually sit in audiences and who are paid to laugh? Hired to laugh? They’re hired to sit in an audience and laugh.

     (D) Why’d you record all those? I was just trying to figure out how that last line should be said.

Melissa: (D) Haha.

Michael: (E) Does that work?

Melissa: (E) Yeah.

     (E) “So the art becomes—”

Michael: (E) “So the art becomes”?

Melissa: (E) You were saying, “So the art becomes—”

Michael: (E) I don’t even know what we’re talking about anymore.

Melissa: (E) You were talking about how the art becomes making the metas meet.

Michael: (E) “Making the metas meet”? I said that? Or is that how you’re paraphrasing what I said?

Melissa: (E) It’s where I thought you were going with it.

Michael: (E) Oh, I see!

     (F) Does it work?

     (F) Did we blow our earlier one? Where you said, “Haha,” and it went to “laughers,” or something?

     (F) What number are we on?

Melissa: (F) ‘F’.

     (G) That’s funny, because you said, “What number are we on?” and I said, ‘F’.

Michael: (G) Is it really that funny? Once again, imagine standing around the water cooler going, “And get this, everyone, and get this, when he said, ‘What number was it?’, I said, ‘The letter that it was!’”

     (G) And then you notice all of the polite laughter and all of the stares, and pretty soon, you notice that the water cooler is only inhabited by you and that one person who feels sorry for you.

     (G1) Now, see, that was definitely a tangent. I just went off on a tangent. But see, we’re not recording that as a separate letter.

     (G1) So here’s what I think. We should just call whatever these are “meta”s, and then if we ever figure out what they are—or we may even prefer to still call them “meta”s—then we’ll call them that. But right now, trying to figure out their name is actually getting in the way of writing them. And it’s always the battle between trying to unconsciously express yourself while simultaneously—

     (H) Help me. Did I just get through saying a bunch of stuff in our short post?

     (H1) This is fun. I hope this is fun to read, though. That’s the thing.

Melissa: (G1) Yeah! I like your idea of calling these “meta”s.

Michael: (G1) Yay!

Melissa: (G1) But I don’t think it was wrong to try and find the right word to conceptualize it, because it isn’t until we have clarity about what these letters represent that we can use them consistently and accurately.

Michael: (G1) Right. Yes, of course, love. I agree totally. It’s just that at a certain point in time it seems like the search for it and your current best guess really start hampering your ability to even work. And so what I realized, if we took away the stress of “Is this the right word, Is this not the right word?”, we call it this other word that doesn’t mean anything in particular in this context—

Melissa: (G1) But it does! It’s actually exactly what these are—they’re meta-layers!

Michael: (G1) Okay, you’re right. I knew that was wrong right after I said it. It’s just that by taking away the whole naming thing, which in a way is a separate issue but does dictate how it becomes—the thing is, a thing can evolve, too, and by taking away the naming thing, it’s just free to evolve into what we may later recognize as something, and then naming it will be just as natural as looking at an apple and saying, “apple”!

     (H) (sings) “Thing,” “thing,” “thing,” “thing,” “thing”!

Melissa: (G1) Yes, but you have to go through the agonizing prelude to that “natural” evolution of language.

     (M) See, this seems like this would be what, “(G2)”?

Michael: (M) No, because I would expect to see “(G2)” within a “(G)” only. Unless you see these differently. These are just asides. But those would normally be indicated by parentheses.

     (M1) (singing)

     (M1) I’m gonna take a vitamin!

     (M1) I’m gonna take a vitamin!

     (M1) I’m gonna take a vitamin!

     (M1) I hope I ate recently.

     (M2) And if you include that, there’s something wrong with you.

     (M2) What’re you laughing about?

     (M2) What’re you laughin’—

     (M2) “You mean, Cooba?”

Melissa: (M2) What’s that?

Michael: (M2) Well, right off the bat, Melissa. You’re not supposed to be recording this. This is not supposed to be recorded. It’s not-meta.

Melissa: (G2) But what you were saying earlier actually made me think about software methodologies. It’s the scaffolding of programming. But sometimes, the scaffolding takes on a life of its own and wants to be the thing itself, but is really just a distraction from the code. It wasn’t until you tore down the scaffolding of all those methodologies and just started coding for code itself that you really became fluent in a language.

Michael: (G2) Well, sticking with one language for any length of time helps. But yeah, that’s interesting what you said, because I remember now the thing that I first read when learning about methodologies, especially object-oriented ones, was that these were strictly for the design of enormous software systems. Industrial-sized software systems. And I remember being so disappointed by that because I was so excited about dragging my familiarity with learning drafting and later, architectural drawing, into this new thing I was learning—programming, and later, software methodologies.

Melissa: (G2) Should I note that you said “software methodologies” like it was some kind of religious utterance?

Michael: (G2) Well, only if you indicate that I was also mocking it.

Melissa: (G2) Haha.

     (G3) (deletes line)

Michael: (G2) I would please like you to delete that because you’ve broken so many rules there, it’s not even funny. Melissa, that cannot stay. I will not let that stay.

     (G2) See, I don’t wanna go here, please. Type away, and put it in “deleted” and on we go.

Melissa: (G2) (continues typing)

Michael: (F) Help me! So much for the short post.

Melissa: (F) Haha.

     (A1) Yes, laughers.

Michael: (A1) Okay, I didn’t know if you were using a literal term, or a term that you were just now coining.

Melissa: (A1) No, the literal term. The profession. Of laughing. Laughers.

     (A1) I think that should be the end of that tangent.

Michael: (A2) Now, see, you referred to it as a “tangent” again.

Melissa: (A2) I know. Pass. Flow. Path. Tangent. Let’s just use them interchangeably.

Michael: (A2) Well, the thing is, it is quite natural to me for you to begin writing from where we left off at the unadorned part, and keep it the unadorned part. Even though technically you are writing it after “(A)”.

     (N) That’s very awkward, you know.

Melissa: (A2) I see what you mean.

Michael: (A2) Oh, good!

     (A2) The problem is, we can’t sit around like when we were just starting and talk about exclamation points. Here, we can’t just talk about this system that we’re going to use to try to represent how we’ve created and discussed the text as we’ve created it and still make it comprehensible and not too much of a puzzle.

Melissa: (A3) Like that last sentence of yours?

Michael: (A3) Right, exactly. And this is supposed to be short, too!

Melissa: It’s like a punk song.

Michael: Yeah, but I was singing it with that choo-choo tune that the original Bromo Seltzer commercials used to make it more memorable. When they were just trying to perfect the art of advertising in radio.

Melissa: (N) Was it radio?

Michael: (N) Yes. I only know about it because of some tapes I used to listen to when I had to travel a long distance every weekend, and they contained all these ancient radio commercials.

Melissa: (N) Oh! Okay.

     See, I wouldn’t have appreciated that because I don’t think I’ve ever heard that commercial before. I’m glad you explained that to me.

Michael: Well, that’s the problem with generational/cultural knowledge. The good stuff needs to be passed on. The crap needs to be left behind, but I’m afraid more and more of the crap takes on more and more significance all the time.

Melissa: I hope you’re not saying the Bromo Seltzer jingle is part of the good stuff that needs to be passed on. Unless you mean “passed on,” as in to take a pass on something offered.

Michael: (B) We never even did talk about why I liked Bromo Seltzer.

     (B1) “liked”—did you put that? Past tense. I wouldn’t have it now. Because it’s poison.

     (B2) Is that another level? Meta-level? Are these levels?

Melissa: (B2) Help. But to answer your question, I think it’s one of those sub-tangents—

Michael: (B2) Okay, well now you’re using “tangent” again.

Melissa: (B2) I know, what I was saying is, we can still call them “tangents” or “sub-tangents,” but we only change the lettering if there’s been a passage of time since the last one, even if it’s only been a few seconds, as in this case here.

Michael: (B2) ’Cuz the thing is, there are times when I realize how much this is like an edit in a movie. And it makes me think that there’s some kind of terminology from that that we could use. Borrow.

Melissa: (B2) Close to the edit.

     (B2) Okay, um. We could introduce typographical notations that would indicate cuts. Or we could use directions, like “(fade out)” and “(fade in)”—

Michael: (B2) Help me!

     (B2) Remember when we were talking about how this reminded us of the scripts we have in books—

Melissa: (B2) You mean, “the scripts.”

Michael: (B2) See, we don’t have the scripts, we have them in books.

Melissa: (B2) Right. Screenplays?

Michael: (B2) Well, I mean they’re just the scripts printed in a book for you to read. Like the scripts we have for Mike Leigh movies, and the scripts we have for—

     (B3) Sometimes having to be so precise about things is a nuisance. You know, when you wanna just say “that thing,” or “this thing.”

Melissa: (J) See, that seems like it should have been sub-lettered.

Michael: (J) I was surprised myself when it wasn’t.

Melissa: (J) I got it!

Michael: (J) What?

Melissa: (J) Okay, those micro-metas? Those little sub-metas off of the metas—which we used to call “tangents,” “passes,” “paths,” etc.?

Michael: (J) Yeah?

Melissa: (J) We could put numbers off of the main letter to indicate subs—like “(B1)” and “(B2)” and stuff.

Michael: (J) Melissa. I said this in another post! The last one, I think.

Melissa: (J) I know! But we were talking about using it for something different there.

Michael: (J) Are you sure? I think it’s the same.

Melissa: (J) No, there’s a nuance here that’s different. This actually works perpendicular to the chronology lettering. So the lettering still indicates the flow of time, but now we have an additional way of indicating an indention in that flow of time!

Michael: (J) I see, because we couldn’t indent before. I realized we had a problem at one point because we were already indented and we could not indent again.

Melissa: (J) Right, and that’s why we discarded the idea of using indentation to indicate the sublevels.

Michael: (J) But the thing is, we’re still going back to that system again. ’Cuz guess what, if you did that again, it would be a little ‘a’ again.

     (O) (sings)

     (O) Again, again, again!

     (O) Again, again, again!

Melissa: (O1) So you’re not doing the Teletubbies “again” here, are you?

Michael: (O1) Teletubbies? What did you just say? Did you just say “Teletubbies”?

Melissa: (O1) (typing)

Michael: (O1) Why’d you stop? C’mon!

     (O2) “(O1)” looks like zero-one. And this would be what, “(O2)”? Or would it be “(O1a)”? Because it’s about “(O1)”.

Melissa: (O2) No, no. It would just be “(O2)”. I’m not even gonna get into those sub-sub-levels. Please.

Michael: (O2) Okay, good. Because there is a limit. Although, letter-number-little letter. That wouldn’t bother me. So that’s where we would use this. See I’m saying “zero-one” not “(O1)”—maybe we’d better skip the “O”s. Should we skip the “O”s?

Melissa: (O2) No. Right now, I’m just trying to figure out if this is an “(O2)” or if we’re in “(O3)” now.

Michael: (O2) Well, it seems like we’re still having that same discussion about this, so—

Melissa: (O2) Good! ’Cuz that’s what I picked.

     (O3) Okay, I’m already starting to reconsider doing the little “a”s and such.

Michael: (O3) No, don’t!

Melissa: (O3) What?

Michael: (O3) Because I was just reconsidering it, too. I was thinking, the more complicated—when I looked up and saw, “(O1a),” I was thinking that would be difficult to follow. I hope these don’t get so complicated.

Melissa: (O3) But I was starting to be able to distinguish the layers. And seeing one layer as a sub of a sub . . . And then, when you hop back up to the sub above the sub-sub—

Michael: (O3) (laughs)

Melissa: (O3) Okay, you’re right. Let’s just leave things the way they are right now. If we decide to change it, we’ll wait till the next post. Otherwise, we’ll never finish this one.

Michael: (O3) Precisely! And that is what I’ve been thinking. In the beginning, we promised that we were gonna make a nice short post. But look at what happened! It exploded into another one of our meta-monstrosities.

Melissa: (J) You’re right! But now I understand what that means. So we can use that convention, now that there’s a logical explanation behind it. I’m gonna go back and change those “(B)”s to “(B1)”s.

     (B) I know.

Michael: (C) Let’s get back to our post, please.

Melissa: (C) That’s the last line I have written in this post, so far.

Michael: (C) “I know”?

Melissa: (C) Yeah.

     (K) Okay, c’mon. Let’s finish this.

Michael: (K) Good idea!

Melissa: (K) “That’s a good idea.”

Michael: (K) You didn’t introduce a quote, did you?

Melissa: (K) “A ride.”

     (K) That is what it is, isn’t it?

Michael: (L) That’s the end? No way. That would be our worst ending yet.

Melissa: (L) “No way, Wade. No way.”

Michael: (L) Okay. Do you wanna know the automatic rule about writing posts?

     (L) That if you say three quotes, it’s over. That’s where it has to end.

Melissa: (L) The Three-Quote Rule . . . I like it.

Michael: (L) And we’ve already got two now. Here we go. The pressure’s on.

     (L1) (in a weird voice) What’re we doing?

Melissa: (L1) (laughs)

Michael: (L1) Don’t put that in there. That’s why I said it in that weird voice. If I say it in a weird voice, that means it doesn’t go in.

     (L1) This whole thing is very self-indulgent. It’s like “Hey, look at me spin plates, and play my harmonica, and quote Shakespeare!”

     (L1) Wah-wah-wah-wah-wah

     (L1) “Alas, poor Yorik. I knew him well.”

     (L1) Spin, spin!

Melissa: (L1) “That’s Numberwang!”

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Simply Sublime what more can I say.

Proud to be the first to comment and the first (of many more, I suspect) to rate this one.

Melissa: And we’re proud to welcome you to metaness, markinjapan! We just wandered over to your territory—

Michael: Neck of the woods.

Melissa: “Neck of the woods”?

Michael: I don’t like “territory.” “Territory” sounds like we’re playing a game or something. “I’m the blue country—”

Melissa: You mean, “territory”?

Michael: Well, yes.

Melissa: Okay, but “neck of the woods” sounds a little too redneck, so to speak.

Michael: Oh, come on. Come on. “Neck of the woods” is “too redneck.”

Melissa: Uh—

Michael: We’re talking to markinjapan. We’re not writing another post.

Melissa: Sorry, Mark! Sometimes (well, a lot of times), we get distracted from the main thread.

Michael: Okay, so regardless of what we call it, we visited your blog and read your bio. And anyone who’s anti- all those things—

Melissa: Say “all those bad things.”

Michael: Okay, this has gotten out of control. We’re just trying to finish a comment. Let’s finish it.

Melissa: And we’re pro-anyone who’s anti- all those bad things!

Bromo Seltzer needs a link- I had to look it up to listen to it :)
Whichever of You wrote these comments - I'm having difficulty distinguishing just who's who, her, and maybe I'm falling in love with either of you or both - hoo hoo, anyone up for an orgy???
Michael: See, the Web is awesome! And you are, too, Julie.

Melissa: Wow, I didn’t realize this would be online. That’s great!


Melissa: This is long!

Michael: Yeah, that’s how all those commercials were back then.

Melissa: It sounds like it’s possessed at the end.

Michael: Thanks again for the link, Julie. We’ll update the post now.
Mark, what can we say?! You are making us blush. But to answer your question—we both write these. They are co-created through the act of conversing about the conversation itself, writing about the writing of the conversation. Something like that. You’ll figure it out. Just keep reading backwards (or start at the beginning and work your way forwards), since the evolution of the entire process is documented. In full detail. Far too much detail, some might say. More later once we catch our breath. Just thanks. Really.

Re: "... I'm having difficulty distinguishing just who's who..."

If you listen to their dialog you may notice how Michal huffs and puffs and cuts Melissa off for no reason. For instance:

"Michael: Okay, this has gotten out of control. We’re just trying to finish a comment. Let’s finish it".

At the same time Melissa shows not only more femaly empathy, but look how precise she is:

"Melissa: And we’re pro-anyone who’s anti- all those bad things!"

Michael, please behave yourself!

(Now I sound like the government here that always interferes with family affairs)
That’s very gallant of you to rush across the universe to my defense, GalaxyMan, but I assure you it’s unnecessary. Michael is the gentlest, most sensitive soul I know, so any apparent huffing is most likely a failure of the form itself to convey the playfulness with with his words are expressed. Perhaps we do need a laugh track, after all ;-)

I love these journies of searching for creative expression. It's simply a treat to join in on this conversation which is exactly what happens. One cannot be an observer. One has to participate. Great Stuff. I also like the way you never leave character.
Would it be rude to say that I laughed, reading this entire post? Because I did and I haven't even had my coffee yet! Sweet!

Pawed for funny!
humming. along.

El Bromo is the steam mechanical of the stories we have lost -

"Michael: Well, that’s the problem with generational/cultural knowledge. The good stuff needs to be passed on. The crap needs to be left behind, but I’m afraid more and more of the crap takes on more and more significance all the time."

He sounds like a vengeful spirit come to roost - the steam, the machine, the industrial, the pillage, the growth, the pain. He sounds possessed and in Pain.

"It wasn’t until you tore down the scaffolding of all those methodologies and just started coding for code itself that you really became fluent in a language."

to connect, and how? by cutting away at the TraCKs, at the memories at the edifices we build to frame the water. that feeds the tree, that feeds the thought, that was our ideA. Where it astartsA.

"Should I note that you said “software methodologies” like it was some kind of religious utterance?"

the laught TracK... (not eight....really........) the synthetic emotion. the utterance of relegion, perhaps, in plastic yet UseFul form. to Be

"A well-done laugh track would probably be indiscernible from a regular studio audience."

Turing et al we have come, full circle, on the TR-ack, that is Bromo-sapien.

paz and peece,
quick run through,
C'es you again,
carpe C'es the moment,
This reads like the conversations in my head. Impressive indeed!
When I (Melissa) was little, I used to have a poster of a raccoon putting his paw over a kitten’s mouth. The tagline read, “If there’s anything I hate, it’s someone talking while I’m interrupting.”

So along those lines, we’ll say, “If there’s anything we hate, it’s life intruding on our OSing.” That said, we want to send just a quick but heartfelt thank-you to each one of you for your inspiring and meaningful comments. More individualized responses forthcoming.

markinjapan sent me over here - and I'm glad he did. I'll be following along (as possible) from now on!

Always a treat to welcome your participation in the conversation! We’re amazed you managed to find time amidst your own creative whirlwind to wend your way over.

“I also like the way you never leave character.”

Do you really think we’re making ourselves up?


“Would it be rude to say that I laughed, reading this entire post?”

Rude?! Not at all, LadyMiko. We’re delighted to hear that.


“humming. along.”

Hummable hummingbirds humming along we are
Hummable hummingbirds
We go up up up into the sky
We’re the Hummingbirds of Benjamin Franklin Junior High
—Welcome to the Dollhouse

@Mr. Mustard:

Tip of the hat to you, Mr. Mustard. The honor is ours.


“markinjapan sent me over here”

Mark is crazy about metaness ;-)

“and I'm glad he did.”

As are we!

“I'll be following along (as possible) from now on!”

Happy to have you whenever you want to rest your wings.


“El Bromo is the steam mechanical of the stories we have lost -”

A poetic response, dj. Reminds me (Melissa) of Eavan Boland’s Outside History: Selected Poems. Boland has held the honor of my favorite poet for about fourteen years now. The poems in this particular collection (and there are others, but this is the best place to start) focus on the Irish women (really, all of us ordinaries) who dwell in history’s marginalia.

“He sounds like a vengeful spirit come to roost - the steam, the machine, the industrial, the pillage, the growth, the pain. He sounds possessed and in Pain.”

And into the spinning gyres . . .

“at the edifices we build to frame the water. that feeds the tree, that feeds the thought, that was our ideA. Where it astartsA.”

Right onA.

From the seed to the root

the root to the leaves

the leaves to catch the sundrops

“the laught TracK... (not eight....really........) the synthetic emotion.”

HAHaHEheHaHAHAha (bellyfeel good)

“Turing et al we have come, full circle, on the TR-ack, that is Bromo-sapien.”

And on this farm, we had some dolphins


And on this farm, we had some elephants



I live in the 'marginalia' - but peece! always....

save for the AI AI oh :)
AI AI oh!

they wait for us? I don't know :)
yet we ALL KNOW.

methodologies [[LAUGH]] people want to climb the scaffolding, peek behind it, get past the rude construction workers who think they own the thing and hurl come-ons disguised as insults........

I'm loving this.
Also, reminded me of the Red Queen: "If I say it three times, then it's true."

Get your filthy paw off of my mouth. I didn't mean to fall down the rabbit hole.