JUNE 16, 2009 2:07AM

I Just Wanted to Say “Modi Operandi”

Rate: 8 Flag
Bug Huntin'

Michael: We posted our post?

     That seems unbelievable.

Melissa: I know.

Michael: Is it any good?

     If you were giving it a grade, what would you give it?

Melissa: I don’t know. It wasn’t as strong as the last one, but we just needed to get it done so we could move on to the backlog of all the other posts we still haven’t finished yet.

     And here we are starting a new one. Help us.

(next day)

Michael: And their modi operandi at—

Melissa: Modi operandi!

Michael: Yeah, isn’t that fun? I just wanted to say “modi operandi.”

Melissa: (laughs)

Michael: What?

Melissa: Modi operandi.

Michael: Why do you think that’s so funny?

     Because it sounds like “mowdey”?

Melissa: (nods)

Michael: But you realize it’s not a joke, right?

Melissa: (nods again)

Michael: (performs)

     “It’s called ‘cactises.’”

     “It’s a really nice couple.”

     “You like peanuts? . . . What’re you, a racist?”

     “No, it’s just that I was being—”

     Can you remember what it is? It’s advice from Vince about how to be around strangers. It’s about . . . being ignorant!

     “No, I was just being ignorant.”

     “Gandhi Ji! Gandhi Ji!”

     Ah, but reading that play did make me realize something. You know,
Waiting for Godot?

     That the form we have right now for metaness is great. Because even though the play itself contains a lot more detailed explanation about what is physically going on, it’s so much more difficult to read because of that. It breaks the flow of the dialogue, and from the very beginning, this was just something written for a person to read, and there’s no sense of uh—

Melissa: Pretense?

Michael: Mm, that’s not the word I’m looking for. It’s . . . early on, it occurred to me that we could have far more detailed stage directions than we do. Instead of the extremely terse ones we have now.

     (B) There’s something wrong there.

Melissa: (B) Try that. I fixed it.

Michael: (B) What did you fix?

Melissa: (B) I made it plural. I thought you were bothered by the subject-verb disagreement.

Michael: (B) I can assure you I was not bothered by the subject-verb disagreement.

     But I realized, it takes away from the conversation. I guess it would be like, instead of watching a movie, where you can hear what two people are saying and see their expressions—if we were blind, we could no longer see those facial expressions, and they would have to be described for us.

Melissa: Like in Proof?

     (D) You know what we should do? We should Julie-link this.

Michael: Yes. But here’s the rub, you can’t listen to a description of the facial expressions at the same time you’re trying to listen to what the actors are saying. So one has to interrupt the other.

Melissa: Mm-hmm. Yeah, but I think a blind person would also be more sensitive to vocal inflections, and so they could actually read, or perceive a person’s facial expressions through their voice.

Michael: Yes, you’re right. But you’re reading too much into my use of a blind person in this example. It was just to show you that, if for whatever reason, you’re prevented from seeing what is occurring, you need a descriptive aid of some kind to tell you what’s going on. Because sometimes, those actions are intended to have meaning in the context of the play or film.

Melissa: Yes, and with live theatre, the physical space itself, the presence of the audience—those are actually part of the living expression of the art. Theatre. And that’s why I found Beckett’s stage directions so interesting. Funny even. Like when he gestures to what is supposed to represent the bog, and he’s pointing at the audience.

Michael: That’s great.

Melissa: What I found especially scary about reading that aloud—with you performing Estragon and me reading Vladimir’s lines—was how uncannily familiar the rhythms of their dialogue felt. I’m so glad consonantsandvowels made that connection for us.

Michael: Yes.

Melissa: (C) I realized this is really where I should put what I was trying to get around to saying toward the end of this post in one of the earlier metas.

Michael: (C) What?

Melissa: (C) About how I suddenly realized that Louis Prima is Godot! That was a brand-new insight into Big Night. I love that!

Michael: (C) Me, too. I had begun to think that any new insights into that film were impossible for us.

Melissa: (C) No, never impossible—

Michael: (C) Okay, I knew it right when I said the word “impossible.”

Melissa: (C) The only limitations come from the interpreter’s imagination and the director’s failure to create a rich enough film to withstand repeated viewings. Like Accidental Tourist. We’ve probably watched that thirty or forty times in the past decade or so—

Michael: (C) Have we really? Let’s don’t exaggerate, please.

Melissa: (C) Okay, complete viewings. At least a dozen. But there were times when you would play it every night to fall asleep, so each time was like watching it again, at least partly.

     (C) So the point is, every single one of those viewings yielded even more insights into the film, the characters, the set design, whatever. But the infinitesimal degree of attention that was put into the creation of the film makes each new viewing experience even more satisfying, funnier, more profound.

Michael: Now, when this happens, we would normally do that thing where we put “(later)”. Because we need to recuperate. But what will probably happen is we’ll go back, reading through what we have so far, producing our first meta.

     (sings while drumming)

     A-bah-bah-bah, bah-bah-bah,

     Owwerll. Ppptt!

     Owwerll. Ppptt!


     Producer: “I don’t like that.”

     Performer: “What about something like this?” (drumming)

     Producer: “No, that sounds like a Western thing.”

     Performer: (drums a while) “Well, aren’t you gonna say anything?”

     Producer: “I’m listening!”

     But we’re not supposed to be recording this, anyway. We’re supposed to be taking a break.

Melissa: I just thought of something!

Michael: What?

Melissa: (typing)

Michael: Can’t you say this out loud first?

Melissa: I did. I’m recording what I said.

Michael: Oh, okay.

Melissa: (typing)

Michael: Haha.

     We haven’t gone back and read yet.

Melissa: I know, but I haven’t said yet what I thought of.

Michael: Oh, good!

Melissa: (A) Is that what I said?

Michael: (A) You said, “I haven’t said what I thought of yet.”


Michael: (sings)

     Everybody needs dental tools!

     Everybody needs dental tools!

     They’re great for picking teeth

     And gunk beneath your nails

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You guys are a real studious twosome. I'm first going to have to watch the play/movie I suppose before I can truly follow your interaction. Thanks, you've added a bit more to my piling to do list. Cheers
Who was it that said re: the last post you guys are like the Seinfeld of OS? Totally agree - craziness that I just can't turn off. And still waiting for the art post - love the drawing on this one.
Great art! I will now have to read Waiting for Godot and watch The Accidental Tourist. :)
You know, Dear Home Galaxy, when really complex systems are left alone, they produce small random perturbations to amuse themselves, ripples on the 7-dimensional water surface, electric sheep that androids dream of, or - putting it in a simpler, accoustic metaphor - sounds of wind chimes...
So true about watching a movie, being blind, facial expressions described, so relatable. I've never seen or read Godot, but I have seen the Big Night, so thanks for enlightening me. Now I don't have to read or see Waiting for Godot. I have read and seen The Accidental Tourist but never more than once. So much detail in this post, I'm just amazed.

We’re embarrassed to say we’d never read Waiting for Godot ourselves until a recent comment from consonantsandvowels inspired us to finally get around to it. And truth be told, we’ve only read up until the part where Pozzo enters so far. We intend to dip back in as time permits—maybe with Franny and Zooey reading the parts of Pozzo and Lucky ;-)

Regardless, we hope familiarity with the referenced texts/films isn’t actually a prerequisite to enjoying our posts. The last thing we want to do is add to your piling todo list—we’re already suffocating in todo’s ourselves, so we definitely empathize.


Thank you, Delia. The Accidental Tourist does deal with some issues surrounding grief, so you may especially appreciate that aspect, but there is also a great deal of humor and warmth to counterbalance the underlying sense of loss. It’s a very quiet film with a contemplative pacing. It’s surprisingly faithful to Anne Tyler’s novel and is one of the best book-to-film translations we know of.


We appreciated this scientific perspective on the creative/collaborative process. Interestingly, the random perturbations you mention can sometimes come from outside the complex systems—namely, you, and our fellow OSers. Think of us as a conversation algorithm, and each person who comments may inadvertently seed a new post. That’s when the dialogue becomes a discussion, and we’re grateful for everyone’s thoughtful participation.


We’re thrilled to know that metaness is enlightening—since you’re listening in on the conversation as it happens, there’s always the chance that you’ll be there at the moment of our own epiphanies as we realize something for the first time.

“Now I don't have to read or see Waiting for Godot.”

Hahaha. You don’t get off the hook that easily. If you like metaness, you’ll probably like Beckett, too. But then again, it took us decades to get around to reading him ourselves, so no rush :-)


“Who was it that said re: the last post you guys are like the Seinfeld of OS?”

Melissa: That would be Skip Reilley. As for the art post—

Michael: I told you mamoore would be disappointed if we didn’t post the art post.

Melissa: I know, but that piece is sort of a monstrosity right now because we were doing yet more system-tweaking, and it needs some cleanup—

Michael: I think it needs a lot of cleanup.

Melissa: Right, so that might be a weekend one.

Michael: So she has to wait even longer?

Melissa: ’fraid so. Sorry, mamoore.
Louis Prima is Godot!

See, here's the problem: I read your posts and they're vortices .

It's all spinning -- "Proof" and photographs and lies. Paranoia being the lies we tell ourselves. The simple nature of a photograph, static and trapped against the nature of film, the non-static nature of lies and fiction ..... (oh, the sweet blessing ellipses bestow on entropy) and the documentary I saw with the blind man on the sidewalk, the one who knew when he was passing a vehicle on the curb, down to whether it was a sedan or a mini or an SUV, who knew when he walked by a streetlamp, because he was so attuned to the change in the sound vibrations. And sometimes I think blind people might sense air as a fluid in a way those with sight might not.

Hitchcock's Rebecca (continuing with paranoia) bears several viewings. You start to see the density of meaning in the sets, the costumes, the flower arrangements, the lighting.

Maybe not a vortex. A black hole? (The rabbit hole?) Or a white hole, spitting things out? And I'm thinking there's a wormhole, but it collapses and suddenly I realize how much time has passed in your meta-verse, tra-la-la, picking my teeth and nails.
Film! Latin! The Stage!

Two beautifullly quirky um...well...no way around it...elitists... ha...sharing their warmth and wisdom and idiosyncratic language obseesive personalities....

i thought to myself reading the middle: mom always used to say, "oh, those were the days...radio...." just voices...i listened to some of it, and wondered: how the hell you suppose to know whats goin on w/o seeing it???

Jim, tv dumbass guy
holy crap, I have movies to watch...

Melissa: LPIG!

Michael: What’s that mean?

Melissa: It’s a new acronym for an epiphanic insight that is inspired by another person’s comment.

Michael: You set me up for that one.

Melissa: No I didn’t!

Michael: Well, I mean, how are you going to explain that?

Melissa: It’s like “jumping the shark.” You don’t know what it means until it’s explained to you, but once you do, the phrase itself becomes a packet of meaning, and you can then acronymize that into further symbolic, abstract meaning. So whenever I have an insight inspired by another person’s comment, I can shout, “LPIG!”

Michael: Okay, but have you ever explained what it means? Or what it stands for?

Melissa: Louis Prima is Godot!

Michael: No way! That’s too self-referential. Like nikkies or something.

Melissa: It’s metaness!

consonantsandvowels: “The simple nature of a photograph, static and trapped against the nature of film, the non-static nature of lies and fiction.”

Melissa: This reminds me of Marilyn’s diatribe on photography as death.

Michael: Who’s Marilyn?

Melissa: Marilyn! She would be a perfect OS blogger. I must get her to join.

Michael: Oh, Marilyn! Definitely.

consonantsandvowels: “the documentary I saw with the blind man on the sidewalk”

Melissa: Tell us MORE!!!

Michael: Hahaha.

Melissa: This sounds absolutely fascinating. Please tell us the name if you can find it. Thank you.

Michael: Jeez, should you say, “Blessings upon you if you do”? Do you really need the “Thank you”? Say “Thank you” if she actually does it.

Melissa: (laughs)

Michael: Does that make me sound terrible? I guess because I’m a little bit terrible. The AS part of me is what makes me that way, though. It’s really not intentional. Like having a speech impediment and not being able to pronounce a person’s name. Something like that.

Melissa: “I have dis . . . I have disleck . . . dyslec . . . I can’t spell”!


Oh no. Somebody ripped it off. I want the crappy font one.

Michael: Never in all my remaining days would I have ever believed that I would hear you say you wanted something in the “crappy font.”

Melissa: I’m speechless. Wow. I can’t believe it either.

(A) Beware of the spinning white hole.

Michael: (A) Run away from the vortex!

Melissa: Jim! Delighted to see you. We’ve missed you and your philowhimsical musings.

Michael: Yes! . . . Elitists? If anything, we’re anti-elitists.

Melissa: Is that elitist to coin such a term?

Michael: “Anti-elitists”? I’m not coining that.

Melissa: But you’re right. The term “elitist” is anathema to us.

(B) Which sounds elitist in and of itself. “What for? . . . A Bentley?”

Michael: Yes, I come from a very humble background.

Melissa: We both do.

Michael: Exactly.

Melissa: But I hear where Jim’s coming from—it’s the intellectual, the aesthete part of us that could come across that way.

Michael: Well, yeah, if Jim had said we were bourgeois, I would say, yeah, well, you’re probably right. We’re just sitting around here having these discussions. It’s all so . . . aesthetic.

Melissa: (C) I can’t believe I let that go! I would never submit to the term “bourgeois.”

Michael: (C) Well, what I mean by it is that we’re not outdoors people—you know, we don’t live in the outdoors. And we’re not city—

Melissa: (C) We’re loners!

Michael: (C) Yes!

Melissa: (C) Introverted loners. But not the scary kind.

Michael: (C) That’s the stereotype.

Melissa: (C) Yes, which gets back to the post we just started but still need to finish—must finish and post tonight. But by the time we post, it will no longer be June 17.

Michael: (C) Well, if we stopped this comment now and went and worked on the post, maybe we could.

Melissa: (C) Yeah, in our-time. But not OStime. In OStime, midnight has already passed.

(D) I’ve got two “Yeah”s in a row.

Michael: (E) Now you’ve got three!

Melissa: (E) You ruined it, love! You stepped right in when the funniness happened.

Michael: (E) Oh, okay. I’ll try to behave.

Melissa: Yeah, but it seems deeply meaningful in the ways that matter. Which don’t tend to matter to society.

Jim’s Mom: "oh, those were the days...radio...."

Melissa: I could see what she means. The richer experience that comes from imagining your characters out of voice, out of sound.

Michael: There are some Twilight Zones that deal with this. One in particular is “Static.” The protagonist describes the difference between television and radio—now understand, when this episode was produced, television was still a relatively new medium. So I think they were probably as sensitive to the issue as you could be—

Melissa: Like the Impressionists were sensitive to the invention of the camera?

Michael: Oh, I see! Yes! Because they held the clearest picture between the differences of the two. Although the one they were more unfamiliar with, they would have to become more familiar with before making a true judgment.

(A) Help us! This has become another post.

Melissa: Yes. Bye Jim! Happy you dropped by.

Melissa: hyblaean- Julie changed her picture! I miss her picture!

Michael: What did she change it to? . . . A kewpie—

Melissa: A punk—

Michael: A kewpie—

Melissa: A punk—

Michael: A kewpie doll.

Melissa: —pink troll. . . . A punk pink troll.

Michael: A kewpie doll.

. . .

(A) Are you spelling “kewpie” correctly?

Melissa: (A) I don’t know. I’ve never had to spell “kewpie” before.

Michael: We didn’t talk about the glasses. I was gonna talk about the glasses.

Melissa: Okay, talk about the glasses.

Michael: They’re green.

Melissa: Hahaha.

Michael: The lenses seem to be a good size for the eyes.

Melissa: Haha.

Michael: And they look cool.

Melissa: But listen! Look how lucky Julie is that she’s getting to watch these films for the very first time! How many wonders await her!

Michael: So those are her new movie-watching glasses.

Melissa: 3-D.

Michael: I just noticed something else.

Melissa: What? When we clicked to the big version?

Michael: Yeah. It doesn’t look very much like Julie.


Michael: (C) But wait a minute, doesn’t she have the same picture as trig palin? . . . Do you think that’s a bug? . . . But then I guess that sort of makes this moot now.

(D) Is that really right? “Kewpie doll”? Because I could be absolutely wrong. (looks it up) I am absolutely wrong. Are we keeping this? Oh no.

(B) We have to correct what this is.

Melissa: (B) It’s okay.

(B) It doesn’t matter. I said a “troll.” I got it covered.

Michael: (B) But it isn’t a troll! Or maybe it is a troll.

(G) I think we should go finish our post before posting these.

Melissa: (G) No! They have to be published before midnight or they become obsolete.

Michael: (G) “Obsolete! Obsolete!”

(H) Oww!

Melissa: (H) What?

Michael: (H) I just poked my finger. With my—

Melissa: (H) With your what?

Michael: (H) With my dental tool.

Melissa: (H1) You know what?

(H1) These three comments have become so long, I think we should make them a new post. It’ll be too hard to read in the comments. These are too fecking long.

Michael: (H1) You mean including this in the post?

Melissa: (H1) I mean posting it. This is the post!

Michael: (H1) A separate post?

Melissa: (H1) Yeah! A separate post.

Michael: (H1) No. Because we have to post your Grandma’s post tonight. Not this one.

Melissa: (H1) This is just an in-between post.

Michael: (H1) No. I don’t want an in-between post. I don’t have artwork for it. Nothing.

Melissa: (H1) Okay, okay. You’re right. We’ve got enough to do as it is.

(I) We’d better hurry. They’re gonna turn into pumpkins.
This is turning into Interactive Meta!
I've been wracking my brain, but I can't remember! I don't have your talent for recording things, Melissa. (Thank god for the world wide web and search engines, because my thought process runs something like: What was that thing? That thing with the? It was about... I think I remember ... Wasn't that... no, wait...Did I read it here...or here...?) And I begin to fear I may have seen it as a segment of one of those newsmagazine shows: 20/20 or Nightline, something of that ilk. It really was amazing. (So not-PC, but I love Helen Keller jokes.) If I ever find it, I'll let you know.

So, I saw "Marilyn" and "photograph" near each other in your comment and my mind (not reading ahead and not knowing your friend, the only other Marilyn of my acquaintance being my aunt with Alzheimer's, who you don't know and who most assuredly doesn't know you, even if she does) immediately jumped to the iconic ***Marilyn*** and something I once read. A photographer who knew her said he thought her dull, but when he took her photo she lit up. Then the shutter closed and she was dull again. He asked her what it was between her and the camera that didn't show any other time and she said, "It's like being screwed by a thousand guys and you can't get pregnant." Don't know why, just wanted to say.

Yes, thanks to you and everyone else for interacting!


consonantsandvowels: my thought process runs something like: What was that thing? That thing with the? It was about... I think I remember ... Wasn’t that... no, wait...Did I read it here...or here...?

(both laughing)

Michael: That’s exactly what my thought process sounds like!

consonantsandvowels: If I ever find it, I'll let you know.

Melissa: Oh good! Thank—

Michael: No! You can’t say “Thank you” until she tells us.

Melissa: Haha!

consonantsandvowels: So, I saw “Marilyn” and “photograph” near each other in your comment and my mind

Melissa: I love these synaptic convergences—it’s like a verbal Rorschach. And then we got to hear this marvelous story about your aunt.

“who you don't know and who most assuredly doesn't know you, even if she does”

(both laughing)

consonantsandvowels: Don't know why, just wanted to say.

Michael: Say anytime you want.

Melissa: Yes. We’re glad you did. And do.
I will give you the weekend, maybe two, then I am expecting the art post...don't mean to sound threatening, just thought you might work better under a deadline.

“I will give you the weekend, maybe two, then I am expecting the art post...don't mean to sound threatening, just thought you might work better under a deadline.”

You know us well, mamoore. Of course, we’ve already started so many new posts since then, it’s going to seem like old news once we do get around to publishing it, but not to worry. We may have a tide-me-over in the meantime, though. We started working on a new post last night that is actually art-related. We’ve been experimenting with a new methodology—recording our conversations for later transcription. Haven’t actually gotten around to transcribing and meta’ing them yet, but perhaps we’ll start with that one so you can get your art fix in the meantime.