THE MUSE ERRANT

It's not like I want to show off. It's just that I didn't want you to go away thinking that my Muse is utterly obsessed by the feeble exploits of the Oracle's lamest priest. Well, not utterly to the exclusion of all else. Well, not utterly to the exclusion of all else all the time, anyway. Okay, I admit the "Oracular Priest Disrobed" item in last February's issue of Playmuse magazine had her going some, but those photos of Zadoc and the pogo stick were strictly artistic and in the best possible taste. Really. You can believe me, I'm an incarnation.

I. Best of the Best   (Scored 3.9 or better)
II. Best of the Rest   (Scored 3.6 to 3.8)
III. Best of the Abject Failures   (Unselected; scored zip)
IV. Verse Is Worse   (Answers in rhyme)

 


BEST OF THE BEST

Digest/Score:
1. Stereoscopic Censorship   #833-06 (4.0)
2. Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam   #840-05 (4.3)
3. A Few of My Least Favourite Things   #846-04 (3.9)
4. Advanced Incarnations Class   #851-02 (4.0)
5. Duke Nukem: A Critique of Pure Violence   #1072-05 (3.9)
6. Groundhog Day   #1075-10 (4.3)
7. X or Y   #1085-08 (4.0)
8. Paradox Police, Arrest This Man   #1089-03 (4.0)
9. On the Tenth Plague of Egypt   #1135-10 (4.3)

 


1.

The Internet Oracle has pondered your question deeply.
Your question was:

> I need your help .   I'm
> new to the Internet ,
> and have never used the
> Oracle   before; I know
> how easy it is   to fake
> e-mail messages, and I
> was afraid I'd get a
> reply from some phony .
>
> The recent government
> attempts at taking
> over the net, and
> control ling what we
> see, hear and think,
> smacks of   McCarthyism
> to me, and looks like
> a threat to free speech
> in cyberspace .
>
> Is this true , Oracle?
> Will future generations
> say that we held   on to
> decency, but gave up
> liberty?   Or by   then
> will it be too late?
> Will there be n o one
> who understands   what
> liberty means a nymore?
>
> I get cross-eyed just
> thinking about it.
I need your   help.  I'm
new to the   Internet,
and have never used the
Oracle before; I know
how easy it   is to fake
e-mail messages, and I
was afraid I'd get   a
reply from some   phony.

The recent   government
attempts at   taking
over the net, and
controlling what we
see, hear and think,
smacks   of McCarthyism
to me, and looks like
a threat to free speech
in   cyberspace.

Is this true,   Oracle?
Will future generations
say that we   held on to
decency, but gave up
liberty?   Or   by then
will it be too late?
Will there be   no one
who understand s what
liberty means   anymore?

I get cross-eyed just
thinking about it.

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

    Dear supplicant, in view
    of you unfortunate eye
    condition, I shall also
    write stereoscopically.
Dear supplicant, in view
of you unfortunate eye
condition, I shall also
write stereoscopically.
    I know, I know, this
    Net.indecency hysteria
    we're currently having
    to endure is a pain in
    the butt, isn't it?
    Jesus, there's always
    been porn on the Net,
    just like there has in
    the real world. You want
    to see naked hooters?
    Just walk into any
    goddam newsagent. And
    how do you like the
    bloody nerve of one
    country thinking it can
    tell the rest of the
    world what it can and
    can't say in electronic
    communications? Can the
    frigging US government
    stop an Australian
    calling a New Zealander
    a sheepshagger if that's
    what he really wants to
    do?
I know, I know, this
Net.indecency hysteria
we're currently having
to endure is a pain in
the behind, isn't it?
Jeepers, there's always
been naughtiness on the
Net, just like there has
in the real world. You
want to see unclad
chests? Just walk into
any atheistic newsagent.
And how do you like the
sanguinary nerve of one
country thinking it can
tell the rest of the world
what it can and can't say
in electronic communications?
Can the [expletive deleted]
US government stop an
Australian calling a New
Zealander a sheepmolest^H
^H^H^H^H^H
worrier if
that's what he really wants to
do?
    Hey, you know there was
    even one of those
    cretinous parental
    control filters recently
    that blocked Socks's
    cruddy White House page
    for kids, because the
    smutty pussy used the
    word "couples" to describe
    people like Bill and
    Hillary? (Hah! As if
    Bill ever restricted his
    attentions to just a
    couple, eh?) This kind
    of crap will ensure that
    the whole thing sinks
    under a tidal wave of
    derision. Hell, your
    kids learn far ruder
    words than couples at
    school. Perhaps those
    geniuses in your
    idiotic Congress should
    legislate about what
    can be said in the
    playground, too.
Hey, you know there was
even one of those intellect-
ually challenged parental
control filters recently
that blocked Socks's
encrusted White House page
for kids, because the
unclean private parts used
the word conjoins to describe
people like the President
and the First Lady?
[generally suggestive
parenthetic allegations
deleted]
  This kind of
number twos will ensure
that the whole thing sinks
under a tidal wave of
derision. Heck^H^H^H^H
Gosh, your kids learn far
more impolite words
than conjoins at school.
Those geniuses in your
wonderful Congress should
legislate about what
can be said in the
playground, too.
    Still, I understand
    your fears about
    freedom of speech on
    the Net, and sympathise
    with them. As an
    immortal, however, I
    have the advantage of a
    long-term perspective,
    and so I can assure you
    that I've seen all this
    sort of thing before,
    and it all blows over in
    time. Repressive regimes
    rarely last more than a
    century, often much
    less. Those smegheads in
    Congress think they know
    what's good for you
    better than you do
    yourself. This is
    typical of the right-
    wing paternalism that
    grips the Republican
    party generally -- hence
    all the whining on about
    children, of course.
    They want to treat you
    all as children -- so
    much easier to control
    than adults. And what
    with the resurgence in
    religious fundamentalism
    as a backlash against
    the liberalism of the
    60s and 70s, not to
    mention millennium fever,
    they now think they've
    got some sort of moral
    mandate for their heavy-
    handed tactics.
Still, I understand
your fears about
freedom of speech on
the Net, and sympathise
with them. As an
immortal, however, I
have the advantage of a
long-term perspective,
and so I can assure you
that your government is
only thinking of your
welfare. You must trust
your government. Your
government knows what
is good for you. Those
[term not in dictionary]s
in Congress know that
they are what is good
for you. They love you.
They want you to be
happy. They don't want
you to worry your head
about matters you don't
understand. But to do
all this, they need your
complete obedience.
That's not too much to
ask, is it? We can't
have people rocking the
boat. Not if we're to
rebuild a law-abiding,
God-fearing America
from the ruins left by
those pinko subversives
of the 60s and 70s. You
want your children to
be safe. You want to be
safe. You want us to
look after you. You know
you do.
    But bear up, supplicant.
    Things are not as bad as
    they could be. Okay, so
    we're undergoing a
    brief return to the
    days of McCarthyism.
    What you have to do is
    keep saying to yourself:
    "This country is still
    a democracy. Come the
    elections, I'll see who
    has my true interests
    at heart and vote
    accordingly." And they
    know it. In the end,
    it's you who controls
    them. Hang on to that
    thought -- you'll feel
    better for it.
But we noticed that you used
words like "McCarthyism"
and "liberty" to imply that
you were disapproving of
your elected government's
sterling efforts to protect
you from yourself. You must
guard against Unamerican
thoughts like these. Keep
saying to yourself over
and over: "Every day in
every way I am getting
better, and more dutiful,
and more trusting, and
more obedient." You can
do it. You will do it.
And in the end, you'll
feel better for it.
Or else.
    As this is your first
    time, you don't owe the
    Oracle anything. Please
    feel free to call again
    anytime.
As this is your first
transgression, Big Brother
forgives you. Next time
it'll be a visit to the room
full of rats, buddy.

 


2.

The Internet Oracle has pondered your question deeply.
Your question was:

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programs/spam/questionspam> qspam

  /----\   |    |   ----   /----   -----   ---   /----\   |     |
  |    |   |    |   |     |          |      |    |    |   |\    |
  |    |   |    |   ----   \---\     |      |    |    |   | \   | 
  |   \|   |    |   |           |    |      |    |    |   |   \ |
  \----\   \----/   ----   ----/     |     ---   \----/   |    \|

             *****     *****       ***       *       *
            *          *    *     *   *      * *   * *
             ****      *****      *****      *  * *  *
                 *     *         *     *     *       *
            *****      *        *       *    *       *

v1.0
(c)1996 Hormelized Technologies




Target of spam:  The Internet Oracle [[email protected]]

Are you sure that you wish this person to receive spam (y/n):  y

WARNING:  You are spamming an omniscient, omnipotent being.  Do you wish
to continue (y/n):  y

Reading spam files.......................................DONE
Reading question building algorithms....................................
.................................................DONE
Building questions......................................................
...............................DONE
Initializing SpamMailer(tm)................DONE

There are five seconds left before the spam will be sent.  You may press
^C during these seconds to cancel.

5.......4.......3.......2.......1.......0

Beginning spam now.


Who?  What?  Where?  When?  Why?  How?  How much?  How little?  Why not?
Who else?  So?  Who cares?  Why would they?  Why wouldn't they?  What is
the meaning of life?  Do you know?  How come?  What do you mean?  Why do
you say that?  Why would they say that?  Why would I say that?  Why
wouldn't you?  Why can't anyone?  Can you?  Would you?  Would you eat
green eggs and ham?  Why me?  Why anyone?  What did they say?  How could
you?  How could anyone?  How would anyone?  Could there be?  Should I say
so?  Which is better?  What is best?  Is that so?  Where were you?  Who
were you?  What are you?  When can you?  Can you get there?  Can you get
here?  When can you get there?  When can you get here?  What's the
answer?  What's the question?  Please?  What is it?  How much was it?
What does it do?  Where did you get it?  How does it work?  Why can't I
have it?  Why are you giving it to me?  Why aren't you giving it to me?
What reason could there be?  Do we need a reason?  Do I need a reason?
Do I need one?  What do I need?  What might I need?  What would I need?
What would I want?  What might I want?  Can I afford it?  Can I afford
to?  Can they afford to?  What can I afford?  Can they do that?  Who
would let them?  Why would they let them?  Could they let them?  Why
won't they let me?  Can they let me?  Why am I?  How are you?  Who is
he?  Why is he?  How is he?  Where is she?  Why doesn't she?  Do you like
it?  Do they like it?  Would they like it?  Why don't I like it?  Might
anyone like it?  Could anyone not like it?  What's for dinner?  Why can't
I have something different?  Why do I have to finish it?  Why can't I
have dessert?  Can I have the steak?  Can I have it medium rare?  Can I
go there?  Can you go there?  Can I take you?  Can you take me?  Can we
carpool?  Why can't we carpool?  Why won't you carpool?  How can you
carpool?  Why do you put up with this?  Who else puts up with this?  How
can you put up with this?  Why don't you put up with it?  Why can't you
put up with it?  Are you sick?  Am I sick?  Is it contagious?  Is it
serious?  Are you serious?  Was he really joking?  Do you think I'm
joking?  Is it any good?  It it really that good?  Can it be that bad?
Why is it good?  Why isn't it good?  Would you buy one?  Why would you
buy one?  Why wouldn't you buy one?  Why won't you buy one?  How could I
buy one?  Could you buy me one?  Could you buy me some?  Will I win?  Can
I win?  How can I win?  Why won't I win?  Why will I win?  Why will they
lose?  Will I really win?  Will they really win?  Can I lose?  How much
can I lose?  By how much can I lose?  Will it matter?  Does it matter?
Could it matter?  Do I matter?  Why does it matter?  Why doesn't it
matter?  Where do we come from?  Where do I come from?  Where am I
going?  Where are we going?  Are we going?  Are we there?  Are we there
yet?  Why aren't we there yet?  Why can't I stop?  Why don't I stop?  Can
I stop?  Could you stop me?  Can I stop you?  Would I stop you?  Should I
stop you?  Should you stop me?  Can they stop him?  Why doesn't he stop?
Why won't they stop?  Why do I do it?  Why don't I do it?  How would I do
it?  How could I do it?  How should I do it?  Might I do it?  Why could I
do it?  Why should I do it?  Why would I do it?  How much would you pay
me?  How much would you pay me?  How much could you pay me?  Why won't
you pay me?  Why don't you pay me?  How much could I pay them?  How much
should I pay them?  Should I pay them?  Would anyone pay?  Would anyone
say?  Could anyone say?  Should I say?  Should they say?  Should they
tell?  Should I tell?  What should I bring for show and tell?  What's
that smell?  What the hell?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

[deep breath in]
Colonel Mustard.  First degree murder.  In the billiards room.  Eight minutes to midnight.  Greed.  With the lead piping.  500 grand.  10 grand.  Hardly worth it for less.  Sergeant Pepper.  So what price love, peace and flower power now, eh?  The Samaritans.  Because they're a bunch of bleeding-heart lefties.  In your case, because they were overcome by revulsion.  Subtract the universe and everything and you're left with six.  Everything.  Omniscient.  I mean I'm bloody clever.  Because it's true.  Self-infatuation.  Complete lack of originality.  It's rather distasteful.  Physically impossible for humans.  Yes. I've already said I wouldn't - are you deaf as well as stupid?  Only if I wanted a dose of botulism.  You're a born loser.  They bought Windows95.  "Why didn't we buy a Mac?"  I knew I'd get away with it.  Greed (see "Why?" above) or being born Bill Gates.  Not with the lead piping anyway - far too messy.  Only after the mating season is over.  Nobody'd believe you.  I Can't Believe It's Not Butter.  Butter.  No, it was just a cheap joke.  I was with Lisa all night - she'll testify to it.  Zeus Ammon.  Superhuman.  Anytime I dam' well please.  Yes, but you need to change at Poughkeepsie.  I'll need to check with Lisa.  Eight minutes to midnight.  Preferably after you've left.  A naughty frog.  What's green sits in the corner?  Thank you.  A Mickey Mouse watch.  $4.99 at K-Mart.  Tell the time sporadically.  You gave it to me.  The little hand tells the hours and the big hand tells the minutes.  Because you just gave it to me - are you paying attention or not?  Because it sucks.  I've changed my mind.  It's too good for you.  One of us does.  Well done, you got it in one.  No, you need several.  Brain cells.  A personality transplant.  The Samaritans.  A blow-up Gillian Anderson doll.  Gillian Anderson.  Nope.  Mmmm... still nope.  Now what would the Samaritans want with a blow-up Gillian Anderson doll?  A Barbie doll.  No - Barbie dolls aren't anatomically correct (I've tried).  Ken and Barbie's snotty little sister Skipper.  They'll do anything for a fiver, that pair.  Actually, no - Barbie dolls aren't anatomically correct.  Even those two draw the line somewhere.  No - Barbie dolls aren't... ahh, forget it.  An unfortunate conjunction of genes.  Just dandy, thank you.  Colonel Mustard.  He bought his commission.  Guilty as charged.  In the bedroom.  It's her time of the month.  As often as possible.  Carmelite nuns as a rule don't.  With me they would.  Because you're a very sad little man.  With me they might.  Perhaps if they'd been recently bobbited.  Toad in the hole.  Because you didn't finish it last time.  How else are we going to get rid of all these dam' toads?  Because I didn't make you any.  Oh, alright then.  You can have it well BSE'd for all I care.  The sooner the better.  I can go anywhere I dam' well please.  If you drug and bind me first.  If I drugged and bound me first.  No.  You don't have a car.  I don't have a car either.  This carpooling business is becoming something of an obsession with you, isn't it?  I often ask myself that question.  The Pythia, the Vestal Virgins, John the Baptist, the Dalai Lama... you know, the usual crowd.  You haven't asked me the woodchuck question yet.  It's a matter of principle.  Oh, alright then - it's really a matter of small, irritating furry animals that really ask for it.
[GASP! pant, pant, pant - another deep breath in]
Never felt better.  Decidedly.  No, it's inherited.  Deadly.  Deadly.  Look, if you're going to start asking for second opinions then I'm not talking to you anymore.  I think you think you're joking, but I know better.  No.  You're developing a stammer.  Believe me, it can be worse.  Evidently, you're one of the few people on the planet not to have dated Lisa, if you have to ask.  No, actually that makes me feel really good.  I see you've returned to the subject of Gillian Anderson dolls.  Lisa's time of the month.  Lisa would kill me.  Put like that, I don't like the odds.  Mail order catalog.  Aha, so this is what you've been leading up to all along, is it?  One's not enough now, eh?  No, I told you, you're a born loser.  Read - my - lips!  Be reincarnated as Andre Agassi.  Because you haven't even died yet.  My god - you really are Andre Agassi!  It's that hamstring injury playing up again.  No, I was just kidding - you're not really Andre Agassi.  Every time.  Easy as falling off a log.  Remember all those Gillian Anderson dolls I just bought you?  Six-love, six-love, six-love.  Not in the general scheme of things.  Not to me it doesn't.  Yes, if you had been Andre Agassi, or even Pete Sampras.  Aha, I see you've finally got to the root of the problem.  Can you really picture four years of Bob Dole as president?  Can you really picture another four years of Bill Clinton as president?  Primeval sludge.  Your parents omitted to tell you about the birds and the bees then?  Nowhere fast.  Hell in a handbasket.  Sure as god made little green apples.  Any minute now.  No, I was kidding - sometime in the next three millennia.  Because of the fall of Communism.  I keep wondering that.  Because I haven't ZOTted you yet.  Probably not.  Watch me.  I wouldn't advise you to try.  About as effectively as a hedgehog could stop a juggernaut.  Come to think of it, please try.  Probably.  Only if they can get the gloves to fit.  He's hoping that if he stays in the public eye long enough he'll get a date with Princess Di.  The mating season isn't over yet.  Lack of judgement.  Lack of ability.  Clumsily.  Utter and complete lack of judgement.  Follow the instructions in my step-by-step guide, which can be purchased at any good bookstore for a mere $34.99.  You're gullible enough.  The instructions are designed to be comprehensible to a mildly retarded Neanderthal.  Because I told you to.  Because the last thing you want to do is get on my wrong side.  Pay you???  You blackmailer - just because I haven't managed to sell one yet!  Alright - $34.99.  I can't find my wallet.  Drat, I remember now - I gave it to Lisa.  Your life's savings.  $34.99.  Yes.  Past experience suggests not.  "It's highway robbery."  Not if I was within earshot.  Not if I was within earshot.  Not if I... are you going deaf again?  No - what you do with your Gillian Anderson dolls is strictly your own business.  You don't have to - I already know, you dirty little beggar.  Definitely not a Gillian Anderson doll - try a selection of midwestern roadkill instead.  Looks like your roadkill was a bit too fresh.
[WHEW! pant, pant, pant]
Hah! Didn't think I had it in me, eh? Never doubt a deity, supplicant!
Hang on a minute. One, two, three... I missed one! Oh yes, here it is. I didn't answer the "What the hell?" at the end. Ah well, you were anticipating the answer to that one all along anyway, weren't you?
> > ZOT < <
So now you also know how spam's made.

 


3.

The Internet Oracle has pondered your question deeply.
Your question was:

> You know what I hate?
>
> RICH PRICKS

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

As a matter of fact, I did know that. That's my job.
You're new to this, aren't you? Well, this is how it works: you ask the questions, and I supply the answers. Think you can manage that? Let's try it then.

The Internet Oracle has pondered your question deeply.
Your question was:

> You know what I hate?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

Corduroy pants. Body piercing. Boyzone. Dirty fingernails. People telling you to have a nice day. People telling you to "Enjoy!" their Web site. People starving in a world of plenty. White shirts with little thin pink stripes. Cars with "Colonel Bogey" horns. Garfields stuck to car side windows. Bumper stickers detailing their son's college grades. Phone-in help desks. Voice mail. On-hold music. "Funny" ansaphone messages. In fact, almost anything associated with telephones. Sun-dried tomatoes. Monosyllabic supplicants. "Me too!" posters. Little yappy dogs that have to be carried everywhere. Jim Carrey. White socks. Bugs Bunny socks. Musical socks. ESPECIALLY musical socks. Men with hairy toes wearing sandals and no socks. Thermal cups at service plazas. People who drive pickup trucks when they don't have to. Beavis and Butthead. Charles and Di. Micro$oft's imminent conquest of the Net. Cascades. Jim Carrey. The way how, when people arrange the snacks for a party, they always mix the cheese-and-onion potato chips in with the salt-and-vinegar ones. Smurfs. Barbershop choirs. The thought of Nicole Kidman playing Mrs. Peel in the film of "The Avengers". Supplicants who don't grovel. Supplicants who ask the w**dch*ck question. Supplicants who don't grovel AND ask the w**dch*ck question. The word "Jurassic" used to describe anything other than the middle bit of the Mesozoic Era. The word "loser" spelled "looser" (it should, of course, be spelled "AOLuser"). Jerry Adams. Newt Gingrich. Baseball caps worn the wrong way round. Joggers. Skateboarders. Roller bladers. In fact, anybody with little wheels attached to their feet. Fat women in leggings. Fat men in Bermuda shorts. Thin men in Bermuda shorts. JuVeNiLeS wHo ThInK wRiTiNg In AlTeRnAtInG cApS iS cOoL. The Taster's Choice/Gold Blend couple. Bras that pull your breasts up under your armpits. Any and all references to "Mission Impossible". Any and all references to "The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy". This terrible pain in all the diodes down my left side. Those watches that double as calculators, address books and nuclear magnetic resonance spectrographs and spend all the time beeping as their owners play with them. Jim Carrey.
Hang on a minute - this is a list of what I hate! See what you've done, you've got me all confused! Let's try it one more time.

The Internet Oracle has pondered your question deeply.
Your question was:

> You know what I hate?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

RICH PRICKS!
You owe the Oracle an end to this feud between you and Mr. Pricks.

 


4.

The Internet Oracle has pondered your question deeply.
Your question was:

> Who are Daniel Thurner

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

Oracle: Good morning ladies, gentlemen, Kevin. Welcome to the Advanced Oracularities module. As I'm sure you are all aware, there are no course credits to be gained here - I hope to change that next year - but when I've finished with you, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing that you form the vanguard of a new, trained cadre of incarnations who will not only raise the standard of oracular responses generally - and let's face it, it's in dire need of raising at the moment - but are also guaranteed to get into the digests virtually every time their fingers touch the keyboard.
Now I'm sure you all know me - I'm the Internet Oracle. I'll be taking you through the finer points of providing sensational responses to every question the great unwashed out there in cyberspace can throw at you, from the sublime to the ridiculous, as well as how to deal with spams, woodchucks, lemurs, B1FF, Zadoc the Priest, and a host of other unsavory intrusions. You'll be shown how to construct biblical and Buddhist oracularities and top ten lists. You'll learn the relative merits of prose and verse responses, and how to squeeze the last creative drop out of Star Trek TNG, the X-Files and the Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. You'll also find out why Beavis and Butthead should be avoided at all times (if you didn't already know). Finally at the end of the semester, as a special treat, there will be a practical ZOTting session which I guarantee will make Quake look sissy in comparison.
So, any questions at this stage? Fine. In that case, I thought we'd kick off with a typically obscure question selected from this morning's email bag. See what you make of this:
> Who are Daniel Thurner
Any suggestions as to how to answer this?
Kevin: ZOT the little turd for not grovelling!
Oracle: Thank you, Kevin, but you hardly need to be an advanced incarnation to come up with that one. Anyone else have an idea? No? Well, what's the first step you would take?
Megan: Uh... find out who Daniel Thurner is?
Oracle: Excellent! A sound first move. And how do we do that?
Megan: Alta Vista?
Oracle: Precisely! Use the Net to help you - that's good thinking. Please try it on your terminal.
Megan: Daniel Thurner returns no hits.
Chelsea: Could it be a typo? Daniel Turner seems a more probable name.
Oracle: Good, good. Megan?
Megan: Lots of Daniel Turners. Hmm... none of them seems very famous, though.
Oracle: Looks like this was a false lead then. Can anyone tell me what was wrong with Megan's approach? No? Was she trying to answer the right question?
Travis: She's trying to find out who Daniel Thurner is. But the question asks "Who are Daniel Thurner."
Oracle: Brilliant! I am impressed. Remember this - as an advanced incarnation you must pay strict attention to the precise wording of the question. Otherwise you can end up falling into all kinds of semantic traps and wind up looking rather less than omniscient. So, "who are Daniel Thurner?" What does this question mean?
Josh: That the supplicant is a moron who can't spell or construct a grammatical sentence?
Oracle: Most of them are. Or else?
Megan: This Daniel Thurner suffers from multiple personality disorder?
Travis: Or he has a doppelganger.
Melanie: How about - Daniel Thurner is really a colonial alien lifeform come to conquer the Earth?
Oracle: Those are all interesting possibilities. There's certainly a lot of scope for imaginative responses here then. What's another approach? Come on - what else could the message be?
Josh: Some sort of code?
Oracle: Right - a code! What sort?
Josh: ROT13?
Oracle: I hardly think so.
Kevin: ROT12!
Oracle: No...
Kevin: ROT11!
Oracle: Thank you, Kevin. I think we've exhausted that particular line of inquiry.
Kevin: I still think you should ZOT the little turd for not grovelling.
Megan: An anagram!
Oracle: Aha!
Megan: Of, er, "lurid earthenware hon."
Melanie: "Hornier adults whine!"
Chelsea: "Worn ariel headhunter!"
Alan: "Loh, Newt insured hair!"
Oracle: Alright, alright, thank you, that's enough. The purpose of this exercise was to demonstrate that even the most unpromising question that the barbarian hordes of AOL can hurl at you can be turned into an entertaining response if you just let your imagination roam a little. Don't react automatically. And never take a question too literally - otherwise you might as well be a walking encyclopedia.
Melanie: But shouldn't we try to give the right answer?
Oracle: Certainly, if at all possible.
Melanie: So what's the right answer to this question?
Oracle: Simplest thing in the world:
The Internet Oracle has pondered your question deeply.
Your question was:
> Who are Daniel Thurner
And in response, thus spake the Oracle:
} } ZOT { {
Look kids, I'm a very busy deity. I get in excess of 1500 questions pouring in every day, on top of taking these classes, giving leadership to the priesthood and having to help Lisa with the shopping. You really think I'm going to waste my valuable time, what little there is of it, trying to figure out the hidden meaning underlying every badly formulated piece of drivel that lands in my in-tray? Anyway, the little turd didn't grovel.
Now, for the rest of this class, I'd like to turn to the really profound questions that you may find yourself confronted with. You know, like the meaning of life and death, the origin of the universe, and where all the ballpoint pens keep disappearing to.
Kevin: Ballpoint pens? Surely that's not profound!
Oracle: You're not really cut out for this are you, Kevin? ...And don't call me Shirley.

 


5.

(This is really Sages of the Ages IIb - see Abject Failures page. The supplicant has shamelessly ripped off my punchline. It's clear that the Internet is no longer the domain of gentlemen - Ed.)

The Internet Oracle has pondered your question deeply.
Your question was:

> Oh, wise Oracle, who can beat Doom in Nightmare mode,
>
> What would "Duke Nukem: A Critique of Pure Violence" be like?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

THE INTERNET ORACLE
GAME REVIEW OF THE MONTH:
Duke Nukem: A Critique of Pure Violence
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Just how much mileage can a games manufacturer get out of a single product? If the product is DN3D, an almost unlimited amount, apparently. The Plutonium Pak, Atomic Edition, Nuclear Winter, Life's a Beach... the list of add-ons seems endless. The cry goes up: oh, for some new weapons, some new baddies, some new anything!
Take heart, all you shoot-em-up slugfest-loving psychopaths out there: with "A Critique of Pure Violence", Dukey enters a whole new dimension! Gone are the tattered old Troopers and Pig Cops, to be replaced by kick-ass Stoics, Sophists and Neo-Pythagoreans. Hell, these guys will argue that pleasure is irrelevant to the attainment of happiness as soon as look at you, and stir-fry your nuts to prove it! And the human females are much more interactive than before! Go up to the go-go girls in the red light district bar, wave some money under their noses and they'll expound the empiricism of Francis Bacon to you till you cry "uncle".
You have some really neat new weapons to try out too, such as the Phenomenological Cannon and the Concept of Dread Bomb. And there's a Boss Philosopher at the end of each level!
Once again, the game is powered by the Quake engine, but now it has sound and graphics to die for (or from!) Okay, so the minimum spec is a P266 MicroCray with 1064 Mflops RAM and a liquid nitrogen-cooled 3D accelerator. But once you've got the hardware sorted, the AI of the baddies will impress the socks off you! If you thought Kierkegaard's satires of Hegelian Rationalism were biting, wait till these guys sink their fangs into your dialectics!
To give too much away at this stage would spoil all the fun, so this review will restrict itself to describing the demo version only. This consists of four levels:
1. Pluralism - The Parmenideans come at you thick and fast from the very start, claiming there are four material elements and two forces, and that these can neither come into being nor pass away. You counter with Zeno's Paradox which freezes them into immobility, at which point you can blow them away with your shotgun. The Boss Philosopher of this level is Anaxagoras of Clazomenae (looking vaguely like the alien from the "Predator" series), who will try to convince you that everything is contained within everything else as a prelude to chopping you into infinitely small particles.
2. The Doctrine of God's Will - Blasting and debating your way through a medieval dungeon, the pressure never lets up. No sooner have you established the validity of Anselm's proof of the existence of God than you are faced with a slavering, 12-foot, razor-wielding death-merchant. Yes, it's William of Ockham, looking not a little like Strife out of "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys". When this guy says human reason alone is insufficient to reach the truth, you believe him!
3. Logical Positivism - It may be true that there's nothing Nietzsche couldn't teach you about breaking people's heads, but here it's Wittgenstein that's the bolshy swine who radically denies the meaningfulness of metaphysics by ripping out the intestines of anyone who approaches him with unverifiable assertions about moral, esthetic or religious values. Take your existentialism in your left hand, your rocket launcher in your right, and proceed with extreme caution.
4. Marxism - And what better way to round off a binge of blood and brain cells than with the Bearded Behemoth of the Bourgeoisie himself? If you can separate this sucker from his Kapital without resorting to revolutionary action (or even cheat codes), you're ready for the commercial game!
Your reviewer unhesitatingly awards DN:ACOPV his coveted Gold Medal for sheer gut-wrenching, mind-bending, adrenaline-surging nihilism. But remember, you need skill as well as an unquenchable bloodlust to win. As Dukey himself says, "I think, therefore I aim."
Like hell he does!

 


6.

The Internet Oracle has pondered your question deeply.
Your question was:

> So, Orrie, what are your plans for February 2nd?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

Pretty much the same as usual. Here's my schedule for the day, if you must know:
07:52 Woken by the radio alarm. Some inane DJ's saying "Rise and shine, campers, and don't forget your booties 'cause it's coooold out there today." Where's he escaped from, I wonder? Lisa stirs in the bed next to me, but doesn't wake.
08:00 Shave and have breakfast. Burn the toast.
08:48 Fire up the question queue.
08:49 Zot an insolent supplicant who thinks I can't recognise a thinly-disguised w**dchuck question when I see one (that's you, in case you couldn't guess).
08:50 Answer the rest of the questions.
09:26 Zadoc enters and starts grovelling.
11:14 Zadoc finishes grovelling and asks if I want a cup of coffee.
12:30 Lunch.
13:48 Go shopping with Lisa. She wants to buy some outrageously expensive clothes but I put my foot down. Lisa sulks until I promise to take her out to dinner.
20:15 We go out, eat lobster and drink pina coladas. Afterwards we make love like sea otters.
23:06 Fall asleep.
07:52 Woken by the radio alarm. Some inane DJ's saying "Rise and shine, campers, and don't forget your booties 'cause it's coooold out there today." Does this moron say the same thing every day? Lisa stirs in the bed next to me, but doesn't wake.
08:00 Shave and have breakfast. Burn the toast. Start experiencing an uncomfortable sense of deja vu.
08:48 Fire up the question queue.
08:49 Zot an insolent supplicant who thinks I can't recognise a thinly-disguised w**dchuck question when I see one. Anyway, the idiot's a day late - it's now the 3rd of February, for god's sake!
08:50 Answer the rest of the questions, all of which look eerily familiar.
09:26 Zadoc enters and starts grovelling. I tell him to shut up and he slopes off, sobbing quietly. Now I have to get my own coffee.
12:30 Lunch.
13:48 Lisa wants to go shopping. I say I can't because something's very wrong and I have to work it out. Lisa sulks until I promise to take her out to dinner.
20:15 We go out, eat lobster and drink pina coladas. Afterwards I'm too preoccupied to make love, and Lisa sulks again.
22:55 Fall asleep.
07:52 Woken by the radio alarm. The inane DJ's starts saying "Rise and shine, campers..." but I switch him off. What the hell's going on? Lisa doesn't stir.
07:58 Cut myself shaving and skip breakfast.
08:29 Fire up the question queue.
08:30 Zot the imbecile with the w**dchuck question.
08:31 Zot all the rest of the stupid supplicants for good measure.
09:26 Zadoc enters and I Zot him. I go out into the corridor and Zot the coffee machine.
12:30 Skip lunch.
12:39 Lisa wants to go shopping. I explain that I can't because I keep reliving the same day. Lisa says that's the feeblest excuse she's ever heard in her life, and sulks until I promise to take her out to dinner.
20:15 We go out, she eats lobster but I just drink endless pina coladas. They don't seem to work. "Can I have one of these with some alcohol in it?" I ask the waiter sarcastically. He makes some smartass retort so I Zot him. The police are called in.
21:43 I'm put in a police holding cell. Maybe if I stay awake, I can break this cycle.
23:57 Fall asleep.
07:52 Woken by the radio alarm. Before the inane DJ can say a word I Zot the radio. Lisa asks what's up, so I Zot her.
07:54 Skip shaving and breakfast.
08:06 Fire up the question queue and Zot all the supplicants without reading any of the questions. Zot the console. Zot every object in the room.
08:28 Go out to the priests' quarters and Zot Zadoc as he emerges from his cell. Find Kinzler and Zot him too, just because.
08:52 Go outside and Zot any passers-by I see.
09:03 Zot myself. 
07:52 Woken by the radio alarm. Zot the radio. Lisa asks what's up, and I explain I've worked it out. It's a fiendish plot by those wretched rodents! The only way I can save myself is to destroy the mastermind behind it - Punxsutawney Phil himself! Lisa suggests I'm a few demigods short of a pantheon. I ignore her and leap out of bed.
07:57 Skip shaving and breakfast.
08:13 Ransack the storeroom where I keep the gifts from supplicants. There - I knew I had some! A phial of mixomatosis virus. Now I'll get that smug little beggar!
09:11 Get in the car and head for Pennsylvania.
09:44 Hell and damnation! The police are turning people back, claiming the roads are blocked by snow. I try to break through but only succeed in crashing the car into some police vehicles.
12:25 I'm put in a police holding cell. I call Lisa to come and bail me out, but she says I can stay there until I come to my senses. I decide to try and stay awake again.
23:59 Fall asleep. 
07:52 Woken by the radio alarm. The inane DJ goes into his spiel, but I restrain myself from attacking the radio. I must try and work this out rationally. Lisa stirs in the bed next to me, but doesn't wake. 
08:05 Shave and have breakfast, careful not to burn the toast.
09:17 Fire up the question queue. Is it something to do with the questions, perhaps? If so, which one?
09:19 Consider the thinly-disguised w**dchuck question. Maybe I shouldn't Zot the supplicant out of hand. Ridiculous - I always Zot infidels who ask the w**dchuck question! I Zot the little swine, as he so richly deserves.
09:21 Start answering the rest of the questions, carefully. I can't figure out what I could have done wrong with any of them.
09:26 Zadoc interrupts my concentration by entering and launching into one of his long-winded bouts of grovelling. I tell him I haven't got time, and just to get me a cup of coffee. He slopes out, dejected. Should I have been nicer to him? Ridiculous - nobody's nice to Zadoc! That really would disturb the balance of the universe.
12:30 Lunch.
13:48 Go shopping with Lisa. She wants to buy some outrageously expensive clothes, so I agree. What the hell - she looks great in them. Lisa's so pleased she promises to make me dinner herself tonight.
19:45 Lisa cooks up a magnificent feast of Parma ham and melon, followed by chicken chausseur with Anna potatoes, baby cauliflower ears and mangetouts, and profiteroles to round it all off. We empty three bottles of Chateau Rothschild. Afterwards we make love like sea otters.
23:33 Fall asleep. 
07:52 Woken by the radio alarm. The inane DJ goes into his all too familiar routine. Hell's bells! What have I got to do to escape this nightmare? Lisa asks what's up, and I explain about being forced to relive the same day over and over. She acts very concerned but I can see she doesn't really believe me.
08:28 I shave while Lisa makes me breakfast. She probably doesn't trust me near kitchen implements at the moment.
09:23 Fire up the question queue.
09:24 Consider the thinly-disguised w**dchuck question again. Maybe what matters is not what I do every day, but what I do on this day. Have I ever Zotted someone for asking the w**dchuck question on Groundhog Day, the one day in the year sacred to the God of All Marmots? I find I can't remember.
09:26 Zadoc enters. Before he can launch into his long-winded grovel, I ask him for his opinion on the subject.
09:29 After Zadoc has picked himself up off the floor, where his astonishment at my asking his opinion on anything had deposited him, he confirms that, in as far as he's aware, I've never Zotted a w**dchuck questioner on this day before. That must be it! I thank Zadoc for his invaluable help. More time is lost as Zadoc has to pick himself up off the floor again. He goes out to lie down and recover from the shock, so I get no coffee. No matter.
09:41 I give the question a long, finely-crafted, kindly answer. I spend most of the morning on it, chuckling to myself as I imagine how thrilled the supplicant will be when he gazes in awe at probably the best answer he's ever received in his dreary little life.
12:29 Answer the rest of the questions. I can do those in my sleep by now.
12:30 Lunch.
13:48 Offer to go shopping with Lisa, but she thinks that it would excite me too much. She makes me lie down and spends the afternoon solicitously tending to my every need. If I'm doomed to relive the same day for all eternity, I can think of worse ways of doing it!
19:00 Lisa refuses to consider going out for dinner, and makes me a light supper in bed. Animatedly, I explain to her that I've solved the puzzle and I'm never going to be cruel to another w**dchuck as long as I live, which is forever, so they ought to be pretty grateful, right? In fact, I shall start calling them by their proper name - woodchuck. There, I've said it. Woodchuck! That's not so bad now, is it? Woooodchuck. One could grow to like the word. Lisa is clearly very worried but tries bravely not to show it.
22:18 Fall asleep while Lisa gently strokes my forehead.
07:52 Woken by the radio alarm. The inane DJ's saying "Looks like there's a break in the weather, and we can look forward to some sunshine today, campers." I've cracked it! I shout with joy. Lisa wakes and asks what's up, and I ask what day it is. "The 3rd, of course," says she, "and are you having another turn?" I tell her I've never felt better, and plant a big fat smacker on her lips. She feels kind of fuzzy.
08:01 I go into the bathroom to shave. A furry, bewhiskered face stares back at me in the shaving mirror. My god! I look like a... a...
08:02 The realisation dawns on me that the nightmare's only just begun.
You owe the Oracle, er... well, some wood, actually. Never you mind what I want it for.

 


7.

The Internet Oracle has pondered your question deeply.
Your question was:

> Which is worse? X or Y?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

Y, by a mile. Let's face it:
  • You won't find any buried treasure at the spot marked Y.
  • Brand X may be second best, but Brand Y doesn't even rate a mention.
  • Nobody now remembers Malcolm Y.
  • Y-rays don't even penetrate glass.
  • Agents Mulder and Scully never bothered looking into the Y-Files.
  • Y Windows and Java Y are platform-independent in the sense that they don't run on any platform.
  • Mutant Alien Body Snatchers from Planet Y would have been met with derision in the fifties.
  • No books have been written about disaffected Generation Y youngsters.
  • Y500 directories, which list only first names and inside leg measurements, are generally not considered to be very useful.
  • Nobody is going to visit your Website to view your YYY-rated JPEGs.
  • Along with the Fantastic Fourteen, the Incredible Bulk and the Mighty Sore, the Y-Men were one of Marvel's less successful creations.
You owe the Oracle a Z chromosome.

 


8.

The Internet Oracle has pondered your question deeply.
Your question was:

> Heya, omniscient-type dude.
>
> I've chatting with your various incarnations, and yeah -- it's fun. But
> sometimes... man, you get some idiots in there! How can I make sure the
> person who gets my mail doesn't give me a serious answer? Oh, and it'd be
> nice if they didn't quote back my question when they replied...
>
> So is there a secret code I can put in the Subject: line or something, to
> make sure my question only gets to people who are at least semi-clueful?
> Thanks, Orrie -- I knew I could count on you!

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

What's this? You want a serious answer to your question "How can I make sure I don't get a serious answer"? Are you trying to trap the Oracle, you creepy little supplicant person you? Well, I'll fix your little red wagon.
ALARM! ALARM! Calling the Paradox Police!
<stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp STOMP STOMP STOMP> PARADOX POLICE REPORTING, SAH!
Oracle: Thank you for coming so promptly. Now ...
Kurt: Actually, we're not the Paradox Police and we're not reporting.
Wolfie: But please bear in mind that my partner lies all the time.
Kurt: I do not!
Wolfie: Whereas I lie exactly 50% of the time. We are the Paradox Police, but we're not reporting.
Kurt: Ah, but hang on, you just made three statements. If you lie exactly 50% of the time, one must be a half-truth.
Wolfie: I did not make three statements.
Kurt: Did too!
Wolfie: Did not! You said I did, so I can't have done.
Kurt: Bummer! Caught out again.
Oracle: If I might interrupt this fascinating discourse ...
Kurt: Wait, I've got it. You did say we weren't the Paradox Police, didn't you?
Wolfie: Correct - I said we were.
Kurt: And that we definitely were reporting.
Wolfie: No, I said we were, but I'm lying now.
Kurt: Therefore, logically, your statement about lying exactly 50% of the time ...
Wolfie: ... Could have been a lie.
Kurt: Damn!
Oracle: Gentlemen ...
Kurt: Okay, this one's really going to work. You definitely lie sometimes.
Wolfie: I am obliged to tell the truth for an undisclosed part of the time, I'll grant you that.
Kurt: So if I were to ask you if we're the Paradox Police, and then I repeat your answer verbatim ...
Wolfie: Ah, I can see where this is heading ...
Kurt: ... Then I can force you into being a full-time liar, like I am not! Ahah! Gotcha, ya little squirt!
Wolfie: Not necessarily ...
Kurt: Have too! Have too! Admit it!
Wolfie: ... Since this scenario would require you to be telling the truth when you say you're going to repeat everything I say.
Kurt: Damn! Blast! I hate you!
Wolfie: He loves me really.
Oracle: Yes thank you, gentlemen, I am truly enjoying your double act and at least one of these statements is false. Now, could you turn your attention to this email from a supplicant?
Wolfie: Certainly! Could you repeat it for us?
Oracle: That's a very tempting suggestion, but just read it for now.
Kurt: Sure thing! There's nothing I like better than reading paradoxical email messages ...
Wolfie: ... Unless it be a ham sandwich ...
Kurt: ... Because, obviously, a ham sandwich is better than nothing. Hmm, this is a nasty one ...
Wolfie: Is there such a secret code, by the way?
Oracle: Yes, but I can't tell it to you, otherwise it wouldn't be secret.
Wolfie: There are no flies on you.
Kurt: Nobody's smarter than the Oracle.
Wolfie: Good point! Well, Sir, there's your solution.
Oracle: What?
Wolfie: The supplicant shouldn't be asking you, he should ask nobody, since nobody is a higher authority than yourself.
Oracle: You mean, like, he should ask his question in an empty room?
Kurt: Exactly. Or he could ask Al Gore, who's a nobody in my book.
Oracle: Sounds good to me. But isn't some kind of punishment in order? He did try to trap me, after all.
Kurt: Absolutely not!
Wolfie: As my partner says, absolutely!
Oracle: How about if I ZOT him on some day between today and Saturday next, but don't tell him which day so it'll come as a surprise?
Kurt: Ah no, that won't work.
Oracle: It won't?
Kurt: No. Everybody thinks there's no paradox there, but in fact there is.
Wolfie: Hang on, if everybody thinks there's no paradox, then you do too.
Kurt: Good point. Okay, everybody thinks there's no paradox there, but Al Gore knows there is. Because, as Al Gore will tell you, if Saturday arrives and the supplicant still hasn't been ZOTted, he'll be expecting it then and it won't be a surprise.
Wolfie: Therefore he knows you won't ZOT him Saturday, so Friday is the last day you can ZOT him and surprise him.
Kurt: But when Friday arrives and he still hasn't been ZOTted ...
Wolfie: You can see the problem, can't you? There's no way you can ZOT him at any time and surprise him.
Kurt: So he's perfectly safe.
<<<<<<<< ZOT! >>>>>>>>
Oracle: What do you think? Was he surprised?
Wolfie: Absolutely.
Kurt: Not in the least.
Wolfie: Oh, shut up.
Kurt: Ham sandwich, anyone?

 


9.

The Internet Oracle has pondered your question deeply.
Your question was:

> Oracle, I have selected the finest fruits from my cherimoya orchard and
> now set them before you as a tribute. Oracle, your Just Wisdom is known
> from sea to sea, from mt. top to mt. top, from abyss to abyss. Please
> hear my question and give answer as you see fit.
>
> Do any of the Deities do sub-contracting?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

As far as I'm aware, all of them do. Being omnipotent doesn't mean you've got time to do everything at once, you know, so they tend to share the load around. Here, let me give you an example.
From: Cherubim, Seraphim & Co.
To: Yahweh Elohim, Lord of Hosts

Dear Supreme Being,

Thanks again for accepting our bid for the ten plagues contract.
As agreed, the following pestilences will be delivered to you for
inflicting on the land of Egypt by Passover next:

      1. Blood
      2. Frogs
      3. Gnats
      4. Flies
      5. Livestock
      6. Boils
      7. Hail
      8. Locusts
      9. Darkness
     10. Death of the firstborn

To maximise efficiency of resource utilisation, we will be engaging a
number of reputable subcontractors to carry out some of the work. We
will ensure that all this falls within the proposed budget, of course.

Yours sincerely,

Manny Truelove, Seraph i/c Miracles
From: Sun Macrocosms
To: Cherubim, Seraphim & Co.

Dear Sir or Madam,

We require clarification of your order for a plague of darkness. It
already gets dark every night. There is no charge for this - it is part
of the government contract.

If you need darkness at some other time, please specify the hours. A
sheet of our charges is attached.

Yours faithfully,

Fred Apollo, Solar Engineer
From: Minor Mythologies (UK) Ltd.
To: Cherubim, Seraphim & Co.

My dear Truelove,

The trucks are ready to roll! They are loaded with nine giant herds of the
finest British beef cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and assorted poultry. I
believe we can confidently assure you of a livestock plague that will be
remembered for years to come!

Best wishes,

Antonius Blair
"Buy British!"
From: Belial Biotechnology
To: Manny Truelove; Cherubim, Seraphim & Co.

Manny,

There's a slight snag on the frog delivery front - somebody's destroyed
all the frog's eggs in the ponds for miles around. Vandals I suspect,
or perhaps Visigoths.

Fortunately, we do have a couple of ornamental horned toads in stock,
and are at this moment encouraging them to breed. Ornamental horned
toads have, proportionate to their body weight, the largest mouths on
the planet, so they ought to make for a pretty scary plague, don't you
think?

Regards,

Alexandra Kelly, Amphibious Supplies Manager
From: Cherubim, Seraphim & Co.
To: F. Apollo, Sun Macrocosms

Dear Mr. Apollo,

The client has an absolute requirement for a period of darkness of not
less than 72 hours. As we are working to a strict budget, we cannot
afford a full eclipse for that length of time at the price given on
your chargesheet. I should be grateful if you could suggest a more
economical alternative.

Manny thanks,

M. Truelove, Seraph i/c Miracles
From: Quetzalcoatl Trading
To: Cherubim, Seraphim & Co.

Dear Mr. Truelove,

I wish you could have given us more notice. There's been a run on
our blood supplies recently - it'll be a relief when someone invents
refrigeration so we can stockpile greater quantities. Our blood
donors are working round the clock to meet your order but, this
being the famine season, I'm not sure we can obtain enough to fill
a whole major river system within the time available.

Yours sincerely,

Kevin Montezuma, Gore Merchant
From: Cherubim, Seraphim & Co.
To: Nordic Pantheons AG

Thor

Of course Egypt is in the desert, you idiot - I thought everybody
knew that! Look, I need that plague of hail two weeks on Thursday, so
don't give me a lot of doubletalk about climate patterns. Just do it!

Manny
From: Cherubim, Seraphim & Co.
To: Yahweh Elohim, Lord of Hosts

Dear God Almighty,

Just to update you on progress. Our subcontractors working on blood,
frogs, livestock and death of the firstborn are all on schedule for
completion Passover next. There was a slight communications breakdown
re hail, which I have personally sorted out. With respect to darkness,
our subcontractor has come up with an interesting proposal. How do you
feel about sunglasses for everyone?

My own firm is taking care of all the insects. We've got seven separate
swarms of locusts loaded up in transports ready for delivery. The gnats
are also all set and, as for the flies - you'll love this - we've
picked mayflies! We think these will make the ideal plague: not only
do they look good, but it's all over and done with in a day, so there's
no messy aftermath. We've got 200 hundredweight of pupae all timed to
metamorphose into adults on the exact date of the deadline, no extra
charge!

Speaking of costs, our boils subcontractor informs me she cannot supply
a sufficient number of individuals with pus-filled sores to spread a
plague within the budget allocated. Apparently a recent upsurge in
hygiene has driven up prices. Would zits be a suitable low-cost
substitute for boils? There's never any shortage of spotty pubescents
and, as we all know, if you pick at zits they spread like wildfire.

Yours sincerely,

Manny Truelove
From: Minor Mythologies (UK) Ltd.
To: Cherubim, Seraphim & Co.

My dear Manny,

Disaster! It's those damn French farmers again! The minute our trucks
disembarked at Calais, they were surrounded and set alight. Risk of
BSE, the scoundrels claimed. Hah! Their filthy cheese isn't even
pasteurised, so who are they to point the finger?

The upshot is, we have several tons of charcoal-broiled beef, pork
and mutton. I don't suppose you can do anything with these? Oh, and
three French hens escaped the carnage. Because of their nationality,
I expect. I'll send them over to you with the rest.

Yours in sorrow,

Antonius
From: Quetzalcoatl Trading
To: Manny Truelove; Cherubim, Seraphim & Co.

Dear Mr. Truelove,

I appreciate that the deadline is now almost upon us. Unfortunately,
it is also upon all but a handful of our blood donors. I hope you
will consider honouring their sacrifice with a small donation to the
bereaved families.

The remaining eleven donors are being sent to you together with a set
of ten matching ritual obsidian knives (invoice attached) and the blood
supplies we've extracted so far. I trust this will suffice to rustle
up a smallish plague. Perhaps a creek rather than a river?

Yours sincerely,

Kevin Montezuma
From: Arthur Hades, Hades Enterprises
To: Manny Truelove; Cherubim, Seraphim & Co.

Firstborn? I thought you said frogspawn! I've had my infernal
minions out for weeks obliterating all the frog's eggs they could
find. In future, kindly make yourself clear, dammit!

A.H.
From: Belial Biotechnology
To: Manny Truelove; Cherubim, Seraphim & Co.

Manny,

Sorry, no success in getting the ornamental horned toads to breed. I
guess if my partner looked like that, I'd be reluctant too. As we've
now reached the deadline, I'm sending them over to you. Try spiking
their food dispenser with Viagra or something.

Good luck,

Alexandra
From: Nordic Pantheons AG
To: Manny Truelove; Cherubim, Seraphim & Co.

Manny

Those six large white objects slowly melting in your goods bay are
icebergs. So make your own bloody hail! And next time, give a proper
job specification before you start hurling insults at people.

Thor
From: Cherubim, Seraphim & Co.
To: F. Apollo, Sun Macrocosms

Fred

I asked for 4 million pairs of sunglasses, you only sent four! Where
are the rest? The deadline for delivery was yesterday!

Manny
From: Egyptian Customs Control
To: Cherubim, Seraphim & Co.

Sirs,

Your transports carrying gnats, mayflies and locusts are not accompanied
by correctly filled-out customs clearance papers. They will be held at
the border until we receive proper documentation. You are advised to
hurry as there is no cover for your transports here, and it gets rather
hot round about noon.

Yours faithfully,

Sheik Yabouti, Customs Official
From: Epidemics 'R' Us
To: Manny Truelove; Cherubim, Seraphim & Co.

Dear Mr. Truelove,

As requested, I have sent the zit-infested pubescents directly to your
client to minimise delay. So you should only be a couple of days behind
schedule. Please do not worry about the fact that there are only twelve
of the young fellows: they are very, very spotty. I'm sure they will
be equal to the task in hand.

Sincerely,

Mary Walker, Vice President for Communicable Diseases
From: Bill Zebub; Driver, Cherubim, Seraphim & Co.
To: Manny Truelove

Manny

Where the hell are those documents? We're already nine days past
deadline, the locusts are fainting in the heat, the gnats have escaped
except for a few dead ones, and all but eight of the mayfly pupae have
now moulted, so they'll be dead too by the time they're delivered!

Bill
Heaven, Internal Memo
From: JHVH
To: Archangel Gabriel

Gabe,

On the 12th day past completion date, Manny Truelove sent to me:

     12 pubescents picking
     11 donors donating
     10 knives a-matching
      9 herds a-roasting
      8 mayflies moulting
      7 swarms swooning
      6 icebergs melting
      5 dead gnats
      4 sunglasses
      3 French hens
      2 horned toads
    and a bill for $1,706,522.93

Remind me not to use these guys for the parting of the Red Sea
project.

The Boss

 


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