November 26th, 2002

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"And so I'll make believe I'm real, and make a promise to myself to burn ideals..."
- Bucket, "Make Believe" from their album "Made of Clay"

The music that's been going through my head for the past few days was written by a guy I know. He lived down the hall from me when I lived with Pixar Tom. Every so often, I find myself singing bits of "Wake Up" or "I Can't Do" to myself, both as performed by The Influence (formerly The Defiers), which is my youngest brother's band.

Homebrew music is a damn fine thing. There's just something deeply right about it. I should play things like Whitford's "Orson Welles: PlanetDevouringRobot" more often.
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Mike Keith is an anagram God. He plays word games that make me go weak in the knees. Granted, occasionally it's a matter of nausea, but usually I'm just stunned.

He likes palindromes, sentences that are the same forward and backward. Things like : "Are we not drawn onward, we few, drawn onward to new era?"

He wrote a version of The Raven which is a mnemonic for Pi -- each word, in turn, has a number of letters corresponding to the next digit of Pi. You'll also notice that it keeps rhyme and meter, including internal line rhymes. There's a longer version he does which goes through several consecutive poems, continuing Pi from the digit at the end of the previous poem. Scary? You bet.

It gets worse. He's the author of The Anagrammed Bible. It's good enough that I went ahead and bought a dead-tree copy. Check out some of those Bible verses, and the basically-equivalent rephrases he anagrammed them into. He's really good.

Of course, he's also done some more impressive stuff yet, like translating a chunk of Dante's Inferno from Italian into English while keeping it an anagram -- and it's good (scroll down to find it). Or his anagram of a Shakespeare sonnet, which is also a sonnet with the same rhyme and meter.

Some of it's awe-inspiring, a little of it's not great, and almost all of it is jaw-dropping. Check him out.
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The Cyberiad, by Stanislaw Lem, is a lovely little book. Probably the best-known short story is the one where Trurl the Inventor makes a poem-writing machine, which is challenged by the ever-skeptical Klapaucius (also an inventor).

Klapaucius challenges the machine a couple of times and receives poems in response. Here are the challenges and their responses:

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and

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Want to just utterly blow your Collapse )