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Internet Oracularities #1195

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Internet Oracularities #1195    (78 votes, 3.0 mean)
Compiled-By: Steve Kinzler <kinzler@cs.indiana.edu>
Date: Tue, 19 Dec 2000 00:10:15 -0500 (EST)

To find out all about the Internet Oracle (TM), including how to
participate, send mail to oracle@cs.indiana.edu with the word "help"
in the subject line.  ("Internet Oracle" is a trademark of Stephen
B Kinzler.)

Let us know what you like!  Send your ratings of these 10 Oracularities
on an integer scale of 1 ("very poor") to 5 ("very good") with the
volume number to oracle-vote@cs.indiana.edu (probably just reply to this
message).  For example:
   1195
   2 1 3 4 3   5 3 3 4 1

1195  78 votes 69mtc jkkb8 kcbhi gcncf 6blim pddah 6hmp8 gokf3 5cktc kdjag
1195  3.0 mean  3.4   2.6   3.0   3.0   3.5   2.8   3.2   2.6   3.4   2.9


1195-01    (69mtc dist, 3.4 mean)
Selected-By: "Kirsten R. Chevalier" <krc@erythrea.wellesley.edu>

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

> Dear Auntie Ora,
>
> I'm sure I have a novel inside me, though my therapist insists that,
> "It's all in the mind".  Is there any way I can prove her wrong?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

}                     The Delphic Research Inc. Guide
}                                   on
}                          How to Write a Novel
}
} Rule 1  Don't have a short, bald hero who isn't very interesting - if
} you start with him, you're just making a rod for your own back.
}
} Rule 2  Before you start, you should decide how fat your book is
} going to be. If it's going to be a doorstop, you'll have to fill a
} lot of pages by describing things in great detail as if people had
} never seen them, for example, a door.  You can also introduce a vast
} army of minor characters who are briefly amusing but then suddenly
} and inexplicably get killed off.
}
} Rule 3  The longer the book, the shorter the title: one word titles
} for more than 600 pages (e.g. Quagmire), one syllable titles for more
} than 1000 pages (e.g.  Quag).  Very short books must have long titles,
} such as The Pastimes of the Lost Ephemera.  You can get away with
} titles such as this because once you've read the title you've picked
} up most of the plot and are a good way through the text.
}
} Rule 4 Long books may have happy endings, because in order to have a
} happy ending you have to start happy, get sad and then regain
} happiness. Short books don't have time for all this, so they start
} miserable and get worse quickly.
}
} Rule 5  Fashion applies to novels as it does to everything else.  You
} won't get far with Tea With Mr Gumblewick even though Sibyl likes that
} sort of thing.
}
} Rule 6 Seamy undersides are all the rage, especially if the overside
} of your underside isn't very pleasant either. Only one book a century
} gets away with the bright underside of the lovely overside.  If life
} was that cheery, people wouldn't be reading books.
}
} Rule 7 Don't restrict yourself to writing only about what you know.
} Publishers and editors suggest you should do this to try to stop
} stamp collectors getting their novels published - even though they
} have got snappy, one-word titles such as Unhinged.
}
} Rule 8 The great thing about fiction is you can make it all up
} without doing a lot of research about anything.  As long as you have
} one gratuitous fact per page, readers will think you know all about
} nuclear fission, Iceland, or micro-surgery.
}
} Rule 9 All novels these days must have long passages of gratuitous
} sex. These are very difficult to write if you've never had any
} gratuitous sex, let alone long passages of it.
}
} Rule 10 (or Cassidy's Corollary) If you make up the stuff about sex,
} there's always the danger that you'll make some fundamental
} biological error that will embarrass you in print forever.  This is
} the only time when it's an advantage to have a short bald hero with
} the sexual magnetism of a face flannel.


1195-02    (jkkb8 dist, 2.6 mean)
Selected-By: "Paul L. Kelly" <bright.red.fish@mindspring.com>

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

> Dear Auntie Ora
>
> What started you out in this line of work? The thirst for knowledge?
> A wish to improve the lot of mankind? Or is there some even more
> edifying reason at the back of it all?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

}                  VITAI INVOICIA
}                 by: Sibyl Stojay
}     (with a little help from Sir Henry Newbolt)
}
}    There's a breathless hush in the mall tonight;
}       Hours to go and so much to buy --
}    A frilly bra and a skirt that's tight --
}       Young Cassie's bleeding the coffers dry.
}    And it's not for the sake of her looking flash
}       That with tedious work every day I fill;
}    So the customer must stump up the cash --
}       Pay up! pay up! and pay the bill!
}
}    The sand of the desert is turning black,
}       Black with the oil of a jeep that crashed;
}    Pythia sends her expense claim back,
}       And her previous record's quickly smashed.
}    When I think of all the stuff she's lost,
}       Her extravagance makes me feel quite ill;
}    Thank the gods someone else will count the cost --
}       Pay up! pay up! and pay the bill!
}
}    Ask me again why, year by year,
}       The search for wisdom I pursue --
}    Are people's needs to my heart so dear?
}       Must I help all who have no clue?
}    Does a burning desire all things to know
}       Give me such an ecstatic thrill?
}    No, bugger that! I just want the dough --
}       Pay up! pay up! and pay the bill!


1195-03    (kcbhi dist, 3.0 mean)
Selected-By: "Paul L. Kelly" <bright.red.fish@mindspring.com>

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

> Dear Auntie Ora,
>
> Are there any lamas in Peru? What about llamas in Tibet?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

} FADE IN:
}
} INT. - THE OFFICES OF DELPHIC RESEARCH, INC. - DAY.
}
} [SIBYL, PYTHIA and CASSIDY are studying a piece of paper which Sibyl
} is holding up.]
}
} PYTHIA:  It's a typo.
}
} SIBYL:   Can't be. Everybody knows there are llamas in Peru and lamas
}          in Tibet. They wouldn't be asking us.
}
} CASSIDY: Aren't they the same thing, then?
}
} SIBYL:   You'd better take Tibet, Pythia. I'll handle Peru. Cassie--
}
} CASSIDY: Yes?!
}
} SIBYL:   You mind the store.
}
} PYTHIA:  And don't answer any questions.
}
} CASSIDY: That is just so totally sucky!
}
} CUT TO:
}
} [Split screen - stock footage of a DC3 heading in one direction, a
} Constellation in the other. Superimpose image of a map of the world,
} centred on the USA. Gradually fade aircraft.]
}
} [On the map, broad red lines start inching out southwards and
} eastwards from a central red dot. Suddenly, the line heading south
} changes direction and veers off north-westwards, while the one heading
} east stops altogether and starts expanding at the end.]
}
} [Pan back and up to reveal Cassidy, sitting at her desk doing her
} nails. She has accidentally knocked over her nail polish bottle, and
} the red liquid is dribbling onto a map spread out on the desk.]
}
} CASSIDY: Knickers!
}
} [She tries to wipe the map using a tissue, getting it completely
} covered in red smears in the process.]
}
} CUT TO:
}
} EXT. - THE CENTRAL MARKET, LHASA, TIBET - DAY.
}
} [Everywhere there are colourful stalls bearing every sort of produce.
} Hundreds of people are milling around, haggling over prices, shouting
} at friends and generally making a racket. In the midst of it all walks
} Pythia, carrying an enormous rucksack and wearing combat trousers, a
} bush hat and an extremely tight T-shirt. She is talking to her
} faithful local contact, BUNGDIT DIN.]
}
} BUNGDIT: Ah, Missie Pythie! It is being altogether too long since you
}          were last being here, oh yes indeed!
}
} PYTHIA:  Cut the pleasantries, BD. I'm here after llamas. Seen any?
}
} BUNGDIT: Oh yes, very much so, Missie Pythie! We are having more lamas
}          in Tibet than you can be shaking a stick at. Tibet is being
}          in the nature of the world capital of lamas. You cannot be
}          going anywhere in this country without tripping over--
}
} PYTHIA:  Llamas, numbnuts! Two L's! The second is silent, as in fox.
}          Taxonomic name - Lama glama. The Andean beast of burden of
}          choice. Renowned for spitting. Is any of this getting through
}          to you?
}
} BUNGDIT: Not in the exact sense of getting through, no, Missie Pythie.
}          I am thinking perhaps you are partaking too liberally of
}          the complimentary in-flight alcoholic refreshments on your
}          journey, for you are making none of the sense whatsoever, no
}          indeed.
}
} PYTHIA:  [sighs] BD, remind me again why I put up with you?
}
} BUNGDIT: Ah! That is so you can be hitting faithful Bungdit Din when
}          you are getting mad, Missie Pythie.
}
} PYTHIA:  Right in one.
}
} [She throws a massive punch at Bungdit Din. He is sent sailing across
} a market stall, scattering native handicrafts in all directions and
} bringing the awning down to cover him and the startled stallkeeper.
} Pythia adjusts herself within her T-shirt and strides off on her own.]
}
} PYTHIA:  Note to self - find new Tibetan local contact who isn't a
}          cerebrally-challenged leftover extra from a Carry On film.
}
} CUT TO:
}
} EXT. - DOWNTOWN LIMA, PERU - NIGHT.
}
} [Sibyl is standing on a busy sidewalk outside a restaurant, a finger
} in one ear, mobile phone clapped to the other. She is dressed in khaki
} like a 19th century explorer, complete with pith helmet.]
}
} SIBYL:   Speak up, Cassie dear, you're very faint. Did I what? No, no,
}          it was a false lead. It must have been that man's dreadful
}          accent.
}
} [Pan up to sign over restaurant door. It reads: "DELHI LLAMA. Best
} Indian Food in the Andes!"]
}
} SIBYL:   Have you heard from Pythia? What? Is a what a big pink bird
}          with fish in its beak? Pemmican? No, I think you're thinking
}          of flamingos, dear. Why do you ask? What? Cassie, you're
}          breaking up. Cassie? Oh, fish-hooks!
}
} [She shakes the mobile phone. A man wearing dark glasses, a white suit
} and fedora, black shirt and two-tone shoes edges up to her. He has a
} gold medallion, several gold teeth, and bears a striking resemblance
} to PETER LORRE.]
}
} LORRE:   Psst!
}
} [Sibyl continues alternately shaking her phone and holding it to her
} ear.]
}
} LORRE:   Pssst!
}
} SIBYL:   [noticing him] I am not looking for a good time, thank you.
}
} LORRE:   You look like you could use it, lady.
}
} SIBYL:   Young man, I'll have you know I haven't had a good time since
}          that Grateful Dead concert in 1972, and I most certainly
}          don't intend to start again now.
}
} LORRE:   You don't want to buy naughty postcards of eastern mystics,
}          then?
}
} [He turns to leave.]
}
} SIBYL:   Not so fast! This could be the break we need. Show me what
}          you've got.
}
} [Peter Lorre fishes some postcards out of his inside pocket and
} extends one to Sibyl.]
}
} LORRE:   Here's one of Roxanna doing the famous Indian rope trick.
}
} SIBYL:   [shocked] That's absolutely disgusting! A woman of her age,
}          doing such - such things!
}
} LORRE:   What do you expect? She's a mother-fakir.
}
} TO BE CONTINUED...


1195-04    (gcncf dist, 3.0 mean)
Selected-By: "Paul L. Kelly" <bright.red.fish@mindspring.com>

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

> Dear Aunt Ora,
>
> I've got a large - something, I'm not sure what, locked in the
> kitchen. All I know is that it's about the size of a horse, with a
> large horn in the middle of its head, and seems to be warbling the
> lesser known hits of Burt Bacharach with a voice strangely like Ralph
> Nader's. My husband says it's the personification of America's
> democratic discontent, but all I know is that if I don't get into the
> kitchen soon, the pot roast will be ruined. What can I do?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

} Thuds and crashes could be heard behind the closed and barricaded
} door, along with snatches of what sounded like 'I Just Don't Know
} What To Do With Myself'. Sibyl looked at Pythia, who looked at
} Cassidy, who looked back at Sibyl. None of them made a move.
}
} Pythia broke the lengthening silence. She hooked a thumb at Cassidy.
} "*She's* the youngest."
}
} "That doesn't mean I'm a virgin!" Cassidy protested animatedly. "I've
} slept with like *oodles* of boys, 'cos I'm devastatingly attractive,
} okay? How about you, Miss Army Boots? Ever get anybody to look at
} *you* twice?"
}
} "Of course I have," said Pythia huffily. "Steve Irwin and me, we
} scaled the heights of passion countless times. That was before he
} was married, naturally."
}
} "You and Steve?" Sibyl quirked an eyebrow. "What a coinc-- I mean, I
} didn't know that. Be that as it may, one of us must go in there and
} tame that creature. It's worth $28,000 to the firm."
}
} "Well, what about you?" Pythia asked. "What's the extent of *your*
} carnal knowledge, oh fearless CEO?"
}
} Sibyl stiffened. "A lady doesn't talk about such matters."
}
} "She's a virgin!" Cassidy squealed in delight.
}
} "I didn't say that--"
}
} "Go on then! Name one of your conquests! Just one name!"
}
} Sibyl glared icily at DRI's office junior. "Ms McBlonde, there are
} times when a hint of immaturity intrudes upon your demeanour. Still,
} as I said, *one* of us must go in - I suppose it may as well be
} myself. Hand me the halter, please."
}
} As the others cleared away the furniture stacked up against the
} kitchen door, Sibyl squared her shoulders and prepared to face almost
} certain death. Pythia removed the final table. Sibyl unlocked the
} door, grasped the handle, turned it, entered the kitchen. The door
} slammed behind her. This was immediately followed by the sound of the
} barricade being hastily re-erected. Sibyl looked around.
}
} The kitchen was a shambles. Doors were hanging off cabinets, stools
} were overturned and splintered, the floor was covered with smashed
} crockery and glassware. A disembowelled microwave oven rested in the
} sink. The acrid smell of burnt pot roast permeated the air.
}
} In the centre of the room stood the agent of all this destruction.
} Half as high again as a horse, almost blindingly white, with enormous
} dark, liquid eyes and a fearsome golden horn protruding from its
} forehead. It was magnificent!
}
} The creature addressed Sibyl in an odd, nasal whine. "What have you
} got there?" it demanded. The client had been right - it *did* sound
} like Ralph Nader.
}
} Sibyl held up the halter. She forced words out with difficulty. "I've,
} ah, I've come to capture you. I, uh, could come back later if it's not
} convenient...?"
}
} The unicorn appeared to grow in size. Its mane stood on end, its
} nostrils flared, its eyes lit up with barely suppressed fury. It pawed
} the floor.
}
} Accusingly: "You are not a virgin!"
}
} "Well, no, technically not, I suppose," Sibyl waffled. "There was
} that Grateful Dead concert back in 1972 and, well, you know how it's
} virtually illegal to attend a 'Dead concert unstoned, right? And,
} well, I met Steve there - that's Steve Irwin, the Australian
} naturalist - have you heard of him? Well, Steve was such a dashing
} young man in those days, and so, well, what with one or two puffs of
} marijuana and a double lemonade shandy and, well, one thing leading
} to another and all..."
}
} Sibyl trailed off as the unicorn's eyes burned into hers for what
} seemed like an eternity. Then, suddenly, it was as if the creature
} collapsed into itself.
}
} "Damn, you're right," it said glumly. "For all practical purposes, you
} *are* a virgin."
}
} It approached her submissively and lowered its head, allowing her to
} slip the halter around its neck. She started to lead it towards the
} door.
}
} "Would you like to hear my rendition of 'Forgive Me (For Giving You
} Such A Bad Time)'?" the unicorn asked.
}
} "I prefer 'What's New Pussycat'."
}
} The unicorn started singing. Sibyl's sense of triumph was tempered
} somewhat by the realisation that Pythia and Cassidy were going to be
} simply insufferable in the coming week or two.


1195-05    (6blim dist, 3.5 mean)
Selected-By: "Paul L. Kelly" <bright.red.fish@mindspring.com>

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

> Oh Oracle most wise,
>
> Where did my Christmas gift end up?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

} 'Twas the night after Christmas, when all through the house
} The cops questioned ev'ryone, even the mouse;
} The stockings were gone from the chimney, for lo!
} Some bastard had ripped off the lot in one go.
}
} The children were livid, blue murder they screamed,
} Of gruesome and horrible tortures they dreamed;
} While mamma the insurance claim form filled in,
} And I helped myself to a generous gin,
}
} And wondered, whilst sipping, where my gift resided,
} And whether the crooks all their loot had divided.
} When all of a sudden, the answer was clear:
} I'd ask good old Orrie -- he'd have an idea.
}
} My laptop I grabbed and an email I sent;
} Then I knocked back the gin till the bottle was spent,
} Secure in the knowledge that Orrie would know
} Where gifts that are ripped off invariably go.
}
} When the Oracle my plaintive note had perused,
} His cheeks with a furious hue were suffused.
} His priesthood he summoned, and quickly they came,
} For he bellowed, and shouted, and called them by name;
}
} "Hoi, ZADOC! Hoi, CLEMENT! Hoi, DARKMAGE and WILSON!
} Come, KELLY! Come HEMMING, CHEVALIER and AVEDON!
} On your bellies come crawling! On your scrawny knees fall!
} Now grovel! Now grovel! Now grovel you all!"
}
} As quivering all the priests lay on their face,
} Old Orrie approached them with threatening pace,
} And spake in a harsh voice, with emphasis on it,
} "A man has been robbed. Now which one of you done it?"
}
} "My poor hapless supplicant is in despair;
} And, what is worse, I have not had my share!
} So whoever's responsible better confess,
} Or you'll all have to stay inside during recess!"
}
} Well, the guilty one promptly and humbly confessed it,
} (It turned out to be Zadoc, though you probably guessed it),
} A bundle of toys he produced from his sack;
} For punishment he was stretched out on the rack.
}
} All the toys and the gifts Orrie duly impounded,
} The rest of the priests, to be safe, he had grounded;
} He approached his computer with one mighty stride,
} And in answer to my supplication replied:
}
} "I have pondered your question with brow all a-furrowed,
} And through great dusty tomes in my library burrowed,
} To solve your dilemma, and set matters right:
} 'TWAS THE CAT ATE YOUR GIFT, AND TO ALL A GOOD-NIGHT!"


1195-06    (pddah dist, 2.8 mean)
Selected-By: Mike Nolan <nolan@celery.tssi.com>

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

> Dear Auntie Ora
>
> You know that poem that starts:
>
>     The Boy stood on the burning deck,
>     Whence all but him had fled;
>     The little brat was clearly not
>     Quite right inside the head.
>
> Well, I've read it through and through, but I still can't find any
> mention of Humphrey Bogart or Ingrid Bergman. What's going on?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

} [SCENE: The bar, Steve's Place, Casablanca.]
}
} Pythia: Play it for me, Sam.
}
} Sam:    I don't know what you mean, Miss Pythia.
}
} Pythia: Yes, you do. Play it, Sam.
}
} Sam:    I can't remember it, Miss Pythia. I'm a little rusty on it.
}
} Pythia: Play the sodding song before I break your scrawny neck, Sam!
}
} Sam:    [singing] Once a jolly swagman camped in a billabong,
}                   Under the shade of a coolibah tree--
}
} [Steve Irwin comes rushing into the bar.]
}
} Steve:  Sam, I thought I told you niver to play--
}
} [He stops as he sees Pythia.]
}
} Pythia: Hello, Steve.
}
} Steve:  Oh, er, hi, Pyth. G'day.
}
} Pythia: It's been a long time, Steve. Remember the Great Barrier Reef?
}
} Steve:  I remimber it pirfectly. A wobby damn near bit me thumb off.
}
} Pythia: And I stitched it back on for you.
}
} Steve:  I still keep that fishing line. What brings you to Casablanca?
}
} Pythia: A mystery surrounding a poem we received at Delphic Research,
}         Inc. You knew I was... working now, didn't you?
}
} Steve:  Yeah. Poems are for pooftas.
}
} Pythia: You know how you sound, Steve? Like a man who's trying to
}         convince himself of something he doesn't believe in his heart.
}         Here, read it.
}
} Steve:  I stick my nick out for nobody.
}
} Pythia: You stick your neck out at every available opportunity, all
}         the time.
}
} Steve:  There is that.
}
} [Pythia extends a sheet of paper to Steve. He takes it.]
}
} Steve:  [reading] "The Boy stood on the burning dick..."
}
} Pythia: That says "deck", Steve.
}
} Steve:  That's what I sid.
}
} Pythia: [flustered] Oh yes, of course. I thought you meant... well,
}         never mind what I thought.
}
} Steve:  "Whince all but him had flid..." This poem doesn't amount to
}         a hill of witchetty grubs, Pyth.
}
} Pythia: You're saying this only to make me go.
}
} Steve:  [suddenly angry] Damn right! Till me, who was it you lift me
}         for? Was it this Dilphic mob, or were there others in between?
}         Or aren't you the kind that tills?
}
} Pythia: Steve, I... I'm sorry. I guess I'm the kind that loses count.
}
} [They sit in sullen silence for a couple of beats.]
}
} Steve:  A$0.02 for your thoughts.
}
} Pythia: I was wondering... Steve, will you say it? For old times'
}         sake?
}
} Steve:  You'll regrit it. Mibbe not today. Mibbe not tomorrow, but
}         soon and for the rist of your life.
}
} Pythia: I don't care! Say it. Say it as if it were the last time.
}
} Steve:  Diddly SNIKES!
}
} Pythia: [choking] Oh... Steve!
} [She leaps to her feet and rushes out of the bar, hands covering her
} face.]
}
} Steve:  Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world...
}         [to Sam] Sheilas, eh?
}
} Sam:    As you say, Mister Steve.
}
} Steve:  Crack me a bluey, willya?
}
} [Sam opens a tin of Fosters and passes it to Steve.]
}
} Steve:  Here's looking at you, kid.
}
} Sam:    What's a "ked", Mister Steve?
}
} Steve:  Not "kid". I sid "kid", you drongo!


1195-07    (6hmp8 dist, 3.2 mean)
Selected-By: Otis Viles <drey@speakeasy.org>

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

> Love is ...

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

} A losing score in tennis.
}
} Coincidentally, those who lose in love also frequently get tennis
} elbow.
}
} Go figure.
}
} You owe the Oracle a box of tissues.


1195-08    (gokf3 dist, 2.6 mean)
Selected-By: Christophe <xof@chanticleer.com>

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

>  What does a guy have to do to get some service around here?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

} Sir, this is the "pants" queue.
}
} The "no-pants" queue is downstairs.
}
} You owe the Oracle... oh, a kilt, or something!


1195-09    (5cktc dist, 3.4 mean)
Selected-By: "Joshua R. Poulson" <jrp@pun.org>

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

> Oraclelcaro mostsom wisesiw,
>
> I seemees tooot beb trappedeppart ini a palindromemordnilap. Howoh
> canac I geteg outuo?outuo geteg I canac howoH .palindromemordnilap a
> ini trappedeppart beb tooot seemees I
>
> ,wisesiw mostsom oraclelcarO

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

} No, it is opposition.
} If that *was* a palindrome I'd offer you my top fifteen tips for
} escape:
}
} 1. Sit on a potato pan, Otis.
} 2. Strap on no parts.
} 3. Race fast, safe car.
} 3. Do not start at rats to nod.
} 4. Barge in! Relate mere war of 1991 for a were-metal Ernie grab!
} 5. Pull up if I pull up.
} 6. Kayak.
} 7. Stack cats!
} 8. Don't nod.
} 9. Trade bad DA bed art.
} 10. Reflog a golfer.
} 11. Step on no pets.
} 12. Draw pupil's lip upward.
} 13. Bombard a drab mob.
} 14. Plan no damn Madonna LP.
} 15. Wonder if Sununu's fired now.


1195-10    (kdjag dist, 2.9 mean)
Selected-By: "Tim Chew" <twchew@mindspring.com>

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

> 'scuse me, Ma'am, but someone from this phone number called us less
> than ten minutes ago, but we forgot to ask: Do you want anchovies
> on it?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

} "No, no. I'm sorry, there's been a mistake. Please cancel the order."
}
} Pythia set the phone down very gently, making a concerted effort not
} to slam it. She counted to ten, taking deep breaths. Then, drawing her
} colt .45, she walked into the kitchen.
}
} "GAR! Woman, where's my dinner?!"
}
} The troll was sitting at his rough-hewn table, pounding on the
} surface with an over-sized fork and knife. She pointed the gun at
} the troll's temple. Over the last week, she'd found this mode of
} communication to be most effective with her 'employer'.
}
} "I just got another call from the organ bank."
}
} "What are you talking about? Put that blasted thing away!"
}
} "In addition to being bad-tempered, foul-smelling, stupid, and cheaper
} than day-old bagels, you're also hard of hearing. What did I tell you
} about trying to get human take-away?"
}
} "Gar."
}
} "Well?"
}
} "You said if I did it again you'd feed me tofu for a week."
}
} "Put your coat on, we're going to 'The Dainty Sprout'."
}
} "ARRGH! It was a prank, damn you!! A prank!!"
}
} There was a knock at the door. Pythia did not take her eyes off the
} troll.
}
} "Aren't you going to answer that, woman?"
}
} "All right. But if you're not here, with your coat AND galoshes on
} when I get back, I'll start tearing the house apart, and when I find
} you, you're next. Capiche?"
}
} "Nnng.. capricorn."
}
} "What? Never mind..."
}
} Pythia backed out of the kitchen, keeping the grimacing troll
} covered. Just before she reached the cottage's front door, she
} pocketed the gun.
}
} When she opened the door, a short, stout, grandmotherly woman with
} an umbrella and an enormous handbag was standing on the doorstep.
}
} "What is it, then?"
}
} "Good evening. Is this the home of Mr. Sanditon?"
}
} "Right, this is the troll's house."
}
} "You must be Pythia. I'm Sister Mary Celeste, from Our Lady of
} Perpetual Perpetuity."
}
} Pythia's eyes narrowed. Her hand strayed near her gun.
}
} "Oh yeah?"
}
} "The Mother Superior sent me -- Ms. Stojay said you needed a
} housekeeper?"
}
} Pythia blinked. Her face broke into a preposterous grin.
}
} "Too right! Sorry, Sister, come right in."
}
} She ushered the little woman into the cottage.
}
} "Right, the little beggar's in there. He's getting bean curd for
} dinner tonight, no arguments."
}
} "Has he been giving you trouble dear?"
}
} "He's a curmudgeonly little blighter, that's the truth."
}
} "Anything I should watch out for?"
}
} "What shouldn't you watch out for? Every morning at breakfast he
} screams for twelve Athenian virgins. He gets oatmeal, and complains if
} it ain't just bloody right. He's always chasing cats, dogs, mice, the
} neighbor's livestock - once in a while he'll catch one and they'll be
} a bloody row. He's always pullin' up the plants in the garden and
} sneakin' off to do his business in the armoire. And once in a while
} he'll try to order takeout from the organ bank."
}
} "Oh dear."
}
} "WHO IS IT, WOMAN?! SEND THEM AWAY, THEY'RE AFTER MY GOLD!!!"
}
} "There's the little love now."
}
} "HURRY UP, WOMAN!! I'LL RIP YOUR BLASTED THROAT OUT IF I'M NOT FED
} INSTANTER!"
}
} Pythia looked the diminutive woman up and down. Although she claimed
} to be a nun - and one of Sister Mary Theresa's gang, at that - she had
} nagging doubts about the woman.
}
} "Look, you sure you're up to this, Sister? Here - " she took out her
} pistol and handed it over. " - you might find this useful."
}
} The nun waved it away. "Not needed. I assure you. Thank you,
} Pythia - I will take it from here."
}
} She dropped her handbag on the ground and handed her hat over to
} Pythia. Her face dropped its genial expression and assumed one which
} was calculated to frighten even a rampaging Somali warlord into behaving
} like a gentleman. She headed for the kitchen, brandishing the
} umbrella.
}
} A few moments later, what sounded like the Battle of Waterloo as
} re-enacted by several hundred baritone cats erupted from the
} kitchen. From what Pythia could make out, the troll was getting the
} worst of it.
}
} Her smile was almost beatific as she slipped out the cottage door.


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