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Eric: Oh, a challenge....

(From Narbonic. Click on the thumbnail for full sized taking over of the world if you've paid the subscription fee, or click on the link for today's comic if you haven't.)

So, Shaenon Garrity was one of the bidders bidding on the Websnark Auction. And she was unhappy because it was an early morning end time and she got outbid while demon sleep took her. And she mentioned that, because she is evil, she would have let me snark on any subject, so long as it was in the form of a sestina.

Which, for those of you who don't know, is a six six-line stanza poem without metrical constraint but which requires that the lines of each stanza end with the same set of words in a very particular order, ending with a triplet that has to contain all six words again. Wikipedia's definition of the form is here, for those who want a clearer definition and to learn more.

Requiring me to do that would be evil. I'm glad I don't have to do it. I mean, I don't have to. She didn't win the auction. I don't. Have. To write a snark in the form of a sestina. Period. I sure as Hell don't have to make it even harder by conforming more or less to iambic pentameter in the stanzas before the triplet (with a few amphibrachs here and there and at least one dactyl thrown in), using the key words science, woman, gerbil, Dave, cute and mad.

I mean, that would be crazy.

If I even tried to do that....

...why, they'd call me mad. Mad! Mad I say!

On the Snarking of Today's Narbonic

We come once more to Helen Narbon's science
Backfiring 'pon both her and loyal Dave,
When Artie, thought to be a sane gerbil
Of intellect and wisdom -- not overtly mad --
Declares that he and his are not so cute
By embarking on usurping man and woman.

Now Helen is a most compassionate woman
(Though dedicated first to twisted science!)
And though she might find little Artie cute
She always thought the same about old Dave
(And when he died she didn't seem that mad)
Which makes me think Artie is one dead gerbil.

Still, Ms. Narbon does appreciate her gerbil
And Artie knows the way to survive the woman
Who created him (by means that some call mad!)
Is her appreciating triumphant science
In this mad course -- unlike (perhaps) Dave
Who won't find gerbil masters all that cute

I find this situation very cute
because I've always liked the smart gerbil
(who counterpoints quite well with cynic Dave
Violent Mell and the somewhat flighty woman
who crafted him upon the lathe of science)
and speaks with quiet voice that's not so mad.

And can we call young Artie's plan so mad
Simply because the gerbil is so cute?
We know that Artie understands (mad) science
And wouldn't you prefer an honest gerbil
leading you, instead of, say, a woman
like President Mell, who we know once met Dave?

But this is not a plot about some time-lost Dave
striving to return home and not go mad.
No, Dave is distracted with his new woman
Who he so wants to meet and hopes is cute
So I don't think he'll care about the gerbil--
never dreaming that Lovelace is also mad science.

So, given the crises of personality implicit in Helen's panel,
Dave's new cybernetic woman, and Artie the gerbil's mad plan,
We can be sure that in Narbonic, science will remain both funny, and cute.

Posted by Eric Burns-White at December 13, 2004 3:56 PM


Comment from: SoulTorn posted at December 13, 2004 4:55 PM

Mad, indeed.

Nice work, though.


Comment from: Dragonshark posted at December 13, 2004 5:21 PM

Excellent work



Unfortunately, ebay hates my credit card (of course I would have dropped out of the bidding at 200 dollars)

I would have asked for....(nah, I'll wait until the next auction)

Comment from: mckenzee posted at December 13, 2004 5:28 PM

Real men write pantoums.

Comment from: Shaenon posted at December 13, 2004 7:29 PM

Yeah, and now you just have to write the actual winning snark.

(May I use this in a Sunday feature?)

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at December 13, 2004 7:32 PM

The winning snark will come after the first of the year, by the winner's request. I'm looking forward to it, from the description of the materials I'll be snarking.

(You may absolutely use this in a Sunday feature.)

Comment from: Greg Dean posted at December 13, 2004 7:32 PM

Dude's LOST it.

Well done, madman. :D

Comment from: Vincent posted at December 14, 2004 9:13 AM

You, sir, are genious.

Comment from: J.(Channing)Wells posted at December 14, 2004 3:11 PM

...and, she didn't even have to pay the $250.

Of course the $250 was for the total package: the Websnark Sestina and seeing you dancing helplessly for our amusement. Doing it of your own free like this will robs us of our schadenfreude.

I love the word 'schadenfreude'! Schadenfreude, schadenfreude, schadenfreude.

(BTW, as of 12/14 2PM CST, thumbnail link points to the Chris Shadoian Sunday, not the featured strip. JSYK.)

Comment from: MHPayne posted at December 28, 2004 8:35 PM

And then you went and made it even more difficult for yourself by choosing 3 words that are natural trochees! In an iambic meter! You are indeed mad, sir! Mad! You even inspired me to write a sestina for my comic even though I've never cared for the form. So I wanted to write and say thank you.


Comment from: Tangent posted at December 29, 2004 2:36 AM

So a cute science woman drove Eric as mad as Dave's gerbil.

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