Sunday, August 31, 2008

Clog post 14 with YMPA and Reader In The Stacks



First Clog: "I can't let Morpork go"

So...I'm still here. But I'll be heading home soon. Maybe in a few days. Or something.

It's hard to leave Ankh-Morpork. It's like, um, quicksand. Or slurry. You try to drag yourself out and it keeps sucking you back in. I know, I know, it smells like quicksand mixed with slurry too, but there's something about this city... I've heard it said that the city is a woman (though in that case, it's a woman of very questionable personal hygiene) who gets under your skin, but that sounds very uncomfortable and also crowded. Of course, A-M is uncomfortable and crowded, so maybe they have a point, but it's just... so... fascinating here. And exciting. And dangerous. Okay, maybe less of the dangerous as a recommendation, but so very fascinating. They say -- "they" say a lot of things, don't they? -- there are a million stories in this big festering fragrant megalopolis, and that means an endless supply of inspirations for a Bard to write about.

But I'm going home soon. Really. Yes.

Very busy these days, but here's some assorted news:

Career goes from strength to strength! The Sisters of Invention is a five-piece now: myself, Listeria, Anaglypta (really taken to the lute, she has), Lucrezia (very decent on the mandolin and banjo), and an expatriate called LuRid from Morpork Below who apparently used to play Below with a band called the Vurm-lit Underground (good drummer, but his voice is a bit cracked). We're playing at least four nights a week now, and we've even joined the Musicians' Guild! For all the disturbing stories I've heard about the Guild, it seems like a tame enough organisation, and the rates aren't too bad...though I did hear they went through a major reorganisation a few years ago, so maybe that explains it.

One of our regular gigs now is at Wahoonie, I'm Home. This means I get my Barbarian at the Gate cocktails free. This in turn means a lot of scumble hangovers, which means a lot of hair of the dog (or of the "...mostly apples..."), which means I'm feeling a bit, um, liverish lately. Well, more than a bit. Might have to go back to beer. Though there are some interesting new cocktails on the drinks menu. These include the Tired and Emotional, which features Genuan creme de menthe, Brindisian grappa and BeTrobi Islands rum and has even more of a kick than the Rule You Wholesale (though less of a brassica flavour); the Aqueduct de Luxe, which claims to include real Ankh water with gin to "make it safe for drinking" (but I don't believe mere spirits could sanitise Ankh water); the Duke of Ankh, which is just sparkling mineral water with a slice of lemon, but the barman does wave an unopened bottle of whisky near it before serving; the Grand Vizier, featuring melon liqueur from Al Khali and fig juice; and the Hook, Line and Stinkered, which believe it or not is made from fish consomme and Djelibeybian garlic wine. That one give a while new meaning to the phrase "liquid lunch"! Very inventive, these modern bartenders.


There's a new bookshop that's opened in Rime Street, near the Contract Bridge end -- it's called Waterstain's. I paid a visit the other day and found a real treasure: Bawdey Ballades, by A Wanton Ladye. I've put some of these to music and they're going down a treat at the Seamstresses' Guild gigs, especially when sung by Listeria with, um, explanatory gestures. Mr Waterstain is something of a treasure himself, very friendly and helpful. And he also sells lute strings! I'm putting this one on my personal Mapp.


Yesterday I met a man with a duck on his head. No-one seemed to notice it. How very A-M.


There's a display of antiquities, which is to say things dug up during the Undertaking, currently on view at an old house on Chrononhotonthologos Street. Very interesting.


There was a party at the home of Rosella, one of Mrs Palm's employees, last night. Much more interesting.


Had my first Dibbler sausage inna bun. Also my last Dibbler sausage inna bun. One and the same.

Mr Dibbler still wants to manage the Sisters. After that sausage? No chance.


Found an Uberwaldean restaurant called Grossenschweinebitzen (which translates in Morporkian as Many Parts of Pig). It's in Scrag End, just off Pigsty Hill, and they do Ghoulish. Proper Ghoulish! Best I've had since Bad Blitz on the Blut! I'll be going there again for sure.


A-M beer does not sit well on mornings after. Am back on the Barbarians. At least with a scumble hangover you know what you're getting, and even essence of dead sheep is better than some of the things they put in the beer here.


Bad smog last night - a real curry-souper. I could hardly sing for coughing. I could hardly play for inebriation too, but that's not the point. They say the Undertaking will help clear the air here; Gods know that would make A-M more appealing!


I'm going home soon. Really.

Here endeth this post.

* * *

Second Clog: "...and the course of true love never runs smooth..."

Cert moved back off campus. Not back in with us, though -- he's taken a room at the YMPA in God Street -- but we're still getting on well and not at all like a house on fire, as it were. He's not as deep in his studies now because he's taken a job on the Undertaking. It seems they need all the Technomancers they can get, and don't mind if they haven't a UU doctorate as long as they have Talent and experience. Cert definitely has experience, as you all know from reading this Clacks log! -- so he's being paid very well, which is how he was able to afford the genuine octarine pendant he bought me last week. I said I wasn't sure what to make of that, and he said I could always make an investment of it. Aww, how sweet!

I suggested the YMPA because so many people, well, denizens of A-M, recommend it. It's clean and pleasant in a slightly run-down way, and even more broad-minded than Mrs Cake about who resides there, if that's possible. I wrote a song about it:

    Young mage, there's no need to feel down
    I said, young mage, pick your robe off the ground
    I said, young mage, you're in Ankh-Morpork town
    There's no need to seek for lodgings

    Igor, there's a place you'll fit in
    I said, Igor, when your stitches wear thin
    You can stay there, and I'm sure you will find
    Many willing organ donors

    It's fun to stay at the YMPA
    To laugh and play at the YMPA
    They have what it takes when you're putting down stakes
    Drop your laundry at Mrs Cake's

    It's fun to stay at the YMPA
    Tenpence a day at the YMPA
    You can practise your spells, you can make your own bed,
    You can live like proper Undead...

    Werewolf, are you ready for "Sit!"?
    I said, Vampire, are you biter or bit?
    I said, Banshee, you can be fright-ing fit
    But I've got to tell you one thing:

    No beast has to hunt on his own
    I said, young wolf, there's no need to be lone
    You just go there, to the YMPA
    I'm sure there's a kennel today

    It's fun to stay at the YMPA
    The stoo is grey at the YMPA
    They serve everyone there from Wizards to Fools
    You can hang out with all the ghouls

    It's fun to stay at the YMPA
    You're not a stray at the YMPA
    You can sleep on a slab, you can roost in a tree
    Even practise necromancy...

    Young mage, I was once lost as you
    I said, I felt near as dead as Reg Shoe
    I thought no one cared a figgin, you see
    I felt the whole Disc hated me

    That's when Creatures set me back on my feet
    And said, human, take a walk up God Street
    There's a place there called the YMPA
    It's where Belshamharoth's friends stay...

    They always stay at the YMPA
    No need to pray at the YMPA
    They have yellow soap, towels harder than boards
    You can mix with the mis-matched hordes

    Go right away to the YMPA
    You'll shout "au lait!" at the YMPA
    You can practise your spells, you can make your own bed,
    You can live like proper Undead

    You'll find it all at the YMPA!

* * *

Meanwhile, there's been another bit of what you might call romantic drama in our little circle...Lucrezia, of all people! It seems that some of her Little Errands took her to the University, and she met a special someone. A very special someone. It was one of those star-crossed relationships that was Never Meant to Be, but her life will never be the same again since she met the...


    Is she really hanging out with him?
    (Well, there she is. Let's ask her.)
    Lucy, are those his banananas you're wearing?
    Gee, it must be great reading with him!
    Is he picking you up by the scruff today?
    By the way, where'd you meet him?

    I met him at the Mended Drum
    He threw a peanut shell at me
    You want an iconograph? (yes, we see)
    That's when I fell for
    The Reader in the Stacks

    My folks were always putting him down...down, down
    They said, "He's not built to live on the ground..."
    (Whatcha mean when ya say
    That he's not built to live on the ground?)

    They told me, "He's an ape!"
    But I saw his true shape
    That's why I fell for
    The Reader in the Stacks

    One day the Dean said, "Find someone new"
    I had to tell my ape we were through
    (Whatcha mean when ya say
    The Librarian was no good for you?)
    He stood there and asked me, "Ook?"
    I borrowed another book
    Ill never desert you, my Reader in the Stacks

    He bared his teeth and swung for the sky
    His cheek-pads beginning to glow
    As he disappeared in those gloomy stacks
    I begged him not to go
    But whether he heard, I'll never know

    Oh no! Hippo! Look out! Oh shi...!!!

    I felt so helpless, what could I do
    With Dungeon Dimensions Things leaking through?
    In UU they point and stare
    No Librarian? -- well, I don't care!
    I'll never forget him
    The Reader in the Stacks

    The Reader in the Stacks -- now he's gone
    The Reader in the Stacks -- orange brawn
    The Reader in the Stacks -- not a prawn
    The Reader in the Stacks -- now he's gone

* * *

Must fly now. Rehearsal time! And then I'll start packing to go home. Really.

-- Alice

Note for Roundworlders: the original lyrics for YMCA, by the Village
People, can be found at:

...and the original lyrics for Leader of the Pack, by the Shangri-Las, can be found at

August 2008

by Fernando Magnifico

Buongiorno my dearest friends! The Lady Asterisk is indisposed this month, she has been bitten by the butterfly. But do not worry, for it is I, Fernando, and I shall shoulder the burden of being your astrologer this month.

This month, Fernando will use the horoscopes to answer some of the many questions sent to him by his readers. But first, Fernando is very exciting to announce that he can surf the clacks, for he has the C-mail address now and will be happy to receive letters and questions from his fans who are too far away to visit Fernando personally. Fernando promises to reply to everybody, no matter how much time it takes, for Fernando is a willing martyr to his devoted public. You can c-mail Fernando on Magnifico@Astrochelonian.AM now!

Fernando also knows that he is very popular across many dimensions, and he is owed a favour or three by some of the student wizards at the High Energy Magic Department. For this reason, Fernando has arranged for Hex to forward the Roundworld e-mails to him. For Fernando's readers in Roundworld, you can send the messages to <magnifico at pearwood dot info> and, if the interdimensional portals stay open long enough, Fernando will be happy to reply. But please, do not send Fernando any offers to make his manly parts any bigger, for Fernando is magnificent just as he is now. Ciao bella!

The Adamant Hedgehog 21 Mar - 20 Apr

Fernando's first letter is signed "Willikins".

    "Dear Mr Magnifico,

    "I enjoy reading your monthly horoscopes and wanted to thank you. I also wish to take this opportunity to ask you about the predictions of the stars for this month. I am a 'Hogger', as they say. What do the stars hold for me?"

Fernando is very excited by this letter, for Fernando loves a challenge. And what a challenge! The letter says nothing about the writer, which makes casting the horoscopes molto difficile for Fernando. But never fear, for Fernando is very good at what he does, and he will rise to the occasion no matter whether Willikins is perhaps the fashionable gentleman of fine distinction, or one of the very exciting young avant-garde (if you excuse my Quirmian, grazie) ladies of the art district who use only the one name and maybe enjoys painting the fig leafs. The letter says little, but Fernando's imagination is very wild. So Fernando has consulted with the stars, and the stars make Fernando's imagination even more wild. The stars say that Willikins will be in contact with fine wines and good food, and that he or she will often wield a sharp blade. The stars even suggest that there will be dragons. Fernando is intrigued.

The Half-Eaten Sandwich 21 Apr - 21 May

This letter is from the notable dwarf grag, Bashfull Bashfullsson, who writes:

    "To Mr Fernando Magnifico,

    "As we approach the second decade of the Century of the Anchovy according to the Ankh-Morpork calendar, it seems to me that there is another way to be endarkened than only to burrow deep underground. It may always be dark below ground, but it is dark half the time above ground too. Tak wrote the stars to shine in the dark. And so it seems to me that it is time for dwarfs to learn what the stars have to say to us. Mr Magnifico, what do the stars say?"

Fernando salutes the wisdom of grag Bashfullsson, for Fernando knows that the stars speak to all peoples on the Disc, no matter their species and no matter whether the peoples are listening or not. The stars have this to say: remember that the truths of history are not always the history we know, and that words are like a double-edged axe. Especially, Fernando is certain, like a very old double-headed axe that has been mended many times but still can cut through... caramba, Fernando does not like to think of such things, for he believes in making the love, not the war.

Herne the Hunted 22 May - 21 Jun

Fernando has received a letter from the Hernian signorina who prefers to remain anonymous. The letter is too molto grande to publish it all, but here is a piccolo extract:

    "Dear Fernando, I hope you don't mind me calling you Fernando, I feel that you have touched me in a way that so few astrologers and spiritual advisors manage to do. Your horoscopes have made such a difference to my life in too many ways for me to list, especially late at night when all is dark and hopeless. Mamma does not understand the blackness that crushes my soul, and Pappa tries, but he is so busy and is rarely home. And my brother is simply beastly to me. Oh Fernando, what shall become of me? When shall the unrelenting pain of my existence cease?"

Cara mia, it is never hopeless while Fernando is here, for he has a lifetime's experience in touching people in ways that others do not. Do not worry, for your letter reminds me of my little sister Dulcetta, except that Fernando was never the beast to her. She ran away to marry a young Lieutenant in the Brindisi Cavalry, it was so romantic and tragic for they had to overcome much opposition, but he is a Captain now and they are happy with the little bambino and many great big cuddly dogs.

Fernando has looked carefully at the stars, and they say that this month you should visit the museums and art galleries and find the romantic artists who will understand you, and if not, you will at least find the paintings of Fernando to ease your pain.

The Wizard's Staff and Knob 22 Jun - 22 Jul

This seems to be the month for anonymous letters. This one was written on a bananananana skin and left in Fernando's mail box together with a handful of peanuts:

    "Ook ook OOK ook. Ook?"

Fernando has consulted the stars and has a prediction for the writer of this letter: when the UU Librarian reads this, the writer will very quickly learn what happens when student wizards try to play silly pranks on orangutans.

Bilious, God of Hangovers 23 Jul - 23 Aug

Fernando's letter is from the very famous Captain Blouse of Borogravia, who is visiting Ankh-Morpork as liaison to Lord Selachii's Dragoons.

    "Dear Mr Fernando Magnifico,

    "Just a few years ago, who would have thought that I would be writing a 'fan' letter to an 'astrologer', for astrology was an Abomination onto Nuggan? But things have changed, and I have wondered what the stars have 'in store' for my men and I. Borogravia (may the Duchess rule forever) is looking to modernize our army, and I have quite a few ideas myself, one of which is to 'investigate' the possibility of each regiment having an 'in-house' astrologer. As the great Tacticus once wrote, a general should use all sources of information available to him, except of course he wrote it in the 'old Latinium'. I also have a young man named Simon Fish who wants permission to study our records looking for mathematical patterns in the rate of accidents amongst my officers. What do the stars suggest?"

As Fernando has mentioned before, Fernando is not a fighting man and does not approve of the warring, but he knows that there will be no shortage of astrologers who would be happy to cast the horoscopes for the regiments. None of them are as magnificent as Fernando, but Fernando is sure that they will be mostly adequate.

As for your young mathematician, the stars are doubtful that anyone would learn anything of consequence by studying the number of accidents among the bravissimo cavalry officers, and even if they did, credit would surely go to someone else.

The Celestial Parsnip 24 Aug - 23 Sept

This letter is from Mrs Confluence:

    "Dear Mr Magnifico,

    "Your horoscopes have been a great comfort to me since Mr Confluence passed away of chives six months ago. Mr Confluence was a good man and he has left me well provided for in my dotage, and a little left over for frivolities. What should I do? I was thinking of going away on a holiday. What do the stars suggest would be a nice place to visit?"

Fernando is glad to have brought some happiness into the life of a poor widow, and the stars say that a visit to Brindisi cannot go wrong. The food! The drink! The friendly people, apart from Fernando's Aunt Peppita! The sun, the sea, who would not love Brindisi? If you are looking for something a little closer to home, the lace works in Sto Helit are nice at this time of year. The stars also say the riverboats on the Vieux (Masculine) River are relaxing, but they warn against playing any friendly games of Cripple Mister Onion unless you can outstare a gargoyle.

The Small Boring Group of Faint Stars 24 Sept - 23 Oct

Assistant Postmaster Stanley Howler writes to Fernando:

    "To Whom It May Concern, c/o Mr Fernando Magnifico,

    "Dear Mr Magnifico I am, born under the Sign of the Small Boring Group of Faint Stars and I am writing to you to find out what, The Stars have in mind for me for this month. Will this be a Good Month to cross-reference my Stamp Collection by number and, size of perforations? Also, one of the Ladies in the POST OFFICE has been bringing me, Small Cakes or Other Treats which she makes herself and sometimes she asks me if I would Like To meet her Parents. When I ask Mister Groat about this he just turns Red and won't, talk About It except to make Dire Warnings that No Good Will Come Of It and when I ask, the Post Master Mr Von Lipwig he winks at me and his Lady Friend with the cigarettes just Laughs. Does this mean that Mary for, this is the Name, of the Lady who brings me Treats wants to see my Stamp Collection?"

Fernando does not need to be an astrologer to answer this question, but Fernando is very thorough and always takes his time to do things right, and so he has cast the horoscope to be sure. The stars say that this is a good month for cross-referencing stamp collections, but that it is an even better month for the romance, and that the young lady is interested in more than just the stamps, although she is perhaps interested in licking.

Androgyna Majestis 24 Oct - 22 Nov

Fernando is a great lover of many things, and one of those things is the opera, so Fernando is very exited to receive a letter from the prima diva Christine from the Ankh-Morpork Opera House:

    "To my dearest Fernando,

    "Your roses last week were just a tiny bit smaller than usual, you naughty boy you!!! I should be offended!!! I was so looking forward to a holiday in Genua, but now I have been offered the lead in "Da crepuscolo fino alla prima luce"!!! What should I do?! I owe it to my many fans to take the role! And my understudy, poor thing, she tries hard and has good hair! How could I inflict her on my fans?! What do the stars say about this?! Should I take the role?!"

Fernando feels sympathy for Signorina Christine, for he too knows what it is like to give of your talents until it hurts. Fernando has not had a holiday for many weeks, for he has a duty to his readers.

Fernando is especially fond of this opera, especially the Wedding Aria: "Quem ha liberato i cani fuori? Abbaio! Abbaio!" Who can fail to be moved to tears by such beauty, nearly as much beauty as the diva herself? For the sake of the opera fans, Fernando is very pleased that the stars say that this is an excellent month for the diva to put her personal feelings aside and take the role.

The Greater and Lesser Spoons, 23 Nov - 21 Dec

Fernando has received this letter from the perfectly respectable troll businessman Chrysoprase:

    "To Mr Magnifico,

    "My associates have brung to my attention dat some of our younger troll brothers have been making der nuisance of demselves by following you down da street draped in red blankets and with black wool on dere heads and gener'ly pouncing about. You just say da word and I'll see to it dat you receive a nice new rock garden. As a gesture of my personal respec', I'd be grateful if you would cast a horoscope for Da Spoons and tell me what da past holds for my business dealings with dem dwarf alchemists in Cabbage Street. Should I trust dem to hold up dere end of our deal?"

Fernando knows very well that many people wish to look like Fernando, with his thick black hair and red velvet jacket, so Fernando is not offended that even trolls sometimes try to imitate him. For as they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and Fernando is sure they meant no offence.

The stars warn that business deals never last forever, but that they can last long enough if precautions are taken, like guarantees, promissory notes or hostages. I must admit that Fernando is a stranger to the world of finance, and so it is possible that he has misunderstood that last term.

Hoki the Jokester 22 Dec - 20 Jan

This letter is from Mr Nealey Dun, of the Shades.

    "To Mr Fernando the Horroscoper,

    "I am writing to you for my dear Mother, who is heart-broken because of the Cruel and Unfair travesty of what passes for Justice in this City under the cruel rule of the Tyrant Vetinari and his terrier Vimes, for my dear Mother's brother, my Uncle Carcer who what never hurt not even a fly, well maybe a fly but certainly never done what terrible crimes he was stitched up for by the corrupt constabulary of this City and then hanged despite being innocent as what a lamb is but we will never stop fighting to clear his name and get compensation paid but how can you put a price on the life of a man? Well the Assassins Guild do everyday so Vimes and Vetinari should pay and pay lots not that money can bring my Uncle back but it will soothe the aching heart of my dear Mother what do the stars say about this?"

Fernando is deeply moved by your family tragedy, and has studied hard the stars for this month, taking special care to interpret the interesting bloodstains on your letter, and Fernando can give good news and bad news. The bad news is that the stars do not say that you will succeed in your quest for compensation this month, but the good news is that justice will come some day, and that your Uncle, mayherestinpeace, will surely be getting everything he deserves in the afterlife.

The Rather Large Gazunda 21 Jan - 18 Feb

This letter is from Fernando's personal friend, the renowned Blackribboner artist the Baroness Evangelika Lugubria Arroganta Barbina Solfami von Fledermausen, who runs the eccellente art gallery in Broadway:

    "Dear dahlink Fernando, how I haf missed you! It haf been weeks since you've come around with your fig leaf for a portrait! I hope you hafen't forgotten your Vicki for another artist, I vould be so jealous. I have many young men with figleafs to paint, but you will always be my favourite. But tell me dahlink, what do the stars say this month? Perhaps you could come over and give your Vicki a personal reading, ja?"

Forget you? Never! Fernando is a slave to his art, but Fernando has many arts, and he must work hard on the horoscopes as well as the fig leaf art. For now, Fernando will cast the ... public horoscope. The stars say that this is a good month for the exhibitions, and of course it is always a good month for a portrait of Fernando with fig leaf.

Lesser Umbrage 19 Feb - 20 Mar

Sometimes even the astrologers as magnificent as Fernando make the wrong predictions. This letter from Done It Duncan explains why:

    "Dear Mister Fernando, I am writing to you to make a confession what is heavy on my heart for I have been causing you problems what you might not have even known was happening.

    "I have been casting a 'fluence on you and the stars to make your predictions go all doolally. Do you remember that story in the A-M Times about when you predicted to that lady that Dibbler's Catering Service would be good for her wedding and then everybody got food poisoning from the bad sausages? You said that it was because that star was obscured by Great A'Tuin's flipper, but what you didn't know is that the flipper was in the way because of me. I done that. And when you told that school teacher that he should take his class to see the Ruins at The Tump, and they got caught in a rain of tinned cabbage and half the class were concussed. I done that too. I've turned myself in to the Watch, but they said they can't take any action without a formal complaint from you. Mister Fernando, I am a menace to society, won't you please put me away before I can done it again?"

Fernando wishes to set the record straight. Not everybody got food poisoning, it was only the bridal party and a few of the guests and the family of the bride and the groom's dad and sister and the priest and a passing dog.

Fernando has looked carefully at the stars, and the stars say that Mr Duncan has learned his lesson and will not repeat his mistakes. Fernando is very forgiving, and in good conscience he cannot find it in him to blame Mr Duncan or complain to the Watch.