Sunday, November 30, 2008

November 2008

by Fernando Magnifico

Buongiorno my friends, it is I, Fernando, your astrologer today as the bellissima Lady Asterisk has come down with a bad case of the chives.

My friends, you may remember two months ago that Fernando's astrological charts disappeared under the very mysterious circumstances. Fernando's heart was crushed by his failure to be your astrologer, but he promised not to rest until he has discovered what fiend or diavolo would steal his star charts and leave you, my dearest readers, without your horoscope for the month. And this is what Fernando has done: Fernando has walked the streets of Ankh-Morpork tirelessly, he has visited the worst dens of iniquity and the lowest dive bars, and has consorted with all sorts of ruffians. Fernando has left no palm ungreased, no street unwalked, for nothing shall get in the way of Fernando's promise to "get to the underneath of" this mystery, as they say in Ankh-Morpork.

Fernando's tireless investigation has been successful, for I have discovered what afeared me last month: the shame of Brindisi, Carlos, that despoiler and corruptor of youth, that vain, conceited, shameless, brazen, swaggering popinjay, with his flowing hair and tight pantaloons and silk shirts, has arrived in Ankh-Morpork. Morporkia, beware!!! Lock up your sons and daughters!!! But do not fear, my friends, for Fernando is here, and so long as he can draw breath into his broad, manly chest, he shall not let the mocker and pretender Carlos lay waste to lovely Morporkia.

It is fitting that Fernando continues to investigate this mystery, for this month the stars too have much to say about mysteries. For is it not true that there is a lot that happens that we do not know about? Mysteries like, who is the werewolf in the Watch? How does Fernando look so good in his tight pantaloons and silk shirts? What was Fernando's cousin Tomas doing up the tree overlooking the nurses' dormitories outside the Lady Sybil Free Hospital? What do the Nac Mac Feegles wear under their kilts? Read on, my friends, to learn what the stars have to say about these, and many other, mysteries. Ciao bella!

The Adamant Hedgehog 21 Mar - 20 Apr

Your mystery this month is, "Who is the werewolf in the Watch?"

One of the worst-kept secrets on the Disc is that the City Watch of Ankh-Morpork has a werewolf working for them, but nobody knows who the werewolf is. Word on the street is that it must be Corporal Nobby Nobbs, but Fernando is unconvinced. Fernando has asked the stars, and can reveal for the first time the secret truth: the stars say that it is no less than Commander His Grace Sir Samuel Vimes himself who has a terrible beast inside him, a fearsome, ferocious monster kept barely leashed by the famous Vimes iron will.

The Half-Eaten Sandwich 21 Apr - 21 May

Your mystery is: "Why do fools fall in love?"

Ah, my friends, this is the most beautiful mystery of all, "il mistero di amore" as we say in Brindisi, the mystery of love. Fernando knows that all people in love are the magnificente fools, or even the Fools like the King Verence of Lancre. As the famous song says, "Perché gli uccelli compaiono improvvisamente? Poiché vogliono essere vicine a voi." Fernando has been the fool for love many, many times, for Fernando has molto grande love in him, enough for all (except perhaps Carlos, who does not love as Fernando loves). Perhaps the stars know why fools fall in love, but they are not saying. For Fernando, it is enough that they do. Viva il mistero!

Herne the Hunted 22 May - 21 Jun

Your mystery is: "What are the Dwarf Devices?"

Fernando hears that Lord Vetinari's wonderful new plans for the Undertaking are based on a device found under the city, known as the Device. It seems the Dwarfs have known about Devices for years beyond reckoning, but the origin of the Devices is lost in the mists of time, and even the Dwarfs don't know who created them, what they were for, when they were built, or how they work. The stars too have nothing to say about them, which is very unusual, but perhaps one of you Hernians will be the one to solve this mystery. For Fernando knows that when it comes to Hernians, all life is a mystery, mostly the mystery of "Why is everyone chasing me again?" and "Why does everything in Nature have such big teeth?"

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

Your mystery is: "Why does the wizard's staff have a knob on the end?"

Some say that the knob on the end is for the benefit of the wizard, to protect him from dark magicks and occult forces. Others say that the knob on the end is for the benefit of others, to prevent the staff's magic from leaking out and grounding itself through innocent bystanders, or at least bystanders. Fernando hears that Archchancellor Ridcully of Unseen University says that the knob on the end is to give the staff extra weight, for those times when magic fails and a wizard needs to take a swing at a problem. But the stars suggest yet another reason: the knob on the end is to prevent the wizard's hand from sliding off the staff during some of the more energetic gestures.

Bilious, God of Hangovers 23 Jul - 23 Aug

Your mystery is: "Why are sheeps found facing the other way?"

Sheeps farmers have known of a mysterious phenomenumenumenum for generations. The sheeps will be seen in the field, and the very next morning they will be facing the other way, without anybody having turned them around. Fernando has consulted the stars about this, and they say that the mystery is caused by strange quantum phenomenumenumenums, the 'fluence of the Disc's standing magical field on the sheeps, but most of all, by the farmers liking to play the practical jokes on city people.

The Celestial Parsnip 24 Aug - 23 Sept

Your mystery is: "What happened to the Merry Celery? And why were the captain's boots found 250 miles away, in the Morpork mountains, still smoking?"

The mystery of the disappearing ship Merry Celery is known all over the Disc. During the rule of the Patrician Winder, as the ship was entering Ankh-Morpork port with a cargo of Bearhugger's Whiskey, bottled Wow-Wow Sauce, Agatean fireworks and flints, there was a mysterious flash of light, a mysterious loud noise described by eyewitnesses as "a really loud noise, like a million souls cried out Bang! and then were suddenly silenced", and the entire ship just disappeared. Lord Winder blamed it on a party of Zoons and had them executed, but he was always doing that sort of thing. Many people have studied the mystery of the Merry Celery, and blamed it on alchemists, dwarfs, trolls, Klatchians, left-over sourcery from the Mage Wars, and wood-worm, but Fernando is the first who has consulted the stars and can reveal the truth: the ship and its poor crew were caught in a quantum-electrical energy shift which caused every molecule of their beings to suddenly separate at high speed. As for the captain's boots, the Gods will have their fun.

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

Your mystery is: "What is the secret of the missing socks?"

Why do socks disappear when you wash them? Why is it only one sock of the pair that always disappears? Fernando has learned that socks disappear because they are eaten by a mystical (but not mythical) bird called the Eater of Socks. Wherever there are socks or stockings being washed, the Eater of Socks is there to eat one. But only one. There can only be one.

The stars also suggest that sometimes socks go missing because they are used as weapons that kill people and leave buildings standing. Fernando does not understand what the stars mean by this, for surely not even Foul Ole Ron's socks could smell that terrible.

Androgyna Majestis 24 Oct - 22 Nov

Your mystery: the BeTrobi Quadrangle

One of the strangest areas on the Disc is the BeTrobi Quadrangle, reaching between the BeTrobi Islands and the Counterweight Continent. Ships in the Quadrangle disappear, sometimes even the witches on their broomsticks disappear, never to be seen again. Fernando's paesano Vincento Gambi, who used to make the unofficial imports from Agatea, told me that he had once seen a two-headed whale with two bodies in the Quadrangle. What causes the Quadrangle to be so mysterioso? Is it a gateway to another dimension? Are there strong winds and currents that blow the ships over the Hub? Are the Quirmians to blame? Gnarly ground over the water? Giant pockets of gas released from the ocean floor? Fernando has consulted the stars, and they say: giant waterspouts, monstrous waterspouts with teeth like sabres and claws like spears, or perhaps the other way around, rising from the ocean like a diavlo.

The Spoons, a.k.a. the Greater and Lesser Spoons, 23 Nov - 21 Dec

Your mystery: "What was Fernando's cousin Tomas doing up the tree overlooking the nurses' dormitories outside the Lady Sybil Free Hospital, and how did his pants end up in a completely different tree?"

Fernando would like to give you the stars' answer to this question, but he has been advised by Tomas' lawyer that to do so might hurt his client's chances of getting off. Fernando is very much sorry, but you will understand: Tomas is family.

Hoki the Jokester 22 Dec - 20 Jan

Your mystery is: "What do gnolls keep in their wheelbarrows?"

To the untrained observer, the gnolls' wheelbarrows look like they are piled high with garbage, but many people have wondered if that could possibly be all they carry? Fernando has consulted the stars, and they have answered the question: "Everything".

The Rather Large Gazunda 21 Jan - 18 Feb

Your mystery is: "Is there a talking dog in Ankh-Morpork?"

Fernando had hardly been in the city for a week when he started to hear stories of a talking dog. No two of the stories are alike: some people say the dog is a great hound, as big as a bear and twice as fierce, working for the Thieves' Guild as enforcer. Others say it is a sausage dog from Uberwald, or the Chairman of the Royal Bank, Mr Fusspot. The stars say that the werewolves know, but they won't tell. Fernando has made his own enquiries, and can reveal that it is a poodle with pink fur. But the stars also say that all is not as it seems.

Lesser Umbrage 19 Feb - 20 Mar

Your mystery: "What do the Nac Mac Feegles wear under their kilts?"

Fernando has spoken to many people who have met the pictsies and survived, and consulted the stars, and he has learned that the Feegles go al fresco under their kilts. Fernando is a seeker of truth, but even he thinks that the real mystery is why anyone would like to know what the Feegles wear under their kilts.

And finally, Fernando has solved a mystery for all the signs: "How does Fernando look so good in his tight pantaloons and silk shirts?" My friends, Fernando is a very modest man, and it pains him to talk about himself, but his sainted mamma taught him to always be honest, and the stars have spoken. Who is Fernando to go against the wishes of the stars? Fernando looks so good in his pantaloons and shirts because Fernando has the excellente taste in the clothings, and also because Fernando looks magnificent without his pantaloons and shirts. As they say in Brindisi, "non puoi fare un portafolio di seta da un orecchio di maiale", and Fernando is not the ear of the pig.

The Dibbler and the Alchemist

(a tale of Moving Pictures)

The sun shone on the Circle Sea, shone there as small suns can
He did his very best to make bright lights for Beast and Man
And this was odd, because it was
Deserted beachfront land

The moon was shining sulkily behind Great T'Phon's trunk
She'd got no business to be there but she was in a funk
"It's very rude of him," she said,
"To highlight ancient junk!"

The sea was calm from Rim to shore, the sands without rainfall
You could not see a crowd, because the crowd were corpses all
No priest called out Performances
There was no priest to call

The Dibbler and the Alchemist were walking close at hand;
They wept like anything to see such property unplanned
"If this were only put to use,"
They said, "we'd make ten grand!"

"If several men with several imps worked on from dawn til tea
Do you suppose," the Dibbler said,
"That we could wrap Reel Three?"
"I doubt it," said the Alchemist, and sighed impotently.

"O actors, come and walk with us!" The Dibbler made his pitch
"A few hours' work (not counting perks)
Will roll without a hitch
We cannot lose, this golden shore
Is bound to make us rich."

The famous Gaspode looked at him with never a bark of "Cheers!"
The famous Gaspode bared his teeth
And scratched his flea-bit ears
Meaning to say this enterprise
Was bound to end in tears.

But more young hopefuls hurried up all keen to make their name
Their thoughts were fogged, their faces blank,
Their hearts immune to shame
And this was odd, because, you know,
They knew not why they came.

More would-be click-stars followed them, and yet another crew
Quick as they could, to Holy Wood, to make their dreams come true
While painting wooden scenery
And eating Borgle's stoo.

The Dibbler and the Alchemist worked on a month or so,
And then they rested on a rock (in fact, a disguised troll)
Then totted up percentages
And said, "We're on a roll!"

"The time has come," the Dibbler said, "To talk, and let's be frank
Of Passione, fire, and elephants. Of premieres on the Ankh
And why the world has all Gone Madde
And how to fill the bank."

"But wait a bit," young Victor cried, "Before we leave this shore;
For Ginger's in the grip of Things behind the magic Door!"
"No worries!" said the Alchemist.
"We're thaumless to the core."

"A Wonder Dog," the Dibbler said, "Is what this epic needs
Adverts subliminal besides, and two romantic leads
Now if you're ready, handlemen,
Bring on the dashing deeds!"

"Here comes de Syn!" the public cried, giving the stars their due
Beauty and beasts all on display; the Wizards came to view
"How puzzling," the Patrician said,
"I'm less well-known than you?"

"It was so kind of you to come, in fog as thick as steam!"
Then Bezam Planter's daughter played the Dungeon Dimensions theme
All patrons were transfixed until
The crowd began to scream!

"In Ribobe's name," young Victor said, "I curse you, now depart!"
Gigantic Ginger grabbed an ape and climbed the Tower of Art
Then Victor conjured horse and sword
And played it from the heart.

"I weep for me," the Dibbler said: "Alas, my empire dies."
With sobs and tears he sauntered off to more familiar lies,
Back to a life behind a cart
Of sausages and pies.

"Oh, buggrit," said the Alchemist, "My grand career is gone!
Shall I be trotting homeward now
To face a jobless dawn?
The world is back to sane again..."

...but Holy Wood dreams on...

-- Alice

Note for Roundworlders: the original poem The Walrus and the
Carpenter, by Lewis Carroll, can be found at: