April 25, 2004

Cheating at Library Roulette

From Richard Bennett's blog, I happened on this book exercise, which has generated a pretty good chain of randomness (just click back through all the vias):

* Grab the nearest book.
* Open the book to page 23.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

Okay, I'm game.

The first book I grabbed was Beautiful Losers, an arguably ill-advised novel by Leonard Cohen, from 1966. p. 23, sentence five:

I don't want to fuck a pig.

Glad you cleared that up, Leonard.

That just isn't up to the standard of the hifalutin sentences this formula has randomly "generated" from the libraries of the previous participants.

I know it's cheating, but I have to try again. Eyes closed. Next book. D'oh! It happens to be The Disappearing Professor: A Lesson in Terror for Rock's First Family (#15 in the Partridge Family Mysteries.) I have a bad feeling about this. p. 23, sentence five:

There's only room in the theater for the really talented.

Less vulgar, certainly. And rather dubious.

Damn, this is a bit like playing slots in Reno. I'm rapidly losing my meager supply of lit-snob credits, but I can't stop. One more, just one more. Next book along: okay, this looks more promising. p. 23, sentence five:

He set out between two and three in a gloomy frame of mind; he knew too well what spending the afternoon with honest manly boys meant.

From Arthur Machen's Hill of Dreams. Not bad. But not great, either.

A quick one, then I'm moving to another machine. p. 23, sentence five:

I preached blood and murder to those women day and night, and - by God! - they would let me wheel their perambulators.

That would be G. K. Chesterton, The Man who was Thursday.

That's pretty cool and off the wall, and all, but maybe the next one will be better. Uh oh:

A cricothyroidotomy is an opening in the trachea between the thyroid cartilage and the cricoid cartilage that permits air to pass directly from the outside into the trachea without passing through the upper air passages.

From the next book along, The US Army Survival Manual. Maybe I should have stuck with the Leonard Cohen...

I think I need to go into the other room where we keep the fancy books. Be back in a sec.

One second later:

Well, we do keep the fancy books out there, but it seems we also keep The Mad Scientists' Club by Bertrand R. Brinley, published by Scholastic Book Services, which yields only this fascinating line: "But Homer Snodgrass shook his head."

That was the first book at the end of the first little bookshelf. Right next to it, though, were a couple that may well yield something more, or less, impressive. Longfellow's Hyperion, and Levinas's Totality and Infinity.

Let's check out p. 23, sentence five of the Longfellow:

Thou blessed babe!

Now that's more like it.

Look, never let it be said that I don't know when to hold 'em, fold 'em, etc. I'm just going to leave it there, walk away and not risk breaking out the Levinas. Because you never know what you'll get.

Posted by Dr. Frank at April 25, 2004 08:05 PM | TrackBack

"Yes, you've certainly been the model of self-restraint and understatement up until now."

p. 23, sentence five, Bill Waterson's "The Indispensable Calvin and Hobbes", (Hobbes, speaking to Calvin)

Posted by: Tyler at April 25, 2004 08:54 PM

Watterson* (sp)

Posted by: Tyler at April 25, 2004 08:57 PM

23, 2+3=5, the pedntad within which the Devil can be invoked...2/3=.666...The Iluminati are watching....

Posted by: Mike at April 25, 2004 10:48 PM

"Prove that G is not a group under addition."
p. 23, sentence 5 of
Abstract Algebra by David S. Dummit and Richard M. Foote

Posted by: Jonas at April 25, 2004 10:57 PM

"Your lymph, a clearish liquid that bathes all your cells and drains away waste products."

Q is for Quark: A Science Alphabet Book by david m schwartz

Posted by: david at April 25, 2004 11:05 PM

"Its purple-coral organelles pump in unconscious coordination, racing all together now for some impossible finish line they can never reach, as if the whole, heaving mechanism needs to get someplace particular by daylight."

--Operation Wandering Soul by Richard Powers

Posted by: Ethan at April 25, 2004 11:39 PM

Mike, that from The Illuminatus?

Posted by: nick at April 26, 2004 12:27 AM

from p. 23 of "Haunted Places: The National Directory":

"The owners believe that ghosts are drawn to authentic goods from their own era."

yeah, i'm a nerd for the paranormal.

Posted by: Alejandra at April 26, 2004 01:14 AM

"And you, good soul, who feel a compulsive longing such as his, draw consolation from his sorrows, and let this little book be your friend whenever through fate or through your own fault you can find no closer companion."
--The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Posted by: Stephanie at April 26, 2004 02:47 AM

from West's Illinois Criminal Law and Procedure 2003 Edition, p. 23, sentence 5:

"For purposes of maintaing complete and accurate criminal records of the Department of State Police, it is necessary for all policing bodies of this State, the clerk of the circuit court, the Illinois Department of Corrections, the sheriff of each county, and State's Attorney of each county to submit certain criminal arrest, charge, and disposition information to the Department for filing at the earliest time possible."

Posted by: Karen at April 26, 2004 04:14 AM

from West's Illinois Criminal Law and Procedure 2003 Edition, p. 23, sentence 5:

"For purposes of maintaing complete and accurate criminal records of the Department of State Police, it is necessary for all policing bodies of this State, the clerk of the circuit court, the Illinois Department of Corrections, the sheriff of each county, and State's Attorney of each county to submit certain criminal arrest, charge, and disposition information to the Department for filing at the earliest time possible."

Posted by: Karen at April 26, 2004 04:14 AM

Saxophonist Lester Young was no more of a hero than a dozen other jazz players, and Les had never especially disliked his given name (though some might consider it "feminine").

Let It Blurt
The Life and Times of Lester Bangs, America's Greatest Rock Critic

Posted by: michael at April 26, 2004 04:18 AM

"In certain areas of the state, the whole population was specifically exempted, this being true, for instance, of Breslau and of other districts of Silesia". Gordon Craig, Politics of the Prussian Army.

Weak. Let's try another.

"The denunciation of American complacency, however, is not my purpose, at least not my explicit purpose." George Stigler, The Citizen and the State: Essays on Regulation.

Better. Another:

"This very subordination in a republic might make it necessary for the father to continue in the possession of his children's fortune during life, as was the custom at Rome." Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws.

One more:

"What is the average number of persons in a family in your neighborhood?" S.E. Forman, Essentials in Civil Government.

About what one would figure. Totally random.

Still, it gives one an excuse to thumb one's books.

Posted by: Lexington Green at April 26, 2004 04:33 AM

"Please put this book down and go eat a sardine sandwich"

Page 23, sentence five, "The Book of Slightly Off-Beat Sandwiches" 1978 Hyperion Press.

Posted by: mike at April 26, 2004 05:17 AM

Well my results weren't all that astounding either.

I posted them on my blogsite


Posted by: jody at April 26, 2004 05:29 AM

Yep, it's from Illuminatus trilogy, though not page 23, line 5. That would be "Good-bye," she said, laughing"

Posted by: Mike at April 26, 2004 06:09 AM

"The demand is: give us a life free from suffering."

Posted by: Amy 80 at April 26, 2004 07:43 AM

"It was no use."

- Stuart Little, by E.B. White

Posted by: Ken Layne at April 26, 2004 07:56 AM

"To deny this theory would, according to the Thomists, plunge the science of theology in the abyss of pure speculation."

- "Graven Images: New England Stonecarving and Its Symbols, 1650-1815", by Allan I. Ludwig

Posted by: Wes at April 26, 2004 08:19 AM

from Rapunzel's Daughters by Rose Weitz:

"Although the influential black magazine JET sometimes ran photos of Miriam Makeba, Odetta, and other Afro-wearing women entertainers, it never described either these women or their hair as pretty."

Posted by: christina at April 26, 2004 03:59 PM

'I got the message from you that I am worthless...when you said you loved all your children equally but let Janice enter a beauty pageant but I couldn't have short-term modelling school'.

Poignant internecine chaos from Making Monsters by Richard Ofshe and Ethan Watters.

This was a cool blog posting. Sorry the line wasn't more poetic or esoteric or stupid. Try harder to grab something interesting next time.


Posted by: G at April 26, 2004 04:39 PM

As if it wasn't obvious that I was going to do this....

"You think the world's going to end?"

The hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy - Douglas Adams

Posted by: Zaphod Beeblebrox at April 26, 2004 05:33 PM

"They're the same questions you could ask if you never knew the game existed, " Wright told me.

-Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, Chuck Klosterman

Posted by: Eric at April 26, 2004 05:58 PM

Two experimental evaporation basins, one acre and two acres in size were placed in operation in July 1947 and April 1948, respectively, and were operated almost continuously until October 1950, when all activity was suspended.

from The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California Thirteenth Annual Report 1951

Posted by: j. francis at April 26, 2004 07:02 PM

At least two MTX albums have Track 23s (ATWWLT:SA and BBBBBB), but I'm not exactly sure what would count as the 23rd sentence for each (perhaps the 23rd line, but I don't have the booklets handy to check).

Short, interesting trace of the p25s5 meme (back to when it used to be p18s4, even):

Posted by: Dave Bug at April 26, 2004 08:40 PM

sweet...the chaucer is long enough...

i'm at work so we don't have many books about
but we publish a book about chaucer talking
about astrolabes(ancient navigational device)
its super old...

"I sought in the backhalf of my astrolabe,
and found the circle of the days,which I
know by the names of the months written under
the circle."

oh no,the website isn't blantant self
promotion for my employer and benefactor.

Posted by: just me at April 26, 2004 08:51 PM

"You come to Washington as a conservative, you feel a little alienated."

From Franks blog, 23rd entry, sentence #5

Although it actually came out of a quote from another thing

Posted by: jody at April 27, 2004 01:04 AM

"For example, trimethylaluminum can be added to the gas mixture to grow AlGaAs."

Banerjee & Streetman, Solid State Electronic Devices Fifth Edition

Posted by: Willy C at April 27, 2004 01:25 AM

"I'm more out of it than I ever used to be, and they say you get out of what you put into it."

Posted by: Dave Bug at April 27, 2004 03:27 AM

"In addition to spatial and noise scaleability, MPEG-4 also allows temporal scaleability where a base level bitstream having a certain frame rate may be augmented by an additional enhancement bitstream to produce a decoder output at a higher frame rate." John Watkinson, The MPEG Handbook.

Posted by: Don at May 1, 2004 09:23 PM

"It isn't the fact that you're dead that counts." Edmund Vance Cook, from "Heart-Throbs."

Posted by: Don at May 1, 2004 09:25 PM

"But it was the ash-shoot, a gift from his Irish game-keeper, that he wanted on that August afternoon." Hazel Littlefield, from "Lord Dunsany: King of Dreams."

Posted by: Don at May 1, 2004 09:27 PM

_The Norton Anthology of English Literature_

"The latter were great events leading up to Bede's own time, and he regarded them as the unfolding of God's providence."

_MLA Handbook for Writers' of Research Papers_

"At any point, you can print the file to review it or to use it for research."

Geez, I haven't been a student since December 2002 and these are still the most handy books around the room. What does that tell you? Let's try for at least one work of fiction:

_Lake Woebegon Days_ by Garrison Keilor

"I postponed it as long as I could, but when I weep at the sound of a combine, I know I'm there."

Posted by: David Mason at May 9, 2004 01:27 PM
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