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"Cigarette-Boy": A Mock Machine Mock Epic
August 23, 2007 10:41 PM   Subscribe

Before there was HTML, there was "Cigarette-Boy."
posted by geos (17 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
GAMES WHERE DEAD STRANGERS WERE STRIPPED AND SMEARED WITH SYNTHETIC HONEY ON THE MOUTH SO THAT THEY WOULD SAY NOTHING BUT SWEET THINGS IN THE OTHER WORLD ABOUT THE MEMBERS OF THE LOCAL SCENE

I was a proud owner of this book once. I read every word, once. It is written in an imaginary mark-up language, probably not very consistent. It came up about the same time as HTML was first announced, you coudl say mark-up was in the air...

oh well.
posted by geos at 10:43 PM on August 23, 2007


Quaint.
posted by doublesix at 10:58 PM on August 23, 2007


This reminds me of Motorman...
posted by hototogisu at 11:05 PM on August 23, 2007


Before there was Cigarette-Boy, there was William S. Burroughs' tape cut-ups.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:09 PM on August 23, 2007


Also before HTML : 8-track tapes!
posted by spock at 11:09 PM on August 23, 2007


It's like Phillip K. Dick dropped a few acid tabs and went into web design.

A+++ would freak the fuck out again.
posted by Avenger at 11:11 PM on August 23, 2007


This is like the ravings on the bottle of Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Soap, only for robots.
posted by Violet Hour at 11:18 PM on August 23, 2007 [3 favorites]


Wax tablets in ancient Sumer.
posted by b1tr0t at 11:24 PM on August 23, 2007


(oracle bones in china)
posted by b1tr0t at 11:24 PM on August 23, 2007


[RECALL SIMULCHODE IN SIMU-CODING OF THE QUOTES PERTAINING TO AND/OR DERIVED FROM FILE FLAGGED AS "CIGARETTE BOY" IN METASOURCE OMNIFILE]
posted by Pendragon at 2:34 AM on August 24, 2007


Am I supposed to read that?
posted by PHINC at 2:58 AM on August 24, 2007


> Am I supposed to read that?

That was my first reaction, but geos' comment above reminded me that I used to run computerized typesetters made in the early or mid 1970s.

Styling was done by manually inserting tags into the text sent from the editorial system. /p/f5/ttThe tags worked a/ilot//like/f3HTML//,/bassuming you use/f3HTML//to style text, but were/s/iless readable//. The screen looked/bsomething//like this, although I/idon't//remember the syntax we used.///30 The tags were command strings to be interpreted by an optical typesetter that would expose characters of the appropriate font one-at-a-time onto a roll of photo paper. After the typesetter went CLUNK we'd pull out the light-sealed box carrying the roll to an automated developer. After the paper came out and dried it would be cut up and pasted onto layout boards.

Since all spaces and newlines were literal except where they weren't because the textline wrapped, and some tags inserted their own spacing (because they were predefined combinations of font/size/leading/etc), you could spend hours working on text that looked exactly like "Cigarette-Boy". Except that it was glowing green on a slow-scan VDT, and you were carrying the visual syntax in your head and mentally projecting it on the text.

I wouldn't be surprised to learn the author had worked in a service bureau or graphic production room before he wrote this.

So these days I find 'Cigarette-Boy' unreadable. But there was a time in my life where, yes, I could have read that, parsing the command strings as I went along without giving it much thought.
posted by ardgedee at 3:54 AM on August 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: like the ravings on the bottle of Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Soap, only for robots.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:39 AM on August 24, 2007


Shine on you crazy diamond.
posted by JJ86 at 7:55 AM on August 24, 2007


Before there was HTML, there was SGML.
posted by adamrice at 8:01 AM on August 24, 2007


This is hard to get through and/or fairly overrated...
posted by NedderLander at 11:52 AM on August 24, 2007


I don't suppose a parsed version of this thing was ever made (if such a thing is actually possible)?
posted by Deathalicious at 7:32 PM on August 24, 2007


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