Picture: From the Sir Charles Grandiose Archives

The Library | Write to Sir Charles | Cast of Characters | Credits | This Week

April 5, 1999 One received two most curious letters from correspondents this week. One will reproduce them in part, to aid in a discussion of a topic of unusually serious import.
Dear Sir Charles:
Love the column, d00d. But let's get down to the nitty gritty. 
Where's the flash? Where's the imagemaps? Where's the Java? 
You think people actually want to read pages and pages of WORDS? 

And secondly:

Dear Sir Charles:
The printed medium is notoriously difficult to reproduce emotion in. 
So I recommend that if you are trying to make a joke, or express 
sadness, that you use an emoticon! :) :) :) Like the following!

:)  ---->(smiley!)
:(  ---->(sad smiley!)
:0  ---->(surprised smiley!)
:|  ---->(grumpy smiley!)

One will take the liberty of excising most of the second letter, as one seriously doubts that one's readers care to see the involved procedures in creating the 'mustachioed smiley riding a bicycle' or the 'clown smiley on the teeter-totter'. (And if they are interested, they should not be readers of mine!)

One admits to a certain amount of discouragement, however, upon encountering these dismal yet popular opinions. For of all human inventions, what surpasses all others with its simplicity, its utility, and its raw beauty? None other than the invention of language, the very foundation of all other human achievements! No clay, no paint, no tempered steel--indeed, no raw material can be obtained so freely, no natural resource can be so easily renewed at will or reshaped at whim!

But no mere imagemap can prompt tears from its beholder, nor can a 'Java' (whatever that may be) invoke a smile when, days later, it surfaces pleasantly in the memory. Flashy and tempting these technological baubles may be. Indeed, they might even be (and one shudders to use the word) fun. A packet of kettle crisps might be 'fun'--yet it cannot feed body in the manner of wholesome, rib-sticking viands. And it is the rich nuances of language that feed both intellect and soul. One will never abandon this mightiest of tools.

Picture: Oneself in Modern Guise--Simply Atrocious!As for the so-called 'emoticons': One finds it a pity that so many these days are convinced that the written word is inadequate for the communication of the spectrum of emotions, from anguish to melancholy to rage to giddy amusement. Yet perhaps the correspondent is correct; perhaps had our ancestors known for centuries that their novels, their letters, their prayers, their books of worship and meditation, and their private diaries would have benefitted by the substitution of an animated 'Pac-Man' across their 'vidiot screens', we could have more chip shops in place of those pesky libraries. Perhaps if popular novelist Charles Dickens had known that an 'emoticon' was much more efficient in transmitting emotion, he would have saved thousands of third-form students countless misery by writing one of his novels thusly:

A Tale of Two Cities
Chapter One

:) :( :) :( :) :( :|

And ending:


Which emoticon, one assures you, is ever so more efficient a representation of the fate of French aristocrats that a mere quill in ink can ever hope to achieve.

But no, one is an old-fashioned sort. One finds the English language medium enough for one's reflections, and one firmly believes that one's readers, the teeming masses they are, feel the same.

Steadfastly, one ever remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Prunella writes:

Picture: One's Mother-in-Law in a Fine LatherDear Sir Charles:

We members of the Puxatawny Pussycat Society were shocked at some of the disparaging remarks you allegedly made about your sister-in-law Melody's felines.

Why, all of the Puxatawny Pussycat Society members simply couldn't do without our little pussies, and our husbands feel the same way. We could not respect a man who doesn't like a little pussy or two around the house.

Whatever do you hold against pussies?

Prunella Prescott Corresponding Secretary, Puxatawny Pussycat Society

Happily, one remains,

Sir Charles replies:

My dear Mrs. Prescott,

One's sister-in-law Melody, you must understand, is certifiably insane. Cat chiropractor, indeed.

One has nothing against a little pussy, now and again. What could be softer? What could be better to fondle, on a cold wintry morning? But when one lets one's life be ruled by Pussy, when one has Pussy on the brain, well . . . it's enough to make one itch.

And Melody Windover-Midden's obsession with things felinical is enough to make one wish for a less common household animal to pet. Beaver, for example.

Itching quite strongly, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Left writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

Do you know of any solution to electronic extramarital affairs?

For years I supported my husband with his computer hobby. I didn't mind when the online service bills mounted. But then one day out of the clear blue sky, he told me he was going to California to meet "Julie," the woman he had met on the Internet. Our 12-year-old and I were stunned. He returned four days later and announced he was quitting his job of 16 years and moving to California to be with his "dream woman." Did I mention she is a single parent of three?

Left with Only a Modem

Sir Charles replies:


How quick are wives to say that they support their husband's hobbies! But oh, when the hobby takes on an exciting new development, how the worm turns, as this letter proves.

By way of example, one will tell the sad story of a 'friend', a baronet of no little influence in his community--let us call him 'Sir Chuck'. How proud was Sir Chuck of his prized collection of antique brass spittoons in the shapes of the positions of the Kama Sutra. How fond he was of spending a quiet Thursday afternoon amongst them, rubbing and rubbing and rubbing . . . er, that is, giving them a fine polish. He thought his wife approved. But hist! When the slightest pebble spread ripples of discord upon the pond of domestic harmony, what, one asks, happened? The devious vixen took my--that is, my friend's--beloved spittoons and donated them to the church jumble sale!

So much, madam, for your 'support'. Perfidious is the woman jealous of her husband's hobby!

Brusquely, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Picture: Hey There, Hi There, Ho There

Francine writes:

Dear Lady Felicia,

My family and I are planing a vacation to Disney World. Do you have any information that will help me have a better time.


The Lady Felicia replies:

My dear girl,

What lovely news to hear that Lord Reginald, Earl of Disney-Upon-Keating has renovated that draughty old ruin of his, and is now opening it up for tourist vacations. Why, the last Sir Charles and I had heard of the poor fellow, he had inhaled some of that nasty mildew from the dungeons, and was suffering from a dreadful pneumonia. Well, one cannot deny that it serves him out. Dungeons are so very 1996.

One will admit that the last time one had occasion to pay a social call on Disney-Upon-Keating, one was less than impressed with the facilities, especially the 'porcelain' ones. But certainly, if it is now garnering tourist visits, things must have improved considerably, though one does wonder at Lord Reginald taking the ostentatious route and calling the place Disney World.

One would encourage one's readers to allocate enough time to give the many old collections a thorough examination. The West Library has a stunning collection of essays on the use of Opera Glasses in the 1800's, which should not be missed. And bring stout walking shoes as well. Why, just touring the old dungeons (and don't let the oubliette pass you by--just pull the ring by the fire grating in the Weapons Room if it is not included in the tour) could take the better part of a day. And one hears that the moat contains one of the most complete collections of all the leech specimens of Britain.

One trusts the reader will be thoroughly impressed by what the Peers of the Realm can offer the commoner for his vacation dollar, and as ever, one serenely remains,
Lady Felicia Grandiose

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