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Explaining why there are so many verbs in Dandelion Wine: Uncap! Drink! Relive!

In the early days of the Internet, before spam had smothered it, there was a Usenet newsgroup named “alt.adjective.noun.verb.verb.verb.” It was a fun group created out of the realization that many “alt” newsgroups had names with the pattern of alt.adjective.noun.verb.verb.verb, for example, alt.swedish.chef.bork.bork.bork, or alt.barney.dinosaur.die.die.die, alt.Tonya.Harding.whack.whack.whack, or alt.stupid.newsgroups.delete.delete.delete. Alt.adjective.noun.verb.verb.verb was formed with the playful spirit of requiring all posts to have every line in the form—well, you guessed it—alt.adjective.noun.verb.verb.verb.

The constrained writing is extremely difficult. A few small leeways are allowed: a modifying noun may be used in the adjective slot; hyphenated verbal phrases with modifiers may be used (sparingly!) in the verbal slots. Exclamation points and question marks may be used in the verbal slots, and a preceding exclamation point (meaning negation) may also be used there. Frequent posters tended to see it as a creativity exercise, and imaginative postings were quite common. One guy signed his posts thus:

alt.initial.initial.initial.initial.initial
J

Aanvvv writers critiqued each other relentlessly, always on the lookout for lines which violated "the sacred format." Other than that, anything went.

So I wrote Dandelion Wine: Uncap! Drink! Relive! in two stages, first as a strict AANVVV poem posted to the group, which I then modified to plain English, although each line still had a adjective, a noun, and three verbs, in that order. Furthermore, each stanza rhymed, which made it really hard. But it was fun. Robert's Aanvvv Page is a collection of some of the very best posts to group, gives an introduction to the rules of aanvvv, and of course, links to the group itself, which is still alive and well, although there's a lot of spam.

Here is the strict AANVVV version:

Alt.Dandelion.Wine.Uncap.Drink.Relive

alt.genius.Ray-Bradbury.Honor!.Tribute!.Celebrate!

alt.Illinois.boy.picks.gathers.works
alt.certain.something.sensing.smelling.calling
alt.wild.wonder.approaches.nears.lurks
alt.joyful.moment.'rasslin'.tumbling.falling

alt.blinding.truth.shakes.shouts.out-bursts—
alt.alive.I.am!.am!.am!
alt.alive.I.run!.jump!.shout!
alt.alive.I.feel!.think!.know!

alt.every.thing.renewed.rediscovered.reborn
alt.every.thought.enlightens.thrills.turns-gold
alt.unbearable.awareness.fills.fuels.fires
alt.God's.eyes.will-see.will-catch.will-hold

alt.glorious.day.save.squeeze.shelve
alt.dandelion.wine.ferment.distill.stock
alt.basement.crypt.will-shelter.protect.secure
alt.deep.joy.preserve.keep.lock

alt.surreal.blow.stings.shocks.stuns
alt.heartmost.friend.announces.moves.is-gone
alt.lonely.half-self.fights.cries.numbs
alt.blood.brother.separated.severed.done

alt.aged.raconteur.delighted.described.detailed
alt.living.Time-Machine.falls.drops.lies
alt.last.witness.silenced.stopped.stilled
alt.fallen.storyman.gasps.passes.dies

alt.Green.Machine.strikes.hits.kills
alt.dreadful.secret.keep.carry.hold-peace
alt.dear.neighbors.shield.shelter.protect
alt.fun.rides.are-finished.concluded.have-ceased

alt.trolley.bells.sang.chimed.rang
alt.final.ride.ridden.finished.completed
alt.last.streetcar.retired.removed.replaced
alt.familiar.lift.is-gone.vanished.defeated

alt.Illinois.boy.stands.stares.weeps
alt.once-friendly.ravine.reveals.yields.shows
alt.murdered.girl.covered.carried.blood-seeps
alt.mythical.safety.evaporates.dissolves.goes

alt.hundred.hopes.needed.yearned-for.hungered
alt.thousand.blows.fall.strike.find
alt.golden.laughter.dries.fails.falls-under
alt.summer's.tears.stream.choke.blind

alt.tireless.Great-grandma.lies-down.rests.tires
alt.life's.end.reaches.accepts.takes
alt.final.peace.asks.offers.makes
alt.last.kisses.gives.farewells.forsakes!

alt.Illinois.boy.concedes.surrenders.resigns
alt.futile.hopes.shrugged-off.cast-away.dashes
alt.rejected.fireflies.flashing.flitting.falling
alt.empty.jar.opened.emptied.crashes

alt.fire-hot.night.thickens.envelopes.enshrouds
alt.fire-hot.day.burns.grips.oppresses
alt.burning.bed.swelters.melts.stifles
alt.burning.breath.labors.sears.distresses

alt.half-conscious.thoughts.despair.defeat.destroy
alt.half-conscious.sounds.pound.rail.storm
alt.fevered.visions.turn.toss.torment
alt.fevered.senses.whimper.numb.mourn

alt.steaming.stillness.descends.stings.covers
alt.quiet.coma.surrounds.swells.smothers

alt.Illinois.boy.lies.pants.sweats
alt.searing.breath.burns-in.burns-out.burns-in
alt.passing.Junkman.stops.speaks.blesses
alt.rare.gift.leaves.instructs.departs

alt.loving.breeze.strokes.kisses.caresses
alt.Irish.mists.uncap.drink.breathe-in
alt.Artic.chills.uncap.drink.breathe-in
alt.wintergreen.winds.uncap.drink.breathe-in

alt.Illinois.boy.sleeps.rests.lives
alt.new.morning.awakes.arises.dresses
alt.precious.family.relish!.cherish!.run-to!
alt.unpredictable.life.savors.welcomes.embraces

alt.Junkman's.gift.received.dreaded.loved
alt.dandelion.life.uncap.drink-in.live

© jon zuck
norfolk, january 28, 1997

 

Added February 13, 2005