4. A few more stories: Grebler, Jokes, jjj, Jon Nightingale's travels, ...

posted Nov 2, 2010, 7:45 PM by Jeff Ogden   [ updated Nov 7, 2010, 9:03 AM ]
I don't think I ever saw this myself, but Don Boettner confirms that in the early days of MTS, if you tried to use the $DESTROY command with a device rather than a file name, you'd get the message "IBM frowns on the willful destruction of hardware".

For a time at least the MTS Editor had a "jjj" command that when entered would respond with "Take a break". According to Andy Goodrich who added the command, "jjj was Jill Janice Jackson, who when Clark Lubbers would get riled up would always say 'Clark, take a break' ".

And before the justify command was implemented in the MTS editor, entering the command would give the response "No way Tolkin". Again according to Andy, this "was a play off of Don Boettner's place holder for commands, which was 'Not yet, Rosen, not yet', because Bob Rosen was always asking him for new commands. Steve [Tolkin, a member of the UM Computing Center staff] bugged me for the justify command, so I put in the initial response for it before the code was there, but only for Steve's userID."

For Scott Gerstenber's userID (WSG.) when lines were deleted from a file, the editor would display "1 line is pushing up daisies" or "<n> lines are pining for the fjords" rather than the usual boring messages that the editor displayed for everyone else.

And I remember:

$DISPLAY  GRELBER  (which would get you one of a large number of insults)
$DISPLAY  JOKE        (which would display one of a large number of {really | mostly} poor jokes)

Grelber started out as a program. It think it came from UBC. Later it was added as an option on the $DISPLAY command. Grelber is the insulting inhabitant of a log in the enchanted forest in the Broom-Hilda comic strip and on TV. Some examples of GRELBER and JOKE output are included below.

Only $DISPLAY GRELBER and $DISPLAY JOKE are still present in MTS, c. 1996. Although if I remember correctly, a few of the jokes had to be edited or removed because they were considered to be in poor taste.

And this next item isn't a joke or a bug, but ... :

  "GOD" does not exist or is unavailable,
  enter replacement or cancel.

[Don, Andy, Clark, Steve, Scott, and I (Jeff) are or were all from UM.]

Still more stories

In the stories that follow Ralph and Jon are from UBC, Gavin is from UM by way of Durham.

Ralph remembers ...

From: Ralph Sayle Date: November 6, 2010 4:26:00 PM EDT
To: Jeff Ogden
Subject: Re: GODZILLA is invincible and cannot be destroyed?

Grelber and Joke were UBC additions...

As I recall, $Disp Joke started as a joke. I was rewriting Msgcc and added a @joke operator as a joke for GREadie. Somewhere I had found a file of jokes which I saved for the future. Since @joke was a joke, it didn't stay in Msgcc. Gone but not forgotten as it reappeared a few years later in the Display command.

Grelber came about from a little fun program written by JNightingale to randomly put phrases into a sentence. ARunnals spent a bit of time to generate the vocabulary and thusly we had The Grelber who was willing to insult anyone at the touch of an "enter key".

MHayward, who wrote FullScreenMessage ($FSM), was a bit "upset" at the thought of the computer insults, so he generated a Nice vocabulary. "My but you are a most wonderful person in the whole universe".

As usual, there was an internal joke so if it was MHayward who did the $Disp Grelber, it dropped into Nice mode. <Fame>

Later I heard they were ordered to be removed by a UBC manager as they were "unprofessional".

Hey! Poor jokes!!!! That's a bit unfair...  [how about if I change it to read "mostly poor jokes"? -Jeff]

Gavin remembers Jon Nightingale's automated trip reports

From: Gavin Eadie
Date: November 6, 2010 5:46:21 PM EDT
To: Ralph Sayle
Subject: Re: GODZILLA is invincible and cannot be destroyed?

Was it the aforementioned JNightingale who went on vacation leaving Grelber to 'send back' daily trip reports ?

Jon isn't here to defend himself and Ralph remembers some more

From: Ralph Sayle
Date: November 6, 2010 9:26:02 PM EDT
To: Gavin Eadie
Subject: Re: GODZILLA is invincible and cannot be destroyed?

Yes it was JNightingale or as we call him, Jon...

He left and the messages started to show up; Spent the night in scary motel in St Helena but I did have an excellent moose sausage salad in a corner store/gun shop.

Then the messages started to get weird as if he was aimlessly lost in America, bouncing from coast to coast or border to border.

Then, I think, *Autostart conked out or Jon came home.

I think he then sold his program to the government & they still use it to generate press releases.


# display joke
  He became a bus driver so he could tell people where to get off.
# display joke
  Waiter! Waiter! Do you have frog's legs?
  No, it's my underwear that makes me walk this way.
# display joke
  They laughed when I discovered a new kind of dynamite, but when I dropped
  it, they exploded.
# display joke
  When the librarian asked him if he wanted a heavy book or a light one,
  he answered, "It doesn't matter - I have my car outside."


# display grelber
  What useless and bird-brained drivel appears before me??  Take a
  long walk on a short pier you distressingly insignificant lunatic!!!
# display grelber
  What utter and bird-brained idiocy can this be??  Remove yourself
  from this location you unbearably retarded ignoramus!!!
# display grelber
  What hopeless and bird-brained idiocy appears before me??  Remove
  yourself from this location you amazingly offensive freak!!!
# display grelber
  What dreadful and moronic drivel have you perpetrated now??
  Terminate this interview immediately you distressingly spineless

The JOKE and GRELBER example output above was produced on MTS by Gavin Eadie on 7 November 2010. Thanks Gav.