Mark Twain Offers Advice For Microsoft Windows Users

[prelude not by Mark Twain]

Now I don't really read, but if I did, I certainly wouldn't read the non-books gracing the New York Times Bestseller list. Not when you can read books written by Mark Twain. Here is an example from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer:

But the elastic heart of youth cannot be compressed into one constrained shape long at a time. Tom presently began to drift insensibly back into the concerns of this life again. What if he turned his back, now, and disappeared mysteriously? What if he went away—ever so far away, into unknown countries beyond the seas-and never came back any more! How would she feel then! The idea of being a clown recurred to him now, only to fill him with disgust. For frivolity and jokes and spotted tights were an offense, when they intruded themselves upon a spirit that was exalted into the vague august realm of the romantic. No, he would be a soldier, and return after long years, all warworn and illustrious. No-better still, he would join the Indians, and hunt buffaloes and go on the warpath in the mountain ranges and the trackless great plains of the Far West, and away in the future come back a great chief, bristling with feathers, hideous with paint, and prance into Sunday school, some drowsy summer morning, with a bloodcurdling war whoop, and sear the eyeballs of all his companions with unappeasable envy. But no, there was something gaudier even than this. He would be a pirate! That was it! Now his future lay plain before him, and glowing with unimaginable splendor. How his name would fill the world, and make people shudder! How gloriously he would go plowing the dancing seas, in his long, low, black-hulled racer, the Spirit of the Storm, with his grisly flag flying at the fore! And at the zenith of his fame, how he would suddenly appear at the old village and stalk into church, brown and weather-beaten, in his black velvet doublet and trunks, his great jackboots, his crimson sash, his belt bristling with horse pistols, his crime-rusted cutlass at his side, his slouch hat with waving plumes, his black flag unfurled, with the skull and crossbones on it, and hear with swelling ecstasy the whisperings, "It's Tom Sawyer the pirate!-the Black Avenger of the Spanish Main!"

Yes, it was settled; his career was determined. He would run away the very next morning. Therefore he must now begin to get ready. He would collect his resources together. He went to a rotten log near at hand and began to dig under one end of it with his Barlow knife. He soon struck wood that sounded hollow. He put his hand there and uttered this incantation impressively:
"What hasn't come here, come! What's here, stay here!"
Then he scraped away the dirt, and exposed a pine shingle. He took it up and disclosed a shapely little treasure house whose bottom and sides were of shingles. In it lay a marble. Tom's astonishment was boundless! He scratched his head with perplexed air, and said:
"Well, that beats anything!"
Then he tossed the marble away pettishly, and stood cogitating. The truth was, that a superstition of his had failed, here, which he and all his comrades had always looked upon as infallible. If you buried a marble with certain necessary incantations, and left it alone a fortnight, and then opened the place with the incantation he had just used, you would find that all the marbles you had ever lost had gathered themselves together there, meantime, no matter how widely they had been separated. But now, this thing had actually and unquestionably failed. Tom's whole structure of faith was shaken to its foundations, He had many a time heard of this thing succeeding, but never of its failing before. It did not occur to him that he had tried it several times before, himself, but could never find the hiding places afterward. He puzzled over the matter some time, and finally decided that some witch had interfered and broken the charm. He thought he would satisfy himself on that point so he searched around until he found a small sandy spot with a little funnel-shaped depression in it. He laid himself down and put his mouth close to this depression and called:
"Doodlebug, doodlebug, tell me what I want to know! Doodlebug, doodlebug, tell me what I want to know!"
The sand began to work, and presently a small black bug appeared for a second and the darted under again in a fright.
"He dasn't tell! So it was a witch that done it. I just knowed it."

He well knew the futility of trying to contend against witches, so he gave up discouraged. But it occurred to him that he might as well have the marble he had just thrown away, and therefore he went and made a patient to his treasure house and carefully placed himself just as he had been standing when he tossed the marble away; then he took another marble from his pocket and tossed it in the same way, saying:
"Brother, go find your brother!"
He watched where it stopped, and went there and looked, But it must have fallen short or gone too far; so he tried twice more. The last repetition was successful. The two marbles lay within a foot of each other.

Could this be a kind of riverboat scene one might find, say—in Russia?

When translated into modern dialect, the passage reads:

Often, one saves a file from an application in Microsoft Windows, and then can't seem to find it on the desktop. Rather than trying to figure out where it is using a rational approach (like remembering the name of file and searching with the windows find feature), the best solution is to return to the original application and save another file (also known as the Amtrak recreation technique). Make a note of what sub-directory the test file is saved in, and your missing file will be in that directory. “The two files lay within inches of each other.”

Pop Quiz: When talking to someone at Microsoft's Customer Help Line, the most effective strategy is to:

a) Be as polite you can and carefully explain your problem.
b) Ask them if they mind you recording the phone call to ensure better service.
c) Offer them a higher salary and stock options if they will come work for you instead.
d) Say "Doodlebug, doodlebug, tell me what I want to know! Doodlebug, doodlebug, tell me what I want to know!" and wait for a response.
e) Hang up the phone and have your ten year old fix it for you.

Now don't you wish people would email you passages from great literature instead of those non-jokes that aren't even worthy of the recycling bin? But let's not dwell, let's enjoy something good while we've got it and play Twain Passage Multiple Choice.

Question One: Which Twainism kicks some serious mysterious!?

a) "crime-rusted" starring in "…his crime-rusted cutlass at his side…"
b) hideous with paint
c) "Tell me what I want to know!" (both versions) from "Doodlebug, doodlebug, tell me what I want to know! Doodlebug, doodlebug, tell me what I want to know!"
d) "work" and "presently" co-starring in "…the sand began to work, and presently a small black bug appeared…"
e) "have" appearing in "…that he might as well have the marble he had just thrown away…"
f) all of the above


Tom Sawyer as a pirate and soldier was played by Tom Hanks, while the pirate returning home was played by an exceptionally ‘unkempt’ Gerard Depardieu. The young Tom Sawyer was played by Leonardo DiCaprio. All other characters played themselves.

Average Amazon Review    4/7/99
I would just like to say that Nicholas Cage was really convincing as Injun Joe, but I thought Gwyneth Paltrow was a horrible Becky Sue. This awful performance was more than made up for, however, by the pulsating special effects and original composition by one of Whitney Houston's song-writers. Overall I give this movie a twenty-two.

Amazon Reviews That Mark Twain Would Have Loved
i'm in 6th grade... i loved it!
Reviewer: Kate from mclean virginia January 14, 2000
well i'd just like 2 say that this is a great book and everyone should read it! to all the people who gave it bad reviews- you have no taste in good literature. i am in 6th grade and i read it in 5th... well it's interesting and each chapter is a cliff hanger. it's not your everyday book so i suggest you take a break from your babysitters club and sit down and read something that's in the english language for a change. —This text refers to the hardcover edition.

Pardon the expression, but Kate here is the balls.

It was okay?
Reviewer: from USA January 11, 2000
I thought the book was okay. The book was surprising at the end.

"You think she's pretty, you should see my frog." - From Alfred Hitchock's The Trouble With Harry

Tom Sawyer: A Pretty Nice Book
Reviewer: Carmelo Casiraro from New York, USA January 10, 2000
I think this book is a cool book! I found out when I started reading the book, that Tom Sawyer was a trouble-maker. I thought the book would be stupid but the book came out to be good! It says that he flirts with two girls in school, Amy and Becky. Then it says how he got his Bible and the rest of the stuff. i thought it was a great book!

Reviewer: A reader from america October 3, 1999
this book reeked wasnt exciting at all..i tried really hard to read it becuz i had to do a report on it but i didnt enjoy reading it.This made it hard for me to do my report.I recommend u should read another book besides this one. —This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition

This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition

The Best story you will ever read
Reviewer: A reader from willmet illinoys (usa) September 21, 1999


Reviewer: .surinder from India August 28, 1999


It Will Nock Your Pants Off
Reviewer: A reader from New Jersy,United States May 14, 1999
The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer is about a boy named Tom .Tom is always getting in trouble.Tom and his friend Huck are in a grave yard when a murder happens. The man murder was the doctor. The wrong man is accused of the murder. It is up to Tom and Huck to tell the truth and save the man that is suspected of the murder. Read this book to find out who was the real murderer. I recommend this book for people who like adventures.

Ever Had Your Pants Nocked Off?

Please don't read this book if you don't have to
Reviewer: A reader from Milwaukee, Wisconsin April 11, 1999
I had to read this book for school, and out of over 100 people in my class I don't know anyone that even liked this book. Everyone hated it. It was bad. I can't understand why anyone would give this book FIVE stars! It may be a classic, but it was so boring. Mark Twain gives way to many details about things that don't matter, and it seems like he always goes off the subject. It is hard to understand. —This text refers to the hardcover edition


Reviewer: from New York, NY April 4, 1999
Classic shmassic. Its hard to read this book without being affected by everyone's uplifting appraisals beforehand. The notion that its a great book is practically shoved down our throats from grade school on. But the truth is, its boring. I think most people are afraid to even venture a slightly negative opinion in the midst of so many opposing views, so they praise it all the more. Maybe I would've liked it more if I hadn't been told so much that I would. Ah well.

Engrossing at times but hardly amusing.
Reviewer: from Inner Mars July 2, 1998
Everyone might be wondering why I rated a classic a 3 star book. The reason for this is because it is not consistent. At one point, you're very happy and the next your not. Plus, Mark Twain's sense of humor is appalling. Is it really so funny that a cat is given a dose of painkiller and bounces off the wall? If you ask me, they should make it a Non classic if there was really such a thing.

A non-classic! Now that's classic! little1ss?

The book was a little hard to follow, but it was alright.
Reviewer: Tina from healdsburg, California April 29, 1998
When I first started to read this book I was interested. It started off with a good hook. I thought it was like an original book, but then I started to get confused. At that point I was not to intereted in it any more, but I decided to keep reading it. It would have been an easier book to follow if we did a little play on it. I liked the way Tom Sawyer was he was the most interesting character.He grew up with a hard life having to hide out and do nothing.

It was a good review - but then I started to get confused…

An Exellent Book!
Reviewer: Will from California April 28, 1998
I think this was all in all a good book. I did not approve of the way they referred to African Americans in the dialogue. I did however, enjoy all of the adventure and mischief that Tom and his closest of friends got into. I liked this book and would definitely recommend it to younger readers. This is my review on The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

This has been my review…

Reviewer: josh from CALIFORNIA April 28, 1998
I thought this book was very boring. It was adventures, but not the type of adventure kids are looking for these days. I think that if it was still the 40's or 50's I might like this book.

"…but not the type of adventure kids are looking for these days."

I didn't actually read the book but my grade did the play
Reviewer: Can't Tell my e-mail! (Megan L.) from Massachusetts April 26, 1998
In my school, the sixth graders put on a play before they graduate to middle school. We did Tom Sawyer. It was great. I played School Mistress Dobbins. My friend Travis played Tom Sawyer. He was great. I am still in sixth grade and I still know all my lines! I even got to smack Travis!{It was really snapping a clipboard backstage} Travis, if you read this review, I'm just saying that you were great out there! But anyway! I guess I should read the book now- right?

See Me and Miss Mandible or Rushmore's "I wrote a hit play!"

Reviewer: A reader April 30, 1997 This is a book that took place in Missouri in the 1800's. It was a good book and it had a lot of funny parts. It also had some parts that were hard to understand until you read farther. I recomend the book to you

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