The Larriad (and Epilogue)

Composed by Geoffrey Nunberg for the occasion of Larry Masinter's 25th Anniverary at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, January 1998.

The day is coming, some opine,
When we'll live all our lives on line.
We'll toil and frolic placelessly,
And go to meetings facelessly,
As with coworkers we commune,
Still wearing our PJ's at noon,
And on the weekends we'll relax
With cyberchums over cybersnacks.

In libraries the shelves and nooks
Will fill with dust from crumbling books,
And building 35's bright gloss,
Will be all overgrown with moss.
I'll never have to schlep again,
Along 280 in the rain,
Nor dread, when Tuesday comes along,
The summons of the Whistle gong.

Still, there are things that I'll regret
When life's transacted on the Net,
For caught up in that virtual mesh,
I 'll not see Larry in the flesh.
I'll never hear, along the hall,
The pit-pat where his footsteps fall,
Nor hear his voice's distant pealing,
That loosens fixtures in the ceiling.
When job talks are remotely run,
Could I forsake the lively fun
Of seeing speakers blanch with terror,
As gently he points out an error?

No, no -- think twice, and let this be
Your lesson in ontology:
What's real is real, and we can't fake it --
A virtual Larry doesn't make it.
Technology may be ready now;
Alas, I'm not -- so can we vow
To leave it sitting in the drawer
For just a quarter century more?


composed for the occasion of Larry's 70th birthday, Feburary 15, 2019

It's twenty years since that event,
And I suppose that Larry's spent
That gift certificate from Spiegel
No doubt on something rich and regal.
And here we are once more, to toast,
Our buoyant boy, our happy host,
(All thanks to Carol, without whom
His aspect would be sunk in gloom).
You're looking fit, kid--not as globe-y
(What did they feed you at Adobe?)

But after 70, it's funny--
You're playing with the house's money,
So now's the time to double down,
To live it up and paint the town,
(Though, if the town's Los Altos, strive
To knock it off by half past five.)
Just keep yourself amused, my friend,
Don't burn the candle at each end,
So that when eighty comes around,
We'll each have both feet on the ground--
So we can do this one more time,
Here's looking at you, kid--L'chaim!