Hello, and Happy Friday. If you missed yesterday’s part one of this tale, take a looksy here.
The most curious thing about the Registry, is that Mr. Howitzer appears to do his work without the use of a single computer. In his less than flashy office there is desk that is bare except for a well worn beige colored typewriter and some sort of a calculator on each side that he was reluctant to explain (“it is perhaps a tool that requires batteries”). Observing his work over the course of several months, he consults these calculators on a regular basis, as well as having long meetings with middle aged men in suits and hats, like spies from the 60’s, whom he suitably calls his “agents”. These agents appear to roam the world seeking out the funny names of the day.
Besides this agent force, described as being “substantial without being sizable” and that he has “enough of them to not have too few”, Mr. Howitzer appears to use some sort of a transporting trance to do his work. He will sit on the floor of his office, arms spread apart like a yogi, with his legs straight on the floor, and recites phrases in a language I could not identify, and which he helpfully pegged as “not necessarily English or Hungarian”. After this session, he always feverishly returns to his typewriter, bangs out several pages at once, “checks” his results against his typewriter, and then asks Janet the assistant to feed the new pages into the Big Book.
I, with Professor Portley of Oxford, observed one of these sessions at Mr. Howitzer’s office. He told me we were the first people in many years to witness the process. One of the few previously to do so was the film star George Clooney, who was proposing to make a musical film based on the Registry – it was apparently never completed. Professor Portley questioned the truthfulness of Mr. Howitzer’s performance and wondered if he, perhaps was putting on a bit of a show for us. I couldn’t help but wonder the same, but considering I never saw him leave the office building except to accept his daily ham sandwich in the downstairs lobby from the same Argentinian delivery man (“a boy with a rather dull name”, he told me), it’s undeniable that he is a person very committed to his work.
As we were exiting the building to head to the Semantics conference, we could only shake our heads with amazement at the process and the far too little known Big Book. “I’m simultaneously a bit proud and more than a little confused to find my name in there”, the professor intoned. “But I’ve got to admit, mine is quite a funny name”. So it is.
And that, as they say…is that. Back to our regular program on Monday morning!