Group therapy not.stop.reading. Why am I writing like this, you ask? I've been spending a bit of time in the alt.adjective.noun.verb.verb.verb newsgroup and I'm trying to mimic the house style. It's a place for people with plenty of time on their hands and not a little eccentricity in their nature. Their sole aim is to communicate using this exact format. Don't ask why or who started it all; I couldn't find out.

Writing like this sounds simple enough, but when you try to keep a whole conversation going it's quite a mental test. However, the regulars in this forum are a cerebral crowd. Not for them discussions on technology or the Internet. The first posting I came across was "alt.20th century.history.abbreviated. summarised.encapsulated". It begins with "alt.Queen.Victoria.dies.perishes. kicks-it".

Later on " psychoanalyses.obsesses.sexualises" and "alt.brainy.Einstein.ponders.theorises. relativises". In 1914, "alt.Austrian. archduke.shot.assassinated.whacked". Later, Pearl Harbor is bombed and "alt.Allies.bacon.saved.saved.saved". However, this all ends up in "alt.atomic. bomb.dropped.exploded.mushrooms" and "alt.cold.war.succeeds.ensues.frightens".

Even if you want to ask a straight question in this group, you have to speak the lingo if you want an answer: " wonders" begins one newcomer in a posting asking for advice on style.

What also makes alt.adjective etc, etc unusual is that its contributors do not ignore those get-rich-beyond-your-dreams schemes that are a feature of almost every Usenet forum. One posting that promised quick wealth through a pyramid scheme attracted a lot of cynical comment. But one writer actually confessed to trying it: "alt.empty.wallet. had.regretted.endured", he began. "alt.marvellous.idea. heard.tried. worked! gain.garner.earn.alt. five.dollars.risk.gamble.try".

Any story goes in alt.adjective.noun. verb.verb.verb. Someone had posted a bloody but entertaining tale about their rotten teeth. "", the story began. "alt.sudden.pain.sear.blind. scream. alt.impacted.wisdom-tooth.throb. inspected.exclaimed. alt.spurting.blood. soaked.splattered.amazed-dentist. prescribed. ordered.insisted."

It ended up with "alt.four.teeth. extracted.removed.pulled-out-with-PLIERS. alt.much.later.woke.shook-head.sat- up," followed by "alt.chipmunk. cheeks.swell.grow.turn-black-and-blue- and-green."

That's it, or perhaps I should say alt.unfortunate.goodbye.going.going. gonen

Andrew North