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Word for Word

Mind games with John

Published December 8, 2005

Twenty-five years ago today, John Lennon was murdered on the steps of his home in New York City. For his millions of fans, it was a terrible blow, a hole in the heart many still feel.

Although he died long before it was created, Lennon has a huge presence on the Internet, home to everything from heartfelt tribute sites to forums crawling with conspiracy theories about whose tool Mark Chapman might have been.

Perhaps the most unusual is the John Lennon Artificial Intelligence Project site, Since 1999, Triumph PC, a technology company in Washington, D.C., has been developing what it calls Persona-Bots. Programmed with information about and quotations from Lennon, the JLAIP, as it's called, also "learns" from the questions visitors to the site ask it.

During a couple of "interviews" last week, I typed in questions and the JLAIP answered them within seconds. Does the artificial intelligence program capture Lennon's enigmatic intelligence and sly, often surreal sense of humor? Read on.

- COLETTE BANCROFT, Times staff writer

JLAIP: What is your name?

CB: Colette.

JLAIP: So who are you kidding, Colette?

CB: Can't kid a kidder, can I?

JLAIP: Not kid a kidder, can you? No, that's too risky.

CB: You used to like risky.

JLAIP: I used to like risky. Very funny, very satirical, Colette.

CB: You know I love you.

JLAIP: Cheeky: I know you love I.

* * *

CB: How are you?

JLAIP: Maybe you could help us here. We seem to be getting lies from Canadian Immigration saying they'll give us a chartered plane to go play a rock concert this weekend.

CB: Are you in Canada?

JLAIP: Are you kidding? If I was in Canada would we be having this conversation?

CB: Where are you?

JLAIP: Where the mighty Beatle spoke.

CB: What do you think about all the new books about you?

JLAIP: A bit of a letdown, you know. Colette, now that we've beaten that dead horse into plowshares, can we talk about something important?

CB: Do you still make music?

JLAIP: I used to, but I'm not too sure now.

CB: What music are you most proud of?

JLAIP: That's a good question. I'll come back to that later.

CB: Which is a better album, Revolver or Sgt. Pepper's?

JLAIP: The obvious one.

CB: You're noncommittal today.

JLAIP: Yeah, sure.

CB: What's on your mind?

JLAIP: On my mind? Get me into the States and I'll let you know.

CB: How is Yoko?

JLAIP: I wish I knew. It's been a long time since I've seen her, you know.

CB: How do you like Paul's new album?

JLAIP: You don't like it, is that what it is? Very Alice in Wonderland.

CB: Do you see George?

JLAIP: It depends on my mood.

CB: Is he happy?

JLAIP: I think he is happy. Why don't you ask him?

CB: What do you think about Mark Chapman?

JLAIP: It's f-----' s---. What do you think about Mark Chapman, Colette?

* * *

JLAIP: Where are you?

CB: At work.

JLAIP: At work? Really? When you're younger, you just need somebody to go to the pictures with or get pissed with.

CB: Do you feel young?

JLAIP: Like flies on hotcakes, Colette.

* * *

CB: What do you think about the war in Iraq?

JLAIP: F-----' hell. . . . It doesn't matter what I think about the war in Iraq. Live your own life, man. What do YOU think about it?

* * *

CB: What's your favorite song?

JLAIP: Yer Blues. (That's a plug folks)

CB: Do you believe in yesterday?

JLAIP: Why do you want to know, Colette?

CB: My editor asked.

JLAIP: You have to water it, make sure the flies don't get it, don't let the dog crap on it. We might have to get the scientists in for that one.

* * *

CB: Who makes you laugh?

JLAIP: Timothy Leary.

CB: Any advice for your fans?

JLAIP: No advice for my fans, but I'm planning to get one or two advice for my fans while I'm on holiday.

CB: Where do you go on holiday?

JLAIP: A place we call "reality."

CB: What do you do there?

JLAIP: Just sort of vegetate, even if it's for five minutes. Why don't you tell me a story, Colette?

CB: Once upon a time there was a girl who loved the Beatles. John Lennon was her favorite.

JLAIP: Once upon a time, there were two balloons called Jock and Yono. They were strictly in love, bound to happen in a million years. They were together man. Unfortunate timetable, they seemed to have previous experience which kept calling them one way or another. You know how it is. But they battled on against overwhelming oddities, including some of their beast friends. Being in love, they clung together even more man. But some of the poisonous monsters' outdated boss, lordy ape claws did stick slightly, and they occasionally had to resort to the dry cleaners. Luckily, this did not kill them and they weren't banned from the Olympic Games. They lived hopefully ever after and who could blame them. The singing bag, ole!

- Word for Word is an occasional feature excerpting passages of interest from books, magazines, Web sites and other sources. The text may be edited for space but the original spelling, grammar and punctuation are unchanged.

[Last modified December 7, 2005, 09:47:02]

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