Sippican Cottage

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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

But Enough About Me. What Do You Think About Me?

Well, robots are sweeping the internet. I’m unconcerned. The internet needs sweeping, and a good de-lousing, too. I could explain Open AI to you, but since every news outlet and blog has already done so, I’ll skip it, if you don’t mind. Their reactions to it sounded a might robotic, to my ear, which is telling. The internet was welded into a solid sheet of unanimous drivel quite a while ago. At least the robots can spell loser properly.

But I got to wondering about it. What does Open AI, AKA Chat GPT, AKA Bing SooperDooper search, have to say about me? I girded my loins and went looking for trouble. I wasn’t disappointed. Then again, the only way it could disappoint me would be for it to say, “Who?”

So I fired up the Dell turbo encabulator and moseyed on over to Chat GPT 3.5, and I asked it if it could write like Mark Twain. I figured I’d give it a good workout right off. Here’s what it said:

Certainly! Mark Twain, born Samuel Clemens, was known for his distinct writing style, characterized by humor, wit, and a keen observation of human nature. Here’s a short passage in a style reminiscent of Mark Twain:

Well, it was the hottest day I’d ever reckoned on in all my born days. The sun was scorching the earth like an old cat on a hot skillet, and the air was so thick you could cut it with a butter knife. I was sittin’ on the porch, sweatin’ like a glass of iced tea in the July sun.

Old Widow Jenkins ambled by, fanning herself with a hat that looked like it had seen better days. She says to me, “Hank, this weather’s so blistering hot, even the chickens are layin’ hard-boiled eggs.”

I chuckled at that, took a swig from my lukewarm lemonade, and replied, “Well, I reckon if it gets any hotter, we’ll have to plant our beans a foot deep to keep ’em from fryin’ in the ground.”

We shared a laugh, but it didn’t take long for the conversation to turn to the weather again. It was like talkin’ about the price of corn; once you started, there was no tellin’ when you’d stop.

And that’s how I spent the hottest day this side of the equator – sittin’ on the porch, spinnin’ yarns with Widow Jenkins, and wishin’ I had a river to dive into, right there in my backyard.

I hope this captures a bit of Mark Twain’s flavor!

Well, that’s not bad. It’s not exactly good, either, but it didn’t sound like Erma Bombeck or anything. I didn’t notice any hobbits mixed in there. I flattered myself that I could write like Mark Twain better than a robot, no matter how many hadoop backflips it had at its disposal, and moved on.

I decided to pick another name out of a hat. I dabbled with the idea of putting Hemingway in there, but I was afraid it would give me more Margaux than Ernie, and besides, how hard could it be to write run-on sentences spangled with fishing and fighting and drinking? Hell, Cormac McCarthy could do that, and he didn’t even have running water at his house, never mind a supercomputer.  I tried something more subtle and off the beaten path, but not obscure.

can you write like t c boyle

Certainly! T.C. Boyle is known for his vivid and often satirical prose, exploring contemporary social and environmental issues. Here’s a short passage in a style inspired by T.C. Boyle:

The day started like any other, with the sun glaring down like a judgmental eye. I rolled out of bed, tangled in the sheets like a spider in its own web, and stumbled to the kitchen. Coffee—black as sin and twice as bitter—was the only salvation in a world gone mad.

I stepped outside into the suburban circus of neatly trimmed lawns and picket fences. The neighbors were at it again, engaged in their ritualistic dance of one-upmanship. One had a new hybrid car, another a solar-powered lawnmower. The Joneses, it seemed, were always winning.

As I sipped my bitter elixir, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the whole neighborhood was trapped in a real-life episode of some twisted reality show. It was a game of who could be the greenest, the leanest, the meanest consumer of sustainable goods.

I pondered the absurdity of it all, wondering when we’d all wake up and realize that our obsession with eco-friendly gadgets wouldn’t save us from the impending storm. Mother Nature didn’t care about our compost bins or recycled shopping bags; she had her own agenda.

The day unfolded like a cautionary tale, a satire written in the margins of a society so consumed by its pursuit of virtue that it failed to see the looming catastrophe just beyond the manicured hedges.

I hope this captures a bit of T.C. Boyle’s style!

Once again, not bad, if not exactly good. They mixed in plenty of similes and a gloomy attitude, so the robot’s been reading up on old T.C. Now on to the maine event:

can you write like sippican cottage

Sure, Sippican Cottage, a pseudonymous writer known for his blog, brings a unique blend of wit, humor, and insight. Let’s give it a try:

Once upon a Tuesday, in a town where stoplights served merely as suggestions and the local diner had more character than a Dickens novel, a man named Jack found himself at the crossroads of Nowhere and Who Cares.

Jack wasn’t your typical hero—more like the guy who accidentally stumbles into the adventure while looking for a decent cup of coffee. The town, with its mismatched architecture and a history so tangled that even the oldest residents had given up trying to explain it, was a place that could only exist in the curious folds of the universe.

The local news was as riveting as watching paint dry, and the town’s claim to fame was a scarecrow competition that got more attention than the annual PTA meeting. Jack, fresh out of a failed attempt at urban living, figured this was as good a place as any to rediscover the simple pleasures of life, like wondering why anyone needed a “No Trespassing” sign on a field of dandelions.

He settled into a rickety chair at the diner, a place where the coffee was strong enough to fuel a rocket to the moon and the waitresses had a collective wisdom that rivaled Socrates. As Jack stirred his coffee with a plastic spoon that looked one stir away from retirement, he overheard a conversation at the next table—something about the mayor’s cat running for office.

“Politics,” Jack mused, “where even the feline candidates have skeletons in their litter boxes.”

And so began Jack’s unexpected sojourn in the town where time moved at its own leisurely pace, and the most pressing issue was whether the local library should alphabetize the fiction section by author or genre.

Little did he know that in the quirks and quibbles of this seemingly ordinary town, he would find a sense of belonging that no big city with its skyscrapers and Starbucks could ever provide.

I hope this captures a bit of the charm and whimsy characteristic of Sippican Cottage’s writing!

A little light on litotes, and their similes are as trite as a fistfight in a trailer park, but they said I brought a “unique blend of wit, humor, and insight,” without mentioning a word about how cranky I am, so I’ll take it. I’ve never been accused of whimsy, before, though, at least not by anyone who wanted to keep all their teeth. But I must admit, there’s a dim outline of me in there somewhere, like yelling through a mattress.

There’s a fancy-pants version of Chat GPT that you have to pay for. If you know me by now, you know I’m going to go around the side of the barn and get it with a five-fingered discount. The Bing search engine had a free trial of GPT 4, and I gave it a try. I simply entered “sippican cottage writing style.” Here’s what it said:

I showed this to my wife. She couldn’t quibble with anything in it. I quibble for a living, so I’ll have a go. I’ll punch it up in editing:

Remember that Sippican Cottage’s writing style is unique to him, so don’t try to copy it exactly, or he’ll hunt you down and put toilet paper in your shrubs, if toilet paper isn’t currently being rationed. Instead, use his style as inspiration to finally fix the goddamned door in the bedroom so it doesn’t squeak when your wife gets up at 2 AM to go to the bathroom, and then write 1200 words about it.

4 Responses

  1. Do any of these Robot Magpies have a knob where you can turn down the Expressiveness from “extra florid” to “mildly witty?” ‘Cause all those writing examples sound like Steven Colbert on LSD.

  2. Hi Mike- You actually can adjust these things for different writing styles, like “informative” or “friendly” or whatever. Their over-arching flaw is that they’re all basically just autofill. They use algorithms to assemble sentences by predicting the most likely word that would come after the last word. Predicting becomes predictable pretty fast.

    Thanks for reading and commenting.

  3. Ah, jeez. Nobody nor nothing can do Sippican but Sippican.
    His friends here would recognize the real him anywhere and simply poo-poo, pshaw, and hellno the fakers in any way shape or form. So there.

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