Horsethieves (was Matrushka; Hryvna: more)

James A. Landau JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Sat Jul 20 17:30:36 UTC 2002

In a message dated 07/19/2002 7:45:57 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
mam at THEWORLD.COM writes:

> OK, where did you get the expression "The City With Two Names Twice" for
>  NYC? I grew up there, and the only source I know for it is James Blish's
>  "Cities in Flight" series (4 sf novels).

The only place I ever heard "two names twice" was in Blish's _Earthman Come
Home_, which is the third volume of the Cities in Flight series.  Blish was
not much given to inserting wisecracks in his writing, so I guessed that it
was an old New York riddle that Blish (who I think worked in Madison Avenue)
had heard.

There are only 2 Blish wisecracks that I can remember.  Both are obscure
puns, made even more obscure by not being in English.  One was from the
Cities in Flight series---one of the first cities to go flying away was
"Gravitogorsk", punning on the (real) city of Magnitogorsk.  The other was in
_The Night Shapes_, where a Latin teacher had an affair with a student.
"Together they studied all the conjugations of _amo_".

> Since I don't know the expression from any other source, I assumed all
> along -- evidently wrongly -- that Blish had made it up

I have no evidence either way as to whether Blish invented it, so your
original assumption may be right.  Blish's sense of humor was sufficeintly
recondite that he
could have invented it himself.

And now that you mention spindizzies, I finally get the "Come fly with me"

BTW, the mathematical derivation that Blish quotes for the spindizzies first
appeared in an article in Astounding Science Fiction (sorry I can't give you
the date it appeared).  It was not Blish's own invention, unless Blish were
playing a pointless practical joke by publishing under a pen name.

Now for an interesting piece of Blish trivia.  His "Year 2018" contains an
acid and unflattering portrait of an FBI director who is obviously modelled
on J. Edgar Hoover---then alive and at the height of his reputation.  Randall
Garrett wrote a potboiler "The Hunting Lodge" which among other tired
stereotypes had a benign and farsighted FBI director.  This says a lot about
those two writers, doesn't it?  Not quite, because Blish later wrote about
Garrett, "there is imbedded in Mr. Garrett's several million words of trash
one superb story ("The Hunting Lodge")".
(William Atheling, Jr (pseudonym for James Blish) "The Issue at Hand",
Chicago: Advent Publisher, 1964, page 31n.)

     - Jim Landau (feeling very spun-dizzy for not understanding your joke)

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