A mask, in computer science jargon, is a bit string used with the AND bitwise operation as a data filtering technique.

Say you have a byte string of length 128, representing an entry in a database or something. This string contains different fields - perhaps the first 8 bytes are a person's first name, then 8 for the person's last name, one for an initial, 9 for a Social Security number, and 38 for a comment. If you simply want to analyze the last names of the person, for sorting or reporting or whatever, you can separate this information with a mask. This specific mask would contain 1's for bytes 9 to 16 and 0's everywhere else, effectively removing all other data from the string. Of course, you wouldn't want to copy this string over the initial string, or you'd lose the rest of your information!

A borgo favortite…

“What’s the matter? You never seen anyone from the planet Vulcan before?” – Rocky Dennis

Mask was a 1985 movie that attempted to tell the story of Rocky Dennis, a boy afflicted with a disease colloquially known as “lionitis” but goes by the scientific name of craniodiaphyseal dysplasia. The disease causes calcium deposits to build up on the skull and forces the face to bend out of shape. Luckily it only occurs in about 1 in every 22 million births. Let's start with a little poem written by Rocky when describing his outlook on life.

Things I Like

Riding a Harley
The 52 Dodgers
Walks on the beach
and the sun shining down on my face

Things I Don't Like

Dust in my hair
Cleaning my room
Mean people
and the sun shining down on my face.

Directed by Peter Bogdanovich and starring Cher as Rusty, (Rocky’s biker mama with some drug issues) , Sam Elliott as Gar, the biker and Cher’s love interest (he wears a t-shirt during the movie that advertises “Free Mustache Rides”), Laura Dern, as a rich blind girl and Rocky’s love interest, and Estelle Getty as Cher’s doting mother.

I guess you could say that that Rocky was your typical American teenager except for the fact that he was horribly disfigured. He likes to collect old Brooklyn Dodgers baseball cards, does excellent at school and given his exposure to a world of “bikers”, has mapped out a trip to ride a Harley across Europe after graduating from high school. After transferring to a new school and some initial confrontations with some of the other kids, Rocky begins to gain a measure of acceptance. He finally gains their respect when he relates the tale of Helen of Troy and the Trojan Horse in terms the other students can understand. It isn’t long before he is asked to start tutoring some of them. In return, he decides to charge them a fee for funds for his planned trip to Europe.

Its at this point in the flick that Rocky begins to notice girls and what it would be like to have a girlfriend. Rusty (Cher) responds to his dilemma by going out and getting him a prostitute. Rocky is embarrassed and while he has a nice long chat with her, does not engage in any sex.

Sensing his disillusionment, the kind hearted principal of his high school (I forget who that was) suggests that Rocky take a job over the summer at a camp for blind kids. After first declining the offer, Rocky eventually accepts the idea after coming home and finding his Mom stoned out of her mind.

It’s here where he thinks he meets his soul mate in the form of Laura Dern. Everything seems like a perfect match. She is blind and can only see Rocky’s “inner beauty” and he is captivated by her grace and willingness to accept her own blindness. (There are some very touching and believable scenes as Rocky attempts to describe “colors” to the blind Dern.). Ah, true love at last!

Yeah right., As the camp closes for the summer, Dern’s parents come to pick her up. It’s here where she introduces them to Rocky and they are immediately disgusted by his appearance. He tries in vain to contact her via the phone but each time he calls, her parents claim that she is not available.

Despondent over his loss. Rocky sorta retreats. The final scene ends with him pulling the pins out of his planned places to see in on his bike tour of Europe. His mom discovers him dead in his bed the next morning as she tries to wake him for school.

A personal note on the final scene

It never fails to evoke a tear from my eye. As Rocky’s mom discovers him in his bed, one can hear the strains of the Grateful Dead’s Ripple being played in the back round. This is a tune that I used to sing to my kid in her early years when she went to bed. She still remembers most of the words. Now for some…


Cher was named Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival for her performance.

Make-up artist Michael Westmore won an Oscar for his work in depicting Eric Stoltz as Rocky.

Director Peter Bogdanovich was pissed at the producers and Universal Studioss for substituting some Bob Seger’s songs into the movie over those of the Boss. It seems that the studio couldn’t get an agreement from Springsteen to use his work and that Rocky Dennis, in real life, was a huge Springsteen fan.

Done mostly from memory with a little bit of reference to http://www.fast-rewind.com.mask.html

Mask (?), n. [F. masque, LL. masca, mascha, mascus; cf. Sp. & Pg. máscara, It. maschera; all fr. Ar. maskharat buffoon, fool, pleasantry, anything ridiculous or mirthful, fr. sakhira to ridicule, to laugh at. Cf. Masque, Masquerade.]


A cover, or partial cover, for the face, used for disguise or protection; as, a dancer's mask; a fencer's mask; a ball player's mask.


That which disguises; a pretext or subterfuge.


A festive entertainment of dancing or other diversions, where all wear masks; a masquerade; hence, a revel; a frolic; a delusive show. Bacon.

This thought might lead me through the world's vain mask.


A dramatic performance, formerly in vogue, in which the actors wore masks and represented mythical or allegorical characters.

5. (Arch.)

A grotesque head or face, used to adorn keystones and other prominent parts, to spout water in fountains, and the like; -- called also mascaron.

6. (Fort.)


In a permanent fortification, a redoubt which protects the caponiere.


A screen for a battery.

7. (Zoöl.)

The lower lip of the larva of a dragon fly, modified so as to form a prehensile organ.

Mask house, a house for masquerades. [Obs.]


© Webster 1913

Mask, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Masked (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Masking.]


To cover, as the face, by way of concealment or defense against injury; to conceal with a mask or visor.

They must all be masked and vizarded.


To disguise; to cover; to hide.

Masking the business from the common eye.

3. (Mil.)


To conceal; also, to intervene in the line of.


To cover or keep in check; as, to mask a body of troops or a fortress by a superior force, while some hostile evolution is being carried out.


© Webster 1913

Mask, v. i.


To take part as a masker in a masquerade. Cavendish.


To wear a mask; to be disguised in any way. Shak.


© Webster 1913

Mask (?), n.


A person wearing a mask; a masker.

The mask that has the arm of the Indian queen.
G. W. Cable.

2. (Sporting)

The head or face of a fox.

Death mask, a cast of the face of a dead person.


© Webster 1913

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