Date: Thu, 30 Mar 2000
From: Seiji Tamanaha
In the moments when I am inclined to notice things—as is the case of yesterday when I noticed a particular something of which I am getting on to tell you about—I am prone to moments of introspection that ultimately lead to a wicked case of self-aggrandizement. This is to say, I think things and then think I am brilliant. I speak, read, and write ten foreign languages—fluently and without quote-unquote an American accent. (I think I know what you are thinking. No, I do not think I am brilliant because I have a linguistic gift. I am lucky, that’s all. My mind naturally finds patterns in words, sounds, and grammatical patterns. I was born that way.) I am one hundred and forty five pounds and I would need to gain fifty pounds to have my weight equal my score on the Stanford-Binet. (Again, I think I know what you are thinking. I may be quote—unquote a genius but I was born that way and it is a result of no effort on my part. Interesting note: my mother drank heavily during her pregnancy and to this day my doctors lament what I quote-unquote could have been had I not been so drunk for the first nine months of my life—assuming you consider that quote-unquote life starts when the sperm hits the egg.) I am also very, very ugly. I would describe my physical appearance but it pains me to do so. I am that ugly. It is to the point that people, total strangers, listen in a full and compassionate state of attention as I ramble on and on about how quote-unquote naturally intelligent I am. I think it’s because they quote-unquote got this feeling that because I am so ugly and will never find a girl to love me, the least they can do is quote-unquote throw me a bone and let me have my brains—to let me have that at least. It was yesterday, as I was talking to a man at the bus stop (the man never took his eyes off my face but I could tell by the movement of his eyes and a trembling of his lips that my hideous face scared the quote-unquote crap out of him) about this other quote-unquote brilliant idea I had the day before, when I noticed something. People tend to flaunt their strengths and hide their weaknesses and then wonder why everyone thinks they are conceited? Sometimes I think I am brilliant, I really do.
Date: Thu, 30 Mar 2000
Subject: The Talented Ms. Werthmann
From: “Ed Page”
Lately, between reruns of “Match Game” on the Game Show Network, I have found a surplus of time on my hands. I have been whiling away many of these idle hours by browsing through the letters archive on this site. A number of the letters have charmed me with their eloquence, wit, and correct spelling, but none more so than those composed by the dexterous fingers of one Colleen Werthmann. Tom Stanley, of Tennessee, recently wondered the following wonder on the letters page: “Who is Colleen Werthmann?” I, truth be told, have been wondering this wonder as well. Her writing dazzles. It wows. It takes away the breath. Who, I wonder, is she? This enchantress. This bewitching princess of prose. This Colleen Werthmann, who, like Lucy Thomas, that other McSweeney’s siren, mesmerizes us and tantalizes us from behind a veil of mystery.
In an effort to peek behind the veil, and get a good, unobstructed view of Ms. Werthmann, I have done a little poking around on the Web. Ladies and gentlemen, behold! I have discovered a photograph of Ms. Werthmann! Gaze upon her corporeal self, lose yourself in her eyes. (Actually, she has only one eye open in the photo, her left. So what I really mean is, lose yourself in her left eye.) She awaits you at www.ps122.org/colleen.html.
Well, I must dash. “Match Game” will be on in a few minutes. Have a super day, each and every one of you. You are my McSweeney’s pals!
Date: Fri, 31 Mar 2000
From: (Richard Alcott)
Subject: My pet, Lucky
I like dogs better than cats. I have a sweet dog. He is six years old. His name is Lucky, and my family always says that it must be hard for him to live up to his name.
He is very small and cute. We love him very much. It’s my duty to walk the dog three times a week. My dog has a keen sense of curiosity. He wants to know about everything.
He’s very smart. He barks when I say, “Let’s go for a walk!” It’s as if he is talking to me. And he wags his tail very vigorously. It’s very cute to me that he can understand human talking. Our walks together are a special time for Lucky and me.
People think he is a puppy because he is so little, but he is quite a man. Do you know the movie, “Gremlins?” He looks like the cute gremlin in the movie.
He likes to play tricks, so I get angry sometimes. Sometimes he likes to take my underpants and play with them. I have to scold him then. I have to be very strict with him, and I always say, “I’ll forgive you this once if you feel sorry about what you have done.” Lucky puts his paws on me and looks very sad. He whines pitifully. He really wants me to forgive him, and of course, I always do.
I will leave my house when I graduate from this school. I’m sure I will feel very sad because Lucky will stay with my family. I will visit him when I can, and walk with him. I hope Lucky can have a happy life, and live up to his name.
From: “Gaywon Eidman”
Subject: This is a completely pointless story. Please do not read it.
Date: Thu, 30 Mar 2000
“Nobody Writes to the Kernel”
by Gaywon Eidman
A couple of weeks ago, on the first truly sunny and warm Sunday here, I found a single kernel of corn in the pocket of the pair of recently-washed blue jeans that I was wearing. The finding of a single kernel of corn in a pair of jeans that had last been seen on the legs of me was a curious occurrence because a.) I don’t even like to eat popped corn that someone else has prepared, and b.) I definitely don’t like popped corn enough to have it in a raw state in my posession. So, the kernel was an enigma (I foresee that this may breed many comments relating to poop, and I say “fire at will”… but just so you know, I foresaw it). Before you say, “Boring. Another story about corn,” hear me out. You have to understand my state of mind on this particular day. It was nearing the end of one of those three-week drinking binges (which began with the visit of Capshaw), and it was early in the morning after one of the heavier days of drinking. Those types of mornings-after are funny. For some reason, you gain this immense sense of self-confidence, because you’re technically still drunk, yet you think with a certain clarity that only a partially-sober man would possess. For that, everything around you becomes a prop in this huge, ceaselessly unfolding drama of your life, and you will oftentimes retain these props for use in building a persona, which at the time, you perceive to be the “real you”, because of course, you have discarded this wardrobe of self-consciousness, in which you are generally draped in burdensome self-loath (Brad, sorry about the commas and the confusing sentence, but this one was for you). Anyway, it was one of those types of mornings. I was actually listening to music, loudly, with doors and windows open so that the birds and distant churchbells could provide the backup chorus and so that I could inflict my “particular morning” upon everyone else in the immediate vicinty of my house (a side effect of “those particular mornings” and this immense sense of self-confidence is that you also want to be expressive, and you feel that everyone else must cower in your expressiveness. I suppose it’s a false sense of power, and yes, there are churchbells where I live on Sundays). That’s what was going on when I found corn. I held the corn in my hand with an exagerrated look of perplexity on my face, and I was positive that there must be some meaning behind it. Imagine you’re cleaning out your belly button, and you come upon the least expected thing you could think of… say, a toy smurf (Billy, you might or might not understand the significance of this). Maybe not that bizarre, but something that you haven’t encountered in a long time, therefore, why the hell would it be in your belly button. That’s corn in my pocket. To me, in this state of mind, I thought the corn must be an ethereal sign telling me to grow something, not in the corporeal sense, but at least metaphorically. Chuck calls, tells me to bring beer down to Hermosa Beach to pick him up from the previous nights escapades with girl. Another consequence of “these particular mornings” is that you are very easily persuaded to get drunk again, because it’s really just a continuation of the night before, except that you’ve had the advantage of a nights sleep to recharge your battery. Not knowing what exactly I should do with the corn, I scotch tape it to my wall and head south for more drinking. This brings us to the point of my story, for those of you who are still reading, which I told you not to do in the first place: Being the superstitious fool that I am, I have a kernel of corn attached to my surprisingly barren wall with one unnecessarily long piece of scotch tape. Because I formerly attached meaning to this retarded kernel of corn, I can’t bring myself to take it down. But, it must certainly look funny solitarily taped to a large, white wall amongst three other large, white walls with nothing of interest on them. I’m not asking for advice, and I’m definitely not asking for criticism, I just thought I’d tell you about my corn. Maybe it divines something agricultural in my future; maybe it just means that I’ll be attacked by hoards of ignorant movie-goers with popcorn, yelling things like “He’s working out, bitch” at Annette Bening when she first discovers Kevin Spacey lifting weights and smoking doobies in their garage and asks him, “What are you doing?” I don’t know. Maybe it’s just a stupid kernel of corn taped to my wall.
[Editor’s note: I and the author are released from any responsibility of harm that may have come to the reader while reading this email. If, say, you’ve hurled your monitor into your neighbor’s swimming pool because this story made you so happy you no longer felt the need for material possessions, or maybe you feel stupider now for reading this, or maybe you realized that your true calling in life was to grow corn and you packed up your necessities and moved to Iowa and lost one of your forearms in a tragic tractor accident, neither I nor the author hold any responsibililty for your actions. The subject line is our disclaimer. If, however, you’d like to submit your own stories about corn, or other insignificant occurrences that happen throughout your mundane lives, feel free to email the author. He has nothing of any earth-shattering importance to do with his days. He’s probably drunk, anyway.]
[Author’s note: Please do not hit “Reply All”, even though I know you guys will. Just make your own new email. Come on, be original for chrissake. Stop leeching off of other people’s emails. Stop the madness! Please! And yes, I know you really think you know who the gay, one-eyed man is now, but you don’t.]
Date: Fri, 31 Mar 2000
From: Heather McCormick
Subject: I admit it!
ok. yes. I am the kind of person that would complain about the cost of a bowl of Ramen and then get one the very next day. I know! It looked really good, though. Baloney and cheese? never again!
From: “Sarah M. Balcomb”
Subject: astute social commentary from one of the future’s most influential thinkers, or a story about spring
Date: Fri, 31 Mar 2000
Organization: Artists Rights Societyt
Some people find the vast number of homeless men and women in the city disturbing, especially this time of year when the loony bins start to let out for summer vacation. Not me though, I have no problem with the homeless. I actually rather enjoy seeing them on various corners, sometimes in the middle of a block, as it reminds me of what life is all about — not that I am apt to forget such a weighty issue as the meaning of life. These destitute individuals without homes also serve to comfort tourists, to make them feel like they are really risking their necks or wallets. Visitors to our fair city expect to see these urban dwellers all dressed in rags, not the Mickey Mouse cleanliness of the new Times Square, and we don’t want to disappoint. I think the real reason so many New Yorkers are averse to the homeless isn’t aesthetic, but because they’re always begging and unwanted solicitation, like when people call your home right when you’re sitting down to a nice dinner and ask you to switch to their long distance carrier, can admittedly be annoying. But they don’t beg me for anything anymore. See I used to be like you; I’d walk down the street fighting off a hail of requests, “Can you spare this,” “Can you spare that,” “Can you help me out,” “Please help me,” “I’m hungry,” “Whaaaa,” “Gosh darn it you doodie-head mother-scratcher, why won’t you give me some freaking change,” and the like, but I haven’t heard an unkind word from a homeless person since I discovered the power of my smile. Here’s how it goes:
Homeless Person (with a pathetic look on his face and a filthy outstretched hand): “Excuse me Miss, can you spare some change so I can get something to eat?”
Me: I do not reply with words. Instead I stop, look the homeless person directly in the eye, and smile. Not just a fake smile with no feeling that barely works the muscles surrounding my mouth, but a genuine crowd-pleaser, lips in action, emphasis focused on my high, round cheek bones, eyes crinkling brightly at the corners, even a brief flash of my near perfect whitish-colored teeth, revealing an inner glow, a soulful purity, my youthful vitality evident like a sparkling gem.
H.P.: “Oh thank you Miss, thank you so much. Really. You’re beautiful, so beautiful and kind. Have a nice day now. And thank you again, you are a wonderful person.” See how easy that is. Actually, it’s not that easy, not everyone can do it. In fact, I don’t know anyone other than me who gets away with it. It takes a special smile, one that not only fills the recipient with warmth and joy, but also leaves him knowing that something extraordinary has just happened. I smile and he feels blessed, because with one look, I have shared with him an infinitesimal piece of me, a priceless, precious glimpse of my inner self, so much more valuable than a pocketful of common currency, and he knows that he has just been gazed upon by someone who is not only beautiful, but also possesses intelligence and talent, charm and grace, the likes of which he will probably never see again — until the next time I happen to pass the corner or stretch of sidewalk where he pathetically begs for change to purchase another hit of crack.
Sarah M. Balcomb
Date: Sun, 2 Apr 2000
Subject: The Linchpins of My Conceit
When I was a freshman in college, I fudged my personal experience Comp I assignment. We were supposed to write 500 words about a personal experience. I made one up instead of reporting something that had actually happened to me. I couldn’t help myself—the temptation was too great to resist. But I felt bad about dealing in bad faith with the instructor & the rest of the class, so I deliberately inserted some causal/logical errors into the story in order to ease the bad feeling that I was having. The inconsistencies were positioned at crucial points so as to prove that the entire story could not possibly be true. This way I was able to retain the thrill of fraud while being respectful to the people who, in my conceited view, ‘deserved’ to be ‘in on it’ by being attentive readers like me. But sadly, no one caught the errors—not even the instructor.
So here they are:
1. If Rod Hanson is my uncle’s cousin, then Nelson would have to be my nephew, not my half-cousin-in-law.
2. In the Dairy Queen scene, Sandy catches me looking at her mams—impossible if she’s blind.
Ah, that feels good to finally get that off of my chest.
P.S. The only mayor is the mayor of applesauce.
Date: Sun, 02 Apr 2000
From: Gillian Beebe
Subject: confessions (not to imply that I have actually done any of these things even though the word confession necessarily implies so
Do you ever find yourself wagering your entire day on whether or not you can throw the empty toilet paper tube across the bathroom into the garbage can? Oh I missed—today is going to suck. Do you ever use almost all of the milk in the office refrigerator and then, to avoid having to notify someone or god forbid replace it yourself, add just enough water to the milk carton to make it the next person’s problem?
That’s all I have at the moment…and it’s short!
From: “Johnston Miller”
Subject: Tom Stanley is wrong about Yoz Grahame
Date: Mon, 03 Apr 2000 EDT
Your letters are written by people who have nothing to write.
Someone who has nothing to write will write a letter that is self-referential, contains bracketed interjections, contains jokes about restraining orders, contains footnotes, recounts other correspondence, describes workplaces, describes coworkers, is about puppets, offers services, contains postscripts, contains poetry, recounts happenings from childhood, tells stories about drunkenness, thanks the reader for his or her attention, or signed by TG Gibbon.
Plus, I did the celebrity match-maker on emode.com and was matched with Shania Twain.
Also, British people do pronounce “z” “zed”. So do Canadians.
Date: Tue, 04 Apr 2000
Subject: long lost sister
Dear Samantha (Anna),
Oops. I talked to daddy and told him I’d found you and I thougt he’d be overjoyed and that we’d all go out to dinner at Vong and be reunited and then go shopping for all of our reunited gifts, but daddy was so furious! I told him that he told me I could find you, but he said he must have been drunk on Krystal and how dare I! Well, how dare he?! I mean, I went through all of the trouble of asking his assistant Jeremy to find you! I have a lot of very fun things I could be doing with my time, you know! Maybe daddy WAS drunk when he said that he wished he could find his long lost Samantha and shower her with gifts and pay all her debts and give her a sailboat and his San Francisco house so that she’d never have to worry again. I guess he could have been a little drunk. We were sitting in our parlor, which is more like a ballroom, only MUCH more modern, after a long night at Sondheim’s birthday party. Daddy does like to drink at parties. Plus, he told me all about how you were the baby he had in Prague with this very poor gypsy-like woman, back in his destitute days. I can’t even imagine daddy poor! He smuggled you to America and SOLD you to a liberal couple, he said. Do you know how much he sold you for? $10,000! The dress I wore last night cost $11,500! And it wasn’t very fancy! But still, daddy thought that was a lot of money back then, and it WAS more in the ‘70s, and he took the money and started his computer business. It wasn’t the same then. Computers were, like, big, useless things. But daddy had vision! That’s what he always says-Vision!
Anyway, sorry it didn’t work out. Daddy doesn’t want to see you after all. Maybe we could meet sometime. I’ll call you.
Tatiana Newton Norton
Subject: for LETTERS
Date: Wed, 29 Mar 100
Recently Agent Eggers #34257 visited Portland with a physical trainer and balloon-tying clown in tow. My fellow agent and I sat on the concrete floor, directly in the path of a blinding C-Span light. Beads of sweat formed upon our brows and the clocks on the wall were Dali tuna melts before the author emerged. But it was worth the wait. The reading was excellent and the pork rind/cheese whiz reception afterward was a nice touch. Rampant love connections and email exchanging occurred everywhere,and even the wispy fop who introduced Eggers went home with someone (that it was the clown is nobody’s business). I have one question:
We are aware of a literary journal called Gumball Poetry that publishes poetry on the web (gumballpoetry.com) and into gumball machines at cafes and bookstores in several different states. For a quarter, one can receive a capsule containing a poem and a gumball.
Is it true that the McSweeneys gang has commissioned a gumball machine decorated with black and white images of the Williamsburg bridge? If so, why the Williamsburg bridge?
Thanks again for the tasty reading.
Yours in good faith,
Agent Maud Biafra, #34267
From: “Gillian Beebe”
Subject: Re: dog petting and disconcerting sensations
Date: Wed, 5 Apr 2000
As if I have nothing better to do than write to you. This message violates the suggestion of one of your readers to keep letters short. Maybe you will see fit to print it as a feature. Maybe not.
There is a Scottish term called Electric Bray that refers to a sensation one gets driving up a certain mountain in Scotland that one is actually driving down the mountain. It has to do with the scenery, I think. Many people have had accidents because of this illusion—you can imagine wondering what the hell (sorry Brendan McSweeney, you can replace that with “what on earth”), is wrong with your ca: why is it working so hard to go down this steep hill, and why are we going so slowly and are my brakes stuck? Or the other way around, which I think would be worse, and which is probably how the accidents occur: wow this is a great car, it’s so powerful it doesn’t even need to struggle to get up this hill; why are we going so fast, etc. Fascinating!
I was wondering if that sensation occurs elsewhere in the world. Amazingly, I was wondering this today as I sat in my car behind other cars at a traffic light, waiting for the light to turn from red to green [aren’t the lights different in Europe—blue and purple or something? It’s been a looong time], and I kept getting the horrible panicky feeling that my car was moving! Then I realized that I was right next to a rapidly moving river, flowing in the opposite direction. Hence the sensation. Knowing the cause of it did not prevent me from panicking several more times during the duration of the red light. My intense panic will become more clear with the telling of a story:
I live on a windy hilly road and the police often set up a speed trap at the bottom of a steep hill that happens to be on my way to work. One morning I was driving very fast (late) and was busted by the cops at the bottom of that hill. I had to pull over behind the police vehicle while they dealt with the first violator who was parked in front of us. The officer soon discovered that my license was expired, as were my insurance and emissions. The world is so large and horrible these days that they insisted on calling a tow truck to take my car home (1 mile away!), so I had to wait, already quite late for work, for my father to drive down the hill on his very late way to work so that he could either reason with the officer (fat chance) or drive me to work. In the meantime, I called home on my cell phone, and the cops caught another transgressor who had to pull over behind me. She didn’t have room really, and she was also blocking the view my father would have had of me as he drove down the hill. She and I exchanged some silly sheepish glances via my side mirror. And I decided to move forward a little. But I couldn’t start the car (the officer took my keys when I protested the tow truck), so I thought very hard and decided to take off the emergency brake with my foot planted firmly on the brake pedal (I noticed that it had already been pressing the pedal hard—the entire time in fact [if it were a hand it would have had white knuckles]). I would roll slowly forward a foot or two to make room for the poor girl behind me (silly cops—causing a hazard while trying to make the roads safer!). I would be in total control of my car. I was so smart! So I did it. I disengaged the hand brake and rolled forward. I pressed the brake pedal as hard as I could and Nothing happened! I tore my eyes from the scene in front of me to the floor and my feet to make sure I hadn’t been pressing the clutch by mistake, but no, I was pressing the brake and Nothing was happening! So I looked up again, realized the only thing that was going to make my car stop was the police vehicle in front of me, realized it was inevitable, emitted a shriek more of inevitability than fear, sat back, and let it happen. Crunch. (hmm telling this story is making me dizzy).
The officer with all my important papers had been standing near the front of the police vehicle writing on his clipboard. But there was someone else. An officer previously unnoticed in the driver’s seat of the vehicle I had just rolled into. He was apparently hurt, and all of a sudden it was an “Accident Scene: Officer Injured”. The girl behind me and I exchanged wild-eyed looks and we both burst into laughter, mine mixed with tears and hysteria and that feeling that I get sometimes that I am in a movie. The officer outside grabbed the cb from the officer inside the car and announced to the rest of the authorities in the town of Wilton what I had just done. I called my mom. I also called my uncle, a lawyer, who lives 1 mile in the other direction. They both said they would come. They sounded angry at the police. They were going to save me from this ridiculous scene. And what a scene it became! Two ambulances, three fire trucks (really!), all sorts of unmarked cars suddenly made official by red lights in the windshield, and ten more police vehicles swarmed in on me, sirens and lights laughing at me, participating gleefully in the chaos that was beginning to worry me. I was still guffawing (really) and shaking with disbelief at the utter chaos I had caused. It was really funny! That, it turns out, was a bit of a faux pas. And what about the injured officer?! Everyone was rushing around angrily, importantly. The partner told everyone who looked at him “His weapon is secure; I’ve got his gun; don’t worry guys, his gun’s with me.” People glared at me and made me cry. EMTs got In the car behind the injured officer and others prepared a stretcher. They loaded the injured officer, who had gray hair, onto it and attached a huge red brace to his neck. He had a cut on his forehead. I began to ask loudly what was wrong with him—how injured can he be—what about me? Wouldn’t I be injured, too if it were as bad as you all are making it seem? Is he having a heart attack? Is it life or death? Someone please tell me how serious this is. One officer snarled “How would you like me to hit you from behind, missy.” Missy! Hit me from behind!!
Then the tow-truck driver arrived and stood by my car explaining that they always react this way when an officer is involved. Then my mother and uncle arrived after struggling through the traffic jams on my tiny street. But they were useless—they had to stand back because they couldn’t help laughing. Finally someone asked if I was OK. I said Yes, of course, I only rolled into him a little. Stink eye all around. The Chief of Police ended up writing me a ticket for “Unsafe Movement of a Stopped Vehicle” (as if I’d picked up my car and thrown it at them). I paid a large sum of money for all the expirations and again for speeding and again for unsafe movement. I read in the paper that I had hit Officer Barrett because I was speeding and that he would be out of work for a few weeks with neck and back injuries. I was very sorry for hurting him. I felt awful about it. But I am such a lazy, inconsiderate sloth that I didn’t even write him an apology. My father went down there, though, and I’m sure he told the police how sorry and incompetent and stupid I am..
I spent two hours one day a few weeks later in my office parking lot with an insurance guy and a tape measure trying to decide how far I had rolled—how much speed I may have picked up. I couldn’t believe he was going to write down what I said and make me sign it—I argued with him about how bad I am at judging distances and how I couldn’t be sure and how I was really not a competent witness. Did your coffee spill? No. I eventually decided I had been 20 feet behind the cop car. The official police report said 60 feet. The witness, the girl behind me who caused all of this, had been sent home as soon as emergency vehicles started arriving. They needed room to pull over and glare at me. She didn’t get her speeding ticket. whew! It makes a great story. Three months later I was tooling down that hill late again at top speed, and was asked to pull over again by a police officer. I handed him my new insurance card and driver’s license and tapped my fresh emissions sticker smugly. He came back with his business card—Officer Barrett. I immediately burst into tears and he smiled and said his back was getting better. I called my mom and we laughed and laughed. Then I had to take a four-hour driver retraining course. Gawd authority always wins!
I’ll save my remarks on petting dogs for another message. I have 20 dogs, so I have a lot to say. I hope you’re interested.
From: “Timothy McWeeney”
Subject: Timothy McWeeney’s Marching Rats
Date: Mon, 10 Apr 2000 GMT
In the brave blue era of the exclamation point, while gullible literary wannabes were whining, fawning, and trying to save a buck with bras and underwear made from newspaper — fretting over limbless malnutritioned robots plopped on their desks for the sole purpose, it now seemed, of ceaselessly spinning silvery CD-ROM pizzas in their automated mouth drawers — I was doing something new and exciting, in a muddy football stadium slated for demolition, a pink whistle gripped in my drooling mouth, rigged out in full regimental regalia, shiny performance cape, and pith helmet with plume, attended by my highly motivated pet rats. That’s right, swoon why don’t you! Those were heady days! After all, it’s not often that a man born and raised in a whore house in Switzerland, fittingly nicknamed Swiss, is given the unique opportunity to command a masterful troupe of youthful, rosy-cheeked musicians — much less the first ever marching band composed entirely of rats. Rats that will follow you to the ends of the earth! And what a rousing sight, these rodents, marching upright in perfect formation. Brings tears of hot urine to my eyes. Makes me sweat buckets of rancid butter and glisten like a media star, a massive one, collapsing after a supernova.
Just picture it! Me and my baton in the white-hot afternoon sunlight, glowing as though glazed in a kiln, leading row after row of proud marching rats of mixed French, German and Italian blood, marching in synch in their smart little uniforms, hoisting tiny brass and woodwind instruments lovingly fashioned out of abandoned car parts. A company of nothing but rats, except for a few Mexican toddlers in jaunty sombreros, arms swinging wildly with pride, strutting toward the end zone without looking back, beady eyes shining with glory. Can you imagine such honor! At times I was so swollen with pride that I felt thin-skinned enough to pop with a toothpick. Had to put on lead pants to prevent myself from shooting up into the air above the arena.
Everyday my wife would pack egg-salad sandwiches and everyone would retire to the shade beneath the bleachers. Often a certain rat or toddler, his face covered in egg, would yell, “Swiss, you clack-dish. You errant codpiece. You mammering hedge-born flap-dragon. How the hell’s it hanging?” And I would feel buoyed up, would perhaps even levitate for a moment and do a kind of jig in the air, and would muss his hair, if had any, and say, “Listen you spicy little fly-bitten turd, as long you keep bustin’ your rodent ass, we’ll have dot-com advertisers filling this hippodrome in no time!”
God only knows how I can stand such pride! While most jerks were wasting their time knuckle-walking the streets like apes, hunting in the basement of housing projects for long forgotten femurs that might still have some meat on them, sunbathing in elephant masks with emaciated dogs and a radio full of Christmas music, or scaling the daycare center dressed as tortoises to stage headbutting competitions on the roof, I was making a difference.
Screw all those office drones with their immobile robots chained to their desks, the fruits around town throwing themselves in front of buses for a quick thrill, the lazy Eskimo gangsters peddling their filthy ice-cream, me and my hardworking rats, no matter how stubborn or pigheaded they may sometimes be, were marching in the ivory sunlight, our tongues hanging loosely from our mouths — those of us lucky enough to have tongues — stepping lively over the crest of a hill behind which the setting sun, spinning on the horizon like a disco ball, was folding itself into the shape of a small boat and sailing into the night.
Your pride and joy,
General Timothy McWeeney
HONORABLY DISCHARGED BUT STILL VIGILANT MEMBER OF THE HOARY OLD GUARD MILITIA
Date: Mon, 10 Apr 2000
Subject: Musical Chairs
On Saturday Night Live last week, hosted by the horrifically delectable Christopher Walken, there was a skit that featured a musical that bore striking resemblance to Ben Greenman’s “Fragments From Elian! The Musical.”
My astonishment leads me to the following conclusions:
a) McSweeney’s is now acting as an intermediary much like Tina Brown’s Talk and Francis Ford Coppola’s Zoetrope—trying to spawn works of great talent by unknowns, and then selling said works for personal profit and accolades.
b) Ben Greenman is a writer for SNL.
c) The Elian Gonzalez stories have so invaded our every waking thoughts that it is not inconceivable that more than one person would spend his or her waking hours concocting a musical out of the tragedy.
d) The SNL staff writers read McSweeney’s and thus stole the story idea from your site. In which case I suggest you contact your lawyers.
All the best,
From: “Newhart, Bryson”
Subject: Now that the big scare is over, it is time for the stupid gremlin
Date: Mon, 10 Apr 2000
I can see the stupid gremlin out there — that mischievous little bastard. He is smoothing down his fuzzy layer of fur. Often humorously alleged to cause mechanical failures in aircraft, that pathetic little bugger really spends far too much time on the ground, even more so than the other sleepy cowards crawling around outside my kitchen. Don’t ask me what this means, but I suspect that they know what refrigerators are and that they’re collectively hoping to discover eggplant in the hedges.
Why advertise for things like seafood while wearing rubber boots and a hairnet? Why provoke honeybees by pelting stones at their hive when you’re already up to your armpits in a bottomless quagmire? These are questions only you can answer.
“Joey?” I say, hesitantly working my fat arms using cans of Dr. Pepper as weights. No answer. Tonight the gremlin is here for our first date and already he refuses to answer! I grab a blood sausage to encourage him and pick up a bouquet of dandelions with my teeth. He might like cheap flowers better. Then I fling open the door and the frisky little bastard is instantly on my leg. “Whoa,” I say as he starts gnawing on my kneecap, shaking around inside his yellow cardigan, otherwise naked. This hurts much worse than when you gnaw on your own kneecap.
“Off,” I yell, “Down boy.” I swat at his tiny green head as I struggle to remember the apology speech I prepared this afternoon in the sandbox at the park in case things with the gremlin didn’t work out. The kids there were very helpful but whatever we came up with eludes me now that the lucky little screecher is having his way with me. I throw the sausage and he cocks back his head and stares around with a hopeful pair of black eyes before scampering after it. “That’s right. Fetch!” I yell. Then I limp back into the house wishing that I’d worn kneepads. I lock the door. Hopefully he doesn’t have a key.
Please don’t give him one.
From: “Robert Beier”
Subject: From your office correspondent
Date: Mon, 10 Apr 2000 EDT
As you all know, there are baseball bats tastefully set into the walls of the office I am currently trying to get out of. This is a theme office. Using the powers of your deductive reasoning, I am sure that you have discerned that the theme is baseball. I found that the inset “Louisville Sluggers”, in fact, detach quite easily. I walked over to this man’s office that I work for. Next to his door is one of these ‘Sluggers’ so I took it out of its niche and stood in his doorway sort of lifting the bat and placing it down in my palm again. Like you see in the movies. He was working on some stuff and he finally noticed me and looked up. His face looked a little surprised. I can’t speak for the rest of his body but his face sure looked surprised. I asked him if he knew if the bats came out of the walls. He replied with surprise spilling off of his face that he did not. I then asked him how long he had been working here and he said seven years. I told him that I had discovered the secret of the bat in a mere two weeks. He smiled and told me that he had always assumed that they were fixed in the walls. As I put the ‘Slugger’ back in its niche, I told him that he should never assume anything. I asked him if he thought it was dangerous having all of these potential weapons about. He laughed and said no, becoming annoyed that I was asserting myself on his space. I walked away and did some of my work. I think it’s good to do things that aren’t suited for you. It provides a contrast and lets you know who you aren’t and thus you can feel more strongly who you are. Ladies and gentlemen, I must confess, that at this moment, I am feeling who I am quite strongly.
P.S. I would like to inform you that, after much deliberation (within the space of 25 seconds), I’ve decided to expand my horizons. In the near future, I’m going to email Stuff to whoever wants to be emailed, on a semi-regular or sporadic basis. Perhaps it will be a fun fact or mayhap it’ll be a ditty or two ditties or a nice picture that you can look at and wonder why pictures are for looking . Or nothing. Perhaps you will check your inbox and you will see that you have nothing from me and you will be sad but never fear more Stuff will be on its way. You never know what you will receive. Whatever it is, it’ll be nice and you’ll enjoy getting an email from a stranger about Stuff. If you are interested please email me at email@example.com. Please stay tuned to this channel for more office correspondence, for other Stuff send me an email and get to know the man behind the mess.
Date: Mon, 10 Apr 2000
From: Geoff Dickinson
Subject: My brother
Now that the dust has settled over the possible transformation of the site, I’d like to get back to what this publication has built itself on: petty arguments on the letters page.
It was in the Time Before the Massachusetts McSweeney’s that my brother Dallas (that really is his name) launched an unprovoked attack on me in the name of family honor.
He claimed, among other things, to know how to properly spell the word “usurious”.
Perhaps he has forgotten our years of Montessori Schooling on the plains of Texas where “right” and “wrong” were subjective and often spelled “ryte” and “rong.” Or perhaps all of those occasions where he was allowed by the faculty to stick his finger in the light socket (“he’ll learn soon enough”) have gotten to him. The kid’s lost his sense of self, his moxie if you will, what with all of these “rules”.
I like to think of my spelling and factual errors as a bit of poetic license or even a little of the “real me” coming through in my correspondence (that is, one who is not so good on the details). Sadly, my brother sees them only as potential embarrassments for the family. Perhaps he should have gone to law school after all.
Most importantly, for all of his grammatical prowess, my brother has never beaten me in whiffle ball. Ever.
Your Uncle Nowlin
P.S. -About those vibrators, I was told that they were back massagers thank you very much.
Date: Mon, 10 Apr 2000
From: Shoshana Francis
Subject: letter to an old friend
I just wrote this letter to an old British friend of mine who was visiting friends in Taiwan at the same time that I was visiting friends of his friends, who also happened to be my friends.
I spent quite a long time on this letter, only to have it immediately returned to me with an attached statement indicating that his email account was no longer active.
It seemed like a terrible waste of a letter which I thought was rather good, so I thought the people at McSweeney’s might like to read it. It doesn’t really pertain to anything on your site or in your magazine, but that doesn’t seem to stop most of the people writing in.
There’s also a mathematically nonzero chance that he reads Letters to McSweeney’s too, and will see it posted there. This is my only chance of communicating with him at the moment, as I’ve lost the email addresses of everyone in the world who knows him.
What do you way, McSweeney’s? Help a girl get in touch with an old friend?
Do you remember me? If not, I’ll try and jog your memory – I was that American girl who was visiting Taiwan over new years at the same time you were.
I recently made a list of the top 10 funny things in my entire life and guess what’s on it? Your “What’s not red? – No tomatoes” joke! So far the only person who’s liked it as much as me was my logic professor, who told it to his class the next day.
Anyway, how are you doing? I’m still in school although I should point out that I’m less in school than other people, as I’m graduating in about 33 days. In fact, I’m only taking 2 very easy classes and the only challenging work I ever have to do is my thesis, which is due exactly one week from today. So, I guess you could say I’m only in school for another week because after that I plan to either be drunk from morning till night or at the very least devote most of my time to lounging around or a series of time consuming but pointless art projects.
You might be wondering by now if I have a point. The answer is that yes, in fact, I do. I got a job with a large defense company, just as I always expected I would, but they don’t need to me to start until around September.
This means a whole summer free in which I don’t have to get a job at the mall because I will have plenty of money soon enough. To me, this spells TRAVEL.
I’m going to try and go around the world exactly one time, starting with Asia and ending up in Europe, spending a great deal of time on trains (including the Trans Siberian railroad, which goes from Beijing to Moscow in 5 days).
And this brings me to my much promised point: I will be visiting Japan in late June. I will either be spending 10 days there, or 5 days there and 5 in Korea. If it turned out that I had a friend in Sapporo who would put me up and show me around for a few days, I would very likely end up taking the 10 day option. 5 days doesn’t even give me time to get up there and back, if I want to spend the requisite time in Kyoto.
So does this sound like something that would be possible? I’m sorry I don’t have dates for you yet – I haven’t yet bought any plane tickets. If you required some before giving an answer, I could probably produce some for you.
Whatever you say, I am still interested in how you’re doing and everything. Have you been back to Taiwan? Are you still enjoying Japan still? Basically, I want to hear about all that kind of stuff.
Date: Mon, 10 Apr 2000
From: Stuart Wade
Subject: Plot summaries, Time Warner cable Austin, 4/10/00, 11:56 p.m
a man kidnaps his attractive neighbor’s dog. a stunt pilot and his younger brother love a flying-circus sky diver. stand-up comic’s alter ego recalls life and downfall. the musical du pre sisters face success and tragedy. a couple play mind and sex games at mardi gras. rio de janeiro is shown as a city of excesses. narrator ed harris examines the harsh realities of space travel. doctor’s u.s.-born wife flees him and iran with daughter. coast-to-coast fishing action. suzanne falls for mary jo’s ex-husband. holly investigates when a man insists that his father’s life is in danger. a hearing aid helps a murderer hear the thoughts of his victims. tibbs and gillespie fight for control of department. new york policeman outwits foreign thugs in l.a. high-rise.
From: “Sam Thompson”
Subject: Neal Pollack
Date: Tue, 11 Apr 2000
I just read the McSweeney’s Books page, and it made me want to hug you all. Collectively, or individually. It really doesn’t matter. this is a splendid thing you are doing.
Subject: Elian on Sat Night
Date: Tue, 11 Apr 2000
Did anyone from Saturday Night Live contact anyone from McSweeney’s to ask permission to produce the Elian Gonzalez the musical piece? If that was not a direct copy from what I read on the electronic pages of McSweeney’s I do not know what is….
Date: Tue, 11 Apr 2000
From: Sam W Stark
Subject: Egger’s Vs. McSweeney: A Stylistic Analysis
Allegations abound. Attached please find one reader’s last word on the subject.
Was the McSweeneys/McSweeney’s fiasco a hoax? By applying statistical natural language processing techniques to three writing samples- one confirmed to be by the editor of McSweeney’s (in particular, his electrical-engineering-on-boats-book-writing-contest-announcement), one confirmed to be by the patriarch of the McSweeneys (his succinct but moving autobiography from www.mcsweeneys.com), and, lastly, a letter attributed to Gerry which appeared on www.mcsweeney’s.net- I have answered this question in the indubitable affirmative. Here is a brief summary of my findings.
IDENTIFYING CRITERIA SET
I used a roughly domain-specific set of identifying criteria: this set was custom tailored to identify short reviews written by 5 different New York Times art critics over the past four years. Of 100 reviews (many of which were comparable in length to the Gerry McSweeney’s sample), my criteria set correctly identified the authors of 81. Of course, results will be marginally less accurate when the set is applied to other domains (for instance, to academic texts or novels); however, the numbers would be expected to rise sharply as the diversity of the test set is decreased from five authors to two.
The test set that I used, in order of decreasing significance:
The rates of the words “the,” “of,” “and,” all forms of the verb “to be,” and the indefinate article “a”;
The rates of hyphens, commas, and apostrophes, long words (> 5 letters) and short words (< 4 letters);
Average word length, average sentence length, the standard deviation in word length, and the standard deviation in sentence length.
TRANSCRIPT OF THE TEST SESSION
6. Break 9> test-list
(+ (PROPORTION “is” X) (PROPORTION “are” X) (PROPORTION “were” X) (PROPORTION “was” X) (PROPORTION “be” X)
HYPHENS APOSTROPHES COMMAS LONG-RATIO SHORT-RATIO AVG-WORD-LENGTH
AVG-SENTENCE-LENGTH STDDEV-SENTENCE-LENGTH STDDEV-WORD-LENGTH
6. Break 9> stats
((17/299 5/299 9/299 6/299 0.014715719 1/299 3/299 24/299 72/299 127/299
1330/299 15 11.697159 2.6048138)
(5/93 1/31 0 2/93 0.0021505377 1/93 5/93 2/93 20/93 37/93 398/93 23/2
6. Break 9> z-scores
((0.7071068 -0.70710677 0.7071068 -0.70710677 0.7071067 -0.7071067 -0.7071067
0.70710677 0.7071067 0.70710677 0.7071068 0.70710677 0.7071068 0.7071068) (-0.7071068 0.70710677 -0.7071068 0.70710677 -0.7071068 0.7071067 0.7071067
-0.70710677 -0.7071067 -0.70710677 -0.7071068 -0.70710677 -0.7071068 -0.7071068) )
6. Break 9> sample
(20/337 9/337 7/337 4/337 0.003560831 2/337 20/337 35/337 77/337 136/337 1449/337 319/28 6.3673897 2.2070842)
7. Break 10> (z-scores sample)
(1.8461581 0.20172244 0.26880783 -8.766235 -0.54837805 -0.2126352 0.88768303
1.2748411 0.030670635 -0.4068397 -0.5382191 -0.750399 -0.217557 -1.9455042)
7. Break 10> (cosine-choose “~/sample1.txt”)
(“~/eggers.txt” (0.19669244 -0.19669244))
EXEGESIS OF THE TRANSCRIPT OF THE TEST SESSION
The file “eggers.txt” is a sample of writing known to be by the editor of McSweeney’s. The file “mcsweeney.txt” is a short text known to be by Gerry McSweeney: his autobiography from mcsweeeneys.com. The file “sample1.txt,” lastly, is the letter attributed to Gerry, but which appeared on mcsweeneys.net. If it could be statistically shown that “sample1.txt” was stylistically more similar to “eggers.txt” than to “mcsweeney.txt,” that would constitute, if not proof, at least circumstantial evidence that the ill-fated partership between the magazine and the eponymous family was, indeed, a fabrication.
That is precisely what my data show. The last line in the transcript shows that the cosine difference between the z-score vectors (normalized raw score vectors) of “eggers.txt” and “sample1.txt” was postive, 0.19669244. The cosine difference between the z-score vectors of “mcsweeney.txt” and “sample1.txt” was, on the contrary, negative: -0.1969244.
Of course, these results are far from conclusive; the margin of error is on the order of 2%.
P.S. My complete results, and graphical representations of the data are available online at:
Date: Tue, 11 Apr 2000
Subject: How Does This Sound?
Yeah, look, so I’m sure you guys/girls are busy and everything and while I don’t want to take up a lot of your time I thought that I would offer a few suggestions that might further bring in not only more income but also increase general patronage. “The more the merrier!” someone is always saying.
1) On-line Dating. I don’t know if you’ve had any experience with this type of thing, but honestly the internet singles situation, as it is now, while mildly promising, is surprisingly devoid of the sexy girl/guy/other candidate that is not only hot and attractive but also willing to talk about Hegel or Miller or, at least, Zalman King movies.
Truly I feel that your website particularly appeals to a demographic that is either unaware of on-line dating or is perhaps, as is the case with myself, unsatisfied with what’s available. Just think, — you could be bringing in people, making them laugh, provoking thought, and ALSO forming potentially long lasting loving relationships.
“Count me in!” is all I’m saying. Also, if you do go ahead with this thing, which is to say that you choose to pick up the ball and run with it, you should definitely encourage pictures. Pictures of the purportedly hot and attractive borderline intellectual chick that is also kind of hep but in a not obvious way and god she’s got a great rack. This is very important.
Not that I’m shallow or overly appearance conscious. Just that… y’know… there’s some history and precedent going on here.
I’ve got more for you guys, but this is already too long and also I have to go out and get a beer. Thanks for the website. Love it, love it, love it!
From: “Sarah M. Balcomb”
Subject: Isn’t “Pictures of Wendy” the name of a band? Great. Now I have “Pictures of Matchstick Men” stuck in my head.
Date: Wed, 12 Apr 2000
Organization: Artists Rights Societyt
Note to Colm (pronounced Comb? As in the closing syllable of my beautifully balanced name) Linnane:
Ostensibly (I always wanted to begin a letter with that word, thank you for the opportunity), I am xenophobic and New York centric, but clearly, you get it. Am I really such a bitter droning whiner? I just thought I was cute.
Here’s a story (for Colm and McSweeney’s, if you care to pay attention now as well):
Six or seven years ago, give or take a few weeks, on an early spring Thursday afternoon in an idyllic college town in the great northeast, I was among a group of people, all but one of whom were close to my age, sitting around a rectangular table, listening in on an early 20th century literature class I was supposed to be participating in. We (well, they) were discussing Joyce, specifically Dubliners, and it naturally devolved into semi-informed commentary on the state of Ireland, tending more and more towards musings on the drunken anarchistic tendencies of the populace. To hear these budding scholars talk, one would have thought Ireland was an alternate universe, one where whiskey was the life-giving fluid of a bitter god and food was merely a tool for molesting little boys. My attention meandered and then flittered, my eyes glazing over as usual, but buzz words such as “old man” and “drunk” and “angry” continued to flutter to my ears, to the place where those beautiful words make magic with my imagination (there was no mention of swarming rats or star-struck monkeys at this point, but the idea of an angry drunk old man was enough to set me dreaming). One thought repeated in my head like a religious mantra: “I wanna be Irish.” I was so deeply involved in this sentence, so subsumed by it, that I honestly feared if I didn’t focus on keeping my mouth in check at every nanosecond, it would slip past my lips and emerge as a scream.
Now just to McSweeney’s (bug off Colm, you Irish bastard):
Is the above too negative? I hope not. God, I love the Irish.
Angry drunk old men really have it all, don’t they? And I hear their lobbying efforts have made some progress recently, in the US at least. The following is fifth hand information (possibly a press release from the union), but I think it’s true:
Round and round the men go, spinning the bastard children on the dry yellow lawn behind the immigrant containment center. The old drunks, junkies, convicts, bikers and other monsters flocked to the crude imitation of a sanitary housing facility, like Jews to a golem. Whether they came to this desolate plot of land by chance or choice or perhaps under the direction of a probation officer, here they found their salvation, their oracle, the saddest children not only they, but anyone had ever seen around those parts, aside from the local children who oversaw the galvanizing process down at the tire factory (they make galvanized nails there too now). The foreign children waited in this way station as patiently as you might have to wait for a cheap paper towel to clean up a wet mess. You never have to wait for Bounty to clean up a spill. It pounces all over any mess, no matter how juicy or vile, just like those leering old winos jumped at the chance to show the orphans a good time. When the boozehounds first started spending time with the desperate children, the lepers, the mutants and other physical defectives stood back in the shadows, letting the mentally handicapped kids take their turns on the human tilt-a-whirl. The clumps for brains loved spinning round and round in the hands of any stranger. They would laugh and laugh and shout, “Mmmmm, ham, yummy.” But even a child with half a brain loves ham, so the freaks, cripples and reptilian hybrids got up the nerve to come running out of the shadows to join in on the fun. With wide-open mouths full of broken or deformed teeth or fangs, these pathetic creatures had their first experiences with laughter. Unsure of their limits, they would shriek and laugh until they were so overwhelmed with joy that they vomited all over the enthusiastic volunteers. But the angry drunk old men didn’t care. They were even polite enough to wait and flick the slimy clumps of semi-digested food off their clothing, skin and hair after the little bastards had passed out from the centrifugal force. Things changed a bit after the boy with his stomach on the outside of his body bit a whole straight through Ralph’s thumb. The aging volunteers started wearing rubber gloves coated with antibacterial lotion and the death rate among the orphans rose to a new high.
There’s probably a band called “There’s Probably a Band Called.”
Sarah M. Balcomb
From: “America’s Sweetheart, Matt Fraction”
Date: Wed, 12 Apr 2000
Are you like me, in that you cannot stop saying “dude”? I used to hate it; then I began using it to anger my friends; now it is a part of my everyday speech. I even call my girlfriend “dude”.
Also, sometimes, I sing songs but replace all of the words with “dude”. Here is one
Dude dude dude
dude dudedude dude dude
dude! dude dude
You get the idea.
Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter,
Date: Wed, 12 Apr 2000
From: “Joseph R. Stevens”
Subject: Gravity, earth’s rotation and why pictures tilt?
Why do paintings on a wall tilt after passage of time? I heard it had something to do with the rotation of the earth. Or does it have something to do with gravity?
From: “leo deguzman”
Subject: Dog Food
Date: Thu, 13 Apr 2000
Here is a dire bit of information I found significant enough to pass on: It has recently come to my attention that only things my dog will not eat are cigarettes. The list of what she WILL attempt to eat contains: Lit candles, pickles, your foot, feminine hygeine products, a stereo, the desk, cat poop, any form of clothing, vomit, rocks, the car, cd’s, bananas, various forms of paper, stuffed animals (a favorite), frisbees, swimming noodles; in short: everything else. If this isn’t enough to scare me into quitting smoking, I don’t know what is.
Date: Thu, 13 Apr 2000
From: kevin guilfoile
Organization: coudal partners
Subject: It has been three weeks since my last Dogme 95 Confession
I’ve much enjoyed my double dose of McSweeney’s, nets and orgs both. The folks over at mcsweeneys.org have really tough submission standards, though. Here are just a few of my stories which they’ve rejected in the last 24 hours:
How Am I So Winsome?
Election 2000, As Seen From Chili’s
News From Oscar de la Hoya’s Father
In the Kingdome of the Unabomber
Let me know if any of these interest you. I’ll have to clean up the spelling a little.
Date: 13 Apr 00
From: Thomas Gibbon
I am always impressed by the courage and fortitude of your correspondents! What peril won’t they face, what danger won’t they defy to get the story in by deadline? None I’ll wager [please note: I do not bet, merely rhetorical device, stock phrase]!
John Hodgman travels back through time and goes to the Rocky Mountain Empire; Marc Herman braves cholera and TB in Chilean shopping malls; Neal “Danger Arranger” Pollack appears to bring the very Grim Reaper himself back to America, hog-tied inside a steamer trunk; Paul Maliszewski made a phone call to Staples for Christ’s sake! How many of us can honestly say we have that kind of courage and dedication to our Muses? None I’ll wager [once again: merely blustery prose, I do not place or take bets]!
Gustavo P. Secchi has gone farther, however. He is the Stanley of McSweeney’s (Stanley, incidentally, spent some time in both the Union and Confederate armed forces during our historically meaningful Civil War, and his first name was not Morgan). Actually reading a book. I’ll be damned. Oh, no, wait, I’m sorry, I meant “Actually reading a book about Laetitia Casta.” Yoiks!
At any rate, do you think Nicholas Musolino is a communist?
My daughter, USS Chippewa Falls, she knows a guy at med school who has a computer. This is what he found out for her:
“Padre, here’s what my friends came up with:
CCBaxter, pseudonym, name of Jack Lemmon character in “The Apartment.” Also, if memory serves, the media reporter for SPy back in the late 80’s.
Connie Baker, a little tricky. Gulf Coast poet, glass enthusiast, take your pick.
Lavage Scarliotti, well, I got nothing, Nabe, however, thinks he is involved with the whole lung cancer thing.
Stephany Aulenback, actual writer living in, get this, Singapore.
Sinistra, “A punishing Industrial Metal band whose prurient interests don’t take away from their power to terrify.” Also the name of the far-left party in Italy (because it means "left’).
This is so much more definable than wondering whether MR has gone completely bonkers. Good Luck! Love, Chipper"
Coming at you live like a thunderball,
ps. To N.B., in New York, I see your “lethe” and raise you one “fleer” and a “fog dog.” pps. To “please select humorous pseudonym” in Greenpoint, no, you see, the advantage is ours, two-fold: center of culture and cutting edge discourse; shorter commute to passing out.
From: “Sarah M. Balcomb”
Subject: Thankful to work in an office environment where the word “motherfucker” has been deemed felicitous for departmental meetings
Date: Thu, 13 Apr 2000
Organization: Artists Rights Societyt
In case you were wondering, I found that green pen I was looking for. And damn is it a good one.