From: “Gillian Beebe”
Subject: ha ha ha…
Date: Wed, 31 May 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

I normally refuse to write about such things.

But Steven Tomsik (5/22): Are you the one who made me sputter and snort and gurgle and choke with stifled laughter (and sigh even momentarily lose a handle on the stranglehold necessary to prevent audible gaseous occurrences from escaping within hearing distance of several officemates) last time with a similarly appallingly gross story of bathroom-related experiences (I believe the first one was about trying to suppress emissions)? Gross.

It is very uncomfortable to try not to laugh, especially when the laughter grows and becomes largely uncontrollable and so one ends up making awful noises and beads of mucus appear from one’s nostrils some of which may even fly onto the computer screen so that fellow office workers become so alarmed that if they cared they would have to ask if one is OK because it sounds as if one is choking or crying.

And one also, when laughing or trying not to laugh (especially when trying not to laugh because the material is dirty or juvenile or both and therefore should make one feel guilty for being amused), as stated parenthetically above, tends to temporarily loosen one’s grip on whatever it is that precariously holds back those fierce bubbles that have been building up since breakfast of coffee and lunch of gingerale and salad so that if one’s officemates were to care and arrive at one’s desk worried by strange noises, they would surely be overcome by an odor and therefore lose any interest in whether one was OK or not. Oh why can’t I just guffaw? But I cannot. I suppose instead of asking you to do anything about it, I should try not to read your letters while at work. That’s it.

Gillian von N. Beebe
(I do not think there is anything wrong with Wms)

- - -

Date: Wed, 31 May 2000
From: “Carman, Sean”
Subject: When I read Alex Pascover’s letter, I cried

Dear McSweeney’s,

Alex Pascover’s confession of his frustration with the progress of his writing hit home with me. So often it seems that while everyone else is effortlessly writing fresh, soaring prose, signing book deals and selling screenplays, I’m chained to my desk job with my writing stuck in the mud. I mean deep, heavy mud, the kind that a stuck tractor would spew into the air in chunks the size of carpet samples, lofting it with the unwieldy ardor of a Medieval trebouche. The kind of mud that grabs a duck hunter’s boot with the force of an industrial vaccum, trapping and distracting him just as a swarm of fat mallards darken the skies. But Alex take heart! There’s hope! Have you considered shamelessly mining the source of your one success: the lunch truck interview? It’s what John Hodgman, literary agent, would suggest, and Alex, he’d be right. He’s a litererary agent, he would know. Look at how many stories Borges wrote about Martin Fiero. Over and over he wrote about him, and every story was just so damn good although a lot of them seem pretty much the same. I mean, the same knife fight over and over again, seen from different angles in different settings. OK, OK, we GET it. He died in a knife fight. See what I mean? What you did in the lunch truck interview was authentic. Now go back and expand its imaginative possibilities. Let us see the lunch truck driver. Give us the kind of imaginative detail that makes fiction come alive.

My heart is bursting as I write this. I know I’m right. I can feel it. Your success will be our success.

Sean Carman (with apologies to John Hodgman)

- - -

Date: Wed, 31 May 2000
Subject: daily food comics

Dear Sir,
Hello, we are a new cartoonist (husband & wife) We draw a daily comic strip about a chef named Gus. The strip is about food so it can relate to everyone.Currently we’re in 4 newspapers but can’t seem to get any feedback from the syndicates (form letters only). Could you PLEASE, totally at your leisure take a peak at our comic? We have a web site that has a 2 week archive page. We would love to be in print with you.Thank you so much for your time. RDRBaden

- - -

Date: Wed, 31 May 2000
From: Chuck Easterling
Subject: Rolling Pen

Dear McSweeney’s,

A lot of rappers are now referring to the southern most portion of the United States as “The Dirty South.”

I live there.

Chuck Easterling

- - -

Date: Wed, 31 May 2000
Subject: whitney’s break

Dear McSweeney’s,

To whitney pastorek:

Keep repeating, “spork” in time to the flop flop flop and you’ll be fine. I prefer explosively spouting, “Applegreen!” several times in a hushed and frantic manner and in no rhythm at all. This allows me to buy a short skinny half-caff mocha and not become paralyzed. Remember: Starbucks started in Seattle where we are “as slow as fog”…

Kentucky Fried Chicken no longer comes in buckets. How can that be?

Bridget Hamilton

- - -

Date: 31 May 00
From: Thomas Gibbon
Subject: Silence becomes anger, anger words.

Dear McSweeney’s,

This is to your correspondent, McWeeney, the rakish Munsterite: Mr Lambert would be upset [one hesitates in such a circumstance to say “very,” and with good reason] to see you trotting out my cultural heritage and secular humanism in the cause of your perverse Arctic Fuller Brushmanship, and he [and I] may look askance at your polar bear references, asking “But why? But why?” Best thing, I assure you, about that damned place, the Polar Bears, and all. Black and White, very cutting edge. A beautiful and apt passage nonetheless.

Purcell, Cezanne is terrible taste in art. The question is: Is good taste a moral imperative? Answer: If it isn’t nothing is.

And, re:Tesla, The modernish development of radar in Britain, the most famous development of radar, was precipitated by a search in the mid-Thirties, by the Air Ministry for an effective response to the threat long range bombers posed to England’s previous imperviousness. The first grand plan was defencive, namely large concave concrete walls pointed at Germany in which the sound of coming bombers would be magnified. Several of these installations remain. These didn’t work as all sorts of background noise would be amplified as well and nothing could quite work out the vectors involved from just a loud airplane noise. So, then the Air Ministry (which, with the Imperial Defence Council, is one of my favorite de-funct British organs, others being: India House, the Colonial Office, and Sir John Gielgud’s right kidney), decided to look into the prospect of, I kid you not, Death Rays which would boil the blood of German air crews. Simple microwaves. Well, the scientific attache sent around to investigate various labs soon discovered two problems with the plan. For one nobody was yet capable of transmitting radio waves of sufficient strength to penetrate metal fuselages and bring a pilot’s blood temperature high enough to kill him at a distance of thousands of feet. Secondly one would of course first have to find the planes and target the death ray. To this second problem he had found a solution in Tennessee where American meteorologists studying the atmosphere had noticed radio waves returning sooner when planes passed overhead. This, he suggested, in conjunction with a strong fighter force, might possibly take the place altogether of the death ray. And so it did, finest hour, etc.. Of course radio waves as a means of locating ships had been suggested by some German in 1904 and ignored by everybody. And did you steal that book of Stevens I was lent by Jim? You’ve exposed yourself as the most likely candidate.

Takeuchi, I had a conversation in what turns out to be the closest thing perhaps to the bar I’m looking for this weekend with an “auld acquaintance” on just this issue. What I call the New Sincerity v. the New Cleverness. Believe me, this is not the sort of question one should trouble onesself with. Go, make the waste-grounds grow. Is there an anti-Hegelian culmination of things, capri pants and the wallabees my lunchtime walkabout has informed me are popular again? Or will it ever be clever/sincere/clever/sincere. I say those who are sincere have no conception of what is at stake. They do not know the horrors and blisses they trip lightly over in their journals and kleenexes. Anyone who did would never speak of them as if they knew them. To be sincere is to deceive onesself, which is a big part of life anyway. That sincerity itself implies insincerity, och, well, doesn’t that give you some idea of this is all about? There are fashions and there are problems. There is blood and oil and beer. A fiery crest is upon us and a hundred handed dead god sways, bovril-less, to be sure, up-ended beneath the tree. Strange fruit. Passing strange. Przemysl. Babylon. Cartago delende est.

Don’t even get me started on:


- - -

From: “Newhart, Bryson”
Subject: tricked by a Canadian, eh?
Date: Wed, 31 May 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

Unlike my 100 percent real information about Canadian Bison meat products (1-888-422-0623), wily uber Canadian Stacey Brown’s “I am proud to be Canadian speech”, which “basically, it takes a nice little jab at Americans,” yielded:

The page cannot be displayed
There is a problem with the page you are trying to reach and it cannot be displayed.

HTTP 500 – Internal server error

No I am not drunk, although I’d like to be.

Note, Gibbon, I did however find this. It was in the Google cache: “… premium quality Siberian Husky Puppies MOLSON’S PAGE THIS WAS MY LITTLE … good times, but alas life goes on. Molson has grown now and Chris and …” Also, your b-day fell on the same day my metrocard ran out. I was using it to usher a few overgrown toddlers through the stile three days from now. Sorry, those $63 could have bought you a nice size submarine sandwich. When Kevin trundles by with the spittle for another “Dingus surprise,” perhaps you should prepare yourself with the amphibious suit, like the one you wore to Minoqua. Assuming Chippewa is one of those hollow type daughter vessels that hold their breath deep under the ocean during times of dubious national security, it’s high time that little torpedo vixen surface and learn to knit.

Relatedly, who is the justice hermit, I wonder sometimes? Zbigniew Herbert is largely untranslated — very unpolished (bad joke). Stanley, you are not responsible for hermitage are you? Sometimes I think that everything is about me, like the instructions for Connie’s espresso machine, they are about my writing process. Or the game Space Invaders, it is about my letters practice with a snide sexual reference. Not this week though. This week I have other things on my mind.

Thank you Sean Carman for not flirting with the malnourished donkeys. I really do appreciate that. Pastorek, pizza boots, sure sometime, although not those, and I do not work downtown.

Honesty trying to cut back,

Bryce Newhart

- - -

Date: Wed, 31 May 2000
Subject: Flying Solo

Dear McSweeney’s,

I implore you, please stop posting those annoying descriptions of life with roommates. We’ve all been there, done that. And while it may consume you while you are living the life of cohabitation, it’s not so interesting to anyone but those in that domicile.

Living alone and loving it,

Justine Hermitage

- - -

Date: Wed, 31 May 2000
Subject: Beaches

Dear McSweeney’s,

Pajaro Dunes is located on the beaches on Monterey Bay, in Northern California. We used to spend Thanksgiving there. It’s nice, the kind of beach that is never too hot, never too sunny, and never packed with bikini-clad beach bunnies and territorial surfers.

That’s where I’m gonna go when I die.

All the best,

Justine Hermitage

- - -

Date: Wed, 31 May 2000
Subject: the derelict babysitter

Dear McSweeney’s,

over the memorial day holiday i excused myself from chicago to go to new orleans for a wedding. i had planned to exploit my parents’ love of my puppy, whizzo, and have them keep her while i was gone. to cut to the chase, my grammy had a heart attack, and my mom had to go down to florida to be with her. that left my dad as the primary caretaker. since my apartment is very close to where he works he declared that it would be perfect if he stayed at my place for the weekend and could walk to work that friday morning. it seemed agreeable enough. i left a brief page of instructions for him to follow regarding whizzo’s feeding schedule and how important it is that she gets outside to do her business and run around. it looked a lot like this:
i left my apartment- after hiding several key objects- confident that the dog was in shaky but capable and loving hands. what i found on my return made my blood run hot and fast. my dad was not there when i arrived. it smelled funny. there were exactly eleven little piles of poop and thirteen piss patches. there were four chewed-through stereo wires and three wads of shredded kleenex. my dad walked in as i was relocating the poo-poo. “what the fuck is this? were you shitfaced all weekend? did you let her out even one time?” i gently queried “i could have left her alone with a trough of food and the door open with better results than this!” i pointed out. “i don’t have to take this,” my dad replied. “really, you don’t have to take this? i don’t have to take this, you better leave right now!.” i offered. after cleaning the rest of the dumping ground and disinfecting the carpet i called my mom to complain. “you’re father already called me and you know what, i’ve got bigger fish to fry.” she hung up on me. i needed to let that go, thanks.

kelly king

- - -

From: “Timothy McWeeney”
Subject: Large swollen tonsils
Date: Wed, 31 May 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

“Surveys show that 83 percent of laughter is completely mindless.” This is what the man driving beside me on the wet freeway yelled through his closed window. It was hard to hear him above the roar of traffic. “That’s a good one,” I thought, refraining from laughter myself. Most laughing people in their cars on the highway are either stupid losers or stupid drunks. I don’t need laughter to prove that. This guy had a point though. He was something else. To show him that I agreed, I nodded my head and swerved slightly in his direction. Then I used my horn to signal in Morse Code. I punched out an invitation for him to sneak up to my cabin for the weekend and help me out with my accounting. I know, there is no cabin, nor am I a queer, but I offered to pay him well.

I don’t think he understood. When I next looked over he was shadow boxing in the rearview mirror, evidently preparing for a bit of fisticuffs. He glanced over with a sly smile and shouted, “My daughter is a spontaneous brat. She’s about 12 but already has a sex business in the alley behind our house.” This was something to think about. But instead, for some reason, I thought about my colleague Ernie. Last week Ernie brought his cats and dogs to the office in a large plastic suitcase. He tried to charge admission in the men’s bathroom for a peek at them. Remembering this made me shake my head. “That crazy Ernie,” I thought. “Somebody should push that nut off a cliff.” He was fired of course. We all are eventually. But then I remembered what the man had just said. I tried to picture his daughter in the sex booth — was it like a lemonade stand? — and blood rushed straight to the old general, the thought of all those lemons. At the same time, because child prostitution is not something I approve of, I slammed my foot on the gas pedal and tried to run that pervert off the road. Smashing my car into his car, I cracked up in laughter. The laughter was not mindless because I was thinking, “I’m gonna make you the main ingredient in a sloppy tin road sandwich.” Lowering the window, I yelled, “Hey you, Fisty Fuck, the pain is about to get a whole lot worse.” He shrugged and yawned, showing off his large swollen tonsils. For some reason, I then said, “I’ll have those figures for you as soon as I consult with my colleague Ernie.” I unzipped my pants and pulled out my stiff little friend the general. “Here’s something swollen,” I yelled, rubbing it on the stick shift. “Say hello to Ernie.” The man was now barely in control of his vehicle but he still managed to yell something back while I ejaculated on the dashboard. “Colleague my ass,” he said. “That little co-worker couldn’t find sex in a storage closet packed with a ten-year supply of whores.”

Then something strange and unexpected happened. I was no longer in my car or even on the road. I was masturbating on a public toilet listening to Ernie display his pets to the mindless drones at the office. “What the fuck?” I muttered, “A) Ernie was supposed to be fired. They took away his magnetic card. B) Where did he get these animals? My now defunct Eskimo store was the only pet store in town. C) Why did I waste all that liquor firebombing the store?” I figured that my best move would be to pull up my pants, find my satchel of rats, and sign up for another new job: a contortionist bartender in a noodle shop or something.

Suddenly awake behind the wheel of a moving vehicle,

Timothy McWeeney

- - -

Date: Wed, 31 May 2000
Subject: Party

Dear McSweeney’s,

Some months back I inadvertantly set many wheels in motion by openly inviting you to reminisce about the 70’s era schoolyard jingles and ditties, et cetera, that you may recall. I am astounded at the scope of your knowledge, the depth of your insight, your willingness to debate the accurate transcription of lyrics to these myriad tunes and your tender, tender attention to making the letters section a fertile and scrolling text page.

Man, it sure would be neat if all of us could congregate, huff a little Scotchguard (just enough), drink a few beers holler at each other and slather each other Shedd’s Spread. Can’t we all get together and have a big fat party?

I’ve noticed also a rift among the Pastoreks and the Newharts/Balcombs. A) Fast food is heart spackle. 2) I like coin dispensers, but I’ve often come off rather silly, extending a hand to the cashier who then looks at me, rolls his/her eyes and gestures at the machine, effectively saying, “Get with the program, Stupid.” 4) The Buffalo-eating dialogue smacks of an old Shel Silverstein poem from Where The Sidewalk Ends, in which a young, but determined girl eats a whale. It takes significantly longer than 2-3 weeks, or whatever Ms. Balcomb’s Buffalo Consumption Interval (BCI) was estimated to be.

I would like to see Pastorek v. Balcomb & Newhart in a steel cage match at our party.

As for the Schoolyard Songs deluge, I take the credit or blame for tearing that one from my loins.

Those on the AOL IM virtual sewing circle may send an IM to zsumoz. I welcome all love and ridicule. Again: let’s have a party.

Circle, circle, dot, dot: now you’ve got the kootie shot,
Christopher Butler
Father of the Festschrift

- - -

From: “Timothy May”
Subject: Don’t Listen To Stacey Brown About Canada
Date: Thu, 01 Jun 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

The truth about the beer commercial Stacey Brown writes about in her letter of May 17, 2000 is that we’re all just embarassed about it, and we’re waiting for it to go away. You shouldn’t go to the web site she recommends, and you shouldn’t look at the commercial. It’s embarassing to us and even more embarassing to Americans who see it.

If you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about.

As for good places in Canada, the best place is in the Bank of Canada building on Sparks Street in Ottawa. The building was designed by Arthur Erikson and has a forest inside it. Once in the building, you can find the forest easily and play there. The security guards are accustomed to people enjoying the forest, and can’t really see you from their desk anyway. So that’s not to worry.

Timothy May

- - -

From: “Ann Logue”
Subject: Letter submission, in re Wendy’s Hamburgers
Date: Thu, 1 Jun 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,


On a busy sidewalk in a busy, glamorous, exciting urban metropolis. A Wendy’s restaurant is prominent. The sun is shining. Traffic noise is heard.


Sarah M. Balcomb, a 27-year old white woman wearing an Old Navy lingerie-strap knit top, Old Navy capri pants, Old Navy flip-flops with big flowers on them, and a pastel Kate Spade bag with copies of both Talk Magazine and McSweeney’s Quarterly #3 (before it was so trendy, you know) peaking from the top. She is blonde, but the roots are showing.

Bryce Newhart, a 27-year-old white man, wearing a pair of GAP pleated khakis, a GAP button-down shirt in a light blue check with a white t-shirt underneath, and a pair of topsiders. He is also wearing a New York Yankees cap, because he likes to back a winner.

Dave Thomas, a 68 year old white man, most friendly and kind looking, kind of overweight but in a grandfatherly way. Wearing a white dress shirt, a red tie, khaki pants, and a red apron emblazoned with the Wendy’s logo.

Whitney Pastorek, a tall 25 year old white woman wearing extra-long flared black Armani pants with an Hermes scarf worn as a belt, a tailored white dress shirt picked up at Turnbull & Asher the last time she was in London, chunky black Daniel J. Pliner microfiber shoes, last season’s but so comfortable. On her shoulder, she has denim Fendi baguette containing a pen, some index cards, some keys, and some cash. In her right hand, she is carrying a paper bag containing a Wendy’s Super Value lunch. She is blonde, but no roots are visible.

The curtain rises. We see WHITNEY and DAVE walking out of the Wendy’s restaurant.

DAVE: Whitney, you’re just what we need for our new spokesmodel. Kristy Yamagouchi is great during the Olympics, but we need someone with more street credibility to appear in our commercials the rest of the time. You’re young, you’re physically fit, and you like our food. I’m even told that you’re a big deal writer for this dot com thing that my grandkids like.

WHITNEY: Oh, I don’t know, Dave. I’m flattered and all, but I don’t think I want to be in commercials. Besides, my friends Bryce and Sarah make fun of me for eating at Wendy’s.

DAVE: Make fun of you? What kind of friends could they be?

WHITNEY: Oh, not good friends, I guess.

DAVE: They just need a tasty Frosty Dairy Dessert to cheer them up.

WHITNEY: Well, they think Wendy’s is a bad and evil place.

DAVE: Bad and evil? It represents years of effort by my family and me to bring people tasty food at fair prices. Why, even vegans know that they can count on Wendy’s for a fine salad bar and baked potato lunch. And don’t your friends know about our great charitable efforts? About the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption? The Ohio State University Cancer Research Center? These people are not your friends, Whitney. Sometimes it takes real courage to stand apart from the crowd. If I hadn’t have been willing to make the break, I’d be nothing more than a regional operations director for Kentucky Fried Chicken.

WHITNEY: Don’t you mean KFC?

DAVE: There is nothing wrong with frying, young lady, nothing wrong at all.

SARAH and BRYCE are walking along, chatting agreeably about how much they like the new Matchbox Twenty when they bump into WHITNEY and DAVE.

SARAH: Oh, sorry, pardon me. (through clenched teeth) Why, hello, Whitney.

WHITNEY: Sarah and Bryce, I’d like you to meet my friend Dave Thomas.

DAVE: Pleased to meet you. Would you like to join me and Whitney for a Frosty Dairy Dessert?

SARAH: (voice dripping with disdain) Oh, you’re the hamburger man.

BRYCE: You lay off my girlfriend, mister.

DAVE: Whoa, what’s the problem?

BRYCE: I said, lay off, mister. You fat loser you.

DAVE: Listen, I don’t appreciate your behavior, young man. Please leave my friend and me alone.

SARAH: Why, no one talks to us that way. We are the young, svelte, glamorous elite! You are just a shy fat man!

DAVE: (icily) I would appreciate it if you would go now.

BRYCE: (pushing DAVE) Lay off, mister!

DAVE: (with surprising calmness, given that he has just been insulted for no reason by people he has never met before) I’ve had it with you and your ilk. You may be kind to your bodies, but you are mean to other people, and you don’t have to be! Whitney is easily a dress size smaller than old Sarah here, and she is far nicer and has better fashion sense. And you, frat boy, why don’t you just let the world see your bald spot instead of wearing that ridiculous ball cap everywhere?

SARAH and BRUCE stagger into the street, as if DAVE’s words carry the force of Seattle Police Department firehoses. A city bus hits and kills them both.

Whitney: (standing over their dead bodies, cheeseburger in hand, laughing maniacally) Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

DAVE: Come on, Whitney, it’s not polite to gloat at others’ misfortunes, even if they aren’t very nice people. Now, do you have an agent to represent you in for this spokesmodel job? You probably should get one. I want to make sure you get a fair deal.

WHITNEY and DAVE turn and walk back into the Wendy’s restaurant. The curtain falls.

Ann C. Logue

- - -

From: “Newhart, Bryson”
Subject: Another jab from the Canadians
Date: Thu, 1 Jun 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

I had to check one more time this morning and I discovered that there is some truth behind the existence of Stacey Brown’s “I am proud to be Canadian speech.” Sorry Stacey. Not only that, her jingoistic beer site does indeed present “a nice little jab at Americans.” Here’s a sample:

I don’t live in an igloo, I live in a house, by Large One
I canoe to work in a fox hat, by Wolf
I use a coolie cup to keep my hand warm, by Jobber
Canada is a country not a beer, by Nub
I don’t blame Canada for my problems, by Woman
I know what it’s all aboot, by The Fat Guy in the Corner
I am someone, therefore I am Canadian, by Thinker
I carry more coin than paper, by Crazy Loon
Limitless pleasure is highly overrated, by Hockey Mask
I love poutine, by Curdle

These cutting remarks have left me ashamed. Time to make like Paul Rinkes and wave my hand like a propeller.


Bryce Newhart

- - -

Date: Thu, 01 Jun 2000
Subject: Sam Stark
From: pr9000

Dear McSweeney’s,

Sam Stark writes, on Wednesday, May 17:

“Re: Rinkes 5/3. ‘Suck’ perhaps Midwestern for ‘white potato salad’?”

Perhaps, Sam, perhaps, and I must admit, that’s the kind my grandma taught me to make (and it’s good, too — just ask the Carroll family of Hampden Court, Chicago), but I’ve also been partial to mustard-based salads, as perfected by the Jewel/Osco near Clark and Ashland in Chicago. Ossie will give you a pound of it for $1.29 (with Preferred Customer card) and it’ll curl your hair, unless your hair is already curled, then maybe it will curl your toes.

Thoughts, Sam?


- - -

Date: 1 Jun 2000
Subject: To Bryce Newhart & Sarah M. Balcomb in re: angry midgets

Dear McSweeney’s,

Dearest Sarah & Bryce:

For pillow replacement:
Instead of midgets you might try dwarves. They have much more of a propensity towards anger.

I’m speechless and unable to ascertain whether a midget or dwarf whore should be used for your “dead, limbless” stunt. In addition, I think I’m actually a tad nauseous. Hey, thanks.

yr pal,

- - -

Date: Thu, 1 Jun 2000
From: Barry Osborne
Subject: For the record…

Dear McSweeney’s,

These are the three times I split my chin open requiring stitches:

The first time I split my chin open I was five years old. I had a pink rubber ball that my father and my sister would not let me play with. It was late for a five-year-old and I had my pajamas on, the kind with the slippery plastic feet. After annoying them to a degree where they could no longer drown out my cries they gave me my ball. Greedily I ran from them, through the kitchen and up the hardwood steps, where I slipped and split open my chin. My mother sat in the backseat of the car with me, holding a rag to my chin, as my father drove to the hospital where I received stitches.

The second time came during my sophomore year of high school. Lunch had just ended and I started running with my friends Jenny and Cindy. Soon we were all holding hands and running towards the steps. Though I was in the middle of our spastic threesome, I somehow managed to fall behind Jenny and Cindy as we made our way up the steps. I soon found myself plowed into the banister, bashing my right thigh and splitting open my chin. This caused quite a scene. I had to go to the principal’s office and fill out an accident report where I was forced to admit this might have been avoided if I hadn’t been horsing around. I bled slightly throughout the afternoon and after school my friend Randy drove me to the local health clinic for stitches.

The third time I split my chin open is the only time that did not involve steps. I was in college, camping with some friends and I had consumed too much of one substance or another. The campsite looked like a glowing fairy village on our walk as I stumbled, staggered and then fell fully on my chin. None of my friends felt comfortable driving the station wagon we came up in, so I had to ride to the hospital in an ambulance. This was my first ambulance ride and I would have enjoyed it much more had I not been fearful of possible legal repercussions. The emergency room doctor was nice, he asked no questions, and he gave me a tetanus shot to go with my stitches. In the curtained off section next to me a woman who found herself with gangrene after a freak folding table accident pondered whether or not she would lose her foot.

Now it has been told.

Barry Osborne

- - -

From: “Mike Topp”
Subject: Party!!!
Date: Thu, 01 Jun 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

Because you’ve all been so nice, I’m inviting all McSweeney’s readers and writers to a party at my apartment. Here are the directions:

Take the A train to the Classon-Cambridge Canal stop. Get out and switch platforms to the inbound train, which you will have to pay for. Leave station. Return to Wall Street area by car service (718-764-0927).Take PATH train to Hoboken, transfer to Metro North and take 5:15 to Pasquanamac-Yytrrium Crossover. Return by rickshaw to 472 Central Park West, The Pollock, at Apartment 7RVZ. Have one vodka tonic, decline the second, excuse yourself and make your way as fast as you can to Columbus Circle. A little bag at the foot of the Columbus statue will have a small can of biodegradable, edible spray paint. When the diversion comes, paint eyeglasses on the cabbie horse known as “Tabatha.” Run to the Columbus Circle station and buy a seat for two on the A train to West 4th. Tell anyone who looks at you that you must have seats for two. Pay attention to your surroundings. Breathe deeply. Emerge from the West 4th Street station and think of oranges. Walk casually up to Ninth Street whistling the B section from the 1947 Parker tune “Night In Tunisia.” Tell anyone who looks at you that you used to be a ballerina. Enter PATH station at Ninth Street and take the seventh train leaving for Journal Square. I’m right off of Journal Square. Now get back on the train and go back to your apartment, where I will pick you up to take you on the Heritage Society Tour of Famous Old Storage Lockers In Brooklyn and thence to points west.

See you!

Mike Topp

- - -

Date: Thu, 1 Jun 2000
From: Irene Maxshim
Subject: Fat and skinny

Dear McSweeney’s,

Re. A Question For The Letters Page:

I’m afraid I have no idea why skinny people have a problem with fat people. Indeed, it is rather strange. After all, how boring the world would be if we all felt the same to touch. Softness on a person is never a bad thing.

I think it is fascinating to see the unique fat dispersal on different people’s bodies. When I’m at the gym I see stunning examples of this. There are people there with the most interesting ripples and lumps and bulges. Sometimes I want to run my hands all over them just to see what it feels like.

There is one woman at my gym who has lost over 60 pounds in the last year Ð she goes to the gym everyday, but has trouble losing weight because she lives next door to a McDonald’s and cannot resist the temptation. I don’t like McDonald’s myself, so I couldn’t really do the whole “Oh, I know!” collaboration and sympathy noises she was looking for, which I think made her a little uncomfortable. I hope I didn’t have a disgusted look on my face Ð I just don’t think I will ever forget all the gross chicken McNugget stories I have heard. Do they still sell those things?

Anyway, this woman and I began to talk because I also work out every weekday. I only do this because I became addicted to that ridiculous runners high, and have a tendency to become moody if I don’t sweat and make my legs hurt for an hour a day. Mind you, this does not mean I’m skinny. I’m not skinny by any stretch of the imagination, but I can run up the six flights of stairs to my apartment with a grace and ease that leaves my mountain climbing boyfriend awestruck and secretly delighted that I am his girlfriend. I know this because he told me one night when he began to talk in his sleep. Actually, I know a lot of things about him because he talks in his sleep. I’ve told him this, and it doesn’t bother him one bit. I think that’s why I love him, although sometimes I have difficulty sleeping next to him.

Anyway, the point is that all people feel good to touch. And rubbing your stomach up against someone else’s is probably the most delightful feeling in the world, regardless of whether that other, or your, tummy is hard or not.

I guess this wasn’t really addressing the question, but I was compelled to send it anyway.



- - -

Date: Thu, 1 Jun 2000
From: Nathan Johnson
Subject: Urgent!

Dear McSweeney’s,

I am in trouble and getting desperate. I need a job. Badly. I live in Chicago. Does anyone out there also live in Chicago? Someone with the power to hire and fire? I can do anything. My schedule is free 24/7. Does this sound good to you? Contact me:

in trouble, getting desperate, needing a job, living in chicago, looking for someone…anyone to hire me,

Nathan Johnson

- - -

Date: Thu, 1 Jun 2000
Subject: The Skateboard Chronicles, Parts I and II

Dear McSweeney’s,

Thought you’d all like to know how it’s going.

PART I: I bought a skateboard. I don’t think a lot of girls go in that store. PART II: I tried to ride the skateboard. Ha-ha! What fun! And here I go crashing into that Monte Carlo again! And oh, my ass! Wheeeee!

thanks so much

whitney pastorek

- - -

From: “Erickson, Karl”
Subject: Again, Lunch
Date: Thu, 1 Jun 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

Today I had Indian food with Ben. I like Ben alright and he knows more than his licorice throwing would imply.

I also see that Greg has committed to writing the article about you in public correspondence. Excellent.

Karl Erickson

- - -

Date: Thu, 01 Jun 2000
From: Paul Harm
Subject: A short play

Dear McSweeney’s,

MINIMAL VENGEANCE, A play in four acts.



(Shark section of a public aquarium. Sunlight passes through a huge tank casting a sickly green light on SARAH and BRYCE)

SARAH: Look at these sharks.

BRYCE: Yeah.


(Tiger section of a zoo. A bengal tiger paces in its cage.)

SARAH: Look at that tiger.

BRYCE: Yeah.


(A petting zoo. A Wendy’s™ is visible across the street. A lamb shyly walks up to Sarah.)

SARAH: Look at this cute little lamb.

BRYCE: Yeah.

(The lamb mauls Sarah and Bryce, killing both.)


(Inside a Wendy’s™. The bodies of Sarah and Bryce are visible through the window. Whitney looks on, a Single with Cheese™ in hand.)

WHITNEY: Ha ha ha!


- - -

From: “Bj”
Subject: bison play for whitney
Date: Thu, 1 Jun 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

In a recent cry for help from my blood sister WP, I have been enlisted to sling unscrupulous remarks in the form of a witty and scathing play of my own fashioning depicting a certain pair of heartlessly cruel cholesterol counters and obsessive compulsive neat freaks as the hypocritical new age goodie goodies they so plainly are. And so ensues the carnage:

Innocence grows moldy and gets thrown out: The coming of age tales of Bison Billy

Part One: “Bison Billy’s First Temptation”

Bison Billy, a young suburban bison from Stamford, Connecticut, while on a day trip to New York City to fetch his mother’s life saving prescription, has gone in search of some cheap foodstuffs to fill his aching belly. The new Wendy’s on 14th street catches his eye, and he stammers through the thin glass entry, desperately needing caloric intake, having misjudges and ignored his early hunger pains while under the magic of the city’s sites.

Bryce, a rail thin and petulant looking man, catches him by the shoulder as he reaches the line.

Bryce- My man, what do you think you’re doing to yourself? How can you consume this horrible cholesterol-ridden and generally nutritionally empty slop when surrounded by healthy cholesterol free alternatives? Can you really look at yourself in the mirror everyday knowing you are slowly but surely killing yourself by stuffing your hairy muzzle with “Biggie” double fat this and “Biggie” square fat that? Come to the light that is all natural un-food, never fatty or square, always a bundle of crumbly goodness. My sister in un-food and I have a costly but healthy alternative just a few blocks further down called Sarah and Bryce’s on Astor. I implore you for your own good to restrain yourself until you can sample for the un-goodness that is un-food.

Bison Billy- I don’t know sir. I mean I greatly appreciate your kind offer, but I’ve got little money to spend, the rest of it must go for my mother’s prescription to end her fatal case of scabies.

Bryce-Fatal Scabies, why there’s no such thing, Bah! Don’t be silly you foolish and eager to please young bull. Bryce grabs him by the arm. Oh my, how strong your arms are. Sorry… I won’t have it, such a handsome young bison as yourself digging your own grave; I won’t sit by the wayside as a backhoe to your grave-digging romp! NO! NO! NO! I simply insist you come with me. Trust your uncle Bryce. Do you think I’m the kind of man who obsesses over the fact that I can’t bed my roommate so I sit around fantasizing about disgusting ways of sullying his bed as a manifestation of my un-acted upon sexual desires? NO, I say, NO! Come, you can pay for a cab.

[Bison Billy and Bryce Exeunt]

A cab ride and a heap of sexual tension later they arrive Chez Bryce and Sarah’s on Astor.

Sarah- Holding door open to greet them. Welcome my young friend. I see Bryce here has found you probably scavenging some unsavory feeding trough like Wendy’s and has saved you from yourself by delivering you to the glory of un-food. Come in please come in.

Just as the young Billy is about to cross the thresh-hold in to the land of the un-dead, Whitney patron saint of Wendy’s appears.

Whitney- Do not let these wretched worm tongues pour poison into your ears, Bison Billy. Come back to the food you’ve always relied on. Wendy’s has never failed you in your time of need. And how will you ever afford your precious prescription if you spend all your money on un-food. What will become of your poor sick…

Suddenly Sarah kicks Saint Whitney in the face.

Sarah- Go back to Fat Land where you belong fatty. Take your fat-ness off my property. This hunk of bison goodness is mine now. (Sugary Sweet) Ignore her plea of self-loathing and embrace the goodness that is un-food, Hare Un, Hare Un, Un Un, Hare Hare; Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

Whitney- Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

Bison Billy steps through the door.

Five minutes later…

Sarah- Well Billy that will be $103.45 for the un-chicken salad on un-bagel bread, with un-mayonnaise and a side of un-lettuce.

Billy- But I only have $100, most of which is for my dying mother’s prescription.

Bryce- Billy, after all the kindness we showed you, you would short change us now in the hour of our need? Oh no Billy, say it ain’t so. Bryce feigns fainting.

Billy- No, it’s not that, but I don’t even have that much, I still need three dollars and forty five cents. And my poor mother, oh what have I done?

Sarah- Sarah produces a lengthy contract. Well, you just give us the $100 you owe us, and we’ll let you sign this piece of paper saying that you will come and “work” off the rest, eh Bryce. We know your good for your word.

Billy- Well, if you say so.

Later that day, back in Stamford…

Mother Bison- It’s okay Billy, I still love… cough, hack… gag.

Billy- mother sob, weep mother please come back… sob.

Suddenly Sarah and Bryce appear. They both wear bibs and are wielding forks and knifes.

Bryce- There’s that dead bison I could smell all the way from the car. Come Sarah, let’s chow down before she gets cold.

Billy- What are you doing? Are you going to eat my mother? You can’t do that. I won’t let you.

Sarah- (producing contract) You already have. HAHAHAHA. You signed your mother’s body over to us upon her death when you put your name to this contract. You also became our own personal slave. You killed your mother and then gave her body away, you should be ashamed of yourself Bison Billy.

Billy- But what about un-food, and the glory of a calorie free living?

Sarah- You didn’t actually buy all that shit. What do you think un-food is made out of anyways? Bison meat!

Bryce and Sarah- through their mouths stuffed with bloody bison carcass HAHAHAHAHAHAH !

Billy- What have I done? What have I done? Whitney, help me in my time of distress! WENDY’SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!

What will happen to Bison Billy? Find out in part 2 — “Bison Billy Denounces Christ”

BJ Lockhart

- - -

Date: Fri, 2 Jun 2000
Subject: I am made entirely out of celery

Dear McSweeney’s,

Forgive me, but I’ve been scouring the internet for hours, and I’d like to bounce some ideas off of you, because I’m writing my dissertation on certain episodes of television sitcoms in the 1980’s, and i need some input. I’m a very meek, unassuming person.

The episodes I have concerned myself with usually begin with a black screen with a message reading approximately thusly, “Tonight’s episode of [a 1980’s television sitcom] deals with serious/troubling/‘special’/quixotically appealing subject matter. Parental discretion is strongly advised (or they may say something really cheery and Reagan-era here instead, like ‘Watch this with your families’).”

These are, of course, drug episodes. Arnold or Dudley or Vicki the robot sister or, hell, even Alfonso Ribeira in his glory days on Silver Spoons gets hopped up on goofballs and kills their parents and everyone they love. Then at the end, Nancy Reagan shows up, dispenses hugs and what look like Pez and we can all go home happy.

But I’ve found, after heavy experimentation and traveling alone in Tunisia and the Barbary States, that despite all the mind-altering substances kids today choose to insert into their collective recta, it is these television episodes, a finite collection of overbudgeted poo-nuggets with canned laughter and Alan Thicke singing the theme song…it is these, I have found to be the most alluring, the most addictive, and sadly, the most destructive.

Neither this letter nor my dissertation are in any way promoting 1980’s television sitcom episodes dealing with drugs. If you choose to do your own research into them, I recommend several bottles of hard liquor and a Zip-Loc baggy or two of your favorite soft drug to use as “back-up” addictions in case you go to far. These go miles in the weaning process.

So, that being said, I wish to dive into the meat of the matter here, and that is the episodes themselves. A few:

Diff’rent Strokes: (note: this episode is easily confused with the one where Arnold and Dudley get molested by the man who runs the bike shop) The never seen schoolyard bully Gooch takes a break, for this half-hour, letting a pallid, unshorn chap of about 20 years of age move in on his territory. He proffers bags of what appear to be gobstoppers or jellybeans, sorted by color in a meticulous way by a rheumatic grandmother with nothing better to do. “These will make you go up,” he says holding out the green ones. “These will make you go down,” he says about the red ones. “And these,” two-colored spheres of yellow and blue, “these I call goofballs.” “Goofballs?” quips Dudley. I believe he makes a joke here, but in my ignorance I have lost it. So, anyway, Arnold’s other friend, the white kid, buys some (off-camera) and takes them (off-camera) and apparently freaks out (off-camera), because by the time the first lady shows up, he’s itching for a hairy bear hug. He’s screaming at t! he green boo-boos, “No! I’m just saying no!” And it all goes away.

Facts of Life: So Blair, in a desperate cry for help, or out of simple dissatisfaction for her little princess lifestyle, makes some new friends at school, and goes to visit them frequently off camera. When Tooty and Jo and Natalie start asking questions, Blair becomes defensive, anxious. She begins to read Goethe. She despairs, beats her breast. A conveniently random search of the school uncovers what appears to be a simple lipstick in Blair’s room. But, when the subtly perverted principal twists the lipstick all the way out, he finds a secret compartment. “For what?” he wonders. Blair plays dumb. Natalie trails her to the clandestine top-floor drug fests, and wonders in unassumingly as the girls whip out their bulbous and hospital-level sterile bong. “What’s that for?” Natalie asks. Oh, naievete! Blair quickly counters – “Uh, it’s for…um…jellybeans.” (Natalie’s one weakness, her own drug of choice) Druggie girl comes to and says, “C’mon, Blair. Let’s show her what it’s r! eally used for,” and for a reason unknown to anyone, flicks her Bic. Natalie stares questioningly for a minute, and says, “You guys burn jellybeans?” Cut to the chase, the druggies are found out…it’s probably a reborn Blair who turns them in to Mrs. Garrett…and Natalie’s closing line, “Well, I got all these jellybeans, and nobody’s gonna burn ‘em, so let’s eat ’em,” echoes hauntingly over the closing credits.

Small Wonder: Vicki buys what looks to be like a pound or two of kind bud while she’s on the playground. She takes everything literally, so when the guy asks if she wants any grass, she’s confused enough to accept. When she shows Jamie, who is really not Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins, he freaks, and tells her to hide the bag somewhere, perchance so they can go get mad baked later. Vicki, however, pulls a plant out of its pot in her mother’s quietly humble terrace garden, puts the fist-sized bag in the bottom, and replaces the plant, much more lopsided and obvious than originally. Later, Mom comes a-watering, finds the bag, wets herself, tells her husband Ted, who in all reality truly resembles a penis, who reprograms Vicki and kicks the shit out of Jamie until his little chipmunk cheeks are stained with tears. Then they bring in the cops, who give everyone another talking down, and they put a wire on Jamie so they can bust the guy from the playground. Of course, they’r! e stupid 80’s cops on a show that looks like a slightly more sophisticated version of Candyland, so they put it on the outside of Jamie’s sweater. When the pusher comes, he asks about it, and Jamie tells him it’s a hearing aid, that he’s got only partial hearing, that the pusher should speak at the device on his shoulder. Obviously in a haze of angel dust, the pusher proceeds to push. He is duly arrested. Jamie and Vicki are heroes, everyone eats ice cream, except Vicki, who is returned to her box.

I can’t imagine what kids could learn from shows like this, but from one who has watched them all, late into the night, in various stages of undress, from various vantage points and perches, at successively lower and lower volume, my spit-flecked lips silently mouthing along to every word in fear my parents might hear and cut me off…stick to shows that weren’t around long enough to have drug episodes, like Alf, DuckTales, VR5, Stargate SG-1, and anything on the Golf or Travel Channels. I am losing cohesion.

Eternally not touching you there,
Zachary Howard

- - -

From: “Robert Beier”
Subject: From your office correspondent and Bryce Newhart
Date: Fri, 02 Jun 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

This missive was written on company time.

Details. God is in the details and is as close as the vein in your neck. Therefore, have a good weekend and don’t reveal your jugular. You should be fine. If it rains, however, watch out for the mothers climbing head first down the sides of wet churches with Jesus knives held in their teeth. They are the ones to watch out for. The Jesus mother rung the bell with her tongue and the friction set it on fire and burned all of the rain away. I said, “Enough of your friction,” and hung her from the bell tower by her tongue. She ate her tongue all the way up to the bell and swallowed it whole. When she walks she rings and all of the views scatter into a window on the ground. Because she rang, she was hung from the neck of a giant cow in a thirty foot display window. They said, “You make a perfect cow bell.” She tinkles when the cow wags its big head at the tourists walking by. The cow broke through the glass, lunging at the tourists from Germany because they didn’t laugh at a funny joke. The glass slit her stomach open and the bell fell out, falling all the way to the center of the earth where it erupted. Notes were heard around the city. I was rather upset. “Mom!” I said to the cow. “You weren’t supposed to come out of the display so soon. Look at what you’ve done to the cow suit!” In the background a beautiful glass sculpture was taking shape thanks to the loving attention of the hirsute Germans, each delicate shard connected together with the congealing blood of the people expiring on the sidewalk, begging for medical attention. In response to the begging, the suit became a real cow, soaking up the blood of the people on the sidewalk for its own and eating the Germans to fill out its guts. Seeing this, a voracious man butchered the cow and made sausage out of it. Good German sausage. He glutted himself. Unfortunately for him, some of it was glass and his stomach was lacerated. “Mooo …” The voracious man was I. Me and the cow skeleton were headed for the subway to sell blood and glass sausages. Seeing this, cars cleared the street, scurrying up trees and street signs. A parade formed. Behind us, people giant-stepping in rows of 5 and 6, stuffing their mouths with sausages made from slaughtered cows, some of them walking wobbly on hastily constructed legs of linked sausages, or squeezing sausages hanging from their open flies — mostly these people were people of the clown persuasion. Except one. She was the one who posed for the tragedy mask. She was eating sausages and crying because she was long dead and the flies were trying to eat her bones. She was very seriously taping the sausage to her skeleton to give her the appearance of being alive. The cow skeleton saw her with links for ribs and taped her to its belly. The clown people stopped laughing. One stuffed the sausage stilts in his ears. We went down the N R line at 49th street, kicked a purse seller onto the tracks where he was electrocuted, and set up shop on his table. Is it okay to sometimes call “us” “them” and vice versa? They think so, we think, or rather us, as long as they can put words into our mouths, or glass sausages, linked together so that they go into the mouth and then out the rear and then link to the others who are waiting behind us, like a subway car of linked people, hands clapping open and shut to pass along the cash that is our due. These are our customers. Their purses are the purses that were left behind by that dead purse seller who forlornly watches our operation from down on the tracks, electrocuting himself for energy, ringing a small bell in hopes of receiving prompt service.

Bryce and Bob

- - -

Date: Fri, 02 Jun 2000
From: Ken Alper
Subject: Egg salad

Dear McSweeney’s,

It occurred to me last night that despite being 29 years of age and being generally a kick-ass cook (you’ve GOT to try these meatballs I’ve been making lately), I have no idea how to make egg salad, beyond this usual egg salad-obtaining procedure:

1) Call Mountain Deli
2) Order egg salad sub
3) Go pick it up (delivery takes FOREVER)
4) Enjoy.

Good folks at Mountain Deli, despite being huge Devils fans, but what can you do?

Anyway, I thought perhaps it was time to learn to make egg salad myself, so I did what any somewhat self-respecting cook would do in said circumstance and called my dad. I thought it would be nice to share what I learned, in case others find themselves similarly situated.

1) Put eggs in pot of cold water with lid.
2) Boil them.
3) When they start to boil, remove from heat and let sit 15 minutes.
4) Put pot in sink and run cold water into it until eggs are cool.
5) Peel eggs (far easier than it sounds.)
6) Put peeled eggs in bowl.
7) Mush up eggs with fork until it looks like egg salad but without mayonnaise.
8) Add lots of mayonnaise, and possibly some dry mustard and paprika.
9) Here my father recommended adding sliced green olives, but I think he’s nuts.
10) Enjoy.

Thank you.

Ken Alper

- - -

From: Elise Allen
Subject: Heart Patient, Drag Queen and a Buffalo
Date: Fri, 2 Jun 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

I am a freelance writer with a masters in Immunobiology from Yale University. I occasionally have strange psychic moments. I am currently living in Plano, Texas, affectionately known as “plain-O.” While standing in one of the seven Blockbusters in Plano, dressed in my pajamas and rockabilly glasses, I received inspiration for the following short narration. I can’t spell or punctuate – which might explain my obscure life – so please forgive. Previous works have included the unsuccessful The Helmut Story and a successful poem entitled “Priap’s Prison.”

It is a hot day in 1807. The setting is an open prairie. A tattered and ostensibly abandoned covered wagon is parked in a spot of especially sun-bleached prairie scrub. A man and a woman are peeking out of the wagon. The man is known affectionately as Bryce Newhart. He has only gone by this name for the past six months. Prior to that his name was Bryce Hoovermeyer. Truth to tell, Bryce is a little given to self-pity and guided by a poor sense of humor. Seven months ago his chest was sliced open by a heart surgeon operating out of a tenament track apartment in North Dakota. The only heart that WalDrug had in stock was a slightly used Buffalo heart. Thus, Bryce was accordingly re-equipped. This re-equiptation was followed by the name change. Thus we are dealing now (in the covered wagon) with Bryce Newhart (not Bryce Newbuffaloheart – that was too long for the forms) and his companion, Sarah Balcomb. Sarah is a drag queen – One of the first pioneering drag queens, making her way across the west to San Francisco, where s/he has heard rumors of acceptance. Fair readers, I will flash forward and reveal to you that Sarah would be sorely dissapointed as, in 1807, San Francisco is barely a safe haven for one-armed gold panners, let alone befangled, pink wigged drag queens. But for now, Sarah is filled with hope.

Exactly three months ago S and B joined a band of gypsies heading out west. The conversation:

“Excuse me, drivers of poorly decorated covered wagon. Just where are you headed?”
“If I give you this slightly damaged human heart that WalDrug would not allow me to trade in, would you allow me to go with you?” asked Bryce, pleadingly
“Yup. We can always use that for our potions and concotions and things.” gypsies answered.
“I will decorate your poorly decorated covered wagon with sequins, lace and human teeth if you will let me travel with you,” asked Sarah.
“Yup. We want to attract the attention of all the other people headed out west and you can never have too many human teeth,” replied the gypsies.
“Alright then. So what do we call you?” asked Bryce.
“Wendy,” answered the lead gypsy, “We are all named Wendy. It keeps things simple.”

So, how, you ask are Sarah and Bryce stranded with an undecorated covered wagon and no gypsies? I am really not quite sure. The gypsies tried to cajol both S and B to pay 99 cents for each meal that they consumed. In 1809 this is something like charging $1500. This led to some sort of mix up, a few dead gypsies and a slightly infected chest wound.

But for now, Sarah and Bryce are watching a large Buffalo approaching the wagon from some distance. Bryce is filled with trepidation that perhaps this is a vengance visit. Sarah is hoping for some grub.

Sadly both are trampled by the Buffalo, bursting the last of the few staples holding Bryce’s chest together and severing Sarah’s wigless head in one swift motion. Both are most definititely deceased.

We close with an odd apparition – a rollerblade clad-guitar playing-producer from queens – dancing on the smashed covered wagon. In her paw is gripped the not yet invented cheese burger. If there was sound in 1809 we would hear our apparation laughing maniacally. But we do not.

Thank you and good night,
Elise Allen

- - -

Date: Fri, 2 Jun 2000
From: Juan Martinez

Dear McSweeney’s,

I’ve just come from a golf cart safety training class. They showed us a video entitled “It’s Cool To Drive Smart”. They tried very hard. There was this guy and this girl. The guy said to the girl, “This feels like an instructional video,” and the girl looked at the camera and winked. It was metatextual and self-referential, but not “Tristam Shandy” metatextual or Spike Jonze self-referential — it felt sad, because you know these people were trying really hard to be funny, and you had to feel for them.

We were told to check the horns on our golf carts. Our golf cart doesn’t have one. Our golf cart is woefully inadequate and unsafe. It is having self-esteem issues.



- - -

Date: Sat, 03 Jun 2000
From: Bryghte Angel Productions
Subject: Um, have you seen this?

Dear McSweeney’s,

Having an un-wished-for wealth of intellectual property knowledge, I think you may want to check this out…

- - -

From: “Thomas J. Collins”
Subject: Please love me.
Date: Fri, 2 Jun 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

Why will you not love me? Am I not worthy of your love? Have I not proved myself worthy, time and time again, of your full and unqualified love? Curse your eyes, why won’t you love me? I love you ever so much. Will you not love me in return? I deserve your love. I demand your love. You will love me. You will love me now. LOVE ME, GOD DAMN YOUR FALSE PUTRID HEART!!

I didn’t mean that. Please love me.

Love, Thomas Collins

- - -

From: “Keith Crouse”
Subject: The Orange And The Black
Date: Fri, 2 Jun 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

Laundry in an apartment complex can be difficult; there is give and take. Sometimes you have to put someone else’s dry stuff in their basket so you can use the dryer. College rules.

So, I expected that done politely for me, and it was. I hope you’re not disappointed, this is a good story.

It was what I had drying. My sheets are orange and gray. My Baltimore Orioles towel is orange and black. Did the person who took my laundry out think, Jesus, what a fuckin’ Orioles freak?


- - -

From: “Sarah M. Balcomb”
Subject: Bobo the Dispatcher
Date: Mon, 5 Jun 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

Canada. What’s the point?

Sarah M. Balcomb

- - -

From: “Gregory Purcell”
Subject: To Ed Silver and the Stout Party
Date: Mon, 05 Jun 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

To Edward Silver, Subject: My Kind Of Town (if that is your real subject)…

I will be the last man to wink in Chicago. Also, I was not in Chicago on the 26th of May.

To the person who wants to know why it is that fat people get all the hard knocks:

I don’t know, I really don’t. I’ve suffered from this myself. I suspect it has something to do with an illustration I saw in an antique shop once. It was done by Charles Gibson (I think I have his first name right) of Gibson Girl fame. It showed a portly man guffawing heartily, vest buckling and watch fob bouncing off his chest. There were several well dressed Victorians hovering about him, hands lighhtly outstretched, looking very nervous. Above the picture a caption read: Things We Could Do Without. Below: The Stout Party Who Likens Your Brand New Dinner Chair To A Hobby-Horse.

On the other side, there was an illustration of an effete young man, drawn with a nose that more closely resembled an obscene pencil, surrounded by delicate young ladies, fanning themselves with intent to Blush. The Young man is “holding forth,” as they say, with a book in his hand. In the foreground one sees an older man, with a militaristically short haircut, trying to read the paper, his eyes rolling back like drainwater in his head. Above the picture the caption read, just as before: Things We Could Do Without. And Below: The Free Verse Poet Who Arrives Unannounced To Parties.

This Is Me,

- - -

From: "William " Bill " Spratch Davair"
Date: Mon, 05 Jun 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

So I got a fat envelope in the mail. that said A FREE GIFT FROM Men’s Health Magazine. Which is nice because I didn’t even subscribe. Here’s what was inside:

One pamphlet, roughly measuring 14cm x 21.5cm entitled “101 Men’s Health Secrets” By the Editors of Men’s Health. It featured the typical handsome, chiselled-face type man, except in this case the guy’s hair is receding at an alarming rate. It doesn’t make me feel very confident about the secrets that await me inside, when he’s grinning at me like that, his face bony to the point of being skeletal, with spidery clumps of hair in his clawed hands.

Here’s a sample of the important information I found inside. This a direct quote including catchy subhead.

“DON’T BE A DRIP. Tired of walking out of the men’s room with the front of your pants looking as wet as if you were toting frogs in your briefs? Do this: Whiz, then reach under your scrotum and press up from the rear and slightly forward. Drip, drip go those last few sneaky drops, and you’re out of there with your trousers as dry as Hillary Clinton’s sense of humour.”


The free gift also included two more pamphlets (same size as the first) Called SPECIAL REPORT: Sex Secrets Women Wish Men Knew and SPECIAL REPORT: Get rid of that gut

I’m still reading these two. If anyone wants to borrow them when I’m done let me know.

Bill you later,

Bill Spratch

- - -

From: "William " Bill " Spratch Davair"
Date: Mon, 05 Jun 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

And another thing. Will everyone please stop wearing those yellow tinted glasses? Otherwise I’ll have to write things like “the spikey-haired multi-media artist pushed his hands deep into the pockets of his cargo pants and stared urinely through his glasses at the rental notice on the bulletin board outside the cafe on Bedford Avenue.” And I don’t really want to write anything like that. Too many messy prepositions.

Bill you later,

Bill Spratch

- - -

Date: Tue, 6 Jun 2000
From: Parker Landau
Subject: Thanks in order

Dear McSweeney’s,

I heard someone in my office say that is going downhill and I wanted to slap her. True, the site is a bit of a Frankenstein (the wit of the Young Tongues, the spare aesthetic of, the politics of a Mid-West deaf-mute), but the parts gel well and the monster walks with considerable agility. It always has. It’s still the best read any morning at a cyber cafe, and all day in the cubicles of an entire hemisphere, if my loose and scattered network of friends is any sample.

Where else can I read a espresso machine manual written with just the right ironic tincture?

I wonder about the men who write to you, and whether they are happy.

Their letters make me happy for a little while, and you let them.

Thanks are in order,
Parker Landau