From: “Gillian Beebe”
Subject: Am I too Brash?
Date: Fri, 10 Mar 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

I am beginning to wonder if there is a better way to get what I want. This is what I just did, how I did it, what I want to happen, what I think I did wrong, a plea for advice, and what has happened so far ( I know you like a list format):

1. What I Did That Provoked Me To Do What I Just Did: I recently returned from celebrating Mardi Gras in Louisiana. My sister lives in Baton Rouge (she is studying to be a veterinarian for large animals and she is extremely busy so please don’t ask her if you can stay at her house for Mardi Gras next year). We did all sorts of wonderful things. We went on a Bayou/Swamp tour offered by these men who are good old conservationists and have bought the land to protect it from clear-cutters but they can’t protect it from Nutrias. We also went to Mamou Monday night to see Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys in their hometown. What a town! The two biggest buildings on the main drag look like they were brought in as a movie set (and they just might have been…) The gloriously creepy Hotel Cazan with its peeling paint and promises of wild disgusting nights takes up one side of the street, and a convenient store called Videos & Other Things takes up the other side. SRMP played at an intersection with a stoplight that created a gorgeous slo-mo disco ball effect. Anyway, I struggled my way up to the front row (I am taller than any other women in Louisiana it seems), stepped on tons of feet trying to dance, burst several ear drums singing along to the French-lyricked songs with very wrong lyrics that I made up on the spot, etc. The band was sooo wonderful and I was very happy and praised them excessively afterward. Roddie Romero romantically draped his great big gold Mardi Gras beads around my neck in exchange for my embarrassing exuberant admiration of his geetar playing (Louisianians, especially Mamouans are such nice people). So that’s number one, I guess.

2 and 3. What I Just Did and How I Did It: I came back to Connecticut anticipating a great depression. But luckily the weather was warm and the air smelled of spring, so I was inspired instead. I discovered that SRMP are playing in Charlestown, RI, Sept 1& 2 at the Rhythm & Roots Festival, so I wrote to Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboy’s manager and invited the band to play on Block Island and stay at my house there after their Charlestown gig. In my letter, I said they could play at one of the bars or on the beach in front of my house or even not play at all—I just wanted them to accept my hospitable invitation to stay at my house to repay them for their hospitality in their hometown. At the end of the letter I wrote: “Please don’t think I am just another crazed psychotic fan. Please oh please take my offer seriously and reply to me!”

3. What I Want To Happen: Duh! Please see nos 2 & 3. Well, I can elaborate I guess. I want them to stay at my house on Block Island. I want them to play for me and teach me how to dance. I want to take them on my infamous “Let’s See How Quickly I Can Get Us Desperately Lost On This 7-Mile Island Driving Tour.” I want to play with them on the beach. I want to be their favorite person in the world. I may even want to marry one of them. But really I just want to see them in a new context. Naked. Just Kidding.

4. What I Think I Did Wrong: I think I was over excited last night during the thunder storm when I wrote the letter mentioned in nos. 2 & 3. I think I may have sounded like a psychotic crazed fan (can you relate?). I think I may have ruined my chances of actually getting SRMP to play on Block Island, ever.

5. A Plea For Advice: How does one as impatient and excitable as I, who am truly usually more mellow than anyone and more cynical and shy, too, how does one such as I go about getting what I want in a more subtle and perhaps Effective way?

6. What Has Happened So Far: Nothing.

Thank you for any help,

Gillian von N. Beebe

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From: “katrina lederer”
Subject: The source of reader Kerry Lannert’s summer camp song
Date: Fri, 10 Mar 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

I read Kerry Lannert’s letter of March 3, about the song she learned in summer camp, and I can’t shake the feeling that said song is derived from a song that was popular in World War One. I don’t know the name of the song or who wrote it, but here it is:

Good morning, Mr. Zip-zip-zip
With your hair cut just as short as mine.
Good morning, Mr. Zip-zip-zip
You’re surely looking fine.

Ashes to ashes and dust to dust,
If the camels don’t get you, the fatimas must.

Good morning, Mr. Zip-zip-zip
With your hair cut just as short as
Hair cut just as short as
Hair cut just as short as mine.

Does this ring any bells with anyone?

Conclusions we can draw from this knowledge:

1. Summer camps rarely write their own songs
2. I don’t know what a fatima is, but I would like to
3. Email drastically reduces worker productivity on an hourly basis

Your friend,
Katie Lederer

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From: “Tracey, John”
Date: Fri, 10 Mar 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

Examples of jokes that just do not work in e-mail:

1. “I was going to enclose a $5 bill in this birthday card, but I had already licked the envelope.”
2. “Made you look!”
3. “I saw a rat thiiiiiis big.”

New Jersey

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Date: Fri, 10 Mar 2000
From: Tom Stanley
Subject: Yoz Grahame is very clever. She is also lying.

Dear McSweeney’s,

A few words about the British pronunciation of the letter ‘z.’ It is pronounced ‘zee.’ I am not British, I am bored, I checked a website with Real Audio. Yoz is a funny trickster. I do not recall this ‘Bill and Ted’ joke to which she refers — does anyone? Probably no. This bit of irrelevant marginalia is in fact the masters touch, the toxic cherry (really, don’t eat those) atop the elaborate Yoz cozenage. And to what end? Well, only Yoz can riddle you that. She is slick like a smooth scaled swift snake and angry like a horned lizard. Do not look her in the eye, as her eyes are probably hypnotic, or equipped with death lasers.

Best Regards,
Tom Stanley

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From: Tom Collins
Subject: Know what? Chicken butt.
Date: Thu, 9 Mar 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

Today at work Jennifer* said to me, “Please don’t ask me any questions.”

Contrarily, I asked, “Why is the sky blue?”

She replied, “Why is your cat Boo?”

Sincerely, Thomas Collins

*You’d like her if you knew her. Subsequent to her misunderstanding, she emailed me the following information: “Why is the sky blue? Sunlight is composed of all the colors of the rainbow. When sunlight enters the atmosphere, light is scattered in all directions. The color that we see is determined by the relationship between the wavelength of visible light and the size of the molecules with which the light comes into contact.”

- - -

Date: Thu, 9 Mar 2000
From: ChooChooClown <>
Subject: A Massage from Choo Choo Clown

Dear Freind of the Arts,

Why don’t you come visit us at… TODAY?!?!

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The site is constantly being outdated in order to keep up with worlds changing trends. And technological adavcnces.

Seriously! Why not come check out CHOOCHOCLOWN.COM? You might really like it here!!! Also tell your freinds!!! What do you have to lose???

New York NEwsday calls, “A poewerful force for good in the world not to mention slightly sinister clown full of laughter with a heart of gold.”

You have run out of Excuses so visit
CHOOCHOOCLON.COM… right now!!!!!!


- - -

Date: Thu, 9 Mar 2000
From: Chuck Easterling
Subject: HuntBoston

Dear McSweeney’s,

The Dominican fruit and vegetable vendor at 41st and Madison Avenue said to me today: “You Erroll Flynn?”

Thought you would want to know.

Chuck Easterling

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From: “Krauser, Lawrence”
Subject: balancing balls
Date: Thu, 9 Mar 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

Last night I found myself in front of a television set watching a man attempt to balance ten bowling balls in a pillar, while standing on a ladder in his garage. The man’s wife, in a separately filmed interview, tells us she always knows how well he’s doing—he does this all the time—by the length of silence between crashes. A clearly agile camera crew (the shots are steady, the light is good) is in the garage with him; they also join him in an intercut sequence at his regular bowling alley, where he informally balances just a couple of balls (the place is hectic, with frequent rumbles, etc.) for the amusement of teammates.

The man is a master. Each ball has its own center of gravity, as personal as a fingerprint. Not all spots on the floor are equal. When we see him in the garage—we see this several times—we see him place the final bowling ball on top of the nine-ball tower in place. But ten seems to be the point where probability spins out of control, or where bowling balls grow superstitious and vengeful. He’s been trying to stack ten for weeks. No go. The structure wobbles and falls in a thunderous clatter. But it is astonishing how far he’s gotten: a virtual obelisk of nine pure-perched bowling balls—

Or rather: it would be astonishing, even two bowling balls, one perched on the other without glue or other prop, would be astonishing—if we the viewing audience could actually see the crucial moment in which they are placed in this relation. Several times we are shown the man setting the second ball into place—but then the shot cuts away before he removes his hands. Or the shot begins just as he removes his hands from the balls already positioned. But we never get the crux! To see the instant of balance attained, the two swells of the bowling balls as they meet at just the right point; to see the two human hands position the top ball and release it—THAT would truly be exhilarating to see!

In adjacent segments on this program (a playfully sensationalist journalistic melange of renowned and reputable moniker), I saw a woman hyperventilate excess carbon dioxide from her lungs and then free-dive two hundred feet in the sea. I saw another woman tightrope in a tu-tu three hundred feet above Madison Avenue. And I believed what I saw. I believed that a committed hobbyist could build an eight-mile model train track in the Middle West that attracts tourists from around the world.

Last night I believed the bowling-ball man, too. But because it simply would have been so SATISFYING, so DELICIOUS to have seen an uncut shot covering Before Miracle, Miracle, Deneaument—five seconds would have sufficed, even two if in extreme close-up—I could NOT believe the broadcast organism that had assembled the segment. Had I seen the shot I describe, not only would I have believed, I would have enjoyed the spectacle infinitely more. Last night I only wondered: “Why, why can’t I see what I really want to see, and what I must be shown? Whose fuckup is this, and was it made on location or in post? Was there an oversight in the editing room born of gung-ho to gallop the segment along, chop chop chop? Did a higher-up think the moment too banal for savvy prime-time? Did Mr. Bowling Ball insist the cameras be turned off—and was his motive practical or theatrical? Perhaps there is something about the miraculous that interferes with the vital functions of video? Or a local atmospherical charge generated by video that inhibits the relations of bowling balls?”

All moot queries. Last night I planned to write the show’s producers asking for an explanation. While I had questions, yet I believed. But then I went to bed. Ah what a little moonlight can do, slept through. This morning I bolted awake from my dreams with the surest knowledge I have ever possessed: Bowling balls cannot be balanced. Not ten, not nine, not two. I will write no letter. The truth needs no postage stamp.

Once lost, now found, once blind, now seeing, ever yours,

Lawrence Krauser

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Date: Thu, 9 Mar 2000
Subject: Letter Number Four to McSweeney’s…

Dear McSweeney’s,

…In Which I List Things Discovered About The Kids In My Class Today, 3/8/00, In the Order In Which They Were Said:

Student 1*: Dad still smokes pot.
Student 2: Parents took a half-day off work to get married. She thinks it was the morning half.
Student 3: Sixth grade Halloween costume was “Miss Socially Neglected 1990,” consisting of a purple afro, tutu and carrying dead flowers.
Student 4: Used to carry a briefcase in 2nd grade, containing the Wall Street Journal.
Student 5: Has the most active sex life out of all 10 students; received a standing ovation.
Student 6: Grandmother was the first woman in Hawaii to be asked to run a federally funded organization. He says this is especially significant because she was Chinese.
Student 7: Mother has a girlfriend, who is an excellent cook.
Student 8: Went to rocket science class every summer until discovering theater. Could tell us nothing about rockets when asked.
Student 9: Prior to last Thursday, hadn’t seen her dad in 3 years.
Student 10: Was beaten up by the Ku Klux Klan.

*some names have been changed.

Thank you so much,

whitney “Mr. Kotter” pastorek

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Date: Thu, 09 Mar 2000
From: Kiersten Conner-Sax
Subject: Fake reviews

Dear McSweeney’s,

Like the McSweeney’s Representative, I have also written a book. Unlike the McSweeney’s Representative, it is not a heartbreaking work of staggering genius; it’s a computer book, called “The Whole Internet: The Next Generation.” I don’t know whether anyone has any fake reviewing energy left, but the book has fallen to number 22,148 on the Amazon list, and any fake reviews would be appreciated.


Kiersten Conner-Sax

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Date: Wed, 8 Mar 2000
Subject: implied expletive

Dear McSweeney’s,

I contend that the most common phrase uttered in film and television is the succinct “What the…?!?” It’s a catchall phrase that indicates surprise, astonishment, and puzzlement. The word “hell” is implied, but not said, making it appropriate for G rated films. Buzz Lightyear, Luke Skywalker, and Homer Simpson have all vocalized this mild refrain. Currently, I am compiling a “What The” database, mainly out of curiosity, partially because there may be a thesis inherent in this phenomena. Also, I think some type of drinking game could be developed. My husband says I’m crazy. His crazy meter is set pretty low. I told him lots of people think about this sort of thing; people are actually interested in trivial bits of info such as this.

What I really want to know is this: Have you noticed how often “what the…” is said in film and television? Or am I the only one? Who might publish such information? Is there a market for this sort of thing? What is so crazy about a database?

Trina Martin
Magnolia, TX

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From: “Newhart, Bryson”
Subject: heavy metaphysical petting
Date: Wed, 8 Mar 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

I was just in the office bathroom washing my face after an erotic e-mail exchange with my girlfriend (being rather careful about splashing I think) when the marketing manager for philosophy waddled in and said in a loud jokey voice, but one that I was sure was directed at my ablutions, “Whenever I come in here the counters are always soaked to the edge! To the very edge!”

This is true. They always are. But was he suggesting that it was because of people like me? I smiled at the thought of taking complete responsibility for the mess. After all, how could I really care?

“Yes, some of us like to keep clean,” I said, staring at the man’s forehead. Working for a large conservative corporation, I was surprised to see that this high ranking employee had a sizeable smudge of dirt between his eyes.

“Hey, come on,” he said. “It’s ash Wednesday.”

“Good one,” I said, drip-drying over the counter. “I guess that’s like dress-down Fridays, huh? Pretty soon they’ll try to enforce drunken Mondays, scream-your-teeth-out Tuesdays, and colostomy-bag Thursdays.”

“I just wonder how they do it,” he continued, gesturing at the sink again. “Do they pour out cups of water on the counter? Do they warsh their hair here?” He was obviously in a jovial mood, expecting me to return his banter.

“Personally,” I said. “I like to fill my mouth with water and then spit it all over the place. The best is when nobody is around though. Then it’s fun to urinate on the walls. These activities are fun no matter where you are.”

“Hmmm.” he said, pretending mild shock. “Seems like I opened up a whole can of worms on that one.” He approached the counter with his bulging gut but did not make a move to wash away the dirt. Evidently he was serious about this so-called ash theme. “You see, what happens is, sometimes when I step up here to warsh my hands, I bump against the wet surface.” As though for my amusement, he proceeded to bounce his belly against the counter as he spoke. “Then, well, it looks like I pissed my pants or something.” It did indeed look that way.

“Funny,” I said, anxious to get away before he tried force participation in his deranged, dirty-face Wednesday game. I left him standing there with his gut on the counter.

Aside from the poor drainage, part of the reason that people leave such a mess on the counters is the timed hot and cold faucets. They are very hot and very cold so you need to use both — one to escape the other — and they only run for about one second. All day long people are batting them down with their fists and palms, and each time, they carry a small handful of water from the sink to the counter. The man had a remark on this phenomenon too. Once while I was sitting in the stall, I overheard him say to the Web guy, “Ah, indeed, but what is the sound of one hand warshing?”

But enough of this metaphysical badinage. Here is that erotic e-mail exchange I promised:

SMB: You know those games with little metal balls in clear plastic boxes that you roll around until they fall through the hole? I was never very good at those games. I could never get the ball to stop on that little hole. I was always better with the medicine ball.

Me: I know what you mean, sweetie. I’m working on that. I was a fat little kid. I was always good for a target in dodgeball.

SMB: I’m glad that you’re with me on this. I was so skinny that the other kids used me as the tetherball string.

Me: A little wrapping around the pole, eh? I had no arms or legs so they used me for the kickball.

SMB: Really? That is hot. I was all legs so they used me for a whiffleball bat.

Me: Slow down there, honey. I can see quite clearly where this is going. Back then I wouldn’t have seen a thing though. The reason? I was just a head with no eyeballs. They used me for lawn bowling until the day I bit a boy’s thumb off.

SMB: Juicy. I was one of the pins they knocked down. I wonder if our paths ever crossed. Ha ha, get it? Paths crossing? You knocking me down?

Me: Hey now, careful. This is getting awfully explicit, although when push comes to shove … ahh, forget it.


Bryce Newhart

- - -

Date: Wed, 8 Mar 2000
Subject: RE In search of…

Dear McSweeney’s,

Maybe a more appropriate question would be: Where can one find a globe of Nebraska?

Mike Chamberlin

PS: The only governor is the governor of peanut butter.

- - -

Date: Wed, 8 Mar 2000
Subject: No Subject

Dear McSweeney’s,

Doesn’t a “globular problem” sound awful? Like something too complex and personal to solve with a web search? Or 41 of them, for that matter?

Perhaps Mr. Maliszewski should see a doctor.


whitney “if you don’t have your health, you’re just sick” pastorek

- - -

From: “Keith Crouse”
Subject: Timothy McSweeney’s Marketplace Midwifery
Date: Wed, 08 Mar 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

The Mars thing was a marshmallow, they knocked that one out of the park. Here’s another pitch:

A large poster (5 or 6 feet) of the famous Loch Ness Monster hoax photo, the one that’s just fuzzy black and white waves and a long-necked, hump-backed silhouette in the middle. Please, no logos or slogans to interfere with the austerity of the image. If you still can’t picture it, think of Leonard Nimoy’s disembodied baritone asking vague rhetorical questions (“But…why? And, if so, who?”) and you might call the one I’m thinking of to mind.

Maybe a reprint of Mr. Paul’s article, with all references to Mars and Mars Globes replaced with Loch Ness Monster and Loch Ness Monster Hoax Photo Poster would do the trick.

Hope all is well,

Keith Crouse

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Date: Wed, 8 Mar 2000
From: amie barrodale

Dear McSweeney’s,

Each night, Nash and I draw maps of foreign lands by the light of the ceiling bulb. Texas Country is a collection of dunes and finger-sized houses — a wretched underground city whose godforsaken lattitude prevents night-time viewing of the constellation Orion in May, through glass spectacles drilled in the ground for this purpose. Nothing grows in the wretched soil of Texas Country, barring the wild lettuce and poisonweed on which the red-horned scorpions and braying guineas thrive. Our local millionaire is Theobald Beasley, an American success story, if ever there was one.

We would like to gather flowers and small bugs, to shape new lives out of creek-smooth prehistoric bones. Nash would like to capture fish, with the aid of hooks, that he might eat them. All this happenstance, Nash and I wish you well on this, your fifteenth birthday.

Your friends,
Nash and Amie

- - -

Date: Wed, 8 Mar 2000
From: “Steven M. O’Neill”
Subject: globes

Dear McSweeney’s,

Boy do I feel smart now for not sending that e-mail about the Mars globes that I thought would be fun. Also, my girlfriend has asked me not to send any more messages to her company address that have the words “delightful sex” in them (especially if sex is used in its sense that means genitals). Does everyone intentionally adopt a slightly more confused voice than usual when writing to you? It makes me feel a little dreamy and a little dense and a little wistful.

Steven O’Neill

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Date: Tue, 07 Mar 2000
From: “Yolanda Winters”
Subject: Cooking with dirt

Dear McSweeney’s,

Although many people do not know about it, dirt and cooking go hand in hand. For example, many foods are grown in dirt, and if they are left unwashed, trace amounts of dirt will make their way into the prepared dish. Whether you’re eating gritty boiled carrots, or “cookies and cream” mashed potatoes, the flavor of dirt is a surprising one that will keep your guests wondering what exactly they are eating.

But what if you want dirt to take a more central role in your cooking? Just think, the Irish Potato Famine would never have been a problem if people had been eating dirt instead of potatoes. And if you’re cooking with dirt, you never have to run the grocery store. You can just rummage around your backyard or window box.

So here are a couple of recipes to make use of this “new” ingredient that’s as old as the hills.

This one will take you back to your childhood:

Mud Pie
Ingredients: Dirt, Water
Mix the dirt and water until it thickens, reserving 1/2 cup. Pour into a metal pie pan that you found in your mother’s cupboard. Sprinkle with the dirt and place a couple of dead leaves decoratively on the top.

My Mother’s Mud Pie Recipe
Ingredients: graham cracker crust, Jamoca Almond Fudge ice cream, hot fudge sauce
Soften the ice cream and press it into the pie crust. Cover and place in the freezer. Slice and enjoy.

A bientot,
Yolanda Winters

- - -

Date: 07 Mar 00
From: Thomas Gibbon
Subject: McSweeney’s Among the Nightingales

Dear McSweeney’s,

Life, it seems, has taken one of its more surreal turns, much like that one in Queens where you round the bend and all of a sudden there is this cemetery stuffed like a rich man’s poodle going up a hill to a giant (really huge) factory sort of building and the only thing you can possibly say about the whole thing is “Huzzah!” because the only thing you can possibly think is that that must be where they process the dead, i.e. Heaven. Yes, life is like that, but I digress.

It is my greatest wish to see Iran modernised and opened up. I want them to develop a crazy-sexy-cool, ultra-space-Western culture based on violent comic books and little girls’ underwear, like Japan. And it should feature unexpected snack-foods, like lettuce-flavored acetone-scented pistachios (pistachioes? NO!). And something about backgammon, maybe streetgangs called the “street smart downtown bosses” and the “eels.” And they become really good at ice hockey.
I don’t want that at all.
I really want only to speak in the past tense, I just can’t.

In His name,
TG Gibbon

ps-as we settle in for another Spring of paranoia and accusations here on the farm we just want to let everyone know they can come over and stay anytime, gratis! But you might be asked to do some chores. No joke; we like guests and dislike chores.

pps-wait a second, was that a movie reference? I haven’t seen that movie! Okay, from now on if anybody asks this letter is about squarepigs, and how my kids, Frideswide and Hronrade, can’t get enough of ’em. And luxury submarines.

- - -

Date: Tue, 7 Mar 2000
Subject: A brief note

Dear McSweeney’s,

Been thinking of the sara ogilvie nickname problem. First thought was “ee cummings” because she doesn’t capitalize, but that’s probably too long and the diminutive (“ee”) doesn’t roll off the tongue as a nickname should. Perhaps if I knew what Ms. ogilvie (should that be ms. ogilvie?) does for a living or recreation, I might be able to come up with something. I have given out two nicknames that stuck, viz. “Chip” and “Scooter,” but they were mostly based on looks. (Chip cracked a tooth and Scooter looks like a muppet.) Off the top of my head — “Panda” or “Toots.” (The later is already taken by my friend Dan, but unless Ms. ogilvie lives in the D.C. metro area there should be little confusion.)

Please consider me,
Yadda yadda yadda,
Alex Pascover, aka “Cliffy”

- - -

From: “Veronica Jones”
Subject: On being at a crossroad
Date: Tue, 07 Mar 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

I got this email from my brother Eric, who really does have an evil scientist laugh. I’ve also decided to quit my job and write a book, because I read Robert Beier’s letters and have learned that its not just a fluke, nor is it my fault, that every job I ever had sucks the life right out of me, and that when you hear about people’s perfect days, they never happen in the office, unless it is a fantasy perfect day kind of thing, where you win the lottery and quit in a shameless display of acronym flinging and name calling.

Here is the letter, edited to remove non-essential, non-alpha typos.

Veronica Jones

you ever had the perfect day?…well gues what i did…i don’t want to bragbut days like this don’t come around often. i wake up all hung over at my buddies pad after a night with dr. dirty the sick piano comedian at a local dive bar. in my fog i make it home and realize i am supposed to golf with phil and donnie in an hour!!!!!! i get phone central working and we are on our way…i pick up donnie and …by the way i got that 20 lbs of steak you ordered….just pay for golf!!! yea!!! i am pumped… i con donnie into driving because if you remember my head feels like a bowling ball… so i have yet to appreciate the fact the sun is shining and it is about 55-60 degrees and the sky is blue……we get to this exclusive course that we made a tee time for and we are the only people there….might be two other groups golfing…..because for real, this was the first day of golf season…and no one really knows about it……i muddle through the proshop trying to decide if i want to buy a driver…..that is when i start to get confusedbecause remember i have a basket ball for a head…..i decide not to geta driver because i can not hit one any way….. need a page break!!!!!!!!!!!!!! so i stick directly with a three iron..and my game was right on…don’t understand it but it is…… i am just giddy as shit…..laughing sardonically that evil way i have a tendency at every stroke every hole every time i bend down….every movement…..just YEA!!!!!!!! SO ANY WAY remember the perfect sun shining day…… the grass is perfectly green….tripping green……..i somehow con donnie into selling with his house of blues hat that i have wanted for the longest time…… is black with perfectly formed bill with stitching of a US highway sign in it, shaped like a badge…..with the number seperated by an X made with two roads…and says cross roads on it…………on the back in red stiching house of blues…… i an just happier than shit… after my last awesome shot in a row….i am still laughing….at the 20 ft put that lays a head od my…i declare what a perfect day it is a it would be like a beer comercial if i landed this putt…and i am one shitty putter…..sure enough bam in the hole….i am so shocked i fall over and roll on the ground laughing………..PERFECT…..the day of golf ends on a par 3 in which i nail the green off the tee shooting for birdie…got my par…..just happier than hell…….perfect day…best golf i have ever played…….need a sardonic jonesy evil scientist laugh in there for you all….. we decide we are going over to culhans for some seafood on the way home…i always eyed it coming back from baltimore……i get the fatty seafood platter scallops..shirp crab cake, and haddok and lobster brioled for 20 bucks…….YEA!!!!!!!!!!!!!@! so we leave the resurant without causin too much of a scene…..and see the most kick ass sunset you ever saw……purple blue clouds floating….donnie still driving laughing waving at the people playing out door stuff…..gave some kids a YEA CATCHYEA BASEBALL!!!! type of thing….i don;t want to forget about the rainbow in this all……drop donnie off get my steak…now listening to the best grateful dead bootleg i ever heard with a me and my uncle with the extra verse………now every one coming for prenight….i don’t even have to leave!!!!!!!!!! and it is only 7 pm……got tee time for tommorrow and it is supposed to be like today but a little sunnier and clearer!!!!!!!!!!!! people are arriving now…….and GOD is smiling down on me!!!!!! have a great day guys mine is only half done……..YEA!!!!!! BET on me tonight………e

- - -

From: “Robert Beier”
Subject: From your office correspondent
Date: Mon, 06 Mar 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,


The Office Correspondent goes into his boss’s office for her to sign his time sheet. She looks at time sheet.

Mean frantic incompetent boss (Very mean, like she is accusing me of heresy): You know, you don’t come in at 9.

Me: I know I don’t come in at 9.

Mean frantic incompetent boss: You have to get here at 9. People are watching

My inner voice: Fuck you, bitch. What the fuck do you care? People are watching. What people are watching? You make this sound like the FBI has opened a file on my attendance. Don’t you realize that this is a sign? You should be sad for me that I am not on time. All of the fun I am missing. Oh, but you aren’t, you scared fool, you know what that means? It means you think this place blows as much as I do. It means you think I should suffer like you do. Well, I’m not going to.

Me: What people are watching?

Mean frantic incompetent boss (Imagine that all of the lights go down and a red pin light comes up on her mean cakey makeup face): People. People watch. People walk around and see things and they talk to people.

Me: (Imagine me talking from utter darkness, my voice floating from the pit of despair I’ve been banished to): I see. How interesting. Spies. We have spies. Do they watch you too?

Mean frantic incompetent boss (panic stricken): You have to show up on time. You have to take this seriously.

Me: I can’t help it if the MTA decides to cut electricity to the R train. MTA is no good.

Mean frantic incompetent boss: I ride the MTA too. I can’t use that as an excuse all of the time.

Me: Well I usually eat at my desk and work so I make up the time.

My inner voice: I don’t do any such thing. Oh, sure I eat at my desk but I sure as hell don’t work and I don’t take a half an hour like I’m supposed to. I take an hour and write letters to people. I even write letters to a fine publication and they kindly post my letters so the whole world can see what a wiggly-jiggle you are.

Mean frantic incompetent boss (Panic. Imagine a disco ball playing over her bleached hair): It is State law that you take a half-hour for lunch.

Me: Yeah. But it evens out. I show up a half-hour late but I don’t take lunch. That first half-hour can be my lunch.

Mean frantic incompetent boss (Snaps): Things don’t work like that.

My inner voice: Yeah, but they could if you weren’t so uncivilized.

Me: But it evens out.

She signs the time sheet that says I came in every day at 9. At the bottom of the time sheet it reads: Notice to Client: Your signature attests to the accuracy of the total hours indicated.

My inner voice (Imagine that I have puffy cheeks and am smoking a cigar, sitting behind a desk in a finely appointed chair with a glass of scotch in front of me): Well, well. According to law you just let everyone know I came in at 9 every day. You can’t take that back now can you? So I guess all of your so-called spies can take a hike. Their information is bad. It may be the truth but you just signed all of that away.

Cut to my desk.

I sit, normalized without my imaginative escape hatch. Booby hatch, I wish I had one Ð Not the second definition of Booby Hatch which is: An insane asylum. I don’t want that. I already have one of those.

The scene fades to black and I fade out of your consciousness immediately.

Bob Beier

- - -

From: “Robert Beier”
Subject: From your office correspondent
Date: Mon, 06 Mar 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

Yesterday, my cornucopia of insanity. Wow, that just struck me as a title for a book. We shall begin again. Yesterday, my boss stepped up to my desk awash in her cornucopia of insanity. I was listening to really loud music and bobbing up and down in my chair to the funk, fantasizing about never having to stare at a god damn Excel database again (oh, have I suffered for my art, or am I just a fool?…yes! the title of my memoirs, this missive is proving a wonderful book title maker). She must have been talking to my bobbing back because when I sensed the confusion and paranoia and turned around she was standing there with her mouth open. I took off my headphones and stared at her. I said, “I didn’t hear a word you just said. The funk was flowing in my veins.” She looked at me, astounded. She blinked several times and then repeated herself. “Could you please call these people and set up interviews for next week with them?” She was mean when she said this. And panicked. And picnickey. She was a Christmas loaf, frankly. She then proceeded to throw the five resumes down on my desk and scuttle away. Oh, sure. I’ll call them. I’ll set it all up for you. And I did. The first person I called, I told them that I was calling them in for an interview but it would be in their best interest not to show up for the boss was a lunatic. Then with the other people I used several different accents in the same message while I asked them if they would like to come in for an interview. For example, during one call I started with Cockney for the greeting, then for the interview times and days I switched to British, and for the closing remarks I used the tried and true Southern dialect. During one I pretended to weep and then laugh right in the middle. For no reason. It is best to laugh and cry, right in the middle, for no reason. At no other point will this work. Not in the beginning( only in the middle) nor the end. I ended the job several days later. Thankfully, the nice man that I gave my advice to never called. I am off to another temporary job. Off to more insanity. Here are some things that stick in my mind. A woman drank two gallons of vodka over the course of 2 days. That is awful. I read about a man who sprayed roach spray in his vodka in an attempt to kill himself. There was a boy sodomized by his grandfather and father on a daily basis and girls who contracted AIDS in a vampire cult by having group sex with many different people on many different occasions. All of this in NYC. Imagine, vampire cults riding the ‘B’ train. I had nothing to do with these cases, I just shuffled the files and kept databases and moved things along. This world is crazed. One time I was running up a flight of stairs and a man who was sitting on the steps stood up in my way. He was with two girls. He asked me what I was doing. I told him I was going up to see my friend. He lifted his shirt two show me his 9mm. It was silver and shiny. He said, “it’s a crazy, wicked world.” I was scared and one of the girls told him to “leave the white boy alone.” I was really grateful to her because he listened to her and sat back down on the steps and let me by. Whoever that guy was he was right. He was living in a crazy wicked world and the world that he created and inhabited enveloped me for a second.


Bob Beier

- - -

Date: Mon, 06 Mar 2000
From: Dan Pope
Subject: review of HWOSG, rejected

Dear McSweeney’s,

Dear Dan, Thanks for writing to us. We read your review and decided that it was not appropriate to post on our site. Please refer to our customer review guidelines, which may be found at: REVIEW: E., aged twenty-nine, nervous from early childhood, nocturnal frights. First pollution at the age of sixteen. At seventeen fell in love with a French woman, twenty-eight years old at the time and anything but pretty. Had a special weakness for her shoes. Whenever he could do so without being observed, he would cover them with kisses. Had no knowledge of the difference in sexes. One day he met a woman in the street whose haughty demeanor, fascinating eye and challenging mien made a peculiar impression on him. He felt an impulse to throw himself at her feet, kiss them, and follow her. Patent leather boots especially captivated him. On rainy days he would patrol the streets to see women raising their skirts to show an ankle or calf, encased in a silken stocking. He would sniff his own socks, kiss, bite and chew them. The end of this cynical existence was a marriage. They had children. Thanks for writing us, and thanks for your interest in

Dan Pope

- - -

Date: Mon, 06 Mar 2000
From: Richard Allen
Subject: trends in humor

Dear McSweeney’s,

A few years ago I was in an optometrist’s office, waiting to have my vision evaluated. One of the optometrists was addressing the case of a boy of about ten, who was in need of new frames.

“Don’t you have anything sturdier? This is the third pair he’s broken this school year,” said his mother.

The optometrist asked a few questions and soon ascertained that these household eyewear casualties were due to the young man’s insistence on wearing his glasses to bed each night.

Rather than asking the young man outright about this practice, the optometrist looked questioningly at the young man’s mother. “Don’t look at me,” she said. “I can’t talk him out of it.”

“It’s so he can see his dreams better,” said the boy’s younger brother.

This was one of the more sarcastic things I’d heard a seven-year-old say.

Richard Allen

- - -

From: (David Steinhardt)
Date: Mon, 6 Mar 2000
Subject: the neglected period
Organization: Bread Loaf School of English

Dear McSweeney’s,

Considering Archie, Jughead, Reggie, Betty & Veronica, Pep, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Archie’s Love Letters, Oui, and so much more which, altogether, constitute the Archie Universe, COMBINED ISSUE 143,566 of Archie Comics, today, finally issued one which contained, inside a speech bubble, a period. Previously, every sentence had ended with ! or ?, but here, for the very first time…
It was a little bit of schmutz that landed near the end of an independent clause.
I wiped it off.

David Steinhardt

- - -

From: “e t”
Subject: Television Toast
Date: Sat, 4 Mar 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

My friend Pat told me that people would be more interesting if they taught their children to use a television set like it was a toaster.

His comment made me think about how I might use a toaster. In fact, I saw a charming new toaster the other day in a catalog, that burns the silhouette of a deformed Schliptoptoloptus Rex on at least one side of the toastee. Yes, it might be amusing to eat something branded that way. Once. Then I might be bored.

Then I’d unplug the toaster. My mum always did that. Unplug the toaster at the finish of toasting. Plug it in, drop the toast, fool around a minute ‘till pop the toast, pull the plug. She had other household efficiencies, especially about spinning wool, but that’s off the point here.

So now I thought about using a television set like my mum taught me to use a toaster. Mostly already I do, unless an obscure movie plays on a non-commercial channel and I’ve finished cleaning all the closets. In the end, all I could think about was how I could recommend that technique to someone that I might, say, sit next to on a bus?

Once fully settled next to me, would I open the dialog by simply saying “Do you eat a lot of toast?”

Or maybe I would comment to my neighbor one day while we watched the Kingdome blow up—currently scheduled for March 26, 2000—gee, “he” or “she sure looks like a lot of toast.”

Back to the dilemma at hand. The scientifically-proven alpha-wave grip I observe in people as they watch television in public, I don’t believe, can be matched by watching a toaster. The straight-ahead gaze, the posturing stance in front of the Very Large television, the complete evaporation of purpose, suddenly, for where the person is, physically, which might be in a discount warehouse store with 40-foot high stacks of killer Big Brown Boxes—kill you if one fell on you. No match.

But then, if I could imagine an evening of television where all the characters unexpectedly left the show—say, all the actors’ contracts expired at the same time, and none of the actors elected to renew. Or, the writers just decided to exit all the characters as a cliff-hanger technique, maybe, now that might be worth plugging the set in for.

Ha. Imagine one day if all the commercial shows exited all the characters, so that piece after piece, you could predict that the only people coming back to must see TV would be the commercial actors.

Well, yes, now I can imagine that plugging in the toaster to brand a piece of chewy nine-grain with a misshapen Rex and watching the toaster while it happened would be worthwhile for more than one piece. You can imagine what I’d be thinking.

But how can I tell anybody about this? Maybe I just use Pat’s opening line and leave it at that.

Your friend,


- - -

From: “Mike Topp”
Subject: Putting the “P” Back in Poetry
Date: Sat, 04 Mar 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

Haiku or renga? I like haiku. Poetry tip: Be decisive.


Mike Topp

- - -

From: “Mike Topp”
Subject: Brunswick Stew
Date: Sat, 04 Mar 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

This southern specialty has many variations: combinations of chicken and pork, in equal amounts, or squirrel and pork. Chili peppers and mustard are optional seasonings. Beware of chicken skin that has long hairs sprouting from it. That reminds me of a story about my sister. Not so long ago as you might think, Tiffany thought she could clean up by baking and selling authentic 18th-century cookies in some Hessian soldier cookie molds we inherited. They were even supposed to be finished off with real gold leaf. Fortunately, we sampled them before we invested in the gold.

1 6 lb. chicken
1 cup bread crumbs, toasted
2 cayenne cloves
2 large onions, chopped
2 cups canned tomatoes
3 cups whole kernel corn
3 cans lima beans
6 cups boiling water

Serves 8 adults
Twenty things
Plus 28
Add 16
Total 44


Mike Topp

- - -

Date: Sat, 04 Mar 2000
From: Mary Phillips-Sandy
Subject: It is cold, with little to read.

Dear McSweeney’s,

I live in Maine. Maine is the sort of place where a) it is very cold, and b) McSweeney’s is not available. (The paper kind, I mean. Ever since we got electricity eight years ago, we have been able to use things like computers and now this ‘Internet’ thingy.)

Sometimes I get to Boston. Not very often, though.

Oh, sure, I could subscribe. But I crave the thrill of walking into my local bookstore and purchasing the latest McS all by myself.

I also crave the thrill of having a local bookstore.

The motto of the state of Maine is “Dirigo.” This means “I lead.” I find this very ironic, because we do not lead in terms of McSweeney’s availability. Although we do lead in terms of toothpick production. This is true. Maine produces more toothpicks than any other state in the country. Think of us next time you have sprouts on your sandwich.

Mary Phillips-Sandy

- - -

From: “Christopher Smith”
Subject: a letter of praise, and porno site search engine bait
Date: Fri, 03 Mar 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

wow, this is a wonderful website (and, presumably, magazine). i’ve spent all day avoiding my studies while perusing your archives and laughing myself into [here, the e-mail appears to have been translated into poor, if enthusiastic japanese] super lucky place donkey of! eating of sproutes goodness of the health for. super going you? super together!! to imagine many huggings of in my hends. [we now return to english.] but yeah, i recently heard about you guys from assorted articles about AHWOSG, which i shall soon be reading, i hope. anyway, seeing how you enjoy printing actual (more or less) things from the web and elsewhere, i thought you might like to see this porno search engine bait. i particularly like the bewildering way in which it tries to cover all the bases, and the almost plaintive, poetic (?) note on which it ends. errata are as found; i dunno, it just made me chuckle.

  • * *

Madonna nude has gotten better looking with age.I want to join the fan club for Madonna nude but can’t find it.I can’t wait til the baseball season is over once and for all.So why doesn’t my local video store have all the movies of Madonna nude. I’m not sure if everyone agrees though.She has a great body.I wish that Madonna nude had her own T.V. show. Somebody once told me that Madonna nude would be perfect for the cartoon voice of the female in the Dilbert cartoon.That’s something the who world can agree on.Why doesn’t everyone worship Madonna nude.I wish that Madonna nude had her own T.V. show. Madonna nude is socially conscience.I wonder if there is a fan club for Madonna nude.

If you want to find Madonna nude history, go here.Looking for nude pictures of Madonna nude? Try here.Here is HOTBOT if you want to find more info on Madonna nude.

Someone told me that Madonna nude really likes art.Not everyone agrees though.I wonder where Madonna nude shops for clothes.Some people have said otherwise.I’m sure that you agree with me on this.

I think that Madonna nude would make a great president of the United States.If you are over 18, you can check out my link to a place that might have nude pictures of Madonna nude.Why doesn’t FOX create a show around Madonna nude. They’ll give Paully Shore one…Or atleast near the top.I think that Madonna nude would make a great president of the United States.

When people say bad things about Madonna nude, I get very angry.I think I might have found nude photos of her once…I have a link here with nude pictures of her.I have always looked for nude pictures of Madonna nude.I don’t see why everyone doesn’t agree on this.She is so cool. I just wish that I could see more of her body.

So there we are.Three cheers fors Madonna nude.Why doesn’t everyone agree with me on this.Madonna nude has some truely beautify eyes.Madonna nude is do damn beautiful.

Why doesn’t everyone agree with me on this.Somebody once told me that Madonna nude would be perfect for the cartoon voice of the female in the Dilbert cartoon.It would be nice if everyone agreed.I get so angry when I can’t find a magazine that Madonna nude has just appeared in.When people say bad things about Madonna nude, I get very angry.Does anyone know what religion Madonna nude has?I’ve heard many people agree with me.I wonder if there is a fan club for Madonna nude.

- - -

From: Ben Weiner
Date: Fri, 3 Mar 2000
Subject: Globes from Mars

Dear McSweeney’s,

Paul Maliszewski seems to think that just because he read about a globe of Mars in a poem by Some Poet Guy, he should be able to just run off and buy a globe of Mars at the mall or better yet over the phone with his all-powerful credit card, no doubt. What’s the matter with him? Hasn’t he ever heard of poetic license? Or maybe some person made a damn globe of Mars with his bare hands, or by coloring on a volleyball with a red magic marker (Mars is round, which shape can be approximated by a volleyball, or a basketball though I think you will find basketballs more difficult to color). Maybe you can’t BUY everything, Paul.

It’s this sort of immediate gratification impulse, this rage to consume, this insatiable need to own everything one has ever heard of, this irrational exuberance, that keeps our economy going and people happy enough so they don’t do something stupid like elect Pat Buchanan President.

In solidarity,

Ben Weiner
Carnegie Observatories

- - -

From: “Paul, Lisa”
Subject: sara k ogilvie & a nickname
Date: Fri, 3 Mar 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

Would you please forward the following suggestion to Sara K: You should go by your last name, which verges on the amusing all by itself. And, has strange French connotations &/or etymologies. Alternately, “Ovaltine” would be a nice play on it. I would also suggest “Kay”. It seems nicely to bridge the gap between fuddy-duddy & fun. And sounds agreeable. Continuing to muse, my fan’s mind suggests “sarak”, which seems Vulcan.

Lisa Paul ~ x7520

- - -

Date: Fri, 3 Mar 2000
Subject: A mind is a terrible thing.

Dear McSweeney’s,

I have never read The Fountainhead.

All of my life, there have been architects. Architects of change, architects of complacency, architects who build things in hopes they will someday be allowed to build better things. This day will never come for the compromising architect. He will always be scribbling drab sketches of blockity block block buildings instantly forgotten by their very omnipresence. Like urine-soaked pennies. Strip mall mediocrity cries tears of bitter Indian garbage spots conjured by Madison Avenue death merchants of menace.

I have never read Atlas Shrugged

I object to Objectivism becomes it objectifies my objection to the objectification of objecting objectified objects. Plus, I really just don’t understand it. I once had an Atlas of the United States. One day I cut out all the states, and made my own country, basically just the two coasts pasted together, with Hawaii in the San Francisco Bay. I put Ohio in the middle of Texas, because I have relatives in both states, and would make holidays more convenient. For me. If that isn’t rugged individualism, I don’

Who is this Ayn Rand anyway?

Who could possibly sleep with Mickey Rooney? He should spend his nights cobbling footwear for destitute shoemakers, not fornicating with insecure, ambisexual starlets. It would be like having a sweating, wheezing lawn jockey mounted atop you. But I guess he doesn’t do that anymore, what with the catheter. Coronal mass ejections are like flares, they send streams of highly charged particles, but they also can emit a billion tons of plasma, or ionized gas. When will the masses realize they can’t vote themse

Next week, Ayn Rand’s secret treasure trove of porn, featuring: “Ayn and Out”, “Givin’ Fountainhead”, and “Atlas Felched”.

Your pal,

- - -

From: “Steven Tomsik”
Subject: brooklawn new yawk
Date: Fri, 03 Mar 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

You people live in Brooklyn? Stay away from the woods around the Pavilion over there by 14th Street. I went in there to urinate last summer and began to urinate and was urinating when I became startled by a sound… looking down, I looked down and looked at none other than the face of a man, ONLY THE FACE of a man, the rest of him concealed by thick brush and twigs and what have you. He was looking up at me, silent, but his body was rustling around down there. I mean to say that he was right below me. Directly, almost. Not in the flow, so to speak, but close, and not only did he not make a sound but he rustled in there like that was enough, just rustled some, too! Enough! It was enough for me, what. Horror, what the frig, you know. Complete horror and I stopped urinating immediately and fled. Did you ever zip up (if you are a male) your phallus, trapping its skin in a painful manner?

So all rhetoric aside, seriously, there is only the face of a man in there. Plus that neighborhood is all things ass. Come to 5th Ave and Union where you will remain stuck off the realness!


Steven Tomsik
Degenerate Oracles Camp

- - -

From: Tom Collins
Subject: Scantron is the symbol of Democracy
Date: Fri, 3 Mar 2000

Today at work I asked Jennifer*, “Did you fix the printer?”

She replied, “Do I sing soprano?”

Sincerely, Thomas Collins

*You don’t know her.

- - -

Date: Fri, 3 Mar 2000
From: kevin ryan
Subject: Two quick movie reviews

Dear McSweeney’s,

Two quick movie reviews from a phone call with Jerre F. Ryan, age 65.

Holy Smoke: Ugh. Walked out.

Wonder Boys: I laughed two or three times tops. No one else in the place laughed once. Who writes good reviews for this stuff?

Thank you,
Kevin Ryan

- - -

From: “Newhart, Bryson”
Subject: the girl in the cubicle next to me, she has a good time
Date: Fri, 3 Mar 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

The girl in the cubicle next to me talks on the phone. She does this all day long. She talks and laughs and laughs and talks. She says, “No problem,” and, “Of course not,” and, “Can you believe it?” She also laughs. The people she talks to — friends, new boyfriends, co-workers, relatives — they are all extremely funny. I know this because of how much she laughs, and how loud and how often. I pause again and again as I am trying to concentrate, and I think, “Isn’t this fun? All this laughter all day long? All this loud, loud, laughter echoing through my head, making it impossible to think of anything but laughter?” Did I mention that this girl talks and laughs a lot? It’s funny how everything is so funny.

Laughing my life away,

Bryce Newhart

- - -

Date: Fri, 3 Mar 2000
From: amie barrodale
Subject: A Response, of sorts

Dear McSweeney’s,

My boy Nash and I live on a small plot of land in Katy, Texas, with our dog Jerry and our many lop-eared bunnies. Nash, thirty-three in May, spends most of his time with his train toys and letter games.

Back in ’85, Nash was doing some janitorial work for the engineering magnet school out in Sugartown. This was before the battery-operated cattle prod fiasco, and Mr. Gibbon liked to leave complex proofs out on the hallway chalkboard as a challenge-game for students, and also as bait. These were proofs that had taken the faculty (some of them associate professors at Southern Methodist University) several years to solve – problems Gibbon knew it would take some sort of sophisticated handsome genius to find the secret solutions to. He waited eagerly for such a genius, and, in the mean time, electrocuted arrogant half-wits the sort magnet schools are famous for enticing.

Nash was fired for writing “school sucks” in permanent marker over Mr. Gibbon’s proofs, and had his final pay check docked fifty dollars to replace the damaged board. Nevertheless, Nash’s ideas about crackers were elegant, efficient…in a word, marketable. Nash was thinking inorganic bromide removal through back-integrated polytrimethylene ketone-peroxides while the rest of the industry wags were still fixated on manganese dioxide foams. Sadly, nay tragically, Nash was not a wily boy. In a moment of weakness, Nash shared his ideas and a cigarette with an ambitious hooker. The hooker sold my son’s ideas to Mr. B-K for a sweat-smeared five and the promise of swing-shift gig in the NOVA typing pool, should such a position open up.

The rest is pretty much common knowledge. The 1987 Cupertino Shell Trials stunned the world, and my son gave himself permanent brain damage with freon, little sandwich baggies, and leisure, baleful leisure. I said earlier Nash mostly keeps to his train toys, letter games and copy editing. Mostly, this is true. But Nash is human. Nash likes his Coleco Vision, and his games have influenced him for the worse. Nash has his personal vendettas.

Mr. B-K, I’m afraid that my son sees you as a nemesis of sorts. I’ve tried to convince him to focus his rage on Jorge, the hooker – if anyone is to blame, it is really Jorge, who is a hooker. Alas, Nash’s current mental capacities, while strong, do not admit subtlety. As you’ve no doubt gathered, my son is responsible for false allegations, and recent ‘ringing and running’ incidents at your own private home.


Your Friend,
Amie Barrodale

P.S. Please do not call me by my Christian name.

P.S.2 My son is not responsible for p.6 reports you have “chalky enamel.” Those reports were leaked by my ex-husband, Honker. He did your cap work. How’re the caps?

- - -

Date: Fri, 3 Mar 2000
From: Kerry Lannert
Subject: memories of summer camp

Dear McSweeney’s,

I got out of bed this morning at 7am, 1 hour after I’d initially gotten in it. I couldn’t sleep. And instantaneously a song from summer camp popped into my head, so I thought I’d share it with you and your readers (if you decide to print this, that is).

Good morning campers
let us zip zip zip
as we sing a song to start the day
good morning campers
let us zip zip zip
you are certainly looking gay
ashes to ashes and dust to dust
if today doesn’t get us then tomorrow must
good morning campers
let us zip zip zip
as we sing a song to start the
sing a song to start the
sing a song to start the day.

Kerry “I went to the same summer camp for 8 years” Lannert

- - -

From: “Yoz Grahame”
Subject: A reply and some other points of varying timeliness
Date: Fri, 3 Mar 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

1) In reply to the mail from “Dan Kennedy” regarding my comments about Hazzard County and its fictional inhabitants:

1a) My questioning of the characters’ intelligence was aimed less at Bo, Luke and Daisy, more at the rest of the characters. The young Dukes are surely bright and talented and beautiful. In fact, in this particular episode, Bo (or it may have been Luke – the shorter one with dark hair, anyway) made impressive use of the word “degauss”. However, the remaining characters are undeniably dim, especially those who have been promoted, for reasons unguessable by me, to positions of power. Hence, I leave my original comments to stand.

1b) My comment about the county itself was based entirely on its fictional representation. I have never been to Hazzard, nor anywhere near Hazzard. My one experience of “the Deep South” was a trip to Disneyworld with my family when I was fifteen. (It was very nice, despite the rain. The fireworks were very impressive.) (Perhaps Florida is not even considered part of “the Deep South”, I have no idea. I am English. But I will check before I send this mail.) (I have now checked. It is, sort of, apparently.)

1c) Gy Waldron, the creator of the series, has been working in the film and television industry since the seventies. He has been a writer, producer and director of several high-profile productions. It would not surprise me if he had stayed at the Four Seasons in Los Angeles at some point. I would hope that while the people of Hazzard County might, as “Dan” slags, “hate people like Yoz” they would probably hate people like Waldron more for staying in the same hotel and making them look like imbeciles to a vast international television-watching audience, especially their police department.

1d) Check out time is at 12:00.

2) For Sara Ogilvie’s nickname I suggest “Ringo” or “Tess”.

3) I would hope that, by now, the McSweeney’s Representative whom I met in Portland, OR has received additional confirmation that we English people pronounce the name of the letter Z as “Zed”, never “Zee”. We really do. I was not making it up. In fact, I had thought that more Americans knew this, as I remember an American comedy character (probably Wayne of “Wayne’s World”) asking if British people referred to ZZ Top as “Zed Zed Top”. (We do not.) Another question that was asked at the time was what happened to people in England called “Zed”. There are no people in England by that name that I have ever heard of. (My friend Lev, to whom I referred the question about Florida, mentions there may be some inhabitants of Hazzard called Zed. Hmm.) And if additional confirmation is needed, please ask my friend Nick Sweeney, who has apparently communicated with you before and is also an English person.

4) While I’m on a transatlantic-comparison binge, what is it with you Americans and clowns? The clown as an object of terror (usually originating in childhood), dead clowns – things like that seem to be recurring images in your modern culture. We don’t like clowns all that much in England, but we aren’t obsessed with them. The clown who performed at the signing in Portland was particularly incompetent, but did inspire some sympathy from me, anyway. Some other members of the audience, who were standing there waiting to have books signed, seemed aloof and afraid. The clown did not deserve this.

5) Oh, and something about bathrooms without toilets, the toilet being in a separate tiny room next door in the hallway. Much more common in England, though not in the newer houses. Also something about Wesley Willis.

6) Oooh! Pakoras! Time to go.

Wishing you well,

Yoz Grahame

- - -

Date: Thu, 02 Mar 2000
From: “Tony St.Clair”
Subject: Any help?

Dear McSweeney’s,

There was always one ape, in every movie or television show that I’ve ever seen, that seemed to be looking, staring, straight at me. When I saw the “Planet of the Apes” marathon in the sixth grade at the Silverton Fox Movie house, it was the SAME bi-pedial monkee-man, wearing a bullet bandolero. In all four of the flicks he (I’m assuming) was also wearing this silver bracelet, the kind you get at the Renaissance Faire, and I know it was the same guy in the suit; he walked with the same rolling gait, shoulders hunched precipitously forward.

And he was looking right at me. I know, I know, we-the-audience are the camera, and actors, even actors in monkee suits, are trained to “play to the camera”, but this was different. At least twice, I looked away towards some off-screen area of the theatre, and both times as I drew my gaze back to the screen, his eyes followed mine, as if he was looking at what I was looking at!

At this point I freaked. Jesse was with me, and so I had to stay because Mom wasn’t going to be there til Midnight, and no way was she going to let me walk with Jesse (8 years old) all the way back to Pine Street. So for the next two hours my sweater was pulled up to my forehead, and every time I lowered the protective acrylic fabric, his eyes were on me. They weren’t even following the action! One time, in the third movie, a half-naked guy with a beard was running from the apes, and they shot him, and the silver-braceleted simian with the bandolero never even turned his head from my direction! And he was right there! Does that make sense? I mean, wouldn’t the editor or somebody have noticed “Hey, what’s the deal with monkee #2 in the back? Why isn’t he watching the action?” How could that just slip by? And it was the same one, the same one, every single time! Why would he do this? It doesn’t make sense. I never watched “Planet of the Apes” again.

If it was just that experience, it would be enough. Weird coincidence, bad actor, forget about it. But I have never been able to watch a nature show or a Dian Fossey flick without noticing that there is always a solitary ape watching me through the tv screen. This happens constantly. I have them written down in a spiral-ring notebook, all forty-six instances; the shows, the movies, even the two times I ventured to the Gorilla House at the Portland Zoo. I’ve recorded several nature documentaries, played them back over and over til the tape gets those scratchy lines in them, and I pause and play, pause and play. Same thing. Every time. Follow the eyes. I’ve hit the frame by frame, and stepped to one side or the other of the screen, and seen the gaze shift to wherever I was. It’s frightening, and I can’t explain it, except that

I might be crazy, but no other aspect of my life is affected. I go to work, I play volleyball in a Rec League, I am in a long-term serious relationship (no, I haven’t told her), and there is nothing unusual or odd about my life.

Except the monkees.

Am I the only one affected in this way? I’m hoping someone reading this might have an explanation.


Andrew Harris

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From: “Ian Cavanaugh”
Subject: Victory, YMCA, and God
Date: Thu, 2 Mar 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

For some reason, and I don’t know why, every once-in-a-while, I’ve taken to extending my arms in air in a post-war-type victory-ish symbol. However, it has just dawned on me that some people may interpret this as a misguided attempt to begin dancing the repulsive “YMCA,” sans music. This is not my intent, and I don’t know how to rectify it, as the typical V-with-the-fingers expression is a bit too understated for my tastes. Also, is standing legs together, arms outstretched crucifix-style, and gazing up at the heavens weird? Perhaps, especially considering that I, at most times, do not believe in God (although I’m still respectful enough to capitalize the ‘G’).

Symbolically challenged,
Ian Cavanaugh

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Date: Thu, 02 Mar 2000
Subject: Powell’s on a Rare Dry Evening in Portland
From: Jessica Schanberg

Dear McSweeney’s,

On March 1st I went to your reading at Powell’s. Despite the tropical heat and the throngs of people there was a festive mood to the place. Portlanders are generally depressed because it’s dark and wet here but people were really excited. Happy even.

Here’s some tidbits from that night:
“Can you see her? She looks like Susan Sarandon.”
“Is that good?”
“Oh, look at those faded red leather pants” (really tight leather pants, pale, depressed, deep thoughts chick) “It’s vampire lady”
“She looks like Phoebe Cates.” “Where?”
“Where is your brother?” (to the author in a transylvanian accent)
“In the navy…”
“This tree house book is great!”
“I love Wesley Willis”
“Flobee!” “We don’t have info-mercials in England. I’m from London”
“Only poor people have separate toilets from their baths. It’s a bother because you have to go to another room to wash your hands”
“What’s Happening! Rerun!” “Yeah man!”
“I get up at 6 anyway”
“Are you a baker?”
“No, I break things”
“Those monkeys in hot tubs live in Japan. Not Iceland”
“My bad”
“Is that where Keiko is?”
“I miss Ren and Stimpy. That’s my sense of humor,”
“You like eating cat litter?”

Jessica Schanberg

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Date: Thu, 2 Mar 2000
From: Scott Matthew Korb
Subject: [DATED MATERIAL] Re: A message sent by M. Ryan Purdy

Dear McSweeney’s,

I write to let you know that the message you received from M. Ryan Purdy this evening (Thursday) is indeed a series of emails we shared this afternoon about my mother. She is very proud. I fear that without confirmation on my part you might not go ahead with the message you received from M. Ryan Purdy. You need not ask my mother about any of this because she will not write back. She supports me in everything I do. Or, if she did write back she might say things you do not want to hear. I know her very well.

While you do not need my permission to go ahead with M. Ryan Purdy’s submission, I thought I would provide it anyway. I am very proud of Mr. Purdy.

Yours, I remain, &c.,
Scott M Korb
Manhattan, NY

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Date: Thu, 02 Mar 2000
From: Cyrus Hooker
Subject: nicknames for sara k ogilvie

Dear McSweeney’s,

I read Sara Ogilvie’s plea for nicknames with much concern, compassion, gnashing of teeth, what-have-you. Really, I’m amazed that not one letter has surfaced in response, as this seems just the sort of vexing problem the average Mcsweeney’s reader would find irresistible. Well, look, because I thought it might help Sara out, here’s a letter that my girlfriend Amy’s dad sent her a while back:

‘How did this happen? I had some hiking boots, we’ll call them Ron and Jody, that were damaged. The sole was seperating from the shoe, indicative of faulty lasting. Then later the very same boots had healed (no pun intended) and I continued to wear them. This morning I noticed that “my” boots were no longer the beloved Ron and Jody but others, we’ll call them Portia and “Noodle”, unknown to me. I remarked “whose hiking boots are these?” and your mom said “Amy’s”. Now I’m at work wearing your shoes, Nike nubok and purple lace up boots – size 9.5 US. Do you need these? Did I take them from you? Are you angry? Am I one of those “deadbeat dads” we read so much about? I’ll return them to you. I will relinquish all claim to them. Are they yours? Was Ann correct? If amends are indicated I’ll make ‘em. Say the word and I’ll return the boots your way ASAP. After all you bought them and are entitled to get the value out of them – this is a protected right. Exercise it. Love dad.’

Sure, Sara, ‘Scoop’ is good. It does sound like a good-times sort of nickname, like maybe what you picture Regis Philbin’s childhood friends calling him, or perhaps even somebody older and less disposable, historically speaking. Like Rommel, maybe, although I guess it would have to be ‘Scoop’ in another language, then, whichever other language Rommel spoke. What I’m getting at here is this: I believe you owe it to yourself, even to the rest of us, to consider either ‘Portia’ or ‘Noodle.’ You could even alternate, or find somebody to share the pair of nicknames with. Amy’s dad won’t mind, I promise.

Zach Hooker

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Date: Thu, 2 Mar 2000
From: Sam W Stark

Dear McSweeney’s,

In “Why…Inquiry,” Mr. Pollack ponders, among other things, his “deserved reputation as a white-hot dance-floor dervish.” The Dervishes (from the Arabic “Darwiish,” meaning one who is dedicated in service to God and community, incidentally) were certainly hot— in fact, the leader of this early Somali nationalist movement, Sayyid Mahammad ‘Abdille Hasan, warned the colonial powers that, in Somalia, “…there are also many ant-heaps. The sun is very hot”— but white-hot? I don’t think so.

Further, the Sayyid and his followers, like Mr. Pollack, had “a reputation.” But no disco kings, the Dervishes! On the contrary, they had “a reputation for sanctity and piety, which made them sacrosanct from warfare and other secular mischiefs.” This last, I take it, would include dancing.

On the other hand, the Sayyid was popularly known, by the British, as the “Mad Mullah.” The etymology of this nickname is obscure. Some authors have suggested that “mull,” here, refers to the Sayyid’s habits of pious contemplation, but the modifying “mad” makes such a reading somewhat problematic. More likely was that “mull” here took a secondary meaning- “to heat, sweeten, and spice (wine, cider, etc.)”— the implication being that, unbeknownst to his followers, the Sayyid had a soft spot for eggnog and port, one which might provoke improprieties, or even “madness,” at holiday parties.

However, considering the well-documented fact [Samatar, 1987, p. 57] that the Sayyid’s favorite horse was named Hiin Finiin, or “Sound of Flying Gravel,” some scholars have looked to the Middle English “mullen,” that is, “to grind.” In Warren Smith’s meticulous “Authentic Dictionary of CB: Language, Code, Jargon, Slang, & Trucker Talk (PLUS: How To Get An Immediate License, What To Do In Emergencies, The 10-Code, Complete Regulations, Save $5.35, Emergency Repairs, How To Troubleshoot, Organized for Quick and Easy Reference),” we find the following entry:

grind gravel, v., obs. To go very fast.

Why was the Sayyid “grinding gravel?” Obviously, because he was mad. Very, very, mad.

I suggest that Mr. Pollack not “go to Africa.”


Sam Stark

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From: “judy ossello”
Subject: Is it safe to wear sequins?
Date: Thu, 02 Mar 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

I had underestimated my desire to dress like a Las Vegas showgirl after returning from Peace Corps service in the Muslim paradise of Jordan (that’s the country next to Israel that America is friends with)where I learned how to wear black wool sweaters in the desert sun. I have not yet done so.

It’s not that I don’t want to wear thousands of sequins, but I feel there isn’t enough silliness in the world to accomodate the effort. After reading a few selections from your website, the possibility is there. However, I was unsure if people wearing sequins get asked serious questions? I won’t be in the mood to answer serious questions for a few months.

Do staff members of McSweeney’s have any experience wearing sequins? If so, have they been asked serious questions while doing so?

Thank you,
Judy Ossello

- - -

From: “Tagliareni, Joan E”
Subject: Do This!
Date: Thu, 2 Mar 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

So. the thing you should do (but only if you have a not-that-common last name) is put your surname in as an internet search. Easy. I did that, just now. Some very interesting results. I had no idea there were so many Tagliarenis making news, or at least starting webpages about their personal lives.

Thus, I learned about Mary Tagliareni, who is doing some cool stuff about sustainable seas expeditions. (Don’t really know what all that is about and don’t have much of a science background, which I assume it calls for, but I’ll be calling her for a job soon.) And (this is true, I swear, no fingers crossed) there is a FABIO Tagliareni! Who knew? I wanted to read about him, but the site was in Dutch and I don’t speak that yet. There was also a Werner, which started me thinking about some weird Dutch connections upon which I won’t elaborate (did I just hear a “thank god” from the crowd? I know, I ramble, I can’t help it).

There was some honorable fireman guy named Nicholas Tagliareni. Nick. I like him already. He must be the guy with the great bod who all the neighbor’s wives are pining after, but he is just too nice to ever cheat on his wife, whose name must be Trish or something cute like that. Nick helps the down-and-out guys get jobs and turn their lives around, but never says anything about it. I can just feel that I’m right on this one . . .

There was also some page that came up with an alarming heading about “Felons and Parole Violators” but I didn’t want to open it. If someone in my family is on that list, I don’t think I care to hear the details right now. Could be too weird to learn something like that while you’re at work, huh?

So, I suggest that you try it. Do This! See, isn’t this fun? (For those of you with more common last names, I’ll try to think up some other giddy, distracting thing for you to do, but I have to get back to work now.)

Joan E. Tagliareni

- - -

From: “Newhart, Bryson”
Subject: More drivel behind the shoji
Date: Thu, 2 Mar 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

I am a big child at heart and suspect that other readers of McSweeney’s are too. But wouldn’t it be funny if some readers were actually big children? Giant toddlers in only diapers sitting in the grass, looming above trees and houses? Oblivious to their size as they squint into tiny computers resting on their palms to read the McSweeney’s letter page? Birds nesting in their ears?

This reminds me of a dream in which I am in a moving subway car kicking an orange superball with a young Chinese boy, mouth open in hopes that it may in fact be a gumball. The boy are I are kicking to a beat that is precisely timed to the rocking of the car and the ball bounces off walls, changes direction, leaves a trail of orange in a geometric pattern that calls to mind an intricate breakdancing routine. It is loud and I think, “If we can shut our eyes, why can’t we shut our ears too?”

Actually we are at a party in someone’s studio apartment in Queens, a woman from work by the name of Kelly. Kelly is over six feet tall, an angry sloppy drunk. It’s no surprise, therefore, when she obnoxiously pushes me back in the chair I’m sitting on, causing my head to smack the floor so hard that it bounces me upright again like a basketball bounced from foul line to swish.

Fortunately I’m okay and so is the chair — the muddled metaphor forgotten. Cause for a sigh of relief. The reason I care is that I in fact own this chair. Although I hardly know Kelly, I keep it in her apartment so I can sometimes come there to sleep, sitting up, arms held stiffly at my sides. The rest of the time Kelly is welcome to use it was she pleases, as long as she is careful.

Then Kelly sprays the room with a gray liquid that hardens into a dry cement on impact. “Brake fluid,” somebody says. When I try to peal it off my face in the light of a lava lamp, I joke, “Look, I’m a leper!”

What are “dashed” hopes but hopes that have had just the right amount of salt added to them?

Last week my mother said that she felt like her head was swollen to five times it’s normal size and that somebody had then split it down the middle with an axe. She was feeling sick that day.

I hate blue pens.


Bryce Newhart

- - -

Date: Thu, 2 Mar 2000
From: Dwayne Monroe
Subject: Ruthlessly, Efficiently, Ends Your Contest

Dear McSweeney’s,

Yes, I know; the McSweeney’s Representative is very busy these days.

I ask however, that you spare a moment for an update on how your A.H.W.O.S.G. review contest has fared over at It won’t take but a moment.

As of this writing, there are only 17 customer reviews available. This is a pitiful remnant of the proud 73 opinions that once absorbed precious server storage capacity.

Of the 17, 13 are serious reviews. The remaining four are the ruined shell of a once great house of cards built on absurdity. They left a bit of whimsy online. Yes, just a wee bit.

Clearly, a thinning has occurred – some serious and careful editing has been performed.

It’s all over now.

Dwayne Monroe

- - -

Date: Thu, 2 Mar 2000
From: starspangledgirl
Subject: oklahoma

Dear McSweeney’s,

Dear McSweeney’s,

I was thinking that each song in Oklahoma! reflects a mental pathology. People Will Say We’re in Love (paranoia), Surrey with the Fringe on Top (obsessive compulsive disorder), I’m Just a Girl Who Cain’t Say No (sexual addiction), Oh What a Beautiful Morning (delusion), and the title song (xenophobia). And then I was thinking, why don’t highlighter pens come in black?

Yours truly,

Carol Magary
Paraguay’s Sweetheart Two Years in a Row

- - -

Date: Thu, 02 Mar 2000
From: Sara Stemen
Subject: garth maul

Dear McSweeney’s,

This reminds me of the time my husband Nick went to a halloween party dressed as Nick at Night; he wore pajamas. disastrously, three girls turned up at the party wearing pajamas. that was their costume: girls wearing pajamas. and he just looked like the dumb guy wearing pajamas all night. To add to the indignity, he hates dressing up for halloween and only did it to please me—that will be the last time for sure.

Sara Stemen

- - -

Date: Wed, 1 Mar 2000
From: Veronica Vichit-Vadakan
Subject: Sorry about the cookies

Dear McSweeney’s,

From a semi-conscious dreamstate this morning I heard a rough knocking at the front door, but willed the sound away and it quieted soon thereafter. It was only in my fully conscious state an hour later that I realized that the knock was the UPS man who was only trying to deliver my copy of the much lauded and discussed new book penned by the McSweeney’s Representaive. Okay, I said to myself, okay. Though the McSweeney’s Representative reads at our local book store tonight and I will have no book, it was unlikely that I would have sought an autograph anyway. And besides, I continued to myself, my copy of McSweeney’s #4 is sure to arrive in the mail today.

But in the mail arrived no McSweeney’s #4, only coupons for pizza. I don’t need coupons for pizza. But don’t get me wrong — I’m not some kind of anti-pizza nut.

Well. That was what I said to myself then : Well.

I then checked the Amazon website and see if they’ve decided to print my review or no. No. I seem to have fallen outside the restrictive parameters of accepatble reviews, alas. O, but it was a funny review! And when I won the contest I was going to give my victory subscription to an inner-city library or the poorest peoples of India. O, they would have liked McSweeneys almost as much as they would have liked my review if Amazon had printed it.

In preparation for the night’s reading I went down to the local grocery and purchased a package of Mother’s brand Iced Oatmeal cookies. I can’t remember when exactly the MR mentioned his admiration for these confections, but I remembered that he did and what with all the traveling and reading and talking I thought he might enjoy some.

Buying cookies is a happy event and should not be tarnished by what happened next, but tarnished it was.

At the reading I was greeted by a roped off stairwell and pronouncements by bookstore staff that the reading was full, too full to accomodate the seething literati gathered at the bottom of the stairwell. We milled about, we the seething literati, waiting for our opportunity to bum-rush the reading. But twas not to be.

And when I sat in my car eating the iced oatmeal cookies and reflecting on my disappointing day, I felt a full range of complex emotions, but more than anything I felt remorse.

Remorse for having eaten all your cookies.

So this is just a note to say sorry. Sorry about the cookies.

Veronica Vichit-Vadakan

- - -

Date: Wed, 1 Mar 2000
Subject: Fun with Pirates

Dear McSweeney’s,

One rainy day when I was a boy, my mother had my brother and I attempt to figure out how many words one could come up with using only the letters in the word “Pirates.” Here are the results:

Magna Carta
Arlo Guthrie
Van Patten
Luis Tiant

See if you can find any others!!!

Your humble servant,

Robert Recklaus