Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1999
Subject: Re.: Coincidence

Gnaedige Herr McSweeney:

If I may be so bold to use your letters page as my own personal bulletin board, allow me to wish sehr geehrte Knabe Jesse Lee Littlewood a somewhat premature felicitation. Let him not confuse my wish for him with a premature, etc., etc., being an earnest and vigorous young College Lad, etc. its difficulty resolutely understood and empathized, etc., etc.

Happy Birthday, Jesse Lee Greenwood!!

As long as I’m here, might I add that your name has a delightfully un-Pacific Northwesterly ring to it. My nomenclature unironically reflects my most Minnesotan upbringing: half Irish, half German.

My first name even means “girl” in Gaelic (known to the Irish as “Irish”). They were correct in naming me so.

Yours however, reflects a most Nashvillian proclivity. Do you go by “Jesse Lee”? Or is it just “Jesse”? “JL”? “The Jess”? As I gamely rack my brain for recollections of the undergraduate modus operandi, threshing reedily amongst the spongy gray repositories of my many glorious bygone epochs’ sentimental tokens, I remember with great tenderness the

Not only am I a very NICE young woman, I am also HOT.

If you are not sure whether to believe me, watch this week’s episode of Sex and the City on HBO. I play Valerie Harper (nee the beloved Rhoda)‘s daughter, the young lesbian. I am not making this up. If you have already seen it, you may want to watch again through your new lens of understanding. If you missed it, perhaps someone you know taped it. I didn’t, as I could not figure out how to make the stupid cable box thingie stop turning everything all blue and snowy.

Judge for yourself. I merely intend to provide you with imaginative fodder for your lonely nights at the distinguished men’s college you so charmingly attend. I may be very old, Young Master Greenwood, but I have a LOT of experience. Experience that pays, if you know what I mean, and I think that you do.

Whatever the outcome, I hope that we shall continue our correspondence on the pixelated alabaster surfaces of my grand acquaintance Timothy McSweeney’s bulletin board. However, to expedite communication, may I gently intimate that (in deference to my Hibernian progenitors) my email address is

Good night, young man, and once again may I effuse gratefully in your general direction for the kind words and consideration.

Cherchez la femme,

New York City

- - -

All you people,

I have one word for Mr. Gothberg (et. al.): panjandrum.

Tim Carvell
Los Angeles

- - -

Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1999
From: “Steve Daniels”
Subject: re: Best Word of the Millennium

Dear McSweeney’s,

I’d like to share my thoughts on the Best Word of the Millennium firestorm that has been sweeping through your letters page. I mean, if this were some other kind of storm, rather than a firestorm, the National Weather Service would have to give it a name.

I have seen the tabulated results of Iowa State study that Ander Monson refers to, and I do not dispute the English department’s findings. As a matter of fact, the only time I have ever disputed an entire English department at once was at the end of the 1992-93 school year at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, when in the most horrifically ironic display the words “Have a fun summer, from the English Dept.” were written on the chalk board in front of the department’s office.

The idea I’d like to put forth is that no person can nominate a word to be Best Word of the Millennium. Either the word is or it is not the Best. It seems to me that the issue had been resolved by the Iowa State study. I was floored when Mr. Monson suggested that he was in favor of arbitrarily adding words (such as “erstwhile”) to the list given by the study. “Draconian, spelunk, and wench” are the findings of the study, whose goal it was to find the top three words of the millennium. And since our scope has been confined to finding the single best word of the millennium, it would seem foolhardy to compile a list at all. I don’t know what kind of superstar Mr. Monson thinks himself, to appoint himself the chairman and sole member of the letters section Best Word of the Millennium steering committee. I mean, damn.

To sum up, the Best Word of the Millennium is “draconian.”

If Mr. Monson does get his way, and everyone gets to have a say in the Best Word of the Millennium, we’ll be no better than those 10 year old soccer players that are always on the news. The ones that are in the league where everyone gets a trophy. Everyone is special. What a load of crap that—and this—is/would be *.

Steve Daniels
Colchester, Vermont

  • If that happens, I don’t want to have to send another letter, so I’ll nominate the words “effete” and “aggrandizement.”
- - -

From: “Ogilvie, Sara, ARV
Subject: This “Word of the Millenium” Hoo-Ha
Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1999

Dearest, Darling McSweeney’s:

The word of the millenium should obviously be “skeleton.” Sometimes the simplest and the most pleasing words can be overlooked. I am serious – say it with me: “skel-e-ton.” Now isn’t that fun?

Sara K Ogilvie
Kansas City, Missouri

- - -

Date: Tue, 14 Sep 1999
From: Jesse Littlewood
Subject: Birthdays

Dear McSweeney’s,

I was born on October 7, 1980. It seems that I have something in common with Colleen Werthmann of New York City. Our birthdays are seperated by one month and ten years. This must be fate stabbing me in the eye. Perhaps Colleen Werthmann of New York City will wish me a Happy Birthday sometime. I beleive that I would like that, as Ms Werthmann seems like a very nice young woman. Also, I beleive that there are no Jesse Lee Littlewoods currently enrolled at Cornell.

Jesse Lee Littlewood
Portland, Oregon
currently residing at Haverford College in Haverford, Pennsylvania

- - -

Date: Tue, 14 Sep 1999

Dearest McSweeneys and Colleen Werthmann,

I apologize for the delay in responding to Ms. Werthmann’s wonderfully rebellious and truly inspiring letter. I read it and instantly restructured my paradigm(s).

Hey, McSweeney’s: wouldn’t you disagree that Colleen Werthmann should interview me as part of your great writer actual conversation series? We think it would make a great promo piece for “The David (Abel) Mandel Hour.” That’s just what we think. Any decisions yet on the scheduling? Let me know ASAP so I can plan October. So far, I have a lunch buffet special at an all-you-can-eat joint (penciled in for the 26th), but other than that I’m pretty much wide open. Of course, I may not have the “killer instinct” needed for such a high-profile position, considering the recent blow to my ego. I could interview Colleen. She’s a writer, right? I mean she wrote that great letter that systematically cut me down like an eighth grader at recess. I was beat up a lot as a kid. My bully shot himself later in life. Was justice served? I’m not sure.

Do you need my bio? You know, to be printed before the upcoming interview (like a description card next to a museum painting, preparing the viewer to view the piece of art itself, i.e. “Cat Portrait”: 20 × 14 on canvas / mixed media: oil, newspaper, cat food (wet kind), an internal paragraph, and hair).

Here is the proposed bio (of course you can change it and embellish it as you see fit):

…Mr. Mandel is after all, a MAN!, etcetera. He was born on the beach in Puerto Rico, “ex spuma mare.” Mr. Mandel is the author of the unproduced though pretty good play about people, XENAMENOFRITO. Despite numerous writing assignments from a powerful father, he has only recently been successfully published in the Letters section of McSweeney’s Web Indication/Internet Tendency. Theatrically, as an unknown actor and sometimes “assistant” (for over 10 years) he has brought from the page to the stage several roles, including: Young Scrooge, Orestes, An Elevator and The Alarm Clock, The Narrator, Bardolph, and Tornado Victim. Growing up, Mr. Mandel sang tenor in an Episcopal choir, took a breakdancing class at the Jewish Community Center, and had his Bar Mitzvah. Have you ever seen your name carved in ice? He has. Mr. Mandel dedicates this performance to Colleen, and to all the unrepentantly festive people who are born and manage to stay alive through the years.


Colleen, hail one of those cabs and take a road trip. Come to LA and we will drive you down the 405 in our registered vehicle. We can bask. Do you like to bask? It’s great here because of the daily parades. Of course, the local news calls it “gridlock” but they can’t get away with that kind of spin control forever. At a certain point, the public will have to learn the grizly truth that traffic is a fun parade masquerading as “commuting.” Come and visit us, Colleen! Stay in the studio apartment (built by my Uncle Al, who is not a freemason (he actually charges for his services)) shared by Cameron and me, where you will be treated to the luxurious overhead lighting in our closet. Sorry, no drapes, but our wallpaper is custom-designed from the McSweeney’s Print Edition and affords ample reading distraction. I can show you my college collage (scrapbook) — lots of great pics from my days as a roadie for the Yale Whiffenpoofs. Don’t worry about bringing a change of clothes; you can borrow Cameron’s McSweeney’s Cotton Undergarment (a BIRTHDAY gift from me), guaranteed to make anyone weep happy tears. After we’ve all had a good cry, we can whisk ourselves off to the Motel 6 in Anaheim where they have the most lovely, feather-light cakes and whimsically-shaped pastries.

Anaheim IS a country.

Re: my onanism:

“And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother’s wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother. And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother’s wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother.”

(GENESIS 38:9)

I got a little foggy over just how much Colleen Werthmann has affected my outlook on the universe over the past 24 hours. I got so confused that I had to ask Cam to define a word and the difference between it (the word) and its plural. Cam said, “I think if you are talking about changing ALL of your ways, as in becoming homosexual, sleeping through the night, maintaining a constantly serious comportment, changing the color of your hair, growing six inches, etc., you would be changing paradigmS. But if you are only making changes within one category of behavior or appearance, I believe you would be changing only one paradigm.”

Be assured that you, Colleen Werthmann, have caused me to go changin’ to try and please you. I was a bad, bad man, but now my boss is a Jewish carpenter. I even went out and bought a plaque with “Footprints” on it, to hang in the bathroom.

I have decided to get rid of the middle name. Instead, I’m trying out a new nickname on you. Let me know what you think…

Best Wishes and Happy Birthdays,

David “The Daver” Mandel
Los Angeles, California

- - -

Date: Mon, 13 Sep 1999
From: “Ander M.”
Subject: re: words of the Millenium

Dear McSweeney’s and Walter Gothberg/Woody Dykott/whoever you people are,

In reference to your query regarding the Best Word of the Millen/nium, I feel that you should know that, according to a six-month study done at Iowa State University’s English department, the top three words in the English language are: draconian, spelunk, and wench. This is a result of extensive research and statistical analysis. While “erstwhile” was not included in this list, I can see some merit in its selection, and would not oppose its addition to the list if you see fit.


Ander Monson
Tuscaloosa, Alabama

- - -

From: Chris Keach
Subject: Best Word of the Millennium
Date: Mon, 13 Sep 1999

Dear McSweeney’s,

I’d like to nominate “debacle” as the Best Word of the Millennium. “Erstwhile” is good, but I prefer “debacle.”

Oh, and if you’d like to choose the Worst Street Name of the Millennium, I’d like to nominate Sepulveda (suh-PULL-vuh-duh) Boulevard.

And the Worst City Name of the Millennium would have to be Placentia (pluh-SEN-sha). Unless someone proves me wrong, in which case I’ll go with whatever they suggest.

Thank you, and goodbye,

Chris Keach

- - -

Dear McSweeneys Personnel,

Your somewhat flippant response to my previous email to you regarding the Earthlink/Scientology connection (“What makes you think that we, too, aren’t Scientologists?”) did not at all deter me from continuing my search for the truth about this whole mess. I found an informative article on the World Wide Web which should prick up your ears at this location.

With all sincerity,

Bobby Rullo

- - -

Date: Tue, 14 Sep 1999 08:11:53 -0400
Subject: self-restraint

Dear McSweeney’s,

Yesterday was my birthday. I turned 26, and I think I deserve some sort of special credit for not going on the Letters page and announcing it to the whole damn world.

Oh, wait. Never mind.

Tim Carvell
Los Angeles

- - -

Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999
From: “Walter Gothberg”
Subject: Sirz, again

Dear McSweeney’s,

Have you ever considered accepting nominees for the “Best Word of the Millenium”?

If so, I nominate the word “erstwhile” as the “Best Word of the Millenium”.

- Regards,

Woody Dykott
Sacramento, California

- - -

Dear McSwys,

I like the black dot system denoting newish content. Only it doesn’t work. I see a black dot and click on the adjacent link expecting to be regaled with newish content, only to find I read whatever it is yesterday, or last week. I therefore propose dots of varying hues denoting newest content (red), kind-of-new content (black), been-around-for-a-while-but-you-probably-haven’t-read-it-yet (gray), and so-old-it-smells-not-good (puce). I phrase the last one in that way because, upon waking this morning and stumbling into the kitchen for my coffee, I was buffeted by a noxious odor that I surmised was chicken guts disposed of the other night during the making of rotini with chicken in the sauce. It was delicious.

Peter Wallace
Atlanta, GA

- - -

Mr. McSweeney:

Excepting the thin hum of my ‘computer,’ I cannot sit in silence and allow Mr. Mandel’s onanistic aspirations to unfurl themselves, like so many hastily-purchased felt banners limply arcing to and fro at the Homecoming game, at the expense of my wry, gentle (and short, thank you!) letter informing the McSweeney’s community of my novus annum.

‘Horrors’, he seems to say, ‘let there be no such self-congratulatory birthday wishes!’

My conscience, a defensive, sense of moral outrage weaned on NYC cab-hailing and now honed at dinner parties, abhors the possibility his madly snobbish ‘concerns’ continue untrammeled.

To trammel, then: He is a party-pooper, a ‘drag,’ a wet blanket, a limp noodle (I meant nothing penile to be inferred from this metaphor, not that I’d know, or that I would mind knowing, meaning I would have no problem, we’re all grown-ups, etc., not that I love limpness, I am after all, a WOMAN!, etc.).

Just because his birthday wasn’t on September 7, 1970, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have congratulated myself for making it through another year. God!

Perhaps Mr. Mandel has ticker-tape parades thrown for him every day, a carefree yet Wallace Shawn-like existence that means
- a Victorian party cracker at every place-setting;
- luxurious drapes;
- lovely, feather-light cakes and whimsically-shaped pastries at hotels in remote countries with atrocious human rights records;
- a Masonic ancestor or two of modest, tastefully unzealous ranking;
- fond memories of collegiate a cappella mirth;

and a powerful father who could give you magazine writing assignments.

Perhaps his unexpected sense of propriety frowns on self-congratulation. To Mr. Mandel I would say: Sir, where is your empathy? Where is your good-wish repository? Locked away at the bottom of your icy soul? YOU try being an unknown actor of some talent and hapless “assistant” for an entire decade and see if you don’t congratulate yourself for making it through another year!

Clearly, Mr. Mandel, in my world a birthday means something. Even if signifying the smallest grains of sand slipping noiselessly through the eggtimer, at least a birthday means they have passed through the small neck of the glass tube thingie. Small victories come hard. Then your egg is done.

I know you’re very, very hip, and I fear your tastmakerly cultural heft, for I may be out of step with your relentless march Forward. However, Mr. Mandel, on this issue I remain fast, unwavering,immutable, not moving, and unrepentantly festive.

Mr. Mandel, if you told me it was your birthday, I would wish you a happy birthday unequivocally and without reconnoiter. But you feel you have the cultural cachet to scorn me. In a kinder, classier fashion than yours, I wish you a

Happy Birthday, Mr. Mandel. Whenever it may be.


Colleen Werthmann
New York City

- - -

Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999
Subject: Item 162648652

Dear McSweeney’s (Internet Tendency),

I hope you like parentheses, because my name is David (Abel) Mandel. You may have heard my name before, but then (before) my name (it) was simply David Mandel. My parents couldn’t think of a middle (for me) fast enough. There are so many DM duplicates out there (look around…you’ll see what I’m talking about) that I had to insert the random four-letter-word (suggested by a child named Matthew Abelman) when I joined the union. I’m here to show it off to you, my new addition, because as my favorite non-hack writer (Sean) said (and I’m paraphrasing here), your “tendency” is fast becoming the official showcase for self-congratulatory birthday announcements (Yay, Colleen!), t-shirt announcements (Yay, Cameron!), and great stories that may have a “tendency” to get all socio-political and uberthinking on your ass (Hear, hear, Sean!).

I know it’s not as original and promising a concept as Mark O’Donnell week, but perhaps when you’re making out the fall lineup and scheduling things like the “Francine Prose or Francine Pascal” thing, you might out of the stupidity of your heart consider (if you have someone who does this in one of your departments: send it down to the good idea division) … where was I? Oh yes. You might consider reserving some late night slot for something that would best be called “The David Abel Mandel Hour.” I think October would be a suitable month for this event that promises to be poorly attended, even wholly ignored. Let me know if this is going to happen (or occur, as the case may be) so I can pay someone to make the decorations. Or perhaps you know of an already-existing URL that could direct me to an auction on that ebay everyone’s talking about. Do they have a section devoted to “The David Abel Mandel Hour” decorations? I hope so. Since we are already expecting nobody to show up, we could flaunt this shrewd market research and give the public some attitude. For instance, I just thought of something for the schwag for the upcoming hour. The banners could have the following derivative and misquoted slogan printed on them: “David Abel Mandel… You Can Talk To His Hands.” But don’t dismay; keep looking on ebay. Their selection is absurdly comprehensive. I once found something practical there. Of course, at the last minute I was outbid by fifty cents. But, I bet you could find anything there if you put your mind to it. I hope your research team is up for the challenge. I would prefer an auction that ends in 2 days, 13 hours and 32 minutes. I will pay for shipping and insurance when dealing with a feedback rating over 10.

Do you know something…anything about this telephone-based company called 1-800-PREDICT? I didn’t think so. I found a note (Post It) on my desk about it. As it turns out, I recognized the handwriting. It’s mine! I can’t remember when I jotted it down, or why. Do you think if I called them they would know? Would you consider calling them for me? I think they’ve been expecting my call. I’m not very good on the phone, as you may be able to tell by the fact that I’m not talking to you on the phone. If you didn’t notice, this is a letter. In real life I stutter so much that sometimes I bleed.

In a related story…

1-800-PREDICT? What am I thinking? I don’t even trust Magic Eight Balls. Just forget it. Don’t call them. Still, there’s something in the back of my head that is not just a cancerous mole, nagging at me. You see — roughly nine years ago, a friend of mine (his name was and still is Eric) made this simple prediction for the future: “One day, Dave’s ego will escape and eat Tokyo.” Eric is no Nostalgiadamus, but still the possibility haunts me to this day. What if he’s right? I should diet. Do you recommend I follow-up with any of those handwritten posters you see in parking lots around town? Some of them sound promising, but others just sound too good to be true. There’s one behind my regular coffee place claiming: “I LOST $200 IN 30 DAYS.”

While I’m here, I should put in a work order for some FRANK & PICO sequels. The time is right. I have a tingly feeling about this. Given the current market and ability to create strong underground buzz via the youth-oriented internet, we would be kicking ourselves in the feet later if we didn’t green light something, ANYTHING with horror and/or surprises attached. It has come to my attention through various outside media sources that a suddenly-famous no middle named movie star recently got a make-over, so we might not be able to afford her (should’ve listened to me…), but something along these lines — as long as we get the right combination — could be lucrative. Don’t let this one get away. It’s a fickle business, and you only get one shot. At any rate, I don’t want to talk too much about my ideas on the new FRANK & PICO spec, but please know that there are tremendous merchandising possibilities and product placement potential. As a matter of fact, I have a good friend at that canned goods company (I think I told you about them some time) and he would be interested if we were to introduce a new sidekick into the mix called “Mr. Beans.” Let me know your thoughts.

Best regards,

David (Abel) Mandel
Los Angeles, California

- - -

From: Kevin McElwee
Subject: Scrota, Skoog, etc.
Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999

Dear McSweeneys,

I have been following with great interest the occasionally interconnecting discussion of Skoog-McHenry identity politics and scrotum-like town names on your letters page, not least because of the large number of Cornellians past and present (some of whom I know; other names I’m hearing for the first time) who seem to be somehow involved or have a stake in the matter (is there anyone reading or writing to this letters page who hasn’t lived in Ithaca, NY, at one time or another?).

So I did a basic search for the name “Eric McHenry” and one of the hits returned was, which lists the last decade or so’s results from the “Fox Valley Conference” wrestling tournament. As it turns out, this tournament, which may or may not take place in southern central Pennsylvania, has been won at least three times (1992-93, 1995) by a school named “McHenry,” while 1998 champion Grayslake was coached by a man named “Eric Skoog.” Is this mere coincidence or the product of my own paranoia? A combination of both, most likely.

And, as far as I know, there is no town anywhere in the Russian Federation whose name could reasonably be confused with the word “scrotum.” However, we do have a “Shit’kovo” right here in Moscow oblast, while Komi oblast in the Far North is home to a tiny village called “Tit” (pronounced like “teat”). I’ve never actually met anyone from either of those places.

Good day,
Kevin McElwee
Opinion Czar, “the eXile”
Moscow, Russia

P.S. Hello to Christina Dixcy… and to Uncle Poop.

- - -

Dear McSweeney’s,

Ted Kaczynski is incarcerated just a few miles down the road from where my parents live, which means he crosses my mind frequently.

While I appreciate Gary Greenburg’s honesty in admitting that he pursued this story for the singular purpose of knowing a hook for a publisher when he sees one, I have become increasingly irritated with the tone of his writings. Especially this fourth installment on your website.

I do not dispute the claim that the media creates heroes where there are none (John F. Kennedy, Jr., etc.) to embellish and humanize otherwise dry or thin material.This practice is of course improper but nonetheless proliferates the popular media. In light of the viscious, anonymous act of terrorism which created these “news” items, I can’t help but feel that it is a rather small transgression to assume that a man walked over to a bizarre and unidentifiable object in the middle of a parking lot with the intention of investigating it and possibly removing it. That’s somewhat in the vein of assuming someone scratched himself because he had an itch. Supplying a thought pattern (there are two dumpsters right by the door, why do people do this? Jesus, just drop the damn thing in) to an action with a pretty generally conceived motivation doesn’t bother me overmuch. Would one rather make the alternate assumption, that Scrutton approached the object with some unfathomable malicious intent (aha, he thought. I suppose there is some pornography in that package! I shall sell it to small children)?

My main point is: so the hell what? This is not a description of a media circus, a gross misrepresentation of character or an outlandish inflation or fictionalization. It simply seems to be aimed at putting a face on someone who had his blown off, trying (however feebly and sentimentally) to approach a story from a human angle, one that Ted Kaczynski couldn’t possibly understand.

I just discovered this very enjoyable and intriguing website and will be sure to visit daily. I’m looking forward to purchasing your hardcover version, but will probably skip the rest of this story. If the author gives every minor aspect of this story such momentous weight, I’m not up for the tedium of reading it.

Thanks for providing wonderful original content on the web.

-Libby Cox

- - -

Date: Tue, 07 Sep 1999
Subject: To the editor:

Dear McSweeney’s,

September 7, 1999

Today is my birthday.
I am 29 years old. Thank you.

New York City

- - -

From: “Star, Charles”
Date: Wed, 1 Sep 1999

Dear McSweeney’s,

The McSweeney’s letters page is very self-referential. And I think this letter proves it.

- Charles Star

- - -

Date: Wed, 01 Sep 1999
From: Sean Bosker
Subject: wtf?

Dear McSweeney’s,

Up until now, I was with the unabomber thing. The story was ok, and I appreciated the author’s candid explanation of why he pursued the story—to make his name known and publish a novel.

If only he’d stuck to the story, i.e. the letters, Ted’s printing, his agent etc. Holy shit, talk about a turn for the worse. That nonsense about mythbuilding is over the top. There’s enough of a story in the unabomber without infusing hack writing with that kind of weight. It’s obvious everyone was just bummed that some guy got blown up, and it’s also obvious that hack journalists who wish they were writers can’t control themselves. Who wants to report the facts when they can make it into a crappy literary event? Gary is just as bad: He claims that what amounts to flaccid embellishment is actually some kind of social phenomenon. Great Gary, thanks for taking an interesting story, a mercenary interest in the Unabomber, and fluffing it up with your socio-political uberthoughts.

Sean Bosker

- - -

From: “Neal Pollack”
Re: An Open Letter to Mickey Kaus (or Neal Pollack).
Date: Tuesday, Sept. 1, 1999

Dear McSweeney’s,

I was also, for a brief time, a Mormon. But I switched back to Judaism because the food was better.

Neal Pollack

- - -

Dear McSweeney’s,

I live in Columbia, South Carolina, a fact that I have capitalized upon in other, less publicized correspondence with the invisible oneness that is Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern and Timothy McSweeney’s Worldwide Fondness. Now, however, I desire to communicate a bit of South Carolina lore to the fine readership of the frothy and lightly creamy Worldwide Fondness letters page.

Columbia (which, if you’ve been reading carefully is where I live, pay attention, you’ll be quizzed later) is home to the University of South Carolina (USC). The university’s mascot is the Gamecock (which is a fighting rooster of sorts), so our athletes are often called the “Fighting Gamecocks” or simply “Cocks.” We have many delightful bumper stickers in evidence through South Carolina as a result, employing such clever phrases as “You can’t lick our Cocks!” or “You can’t beat our Cocks!” The reason few have previously enjoyed this fact is because our Cocks are the worst football team in the SEC. This is mostly because our offensive thrusts never find the hole in the opposing team’s line, and our defensive line is limp and yielding.

It recently hit me, however, upon reading the letter from the excellent J. Robert Lennon of Ithaca, New York that many athletic teams are called the “Trojans.” This is not really that odd until you realize, in light of my revelations in the previous paragraph, that the University of Southern California (USC) is represented in sporting contests by the “Trojans.” (Who happen to be a strong team…hmmm…)

Something is truly amiss here. On the one hand we have “Cocks” and other the other “Trojans.” Both are from (acronymically speaking) the same school.

How could this happen? Is it purely coincidence? I think not. I think that one could argue that these facts point to a universe that has a creator, because self-respecting random chance could never lead to a joke that funny, unless it be the omnipresence of Ed Skoog in our daily lives, and Ed Skoog (as the esteemed Tim Carvell pointed out) is merely annoying (sorry to trash your Siamese twin, J. Robert Lennon).

Other theories abound:

Perhaps this “coincidence” is the Lord’s little way of telling us that “Trojans” and “Cocks” should be widely separated. Or perhaps it’s some kind of manifestation of different factions of the Illuminati that have different values in the realm of close personal relational dynamics.

Whatever the reason, it is most fortunate that geography will prevent these two school from every playing one another in any sport, lest we read “Trojans sack Cocks” or some such in our local newspapers one day.

David L. Edwards, II
Columbia, SC

- - -

Subject: McSweeneys/Scientology Connection
Date: Wed, 1 Sep 1999
From: Bobby Rullo

Dear McSweeney’s Personnel,

A close friend of mine whose opinion I usually trust mentioned that she heard from somewhere that Earthlink has some sort of connection with the Church of Scientology. I don’t remember the source (I don’t think she did either) but it might be worth your while (as Earthlink customers) to check this out, being the sole providers of morality for many of us lost souls on the Internet. Please don’t steer us wrong.


Bobby Rullo

- - -

Date: Fri, 03 Sep 1999
Subject: The Identity of “Glossy”.
From: “America’s Sweetheart, Matt Fritchman”

To Whom It May Concern:

I believe that I have ascertained the true identity of the magazine referred to cleverly as “Glossy” in Gary Greenberg’s In the Kingdom of the Unabomber article through the analysis and decryption of certain clues hidden throughout the piece.

Glossy = Highlights.

Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter,
Matt Fritchman