Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2000
From: Kiersten Conner-Sax
Subject: Chuck Easterling & Dianna

Dear McSweeney’s,

In reference to Chuck Easterling’s message in reference to my message, in which I said Chuck was my hero and Chuck said there was a woman named Dianna who had no interest in dating him:

Dianna is clearly foolish and shallow. Were I not married, I would crusade for your love. Alas, I am married, but I have many single friends, and if you live in greater New York, I will gladly introduce you to them. In fact, I have a cheap-ass little video camera, and we could broadcast you’re meeting them live, on the McSweeney’s web site.

Here are brief descriptions of my friends:

Alyson: 5’4", auburn hair, just received her Ph.D. in neurobiology, but you wouldn’t know it to talk to her. She has a tendancy to dance around and wear ill-fitting shoes.

Sarah: 5’8" (at least), brown curly hair. She’s really Alyson’s friend and I don’t know her that well, but she’s dating this guy who’s already broken up with her twice, and I’m sure she’ll be single again soon.

Justine: 5’5", long light brown hair, just finished medical school. She’ll buy you chocolate.

There are probably more, but now I’m thirsty. Let me know.


- - -

Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2000
Subject: Who Am I

Dear McSweeney’s,

I found this test on a web site devoted to a specific stereotype.

I have not edited the test for spelling.

Alright, bassically there are a few very important factors to bieng a “insert stereotype here” is a simple quiz for all of you “so-called” “insert stereotype here”out there.

1. Do you have naturually wavy/curly hair which you straighten each day and or/ have highlighted by a treandy salon nearest you?
2. Do you own at least two of each A) Kate Spade purse or acsessory B) anything PRADA
3. Is a typical outfit in warmer weather (base this on last season) a pair or 100$ or more Jeans or Capris, a little white t-shirt and a black hooded sweatshirt to be casual ( and of course the little black kate spade)
4. Do you have money left over from your $20,000+ rite of passage event for “insert stereotype here”?
5. Did you get a car for your sweet sixteen, and then a different one aprox. two years later?
6. Did you ever use word like Naush (for nauseas or when somthing wasent cool enough) and lastly
7. have you perfected/practiced the typical “insert stereotype here” there.stare ..if you dont know what im talking about then youre not really a “insert stereotype here”.

OK so if you answered at least…well ill do this like a cosmo quiz
Yes to 1-3 questions —Dreaming of “insert stereotype here”
Yes to 4-5 questions
—-getting there
Yes to 6-7 questions—-consider yourself crowned
love to hear some results..have fun !!

Addendum by me: If you can’t spell check your emails you are the ultimate “insert stereotype here”

Yours truly,

Queen Esther

- - -

Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2000
Subject: S.A.D. Test

Dear McSweeney’s,

I wrote this quiz as an alternative to a quiz that I read on the web:

Social Anxiety Disorder: How to find out if you are in need of Paxyl¨

1. Do you ignore sales people when they say “Hello”?
2. Do you lie to fellow moviegoers when they ask if a seat is taken?
3. Do you sometimes spill drinks on the seats on either side of you in a movie theater to avoid sitting next to a stranger?
4. Do you screen your telephone calls?
5. Do you cringe when people you barely know lean to give you the “kiss hello”?
6. Do you pretend to not speak English when tourists on the street ask you for directions?
7. Do you give tourists on the street the wrong directions?
8. Do you introduce yourself with a fake name when you don’t like the person you are meeting?
9. Do you avoid parades, concerts, plays, and other heavily attended entertainment events?
10. Do you know the entire list of channels for your cable system? (If you do not have cable, you don’t need Paxyl¨.
11. Do you go to Blockbuster when renting a cheesy movie so that you don’t have to face the knowing look that the guy at the hip video store will give you?
12. Do you prefer sex with a stranger to an evening getting to know someone?
13. Do you subscribe to more than 5 magazines (monthlies)?
14. Do you read all of those magazines, really read them?
15. Do you lie to people on the street when they ask you for any of the following: a cigarette, a light, a quarter, the time?
16. Do you cut your own hair so as to avoid a painful conversation with your hairdresser?
17. Have you ever backed out of an engagement or appointment using the excuse of excessive diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome?
18. Have you ever denied that you were yourself so as to avoid an encounter with someone you know?

Give yourself 1 point for each of the following questions that you answered yes to: 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15
Give yourself 2 points for each of the following questions that you answered yes to: 3, 5, 7, 8, 10, 14, 16, 17, 18

22-27 Points: Go directly home (take a cab, no public transportation), pull the blanket over your head, order in dinner and make sure that you have the exact change including tip so as to avoid a lengthy encounter with the delivery person. Fill your prescription for Paxyl¨ over the Internet.

17-21 Points: You are on the verge of S.A.D. If you just take a moment to listen to the annoying girls discussing their shoes, behind you in the theater you may reach the full-blown stage of S.A.D. Stay away from Williamsburg and Greenwich Village, and do not go anywhere near Washington Square Park-friendly strangers flock to these locations.

7-16 Points: You are relatively safe. A city dweller with a slight don’t fuck with me attitude, but nothing to be preoccupied. Continue with your friendly self. Ignorance is bliss I hear.

1-6 Points: Just go back to Kansas or whatever little friendly place you came from. You do not belong in New York. You should not be talking to that person who is obviously not interested in hearing about your great aunt’s second wedding.

Yours truly,

All By Myself

- - -

Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2000
From: Ken Alper
Subject: playground chants

Dear McSweeney’s,

At West Belmar Elementary School, we concentrated largely on bodily functions.

There were literally dozens of verses to the Diarrhea Song, only two of which come to mind right now:

When you’re climbing up the ladder
And you hear something splatter

When you’re walking down the hall
And you feel something fall

There were more, but they’ve left my head after twenty or so years. I’m disappointed, because I’m fairly sure I knew them all at one point. Perhaps someone with a better head can remember.

There was also something about greasy gobs of gopher parts or something, but I never really learned it.

Oh, one time the teachers were on strike and a bunch of us sang “We Don’t Need No Education” at them.

Ten-foot-weenies never came up.

Oh, there was some girl named Sharon Mitchell who no one I knew ever saw, but she was supposed to be pretty unattractive, I guess, because boys would always chant at each other, “you love Sharon Mitchell!”

Thank You.

—Ken Alper

- - -

From: Liam Black
Subject: Praise?
Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2000

Dear Chaps,

I felt that addressing it to “McSweeneys” or “Sirs” would seem starched, so I’m experimenting with different salutory phrases. I was just curious as to whether or not you were aware that your Internet Tendency is currently nominated for something called a “Webby Award”? I discovered it quite by mistake. I was attempting to rack up some “chic points” by brushing up on the Utne Reader (for all those interested, I scored an astonishing 40 out of 200 on their Emotional Intelligence Quiz) when I came to a desparate plea to cast my vote for Utne on the aforementioned awards site. I trundled over in the manner of trundling befitting a man enjoying an extremely satisfying bagel whilst walking down a crowded street. Or, rather, I did the “cyberspace” equivalent of this activity, which is less interesting as all I had to do was click on a hyperlink.

I’d really appreciate a bagel just now.

At any rate, I flipped open the Humor category because I was seeking some sort of assistance in the sisyphean battle I fight daily against boredom, and felt that these prestigious awards (I’m not actually certain if they’re prestigious or not) might point me in the right direction. In a manner of speaking they did, though I’ve already been in that direction and as I was looking for something new, the old direction seemed briefly lacklustre, which made me quite sad. I then recalled how near we had come to losing your lovely Tendency, and was happy once again that you:

1) Existed
2) Were receiving recognition

I’m not sure if these awards are the real deal, the yardstick by which all things web are measured, or if they are merely a ruse. Perhaps after your site is nominated, you have to purchase some sort of lawn decoration from them. For the discerning reader, I’d like to note that I found nothing related to lawn decoration upon the Webby web site. I didn’t stay for long or investigate to thoroughly, however. It is possible that this is all a scam to move black-panelled trucks full of lawn gnomes around America. Sleek, powerful engines of kitsch landscaping.

Just to prove that I’m not lying, the web addres is Or, just as a special favour the HTML to include this when you’re posting my letter would be. The Webby Awards & Lawn Decoration Supply House. Please note that I am XML compatible with my use of entirely lower case, according to the must recent stylesheet which I possess.

If you already knew about this, you can feel free to disregard my letter. Also, I’d like to point out that I’ve received no response in connection with the fruit cake issue, and it would be a shame for it to go to waste.

Liam Black

P.S. As your discretion was much appreciated in connection with my parenthesising in the last letter, I would appreciate it if you would not inform either The Washington Post or the New York Times of my excessive use of quotation marks. I am well aware that it is my duty to report, not to infer. I hold this close to my heart at all times, but the darn things are just too kissably cute.

- - -

From: “JMcBirney”
Subject: Amanda Summers’ childhood chants
Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

I just wanted to let Amanda know that parts of her Pepsi-dini song sound familiar to me. Especially the part that goes:

Down down baby, down by the roller coaster,
Sweet sweet baby, no place to go.

Except the version I remember says:

Down down baby, down by the roller coaster,
Sweet sweet baby, never gonna let you go.

Then it goes on to say something like:

Sugar sugar cocoa puffs, sugar sugar pow
Sugar sugar cocoa puffs, sugar sugar pow
Ice cream soda with a cherry on the top.

I remember doing the hand motions as well but I can’t for the life of me remember the song….and it’s funny you wrote about it too because that is one of the songs that drives me crazy not to remember! Of course, I do remember all the words and hand movements to ‘Old Lady Mack’ but I’ll spare everyone here and not write all the words. Unless of course someone requests me to, then I would be happy to oblige.

I often wonder how much smarter I would be if my mind wasn’t clogged with old grade school rhymes…and of course, every word to almost every popular song from the 80’s.

Bored at work (as usual),

Jen McBirney

- - -

Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2000
From: “Judith Kellner”
Subject: Something beginning with “e”
Organization: gURL mAIL (

Dear McSweeney’s,

My memory is not at all what it used to be. That’s the first thing.

The second thing is this: I love your website.

This is the fourth thing: It was recommended to me by one of my patients.

Here’s that third thing: My patients talk about the web all the time and usually it is some pretty scary stuff.

3a) Killer robots, autopsy pictures, nasty pranks at some sclemiel’s expense, mysogyny up the “wazoo.” That’s what they generally “recommend” to me.

3b) Some of my patients are very hostile to the therapeutic process. I don’t take it personally.

V: Me and some of the others are skipping out of work to go see a movie so I must go!

I look forward to reading your book!

Judy Kellner, PhD

- - -

From: “Butler, Christopher (Nick Online)”
Subject: Feeney, Mussolini, a Genie & McSweeney’s
Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

Dear McSweeney’s (Plus of course TG Gibbon, Amanda Summers, Sam Stark & Ron Dulin—and any other writer whose letter I overlooked due to amblyopia),

The vitriolic, defiant and fist-shaking Jesus Christ playground anthem has gone largely untouched by would-be shedders of light, and for this I may be thankful, after all. It’s OK.

As for poor Mary Beth Feeney… well, there appears to be some debate regarding whether or not she was ever endowed with the proverbial stout cock in the first place. Perhaps we had it wrong in New York. With respect to alternate theories:

A) Mussolini, I believe, boasted ten feet of ziti at no point in his life, He was, however, publicly castrated.

B) The genie. I don’t find genies funny, but I agree that a genie is more likely to swing ten feet of snake than, say, a prepubescent Long Island female—even a fictional prepubescent Long Island female. In fact, endowing oneself with ten feet of retractable penis is just the brand of deviance I’d expect from a bottled spirit!

C) McSweeney’s ten foot weenie?

w/r/t the 6 foot 4 v. 5 foot 4 debate, I will site to the alliterative clues in the preceding lines. It would appear there is a preponderance of the “S” sound. But, sure, I guess it’s better if Mary Beth loses a more substantial percentage of her pendular pee pee.

The mysteries perpetuate.

Here’s another one from the playground. It requires that you insert two names. I will select, at random, two names. It goes like this:

Down by the river where nobody goes There lies Allison without any clothes Along comes Jeff, swingin’ his chain POPPED open his zipper and out it came! Three months later and all is well… Six months later she started to swell… Nine months later and out it came! Little Jeffrey junior, swingin’ his chain!

AOL instant messages accepted by zsumoz.

You are all very tender.

- - -

From: “Butler, Christopher (Nick Online)”
Subject: Addenda/errata
Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

A) I am horrified to note the misspelling of cite in my previous letter. We all make small mistakes while ingesting stimulants/huffing gas on the job—am I right?

B) This Galapagos get together landed me in the hot seat. One of the bartenders was clad in a shortish, mildly plaidish skirt and longish, yellowish soccer type socks. Well, this bartender’s physical atrributes were deemed more than acceptable by my compainions, which fact I innocently shared with my loving girlfriend. She replied, “Um.”

Then I committed the following gaffe: “Well, she DOES have great legs.” Penalty Box. Doghouse.Instant shut-down.

What happened to you at Galapagos?
All y’alls pal,

- - -

Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2000
From: “Maggie Trayer”
Subject: (No Subject)
Organization: MailCity (

Dear McSweeney’s,

I subscribe to one of those many targeted-marketing e-mail services. Mine is called “Bonus Mail.” I filled out a profile, and the service sends me advertisements about websites that I get “points” for visiting. Eventually, I have enough points that I cash in for gift certificates. I choose gift certificates.

But, I digress.

Yesterday, I got an e-mail about a new dieting website (I don’t know how that applies to my profile). The website has an amazing new dieting product called “Fat to Firm.” Anyone, any age (apparently) can go from fat to firm with their program.

Here’s the problem: Their website address is “” Do you see the problem? To me, that reads “fatto firm,” like a firm of fattos, or a firm for fattos. The only thing worse would be “fatto farm.” That can’t be the image that they want or mean to project. Can it? But can this merely be an online linguistic oversight on their part? Have the creators of websites and Internet businesses really gotten this sloppy?

Probably. Unfortunately.

Maggie Trayer

- - -

Date: 24 Mar 00
From: Thomas Gibbon
Subject: Update on my problems

Dear McSweeney’s,

I fully realise everything now; I can’t afford a therapist.

My book was spotted being read on the G train by my friend “Marla” (a lovely woman from a lovely family, especially her brother “Good John Slivovitz” whose nickname predates “Good Will Hunting,” a movie for god-only-knows whom, unlike “Space Truckers” which is for everybody, and actually refers to a time long ago in a distant land where there was an “Evil John Slivovitz” who palled around with Wotan and Big Head and possibly Dr Claw while studiously avoiding Excellent Dude and Ryan Johnson II, although my friend “Nabe,” whom I sometimes call “Trevor,” and who is Marla’s special man-friend, might suggest some collusion between the two shady bands).

But Spring is in full swing and, aside from moderate to heavy C.H.U.D. in the air, I have few complaints, so here are my lottery picks: 21-2-53-36-82-8.

Thanks for your help,

ps- What the hell is tandem jumping?
pps- Sometimes I think I am evil. I told my friend “Lorne Greene” that I thought the phrase “As a child I was bathed in nightmares” was pretty cool but that it may explain why he can’t get a job, and he told me it just meant that he often dreamt about “bath-time gone awry” (which to me suggests monkeys and Dick van Patten). I think I was bathed in nightmares as a child. Nightmares of my own design.

- - -

From: “Mike Topp”
Subject: Calf, Calf
Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2000 PST

Dear McSweeney’s:

Here is a childhood chant that is sung in Korea, except there they sing it in Korean. I translated this with help from someone from Korea:

Calf, calf,
polka-dot calf,
Mother Cow
is a polka-dot cow.

Look like Mommy.


Mike Topp

- - -

Date: 24 Mar 00 MST
From: Vance Del Rio
Subject: puppet masters

Dear McSweeney’s,

I would like to thank Amanda Summers for sharing her puppet design. Puppet shows are a lot of fun and everyone should try his or her hand at making a puppet. If you get good at it now, you will certainly shine when you have children of puppet-making age.

I also recommend that your readers peruse some of Amanda’s other published writings, which can be found at, and which are quite good. “Where Do I Live?” and “Night” make excellent use of repetition and variation thereupon. The short fiction work, “THE BOY WHO WAS OBSESSED WITH HIS DOG,” is captivating.

As the McSweeney’s community grows, we should each take advantage of the fascinating resources we readers have to offer each other. Support your fellow McSweeney’s readers! And when you visit Amanda’s room, please give my best to Sugar, Pounce, Sassy, and Izzy the Lizard. And let’s not forget Chelsea, who is, after all, Amanda’s best friend.

Take care,
Vance Del Rio

- - -

From: “Newhart, Bryson”
Subject: A belated letter on my appearance at the Galapagos gala
Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

Being a fan of any event featuring a hubcap Frisbee tournament, not to mention beer and shouting, I decided to travel all the way from Moscow, Russia to make an appearance at your now infamous Galapagos gala, knowing, in advance, that it would indeed be infamous, and thinking, “a good chance for some exercise,” as I planned to jog through Europe and then swim across the ocean.

Once there, I intended to demonstrate my Frisbee catching skills by intercepting a rusty hubcap with my teeth — something I’d been practicing on the side of the highway for months. I was then hoping to claim my Amazon review prize in the form of a copy of issue number 4. For months I’ve been waiting for its arrival in my mailbox, and let me tell you something, living inside a mailbox is far from easy even for us Russians. I also thought, “Maybe the MR will award my wonderful cut and paste endorsement in some other way. Rather than simply fulfilling my subscription, maybe he’ll offer me a sizeable chunk of ground floor stock in the McSweeney’s restaurant franchise. Or perhaps just a sizeable chunk of ground floor from his Park Slope brownstone. Such a chunk of rich brown stone could feed a family of Chechens for months. Too bad I’ll be hoarding it beneath my bed.” These were my thoughts as I chugged a bottle of vodka, put on my wetsuit and snowshoes, and did a few preparatory stretches. But then I noticed the time. “Damn,” I said to Vanya, my bearded aunt — Russian law now requires there be a bearded aunt in every apartment — “I do not have time to jog across Europe. I guess I’ll have to teleport.”

Vanya spat out the dirty potato she’d been sucking on. “Luchshe hui v ruke chem pizda na gorizonte,” she replied. Roughly translated: “Better a prick in the hand than a cunt on the horizon,” meaning, “A bird in hand is worth two in the bush,” or, “A belly of beer is worth five in the face.” We Russians are known for our effusive farewells.

Generally I find teleporting to be a fairly reliable means of travel. But last Thursday I experienced complications. Instead of appearing in the Brooklyn social club beneath the bar, in the balcony, on the shitter, or in some other convenient place, I did not even appear in human form. Instead, I materialized on a large blue canvas behind the stage in the form of a naked, ambiguously-gendered figure with no neck or face. And if this wasn’t enough, I also seemed to be wearing a red cape: a proud symbol, no doubt, of my communist heritage — one that I wouldn’t be ashamed to wear in almost any other situation — but in this case, an extremely embarrassing addition. As I looked nervously around me, I noticed that people were laughing, many of them pointing with long sticks, others standing on chairs to pour beers down each other’s throats. Fortunately, I soon realized that they were not in fact laughing at me, but at a man below me on the stage, in a black suit, saying funny things into a microphone.

During the intermission I pealed myself off the wall and decided to go for a dip in the inky lap pool, my two-dimensional appearance helping me to easily slip between the rowdy McSweeney’s fans circling the room in bumper cars. That my body was paper thin also proved helpful in the black, seemingly bottomless lap pool which I quickly discovered was actually only a few inches deep. I discovered this when I tossed myself off a man’s shoulders and landed in it like a piece of cardboard dropped in a puddle. Pleasantly surprised to find that I had the pool to myself, I flopped in a desperate butterfly backstroke for a while and then assisted an 8-year-old boy who rode across the pool on my stomach, using me like a skimboard so he could fight his way to the bar with numchucks. When I emerged, my girth had returned but the pool was empty. Apparently, like those flat sponges that expand when wet, I had absorbed all the water.

Wrapped in the red cape and feeling a bit bloated, I lumbered through the crowds now dancing in synch and plumped in the barber’s chair, not knowing that the hair on my head was in fact only a tattoo of hair caused by the inky water, my actual hair having been lost in the teleport. I was feeling inspired at this point by Neal Pollack’s heartwarming tale of Paris, and I therefore affected my French accent, the one I usually reserve for only my closest friends.

“Monsieur McSweeney,” I said, presenting my bald head to him like an overcooked honey glazed turkey. “Please snip away.” He grabbed my scalp as though plucking a melon and gave it a smack. “But you are bald,” he said, to which everyone laughed. Monsieur McSweeney then rubbed away the ink as though polishing a bowling ball and revealed my pink scalp. Several Italians leapt to their feet, laughing hysterically and ripping out their hair. “Ciao! Testa di cazzo!” they yelled. “Maybe you need some of this on your head first, eh? Parrucchiere! Spit out your chewing gum. Paste some of this on the bald man’s pate!”

This was extremely embarrassing and I suddenly lost my ability to teleport. Forced to leave on foot, I skulked away as a caveman appeared in the audience and smashed a guitar over his head. Meanwhile, on the stage, Mr. Pollack tried to speak over the sounds of breaking glass, unable to get the attention of the boisterous audience now stacking themselves into a giant human pyramid which kept getting knocked down again and again by some rogue still flying about in a bumper car. Mr. Pollack’s tale was a simple one about a man in a furry red diaper and a platinum nipple ring speculating in a sunken living room on the prospect of becoming a slave owner, but these literary hooligans wanted nothing more than to transform their collective body into a human staircase leading to nothing but the pinnacle of their own vanity.

To save face, I crawled between the legs of people running to add their weight to the human tower while others, noticing that I was on my knees, got to their knees as well, thinking perhaps that I was attempting to form the base to a rival human pyramid. This was not so. I was merely trying to escape. When I made it to the bar room it was empty except for an accordion-playing mime, a woman tearing off layer after layer of clothing to demand sex, a man performing dental work on the bar with homemade drills sterilized in gin, and a gator-wrestling Indian Chief searching for his lost finger. A woman standing at the bar in a steak dress handed me a bottle of A1 and said, “Munch my collar studboy.”

Outside I briefly stumbled past a white stretch limousine toward a brightly-lit dumpster with a canopy bed inside it. But then I decided to take the L train to Canarsie. From there, I figured, I could swim back to Russia. On the platform I ran into my girlfriend’s cousin Igor, a one-legged contortionist from St. Petersburg. He was cruising around on roller-skates — one on his single leg and one on each of his crutches — gripping a cup of change in his toothless gums. When I ran into him our combined momentum sent him into a spin, much like the McSweeney’s tripod thingy only with wheels, a rapid spin applied to it, and a torso protruding from the candle. I didn’t get a chance to say hello. Poor Igor just kept spinning, faster and faster. He was still spinning even as I boarded the subway.

Sucked like a fish into the throat of Brooklyn, on my way to Jamaica Bay — without, alas, the new McSweeney’s, but sated by an evening of surprises — I closed my eyes and imagined the white limousine somewhere above, perhaps on the BQE, slowly walking on its hind legs like a drunken polar bear. “I am glad that I made this journey,” I thought in my native Russian, “Even if I’m going to be late for work tomorrow.”

But I wasn’t late. I arrived at the Kremlin right on time. A little wet from my swim, yes, but glad because it was St. Patrick’s Day, Russia’s favorite American holiday that is not really an American holiday, and because it was snowing — a blizzard of Lucky Charms cereal — and swashbuckling leprechauns, those happy little bastards, were parading through Red Square with wheelbarrows full of brightly-colored marshmallows, chanting, “They’re magically delicious!”


Bryce Newhart

- - -

From: “Peter Bebergal”
Subject: pirates
Date: Sun, 26 Mar 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

It just so happened that after seeing an exhibit on tiarras, my wife, a friend, and my wife’s sister were talking about the word “encrusted” and how this word automatically conjures up images of encrusted jewels, diamonds and rubies and whatnot. I said that when I heard the word “encrusted” I automatically thought of barnacles. Specifically barnacles on the hull of a sunken pirate ship in which there might be hidden gold dubloons. If you are scuba diving and you come across the ship and you peer into one of the portholes there is a good chance you would see an octopus inside, or maybe a giant squid.

All my best,

Peter Bebergal

- - -

Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2000
From: Scott Matthew Korb
Subject: [What I had intended]

Dear McSweeney’s,

I was sad to see that someone else had written about mints.

I was going to write about a lunch I had with M. Ryan Purdy (of Urich fame) and these tasty mints the restaurant provided their customers as a little treat after their meals. The dispenser looked something like what they have in BINGO parlors or one of those magic vacuum contraptions used for the lottery. The mint dispenser was not mechanized, however; all I had to do was tip it a little on its axis. It looked something like that ball in which you sometimes see hamsters running, though there was a hole from which the mints spilled out into my hand. I think I ate about ten mints.

Here is what I was going to write had someone not already written about mints. I think it is a real shame someone already wrote about mints.


(As I remember it happening.)

A dog

Scene One: New York City. SMK is eating mints. It is about noon (this was an early lunch). MRP, smoking (though cutting back because smoking is no longer good for you), walks next to SMK.

SMK: These are good mints. Want one?

MRP: No.

SMK: They have a fruit in the middle, or something like fruit.

MRP: Yes, I see.

SMK: I’ve never had one of these before.

MRP: They don’t have Jelly Mints in the midwest?

SMK: They are called Jelly Mints?

MRP: Yes.

SMK: I suppose that makes sense. They taste like jelly beans in the middle. They really are called Jelly Mints?

MRP: Yes.

(Birds chirp.)

SMK: Really? They have a name? I thought they were just mints. Jelly Mints?

MRP: Yes.

SMK: Jelly Mints?

MRP: Jelly Mints.

SMK: Jelly Mints, really?

(MRP does not answer. SMK is disturbed, but confident.)

SMK: Jelly Mints.

(A dog barks.)


[That is all. It would have been better had there been no prior letters about mints. Really. It would have. Just imagine it. Boggles the mind. I think. Though, that is what happens, I suppose, when one takes his own sweet time writing a letter.

I am sorry. I’ll be sure to get it right next time.]

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

- - -

Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2000
From: “Luke O’neil”
Subject: Some things that depress me

Dear McSweeney’s,

I never thought I would be writing to you under these circumstances. You see, I am not the type of guy that these things normally happen to.

I live in what most people would call a fairly decent apartment building on the upper east side of new york city. Friends of mine have had such things to say about it as: (1) “Decent place, I suppose.” (2) “Seen worse.” and so on…You can imagine such a place I am sure.

The floors of the building (there are six) have been arranged in the fashion of the day, which places a successive row of doors alternating from one side of the hall to the other along either wall. As luck would have it, my front door is situated directly across from another identical door. Both doors are green, I should probably mention.

The sounds of a radio playing can often be heard from behind this door. The radio is played at incredible volumes (as in: “I simply cannot believe a radio can be played at such a volume.”) This radio usually has it dial tuned to a “talk” radio station.

This past Saturday, exiting my particular apartment, I came across a nice old lady whom I presumed to be my neighbor. Keys were jangled. We exchanged a pleasant platitude or two. I nodded my head once or twice I am pretty sure, smiled, then walked away.

The next day, as I was leaving, I encountered the very same woman. “Looks like we are keeping the same schedule” she said. She was smiling.

“Yes,” I said. “Yes we are…” then ran out.

Later on that day I had a copious ammount of wine with a few of my young friends in a Spanish restaraunt downtown. Some of these people were as young as twenty one. Cigarettes were smoked.

That night I went back to my apartment. It was late for people of almost any age. There was no radio playing.

You see what I mean?

Oh. Nevermind. Using this old woman, who just now reminds me of my eldery grandmother, to make some clever point or other, has all of a sudden depressed me very much.

Incidentally, here are a few other things that have depressed me recently:

1) People waving their arms vigorously from passing motor boats to people on shore.
2) People waving at home video cameras."

At any rate, here is a conversation I had not five minutes ago that may or may not tie things up nicely.

3/27/00 12:41 PM
Lshiggyz: first let me say that i think the whole style is derivative of barthelme
leoneil47: yes. it is,very much so — or whoever he was derivative of…
Lshiggyz: and then let me say that i think that it is the literary equivalent of low-fi music
Lshiggyz: and next i would like to point out that it may appeal more to writers than readers
leoneil47: yes yes. these things are all likely to be true
Lshiggyz: and lastly i would like to ask you if you have any thoughts on those statements in particular
Lshiggyz: or the genre in general
Lshiggyz: or the general’s daughter
leoneil47: i think john travoltas was great in that film — lots of firm grimacing and so on. true grit.
Lshiggyz: i figured as much. given a chance, a man of your stature will almost always address the comical side of a serious question
leoneil47: ha – yes, well, i am trying to write this mcsweeneys letter as we speak
leoneil47: you gave me an idea though
Lshiggyz: well send it to me/fill me in on it when you’re done. until then i’ll leave you alone
Lshiggyz: but remember, i am digital, and that breeds impatience
leoneil47: ye
leoneil47: s

“Luke” O’Neil

- - -

From: “Mary Harris”
Subject: Thanks!
Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2000 EST

Dear McSweeney’s,

1) After weeks of thumb-twiddling anticipation (during which I sent y’all some disgruntled, yet charming, emails), I’ve received the first installment of my Lifetime Subscription. It was delightful. It was just like the care packages my mother never sent me in college. Thanks.

2) While in Santa Monica recently, browsing what would be a serious art book store on the east coast (but, as it was located on That Other Coast, was staffed by friendly surfer-types rather than a cadre of grimacing men with caesar haircuts and fanciful glasses), I found a whole section of gag “medicine.” For instance, some white powder and fake syringe in a plastic baggie, labelled “Be in Love — Forever!!” and another plastic baggie with a couple of pink pills labelled “Be White!” But the one that caught my eye was the pair of blue-and-white pills labelled “Mr. McSweeney’s Protestant Pills.” I briefly considered buying them and sending them to The Representative, but was discouraged by the $5 pricetag. I mean, maybe he doesn’t even want to be Protestant.

— M.

- - -

From: “kathleen Senf”
Subject: Playground chants
Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2000 MST

Dear McSweeney’s,

I was reading some of the other letters about playground chants, and I have a request. It is not so much a chant as it is a song, but does anyone know all the words to the little ditty that contains the lines:
“..great big gobs of …greasey gopher guts,

Perkolated birdies feet….
French fried eyeballs swimming in a pool of blood,
Gee I forgot my spoon.
How ’bout a straw?"

I know it’s an odd song, but we used to sing it on the playground all the time. Those are unfortunately the only words I can remember. I don’t think the song ever made it out west, because no one out here in Alberta, where I currently live, has ever heard of the song. It’s not a matter of life or death. It’s just one of those things that drives you nuts when you’re trying to remember the words.
Thank-you for your time.
Kathleen Senf

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Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2000
From: Joe Schumacher
Subject: 12 things I have written on US currency

Dear McSweeney’s,

The following is a list of 12 things (slightly annotated) I have written within the blank margins on the back of one, five, and ten dollar bills and distributed, through the purchase of goods and services, at many locations in the New York metropolitan area over the past several weeks.

- If you are not afraid you do not understand.
- The lightness of being is an illusion.
- You will find a flawed love in a rainstorm. (in retrospect too fortune cookie-ish?)
- Serendipity is to be expected.
- Sorrow is not a panacea for loneliness. (sorry Yo La Tengo)
- Tomorrow will be better, unfortunately.
- I am riding on the train! (I was riding on a train)
- If you sleep you will have nightmares.
- I like chocolate ice cream, but not today. (it was a cold day)
- Enjoy hot chocolate every day!
- A moment of silence will interrupt your sleep.
- (not yet, but she suggested this be done and seems like a very nice person)
- Ann Marie Box 86B Wed. (actually, I received this today, but did not write it)

Some of these seem awfully sad, but do not worry, I am not sad.


Joe Schumacher

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Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2000
From: “D. J. Waletzky”
Subject: Letter? Story? Trash? Who knows?

Dear McSweeney’s,

Here’s what happens when the phone lines get crossed between the legal advice clinic and the humor magazine at a Canadian university.

Me: “Elvis Sightings Hotline-the King is out there.”
Caller: Hello?
Me: Yes?
Caller: Is this the Legal Clinic?
Me: Ah, no. The lines must be crossed.
Caller: But I called the-
Me: I know. But we’re not the Legal Clinic.
Caller: OK. Bye.


Me: “Elvis Sightings Hotline-the King is out there.”
The Same Woman Who Called Three Minutes Ago: Yes. I have a problem.
Me: Ah-ha.
Caller: I’m sorry, do you speak French?
Me: Sorry, no.
Caller: OK. I am a housekeeper. I worked for…


…so, what am I going to do?
Me: OK. The way I see it is this. You have one big problem.
Caller: Yes?
Me: You haven’t reached the Legal Clinic. This is the humor magazine.
Caller: Oh . Well, what am I supposed to do?
Me: I don’t know. I’m not a law student.
Caller: Then why are you answering the phone?
Me: This is not the legal clinic. Sorry, but I can’t advise you.
Caller: Fine. Goodbye.


Me: “Elvis Sightings Hotline- the King is out there.”
Same Caller: Hello. I have a problem.
Me: I’m sorry, but this is still not the Legal Clinic.
Caller: How can it not be the Legal Clinic? I called the Legal Clinic!
Me: Sorry, but like I said before, the lines got mixed up.
Caller: I think you are lying. You just don’t want to help me.
Me: Actually, we’re just the humor magazine.
Caller: Whatever. Goodbye.


D. J. Waletzky

- - -

From: “Mike Topp”
Subject: Q & A
Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2000 PST

Dear McSweeney’s,

Q. Where does the French horn come from?
A. Personne sait d’ou le cor d’harmonie vient.


Mike Topp

- - -

Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2000
Subject: Mannequins

Dear McSweeney’s,

During the last few years, science has taken credit for many amazing discoveries. Sheep no longer need to reproduce; we can clone them instead. The George Foreman grill lets humans enjoy a char-grilled hamburger in the dead of winter without braving the elements. Yet, one question remains unanswered: why do men have nipples? We may never know. Perhaps male nipples once served a purpose, and will be another victim of Darwinism generations from now, like what happened to the tusks all humans had until 1845. Not that I care, I’ll be long dead when any of my great-great-great-great grandsons are born nippleless. The question that does concern me is why mannequins, particularly male mannequins, have nipples.

Yesterday, I had the honor of attending the Global Shop trade show in Chicago. The show features means for stores to display their merchandise. Many mannequin manufacturers were represented. All of the mannequins were naked. Most did not have faces or even heads for that matter, but I’d say 85% per cent of them were equipped with nipples. I can’t figure out why. I thought that maybe the mannequins demonstrated that the clothes being promoted offer protection from a nipple protruding from a shirt, a faux pas that once cost me a job at a Fayva shoe store. But how do customers know that these mannequins even have nipples to begin with? I sure as hell didn’t.

I also wonder if there is a special machine that molds nipples into the type of plastic mannequins are made of. If so, I’m guessing it’s called the Nipplelator 6000. Or maybe it’s done with computers. I can’t figure it out.

I was going to ask the well dressed and coifed folks working at one of the many mannequin companies booths, but I’m afraid of talking to people I don’t know. And they didn’t look like the type of people that wanted some wise guy snooping around and asking about their mannequins’ nipples. They might have told security and then I would be barred from attending future Global Shops’. Just what I need.


Robert Recklaus

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Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2000
Subject: Sesame Street

Dear McSweeney’s,

I was taking a cab home this evening and when the driver stopped at a red light at Astor Place a man in a red car next to us rolled down his window and motioned to the driver of the cab.
“Excuse me,” the man said. “Do you know this neighborhood?”
“Yes,” answered the cab driver.
“I’m looking for a street and I can’t find it anywhere,” said the man in the car.
“4th Street?” suggested the cab driver.
“No. Sesame,” replied the man in the red car.
The cab driver stared blankly at the man in the red car.
“Sesame. Do you know it?” asked the man in the red car. Again, the cab driver looked confused and said nothing.
“Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?” requested the man in the red car. “I need to get there sometime before April 1st,” he said looking at his watch.

Best regards,

Justine Hermitage

- - -

Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2000
From: Tom Stanley
Subject: My letter would be of the un-funny sort

Dear McSweeney’s,

1) Letters of too many words;
2) letters self-consciously incorporating a non sequitur;
3) letters designed solely to identify the author as a seventh year English PhD student at a celebrated university; and
4) letters lampooning this letter.

During my celebrated early days at Oxford, back when I spent most of my time drinking Bergin and dancing the hop, (I’m almost through now, THANK GOD) the boys and I used to like to spin and spin and lament the fate of the Black Madonna, the Ibrahim-Ibn-Jakub and the lardy-lardy Khalif of Cordoba, HaHa. My real name is Amie Barrodale.

During my celebrated early days at Oxford, back when I spent most of my time drinking Bergin and dancing the hop, (I’m almost through now, THANK GOD) the boys and I used to like to spin and spin and lament the fate of the Black Madonna, the Ibrahim-Ibn-Jakub and the lardy-lardy Khalif of Cordoba, HaHa. My real name is Amie Barrodale.

Best Wishes,

- - -

From: “Hilary Hoffman”
Subject: Risky Business
Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2000 PST

Dear McSweeney’s,

Talking to strangers on the telephone, and getting paid for it, can have its rewards. My first job was with the 1990 Census. In five more years I’ll be allowed to share the wisdom I gathered while calling Montanans who filled out their Census questionnaires incorrectly or incompletely. But for all the calls I’ve answered and placed in offices across the western United States (I can’t help being a poet, please don’t hold it against me) I have never had such a weird encounter as the one I had two weeks ago. While ordering a train ticket over the phone I was served by a helpful gentlemen who seemed to take extreme pleasure in my reading of my credit card number. At first I was convinced that he possessed an accent that turned “uh-huh” into something obscene. Then I started to think that the legions of underpaid and faceless customer service reps attempt to see how far they can get without their supervisor pulling the taped conversation for “training purposes.” I’ll just have to keep taking the train until I find out.


Hilary Hoffman

- - -

From: “Brooks Reitz”
Date: Wed, 29 Mar 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

I came to a stunning realization when I was on the computer listening to “Thong Song” (mp3’s allow us to listen to the music we would never buy). Sisqo’ is really a talented fellow. However, I realized how funny the people contributing to McSweeney’s are. Then, as I gave it some thought, I wondered if these contributing writers knew how funny they were? Really. To answer this question, lets take the funding from the M.M and use it for a new program I call..“McFunny or Not?” The program shall be executed as follows:
1)All authors are collected.
2)Blindfolded and taken to Toys R’ Us
3)The people who pick up a Pokemon’ toy are funny.

Thank you. The results shall be posted soon. This attempt at a letter has been the result of a late night boredom, not an attempt to be funny. Also, the fact that I bought a new book and I am only 15. Really, a new book. Responsible, eh? It was A.H.W.O.St.G. Thanks for that. Sorry for the ramblings.

Brooks Reitz
Henderson, Ky

- - -

Date: Wed, 29 Mar 2000
From: “mara.lawniczak”
Subject: persistent boy gets devoured.

Dear McSweeney’s,

During an evening kickback, reading a paper on cannibalistic praying mantids, I came upon several interesting and gruesomely exciting ditties that I felt should be known to the world. So naturally, I decided to send them to all y’all.

from a paper by michael maxwell published in animal behaviour in 1998:

“If the benefits of sexual cannibalism outweigh the costs, then males might actually facilitate the occurrence of cannibalism (Gould 1984). Such ‘suicidal’ behviour seems to occur in some spider species, where the males somersault into the females’ mouth parts during sperm transfer (e.g. Forster 1992; Andrade 1996).” !

and then this one, which i’m really quite fond of:

“One of the occurences of non-copulatory cannibalism illustrates the endogenous activity of the male’s thoracic and abdominal ganglia (Roeder 1967). In this case, I initially discovered the male and female facing eachother, less than 5 cm apart. After 5 min, the female seized the male and began chewing his thorax. Eight minutes later, she cleaved his body, and then held his head and forelegs with both of her forelegs. The male’s beheaded body then crept towards her rear. His extended phallomeres located her vagina within 1 min and pried at her closed valvulae over the next 5 min. By this time, the female had finished eating the male’s anterior portion. She then grabbed the headless remainder and entirely consumed it.”

I hope the 6 year old McSweeney of dot com will appreciate the proper use of words referring to genitalia (though I would have thought surely a female mantis does not have a ‘vagina’, I mean, especially if the male mantis has ‘phallomeres’). In any event, no offense intended to the McSweeneys of dot com. With the exception of my fondness for the word ‘asshole’ (used in a variety of dialects) and the occasional outburst of ‘shitty fuck’ when things go badly, I really have quite a clean mouth.


- - -

From: “Michael Antman”
Subject: Dispiriting anal leakage
Date: Wed, 29 Mar 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

Has there ever, I mean ever, been a more dispiriting beginning to a short story?

I’m referring to the opening clause of Rick Moody’s contribution to the latest McSweeney’s, to wit, “My father was for Midwestern values…”

That’s all I needed to know. I shoulda stopped reading right there. Because when an American writer of fiction (or, in Rick Moody’s case, appropriator of fiction) creates (or, in Rick Moody’s case, allows someone else to create) a character who believes in Midwestern values, the writer (or, in Rick Moody’s case, the typist) will, as sure as the sun sets in the Midwest, destroy said character in a spiritually and economically humiliating manner. It’s nothing less than a tradition among lazy litterateurs.

Because Midwestern values have no positive value whatsoever except in the real world, where, of course, they do.

The maudlin predictability of the story that followed (bear in mind that it would have been predictable even if I hadn’t many years ago read the superior Sherwood Anderson story it was gawkily borrowed from, simply on the basis of the photo-manipulated two-headed ostrich on the cover and the singly ironic title Ð Moody couldn’t even bestir himself to create a doubly ironic name for the ostrich farm that would be expressive of his protagonist ’s inevitably failed optimism) is not what bothered me the most. It was the even greater predictability of the group-think assumptions that Moody larded into the story like Crisco into a tasteless cake.

Big, family-farm-devouring corporations. Serial killers. Rabbit raising (sorry, Rick, Michael Moore already cornered the market in ironic rabbit raising in his documentary Roger and Me). A “chromium dump” which, of course, has engendered a cancer cluster. (In the real world, which Rick Moody may have heard tell of, the connection between environmental toxins and cancer clusters is still highly debatable among scientists, although I recognize that scientists are not as credible on this score as facile fictionists from writing workshops.)

And, of course, that arrogant, anal-leakage dribble of an ending, where the Moody Guy uses the names of fast-food franchises and retail stores as a lazy signifier of his contempt for middle America.

Yeah, like he’s never had a Whopper and fries in his life.

If you really can’t find any better writers to fill up your cleverly designed boxes, why don’t you give this Moody fellow some Cheever or Nabokov to help him understand that it is possible to write (note the verb there, by the way: Not borrow, not steal, but write) about the American landscape critically, and yet with nuance and grace and insight and compassion. (Contrary to the assumption of most writing workshop graduates, compassion is neither a quality possessed only by writers of fiction, nor an exercise selectively and insincerely applied to the homeless and minorities.)

On second thought, forget the Cheever and Nabokov. Let Moody keep on selling rotten eggs.

Because it’s working for him so far. After all, just as surely as ostriches bite, and real writers write, Moody is selling, as the Irish would put it, shite. And people are buying it, thanks to the good offices of McSweeney’s. In fact, I’d be willing to bet I’m the only reader of your journal who’s bothered to write asking for one-tenth of his or her money back (some of the other contributions weren’t so hot either, but at least they tried).

You can mail me a check for $2.20 (representing one-tenth of the price I paid for the box at Quimby’s, a bookstore that specializes in “subversive” literature) at the address below. Since I don’t need the money, I’ll add it to my next contribution to the Nature Conservancy, which actually improves the American landscape, instead of merely sniping at it.

By the way, here’s a genuinely subversive idea for your next issue of McSweeney’s. How about publishing a story that manages (as daring and as counter-intuitive as it may seem) to portray a businessman who succeeds? A salesman who’s honest? Or a Midwesterner who’s sophisticated and successful? Now I realize that people like this don’t actually exist except in the real world, but wouldn’t it be taboo-breaker if you published such a piece?

You might even be banned by Quimby’s bookstore!

Last but not least, I didn’t notice the “apologies to Sherwood Anderson” credit line until I’d finished suffering my way through the story. I don’t doubt that this was because the line was reproduced in a font smaller than that on some sleazy sales and service contract at some soulless Home Depot somewhere in southern Iowa. I’m sure, even if the copyright hasn’t lapsed, that you’re covered legally. But I’ve got news for you: The spirit of Sherwood Anderson does not accept your apologies.

Sincerely yours,

Michael Antman

- - -

Date: Wed, 29 Mar 2000
Subject: Dabchick

Dear McSweeney’s,

Here’s a brief exegesis of Haruki Murakami’s story:


Webster’s: any of several small grebes. I don’t get it either, though it follows HM’s standard dreamlogic, so I feel like I understand. I don’t know if others find it so, but I am comforted every time I enter one of HM’s subterranean realms. Maybe because nothing terrible ever happens there.

Some interesting topography. You’ll notice that the door is supposed to be where the corridor ends in a T. But it isn’t. Instead the corridor goes right, then right, then left, down ten steps, and then right. Which, if I follow correctly, should take our hero directly beneath the T. A door beneath where the door is supposed to be. Or, something that’s right, or near right, though it doesn’t appear so at first glance. Similarly, he knows the password, even though he’s told he doesn’t. And the watchman gives hints even though he shouldn’t. And the superior is a dabchick even though no one can be. What is is, even though it shouldn’t be.

Christopher Guerin
Fort Wayne

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Date: Wed, 29 Mar 2000
Subject: heights
From: “jessica schanberg”

Dear McSweeney’s,

Yesterday I was biking home and I was going slow over the Broadway Bridge past giant ads for oats. The middle of the bridge has a beautiful view of the Willamette River and the bleak industrial factories along it’s banks. I looked down at the water and really focused on it. The cuts on top of the water became very white. I was distinctly aware of how easy it would be to jump. Vertigo is what it’s called. When you have a fear of heights and a strong desire to fall off the precipice.

It was a very quiet moment. I felt extremely lonely, and sorry for myself and then I decided to continue home.


- - -

Date: Wed, 29 Mar 2000
Subject: Significant Insignificant Restaurant Offenses

Dear McSweeney’s,

A corespondent of yours, one Richard Allen, recently brought to the attention of our global community the frustration of receiving one’s take-out coffee with a coffee soaked napkin on the top of the lid. He is to be admired for bringing this off=experienced problem out into the forefront, even though so many people are afraid or embarassed to talk about it…… I , too, feel the need to vent about certain significant insignificant restaurant practices which seem to raise one’s blood pressure to 500 over 300. Among them: I go into a restaurant and order a hamburger platter with French fries and it comes with the most luscious looking brilliantly red slice of Jersey tomato, but the tomato, unfortunately, is covered by two criss-crossed, skin up pickles, the result of which is all the juices of said pickles have regretably been absorbed by the once desirable Jersey tomato. For people like myself who cannot abide pickles but love Jersey tomatoes, this is an extreme annoyance. Is the chef motivated by artistic ambitions ? Does the chef have an unnatural attachment to Christmas, and thus the red and green theme ? I don’t know, but these are valid questions……….Then you order coffee and it is presented with a miniscule pitcher probably containing an ounce of creme. You drink your coffee and the waiter, waitress, or wait gorilla (as the case may be) offers a refill but never bothers to check to see if you need more creme. The waiter, waitress, or wait gorilla then disappears for the next 12 minutes while your coffee gets cold…….Then from time you go to a really nice restaurant and order roast chicken with mashed potatoes (because you they are delicious and you are of Irish decent.) The potato, incidently, is proof that there is a living God ! The platter arrives and you find you have a dish which is covered 360 degrees and entirely across the diameter with mashed potatoes and plopped on top of all the mashers is a chicken. What ever happened to separating individual vegetables and the main course on a plate ? I always then assume the chef must have grown up in a boarding house and this is his, hers, or its idea of refined dining -- just plop everything on top of the mashers, as if you were making a stew !!……Then you ask the waiter, waitress, or wait gorilla for the check. Since this is a classey restaurant they discretely present the check in a genuine vinyl folder. It comes to $12.50. You’ve just come the cash machine so you put in a $20 Bill. The waiter, waitress, or wait gorilla (as the case may be) comes, picks up the genuine vinyl folder, AND without bothering to look inside, asks, “Do you need change ?”. You feel like sarcasticly yelling at the top of your voice with eyes bulging and one’s face engorged with blood: NO !!!!! I ALWAYS TIP AT A RATE OF 60 %……I suppose I could go on and on, and I suppose that some persons, be they ordinary or guilty waiters, waitresses, or wait gorillas, will think me petulant (WHICH OF COURSE I AM NOT.) But the fact of the matter is these offenses , as far as I am concerned, ARE CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY, and should come to an end, POST HASTE. I would be interested in your own thoughts, being cosmopolitans that you are or those of your readers (cosmopolitans only.) Yours sincerely, W. James Burke, NY NY

- - -

Date: Thu, 30 Mar 2000 (JST)
From: (Richard Alcott)
Subject: How to Make a Waffle

Dear McSweeney’s,

Traditional waffles are a delicious golden-brown hotcake with a distinctive grid-like pattern. They are eggs and milk and wheat flour, mixed together, and cooked in a special “waffle iron” either with electricity or directly on a stove stop. You can make any kind of waffle on the gas table in your own kitchen.

You can put anything into the waffle batter, and create your own original waffle. For example, you can use whole wheat flour or soba flour. You can put fresh fruit into your waffles, or chopped walnuts.

Waffles are eaten topped with butter, or maple syrup, or fresh honey, or any kind of jam.

Recently, in our cooking class, we made our own original waffles. First, we put three eggs into a large mixing bowl, and beat them with a fork, we added milk, yogurt, salt, and baking powder. When the mixture was very smooth, we added organic whole wheat flour, and we blended it until we had a nice batter. If you put in some soba flour, you will get what Americans call “buckwheat” waffles.

We heated the waffle iron on the stove top and oiled it with olive oil. You only need to do that at the beginning. After that, the iron is hot enough so you don’t need to use more oil. When the iron was hot, we used a ladle to put the batter in the iron, and we cooked the waffle until the color was a deep golden-brown. The color is important. Waffles should be a little crispy on the outside, and cooked all the way through, soft in the center.

Waffles should be eaten hot. Some people like to put a lot of sweet stuff, like whipped cream, on top, but if you do that, you’ll just wreck up the taste thing. You can’t really taste how delicious the waffle itself is.

If you use good materials, and you prepare the waffles with care, you will have a healthy food that is about 100 times better than plain old boring toast.

Yours for good eating,
Eriko Fukuda

- - -

Date: Thu, 30 Mar 2000
From: (Richard Alcott)
Subject: A Ghost Walks at Midnight

Dear McSweeney’s,

I heard this happened in Yoshino Park. This happened to a friend of a friend. He had heard stories that a ghost walked in the park after midnight each night.

One summer night, he went there by car to test his courage with a few of his friends. None of them believed in ghosts. They walked around in the park, but couldn’t find anything unusual. They got tired and decided to call it a night.

On their way to the parking area, they saw a woman dressed in a long white gown. She stood in front of a public telephone, but she did nothing. She stood as if she were waiting for someone to call.

My friend’s friend talked to her, but she did not answer. She just kept looking at the telephone. The friends started to get the creeps, so they went back to their car, and were going to leave. They were heading out of the parking lot, driving a little too fast, when the woman all in white appeared in front of the car. The boy who was driving, my friend’s friend, thought surely that he would hit her and shut his eyes hard. When he opened his eyes and looked in the rear-view mirror, the woman stood behind the car. One of the friends swore the woman had passed through the car. Everyone felt a chill in the car, and a smell like freshly turned earth, the smell of the grave. They, each of them, felt their skin crawl and cover with gooseflesh.

She began to approach the car again, and the friend of my friend who was driving tried very hard to turn on the engine, but he was so nervous all he could do was fumble with the key. The woman came closer and closer, beckoning to the friends in the car. The driver could finally start the car and get out of there, driving perhaps even more quickly than before.

Later, the driver, my friend’s friend, said, “I’ll never go to Yoshino Park again.”

A few months later, I went there in a car with some of my friends. We could find the public telephone, but no woman in white waiting for a call.

It didn’t matter that we didn’t see her. The story had it’s affect on us.

Suddenly, it seemed quite chilly in the car, and all of us were covered with gooseflesh.

It’s a true story.

Aki Ohta

- - -

Date: Thu, 30 Mar 2000
From: (Richard Alcott)
Subject: Little Wisdom Thing Number Two

Dear McSweeney’s,

Why do people put coins in a vase? In the vase is a good situation for a bacteria and mold. These microbes breed and attach themselves to the cut stem of your decorative flowers. They prevent the flower from sucking up water. So the flower dies soon.

When you put coins into the water with your cut flowers, soon their surface will oxidize. Especially this happens with copper coins like ten yen pieces. A thin membrane of oxidized copper forms on the coin’s surface. In the water, copper ions dissolve. Microbes like bacteria and mold hate this stuff, and lose the ability to reproduce. They have no will. They sit around watching bad tv and eating potato chips instead. The copper ions thus prevent microbes from breeding and killing your flowers.

Put some ten yen coins in the vase with your cut flowers today and you will enjoy the beauty for days to come.

Thanks for your attention!

Masataka Shono

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Date: Thu, 30 Mar 2000
From: (Richard Alcott)
Subject: Little Wisdom Thing Number One

Dear McSweeney’s,

There are many not widely known facts and techniques for doing obscure things in this world. I would like to introduce some of them to you.

For example, say you want to cook an egg, but you only want to cook the yolk and leave the white part raw. I don’t know why you might want to do this, but everybody has their reasons for doing peculiar things.

Here’s how to do it: when you make boiled egg, if it’s hard-boiled egg, it takes about ten minutes. If it’s soft-boiled egg, it takes five minutes.

But you can make a special boiled egg which has a cooked yolk and raw white part. The white of an egg hardens at 70 degrees Celsius. The yolk of an egg hardens at 60 degrees Celsius.

Therefore, if you soak your eggs in water that is 65 degrees Celsius for a long time, you can make this special egg.

To know something is better than not knowing something even if it’s not practical. To make an omelette, you know you have to break the eggs. To boil eggs, you have to get your fingers wet. That’s the rule.

Thanks for your attention!

Masataka Shono

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Date: Thu, 30 Mar 2000 (JST)
From: (Richard Alcott)
Subject: Together Again

Dear McSweeney’s,

One of my friends, A., is a good woman. We have been friends since we entered high school and then she had a boyfriend called B., who was a bad man. Now he is 21 years old. He quit high school. This bad man was a source of trouble to A. She always called me and said, “Please listen to my troubles.” At first I worried with her but at last I said, “You know, everybody has problems, so you must be strong,” because she always worried about him.

And then she didn’t look happy. I thought if everyone spent time together with steady, then everyone must be happy because if you are always sad with your lover, then your relationship has no meaning, only sadness.

She got pregnant as soon as she graduated from high school. She couldn’t give birth to the baby, and he went steady with another woman. As a result, A. and B. finished their relationship.

But now they are back together and engaged to be married! I was so happy to hear that. He changed his mind many times. They have gone to Osaka to work. It’s a little sad for me to lose my friend, but I hope they will be good parents. She is pregnant again.

Congratulations, A.

Tomomi Matsushita