Date: Thu, 2 Nov 2000
From: Jessi Wilson
Subject: What to do with Neal Pollack’s poster

Re: Mike Marlett’s dilemma

You could, if you were feeling bored, go to Kinko’s and make several copies of the poster to mail to friends in various parts of the continental United States of America. You would go into the Kinko’s store thinking they have some miraculous machine that will somehow photograph the poster, shrink it and produce copies of it at a manageable and mailable size. You would be wrong. Instead you would be waited on by a slightly inept young man who recommends copying the poster in three sections, while unfurling it for all the store to see. You would, perhaps, be biting your nails, wanting to get this over with in the 15 minutes you alotted it before a dinner engagement. The young man helping you would have other plans, though. He would stop the poster, with the top half suggestively rolled up over the machine; Neal, but not the cat, peeking out to say hello to a father and his young daughter in line behind you, while the Kinko’s clerk goes to wait on two other customers for at least a half an hour. Meanwhile, a line of people needing to copy resumes and syllabi would impatiently tap their feet, feeling that, maybe, making a life-size copy of a scantily clad man and his close companion ranks a little bit lower on the totem pole of copying than do academic or employment pursuits. But when the kinko’s clerk hands you the three sections of the first copy, you would smile sweetly, and say, one more please.

Jessi Wilson

- - -

Date: Tue, 17 Oct 2000
From: M Rosaura
Subject: conversation

Agent E,

Here is a phone number that you can reach me at today before 4:00. Please do not post it since it is my mothers phone. If I do not hear from you or from someone I will be at the meeting place at 6:00 tonight. I am also well-suited for a telephone conversation in order to clarify certain issues.


I look forward to hearing from you or a representative.

Agent B.

- - -

Date: Tue, 17 Oct 2000
From: Darren Higgins
Subject: Neal Pollack Rocks Seattle

Dear McSweeney’s,

I saw your friend, Neal Pollack, in Seattle last night. I heard tell that he was handsome beyond all compare. While his charms were slow to work on me, my girlfriend was smitten before the first bead of sweat even rolled down his forehead. I chose to verbally confront Mr. Pollack at the book-signing table after the reading. I didn’t need another genius author coming between me and my girlfriend. Not this time. Not again.

He was somewhat taken aback, unsure of how best to handle my jealous rage, but he had nothing to fear, not really. I realized almost immediately that I did not want to harm him – after all, his physical beauty is not his fault (or so it’s said). His undeniable “way with the ladies” is clearly something he cannot simply turn on and off. I paused. What did I want? I merely sought . . . I merely sought healing. I was immediately ashamed at my brusque approach. I apologized to Mr. Pollack. My girlfriend was relieved, grateful that this book reading at least would not end in fisticuffs.

Sensing that peril had passed, he took kind command. He told us not to give in to envy. He said, yes this is exactly what he said, that we were beautiful together. We went home happy and nobody got hurt.

So why am I writing? To say thanks. Mr. Pollack, I don’t know where you are or where you came from, but thank you. Thank you, Neal Pollack, from the bottom of my septic heart.

Darren Higgins
Seattle, Washington

- - -

Date: Mon, 30 Oct 2000
From: Turk Alexandra
Subject: His tone was equal. . .

Dear McSweeney’s-

I have noticed that you have not printed my last two e-mails, one of which was concerning the special system that I secretly devised to locate Neil Pollack merely by putting his name in the names of certain web retailers, and thus using the data extrapolated to trace him. I am not bitter, but would you print my e-mail if it was short like this? I have noticed that “less” is sometimes “more printable.”

-Turk Alexandra

P.S. Would it also help if I didn’t use words such as “extrapolated?” or “tulle?”

- - -

Date: Mon, 30 Oct 2000
From: B.R. Cohen
Subject: The attention of two interesting things brought to me by a friend

Dear McSweeneys,

There’s a line in Barton Fink that my friend keeps repeating. It’s when the guy played by Tony Shaloub, who is a director, or something, says that Bill Mayhew, thefamous writer guy, played by the father on Frasier now, is a souse. “He’s a souse. A souse souse souse.” And he says it real funnily. Kindof like the word ‘funnily.’ I don’t understand much else of the film.

The other thing I forget now.

I’m not sure I got the souse line correct either, in retrospect. Did I spell Shaloub correctly?

Not Mike Topp, But,

- - -

Date: Mon, 30 Oct 2000
Subject: A report from the working man in Kansas City.

Dearest McSweeneys,

Last week, the street filled with firefighters and police and hazardous materials troopers. They were donning their shiny suits to enter our deathtrap building. Everyone had stopped working and was looking out the windows, as none of us knew what was going on. This went on for minutes and minutes. Then someone got off the phone and said someone on the 5th floor (we have 8 floors!) opened an envelope filled with Anthrax. Pregnant women panicked, management ran for the hills, I called my mom. After telling her hello and how are you, I informed her that I was working. She was relieved. Then I told her I was going to die from Anthrax that some anti-insurance extremist had sent in. The elevators were shut down and messages came over the computer alerting everyone to the concept of an emergency situation. 2 women from the 5th floor were taken into a bathroom, stripped, hosed down and put in plastic suits. When no one was looking, I ran down the stairs with my jacket over my head and went home. Turns out it was just ammonia. But someone sent it in an envelope, so that’s obviously an act of belligerence, right? Anyway, when it came time to fill out my time card, I wrote 8 hours instead of 7. No one noticed. I am now 11 dollars richer.

P.S. I’ve noticed yet another acquaintance on the letters page. This is becoming a disturbing trend. I want my niche back.

- - -

From: Carrie Gauthier
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 2000
Subject: Today in History, We Have Stories


Random and inconsistent utterances of the day:

“I don’t have a head yet.”
“Ms. VF, she needs a head.”

“Today was terrible. We were out of paper plates.”

“Does this soup smell funny to you?”
Smelling soup, “No. It smells like seafood.”
“Well, I can’t eat it.”
“Why not? Does it taste funny?”
“No. It smells like, you know…”
“No, I don’t. What?”
“You know….”(embarrassed now)
“Man or woman?”
“Oh. Send it back.”

“M* is a canine drag queen who goes out with women that look like 18-year-old boys.”

“I’ve seen L* mop pub floors with her hair extentions.”

“When we cleaned out my Aunts’ room we found eight bottles of cough syrup under her bed.”

Carrie Gauthier

- - -

Date: Mon, 30 Oct 2000
From: mark walters
Subject: (No Subject)

Dear McSweeney’s,

Tonight, the furnace in my building will turn on in the middle of the night and it will wake me up. I don’t mind, because the furnace helps keep me warm and the sounds it makes are beautiful. The little tap tap tapping of the pipes.

When I imagine the furnace in my building, though I have never seen it, I imagine this massive chunk of metal in the corner of the basement, sending out warm air to my apartment and to the other apartments in my building. The furnace, when I imagine it, is lit up inside with a soft golden light.

- - -

Date:Tue, 31 Oct 2000
From: Alex Pascover
Subject: Re: Ben Greenman’s “What 100 People, Real and Fake, Believe About Dolores”

Dear McSweeney’s—

Wow. That was really, really, good. Maybe the best thing I’ve seen on your site. Certainly the best thing I’ve read in months.

—Alex Pascover

- - -

Date: Wed, 1 Nov 2000
From: luke o’neil
Subject: Dying

Dear McSweeney’s,

You know how the lists on this site often take a little turn at the end and include a seemingly straight faced answer or something? I swear to you, it kills me everytime.

I mean it.

Thanks for having me,

“Luke” O’Neil

- - -

Date: Wed, 1 Nov 2000
From: M. Ryan Purdy
Subject: Omissions and comedic formlessness.

Dear McSweeney’s,

Two or so things:

(a) At the bottom of your letters page, archived letters are given links, such as “Letters, Page 30.” However, I noticed something a while back that your fact-checkers, in a rare moment of fatigue, seem to have overlooked. I thought the problem may go away in time, but it has not.

The problem: there is no “Letters, Page 35” link, although if one types in the correct url (, one will be able to see the letters to which said link, were it to exist, would point. If you are going to fix this, could you please somehow post my letter first, or else I could seem delusional. I’m serious.

(b) What would you do if you, like me, saw joke-writer-to-the-stars and Hollywood Squares regular, Bruce Villanch on the NYC subway on a Thursday night? I bet, like me, you’d agree with that friend of mine who once described him as a ‘formless muppet,’ because it happens to be true.


Take care of yourselves.


M. Ryan Purdy
Brooklyn, NY

- - -

Date: Wed, 1 Nov 2000
From: Kristin Tracy
Subject: hiroshima

Dear McSweeney’s -

A few quotable quotes from the family archives:

“I’ll bet if I had enough water, I could put that out.” – my brother at age 7, Eric upon the explanation of what the eternal flame at Hiroshima meant

“We’re going to have to go with what we’ve got. I just set the zucchini on fire.” – my father, minutes before dinner after a grilling mishap

Kristin Peterson
Columbia, MD

- - -

Date: Wed, 1 Nov 2000
From: Chris Cotner
Subject: It’s been a long, lonely time

Dear McSweeney’s,

Oklahoma could not be better, but I could. I am taking time out today to let you know, in case you were wondering, that I am not finished with this website. Other things have cropped up that demand all the attention my writing skills. When these things are over I will return in full glory. Just a heads up.

- - -

Date: Thu, 2 Nov 2000
From: Sarah M. Balcomb
Subject: No more subjects, relatively tiresome and/or toothsome

Dear McSweeney’s:

If one more person tries to stop me for “Just a quick question about your hair, Miss,” I swear to god I’m going to kill that person.

I shouldn’t complain, but I’ve been having a bad day since making the following calculations:

hours in a week: 168
hours at the office (average): 38
hours spent commuting (at least): 8
hours sleeping (approximate): 56
hours left to self (generous): 66

Sorry, but this is just not enough, especially given that those 66 hours must be divided between eating, spending time with friends and lovers, reading, movie watching, walking, smoking, drinking, waxing euphemistic, whittling, breathing, fronting street style, stretching, understanding other’s pain, stretching canvases, controlling one’s ever growing rage, blinking, buying shoes, dealing with despair, darts, maintaining my jocular facade, fidgeting, salvaging some sense of self-respect, applying lotion to rough spots like elbows and heels, looking optimistically towards a brighter future, washing hair and feet and in between, passively swallowing placeboes, tending to paper cuts, contemplating the cosmos, fielding pop flies, coming up with witty retorts for telemarketers, etc…. Not to mention a little thing I like to call “The Next Great American Novel (Turn of the Century Version).”

I am only one woman.

Sarah M. Balcomb

- - -

Date: Fri, 3 Nov 2000
From: Carrie Gauthier
Subject: My Pal Jeffrey’s Sixth Grade Class Assignment

Dear Mr. President.

I think you should make the toilets in the boys bathroom higher in Bourne Middle School. I think this because they are small. You need to stand on your knees to go. Lots of other boys don’t like them either. That is what I think.

From Jeff Monat

- - -

Date: Mon, 6 Nov 2000
From: Chuck Easterling
Subject: Lanyards for Tommy

Dear McSweeney’s,

When I take pictures using a digital camera and people ask if they can look at the Liquid Crystal Display window I never let them.

I’d let you though,

Chuck Easterling

- - -

Date: Fri, 13 Oct 2000
From: Anne Soeder
Subject: Hair Salon Names

Dear McSweeney’s,

These are names of hair salons in my area. Real names… “Get Your Locks Off” “Hair’Em” This is an oldie but real…“United Hair Force”

I’m a salon owner.

It’s amazing what people think is a good idea.


- - -

Date: Mon, 16 Oct 2000
From: Todd J. Pierce
Subject: Legal Options Regarding Bird

Dear McSweeneys People:

Before I got married I had a bird who loved me. Well, a cockatoo to be exact. A small cockatoo, called technically a Goffins cockatoo, who’d run the side of her perch each morning, would lick my fingers through the tiny, green bars of her cage, a bird who’d let me mess up all of her feathers so that she looked like a Vegas showgirl. Since I got married, I have a cockatoo who now loves my wife.

Please advise me of my legal options. Are punitive damages out of the question?

Todd Pierce

- - -

Date: Tues, 7 Nov 2000
From: Steven Tomsik
Subject: no

Dear McSweeney’s,

I had testing for allergies recently. I now get injections weekly. Here is the thing, though: I was tested for cockroach allergies. They do this with a skin test. Tiny injections, just beneath the epidermis, of solutions made from the suspect allergen.

I was tested for cockroach allergies.

Oh god no.


- - -

Date: Tue, 7 Nov 2000
From: Mike Topp
Subject: Work

Dear McSweeney’s:

Wow, what a horrible day at work. First, we had to suck on pieces of wood. Then the vending machine was out of Snausages. And finally, my wastepaper basket broke. Boy, I could use a drink. Oh, no! Woodpecker swans!


Mike Topp

- - -

Date: Tue, 7 Nov 2000
Mike Topp
Subject: Later That Same Day

Dear McSweeney’s:

If I ever quit drinking, I hope I don’t get drunk any more, like I am now.


Mike Topp

- - -

Date: Wed, 8 Nov 2000
From: M Rosura
Subject: On Halloween I went to an NYU party as Neal Pollack. I was surprised to see that both you and Neal Pollack have been overlooked for GQ men of the year.

Dear McSweeney’s,

They didn’t need to call out all the firetrucks, just two.

- - -

Date: Wed, 8 Nov 2000
From: Karl Tobias Steel
Subject: A High School reunion rarely delights.

Dear McSweeney’s:

Re: Response to a reading at Fez, last night, that featured the line “It was the first unrequited crush I had ever had.” The writer delivered this doozy of an autobiographical-esque line unironically, and therefore deserves to have her dialogue altered in the following way:

I asked him, “Can I kiss you?”

“No,” he said, “My mouth is full of AIDS.”

Having enjoyed the other readings, I remain,
Karl Steel
New York City

- - -

From: McDermott, Terry
Subject: bug shield psyche
Date: Thu, 9 Nov 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

Where I live people love trucks. LOVE them. And, obviously, no truck is complete without an insightful, air brushed bug shield riding proudly atop the grill. What is a bug shield you ask? Well, it’s a stylish after market accessory which is made up of a long piece of Plexiglas that is bolted at the beginning of the hood over the headlights and perpendicular to the wind shield. Since it’s height could be upwards of four or five inches, it gives your windshield the added protection of shielding bugs (hence the name) which have dive bombed your headlights or otherwise have just been in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s also imperative that one gets a customized slogan beautifully written in airbrush across their bug shield to allow others insight into their hereforeto unknown psyche. The last few I’ve spotted:

1. Haulin’ Shine*
2. ON THE HOG!!!
3. Dazed and Confuzed
4. Max-N-Jodi 4EVR
6. MAD MAXine

*expertly complimented by a Charlie Daniel’s Band bumper sticker

thought you’d like to know,
T McD.

- - -

Date: Thu, 9 Nov 2000
From: Jim Crocamo

Dear McSweeney’s,

Did you see the new New York Magazine? “Partisan Review meets Friends?”


Anyway, I think I should get a new job. I work in the basement of a library, and it’s kind of depressing. There are homeless people here all day, and it’s not like I get to help them out, or give them a meal or something. I just have to watch them sit there, and god forbid one of them starts snoring, because then all of the other homeless people will guilt me into waking up the snorer, by whispering, “I thought you couldn’t sleep in the library.” Most of them have very nice handwriting, however.


Jim Crocamo

- - -

Date: Thu, 09 Nov 2000
From: Dan Kennedy

Dear McSweeney’s,

Not so long ago I sent you a letter [] from a desk at a New York Advertising agency during a freelance copywriting job I was working on. I was putting in long days and in my letter to you I mentioned how somebody was standing next to me one morning looking at a magazine that featured pictures of David Bowie’s home in Thailand. The person said something about heaven and hell being right here on earth, and how each of us has a choice between either. At the time, I didn’t think I was listening so much to what the person was saying. I had other things on my mind, like writing advertising copy for nine more hours, and then walking in the rain to a restaurant that I hate to meet my ex-girlfriend…evidently I had chosen hell.

Well, that was four months ago. Today I’m sitting out on the balcony overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, watching the sunset on this small village on the coast of Spain with my new girlfriend. She’s relaxed with her feet up, reading the new book by Steve Martin, and occasionally sharing a funny line with me as I write this letter to you. Once the sun is gone, we’ll walk to dinner at a restaurant we will love.

It occurs to me, while watching her, and the sun setting, and the waves crashing, and the gulls somehow catching little silver fish and flying back into the sky to eat them, and all of this…that I must have been listening to that guy with the magazine standing next to my desk four months ago, after all. Evidently, I have chosen heaven.

It is also occurring to me that I am somehow more comfortable accepting dread and labor, anxiety and fear, and well…hell, because in the middle of all of this beauty, everything not so deep inside of me is telling me that I was only let into heaven by mistake. A mix up of some kind at the door on the list.

“Oh, did you say ‘Dan’? I thought you said ‘DAVE Kennedy’. Yeah, sorry about that…you’ll have to leave.”

Maybe finally though, I’m starting to realize that everything inside of me is lying when it says stuff like that. If not lying, at least only joking around or something.

Buenos Noches-

Dan Kennedy
Not in New York

- - -

From: Mike Topp
Subject: Soldiers’ Home
Date: Thu, 09 Nov 2000

Dear McSweeney’s:

I wish I had been around when they had thousands of “feathered soldiers”—the homing pigeons—in the army. That way, when somebody asked me if I knew where the old soldiers’ home was, I’d say, “The old feathered soldiers’ home?” It’d be fun to confuse the two all the time.


Mike Topp

- - -

Date: Thu, 9 Nov 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

O!! I love my kitty, I love her so!!!

I love to play with my kitty so much sometimes that I just have to fight back the urge to squeeze her little head. It is not a good idea to squeeze your kitty’s little head as that would be considered dangerous by many and could result in some sort of permanent brain damage. Does any one else out there share this compulsion re: their pets?

O!! I love my kitty, I love her so!!!

Carrie Gauthier

- - -

Date: Sun, 12 Nov 2000
From: B.R. Cohen
Subject: The new Radiohead album is pretty decent

Dear McSweeney’s,

Did you know that you can say whatever you want about any of the books at I knew this. And I took advantage of it. I reviewed this one book, one that I actually had read, and nobody knew it was me. And it was hilarious. I used a British-sounding nickname, and that just gets me every time. Unfortunately, nobody knows any of this, because my name is not there. You’re the first one I told.

I remain,

- - -

Date: Mon, 13 Nov 2000
Subject: MIT Doors

Found on the door of the Shlemmer Building first floor faculty lounge last Monday.


Due to the crappy condition of this room, all faculty concession and refreshment services will be restricted for a week. I am well aware of the stresses placed upon academic professionals today and I hope you are aware of the needs placed on me. In short, I don’t make things complicated for you; could you please do the same for me and my staff. We all have to help each other here for things to go smoothly. In truth, it will take a full week for the Coke people to deliver another drink machine. This restriction is not my decision, though I must concede, if I ever do find out who spit salt water into the coin slot and made off with over two dozen Diet Dr. Peppers, you will be reported to Marcus Indoza of Staff Accounting Services and recompense will be subtracted from your paycheck. Do not let this happen again.


Jimmy Logan, Ph.D., custodial engineer.

- - -

From: Jeffrey Randall
Subject: The unseen powers of punctuation and verb tense
Date: Tue, 14 Nov 2000

Dearest McSweeney’s,

Prior to my recent move to New York, I had invited several friends over to my apartment to drink cheap beer and assist in the seemingly endless chore of packing my belongings into small cardboard boxes. The boxes, which had been purchased from a large moving company, had the following slogan emblazoned on their sides: “Movers who care.”

While taping up one such box, my good friend Eric broke up the monotony by using a black marker to embellish the slogan. When he finished, it read “Movers, who cares.”

I found this rather amusing. Perhaps it is not.

Jeff Randall
New York, New York

- - -

Date: Tue, 14 Nov 2000 06:44:32
From: Anne Flynn
Subject: Pleasant Surprise

Check this out- it is section 3-114 of the Uniform Commercial Code, referring to negotiable instruments [as defined in section 3-104] such as checks.

“If an instrument contains contradictory terms, typewritten terms prevail over printed terms, handwritten terms prevail over both, and words prevail over numbers.”

I’m glad that’s settled.


A. Flynn

[if you choose to post this message, please do not post the email address. Thanks!]

- - -

From: Bryan Charles
Date: Tue, 14 Nov 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

The other day I read an article in New York magazine about maniacal cult leader Dave Eggers and his band of brainwashed minions. This article was troubling to me, since I have read Eggers’ book, the McSweeney’s journal and contributed in very minor ways to the McSweeney’s web site, all without realizing that I was being slowly sucked into a nefarious literary underworld. In a bizarre coincidence, my mother also read the article, and invited me to Sunday dinner, at which point my family staged an intervention. I tried to explain that the McSweeney’s people loved me, and that I was free to do whatever I wanted, to leave at any time. Unfortunately, there was videotape of the mass marriage performed by Eggers at Yankee Stadium, which my father played, and which featured a close-up of me and my new husband, Greg Purcell, swearing our love and allegiance to The Cult. What could I do? I cried and pleaded and begged forgiveness and vowed to extricate myself from the evil clutches of that handsome man with those beautiful, curly locks. “I made a mistake!” I screamed, hot tears exploding from my sockets.

And they fell for it.

Bryan Charles

- - -

From: Newhart, Bryson
Subject: What now?
Date: Tue, 14 Nov 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

Recently I was touched by the Angel Gabriel and began work on fashioning a wonderful clay statue of him. I have never in my life sculpted anything of this magnitude, have only dabbled with clay forming small lumpy objects much smaller than a human hand, but as I worked by candlelight, something guided my fingers. At one point parts of the angel even reformed themselves slightly to account for the mistakes I was making. A door opened and slammed and I noticed my pitcher of milk was empty!

In college, a guy named Shim deconstructed his dorm room. He had his bed upside down, his desk suspended from the ceiling, and his dresser facing the wall so you couldn’t open the drawers. Perching on the dresser he’d encourage those of us sitting on the floor drinking 40s to swear at him and call him various names for queer. One day he passed out fliers announcing that he was going to spontaneously combust and to please come to his room to witness it. Everyone came and at the appointed time, Shim stood in the middle of the room and said, “Okay, now.” We watched for the next few minutes as he turned red with concentration, then finally gave it up. Everyone was pretty relieved that he hadn’t actually exploded.

Since completion of the 4-foot tall statue I have donated it to the fire department. Yesterday they accepted my gift with unabashed enthusiasm and mounted Gabriel atop their building encased in protective glass for all the rescue workers of the world to see. After a moment of silence everyone went back to work but I remain there still, closely watching the glass case. Inside I believe that Gabriel lives and breathes. I’m sure of it.

Keeping the faith,
Bryce Newhart

- - -

Date: Wed, 15 Nov 2000
From: Erik A. Kraft
Subject: Perhaps Greenman can be the go-between in this matter?

Hmmm… Have you seen the New Yorker’s ‘Shouts and Murmurs’ bit this week, Jim Windolf’s ‘My Sexual Fantasies’? I don’t think it requires the discerning sensibility of Lawrence Weschler to recognize yet another convergence. I am referring, of course, to Ms. Colleen Werthman’s “Hot Sex Story Lost in the Thicket of Humanity,” which appeared in the latest printed version of your concern. When is someone going to call Remnick on these shenanigans? When?

I rest my case,
Erik Kraft

- - -

From: Kitchens, James L
Subject: A helluva thing
Date: Thu, 16 Nov 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

I just finished reading about those four climbers who were kidnapped in Kyrgyzstan this past August…you know the ones I mean? Those four kids? Anyway, they were kidnapped by these IMU rebels, and to summarize, it was awful and harrowing and almost fatal. Well, it actually was fatal. That’s how they got away. One of the kids pulled one of their captors off a rock face or something. Man, I’d hate to go like that.

When I got to the end of the piece I was instantly reminded of a similar incident that happened to me a month or so ago.

I was out with some people at a bar and this guy was telling me about how he was about to go to Vegas for the first time. I told him that he should definitely go to Cheetah’s. So this girl is walking by us and kind of sticks her head in our space, narrows her bloodshot eyes a bit, and reproachfully says “Humph…’Cheetah’s’!”

I’m pretty creamed at this point so I just sort of wave her off and say “Keep it movin’, jerk.” I mean, can you believe that?

The parallels in this life really make you think sometimes.

Alright then,

Jamey Kitchens

- - -

From: Delahoyde, Steve
Subject: Why Do I Keep Sending These?
Date: Thu, 16 Nov 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

Monday night I had my last cigarette. Everything’s been going well so far, though I have had a few cravings here and there. It bothers me that I’m afraid to spend time with friends who smoke, in case I’d be led astray from my quitting. Maybe I should call them. There’s always e-mail.

Steve Delahoyde

- - -

From: McDermott, Terry
Subject: send some quid, like, fast
Date: Thu, 16 Nov 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

No, no, I’m not working yet. Sigh. I know it’s been, like, five months. Don’t let this “prosperity” shit kid you, times are tough, man. The remote is gone and I could only see the top quarter of the TV, the beer and whiskey bottles are that high. I haven’t seen the cat for over three weeks, but sometimes late at night I swear I can hear a sickly, consumptive cough. It’s creepy, I tell you this. Luckily the corner liquor store cashes unemployment checks and delivers. I don’t even want to talk about the rent.

My liver hurts.

riding on my last unemployment check,
Ter .

- - -

Date: Thu, 16 Nov 2000
From: Kevin Wilson
Subject: Reading good books at work

Dear McSweeney’s:

Today at work I spent my lunch hour reading Matthew Klam’s book of short stories in the library. What a wonderful book, just fantastic, and so I decided not to return to work after my hour was up but rather hide in the library and keep reading. Around 2:00, some Teaching Fellow who works in the department that I’m an assistant for comes walking by, ostensibly to do work for that department, and she spotted me. She got up beside me and said, “working hard?” and I laughed, politely and then thought for a second, maybe five seconds and replied, “hardly working.” She did not laugh though, most certainly did not laugh, which I thought was slightly rude seeing as how I laughed at her joke. Plus, her joke was not very good, don’t you think, just offering up commentary in an arch way (tone of voice or facial expression) to render it funny whereas I actually made a joke, playing with inversion and altering the phrase that she had just previously used in order to make a pun. And it was self-deprecating which usually makes people laugh. No laughter though. She just kind of stood there and then walked off. And then, what I realized was that she probably wasn’t joking in the first place, but actually making some sarcastic, snippy comment about the fact that I was reading when I should have been working. So my joke probably made her even more upset. Either way, I went home instead of going back to work cause I was afraid someone else would come by and see me. I don’t really know why I’m writing you about this but I just want to say this: I’m kind of a lazy worker.

-M. Kevin Wilson

- - -

Date: Tue, 7 Nov 2000
From: Dan Stevens (Pen name)
Subject: Sleep

Dear McSweeney’s:

I just ate too much chicken makhini at the Indian buffet. That, and the fact that I didn’t get enough sleep last night have left me feeling quite sleepy. Last night I dreamed that I was casting votes ceaselessly for George Bush, but the dimples were not being recognized. I should point out that a man I barely knew shared with me this statement: “time spent on Napster is just as good as actual sleep.” I have not been able to corroborate nor refute this.

As always,

Dan Stevens (Pen name)

- - -

Date: Thu, 16 Nov 2000
From: Nathan Friedkin
Subject: The Despondent Correspondent

Dear McSweeney’s,

In order for justice to be administered fairly and equally when applied to the current controversy involving the generally scary looking Florida Secretary of State Katherine “Cruella” Harris, it is imperative that she recuse herself lickety split from offering judgment as a matter of public record on the respective and disturbing issues confronting the Presidential election crisis disaster.

In fact, due to the overwhelming preponderance of evidence which suggests that Ms. Harris has a substantial vested interest in the outcome of this election fiasco (last winter, Harris traveled to New Hampshire to campaign for the Texas governor in the state’s primary, and with Jeb Bush, was a delegate to the Republican convention. – Washington Post 11/15/00) she oughta really be ashamed of herself for even attempting to shape the political landscape of this country in the first place.

Clearly anyone who has ever watched Court TV or Judge Judy knows that possession of a self-interested motive with the intent to please Dubya would clearly preclude this misguided political figure from contributing any semblance of an objective, unbiased and non-partisan opinion with regards to the grave issue currently at hand which, upon further consideration, stand to adversely affect our great nation, DSL customer service and the defensive backfield of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as well as altering the face of genetically modified asparagus forever.

Thank You.

Nathan – The Despondent Correspondent

- - -

Date: Thu, 16 Nov 2000
From: Cynthia Closkey
Subject: My experiences in getting a copy of the print version

Dear McSweeney’s,

The western side of Pennsylvania, where I live, does not provide a regular outlet for the purchasing of Timothy McSweeney’s products. Not even in Pittsburgh, which is otherwise a terrific city.

But, in late September I was traveling in San Francisco and suddenly remembered having read that copies of McSweeney’s print version would be sold at the Naked Eye on Haight Street. I went almost directly there and, surrounded by subtly-threatening black painted walls and eclectic video tapes, I saw three copies of issue 5. One had on its dust cover a drawing of a nasty-looking fellow — or at least, a fellow with a nasty-looking sore of some kind. This cover too was subtly threatening. I felt challenged to buy it, and buy it I did. I looked forward to reading issue 5 on the red-eye flight home that evening.

Later, in the excitement of gathering luggage and getting to the airport, I left the magazine on my sister’s kitchen table. I left my sunglasses too.

The next day, my sister promised via email to send the book to me, but I guessed it would take some time before she got around to it.

However. Several weeks later I opened my USPS mailbox to discover a large padded envelope from McSwys Books. Inside was issue 5, this time with a blank dust cover concealing color headshots of Ted Coppell. Turns out that I had sent a subscription order back in August, and my subscription had taken long enough to fill (for very reasonable reasons, I feel sure) that I had forgotten I had placed it.

That was last week. This week, I received my Naked Eye copy in the mail from my sister, along with my sunglasses and a belated birthday present.

And so now I am the proud owner of two copies of issues 5, when at one point I had despaired of owning even one.

Should I go for a third, with a different cover? Or would that be greedy?

Warm regards,
Cindy Closkey

- - -

Date: Thu, 16 Nov 2000
From: Magic Mike Simpson
Subject: One of the things I’ve been thinking about

Dear Mcsweeney’s,

I have read gleefully, over the past year or so that I’ve followed the McSweeney’s website, some of the humorous notes found on doors at MIT. They are often really funny, and sometimes they make me think, “I wonder if X person [the person who sent you the note] actually works/studies at MIT, or if they just made it up to send it to you.” And then I think, “I wonder if people write notes at MIT and hang them on doors in a desperate attempt to make it onto the McSweeney’s website?” It’s just something I was thinking about.

And then, last night, I was sitting in my apartment in Syracuse, drinking a Pabst Blue Ribbon (because I am poor), watching MTV’s new show “Cribs”. It’s a show where MTV goes into the homes of famous people to give us a tour of how “they live”. Last night, MTV Cribs went to the home of Snoop Dogg, and I couldn’t help but notice, hanging in his home-studio, a typed note saying, “Please do not bring food or drink into the studio.” I remember thinking, "How funny would it be if McSweeney’s tracked “Real Notes Found at ‘The Dogghouse’”, but now, as earlier, I just wonder if Snoop didn’t write it in some lame attempt to get a “shout-out” on the website.

Just something I’ve been thinking about,

Mike Simpson

- - -

Date: Fri, 17 Nov 2000
From: Erik Kraft
Subject: Oo-la-la: On French words

Dear McSweeney’s,

So let me get this straight: When you’re paying homage, it’s pronounced ‘HA-midge’, but an homage is ‘oh-MAJ’? When did this happen?

That reminds me. The other night I was watching the evening news on MSNBC, and that dashing anchor Brian Williams referred to a George W. Bush photo op as occurring in ‘an ersatz Oval Office.’ Except I didn’t realize at first that that was the word he was using, because he said ‘air-ZOTZ’ and I’ve been going through life thinking it was pronounced ‘UR-satz.’ Brian Williams is debonair. I am not.

That reminds me. In my AP Literature class in high school, the word ‘ennui’ appeared on our weekly vocabulary list. I felt this word was made for me and my suburban adolescent malaise, so I immediately adopted it as my own and began sprinkling it liberally into my angsty journal entries and then into my daily conversations. I think it would have produced a very sophisticated fin-di-siecle effect, had I not been pronouncing it ‘ee-NOO-ee.’ When someone, several months later, finally told me the correct pronunciation was ‘ON-wee,’ I swore up and down that my literature teacher told us it was pronounced the wrong way. This is the position I still maintain.

If everyone wrote in with anecdotes about how they used to think the written ‘epitome’ and the spoken ‘uh-PIT-uh-mee’ were different words, this letters page would become untenably long and uninteresting.

I’m not too proud to admit that ‘oeuvre’ remains totally inscrutable to me.

Down on all fives, indeed,

Erik Kraft


- - -

Date: Fri, 17 Nov 2000
From: Chris Cotner
Subject: Class and such

Dear McSweeney’s,

Yesterday in class a guy gave a presentation on gambling and Atlantic City. Mind you, none of us in the class were over the age of say…about…29. So, in the question and answer period, as a means of releasing some tension, I asked him if he had heard that they blew up the chicken man in Philly last night and they blew up his house too. Everyone in the classroom performed that same sucking in of breath maneuver, and several actually exclaimed, “What?” Needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway, I was shocked, shocked, to find out no one, out of about 20 people, knew what I was referencing. Next time, I’ll guess I’ll just keep my mouth shut. So much for The Boss. (You know what I’m talking about…don’t you?)

- - -

Date: Sat, 18 Nov 2000 21:08:01 +0000
From: A.L. Gretton
Subject: With regards to the abuse suffered by the staff room at MIT, and the uncanny parallels existing elsewhere in world

Sign on the door of the toilet on the second floor of the Cambridge University Engineering Department:

“Closed due to abuse”

- - -

Date: Sat, 18 Nov 2000
From: Kenneth Shelton
Subject: Thursday Night – Denver


This past Thursday night, after the last set of shows, our projectionist brought in a few reels of 16mm film from his “personal collection”. We set up the 16mm projector in the upstairs booth. It is a Bell & Howell like the ones we used in high school but it is a professional model with a Xenon bulb. We used the Eiki long-play tower so that we could project from a 6000’ reel. The first movie was about guys having a dirt bike race who stop at a farmhouse and have sex with the girls who live there. At one point they caught a small turtle in the back yard and teased one of the girls with it. The film had no title card so we don’t know what it was called. It was poorly made and kind of amusing. The second film was an Italian sci-fi movie from the early seventies. It was dubbed but not very entertaining. I left shortly after it started. Someone else must have locked up the theatre because everything was okay when I came in on Friday.

Many Thanks,

Kent Shelton

- - -

Date: Sun, 19 Nov 2000 04:37:48 EST
Subject: this door

Dear McSweeney’s,

There is a door at the school I attend which has printed on it in large, industrial-type, 398-point font the terrifying and exciting words:




- - -

Subject: TRADING

Dear Sir,

If you are producer or exporter & importer, please let me know the field of your activity.

If you have any catalog, please send me one.

My address:
P.O.Box 14155 – 5841 Tehran, Iran
Tel & Fax: +98 21 742 4714

Yours sincerely,

- - -

Date: Sun, 19 Nov 2000 11:00:22 -0600
From: Jacob Arvold
Subject: time of the month

Dear McSweeney’s,

I’m just curious to find out the lag time between the submission of a letter and when it actually gets posted.

Sincerely sent 11/19/00,

Jacob Arvold

- - -

Date: Sun, 19 Nov 2000 17:18:40 -0500 (EST)
From: Karl Tobias Steel
Subject: North of Harlem, New York, shoes.

Dear McSweeney’s:

No need to guess, I’ll tell you. Now I’m living in The Bronx. Yankee stadium looms, and I can, if I like, buy a stocking hat for cheap. I’ve done that already. When I wear it, tourists mistake me for a surly longshoreman, and ask me longshoreman-related questions.

The other day some kids made fun of my shoes, I think. They said, “Nice shoes,” but I kept walking. Secretely, inside, I felt nothing.

But, you know, even if those kids were sarcastic kids (and they should be, because here I am, gentrifying their neighborhood), my shoes really are nice shoes. Both of them are nice.

Clad simply, I remain,
Karl Steel
The Bronx

- - -

Date: Sun, 19 Nov 2000 22:08:46 -0800
From: Andrew Leland
Subject: no subject was specified

Dear McSweeney’s,

Maraschino cherries and Chuck Berry’s fly fishing stories. Edward Gorey’s sabbatical, I’m radical, so awesome. I’m Joey’s Lawrence to your M. Bialik’s Blossom.


Los Angeles, CA

- - -

Date: Mon, 20 Nov 2000 01:06:22 -0800
From: The Crew at 3084 Richmond
Subject: Proposal for a play

Production Proposal

Personal Information:
Name: Gabriel C. Drummond-Cole
School Info: 3rd year senior double-majoring in Mathematics and Dramatic Arts

Directing experience:
DA 162, Fall 1999
2 Super-Gents of Verona, Spring 2000

Project Information:
I would like to direct my original play Conan Redux. Its current length is between one and two hours. Nicole DuPort is a tentative costume designer. I would need set and lighting designers, sound and light board operators, maybe one or two deck crew members, and around eight or ten actors.

A large indoor space; the less outside sound and light, the better. The first act requires a fantastic atmosphere that would be marred by interruptions or reminders of the world outside the play. Room 7 is of course the first space that comes to mind, but if something else comes up, I would be open to negotiation.

All of this assumes room 7:

Lighting: $0-50
Sound: $0-50
Set: $150-200
Costumes: $100-150
Props: $100-150
Publicity and Programs: $100
Misc.: $50
Total: $500-750

Tech Requirements:

Lighting: There are three to five distinct lighting areas (some overlap would be fine) and two specials: a spot and a red “evil” light.

Sound: At the very least a stereo; preferably something with a little more oomph.


Various flats and/or curtains to mask, in addition to:

Act 1:
A sorcerer’s lair
An altar
Hyperborean-Era chambers
A cot
A low table
A door
A throne room
A throne
A wall with manacles
The Palace, interior
Act 2:
A dorm room
Two identical beds
Two identical desks
Two identical chairs
A door
Conan’s pad
A cot
A low table
A bar

A sacrificial knife
Red chalk
Conan’s large sword
A writ
Sprig of rosemary
2 Flasks
Various edible “ingredients” for magical potions
Enormous ruby
A working stereo
A computer

Kazan-Roth: a long, hooded robe, contemporary outfit
Orlo: sandals and baggy pants, contemporary outfit
Shartak: Bodypaint
Conan: Loincloth, wristguards, boots
Loam: a nightie and robe, contemporary outfit
Dalius and soldiers: Soldiers’ garb, contemporary outfit
Laria: Two gowns and a tiara, revealing shift, contemporary outfit
(pants suit)
Zenthor: Hyperborean nobleman’s outfit, robes, contemporary outfit
Torlin: rags, bandage, contemporary outfit

Special Effects:
Blood that spurts
Bubbling potionry
Glowing Ruby and Emerald
Breakaway bottle
All of these are negotiable.


- - -

Date: Mon, 20 Nov 2000
From: B.R. Cohen
Subject: special note redux

McSweeney people,

That last set of letters you had had the one about the guy in Spain. And that was a really nice letter. And then, that Ben Greenman story a few weeks ago, that was really, really good too. So, sometimes it gets confusing, because I laugh and get along well with the site, and the magazine, but then you throw in those ‘real’ ones, and I don’t know what to make of it. I think I first figured this out when I read the Kazcinsky interview a few issues back. That’s what first threw me. But now I’ve come to terms with it. I’m sorry this letter isn’t clever or entertaining. You don’t have to put it up or anything. It’s just that lots of people don’t recognize what’s going on here. It’s a real shame, that.

Just some thoughts,

- - -

Date: Mon, 20 Nov 2000
From: CUL Kiosk
Subject: Man Seen Buying Dirty McSweeney’s

Dear McSweeney’s,

So I was recently in New York (a large American city near New Jersey) and went to visit the famous Gotham Book Mart, a very old and cramped and terrific bookstore a few blocks from Times Square. While I stood in line waiting to buy some books, I noticed that the guy in front of me was holding a copy of McSweeney’s No. 4. This particular copy was one of three that I’d seen in a pile in the back of the store, with the other literary magazines; the other two copies were pristinely shrink-wrapped, while this one was crumpled, browned, and furred at the edges: not only the edges of the box, but of the booklets inside. It was, you see, the display copy. Anyway, this guy WANTED the display copy, despite the availability of nice crisp new copies, and when they told him he would have to pay the full price, which I think was $22, he didn’t even bat an eye. He ponied up and took the thing home in a paper bag. Which makes me wonder if you ought to be offering PRE-BROWSED copies of the magazine on an official basis? Like featuring official Literary Cult Hand Grease? Just a thought.

Yours absolutely,
J. Robert Lennon
Ithaca, New York

- - -

From: Gavin Purcell
Subject: What the little person said
Date: Mon, 20 Nov 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

Having recently come across your letterhead and thus finding the letters attached, I found my legs clenched in an interesting predicament. Whether or not to share my profound experience with the leather clad little person or to keep said experience all close to myself.

But here I am and the little person he doesn’t go away.

Appearing on my desk this Monday morning, the desk set amongst the other smarmy gossip mongers I work with in syndicated-strip television. He slipped under the radar of the security guard and hightailed it to my spot. He waited until I arrived but at that very moment he belched out this:

“An’ heaven and earth shall split an’ in-between shall bubble the sick an’ out of the sick, from the spit shall come these people, an’ all this shit”

And he proceeded to attach himself to my leg, intertwining his gnarled fingers around one another, his ankles twisted like petrified tree roots. And there he sits, an ankle weight of guilt, a single cement boot waiting for me to be thrown somewhere.

What to do? What to do? What to do?



- - -

Date: Mon, 20 Nov 2000
From: a collins
Subject: some horrid mix-up

Dear Mr. McSweeney,

I recently sent you a short belletristic piece in the guise of a note found on the door of an MIT faculty lounge and you found it fit to display on your website. I am very flattered. Please don’t let what I am about to say undercut how jolly I am to be part of your literary hyper-establishment, but I was hoping to get a little credit for the letter. I mean, really, the whole unreliable narrator point of view being founded on the premise that someone else other than the actual person writing the words is telling the story, I couldn’t very well sign my own name to the letter; never mind it was not a real note found on a real door at MIT. That would be like conceding to the idea that I actually pulled a stunt like spitting salt water into a soda machine for a few free beverages. So what if i did? College was a rough time and I’m a writer now. Look, Jimmy Logan, Ph.D. doesn’t even exist. I made him up. The point is now all these literary minded people are going to be going out and looking for the next clever short collection of works by Jimmy Logan instead of me. Thanks A Bunch and Regards,

A.(like it even matters now, man)Collins

- - -

Date: Mon, 20 Nov 2000
From: luke o’neil
Subject: 47

Dear McSWeeney’s,

This nervous sort of Eastern European girl comes into the West Side Lounge in Cambridge almost every Thursday and eats alone. I think she is a student at this local University which is just up the street in Harvard Square. She usually has a book. She almost always sits in my section, and I find her rather attractive, so I have been starting to get ideas…

Two weeks ago, I noticed she was reading Auden’s collected works while I was refilling her water glass, so I asked her if she new the poem “No Second Troy.”

“That’s Yeats,” she said.

“So it is,” I said.

She didn’t come back the next week.

- - -

Date: 20 Nov 2000
From: Alison Garfield
Subject: What gives?

Dear McSweeneys,

Why do you only publish letters from Mike Topp, Dan Kennedy and Bryce Newhart.

Poor. Very poor indeed.


A questioning Alison Garfield

- - -

Date: Mon, 20 Nov 2000
From: Erik A. Kraft
Subject: let us not forget the current administration

Dear McSweeney’s,

I just woke up with the following running through my head, mantra-like:

Carter Eskew. Erskine Bowles. Carter Eskew. Erskine Bowles. Carter Eskew. Erskine Bowles. Carter Eskew. Erskine Bowles. Carter Eskew. Erskine Bowles. Carter Eskew. Erskine Bowles. Carter Eskew. Erskine Bowles. Carter Eskew. Erskine Bowles. Carter Eskew. Erskine Bowles. Carter Eskew. Erskine Bowles. Carter Eskew. Erskine Bowles. Carter Eskew. Erskine Bowles. Carter Eskew. Erskine Bowles. Carter Eskew. Erskine Bowles. Carter Eskew. Erskine Bowles. Carter Eskew. Erskine Bowles. Carter Eskew. Erskine Bowles. Carter Eskew. Erskine Bowles. Carter Eskew. Erskine Bowles. Carter Eskew. Erskine Bowles. Carter Eskew. Erskine Bowles. Carter Eskew. Erskine Bowles. Carter Eskew. Erskine Bowles. Carter Eskew. Erskine Bowles.

Weird, huh?

In other news, it is snowing here, but not enough to cover up the broken stuff.

Erik Kraft

- - -

Date: Tue, 21 Nov 2000
From: Andrei V Sinioukov
Subject: Mr. Polish Pescada and McSweeney’s

McSweeney’s Books page ( as translated from English into Portuguese and then back into English by Altavista:

McSweeney’s Books:

[This plugging will supply the notice on the books that are being published under new ours imprint. It will be brought up to date as needed ]

For some months we suggest here and there on advent of books of McSweeney’s, an arm of the operation of McSweeney’s that he will publish and sell those things. Books.

We have intimated that one of our first books would be for Lawrence Krauser and that, if we are called the lemon or the Citrussexual or something another one, its book will involve a case epic of the love between a man and a small yellow fruit. This book is in many ways a very serious book, despite the whimsical turned pages one subject substance.

Now we would like to announce that we have gained the right recently to publish a collection of the work of fished Polish of Neal, a favourite person or thing of the website. The book will be available in September, or possibly in August. It will have this heading:

Anthology of the Polish fished ones of American Neal of literature

In publishing this book, us we will be making some new things. This book will be sold first in string, will be distributed though sufficient through the narrow channels that we in use them for the version of the copy of McSweeney’s. Now, as, you ask for, can we have features to publish such book? Well, first from everything, Mr. Polish Pescada will not be receiving an advance for its book. Instead, Mr. Polish Pescada will receive 100 percent from the profits from its book. McSweeney’s will not be making examination of no percentage.

This is the way that we will be making ours to publish of the book. Given the fact that we have nenhumas almost overheads, and that we can use our website to supply the comment of the availability of these books, our costs in producing these books are very small. We will not have none salespeople in the field. We will not print no catalogue of the advance. We will not be paying to none typesetters, and all to edit and to project will be made by the friends of the author, who is as he works generally in any way. Thus, in the extremity we only have that to pay for the physical production of the books of Mr. Polish Pescada, that will be printed in a considerable edition of hardcover.

Now, if Mr. Polish Pescada published this book through publisher existing and great of New York, everything of who makes the good work and staffed for pleasant peoples, following the not obstante one would be true, data rarefied the nature of the work of Mr. Polish Pescada and the nature to times one in such a way more less subtlety-subtlety-accepting of the business:

  • teams-out ** even so book est termin now, April 2000, glacial d rhythm industry and reliance in top catalogue system — wherein book dev est entalh for inclusion a certain station catalogue, that catalogue est produces one ridiculously long time before station asks — Mr. Pescada book not t est available public even, in advance, spring 2001. One year daqui, even so is finished for the right now.

b) For its efforts, Mr. Polish Pescada would be paid approximately $10.000, high ones, because the authors of such books — books that contain laffs — are paid rare upper-class by its efforts, because publishers is vain who such books do not sell, because the applicable compartments of commerce had said thus to them, to citing sales yielding of the recent compilations of cartoon of Drabble upper-class, that they are grouped invariàvel inside with the work of the peoples as Mr. Polish Pescada.

c) * teams-out * now, nivel if Mr. Pescada book est compr and public — to the little one year now, of course, fast material t torn old meantime — t est imprim paperback-only-somente form, and with cheap available paper, as full vacant witty invariable book est produces, this choice reflet low consideration that such book est mant its publishers. d) to alliviate to the fears of publisher on the understanding of the public of the book, the book cover he would be wacky, perhaps with a picture of Mr. Polish Pescada in its underwear when making a funny face, to indicate the potential readers that inside of the book they would be laffs funny there.

OK, I got tired at this point. I am sure you can do the rest by yourself.

Thank you,

- - -

Date: Wed, 22 Nov 2000
From: Jim P. Walsh
Subject: Feathered Soldiers

Dear McSweeney’s,

Mike Topp is interested in homing pigeons, the “Feathered Soldiers” of his grandpappy’s time.

Recently, a member of my condo association has become interested in homing pigeons, which has given all of us a unique, once in a lifetime opportunity to learn about “homers” and the astonishing amount of waste they produce. Their loft is on the north side of the building, out of the wind, and high enough that the neighborhood dogs can only sniff in vain.

Other interesting facts:

1. Homing pigeons can fly at average speeds of 40 miles per hour. Picture yourself in a car traveling at 35 miles an hour, with a pigeon flying above you, and passing you. It seems difficult to believe, yet it’s true.

2. The two guys who work at the feed store where Tom buys feed for his pigeons have maybe five teeth between them. They do not share the teeth.

3. Homing pigeons, like racehorses, show dogs, and the Wellesley alumnae of yore, have extensive pedigrees. Some homers have market prices of over ten thousand dollars.

4. People who own homing pigeons claim to perceive distinctions between their pets and common street pigeons, often called “sky rats,” or “garbage birds.” Homing pigeons are supposedly more intelligent, cleaner, and thinner. These distinctions are invisble to me.

5. There are homing pigeon catalogs with ads for such pigeons. Each page is tiled with seemingly identical pictures of pigeons. Only the pedigrees, racing records, and prices seem to differ. These catalogs remind one of what Andy Warhol would have achieved had he chosen glossy paper and pigeon, rather than silkscreen and Mao.

6. Homing pigeons return to a place they fix in their minds around the time they grow their flight feathers. The process of acclimating them to this spot and getting them to return from progressively longer distances takes up to a few months. For this reason, they would seem to be exceptionally impractical in wartime, when success rides upon rapid communication between quickly-moving troops.

6a. This same feature makes them somewhat impractical for civilian use as well. It was suggested we use the homing pigeons to order pizza, but we would either have to raise homing pigeons over at Godfather Pizza (“The Pizza You Can’t Refuse”) or train them to carry approximately fifteen times their own weight in pizza without falling prey to hawks or muggers. Both seemed dubious, so we continue to use the telephone until something better comes along.

7. When homing pigeons are released from a coop to fly home to their loft, they take off as a group into the air, and fly, in tight formation, in steadily widening circles until they choose the correct direction. Then they all fly off together. In the skies above the Fermilab nuclear accelator southwest of Chicago, it’s a pretty sight.

Jim Walsh

- - -

Date: Wed, 22 Nov 2000
From: Jim Crocamo
Subject: Scott Hollifield’s "Strange and Obsessive Things I Did As

Dear Scott Hollifield,

You think that’s strange? I grew up in a place called Farmdale. I jousted my friend with wiffle bats while on our bikes. I turned my garage into a place I called “The Art Hole” and drew a huge picture of Dick Tracy on the floor in chalk. When I was sick I put all of my old tissues in my Tonka truck and then drove it to the trash can periodically. The first time I threw up I was convinced the Easter Island heads had something to do with it. I memorized Jabberwocky when I was four. That’s just the tip of the iceberg!


Jim Crocamo

Dear McSweeney’s,

Congratulate me. Today I am an adult! I have a very nasty cold, yet I did not call in sick to work. I am here, truly miserable!


Mr. Jim Crocamo

- - -

Date: Wed, 22 Nov 2000
From: | Block address
Subject: A Plea for Resolution

Dear Editors and My Fellow Americans,

A Plea For Resolution

As professor of African and Indo-Eurasian Reproductive Studies, I must make a plea to the nation, to the politicians, to the electors, to all men and women who care about justice and decency, to let the madness end. Multitudes are adversely effected by the events of these past few weeks in ways that many cannot begin to imagine.

Consider if you will, my own situation. In my work, I currently spend my days in pursuit of information about pregnancy rates in the country of Chad. I had to get to entry 843 (of 386,321, as opposed to a managable 15,804 just one month ago) in my Google search before I even saw mention of the nation, and even then, it was it’s ballots, not bellies, that were being discussed.

Consider the children. The heavyset young Chad that now has that most humiliating knick-name, “pregnant.” Consider his pockmarked namesake, “dimpled” Chad. Consider the Chad facing death row, who, on top of everything else, is now “the infamous, hanging” Chad. And consider the people of the struggling African nation, who now have had to apportion a considerable portion of their time and budget to the redirecting of phone calls. Are their plights insignificant?

I beseach each and every member of this great nation, especially Chad Lowe, who clearly has little else of value to do with his free time besides support his talented bride and envy his brother, to rise up and call for an end to this electoral madness.

Thank you.

-C. Curtis,
College Park

- - -

Date: Wed, 22 Nov 2000
From: Dan Kennedy

Dear McSweeney’s,

Doesn’t it seem like this election is taking way longer than the last one?

Dan Kennedy

- - -

Date: Wed, 22 Nov 2000
From: Dan Kennedy

Dear McSweeney’s-

If you interpret the first three of the following phrases with your hands and arms, and then the last one using only your right leg, you’ll be dancing like Ricki Martin.

1. “Five plus five makes ten.”

2. “Where is my wallet?”

3. “Scan the horizon”

4. “Get the snake off my boot.”

Living life in a crazy or insane manner-

Dan Kennedy
New York, New York

- - -

Date: Wed, 22 Nov 2000
From: Mike Topp
Subject: Thumbs

Dear McSweeney’s:

After work one day I was walking home with my boss and another guy. I started to talk about how when the computers crashed everybody just sat around and twiddled their thumbs, but then I noticed that the other guy was missing the thumb on his left hand. When I saw that, I took my boss aside, and told him we should fire that other guy.


Mike Topp

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Date: Wed, 22 Nov 2000
From: Mike Topp
Subject: Goldfish

Dear McSweeney’s:

I still remember the day I flushed my pet goldfish down the toilet. At first I felt really bad, but later that same day I nailed our cat’s tongue to the floor and set fire to my ant farm, so, in retrospect, it didn’t seem like such a big deal.


Mike Topp

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Subject: Secrets of the World Revealed on I-29
Date: Sat, 25 Nov 2000

Dear McSweeney’s,

My car ran out of gas and would not start again, stuck on the shoulder of a 2 lane highway. I put the “Need Gas” sign in the window and got out and began walking. I debated with the wisdom, but eventually stuck out my thumb, but did not turn around so as to appear more roguish and intriguing, rather than desperate. I did not expect anyone to stop, but I heard a horn behind me and there was a giant white semi. The driver let me in and took me to the gas station 10 miles down the road. He had a can of honey roasted nuts on the dashboard. I got a gas can and gas while he went for McDonalds. We met up and he started taking me back to my car. I asked him what he had hauled and he told me once he had hauled 50 million dollars in newly minted coins and had to wait 12 hours for the FBI security check to clear him before letting him into the treasury. Then, while there, he saw two agents pointing their machine guns at him. He looked down and was leaning on a box of used 100 dollar bills. He also shipped 100 million dollars worth of compaq laptops and was shepherded by two suburbans in front and one in back, all filled with “4 men with submachine guns” as his escort.

When I got the gas in my car and it started I went to thank him. I told him I didn’t think truckers ever picked up hitchhikers. He said, “Naw, they’ll pick you up usually, unless you look like some sort of a male prostitute.”

“So, I guess I don’t look like a male prostitute?”

“Naw, you don’t have to worry.”

And that’s why it was the best Thanksgiving ever.


Christopher Sebela

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Date: Mon, 27 Nov 2000
From: matt fraction // man of action!
Subject: Another thing

To whom it may concern:

The guy says— and I’m not making this up— “Welcome to the Coliseum of Ideas!” What was he talking about? His bedroom? I don’t know.

What kind of guy would say that? Not any kind of guy at all.

Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter,
Matt Fraction
America’s Sweetheart

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Date: Tue, 28 Nov 2000
From: nmatthew wignell
Subject: The nature of whales

Dear McSweeney’s,

When I was a child I read a series of books about two brothers , Hal and Roger who searched the world (though predominantly Africa ) for exotic species to return to their fathers zoo.

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Date: Tue, 28 Nov 2000
From: Karl Tobias Steel
Subject: The cop said, “You know, there are easier ways to meet people.”

Dear McSweeney’s:

A bike hit a cab door last night. Me, I was on the bike, zipping through the Upper East Side to get to my Bronx apartment. The bike hit the door, I hit Park Avenue, and I sprang up, and I was ok. While waiting for the police, the three of us (passenger, driver, medievalist) talked about the recent election, here in the United States. The passenger told me, “No President with a one syllable name has ever served more than one term in office.”

Pierce, Taft, Bush. Hayes, Ford (sort of), Polk.

Were it not for Grant, she would have been right. Here are some (three) other facts:


1) Long ago a radio announcer mis-spoke, “And now, the President of the United States, Hoobert Heever!”

2) No candidate has ever had a name that rhymed with “orange.”

3) Millard Filmore.

Factually, I remain,
Karl Steel
Near Yankee Stadium, NY

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Date: Wed, 29 Nov 2000
From: Brian Houston
Subject: Boomer Sooner

Dear McSweeney’s:

I live in Norman, Oklahoma and attend the University of Oklahoma.

There is nothing particularly special about this University expect for the fact that the football team is the number one ranked football team in America.

Like many places in the United States, Oklahomans take their football very seriously. There has been a great deal of fanfare and discussion of our immortality in the arena of college football. As it brings great joy to many people, and being a Sooner myself, I am happy with the football teams performance this year.

However, a side effect of all the hoopla has been an explosion of automobiles decorated with O.U. football flags. I don’t know if you have seen these flags before, I am sure they exist in other parts of the country depicting other teams. The football flags are mounted on the top of the cars side windows. The flags fly straight when driving and stick up about two feet above the car.

Most cars have a single flag. Then there are the diehard fans who display two flags. If you go with the two flag set-up it looks similar to the flags that you see on limousines that carry embassy diplomats to various functions.

I don’t know if these flags just hit the market this year or if the sudden explosion of their use is a result of O.U.‘s recent football success. After all, we sucked the last ten years and now we are number one. I guess this now is a perfect time to pick up some flags at Wal-Mart and put them on one’s car.

My reason for writing McSweeney’s about this situation is the guilt I feel regarding this current state of affairs. You see, I have not torn a single flag off of a single car. I pass the cars with flags in the parking lot and I stop and stare.

The posts that hold the flag are plastic. I would be so easy to snap one off. No one would ever notice. In fact, what I should do is assemble a group of friends and hold a competition to see who can retrieve the most flags from the cars that display them. I bet if someone really took the competition seriously they could acquire over a hundred flags.

Yet, none of these thoughts have come to fruition. I simply look at the flags and keep on walking. Perhaps it is some subconscious reverence that I am not aware of. Perhaps I am not as anti-establishment as I believe. Perhaps I am scared of being chased down by a campus cop in a golf cart bearing an O.U. flag.

I just thought that I should be honest and let you know what is going on. All of this is happening in my own back yard I sit idly by and allow it to happen.

I hope this doesn’t diminish your thinking of me too much.

Boomer Sooner,

Brian Houston

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Date: Wed, 29 Nov 2000

I don’t know who you are or how many people are involved with McSweeney’s but the AA/Macy’s Day Parade article was the funniest, let me repeat that for emphasis, funniest thing I think I have ever read.

Pure comedic Genius.

From a fan in Toronto, Ontario


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Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2000
From: luke o’neil
Subject: hey travis — look!

Dear McSweeney’s,

A few things: One 64 fl oz (2 QT or 1.89 L) container of Tropicana Pure Premium – not from concentrate – “Original” 100% Pure Florida Squeezed Orange Juice (Pasteurized; No pulp) costs me $3.29 at the “Store 24” on Comm’ Ave. near my apartment.

Also, today in my fiction workshop we discussed whether or not “crabs” and “Jim J. Bullock” were funnier than “genital herpes” and “Bob Sagat” in the context of a humorous piece on war between two neighboring islands in the north Caribean. I didn’t even know crabs were still around.

Also, there is this girl with a very short sort of pixie haircut, and a black dress who dances at the Common Ground in Allston on Wednesdays, and I have a secret crush on her.

Also, the word “pants” is funny.

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Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2000
Subject: When I was five

When I was five my father paid men to knock down trees, level land, pour a foundation and build a house. At the time I was more interested in the large mounds of dirt in the vacant lot across the street.

Three memories from this time period:

1. Playing tag in the partially-clad structure while wearing my new Spider Man ski mask. My father sitting on a saw horse playing cards with the man who is supposed to be working in the kitchen. Damn that mask was cool. (mine)

2. Helping my mother clean up the shards of glass that were all over the floor of the soon-to-be family room. The shards were the result of a pheasant flying through the picture window that had been installed the day before. The pheasant died. (mine)

3. Losing ten straight hands to that guy who hired me to put his cabinets in. He won a whole weeks pay, so I ended up putting them in for free. (guy who installed our kitchen cabinets for free)

We moved into that house in November of 1980. Five months later I was paralyzed from the neck down. God I miss that ski mask.

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Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2000
From: Dan Kennedy

Dear McSweeney’s,

I am here again. Freelancing again. Less than two weeks back in the city after finding heaven in Spain, and I have reported directly to hell.

A much more comfortable hell for these two weeks, however. One hundred thousand square feet of modernist-design-meets-pop-media-and-culture…but nonetheless, hell. The view, though…the view is great here. To my left, the Hudson glimmers and the Statue Of Liberty tries from too far away to remind me to stand for something. To the right of me, the city unfolds into Times Square, where tiny men climb scaffolding like spiders as they put together a billboard of a bigger man who loves a particular brand of clothing. I’m watching this guy grow up, piece by piece. I can remember last week when he was all legs. In a week or so, when he has eyes and is looking in at me while I write advertising copy, it will be time for me to take my cue from the Statue of Liberty, stand up, and leave this place. That’s the bitter-sweet part of being hired on for only two weeks; just as you start getting used to seeing somebody, it’s time to go.

New and Improved-
Dan Kennedy
New York, New York.

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Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2000
From: “SeekStart”
Subject: Re: Timothy McSweeney’s Internet Tendency

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