From: “zach rodgers”
Subject: fondness
Date: Sun, 31 Oct 1999

Dear McSweeney’s,

Though I’m sure you hear it all the time, know that your journal gives me great joy.

There is a redundant game I play with myself. It has no name, but were I forced to title it, “The Last Man on Earth” or “Am I the only sentient life on this lonely blue-green marble?” would be good candidates. I might also consider, “What if… ?” for 1960s sci-fi television and comic book kitsch value. I’ve played the game for as long as I can remember, usually in bored moments waiting for water to boil or while trying to fall asleep. More often than not, I start playing without intending to. My mind wanders into it like a little house mouse among the compost.

The premise is as follows. I am the last man on earth, at least as far as I know. How this has come to be is a matter of conjecture. Perhaps I wake up one morning to find myself suddenly, inexplicably alone. Or it may be that the entire human population has been evacuated in anticipation of some large scale disaster, and I sleep in and miss the transport. Regardless, there I am, alone in the big empty world. What to I do?

Early manifestations of the game consisted mainly of various forms of thrill-seeking. In one scenario I recall teaching myself to fly a military jet and annihilating sections of New York with gunfire, bombs, and air-to-air missiles. Another day I was living the high life in a Spanish Castle with a lavish wardrobe (plucked from the closets of vanished celebrities and kings) and a vast collection of exotic and wierd pets including lions, black sheep, gray parrots, rhinoceri, and a chimp companion with a mastery of sign language. I ate with Caesar’s silver and decorated my habitat with originals of William Blake and Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee. Later my preoccupation with the game shifted, and I toyed with the idea of finding a companion. I reasoned that there must be someone somewhere in this vast geolithic bog, acting out their own private fantasies but secretly hoping to discover a living breathing individual for conversation, heavy petting, growing old, and sharing in the annihilation of Manhattan by laser guided missile.

I tried many a contact method: sky banners, internet postings, vast personal ads of a sort (filling whole parking lots) in red paint (e.g. “Anyone out there? Will be in Zurich in Spring, Montreal in Summer, Santiago in falltime, Beijing in Winter. Please please please come find me.”). Lately my scenarios have devolved somewhat. As often as not I am a hermit in the desolate wild, or living in the Mesa Verde cliff dwellings. The bulk of my ambition is focused on cultivating exotic plants and striving for inner peace. However I have not abandoned my search for companionship. Recent approaches include the development of a map of souls via rigorous meditation, allowing me to make psychic contact with sentient minds and, theoretically, to summon them to my side. Of course, it being a game, closure is impossible. I remain on my own. But discovering your journal is sort of like making contact would be in my little running scheme, were it to occur somehow.

zachary rodgers
boston, mass.

- - -

Date: Sun, 31 Oct 1999
From: Stuart Wade
Subject: Apology to T. Schultz of Bellingham WA

A heartfelt apology to Master Timothy Schultz of Bellingham, Washington:

A “Less Popular Bar” Stuart Wade meant to include, instead of The Double Wide of Bellingham, Washington, was The Memorabilia Saloon of Evansville, Indiana. Stuart Wade regrets the error.

Stuart Wade
Austin, TX

- - -

Date: Thu, 28 Oct 1999
From: t a
Subject: A list, and a proposal


The following is a complete catalog of items offered to me by a neighbor, who is relocating:

  • 1 cactus, long deceased (presumably due to dehydration)
  • 1 margarine container holding an assortment of nuts, bolts, and screws
  • 1 cat

To Sara Ogilvie-Fritchman, I would like to offer a post as my foreign policy consultant. I cannot afford much in the way of a salary, but it is my firm belief that holding such a position can only add an even greater sheen to her already lustrous career as leader of the free world.


Tim Annett

- - -

From: Laurie Stalberg
Subject: The Coolest Man Alive
Date: Wed, 27 Oct 1999

I promise.

Love, A long-time listener, first-time caller

- - -

From: “Sam Meyer”
Subject: A couple of things…
Date: Wed, 27 Oct 1999

The white stuff in an egg is called “egg white.” Failing that, “albumen.” *

I also notice that a Timothy McSweeney was the postmaster of Waynesville, Georgia, from October 28, 1898 to May 13, 1915. *

And, to relieve Tim Carvell’s fears (and spare him the horrors of moving to Columbus), I believe that there was an inadvertent and unfortunate transcription error, for the Columbus City Clerk does not in fact have a 212 area code. (Good thing, too, or else the citizens of Columbus would have been rendered bankrupt by the telephone charges accumulated in clerkly business by now…but I digress). It is in fact:

City Clerk’s Office
The City Clerk is appointed by City Council and is responsible for keeping journals of Council and standing committee proceedings, documents, and records. The Clerk also codifies general ordinances and maintains custody of deeds, abstracts, and titles owned by the city. In addition, the Clerk edits The City Bulletin.
Name Telephone
Timothy McSweeney
City Clerk 645-7380

Oh yeah, and here’s Timothy McSweeney’s genealogy:
[Click Here]

*citation for “albumen”, from

Main Entry: al·bu·men
Pronunciation: al-’byü-m&n; ’al-"byü-, by&
Function: noun
Etymology: Late Latin, from albus
Date: 1599
1 : the white of an egg — see EGG illustration

*citation for Timothy McSweeney being postmaster of Waynesville, GA: the fascinating “Postmasters in Brantley County” web page, at: (which also lists several other McSweeney postmasters of Waynesville)

With fondest regards,
Sam Meyer

- - -

Date: Tue, 26 Oct 1999
From: Will Georgantas
Subject: This has nothing to do with excellence!

Dear McSweeney’s,

Actually, this has everything to do with excellence. I only said that it didn’t because if I made the subject “Commitment to Excellence,” as I normally do, I knew you wouldn’t read it. You have been ducking this issue for some time now.

To recap for your readers, who will never see this letter, because you will not post it÷in a way this is kind of liberating, as I can freely say “Fart! fart!”÷I am a proponent of Excellence as a mission. It follows logically from something someone once said about the small matter of the Children in your magazine. My motto is, “Committed to Excellence.” I came up with it myself.

But don’t be frightened! I’m only telling you all this to let you know that McSweeney’s is excellent. When my magazine finally comes out (its offices will be in Greece), it will be devoted to exposing and praising excellent things. Since the magazine doesn’t yet exist, I wanted to put your Excellence Award in print somewhere. Congratulations! (fart! fart!) I just thought of a motto for the magazine. “Our mission: Excellence.”

So far, only two institutions have been named truly excellent. McSweeney’s, of course, and the Georgia Satellites, who have many awesome songs in addition to the one everybody already knows, 1985’s hit “Keep Your Hands to Yourself.” My favorite is called “All Over But the Cryin’,” but there are many other good ones, including “Sweet Blue Midnight” and “Bring Down the Hammer.”

Will Georgantas

- - -

From: David Parker
Subject: Letter about letter
Date: Tue, 26 Oct 1999

Gentlemen (a term I use loosely, as you may well be neither gentle nor men, I’m a new reader):

In re to the following letter found on your web site this day:

Date: Mon, 18 Oct 1999 From: Eiler Marcher Subject: Eiler=Marcher Squared Eiler here, That self-proclaimed self-congratulating smart-ass David L. Edwards, II has forced this Hollander’s hand. The word of the millenium is no longer “compote.” The word of the millenium is “estimable”. You should know that David Edwards, II will be appearing in the new Episode of Star Wars (titled Episode II) as the ‘estimable’ paperboy from Dagobah, Luke Schugren. Above and beyond, Eiler Marcher

Please inform your Mr. Marcher that the word of the millennium is, in fact, “millennium,” not “millenium” (sic).

Growing fond of you,


PS: Well, at least growing….

- - -

Date: Mon, 25 Oct 1999
Subject: A question…

Dear McSweeney’s,

We were discussing one day the worst thing you could do to someone. This would have to cover physical, emotional and spiritual pain. My good friend decided that a mid-orgasm punch was the worst thing you could do. My question is this. What’s the white stuff of an egg called?


- - -

Dear McSweeney’s

Recently I wrote this haiku for ‘Lake Diablo Hydro-Electric Dam’.

Oh, great Hydro-Dam!
Gigantic, concrete fountain!

Scott McKinnon
Bellingham, WA

P.S. The following a true story. My real profession is reading water meters that are located in ground-boxes. Once, while I was walking through the yard of a urbanite home, a large and scruffy man, dressed in nothing but a faded blue terry-cloth bathrobe, exited from his home, gave me a very stern looking over and then asked me, “Are you digging up my dead raccoon?” To this I responded, “Uh… no.”

- - -

From: Amie Barrodale
Date: Thu, 21 Oct 1999
Subject: From the desk of Amiri Baraca

Dear McSweeney’s,

1) I do not have a television. This, as you might say, makes me sad.
Please remove all references to Alan Thicke from your pages.
You may do so with a ‘Sharpie.’

2) I am a fellow Brooklynite. I am also a fellow plant lover. We have Brooklyn and plants in common.

3) I get very little light in my apartment. This, the minimal lighting, is fine with me, as I am a ‘night owl.’ (Are you a night owl? Yes or No. Write back.)

4) The guy with the red sweatpants and the plastic apron — do you think he is perhaps a little too dirty? I’m sure you catch my meaning.

5) Do you think Kevin Spacey is a homo? (Yes or No. Write Back.)

Kindest REgards,
Amiri Baraca
(A fellow Brooklynite, and plant lover.)

P.S. Shame about our photo, in the New Yorker. I must have been getting the buns ready. You can just about see me, in the background. I am wearing a garbage bag, twisted up like a bra, and my lips are stretched wide, a rictus of pure horror which evokes, of course, the death mask of Goethe, who is highly overrated.

- - -

From: “Patrick Smith”
Date: Sat, 23 Oct 1999


(a disclaimer: I’m drunk…)

Please never publish this! This is a note of appreciation. I had imagined writing something keeping in tone with your publication, but at this hour, why bother? McSweeneys is a funny kind of balm. I don’t really know what keeps you doing it, but it’s an odd kind of reassurance that somebody does.

- - -

From: “Michael McGowan”
Subject: Who Is Terry McBride
Date: Fri, 22 Oct 1999

Dear McSweeney’s,

While recently searching the net I came across the hit for a home page “Who is Terry McBride?” (

Though the question hadn’t really been on my mind, intrigued I went to his site.

Among other impressive credentials (including a twenty-one year marriage to Betty and founding president of Saskatchewan Chapter of Canadian Association of Financial Planner), what stood out on Mr. McBride’s CV was his designation of ATM (Advanced Toastmaster.) Not content to rest on his past successes, Mr. McBride is currently working on his ATM Silver. One can only assume that they serve him well as Sergeant-at-arms of the Bridge City Toastmasters and are a constant source of pride for daughters Katie, Lisa and Maggie (Mr. McBride’s Lisa and Maggie should not be confused by Mr. Homer Simpson’s similarly named daughters.)


Jesus Knickerbocker

- - -

From: “phil redondo”
Subject: Mike Topp’s Work in McSweeney’s
Date: Thu, 21 Oct 1999

Dear McSweeney’s,

Mike Topp’s writing is the funniest thing since the Susan Anthony dollar.

- - -

From: “Ogilvie, Sara, ARV
Subject: Fritchman, you fool.
Date: Wed, 20 Oct 1999

Dear McSweeneys,

Much maligned am I. Falsely calumniated as a shrew of an ex-wife, I have naught to show for loving such a vicious man. So traduced was I by his evil missive, that I am reduced to mere synonyms. I have been defamed, blighted, vilified.

Sara Ogilvie-Fritchman
Leader of the Free World

- - -

Date: Wed, 20 Oct 1999
Subject: Columbus

Dear McSweeney’s,

Am I the only one to notice that Timothy McSweeney, city clerk for Columbus, OH, has a 212 area code? Now, I know that, in this age of the “virtual office” and the fancy “jet-plane”, it is possible to “telecommute” to one’s “work-place”, but it seems to me that there are some jobs where residency requirements should still apply, and city clerk is one of them.

I’d therefore like to start a campaign to oust Mr. McSweeney from his post, and run for the job myself. My campaign slogan will be: “If Elected, I Am Willing To Move To Columbus, OH”. Frankly, city clerk for Columbus seems like a pretty sweet job: For one thing, I bet the job not only encourages, but requires that I have a full complement of rubber stamps. And for another, I’d imagine editing that City Bulletin would be a real hoot. My first issue will feature a ten-page photo spread on otters.


Tim Carvell
currently of Los Angeles

- - -

Date: Wed, 20 Oct 1999
From: “Walter Gothberg”
Subject: True recall dreaming

Dear McSweeney’s,

Last night, a dream brought recall of a bit from my very early days. At about six years old, my then best friend, Hank, told me some wisdom he had gleaned from his Dad’s (Kurt) National Geographic magazines: Hank said that something called vishee-swaw (how we would have spelled it if we wrote it then) was a potato and leak soup. So I, being a budding humorist, asked Hank if all ya had to do to make it was pee on a potato? We laughed and Hank said he thought that the potato has to be mashed and in a bowl because its a soup after ya pee in it. So that became a running private joke of Hank’s and mine. Several times when we would go into the kitchen at Hank’s, his Mom (Barb), being of equivalent German bloodline as Kurt, would be making mashed potatoes. Hank and I would laugh and say “vishee-swaw” and Barb would look at us with perplexed amusement and ask something like “What? Vichyssoise? What?”. Then Hank and I would have to finish laughing outside or in his room because we knew that Barb wouldn’t think the peeing part of the joke was as funny as Hank and I thought it was. A couple-few years later, Hank and I were at McKelvy park and we wandered to the back of the field next to the park where Adobe creek ran through and there was a pile of rotting tomatoes that had been grown in the field but discarded. They stank really bad so Hank and I decided to pee on them. Then we both laughed because we knew that we were making vishee-swaw, only with rotten tomatoes instead of potatoes and without a bowl.

Woody Dykott
Sacramento, CA, USA

- - -

Date: Wed, 20 Oct 1999
From: Tim Schultz
Subject: A small correction. Very small, but still important. At least to me.

Dear McSweeney’s:

Please notify Mr. Wade (“Less Popular Bars,” October 20, 1999) that the “Double Wide” is indeed a very popular bar in the small town of Bellingham, Washington, where I happen to reside. Indeed, the Double Wide is a hip, groovy night spot where all of the beautiful college students congegrate, converse, and gyrate their bodies to the funky beats, all while drinking copious amounts of beer, including (but not limited to) 11-oz bottles of Lucky Lager.

Mr. Wade’s inclusion of the Double Wide on his list is not appropriate, for, as I have already mentioned, it is a very popular bar.

Thank you,

Timothy Schultz
Bellingham, Washington

- - -

Date: Wed, 20 Oct 1999
From: Scott Matthew Korb
Subject: A note on M. Ryan Purdy and Mike Topp

Dear McSweeney’s,

As I respond here, pointing mostly to the limitations and short-sightedness of M. Ryan Purdy, “(no relation),” of Brooklyn, NY, (18 October 1999) in his reading of Mr. Mike Topp’s “superlative” article of 18 October 1999, I shall avoid mentioning my Avid Readership of either the print or the web version of the journal [notice I have not fallen into Mr. Purdy’s jargon of “virtual version,” “tendency,” “fondness,” or “next generation.” I do this to allow you to avoid the trap into which you may have fallen in printing Mr. Purdy’s fine letter. It would be hard to pass up any letter that celebrates so immodestly the journal to which it is sent, I understand. But, could Mr. Purdy’s back-patting have had anything to do with the selection of his letter over others printed that day? Scruples, man, scruples! Journalistic integrity! This is my jargon, my mantra. (Ahem, please don’t blackball me.)].

Back to the matter at hand. It should be noted that the Commandment #2, so conveniently left out by Mr. Topp, deals with graven images, that this jealous God forbids the production of anything to which one bows down. Mr. Purdy picked up on this (well done, Mr. Purdy!), and proceeded in his fine letter to question the fact-checking skill of McSweeney’s (which seems to run contrary to his earlier attempts to please you all so much). Never did it enter his mind (or if it did, the thought remained only for a moment) that Mr. Topp may have done this intentionally, with a purpose. Here’s my theory. Follow the logic.

Mr. Topp is describing a world here. Our world. A disordered world where numbers are simply names, markers, if you will, and so, “no particular order” is meaningful. This is not such a hard-and-fast hierarchy, as Mr. Purdy would have us believe: “I would assume it is an important one, what with it being near the top and all.” No indeed. In fact, Mr. Topp disorders the Commandments in an effort to expose a world in disorder, a world that in one moment might consider Murder (#6) more sinful than Coveting Your Neighbor’s Wife, House, Field, Manservant, Maidservant, Ox, Ass, Or Anything That Is Your Neighbor’s (#10), while in another moment might reverse that order, depending of course on whether your wife (&c.) has more recently been coveted than murdered. (I assume that Mr. Topp was using this as a hypothetical example, this reordering, and that this placing of Commandment #6 before Commandment #10 is done only to show the possibilities of his description of the disordered world. I mean only that his hypothetical reorderer is not Mr. Topp himself, but some sad, lonely, imagined character whose wife was more recently murdered than coveted, for I hope that Mr. Topp’s wife was more recently coveted than murdered. I do not know Mr. Topp’s wife, or even if he has a wife, and so, I can only speak in hypotheticals.) This is the reason, I suspect, for the disorder. Now, Topp’s ommission of Commandment #2, God’s jealous opposition to graven images, seems to fit with his proposition that the Commandments are fluid; if they can be reordered, they most certainly can be added or dropped as we choose. Dropping #2 seems especially appropriate in the world of Mr. Purdy, as he bows to the graven image of Mr. Timothy McSweeney, and Co.: “I realize your ambitions are large . . . hope you are all in good health,” &c. (Ahem, please don’t blackball me.) Funny that Mr. Purdy did not see this appropriate ommission of Commandment #2.

Perhaps Mr. Purdy should take up the mantra of “No Taxation Without Representation” the next time he takes such a public stand. While a bit antiquated (not to mention a position that led to war), he might find safety in something tried and true.

I am, &c.,
Scott M Korb
Manhattan, NY

- - -

From: “Steve Featherstone”
Subject: Matt Frichtman: Sweetheart or Satan?
Date: Wed, 20 Oct 1999

Dear McSweeney’s,

I am writing to clear up a few matters concerning Matt Frichtman, the self-titled “America’s Sweetheart.”

I cannot comment on his marital status, other than to say that if he is to be taken at his word, it is indeed a sad situation. But that is not my concern. Last year I moved to NYC from Kansas City, where I resided for 2.5 years. Therefore, I am an expert on Kansas City, especially that portion of which-Midtown-Mr. Frichtman refers to in his latest post. My driver’s license still bears a midtown address of 4045 Walnut St., which gets me out of trouble with the New Jersey State Troopers because they believe Missouri to be a wholesome place, and that a person bearing a MO driver’s license would never traffic in drugs on the NJ Turnpike.

In his flagrant and unwarranted use of the term, “America’s Sweetheart,” Mr. Frichtman would also like us to believe that he, and by extension, Kansas City, is wholesome and good. But they are not. They are evil. Kansas City is evil. Matthew Frichtman is evil. And they are both playing up that old Garrison Keillor-esque, aw shucks Midwest routine in order to fool the rest of us. Wake up America!

What is my proof?

  • Westport Flea Market vendors are, by and large, matronly middle class ladies selling their overpriced antiques to other matronly middle class ladies who drive in from Overland Park, Kansas, for a small taste of gritty city life. These ladies are nothing like the slavering “hungry vendor,” whose only desire was to “play Mortal Kombat” that Frichtman wants us to imagine.
  • There is no Mortal Kombat arcade game within 5 miles of Westport. There is a bowling game in Kelley’s Irish Pub, but the track ball sticks and I doubt the hungry vendor would like that game.
  • I happened to catch “Boogie Nights” when it was at the Tivoli, and I can say with utter confidence that there was never a 9:20 showing. I usually prefer a matinee, but that night I was stood up by a date and I waited in the lobby through the 7:00 showing. Had there been a 9:20, I would have watched the movie alone, but instead I went home and smoked cigarettes until 3 am.
  • Everyone there says that Kansas City is “beloved” to them but no one really means it.

Given the preponderance of contrary evidence I have supplied here, I think it is time we stopped entertaining Matt Frichtman’s charade and strip him of his title.

Steve Featherstone

- - -

From: “Tom and Michelle”
Subject: Luckier
Date: Mon, 18 Oct 1999

Dear Mr. McSweeney,

Throughout my visit to Montreal, we took the Metro. While I must admit it wasn’t Pairs, not one face resembled a petal on a wet, black bough. In fact, they all seemed pretty unconnected. All I felt was rootless. Maybe ol’ Tom Eliot should have punched Ezra Pound in the face and said, “There you Nazi bastard! I’m the better craftsman and I kicked your ass.”

- - -

Date: Mon, 18 Oct 1999
From: Eiler Marcher
Subject: Eiler=Marcher Squared

Eiler here,

That self-proclaimed self-congratulating smart-ass David L. Edwards, II has forced this Hollander’s hand. The word of the millenium is no longer “compote.” The word of the millenium is “estimable”.

You should know that David Edwards, II will be appearing in the new Episode of Star Wars (titled Episode II) as the ‘estimable’ paperboy from Dagobah, Luke Schugren.

Above and beyond,

Eiler Marcher

- - -

Subject: Direct crib from MST3K
Date: 19 Oct 99

Dear McSweeney’s,

Mike Topp’s “Whitmanic Poem” in “Some Things for Today” is a direct crib from the fine television show Mystery Science Theater 3000. To whit (a little pun there for you), the line “even though your feet smell like cheese, we prefer to think they smell like good cheese” appeared in the “Amazing Colossal Man” episode, I think. Please let Mike Topp know that his plagiarism has been duly noted in his permanent record.

Amanda Summers

- - -

Date: Tue, 19 Oct 1999
From: “Joseph R. Stevens”
Subject: I Seek Answers

Dear McSweeney’s,

I returned recently from a vacation in Montana to find your quarterly a star of the NYC literati. Obviously, while I was off on the Blackfoot river pricking my fingertips with caddis flies to fit the hatch, your ’zine caught the eye of those rampant full-colored hounds in Manhattan. Please resist the calling of your brethren of the lesser borough; it is a giant Hoover beneath us all.

Now the more urgent matter. Redemption the motive. Salvation by wisdom. I have been plagued – yes, plagued – by utterances deep from the grey matter. Mantras of philosophical gibberish; they repulse and attract. Help! Look into your hearts; speak, edify:

What is the distance of a word? God is an ultimatum. Life is the square root of itself.

Is this chaos? Or divine intervention?

Useless and dam proud.


- - -

From: Matt Fritchman
Subject: Sara Crapplevie.
Date: Mon, 18 Oct 1999

To Whom It May Concern:

Of course, it comes down to this. It is with great shame and embarrassment that I write this to you and your fine publication; it was only a matter of time, however, until such a heavy-hearted missive became necessary. You knew it. I knew it. Hell, the damned cat even knew it. That smell is not delicious stew-it is T R O U B L E.

And it comes in the guise of my ex-wife, Ms. Sara Ogilvie-Fritchman (yes, she used a hyphen).

Our divorce was no surprise; my parents didn’t even come to the wedding. Needless to say, it was over a short time after it began.

And as my former wife and I began to pick at the remains of our life together, the only thing I took, the only piece of marital booty, so to speak, that I asked of her was the title of “America’s Sweetheart”, which we purchased at the Westport Flea Market on our first date, before catching the 9:20 showing of “Boogie Nights” at the Tivoli. Maybe it was “The Myth of Fingerprints”. There were a lot of sweaters in the movie, either way. The dealer told me that since Sandra Bullock had sort of fumbled at the box office, the title was up for grabs. We bought it for four dollars and a sandwich from a vendor who was hungry, and wanted single bills to play “Mortal Kombat 4”.

Now, my beloved Kansas City is not quite as beloved, as the ghost of my miserable life as a married man haunts every corner of Midtown, every bar in Westport, every shop on the Plaza. Even the benign and white-bread Overland Park creeps me out now.

Of course, she now tries to take the one thing that is mine, gambling that I would never come forth with the above. Feh. I showed her. You want embarrassing? Ask her what that “ARV” business is all about.

I’ll give you a hint: Teapot Dome Scandal.

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

- - -

From: Ryan Purdy
Subject: The Good Book.
Date: Mon, 18 Oct 1999

Dear McSweeney’s,

I realize that your ambitions are large and your staff and resources limited, but as a regular reader of your publications (both the “print version” and the “web version” or “virtual version” or whatever you may call it— once it was a “tendency” and then it was a “fondness” and then it had a “next generation” complete with sound effects and now it seems to be laughing at something, or is it someone?), I was slightly distracted by Mike Topp’s superlative piece of Monday, October 18. Mr. Topp had several things for us (your on-line readers) to think about, the first being the Ten Commandments (although each section of his work had a certain weight and appeal). I happened to notice, as I’m sure others did and have already mentioned, that, although they are in fact in no particular order, he seems to have omitted Commandment #2. This seems either to have slipped by Mr. Topp during his proofreading phases, or your fact-checker, and although I am not a professional fact-checker, nor am I certain which Commandment is #2, I would assume it to be an important one, what with it being near the top and all. I’m sure, as I mentioned above, others have mentioned this to you, but I just wanted to make sure everything was “OK” there and you’re all in good health.

Take care of yourselves, &c.,

M. Ryan Purdy (no relation)
Brooklyn, NY

- - -

Date: Mon, 18 Oct 1999
From: Michael Genrich
Subject: Let’s talk business, shall we?

Dear McSweeney’s Representative,

I am writing to inform you of the existence of new competition within your particular publishing niche. Today marks the beginning of “Malachy O’Brien’s Seriously Wired E-Publishing Venture”, located at

Upon first glance, “Malachy O’Brien’s Seriously Wired E-Publishing Venture” seems to resemble your “Timothy McSweeney’s Internet Tendency” to a great extent. The very idea of these two great beasts locked in mortal combat, battling for the attention of the same carefully-targeted demographic, brings a pain to my heart not felt since the sad days of NFL-USFL antitrust lawsuits. In the spirit of cooperation, therefore, I would propose a merger between our publications — an arranged marriage, if you will, of our children, dedicated to the potential greatness of their offspring.

We have carefully crafted “Malachy O’Brien’s Seriously Wired E-Publishing Venture” with attributes that will greatly increase the attractiveness of a merger to you. To wit:

“Malachy O’Brien’s Seriously Wired E-Publishing Venture” has HTML source code created by Microsoft’s “Word” program, for increased Y2K-compliance;

No animals were harmed in the making of “Malachy O’Brien’s Seriously Wired E-Publishing Venture”;

“Malachy O’Brien’s Seriously Wired E-Publishing Venture” has been recommended by 4 out of 5 dentists whose patients read e-publishing ventures.

Pretty strong case, no? And it’s all yours in exchange for a privileged executive position within your organization. My people anxiously await your reply.

Michael Genrich
Editor, “Malachy O’Brien’s Seriously Wired E-Publishing Venture”

- - -

From: “Sam Meyer”
Subject: Moonlighting? (Part II: The Saga Continues)
Date: Mon, 18 Oct 1999

From the official web page ( of the Columbus, Ohio City Council:

City Clerk’s Office

The City Clerk is appointed by City Council and is responsible for keeping journals of Council and standing committee proceedings, documents, and records. The Clerk also codifies general ordinances and maintains custody of deeds, abstracts, and titles owned by the city. In addition, the Clerk edits The City Bulletin.
Name Telephone
Timothy McSweeney
City Clerk (212) 645-7380

Columbus City Council
90 West Broad Street
Room 231
Columbus, OH 43215

Sam Meyer

- - -

Date: Sun, 17 Oct 1999
From: Hans Eisenbeis
Subject: Dave Eggers, human resources specialist

Dear McSweeney’s,

I am writing to apply for the position of CEO, CFO, and President of the Board of Directors at McSweeney’s Inc, whichever of these is currently available.

I have no experience whatsoever. I can barely balance my checkbook. (That, in fact, is a gross exaggeration since I haven’t even tried for about a decade.) My management skills are limited, but I have no problem transferring my pent-up anger onto telemarketers and pets.

I already have a pretty good job, but I was grossly unqualified for it, too. I have proven my incompetence in so many different ways, I can only tell you that I am ready to fail miserably at something new.

I want to be perfectly up front with you about my professional limitations: I have never been very successful at combining drugs. Pot and beer (together) make me green. The last time I tried mushrooms with vodka, I ended up staring at the bottom of a bathroom sink for several hours, and later woke up on the floor of a laundromat. I’m okay with caffeine, though.

Although I have had a wide variety of low-paying service-oriented jobs, I will not be forwarding a resume under separate cover. Nothing I have ever done has prepared me for anything at all.

Thank you in advance for putting me on your payroll at once. I will proceed with the McSweeneys tattoo as soon as the stock options have been issued.


PS. Love the New Yorker spread. Congrats.

Hans Eisenbeis
Request magazine

- - -

Date: Sat, 16 Oct 1999
From: “john a. mcnamara”
Subject: You pissed my cat off

I had to move in order to write this, which made my cat uncomfortable and he had to climb off my chest. Now he’s annoyed. He’s turned his back on me, and he’s staring at the wall with his ears folded back.

Your NFL picks are a pure delight, except for all the errors, especially since the editor (presumably the glowering (drunk?) character in the lawn chair pictured in the New Yorker this week, along with the photos of the violin prodigy and the young man in the frightening pants (p 200)) obviously must have read the damn thing, because he inserted a snide remark, as follows:

“. . . The editor really has removed this part, which was a puerile].”

That’s nice, but isn’t puerile more of an adjective than a noun? I’d rather read something puerile than slam my nose against a square-bracket like that, reading a sentence that craps out on me with no warning.

Then, then, as soon as I’d cooled down from that one, look what I saw:

“a dynasty that no once cares about”

“No once”?

Look, I’m not finished with the piece yet, and I’m really enjoying the lumberjack parts (and I promise I won’t keep sending updates as I read the rest; this is my last word to you on the NFL picks, however chaotic the rest of it may get), but this slovenliness really has to stop. Next thing, you’ll be firing that poor drunk guy in the lawn chair and getting Tina Brown to replace him. Don’t do this to me. Don’t do it to him, either. He looks like he needs the work.


p.s. The cat seems to be okay now. Whatever happened to “Man, the Magazine for Men”? Or Lucy Thomas? Dammit, where’s Lucy Thomas?

john a. mcnamara

- - -

Date: Sat, 16 Oct 1999
From: Gabriel Hudson
Subject: Letter to Mcsweeney’s about being Jewish in Texas

Dear McSweeney’s,

I’m not exactly a reader of literature, or stories for that matter, but a friend of mine referred me to the open-response question you’ve got posted on your website. You know the one, “Who can tell us what it was like to grow up Jewish in Texas during the 70’s?” Well let me tell you what it was like to grow up Jewish in Texas during the 70’s. Here goes:

1. My dad was walking to work when he was hit and killed by a speeding ambulance. The ambulance was on it’s way to the graveyard to rescue someone who’d been buried alive.

2. Apparently, my dad’s last words were, “Zurp zurp zurp zurp zurp. Urunka.”

3. My dad used to say, “If you listen carefully you can hear the sound of food.” The first time anybody ever listened in on my thoughts I was still in the crib, and I could hear the neighbor’s cat howling outside, and I was thinking about milk.

4. Every morning when it was time to wake up, I’d put a bookmark in my dream.

5. Someone at my school started the rumor that I was a scratch and sniff sticker.

6. The telescope was a pretty big deal in our house. My mom used to say, “When you see the stars in the sky, think of those little rubber things I stuck in the bottom of the bathtub. The stars are there so the angels don’t slip and hurt themselves when it rains.”

7. My ghost came to life way before I was ever dead. The first time I saw my ghost was at the rodeo, and my ghost was looking embarrassed, and he was frantically trying to erase himself with white-out.

8. My house had carpet glued to the ceiling, in case “someone” came along and turned the world upside down.

Thank you for your interest.


Gabe Hudson

- - -

Dear McSweeney’s,

I suppose that you will think less of me, now that I will be subscribing to your quarterly mag because of your appearance in The New Yorker and not because I ran across it in some incredibly hip, inscrutable hang-out in Racine. At any rate, your pandering to the Big Time Press gave me the invaluable opportunity to find your Tendency and to email your “Interview w/ a Food Truck Driver” to my daughters in Philly and Rochester. For that, I just wantd to say thanks.

Nancy Jackson

- - -

Dear McSweeney’s,
I am researching a dissertation on the works of H.A. Rey, author of the “Curious George” and other related titles. I am investigating whether the editor(s) in charge of Rey’s books can verify that Rey conceived of his series of children’s books as an allegory of the events following the 1815 Congress of Vienna.

George the monkey, symbolizes Talleyrand’s Ancien regime, and the man in the yellow hat who captures George obviously represents Prince Metternich (the hat itself was thought to represent the partition of Poland). The episode in which the firemen are summoned after George telephones the firehouse foreshadows the 1848 European experiment with democratic reform, while George’s escape from imprisonment and flight over the city with a bunch of brightly-colored helium balloons symbolizes the nationalistic fervor of the latter half of the century, culminating in the unification of Italy and Germany and their subsequent lapses into extremism.

I would appreciate any further details you can provide. Thank you in advance for your time.

Stuart Wade
Austin, TX

- - -

Date: Wed, 06 Oct 1999
From: Christina Nunez
Subject: Dear McSweeneys

Sarah Lamanuzzi had a good point about the lack of happiness in Mr. Greenman’s list. I submit that the reason for this lies in the fact that the number of given-away things (6) is about equal to the number of happy things (5).

This might be a little Oprah of me, but I suggest that if Mr. Greenman gave away more things, and, really, much better things than the shabby items he has given away so far, he might find more occasion for happiness.

Give and you shall receive, what goes around comes around, nothing from nothing leaves nothing, etc.

- - -

From: “David L. Edwards, II”
Subject: STOPPAS
Date: Tue, 21 Sep 1999

Seybert’s Theory of Peter Parker as Spiderman (STOPPAS)* has undoubtedly been disproven to the satisfaction of all of the right-thinking readers of Timothy McSweeney’s Web Indication letters page**.

However, as an upstanding web citizen (and a self-congratulating smart ass***), I must contribute what should be the final word on this most ridiculous theory****.

So far, Mr. Seybert’s detractors have been inordinately kind. Even the estimable Mr. Eiler Marcher did not mention the point that makes STOPPAS fall heavily to the ground and start twitching like my Uncle Jonas did just before he passed to his greater reward*****.


Which is to say that Peter Parker is just some fanciful member of the papparazi (sp.) that the editors of Marvel Comics dreamed up because frankly, THEY HAVE NO IDEA WHO SPIDER-MAN REALLY IS, ANYWAY.

Come on, you didn’t think Spidey’s lawyer wouldn’t have slapped them with a lawsuit if they revealed his real identity?

The Spidey comics, like all others, are merely based on the lives of Earth’s greatest superheroes (licensed to the publishers, I assume, by said heroes under U.S. law) and should not be taken as honest, frame-by-frame representations of said heroes’ daily lives or personal identities.

Geez. Next you’ll be saying that some guy named Clark Kent is Superman, Batman and Bruce Wayne are one and the same, and Dr. Charles Xavier is a mutant.


Grow up!

Until next time, I remain


  • Eiler Marcher, “RE: Secrets Revealed”, TMWI, 9/17/99.

**As differentiated from the readers of Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern or the readers of any other portion of Timothy McSweeney’s Web Indication.

A member of one group is not necessarily a member of the other two.

This is in accordance with Edwards’ Asinine Tendency towards Self-referencing (EATS)

Theory (a special subset of the Timothy McSweeney Grand Unified Theory) built by yours truly upon the work of the excellent Charles Star, which states that the letter page is so self-referential as to be an end unto itself independent of anything else upon which Timothy McSweeney’s name might be placed.

Such title conferred by my friend Eliot, who would know.

Beat a dead horse, as it were.

- - -

From: “Balk, Alex”
Date: Tue, 12 Oct 1999

Hey McSweeney’s:

I traffic in ideas. I have a couple of random ones that I’m not really using right now, and I figured I’d give you and people you know a crack at ’em. The ideas are for:

1) a hip-hop musical based on the works of Wodehouse called “Jeevz and Ber-tay”

2) a T.V. show where one of the characters is named something like Richard Pointer. This character is always late, so his friends are constantly asking “Where is Pointer?” Then he pops up and goes “Here I am!”

3) a situation where a Jewish butcher is explaining to a customer that he just received eight hundred pounds of gorilla meat. The customer says, “Eight hundred pounds of gorilla meat?” and the butcher says, “Yeah, the whole megillah.”

4) a Christian mattress store called “Jesus Slept”

Have fun with these. I need to get back to some other ideas.

Your pal, Al

- - -

Date: Tue, 12 Oct 1999
From: Glaxo Wellcome
Subject: War and Peace

Dear McSweeney’s:

The Jedediah Purdy piece is long, some 1941 words, none of which is “toady.”

The name of the dog is not Toady.

Toady Akers was born in 1907. Offie Jean Akers was born in 1941.

Edgar Allan Poe used the word “toady” in 1843. In 1941, A.H. Quinn wrote a biography of him. It is excellent.

Edgar “Toady” Bracher, ’18, was inducted into the Rutgers Football Hall of Fame in 1996. Harvey Harman, Head Coach from 1938-41, made it six year earlier, in 90.

Howard Zinn describes Macchiavelli as “toady.”

“Toady” and “Purdy” are both viable first names according .com.

I will never, ever finish that long Jedediah Purdy article you put up. Putting that article on the Web is like putting an encyclopedia in a library.



- - -

Date: Sat, 09 Oct 1999
From: Sarah Lamanuzzi
Subject: Public Service?

Hey there, McSweeney and friends!

How do you think you would feel if you worked for the Direct Marketing Association, one of those corporations that gathers up all of our addresses and sells them to all those folks who want to provide us with cheaper car insurance, better credit card deals and the latest in toothpaste technology? When people ask casually, “And what do you do?” in the course of inane conversation at a dinner party, do you answer blithely, “Well, now, I sell your address to anyone who pays me enough!”? Or do you shamefacedly mumble something under your breath about the demise of ethics when it collides with the need to have food on the table?

Or could it be that these people believe that they are doing the American public a service? Could it be that they think every morning on their commute to their cubicle (yes, they all share one cubicle) on the 13th floor of some urban monstrosity, ’Yet again I will be the means by which another segment of society receives the latest in discount offers, magazine subscriptions, and clothing catalogues for hard-to-fit members of the populace. Without me, millions of people would never know that the most recent edition of the silver-plated Elvis plates are on sale for a limited time! Thank goodness I do what I do."

This is something to ponder.

San Diego, CA

- - -

Date: Fri, 8 Oct 1999
From: “OToole, Peter”
Subject: moonlighting?

Dear McSweeney’s,

- - -

From: “Max Plumbean” Date: Fri, 08 Oct 1999

Dear McSweeney’s,

Why did you publish John Cooper’s e-mail address? He asked you not to. That’s just mean.

Max Plumbean

- - -

Date: Fri, 8 Oct 1999
From: Darien Large

Dear Gerry McSweeney and family,

I am writing to express my displeasure at the indiscriminate explosion of censored press releases 1999 so far. At last count there were nine posted on October 2 alone. As a member of the commentariat, I depend on your site daily for all the latest news, sports and weather; but how can you possibly expect a normal person to wade through all of this to get to the real stuff? My clipping service does a better job. As a very, very, VERY famous woman once said, with her dying breath, live via satellite as her parachute failed to open, “If everything is censored, then nothing is censored.”

P.S.: Please send me my complimentary shopping list from the refigrerator of Lucy Thomas.

P.S.P.S.: The word of the millennium is “go-to guy”.

Darien Large
PAI Portables Dispatcher
Austin, Texas

- - -

From: “Dan McSweeney”
Subject: Hello
Date: Thu, 7 Oct 1999

Dear McSweeney’s,

I’m not really sure who I’m writing to. I chanced upon a copy of McSweeney’s while walking past the crowded, mythic newsstand on 6th Ave. and 12th Street in Manhattan and the title caught my eye.

My name is Dan McSweeney and for many years I have been walking.

Best wishes,


- - -

From: “Ogilvie, Sara, ARV
Subject: Apple Pie
Date: Thu, 7 Oct 1999

Dear Mc Sweeneys: I would like to know how it is that “Matt Fritchman” got the title of “America’s Sweetheart.” Does he have a Certificate of Authenticity for this title? Did he buy it on eBay? Did he mug Sally Field and rip it away from her like an old leather purse? Will he share this title with me? I’m good at sharing…or maybe we could execute some sort of trade, since I have a few titles that I think he might like. “Head Weasel” comes to mind immediately, as does “Aspera-toss Champion of the World.” Thank you.

sara ogilvie

- - -

Date: Thu, 7 Oct 1999
Subject: New and improved word

Dear Timothy McSweeney’s Worldwide Fondness:

First of all, thanks for appearing in my dreams from time to time. I always enjoy the surprise visits. Tim Carvell is particularly effective as the narrator. You guys do a great job of hiding the special effects wires and his safety harness. Sometimes it seems like he really IS flying in my dreams. I admit I’m more gullible when I’m asleep.



Meaning, vaguely, an inherited sort of Darwinian aestheticism, as pictured in SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN BEAUTY, current issue.

A photogenetic person (or any other less evolved creature) is, apparently, a “survivor of the fitness” or, thanks to the modern mall machines capable of developing two prints per image in rapid succession, binding your memories in an attractive album, all in the course of one hour — photogenetic can just as easily mean this:

LIKE a realistically recombinant representation of the building blocks of life.

Used in a sentence: “You’re very photogenetic.”

I do not propose “photogenetic” as the word of this millenium or that millennium. Instead, consider “photogenetic” only as a potential word for the day. Or even a non-word of the day.

Rewrite this letter if you get the urge. Otherwise, you should 1) print it as is, without judgement, 2) selectively omit parts of it, or 3) delete the whole letter.


D.A. Mandel
Miracle Mile

- - -

From: “Don Zacharias”
Subject: Science
Date: Wed, 06 Oct 1999

You tell me, McSweeney’s:

They can put an astronaut on the moon, but they can’t make a tiny zipper out of flesh?

-Don Zacharias

- - -

From: Matt Fritchman
Subject: A Correction, A Revelation!
Date: Wed, 6 Oct 1999

To Whom It May Concern:

Regarding my missive yesterday: it occurs to me that you are speaking of the “millennium”, meaning, of course, a period of one-thousand years, and not “millenium”, which I knew nothing about, as the missing ‘n’ made me certain you were speaking of something else.

I thought you were speaking of something that dealt with France, or the French in general.

I apologize for this unfortunate misunderstanding.

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

- - -

Subject: The name of the dog is not…
Date: Wed, 6 Oct 1999
From: Bobby Rullo


Hope this helps.

Yours peacfully,

Bobby Rullo

- - -

Date: Wed, 6 Oct 1999
From: John Cooper
Subject: Re: Submissions

I’m writing in regards to submitting an article to your website. I like the cut of your site’s jib, to use nautical terms(see below). I also think I would make a fine addition to the contributors to your e-publication.

My credentials include:

Wearing a tan sport jacket with corduroy elbow patches to my eighth grade grauation.

Dropping out of high school to pursue a career in listening to Thin Lizzy, and George Benson all the while drinking copius amounts of alcohol. I have long since stopped drinking, so sleeping through deadlines will not be a problem.

I sailed the seven seas as a Pirate for three years, searching for ships to plunder and sending landlubbers down to Davy Jones’ Locker.

I have an extensive collection of Japanese Professional Wrestling videos.

I am fluent in the language of the birds. (CAW)

I have a no nonsense approach to journalism that borders on infantilism, wait…that’s not the right word…ummm…hold on I’ll think of it.

I can beat ANYBODY’S high score on Pac Man. I know ALL the patterns by heart.

Benjamin Franklin invented electricity.

If you are interested please contact me at this e-mail address …WAIT! I have a nonosense approach to journalism that borders on FANATACISM! Sorry bout that, I knew it would come to me. Anyway, remember that saying in the seventies “Damn I’m Good”? They wrote that one about me. That one and “Beaver Patrol”.

Thanks, hope to hear from ya soon.


P.S. If you post this to your “Stupid Letters form our Reader’s” section, please don’t print my email address

John P Cooper

- - -

From: “Greg A Bruns”
Subject: Be advised:
Date: Tue, 5 Oct 1999

Dear McSweeney’s,

A special note to all customers who have strayed to and have felt disappointed, perhaps even enraged (modem users that have to wait an awful long time for those inane images to load on the ‘friendly family web site’ that they inadvertently addressed). We ALL want to know the family secrets that are kept in the cybervault (see However, unless we can muster the answer to the highly cryptic question “What was the name of our big black dog?”, the McSweeneys family secrets are unavailable to us.

A friend of mine – a great family man and all-around good guy who enjoys Ales before Lagers, and Ore Ida Tater Tots with hefty dollops of Tabasco – has made a distinct effort toward exposing the McSweeney family secrets for all of us to see. (I hesitate to call him a hacker, as he makes a hefty sum of money working for a rather large company and there’s no reason to brand people, right?). Anyway, all of his attempts at “breaking the code,” if you will, were inconclusive. For those of you who feel like partaking in the breaching of the McSweeneys family web site, I offer this advice:

Do not try any one, two, three, or four-letter words. They have ALL been attempted, beginning with ‘a’ and ending with zzzz. This feat took quite a bit of time (and smacked more than 450,000 hits on the site in one day), time which could have been spent on the phone with the McSweeney family, trying to coax out the name of that damn black dog (the phone calls are easy – just go to to pick up a number or two to use at your discretion – but seriously, don’t call unless you have a real issue – like, say, the name of their big (and dead) black dog).

Also – do not try any simple pet names. Every single pet name from has been entered (more than 10,000), to no avail. This black dog – and its master – was very sly indeed.

We’ll keep you posted. My friend is currently awaiting the installation of some 7MB/sec digital line in his home in order to speed up the “banging of the mcsweeneys site,” as he calls it. God willing, we’ll get to the bottom of this horrible, horrible thing.

For your time, I’m thankful.

Greg Bruns

- - -

Date: Tue, 5 Oct 1999
From: Adam Wisniewski
Subject: Annals of Park Slope; Follow-Up

Dear McSweeney’s

Last week, I wrote in describing my troubles confirming the existence of an elevated, local train on 5th Ave. that I discovered on subway maps at the MTA’s Transit Museum. With several weeks behind me and still precious little to go on, I was ready to give up hope that I’d ever find out the truth behind the phantom line, but fate has suddenly provided. I have good news!

While reading “Outside” magazine in my doctor’s waiting room, an older couple arrived. (And I must interject here with the question: Why do doctors’ offices stock up on magazines that convey a feeling of conquering the wilderness, when you’re actually preparing to be poked, prodded and drained of bodily fluids?)

After checking in, I was encouraged to join them in conversation. Not one to be rude, we discussed ailments, the weather, the pros and cons of owning an automobile in New York City. But when it came time for personal history, I realized I had hit the mother lode as the gentleman proudly announced that he had been born on Garfield and, at 73, is a life-long resident of the area.

I hurriedly blurted out that I live on a corner of 5th Ave., to which he began to tell of snack cakes (2 for 5¢) and coffee (5¢) and a movie house near Union St. He couldn’t get to the part about the “El” soon enough, but when he did, I pricked up my ears.

Indeed, the El ran at about the level of my living room window with a yard or two to spare, width-wise. Underneath, traffic consisted mainly of horses and carriages (my companion’s father drove one), and children frolicked (watching their steps, I’m sure) in the bustling streets where now reside a quieter blend of expensive, used-furniture shops and bodegas of various hours of operation. Alas, he told me, the El fell after World War II around 1948, a victim of progress (and perhaps noise complaints).

Hope this helps,

Adam Wisniewski

- - -

Date: Tue, 5 Oct 1999
From: “James P. Walsh”
Subject: Celebrity Misspellings

Dear McSweeney’s,

“Millennium” may occasionally be spelled with one ‘n’ missing by writers to McSweeney’s, but this isn’t the only place where such wanton acts of ignorance and poor retention of third-grade spelling lessons occur.

Just a short subway ride from either of the 394 9th Streets at which McSweeney’s may apparently be contacted (though I suppose there’s no easy way to get to the N/R from Tompkins Square) looms the black obelisk of the Millenium [sic] Hilton, its 58 floors trying to intimidate the pigeons and falafel vendors below, though the World Trade Center’s 100-plus floors play Mothra to its Godzila [sic] on the other side of the street.

Jim Walsh

- - -

Dear McSweeney’s,

It is said that two tourists were stoned to death in a village outside San Cristobal de Las Casas for photographing the locals against their wishes ten years ago. It’s also said that the cooper in San Cristobal built a large number — unusually large — of white children’s coffins one week in 1991. I can attest to the large number of coffins myself, I saw them, but can’t confirm that the number was unusual. Infant mortality is an issue there.

Do not take the second class bus. Take the good bus via Tuxtla, or you’ll have a really long night.

Marc Herman
Alameda, California

- - -

From: Matt Fritchman
Subject: For your consideration:
Date: Tue, 5 Oct 1999

To Whom It May Concern,

I may not know what the Word of the Millenium may be, but I do know the four most terrifying words in the English language:

“Starring Joe Don Baker”.

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

- - -

From: “Roxanne Peterson”
Subject: Family Vacations
Date: Mon, 04 Oct 1999

Dear McSweeney’s,

I’m really enjoying watching the children grow up. Without I would never have this peek into Americana. On their recent “1500-mile southern swing through New Jersey, Washington DC, Virginia, Gettysburg and the Poconos,” the family looks so happy and content. I bet those lobsters were pretty tasty. I’m disappointed that the pictures aren’t more recent but I’m sure young Brendan has school and other obligations.

Roxanne Peterson

- - -

Date: Mon, 4 Oct 1999
Subject: A Letter, or a “Piece”?

Dear McSweeney’s,

Freshly sated from a lunchtime meal at Tommy’s Oven — where “Tommy” is in fact a Korean man entrenched deeply in the belief that he is a Roman Catholic Italian and, i believe, inordinately hopeful of the fact that one day Oliver Sacks will write a chapter about him — i began to wonder, to ponder, and finally to dote.

For instance — wasn’t it funny, the way i addressed an envelope to my friend, an envelope in which i packed issues number two and three of the McSweeney’s Blues / Jazz Odyssey and Windfall Republic (respectively)? His “Christian” name is Daniel, but when i addressed it, i wrote the recipient’s name to be “Danielle.” The wheeze is timeless; the pay-off: incalculable. Perhaps even inestimable. Another funny thing i wrote on it was in several dark, underlined letters: “DORK RATE.” Wait till he gets that package! He’s going to be one disoriented son of a bitch!

Also, i reflected upon how shit ‘Elmo in Grouchland’ will probably be — as cinema, i mean. I began to think about how so, so many people major in film in college, where they study the films of Sergei Eisenstein, the theory of Siegfried Kracauer, and how so, so many people, upon graduating, just don’t give a fuck. For all the papers written on Max Ophuls and Kenji Mizoguchi, the invariable end result is ‘Elmo in Grouchland.’

This made me reflect upon the film ‘Labyrinth,’ which stars David Bowie as a caped pederast. At the end of the video (which, indeed, my girlfriend owns), there is a short film on the making of ‘Labyrinth.’ In it, Jim Henson expounds upon what made him think: “You know what? LABYRINTH.” During the course of verbalising these cognitive peregrinations, he states: “I just wanted to make something, you know… what i mean is, i go to the movies to come out of the theater feeling better about the world than when i went in. I mean, to me, that’s what movies should do.” I began wondering what it would be like if i was watching this with Ingmar Bergman.

As a matter of fact, i often think about what it would be like to sit next to people while their television shows are playing in front of us. For instance, the writers of ‘Suddenly Susan.’ I would sit next to them and say, “So, that line that character just said. Let me get this straight. You were sitting there, writing that, and when you finished writing it, you said to yourself, Yes, this is it?” Or, perhaps, i would sit and listen to an episode of “The Prarie Home Companion” with Garrison Keillor by my side. I might even conjure up an image of Garrison Keillor writing material for an episode, masturbating during the course of it, and in the place of semen being ejaculated from his erect penis, a small word balloon coming out with the word, “EUREKA!” written inside. I might even share this with him, and i might even tell him that the only thing he has in common with a great mind like Archimedes’s is that they both “eureka’d” while in the tub.

I began to think about how Neal Pollack makes me laugh, but is in danger of slipping into the perilous trap of “being formulaic,” and thus becoming a one-trick Shetland pony.

I wondered why none of the suggestions on the McSweeney’s letter page for “Best Word” were as good as mine:




-Hector “Macho” Camacho


…and, futhermore, why there is all this debate about “skeleton” being up for consideration when the obvious next step that could have been taken would be to suggest “skullduggery.”

After thinking how a truly "def"t rap artist might someday rhyme the word “skullduggery” with the phrase “skull buggery,” i got to thinking about some other things. And it is here where i began to wonder which one it is: whether Snoopy has a certain amount of cool, or a certain amount of “no testicle” cool.

While these are some of my truths, i’m not necessarily interested in hearing anybody else’s, and furthermore, there is not a chance in hell that the most recent Manic Street Preachers album would make my end-of-year list of best albums. My favourite albums this year come from Blur and Pavement. I’m sure the new Primal Scream one will also be fantastic, and well worth the wait since 1997’s epochal ‘Vanishing Point.’ How good were Yo La Tengo at the 10th Anniversary Matador Records show! And how funny was David Cross! Especially when he affirmed that one heckler was in fact yelling out things which were “all titles of objects.”

But i have shared enough of my thoughts from Tommy’s Oven. It is now time for me to head onward — to proceed into the autumn of my seasonal existence, or whatever it was he said. Daft, incontinent coot.

Craig Keller

- - -

Date: Sun, 03 Oct 1999
From: Sarah
Subject: Stomach Pain

McSweeney’s staff, et al:

Did it escape your notice that, while Mr. Greenman found plenty of objects to eat or to contemplate eating, he rarely mentioned “things that cause happiness”? In fact, it seems that only five objects fall within the letters A through H that Mr. Greenman sees as having any value in the Happiness Department, which seems a harsh indictment of the times, one would think.

In order to reclaim Happiness for those of us who may otherwise be disillusioned by Mr. Greenman’s oversights, I am including a list of three Things that Cause Happiness for each letter that falls in the dictionary from pages A through pages H (out of, I might add, hundreds of choices).

angora sweaters
African violets
applesauce with cinnamon and a touch of sugar

batik print
bubble baths
bongo drums

carrot sticks
candy corn
Chupa Chups (if you have never had one, please, go treat yourself this very moment. I, myself, am partial to cappuccino, but you may prefer strawberry cream.)

dapper duds
dinner for two
dance, salsa (or, if you must, swing)

extra toppings, free
escalators (upon which it is fun to run the opposite direction)
envelopes in the mailbox with your name handwritten by a good friend who lives far away from you but who used to be close to you and spend a lot of time at your house. (Here Mr. Greenman may feel obliged to add “Eating or thinking about Eating.”)

free food
fast cars/rollercoasters/etc.
Fun Dip

Golden Delicious apples
Granny Smith apples
gold coins


happily I thank you,

Sarah Lamanuzzi

- - -

Dear McSweeney’s,

The reason I moved to Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, is that my girlfriend moved there. The reason she moved there is to go to divinity school at the University of Chicago, which is abbreviated UC. This confuses me because the last place I lived was in San Francisco, San Francisco, California, which is near Berkeley, California, which is where the University of California at Berkeley cleverly enough is, and out there they call the University of California at Berkeley UC which, as I said, confuses me. When bands have the same name and they are from different geographical locations if neither band wants to change their name sometimes they will append a geographic location to their name so maybe UC Chicago should call itself that and UC California should call itself that but then again there are other University of Californias around so maybe I should just adjust. Anyway when someone graduates from a divinity school it doesn’t necessarily mean that you become one, that is a divinity. So I think that you will probably be safe, in a metaphysical sense, if you are in Chicago and for some reason you incur my girlfriend’s wrath.

My name is: James Prince
I live in: Chicago, Illinois

- - -

From: Kate Gardner
Organization: The Hospital for Sick Children
Subject: A few things

Dear McS,

First off, I have crushes on all your male writers and contributors (letters page, the M.R.(I saw your picture in our national newspaper), the copy guy, the man (Jeff?) who does the NFL picks). Crushes all.

Secondly, I want to clear something up with Lucy Thomas. My friend and I had quite a conversation (by email) going about Ms. Thomas’ stories and how much we enjoyed them. I told my friend I wanted to send her a fan letter, and my friend suggested that I just forward our email to her and let her read for herself how enthusiastic and sincere we really were. Unfortunately (for us) I did not edit the email, and included in it, some rather strong resentments were voiced towards another person. This person happens to work in the same field as McSweeney’s, but at a different magazine.

In any case, I just wanted Lucy Thomas to pretend she never read the mean parts of my email, and remember only the praise for her talents.

Thirdly, I would like to publicly voice a resentment (see above). I read an online version of a satirical newspaper called The Onion. At one point I had crushes on several of the men who worked there. I entered a fictitious “win a date with Jackie Harvey” contest, who is The Onion’s fictitious Hollywood Correspondent. I emailed Jackie Harvey (who is most likely not a real person) several times, suggesting to him (or her for that matter) why it would be nice to go on a date with me. I heard from Jackie several times over the course of two months or so. I came back from holidays at the end of August and opened up the latest edition and there in Jackie Harvey’s column was my name! I had won the date with the fictitious Jackie Harvey!

That was over 7 weeks ago. I haven’t heard a word since. I was used. My crushes have all faded for the Onion men.

I now have crushes on McSweeney’s men.

Katy Fillmore (aka Katie the Kanuck, as Jackie Harvey referred to me)
Toronto, Ontario

- - -

Date: Fri, 1 Oct 1999
Subject: McSweeneys update

Dear McSweeney’s,

Don’t know if you’ve checked out your suburban doppelganger,, lately, but it seems that there’s been some trouble on their electronic manse. On the surface, things may still look cheery — the family still beams at you, nonstop, from their group portrait — but if you click on that portrait and head on over to the next page, the Brady Bunch one where they’re all segregated to their own carefully delineated squares, you’ll find the following message at the bottom:

Do to misuse [sic] the guestbook has been closed. All that guestbook saw was empty threats. If any of you are as smart as you claim, find out what the administrator password is and email it to me,

What I like about this message is the way it changes as you go along. The “Do to” typo/misspelling in the first sentence seems homespun, like the use of an apostrophe where none is warranted (eg. “Sale on Toy’s!”) But then the next sentence blindsides you with bit of poetry: “All that guestbook saw was empty threats,” which is about as poignant as you can make web hooliganism sound. And then the pugnacious final challenge — you want a piece of this, tough guy? Well then, come and get it! Come on, you wuss! [grabs your arms, starts hitting you with them] Why are you hitting yourself? Hah? Why are you hitting yourself?

Sorry. Got carried away. In any case, just figured I’d pass this sad bit of news along. And note that any readers who contributed to the abuse of the guestbook on should probably be ashamed of themselves. Unless their empty threats were, you know, really super-clever.


Tim Carvell