Dear Carlton,

My fiancé Billy was shipped off to the Persian Gulf eight months ago. During the war in Iraq, he wrote when he could, but my primary source of information concerning his whereabouts came from CNN and, specifically, the daily press briefings by Brigadier General Vincent Brooks. Handsome and confident, the assured manner in which General Brooks related the events of each day made me proud of my country and proud of my man. Knowing that soldiers like General Brooks were in command of the troops allowed me to sleep soundly each night, looking forward to the day when Billy would come home and cast his eyes on our baby son for the very first time. With the “major hostilities” over, it seems as though they’ve mothballed General Brooks, and well—I miss him. Not as much as I miss Billy, but still.

So please, Carlton, could you write a song parody about Brigadier General Vincent Brooks, sung to the tune of Warrant’s “Cherry Pie”?

Lisa S.
Fort Benning, GA

Well Lisa, for you and for every American with a loved one fighting for freedom overseas, here is your Long-Distance Song Parody Dedication:

M.R.E (Meal Ready to Eat)
(sung to the tune of Warrant’s “Cherry Pie”)

Feed me M.R.E.
War correspondent she can make me scream
My dagger’s pointed at the heart of her regime
Sweet M.R.E.

Briefin’ in the mess tent
Briefin’ in the sand
Briefin’ in the Bradley
RPG in her hand
Briefin’ in the Hummer
S’why they call me smooth
A double entendre
Flanking move, yea

Briefin’ up in Baghdad
She’s as hot as Hades
Extend my supply line
Along the Euphrates
Briefin’ her at CentCom
In Doha, Qatar
Have you tried freeze-dried,
M.R.E butter?

Feed me M.R.E.
War correspondent she can make me scream
My dagger’s pointed at the heart of her regime
Sweet M.R.E.

You see one star
‘Cuz I’m a Brigadier
Briefin’ every mornin’
Of my Army career

Feed me M.R.E.
War correspondent she can make me scream
My dagger’s pointed at the heart of her regime
Sweet M.R.E.

- - -

Now for this week’s puzzle.

Form as many words as possible from the following letters:


Order your words from shortest to longest. Give yourself one point for every letter in the first word, two points for each letter in the second, three points for every letter in the third, and so on. (You can only have one word for each ascending length, i.e., one one letter word, one two letter word, etc…) Add another 100 points for having no letters left over. Entries should be sent by noon Friday. The person with the most points will receive a McSweeney’s book. In the case of a tie, the winner will be selected at random from the highest scorers.

Standard Scrabble rules apply to eligible words. To quote the box: “All (English) words labeled as a part of speech (including those listed of foreign origin and archaic, obsolete, colloquial, slang, etc.) are permitted with the exception of the following: words always capitalized, abbreviations, prefixes and suffixes standing alone, words requiring a hyphen or apostrophe.” Our arbitrator will be Webster’s Unabridged Third International Dictionary.

- - -


I really blew it last week.

We had a really good puzzle set to go along with the debut of our new feature, the Long-Distance Song Parody Dedication, but yours truly spent the weekend at the lake cottage, which I built with the sizable advance for Carlton Doby’s Humongous Book of Matchbook Puzzles #18. Around three o’clock on Sunday, Mrs. Doby asked if I’d written that week’s Brain Exploder and I tapped a finger on my temple and replied, “It’s all right here. Splash a couple ice cubes in my gin and tonic, will you?”

So I sat down to write the thing around Midnight and to be honest, I don’t even remember finishing it, which is probably why the instructions were nearly incomprehensible.

My wise and diligent editor at McSweeney’s tried to contact me the next day, but I’d ripped the phone cord from the wall (note: be skeptical of any hangover cure that involves raw shrimp, especially if you live more than two days drive from the ocean). He tried to clean it up as best he could, but he was not at all certain of the puzzle’s intent. The result was a Brain Exploder that was impossible to solve if you followed the directions literally. Fortunately, my instructions were so vague and poorly written that hundreds of you figured out clever ways to work around the rules, proving the old adage that those who solve puzzles are infinitely more sober than those who make them.

The upshot is that anyone who made a respectable attempt at last week’s Brain Exploder was eligible for the prize, and the winner, chosen at random, is Molly Jenney.

I have learned much from your answers. That puzzle will be retooled and one day we will do it again, and we will do it right. Also, if you would like to make a Long Distance Song Parody Dedication, send me an e-mail. Include the thing or person you want parodied, the name of the song you want the lyrics sung to, and a sentimental story about why this dedication is important to you.

Thanks for your understanding. I shall not let you down again.