Friday, November 28, 2008

A Letter To 103.9 The Bear

It just occurred to me that this it the second radio station I've written. Also, I apologize for the terrible updates this week; Thanksgiving threw me for a loop (I cook, not just show up.) I will work on building a back log this weekend so I may continue posting each weekday starting on Monday.

WRBR Radio
237 West Edison Road
Mishawaka, IN 46545
Attn: General Station Manager

Dear Sir or Madam,

If I may, I would like to offer you cordial greetings from Columbus, Ohio. We have many radio stations here in the capital city of the Buckeye state, but I must confess that none of them hold a candle to the sheer rockicity of The Bear. You broadcast at such a high level of awesomity that I sometimes think I can pick up your signal on my car radio, if I can only tune the dial just right. Unfortunately, I then realize I am picking up 103.9 Talk FM, and what I confused for rock is actually Dennis Miller, who is simply god-awful. I thought perhaps it was just Nickelback.

Anyway, the reason I am writing you today is because I am a very punctual man, and I like to plan ahead. I always set my clothes out on the chair the night before I go to bed, and I always notify my special lady friend three days before lovemaking so that she may properly hydrate. As station manager, I'm sure you can relate to adhereing by a strict schedule. Please excuse me for a moment while I perform my 8:30constitutional.

Thank you. Now, I will be visiting my grandmother, who lives in Mishawaka, on the 26th of December to celebrate the Christmas season with her, and I would like to request a song as I arrive in town. At approximately 6:40 PM I expect to be between Lapaz and the US 20 Bypass exit on state route 31, well within your listening range. If it pleases you, I would like to request "some Queens of the Stone Age."

So you don't think me unreasonable, I have left ample wiggle room as to the actual song selection, as I'm reasonably assured that any QotSA will fit my mood that evening. Just to be clear, though, I particularly enjoy the piece "3's and 7's." Just putting that out there.

Please let me know as soon as you can if you anticipate fulfilling my request, as I will need to adjust my plans otherwise. I am prepared to request "Mrs. Brown, You've Got A Lovely Daughter" by Herman's Hermits from Oldies 94.3, and four minutes of static from U93, if necessary. Good day to you.

In Rock We Trust,

The Correspondent

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Letter To Penn Tennis Balls

I don't get how tennis is scored. One set Serena Venus will win by, like, 6-2, and then the next she'll win 7-6. It makes no sense. What are they playing to??

Kevin Kempin
Vice President Sales and Marketing
Penn Racquet Sports
306 S 45th Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85043

Dear Mr. Kempin,

Hello and right back at ya! Do you get it? I imagined that you first said hello to me, followed by a friendly colloquial greeting. I then "volleyed" my reply back as if volleying a tennis ball back to you, referencing your company's main product. We can do this all night, mister!

First of all, I'm a big Penn fan. But not for the reason you think! I actually don't play tennis. Sure, my girlfriend and I will occasionally knock a few balls around, but we don't know what in the heck we're doing. Usually she hits them so hard they go flying over the fence and I can't even find them again. No, sir, I'm no Robert Kendrick or Alberto Martin, but I do love Penn tennis balls. Why? Because of the tubes!

Seriously, I don't think I've ever lived in a house that didn't have a couple of your tennis ball tubes lying around. You can do anything with these things! Store pennies in them, store nickels in them, store quarters in them. M&Ms, Tic-Tacs, toenail clippings, water...the list is endless. Have you ever thought of just selling the tubes?

"Penn's Tennis Ball Tubes - You've Probably Got Three Lying Around Already!"

What about a Christmas ad campaign, and this really attractive young man is giving his girlfriend a present. She unwraps it and it's a kitten stuffed into a Penn Tennis Ball Tube! I bet those guys at Jared Jewelry would drive straight home and kill themselves. I know I would if I was them.

Another great idea I had was bottling the scent of fresh tennis balls and selling it as a fragrance. Imagine the same Christmas commercial, except this time the girl is spritzing herself with Penn Tennis Balls. The man hugs her and then gets this look on his face and whispers something in her ear. She giggles and then winks at the camera. The next thing you know we see the foot of their bed shaking, and it knocks a tube of Penn tennis balls off, the balls spilling everywhere. Don't tell the FCC, but the balls symbolize ejaculation. Get ready to be a millionaire!

Well, listen. You let me know what you think about my ideas and I promise I'll keep on buying Penn Tennis Ball Tubes. Extra-duty felt - because it's Penn!

Your Serve,

The Correspondent

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Letter To the PTA

Sandy, can't you see I'm in misery? We made a start, now we're apart - there's nothing left for me. Love has flown, I'm all alone. I sit and wonder why-i-i oh why you left me, oh Sandy...oh, Sandy baaaaby someday when hi-igh school is done, somehow, someway our two worlds will be one. In heaven in forever and ever we will be. Baby, say you're stay. Oh, Sandy.

This has gone on much longer than I first intended.

Sandy Nekoloff
Ohio PTA
40 Northwoods Blvd.
Columbus, OH 43235

Dear Ms. Nekoloff,

How are you, Madam? It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance. I've heard you are doing great things with the Ohio Parent Teachers Association. My mother was a teacher. May I ask, are you from the parent side of things or the teachers' side? I guess my mother was from both, although it often felt like just the teacher side. She was a cruel and relentless woman, who kept a hickory switch in every room and sent us to bed with stories from "The Young Gentleman and Lady's Monitor," a 19th-century book of etiquette. My father was less brash, and would infrequently reward us with gingersnap sweetbreads.

To get to the point of the matter, I have long been a fan of Disney movies, ever since my mother took us to see the last half of Bambi, "after the frivolous introductions" were over, as she put it. Every time a new Disney film comes out I find myself excited to see it in a theatre. Unfortunately, I have not been blessed with any children of my own, and going to a cartoon movie is both embarrassing and awkward for me. Therefore, I would like to rent 1 (one) child for a 3 (three) hour period the weekend of December 5th and 6th, so that I may not draw attention while I enjoy the Walt Disney production of Bolt, out in theaters November 20th.

I understand that it is both illegal and uncouth to rent a human being, so I will in fact not pay you or the PTA anything. We can use the term "borrow", if you like. I will, however, treat the child to his or her movie ticket, along with one candy item that I will purchase before the showing at a CVS Pharmacy. You needn't worry, I will conceal the candy myself and not implicate the child whilst I smuggle the contraband inside the theatre. The risk is all my own, while the reward (a delicious cow's tail or Bit O' Honey) will be shared with my new young friend.

My only requirement of the child is that he or she not talk during the film. Laughing is permitted, provided it is not obtrusive and blends in with the rest of the audience. Afterwards I will want to discuss what we both thought of the film, and the child must be civil while I rehash various plot points and thematic devices I deem either successful or trite. I will close this conversation by asking the child whether or not he or she would buy the film on DVD when it comes out. I expect an honest answer, and will reciprocate with my own candid opinions.

Thank you for reading my modest proposal, Madam, and I trust I will hear back from you within the time frame allotted. I would like to see the movie in early December so that we may avoid the Christmas vacation crowds. And please, no small Guatemalans.


The Correspondent

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Letter To the English Department

Letters beget more letters. So it was written in the Book of Numbers.

Dr. Robin L. Inboden
Chair - English Department
Wittenberg University
P.O. Box 720
Springfield, OH 45501

Dear Dr. Inboden,

Hello, how are you? I'm fine. You would be so proud of me. I started writing this letter and the little Microsoft Office paperclip asked if I needed any help, but I clicked "cancel"! I graduated from the English department at Wittenberg University; I don't need any help writing a letter! Plus, I'm an adult now so I can make all the mistakes I want and nobody can stop me (such as using punctuation outside of quotation marks). USA! USA!

The reason I'm writing you is to ask a question that has caused me shame long enough. I feel a little stupid having to come back to you to ask this, but can you please explain to me what irony is? I've always sort of thought I knew the right answer, but in the back of my head I've always felt like I was wrong afterwards. Kind of like when I voted for Obama.

I'll give you some context. I recently wrote a letter to the man in charge of grapes (the fruit, not the computer programming environment), and while I wrote it I was eating a banana. I thought to myself, "This is ironic!" Then later I felt remorse and shame, because I didn't think it was really ironic at all. How can I be so stupid?! This is why I haven't been published yet!

Naturally I went online to look up the definition. I had to because I sold all of my old text books to pay my internet bill. I learned that "Verbal irony is a disparity of expression and intention: when a speaker says one thing but means another, or when a literal meaning is contrary to its intended effect," ("Wikipedia"), but I don't think that works. I meant everything I said to the Head of Grapes.

I also don't think it was dramatic irony, because I knew what the letter meant (I was asking him why my grape bag had a zipper that didn't work). To be honest, I think the whole thing was closest to Socratic irony, because I asked a bunch of  questions about grapes. In the end, it will be he who teaches me (think about it). But then how does the banana fit into everything?

Anywho, if you could write me back with an explanation I would really appreciate it. I'd even be down for coming into one of your classes and helping teach some current English majors all about it. I'm going to be on campus soon anyway to help plan a new major with President Erickson (he knows what it's about, I wrote him a letter).

In Calibri,

The Correspondent

Works Cited

"Irony." Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. 18 Nov. 2008 21:45 UTC. 
Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 10 Aug. 2004. 

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Special Thanksgiving Treat

Apropos of the letter to John Madden, here's my recipe for the Thanksgiving Turdukenigobinail, which I wrote last year for I thought it might be a nice mix up from the letters. Here is the original link.

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, which means you've got a little over a week to get your holiday menu in order. This year, instead of serving that same tired bird to everyone at your table, why not go for broke with a main course that's sure to impress? We at just so happen to have a time-honored recipe we think you'll all enjoy. Except for vegetarians, but they don't count.

Thanksgiving Turdukenigobinail

A petting zoo's worth of small to mid-size barn animals
150,000 Butanes of heat/energy
A bag of water softener salt
Mrs. Dash Table Blend

Okay, first thing you'll need is a pig, a turkey, a duck, a chicken, a quail and a Robin's egg. Take that egg and stick it in some warm sand, then forget it for about two weeks. That's right, just set it (on a calendar) and forget it! When it's done, take it up to a strong light and make sure the inside is dark. This means our Robin fetus is done. But wait! Don't do anything with it yet, we've still got a lot of prep work to do.

Pro life? I'm too busy being pro-delicious!

Now, time to start deboning those adult bird carcasses. The key to deboning a turkey, duck or chicken is to maintain the integrity of the meat while removing the ribs, sternum, leg bones and pelvis. If you're going to do this recipe more than once, I recommend getting a bird deboning machine, as seen below.

With your birds deboned, you're ready to scald the hair off your suckling piglet. The key to pig-scalding is to make sure the water in your cauldron is at a rolling boil, I repeat, a rolling boil. I like to get a good bonfire going in the backyard before I even put my cauldron on the thing, then letting it go for at least half an hour. If you don't have a huge black cauldron you can heat your full bathtub with a welding torch, but it will take longer. Dump your dead pig in there and turn it over a few times with a pole, letting it scald for about a two minutes. Make sure you've tied a rope around the pig's head first, otherwise it will be nearly impossible to pull it out without getting hot pig water all over yourself. Don't let it scald too long, or you might pull the head clean off.

Once it's been scalded, skinning the pig should be a breeze; just peel it like an orange. Now, cut it open and get the guts out, then hose the whole thing down. Once the water in the pot has cooled, refill it with ice water and dump the salt and spices in. This is called a brine, and will hopefully kill all the deadly bacteria from your bathtub.

Now comes the fun part – putting one dead animal inside another. The duck goes inside the turkey. The chicken goes inside the duck. The quail goes inside the chicken, and the Robin fetus goes inside the quail. If you can afford it, smear some caviar on the fetus. Make sure everything's in there good and tight. Use some Pam if the parts don't fit easily, but don't push too hard. You don't want to do any smushing, you'll ruin the presentation!

Here's a rough sketch of what the whole thing will look like.

Now, take the whole sucker and stuff it down the pig's throat. If you can't open his jaw wide enough, cut the head off to get it down in there, but sew the decapitated head back on the pig when you're done. It's the same thing the vet will do for your kitty after they kill her, chop her skull off and test her brain for rabies. Anyway, enough of my silly digressing. Let's get this baby cooking!

You can cook your turdukenigobinail several ways. If you have a wood burning fireplace, you can tie the pig across the top of your chimney and keep a hickory fire going for about three days. If you have a big enough backyard you can dig a pit and fill it with hot coals, then leave the pig in for three days. If you do pottery and have a kiln, you can stick the pig in there, but this time probably only two days. Those kilns get pretty hot.

My favorite cooking method, though, is a good old fashioned Southern deep fry. Just get a hot tub full of peanut oil and turn it on until the thermometer reads 375 degrees. Try to do this sober, though. If it gets too hot, the pig will basically explode upon contact and send unquenchable flaming oil all over your body and your loved ones. This is what happened to Mel Gibson's character in The Man Without A Face.

And that's why you never heat oil above 375, Timmy! Now, who wants some Chex Mix?

It will only take a little over an hour for your meat to be cooked through, with a deliciously crispy skin on the outside. Test the inside with a meat thermometer, making sure the juices run clear and you feel the remorse of killing all six animals. Pull it out and let it cool, then pile up the Red Rider and get that thing to your dining room!

We certainly hope you have the best Thanksgiving with your family, and with this light entree on your dinner bench, we're sure everyone will be licking their fingers well into January. Bon appetit!

A Letter To John Madden

Boom! I wrote a letter to John Madden. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to track down these people's home addresses? I ought to send my resume to the FBI. They can add it to my file.

John Madden
Pleasanton, CA

Dear Mr. Madden,

It's a pleasure to correspond with you, sir. Your work in our country's greatest sport has been well-documented, and it is my great honor to be able to tell you in my own type just how much I've enjoyed your place in football's history.

Normally I'm not the type to just go writing some random letter, but while watching your broadcast last night of the Washington Redskins against the Dallas Cowboys, I noticed something I immediately thought I could help you with. Tony Romo had just pushed the ball out to one of his receivers and you commented that he "made a push-pass, if that's even a word." Al Michaels then suggested that "you just invented it!"

Unfortunately, I have to tell you that you did not invent it. The push-pass is already a fairly common disc throw in the game of Ultimate. You take the disc and, obviously, push it forward with little to no spin on it. It's a knuckleball frisbee, John! It's most often seen after a long huck, when somebody skies their defender to snag the bee only to find themselves a few feet from the goal line. They'll come down with the disc and look off a teammate streaking force-side into the endzone, then no-look a wicked push-pass for the score. It's understandable that you would be unfamiliar with this lingo. Nevertheless, the move is straight dope on a rope.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know. So, what are you doing for Thanksgiving this year? Are you making another Turkducken? A turkducken is pretty sweet, but last year I upped the ante with my delicious Thanksgiving Turdukenigobinail. That's a pig stuffed with a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken stuffed with a quail stuffed with a Robin's egg. It's the bee's knees, John, and a real hit with the fam-damily! This year I was thinking of putting the whole thing inside a buffalo, but I had to nix my plans due to the difficult economy/interstate livestock trading laws. Something for 2010!

Well, I better be hitting the ol' dusty trail. Tell Virginia I said hello, and feel free to write me back with your favorite Thanksgiving recipes. Do you like gravy? Me too!

In Favre We Trust,

The Correspondent

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Letter To Dr. Frankenstein

Oops, almost forgot my intro sentence. So, uh, here it is.

Dr. Ronald Miller
Omega Executive Healthcare
3650 Olentangy River Road
Columbus, Ohio 43214

Dear Dr. Miller,

Let me first congratulate you on over twenty years of service to our community through your medical training and expertise. A doctor! I used to think doctors were super-human people who were ten times smarter than the rest of the population and worked every hour of every day. Then, later, I met several medical students and realized that it wasn't as difficult as popular culture had led me to believe. Still pretty tough, though. Congrats and thank you!

Moving right along, I've been noticing your commercials on television advertising your practice, and I must say you make some startling claims. In the commercial, a soothing voice states that "3 out of every 4 deaths in Ohio can be prevented," followed by a plea for everyone to get a thorough check-up. Seriously? 75% of our population can achieve immortality? That's amazing! Or is it...

Dr. Miller, I'm going to be frank. I think you should cease whatever unholy experiments you've got going on in your lab at once, for the good of mankind. Trust me, I know how enticing it is to pretend you are God. That was the best Halloween ever. But people need to die. Imagine a world without death. How would our recent college graduates ever get jobs? What would my mother's family do with all those cemetery plots they bought? Who would stop Joe Paterno?!

Plus, if nobody can die then nobody can come back to life as a zombie. That may be a notch in your pro column, but I've taken great lengths to prepare myself for a zombie apocalypse. I live in an easily defensible apartment and have several Columbus locations already staked out for refuge if the need arises. What am I going to do with this sawed-off shotgun I welded to a chainsaw? Cut down trees and then kill all the raccoons that come out? Because that actually sounds pretty awesome!

Listen, Dr. Miller, I'm begging you to rethink your work in this field. Death can be frightening, but it's a natural part of life. I think it would go against your Hippopotamus Oath to break that circle, even if the prize of immortality looms within in your grasp. Let it go, Indiana. Let it go.


The Correspondent

A Letter To the Head of Grapes

Ironically, I'm eating a banana right now.

National Grape Cooperative Association, Inc.
National Grape
2 South Portage Street
Westfield, NY 14787
Attn: President Randolph Graham

Dear Mr. Graham,

Thank you so much for growing your delicious grapes. Grapes have played such a large role in our nation's history, and every time I pop one in my mouth I smile and think of our country's ancestors who brought their family grape vines over from the Old World and built beautiful vineyards and large families with voluptuous Mexican daughters who pranced around the California moutainsides. I assume your company is a similar operation.

Since I love grapes so much, I was thrilled this week when Kroger Supermarkets had a sale on red grapes for $1.99/lb. So I went over to grab a bag, when I noticed something very strange. The plastic grape bags all have big holes in them. What is the point of a bag filled with holes? Naturally, I asked the produce manager, and he said it was to prevent moisture from building up and spoiling the grapes. They needed to "breathe" he said. I love Old World vernacular!

My real concern, though, was when I noticed my bag had a zipper pull-tab at the top. I pulled it to close the bag, but when I reached the other side the bag was still open. Thinking I had a broken zipper, I tried another bag. Then another, and yet another! All the bags have zippers at the top to close, but none of them do anything! I went back to the produce manager, and this time he was stumped. He said he didn't know what the purpose of the zippers was, but that "the grapes should still taste the same."

Well, I got home and the grapes did taste the same. But something still was lost. Maybe it's just me, but I can't stand a puzzle like this. Why design a Ziplock-type plastic bag that cannot close? That's like me designing a wool sweater with tiny piping filled with freon, so that when you put the sweater on it cools you down like an air conditioner. It doesn't make sense, and none of my drawings are financially viable inventions.

Please, Mr. Graham, I'm not trying to take up too much of your time. I know you've got to go chase your little barefooted Mexican daughters between rows of golden vines as the sun sets behind the rich-green mountain slopes, before coming inside to eat a big plate of pasta that your cheerily obese wife prepared. I know you're busy, but if you could just write me a quick note explaining the perplexing purpose of your plastic grape bags, I would greatly be in your debt.

Proudly At Your Service,

The Correspondent

Welch's gave me a pretty quick (albeit brief) reply, apologizing for something they probably had no fault in (and which I've come to realize was just my own bad luck). Also, it really doesn't matter if your grape bag zips or not. I suddenly feel very guilty for wasting Ms. Spicer's time. Although, seriously, hot name. You wanted to see me, Ms. Spicer? Yes, name redacted. We really need to do something about your biology grade...

Oh, and I got free coupons! I get a free bag of grapes and a bunch of free cartons of juice. Come to think of it, though, I don't believe I've ever actually seen a Welch's brand bag of grapes at the grocery store.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Letter To Ornithologist David Sibley

I am having one of those weeks. I'm tired at 7:00 PM every night and I'm stuck on this one project at work that's taking forever. Fun things like this blog shouldn't be a chore. Why am I talking to you about this?!

Mr. David Sibley
45 Isaac Davis Road
Concord, MA 01742

Dear Mr. Sibley,

Greetings from Ohio! Last night I noticed several crows acting crazy in the sky outside my apartment. Concerned, I prepared to call the CDC to report a possible West Nile outbreak when my eye caught a figure on the chimney across the street. Sure enough, it was a Cooper’s Hawk that had riled up those crows. I checked it immediately against the version in my Sibley Field Guide and confirmed my identification.

Upon telling my lady friend of my discovery, however, she corrected my verbiage. “It’s not a Cooper’s Hawk,” she said in a tone that made me reevaluate our relationship. “It’s just Cooper’s Hawk. You refer to birds just by using their common names.” Flabbergasted, the idea has consumed me ever since and forced me to research your county auditor’s tax information website in order to procure your home address so I might write you this letter.

So what you’re telling me is that instead of saying, “Look, in that tree! It’s the Semipalmated Plover!”, I instead have to say, “Look, it’s Semipalmated Plover!” That’s like I’m saying, “Look, it’s Ed Ruettiger from the farm store. Hi, Ed!” I’m an old-fashioned kind of guy, Mr. Sibley, I like a little formality in life. I eat granola in the morning. I pee sitting down. I hate people who own shiny metallic dress shirts, and I don’t want to be on a first name basis with some bird I’ve never even met!

This is just like when I was little and we called our old neighbor Louie, even though I preferred calling the elderly by their formal last names. Louie was a great guy, but when he died and I went to his funeral I didn’t want to call him Louie in front of all his old friends and family. I was already uncomfortable. Why was there so much Polish food there? Why was everyone so happy? Sure, it was a celebration of life, but who wants to eat polish sausage and sauerkraut in a funeral parlor? Or was the polish banquet somewhere else? His wife was the nicest woman. She died on May 3rdth, I remember it to this day because I was in school and my dad told me when I got out that day. Everyone else parked in front of the school, but my dad parked way behind the school at this dead-end street near a park adjacent to the soccer fields. I walked that way home anyway, but some days he would be waiting there to pick me up, and sometimes before we’d go home he would take me to Videowatch by G.L. Perry's Variety Store and rent me a game for my Nintendo Entertainment System.

Anyway, Mr. Sibley, which is it? Did a Cooper’s Hawk land on that chimney, or did I just see good ol’ Cooper’s Hawk over there. Yep, Cooper’s was just hanging out, driving Crow out of his damned mind. What a bunch of characters, those guys! You let me know as soon as you can, and enjoy Concord. It looks lovely on the Google Streetview map right by your house.

Completely Here,

The Correspondent

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Letter To Milton Bradley

There is a wonderful joke hidden in here. The Aladdin of jokes. A diamond in the rough. I've probably hyped it way too much now.

Milton Bradley Company
443 Shaker Road
East Longmeadow, MA 01028-3124
Attn: The President

Dear Mr. Bradley,

So many years, so many memories! I had to write and thank you for years of great family fun. None of the new games can hold a candle to Milton Bradley’s classic board games. Apples To Apples? That game makes no sense. How can the Fresh Prince of Bel Air remind someone of the word “glistening?” And don’t get me started on Mad Gab. The people that made that game can go eat Abe owners and which.

Anyway, I love your games. Especially Stratego – it’s got it all. War? Check. Landmines? Check. Spies? Check? Two bodies of water? Check! This was my favorite game growing up. My Grandma used to play it with me all the time, and I’m reasonably sure I won legitimately. In fact, I loved Stratego so much that my lady friend bought me a new copy of the game for my birthday last year. Great news, right? Wrong. I walked into that pile like an expendable Scout walking into a first tier bomb.

Let’s get started with some constructive criticism. First of all, the pieces are all plastic. I enjoyed the old metal pieces. They made me feel like a man. Please change them back, I don’t care how much it costs. Gas prices are going down, I assume metal and corn prices are falling as well. Second, the game board is folded into fourths. Why are you doing this to me? The game’s box is still the same size! I think you’re playing your own game, Mr. Bradley, and it’s called fold the box one too many times. Nobody likes the folds in a game board, but we all suffered the one down the middle because we knew it was necessary. Now you want us to suffer another fold? And a SLIT in the cardboard?! You ask too much, sir.

Also, did you switch the numbers on the soldiers? I could have sworn that a 1 used to be the best guy, but now 1 is the weakest and 10 is the strongest. This confused for me several months at first. I kept thinking I had an army of invincible Marshals, so I told my lady friend where my flag was at the beginning of every game, just to mock her. Then when she complained I was cheating I told her to go to the police if she liked. She didn’t, and I won. Bluffing is a subtle skill that all great gamers possess.

Other than that, it’s still a great game. The box itself is a little flamboyant. Does the cavalry man really need a mustache? Also, I miss the suburban family on the back of the box enjoying their weekly game night. I wonder what they’re all doing right now. I hope that kid didn’t grow up to be a goth teen. Also, the mom was kind of hot. Can you send me a picture of her? Just her, I don’ t need the rest of them.

Graciously Yours,

The Correspondent

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Letter To My Alma Mater (with reply)

Reply below.

It's not Tuesday yet. I'm allowed to post a letter really late, if I have a good excuse. Tonight I took a bubble bath and afterwards felt dizzy.

Office of the President
Wittenberg University
P.O. Box 720
Springfield, Ohio 45501-0720
President Mark Erickson

Dear Mr. Erickson,

As a 2005 graduate of Wittenberg University, I’m always looking for ways to give back to my alma mater that doesn’t involve monetary donations. I have a brick with my name inscribed on it somewhere on campus, you know. Buried underneath that brick lies the secret that can save us all. Find the brick, Mr. Erickson, and you’ll find the antidote. Nah, I’m just kidding. There is no antidote.

Anyway, the reason I’m writing is tell you of an idea I had to broaden Witt’s liberal arts scope and teach the kids some useful skills for the future. While visiting my Grandmother this past weekend we started talking about the Great Depression. Specifically, I asked her for tips on how I could survive a Depression if it happened again. There was a lot of information! I was very impressed, so to compensate for my insecurity I told her what an iPhone is and how you can play Marble Madness on it. She had no clue what I was talking about, and I again felt superior.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that Wittenberg needs a major program based on Depression Living. Studies show that in the next ten years, the need for people with Depression Living degrees will grow by millions and millions. What a market to be in! I understand it can be difficult to build a curriculum from scratch, so here’s some course suggestions.

First, I think you’ll need a basic course on vegetables. How to grow them, how to can them, how to make thin, cloudy soups from them. Instead of lab study, teach kids how to make pickles and sauerkraut in their cellars. Did you know you can bury carrots in the cellar and they will stay fresh all winter? Are you calling my Grandmother a liar?

Another prerequisite would be advanced sewing. How to make a little girl’s dress from empty grain sacks, how to re-sole shoes using scraps from the rubber factory. I don’t know any of these skills, but I wish I did. Just yesterday I used shoe polish on my brown dress shoes for the first time. I was skeptical that the company knew exactly what shade of brown my shoes were, but there they are, looking slightly better. Who knew?

Of course, our new major has some fun electives in it also. Tomorrow’s Depression Living graduates will need to know the history of drifter folk music and its theory. Everyone should be able to diagram “Big Rock Candy Mountain,” and they will have to write a ballad for their senior thesis. Also, there could be a course called “Games Made of Hoops and Sticks.” That one might only be two credits, we’ll have to discuss it further with the provost.

I’m really excited to forge a new line of study at Wittenberg. Can you imagine the looks on Oberlin and Kenyon’s faces when they hear we’ve beaten them to the punch again? Lutherans – 1; Presbyterians – 0. Anywho, let me know when you’d like to meet to appoint a department chair (wink wink).


The Correspondent


Friday, November 7, 2008

A Letter To My Blog Twin

I found out this man has a blog with the same name as mine! You can read it here.

*Note: As was pointed out by a really attractive girl I've never met, I did have two versions of this letter up. To explain, I changed the part about my lady friend and her sister when I decided it wasn't that good. I'm still not that happy with the current part, but this is the version that was mailed.

Mr. Jeffrey Thomas
Surrey, North Dakota

Dear Mr. Thomas,

I’m writing to inform you that you have infringed upon my blog name, My 42 Cents. I totally thought of that name before you, and I even started my blog on October 6th, 2008 – a full two weeks before your first post. Even though I use Blogger and you use a different hosting site, I still think the Internet is too small for the both of us.

Just kidding! Oh my god, we’re blog twins! I always wanted a twin. My older brothers were twins and they got to live in the basement together, which doesn’t sound that great until I tell you that our basement was so awesome! They had bunk beds and a little TV with an Atari and a Nintendo, and on the side of the staircase the wall was covered in corkboard that you could stick things on, and they even had built-in bookcases and sometimes we’d arrange the pins in the corkboard to look like a penis.

Plus, they always had so many inside jokes! I remember one time, when I was little, they were downstairs reading a book about questions teenagers should ask themselves, and one of them was, “What’s the one adult thing you’d like to do but can’t?” They both looked at each other with these real sly grins and started snickering, but when I asked them what was so funny they said I had to wait until I was older. I’m 25 now, Jeff, what in the hell did they want to do?!

To make matters worse, my girlfriend is also a twin. It's true what they tell you, twins really do make up their own language. Good luck competing with that. I barely passed freshman year Russian! Dstraszwoui, mena Misha. Da. Nyet. That's it! Do you know how hard it was passing an oral conversation exam using five words? Meanwhile, the Zygote Club over here is making dinner plans using telepathy.

Anyway, now that you and I are blog twins it really takes the sting out. This is so cool, we should totally meet. I once drove through South Dakota, though, and it was incredibly boring, so you’re going to have to come to Ohio. Let me know what weekend you’ll be in town, and I’ll take you to Skyline Chili. Just please don’t embarrass me there like my mother did. She asked the waitress if they had any slaw. Not even cole slaw, any slaw. Sometimes I can’t believe we came out of that woman.

In Brotherhood,

The Correspondent

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Letter To the Governor of Virginia

Governor Tim Kaine
Office of the Governor
Patrick Henry Building, 3rd Floor
1111 East Broad Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219

Dear Governor Kaine,

Greetings from Columbus! I just wanted to congratulate you on running such a fine state. I hear Virginia is where it’s all happening – nature, industry, commerce, reproduction and even some harvesting. You’ve got it all!

In fact, I’ve heard such great things about Virginia that I’ve decided it’s where I want to live. My situation, however, is unique. I don’t want to live in a city, or even in the rural country. To put it simply, I’d like you to grant me 300 acres of otherwise uninhabitable Appalachian forest terrain in which I can build a small cabin and live as a sheltered recluse whose rumored insanity and savagery will cause locals to invent fictitious legends explaining my shrouded past.

Now, before you decide that nobody just gives anyone free land, let me tell you some family history. My great-great-great-great grandfather fought in the Revolutionary War against the British. His name was John Shenandoah, and according to my records, George Washington arranged for him a large parcel of land at the end of the war that stretched from the Indiana – Michigan border up along the St. Joseph River all the way towards Lake Michigan. Unfortunately, he had Indian blood, and the French coward Alexis Coquillard got my ancestor drunk one night before trading him all of his land for several barrels of whiskey. This is why, in my hometown of South Bend, Indiana, there is a Coquillard Elementary School and not a Shenandoah Elementary School.

Listen, I’m not in this for an apology or reparations. That’s for another letter to Sarkozy – I’m just establishing a precedent. Plus, this would just be awesome. It’s always been a little fantasy of mine. I’ll live on the top of some little mountain, and my cabin will have a little stone hearth where I cook thick soups in handmade earthenware. I’ll build a small loft with a little ladder that leads up to my bunk, where during the summer I can take out a piece of the roof and look out onto the stars. In the winter I’ll build the fire high and deep and snuggle up in bear skins. You don’t mind if I kill a few bears, do you? I’ll learn how to dry meat beforehand so there’s no waste. You can trust me!

As you can see, it’s not that big of a deal. Nobody will even know I’m up there; I won’t change anything. I’ll grow a beard and maybe plant a few rows of vegetables – that’s it. The reason I chose Virginia was because you’ve got tons of little mountains nobody’s living on. Give me something off the side of US 60. Hey, you don’t even have to give it to me. Just do me a favor and don’t send anyone up there looking for me. A little don’t ask, don’t tell – nice and easy, Governor. If you agree, write me back that you’re on board. We’ll be safe. They won’t know which board you mean.

With Herculean Resolve,

The Correspondent

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Letter To My Name Twin

My name isn't really Name Redacted. Neither is this man's. You're just going to have to pretend. Also, my name and return address are at the top of every letter. You're going to have to imagine that, as well.

Name Redacted
5555 E 55th Street
Indianapolis, IN 55555

Dear Mr. Redacted,

Good day to you, sir! Let’s dispense of the pleasantries for just a moment so that we may address the elephant in the room. That is not a typo at the top of this letter – your name is printed twice. What’s more is that my name is also printed twice! After many long years of thinking I was the only one, it seems we’ve finally found each other. Because, as you have by now deduced, Mr. Redacted, you and I are name twins!

It takes a moment to sink in. For so many years I thought I was unique and alone in the world. You can find a million Smiths and Jones in a phone book, and you’ll even get a few Longeneckers and Merkles if you try hard enough…but a Name Redacted! Those are rare indeed, and to find one with my identical first name outside of my own family is a real treat.

Ok, enough is enough. It’s nice, sure. I bet you’re a swell guy. Here’s the thing. You’re kind of getting in my way. It’s not a real big deal, but when I Google my name I’d like to start seeing myself pop up on page one. It wouldn’t be so bad, except that you keep accomplishing things. A composer, a professor. You even have your own website. What’s left for me, the real Name Redacted? I mean, you even have several cats. That’s my thing! I’m the several cats guy, all my friends know it!

I know, I know. If I want my own spotlight then I’ve got to earn it. But would it kill you to step aside for just a little while and let some young blood give it a go? That’s what the honorable Senator McCain is doing, and I think he’s a fine example of American dignity. I promise I won’t let you down. Just give me a chance! I’ve already started several initiatives I believe will put our name on the map. Just Google my name to find them – oh wait! That’s right, we can’t, because you’re hogging the internet.

Alright, listen, I’m not really that upset. It’s a little annoying, sure, but at least you’re doing something with your life. Did I tell you I found another Name Redacted living in Iowa? This one just turned up in a phone book search. I don’t even think he has a website. You and me, we’re winners, but this guy sounds like a clown. I don’t know, maybe we can take him under our wing. You teach him all about music, I’ll teach him about writing and cats. Because I’m the cat guy, that’s why!

Fine, we’ll both teach him about cats. Let me know!

Duplicitously Yours,

The Correspondent

Was there ever any question that my name twin would be awesome? No, there wasn't. Name Redacted not only sent me a Christmas card, he filled the inside with a personal message thanking me for my letter and telling me about his family. Turns out he has a nephew with our same name, as well. He even sent me blank stationary with his name (my name!) printed at the top, and said he hopes we meet someday. Just great, more family I have to go visit now.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Letter To the Head of Eggs

This letter came accompanied with a homemade pie chart, but my lady friend accidentally deleted my only copy of it. So I "deleted" her EpiPen into the trash can. Good luck eating walnuts, lady friend.

American Egg Board Office:
1460 Renaissance Drive
Park Ridge, IL 60068
Dear Mr. President,
I am writing today because of a troubling flaw I have found with your product, the egg. You see, I am currently training for the Southwest-Central Ohio Iditarod, a bi-decade dog race meant to match the wits and brute physical strength of its contestants against the cruel, senseless winter climate of Greene County, Ohio.
In my training I need to ingest as much protein as possible so I may rebuild the millions of musclelic bonds I break every minute of every day. My doctor says he has never seen anyone train as hard in such a short period of time, and that protein is the only thing that can save me from Grave Strain.
Now, I would like to let you and your subordinates know that I enjoy the majority of your product and have found it to perform admirably under most conditions. My small complaint, however, is when I place your product in boiling water for about twelve minutes. This particular method was given to me by a homosexual friend of mine who uses your product to supplement his own weight-gaining program. I'm sure I don't have to tell you how trustworthy a gay man is when it comes to looking good naked.
My problem is that when I boil your product I cannot remove its hard protective shell without damaging the vital protein inside. I try to peel it and it rips off large chunks of protein with it. The shell seems bonded to the protein! I have tried it with the product cold and with it warmed. I have tried cracking it at the narrow top and fat bottom and starting from both ends. I have tried rolling it on a hard surface and using a pair of tweezers to take small pieces off at a time. This last method was a little more successful but was so laborious I lost nearly half of a morning's training time. I have included a pie graph of that morning to illustrate the time wasted.
Please let me know if there is any secret to unlocking the incredible protein power inside your boiled product. I appreciate your help in this matter and want you to know how important your eggs are to my lifestyle.
Always Mushing,

The Correspondent

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Letter To Lands' End

Updated with reply.

Perch are beautiful fish.

Kelly A. Ritchie
Lands’ End, Inc.
1 Lands’ End Lane
Dodgeville, WI 53595

Dear Ms. Ritchie,

Let me tell you a story. When I was a little boy, oh, maybe ten years old, my old man took me fishing down at Potato Creek State Park in Indiana, which was interesting because it was actually a lake. But if you went to the head of the lake there was a wide creek, which sometimes held perch. Perch, coincidentally, was always the only fish I could stand eating. Everything else I’d throw up on the spot. It really bugged my Dad that we could never take home any of the fish we caught – bluegill, crappie, bass – it didn’t matter. Ironically enough, we fished with flies and poppers on the top of the water, so we were never going to catch perch anyway (they stay deep at about 15-20 feet). Upon recollection, maybe I just said I liked perch because I knew we were never going to catch any of them. Incidentally, this story has very little to do with Lands’ End.

Anyway, my Dad always loved the Lands’ End catalog and he taught me to do the same. If he was here today (he lives in Indianapolis), he’d be sad to see me write a letter of complaint to the top lady at his favorite clothier, but alas, that’s what I have to do. You see, my Dad may have given me his love of excellent value for a soft, fashionable Oxford dress shirt, but he also gave me his high metabolism and Fred Astaire body frame.

Dressing myself, especially in business attire, has always been a challenge. I always end up looking like a little kid who got in his Dad’s closet to play dress-up. Also, this kid’s really skinny and his Dad is really fat. So when I found out that Lands’ End had started a line of trim fit shirts, I nearly jumped out of my size 30 waist jeans!

Unfortunately, Ms. Ritchie, the shirt I ordered is anything but trim fit. Perhaps if you made clothes for a race of giants and ogres, and a few smaller giants asked for a trim fit label, then you could call this “trim fit.” But let’s take the collar for instance. I ordered a 14 ½ inch neck, and sure enough it fits just fine. But you didn’t bring in the width of the sleeves at all. I measured, and the top of the sleeves are 21 inches around. 21 inches! Who is modeling for you that has arms bigger than his neck?! He needs to see either a neck or an arm doctor immediately! Maybe even both!

Also, the chest of the shirt is 36 inches. Well, I’m not a 36 inch chest! To tell you the truth, I’ve been working out, but I’m just not seeing the results I’d expect. Isn’t the bench press supposed to work your pecs? It feels like I’m just bending my arms, so I don’t really see how that’s supposed to make my chest bigger. It’s the same thing with push-ups. I just don’t feel like I’m targeting the right muscle systems. Should I just lay face down on the floor and try to raise myself up with my bust? Please advise.

Ms. Ritchie, I want you to know that I think Lands’ End still has great clothes. I have a black sweater of yours that I wear often and I feel like it fits ok. Your ties are superb. Your shirts, though, just don’t fit. I don’t expect you to make me custom clothes. But if somebody could just admit to me that they’ve been changing all the sizes to reflect how fat America has gotten, at least I wouldn’t feel like such an outcast. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this matter, along with any workout tips you might have.

In Modesty,

The Correspondent