The Fish
for 21 September 2000. Updated every WEEKDAY.
[Suck Staff]

[Tim Cavanaugh]
Tim Cavanaugh
Special Guest Editor


[Terry Colon]
Terry Colon
Art Director


[Heather Havrilesky]
Heather Havrilesky
Senior Editor


[Phillip Bailey]
Phillip Bailey
Production Editor


[Joey Anuff]
Joey Anuff

[Go to the Suck Alumni page]
Hit & Run

This is a bit pedantic, but nevertheless: The term "Olympiad" refers to the period between two olympic games! Not the actual happening! This FYI...

Best wishes,

Asle Aasen Gundersen

Decided to take a little time out from correcting people who thought the 21st Century started last January first, have you, Asle? We're sticking by our statement on two counts. First, usage deems it so: everybody says "Olympiad" to mean "Olympic games." More traditionally, our Random House Unabridged Dictionary does indeed give the following as its first "Olympiad" definition: "a period of four years reckoned from one celebration of the Olympic Games to the next, by which the Greeks measured time from 776 BC" But the second definition is the perfectly acceptable "a celebration of the modern Olympic games."

No doubt you're sitting over there in Oslo saying "What do we care for the prattlings of some American dictionary? We're Norway, one of the world's leading exporters of oil, copper and pyrites! Our King Harald is the most admired monarch in Europe! Our abundant hydroelectric resources give us the highest standard of living in all Scandinavia! We gave the world Ibsen, and what has the world given us? Why, during the recent unpleasantness, so envious were both Axis and Allies of our rich heavy water resources that they came to vicious blows right here among our very hills and fjords! Random House dictionary, bosh! Random House is owned by Germans anyway. Who can trust them?"

Rest assured, we take these objections seriously, Asle. We don't blindly accept the pronouncements of any dictionary, and we've put this one to the ultimate test of any dictionary's dependability: On our bathroom scale, the Random House Unabridged more than proves its mettle; it's a good 13-pounder!

So until you can come up with a linguistic resource of greater weight, we'll be declaring victory on this little "Olympiad" controversy. Feel free to appeal the results with your own reference materials. Norwegian language dictionaries will be acceptable, but weigh-ins must use the English system, not the metric system, which the American people roundly and rightly rejected two decades ago.


[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]

Dear sucksters-

I am one of your biggest fans, I have been reading the site dilligently since you came out. Something in todays piece caught my eye though...

"We've always been great admirers of the people of Australia. From the majesty of the Alps to the traditional charms of lederhosen and Alpine caps, Australians are truly a people blessed by nature and rich in culture."

Just in case this wasn't a lame joke, Australia doesn't have the alps, Austria does. Australia isn't really blessed by nature either, it is just a big desert with kangaroos.

Good luck!
Erik Dykema

Thanks, Eric! Your letter put us all in mind of our fondly remembered days in Hoboken, with its windmills and wooden shoes! Skating on the canals in winter, fishing for carp on the Waddenzee, boyhood strolls along the dams and dikes. Halcyon days, halcyon days!

Thanks for the reminder. Several years ago, you printed a special Thanksgiving memory by one reader. It was a moving message for our entire family, and we've never forgotten it. Please print this message again, as we're surely not the only readers who found it special.


Remembering in Hohokus

[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]

"We've always been great admirers of the people of Australia. From the majesty of the Alps to the traditional charms of lederhosen and Alpine caps, Australians are truly a people blessed by nature and rich in culture."

how American... you don't know the difference between Australia and Austria... might i suggest a map?

Jason Theriault


How could a map of Australia keep us up to speed, what with the rapidly changing face of Europe? The reunification of Germany, the breakup of the Czechs and Slovaks, the Balkan peninsula with all its breakaway republics. In all this multinational chaos, we should all be grateful for the Australians with their cheerful "G'day, Mate"s their lovable Qantas bears and their merry songs in the hofbrauhaus.


PS: Bachelorettes Alert! Take one look at the Jason gallery and your heart will be "dispossessed" straight to the Great White North!

[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]

I bet I'm not the first person to bring to your attention that no land-locked European countries have migrated to the southern hemisphere in the last two millennia, and I wouldn't normally make an issue of it, knowing as I do that most citizens of the USA have long had difficulty distinguishing any difference between the words "Austria" and "Australia", though whether this is caused by prolonged geographical navel gazing by a nation deluded into thinking it's the greatest thing since sliced bread or is the inevitable result of throwing out English in favour (not favor) of a language so much built for the lowest common denominator that a couple of letters added here or missing there couldn't possibly constitute a different word in the minds of its users is unclear. I'm sure that, being a quality publication that goes to great lengths to accurately research those whose mistakes it thrives on in its own self-righteous style can accept this email in the spirit in which it is sent. Now please excuse me - I have to go save some lost Austrian protesters from my ferocious pet kangaroo...

Tim Wilsom

Are you really pretending that you give a rat's ass about the difference between "color" and "colour" or "criticise" and "criticize," or think about these spelling differences as anything other than a handy device for figuring out what country published a particular book or newspaper? I ask because once in a while some Canadian will trot out that old warhorse, apparently believing that the fact that we leave u out of our favour is some really zinging insult against American education. Is it a joke? The USA provides its critics with literally millions of examples of rank stupidity; don't you feel a little embarrassed clutching for such a feeble insult? Hell, even the English stopped picking that nit about 50 years ago. Is this what you guys spend your time worrying about in Australia? No wonder Hitler got fed up and left.


[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]

A bunch of people risk jail-time and possible physical harm, and you point out there grammatical errors. You follow up this incisive commentary with a knowing wink about how "real" revolutionaries ought to behave. I mean, the charge of hypocrisy would most likely bounce of your battle hardened sarcasm hull, but calling them ineffectual is a bit too much like Bush calling Gore a sell-out. that came out wrong.


What hypocrisy? We didn't ask anybody to risk jail time or physical harm, and we don't recall ever indicating any support for (or even comprehension of) their cause. And as reform-minded leaders from Thomas Jefferson to Mohandas Gandhi have shown, revolutionary struggle is no excuse for poor sentence structure.


[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]

Dear Sucksters: Yeah, we're all shocked to discover that R-rated material was being marketed to kids. Oh the horror. In one of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe mysteries - written so long ago that books were actually being banned in Boston - Wolfe has to investigate the author of such a novel and he sends his lackey, Archie, off to buy the book. Archie remarks that the whole point of this thing is that the book has been banned, so how can he buy it? Wolfe says, essentially, "Piffle. What is the point of banning a book except to advertise it?" And Archie buys the book. If we really gave a damn about any of this, what we'd carefully keep out of children's hands would be classical music, most drama, almost all literature, and (most of all) fairie tales. We'd ban them on the completely correct assumption that they contain tremendous emotional violence and are too complex and painful for children to appreciate anyway. In six months there'd be a giant black market in Beethoven and Chris Marlow, and the world would be remade. Oh well. More for me.

Alan S Kornheiser

What, no nod to the immortal lines of Allen Sherman:

And the head coach wants no sissies
So he reads to us from something called

At least one Suckster had the following childhood sexual awakenings:

- Learned the word "vagina" from reading the novel version of Jaws (an actual free-standing novel, although it's generally considered a novelization), which featured a weird subplot in which Chief Brody's wife has an affair with Matt Hooper - completely pointless and silly in the context of a book about a shark, but for this reader's purposes the most unique and memorable thing in the book.

- Learned the word "rape" from a TV movie comedy in which a beautiful woman forces Paul Sorvino to have sex with her, then abandons him butt-naked by the side of the road (simple gender-reversal plots were considered incredibly clever back in the wild but still naive seventies). The actual act of sexual congress in the movie is so obliquely done that this viewer thought the entire point of the encounter was that the woman just forced the man to get undressed, and nothing else. Still the idea of being forced to disrobe in front of a beautiful woman seemed superhumanly erotic, and the fact that the rest of the movie was played for laughs left this viewer feeling completely cheated, and with a lifelong antipathy toward sex comedies: Sex is serious business, and anybody who tries to find humor in it has an insufficiently dirty mind. (I thought maybe I had imagined this whole movie as justification for being a pervert in later life, but it turns out it really existed.)

- Never had access to any materials more pornographic than a JC Penny underwear ad until well into puberty. Even then, the experience was an accident resulting from divorce: When my mom moved us into our new apartment, it turned out the former tenant had one issue left on his or her subscription to Playboy, this one featuring an interview with George C. Scott and a centerfold spread of Terri Welles - still the all-time champ in this reader's opinion. The interview with George C. was pretty hot too, but by this point nothing between the covers of a magazine could equal the febrile scenarios playing out non-stop in the reader's own mind.

Then there's Yukio Mishima's statement that he became a self-hating gay man because at the age of about seven he stumbled onto a picture of the impaled St. Sebastian in a book.

So the moral is, kids are fucked. If kids have absolutely no access to any kind of outré materials, they'll come up with perversities in their own minds that will be infinitely more insane than anything Al Goldstein could invent. Better to let them look at and listen to whatever the hell they want, because there's no hope to begin with.


[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]

"We've always been great admirers of the people of Australia. From the majesty of the Alps to the traditional charms of lederhosen and Alpine caps, Australians are truly a people blessed by nature and rich in culture..." Bwahaha, now that's funny!

Joe Breuer

You find Joerg Haider funny? Well he's not, buster! All Australians should be concerned about the rise of the far right in their own country.


[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]

You just want to bait that Sierra Leone guy again, don't you?


Sadly, our friend with the Sierra Leone info has been out of contact these many months. But rest assured that many other Suck readers decided to strut their geographical stuff! Don't be fooled by their modest ways, David. The Suck army is paying attention!


[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]

"From the majesty of the Alps to the traditional charms of lederhosen and Alpine caps, Australians are truly a people blessed by nature and rich in culture."

I tried for entire minutes to see what could possibly be written between the lines of this segment that would give credence to this gross geographic and cultural reference faux pas. There was nothing to be found. So it rightfully should be stated that, from the majesty of the Alps to the traditional charms of lederhosen and Alpine caps, AUSTRIANS are truly a people blessed by nature and rich in culture. A grand and sweeping generalization in which, I'm sure, somewhere therein lies your explanation for the existence of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Formerly in (mild) awe of your editors,

Emily Smith

Ever heard of Mozart? Haydn? Emperor Franz Josef? Whatever happened during World War II, Australians have a lot to be proud of, Emily. They don't just spend all their time yodeling. Stop trying to belittle the many achievements of the folks Down Under.


[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]

I enjoyed reading your take on the Bush campaign's "RATS" ad, but in my opinion, you missed the best part of the whole fiasco: the opportunity to hear the shrub mispronounce yet another word. Since George seems unusually spoonerism-prone when under stress (perhaps he's concerned with "putting food on our families,"), I was really prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt on this one. However, after hearing him denounce as ridiculous the notion that his campaigners put "subliminable" (sic) messages in ads on three separate occasions, I had to come to the conclusion that the guy just doesn't know the word. All three occasions were aired in the same news segment on NPR (yes, you're correct, I'm a geek), and were played inside a two minute span.

NPR at least had the good taste to leave it up to jerks like me to point out that string of mini-gaffes. Perhaps this was in anticipation of Lance Morrow's article criticizing the media's propensity for making fun of Dubya . To Mr. Morrow I can only say this: suck it up, sir. If the people of this country can't call the next president of the United States "a fucking moron," as you put it, then we're no better than the stinking Reds.

Sammy Baby
<> Sammy Baby,

Lance Morrow's "Bush is down with real salt of the earth Americans because he doesn't know how to talk" argument is an old one. And it's totally illogical: If anything, his diction proves what an upperclass twit he really is. Actual Americans know that if you talk like an idiot (or more precisely, if you talk like the wrong kind of idiot, which Bush does), you won't get anywhere in the business world. Back during the Ebonics controversy, there was even a good-cop faction of anti-Ebonic zealots arguing that if you can't speak the Queen's English you'll be doomed in the professional world. Unless of course you're a rich fucker whose family will prop you up despite your obvious lack of skill or aptitude or intelligence or any of those other traits which the Almighty hands out at random and without regard for race, creed, color, or class. Or as Moses Malone said in fewer words, "I'd rather say 'I be rich' than 'I am po'.'" But at least Moses was a hard-working rebounder. Bush doesn't even have a particularly strong work ethic to recommend him. He's had to work half as hard to go twice as far, and the fact that he's gotten rich as Croesus without speaking a word of English is proof of that. And as salt of the earth Americans, we find it abominabable!


[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]

Aargh! My evil IT department is lollygagging on getting my "new" computer outfitted with speakers, so I can't hear the audio on what I'm sure is a hilarious Flash presentation. Can Humberto Moreira possibly supply a written transcript?

Also, when are you guys going to make fun of Bobby Knight again? I really expected it in this week's "Hit & Run." Not that you owe me anything, of course. I surely don't want to upset the Sucksters. :)

Sycophantic and loving it,

Alexia C. Henke
<> First request: You can ask Humberto, but you really need to get the full sonic experience.

Second request: Bobby Knight is a big fatso!

Always happy to be of service,


[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]

You guys are really funny. First, the Sierra/Sergio Leone thing, and now this:

"We've always been great admirers of the people of Australia. From the majesty of the Alps to the traditional charms of lederhosen and Alpine caps, Australians are truly a people blessed by nature and rich in culture"

And you talk about Dubya's learning disabilities in the same article!

Thanks for the bemusing but inscrutably obscure (is he kidding or...?) features of your features.

Mike Kenny

Don't worry, Mike. Quite a few people still didn't get the joke, and a substantial subgroup of those tried to cop out with phrases like "Maybe that was a really lame joke, but you know..." Which of course puts us in the position of having to say "Oh yeah, it was a really lame joke." Little do they know that we've never scrupled about lame jokes.


[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]

Hello, sucksters:

I found something curious in the piece about Cameron Crowe's new movie:

...the movie's fictional band is called Stillwater.

But Stillwater was the name of an actual seventies band (one of dozens of nearly-identical Southern Rock bands that recorded for Capricorn):

Don't they have fact-checkers for this stuff? Or is the error yours for thinking the band in the film is fictional?

James Gibson
<> The band in the movie is not the one you describe. It's a fictional band, but in the service of a greater truth: That the Guess Who and BTO and Blue Oyster Cult and The Eagles were great rock and roll heroes who still merit our undivided attention. It's an interesting movie that way: You're supposed to be thinking "Wow, that must be so cool to be on tour with these rock and roll legends," but all you can really think is "That bus doesn't look very clean," and "These young women look like trouble," and "Even when I was fifteen I would have been completely bored by all these dorks," and "When do these people ever get a good night's sleep? What an unhealthy lifestyle!" If Almost Famous doesn't inadvertently destroy the last fragment of the cool rockin' mythos, nothing will. Bands suck. Rock sucks. Groupies suck. Records suck. Rock is dead, they say. Down with Rock!


[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]

Re: Australian Culture

You have no idea how much it pisses Australians off when damned yanks harp on about the bloody Alps and bloody lederhosen. You're completely overlooking our real contributions to modern global culture - Adolph Hitler, Kurt Waldheim, Jorg Haider and John Howard.

Hell, most American tourists here are in shock after finding out we have beet on our burgers...


Steve (von) Golding
zutreffendes blau Aussie
<< Thanks for the correction, Steve. We're eager to visit your country, with its rain forests, rickshaws, pagodas and elephants, its subtle curry dishes, puppet shows and traditional dancers wearing the noble garb of their native land.


[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]

I almost canceled the "Suck" after reading yours - "Hit & Run 9-14-00". The image of the Alps and lederhosen have always reminded me of Austria and The Sound of Music; and Australia of the outback and Aborigine. If this is the good stuff your mag will not last, I hope.

Richard Pratt
Enosburg Falls, VT
Home of Vermont's Dairy Festival
<> Sorry to disappoint you, Richard. We value our readers in VT, home of the Liberty Bell and the nation's largest rubber-band ball, the state where Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses Grant, and President Kennedy delivered his immortal "I have a dream" speech. That you are also home to VT's dairy festival is just another feather in your cap. You truly are a valued reader.


[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]

I have a tumour on my humour today so do you really think that the Alps are in Australia?

<> Wherever extreme sports are being played, that's where you'll find the Sucksters. Perhaps the world's tallest peaks are found in Belgium, but when it comes to tackling the Australian Alps, we're ready 24-7.


[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]

On your 9.14.00 piece, you don't really think the Australians have a place for Alps, alpine caps or lederhosen ? You mean Austria, right ? (a couple time zones away...)

Paulo Rebordao

Maybe you're on to something, Paulo. So ... which country is it where they have mohawks and ride around on motorcycles chasing Mel Gibson? That country's way cool! If Australia has all that and the Alps too, whoo-ee!


[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]

Hi Polly,

Today I was trying to cook up a good domain name. After exhausting my own creativity (about 10 seconds into the search), I decided to rip inspired by Suck. I was heading for the 1996 Pitches, but then I remembered your Frictionary pieces from earlier this year. "Good words" I thought, "but they're probably all taken". But lo, when I searched I found them mostly unclaimed.

After exhausting every word in the English language, domain name squatters and naming companies usually stoop to strapping a tacky e-i-my-or the-prefix on a website. More "professional" companies make up words through unknown methods that pipe out gentle and smooth names. (Verizon?) But you, oh magical Polly, through manipulation, came up with some gems in your Frictionary episodes, without even trying.

Unrepentant hedonists would love "",and somebody could keep track of shady nonprofits on ""."" sounds a little nasty, but "" or "" sound just hip enough to be saleable. "" is a good one, but it's already taken. 6,793 domain names contain the word "Slim", and some have gotten desperate enough to register "" or "". But using your "", somebody could lay waste to the rest. "" could be big with marketing types. "" could be the perfect pulpit for yes-men and "Internet changes everything" pundits. And as you know, the market for the disappointed, the depressed, and the maladjusted is booming, creating true demand for "" or ""

Some words are especially good. "Reimagineer". It sounds close enough to a real occupation or service so that a company (say, Disney) can actually offer "reimagineering", but it's vague and distant enough so that the reimagineer wouldn't have to do any actual work. "" could be anything from a free e-mail alias for reimagineers worldwide to a whole new way of padding web design bills. 1,893 domains are registered with the word "Frat" in them, including junk like,, and a slew of undifferentiable domains such as,, and But none of them hit the spot as would "", which lays _unregistered_ (and you could also register, post the same content as but sprinkle in links to remedial spelling courses).

Maybe I'm not thinking clearly and I'm just procrastinating since I'm stumped in finding my own just-right domain name, but I'm guessing you could easily supplement your current pay rate ($10, $15, $25 a word?) with a $60k a word enterprise by coming up with neat domain names for people. Since registering a domain name costs less than...lunch at Burger King, you can basically scribble a word on a post-it note and trade it in for cash. Maybe you're already doing this.

Well, I'm off to see if I can get a Ouija board to spew out my domain name...


Humberto Moreira

Your dedication to such seemingly pointless tasks fits in well with the theme of today's column, don't you think? You remind me of Owen Thomas, but with a mystical, superstitious twist. Plus, most of Owen's ideas are more obscure, less saleable, and usually potentially actionable.

Let's do this: We'll start a business, one that dreams up domain names for people. You can be the marketing genius and business savvy boy, and I'll just think of the domain names.

Ready to do anything for the company, from sitting on my ass to gazing glassy-eyed at our profit sheets,


[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]

Dear Polly,

Here I am, a week later, still talking about last week's news. I thought Heather Havrilesky was Jewish. I thought I read it somewhere, but I must have just made it up in my head.

I gushed about last week's filler, but today's was better. Nothing you write is more incisive than your "psychobabble" rants. Some of your characters are frighteningly real, and yet comically endearing. I know people who would do the hand squeeze thing to their partners and then pay $100 to be pitied and petted by their shrink.

Your Loyal, but Possibly Misinformed Psychophant


P.S. Did you know you have a "fan site"? I promise never to do that to you.

Thanks for the kind words. I assure you that I, too, am frighteningly real, and not nearly as endearing as one might hope, comically or otherwise. Where do you think I get the material for all that psychobabble? Merely by observing others? Anyone who makes fun of other people is far lamer than the people he or she targets. In the world of comedy, being weak and pathetic is part of the job.

As if to prove my point, I'll strongly assert that paying someone to pity you makes a lot of sense. No one pities us enough, you know? What could be better than sitting around complaining and having the other person say, "Man, that must've been so tough for you." However, this kind of royal treatment might be good for your psyche, but it makes you a very dull person. And being disturbed yet entertaining is what it's all about, right?



Disturbed and dull,


[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]

Your Pollyness:

Filler did not make me laugh out loud in my cube; it did make me shit myself.

Leaving work early,

Alex Kienlen

Gee, that reminds me of the sig file on another letter I received a few months back...

Oh, Polly, my Polly,

I'm already packing my bags for Cynical Singles Summer Camp! Even now I'm envisioning days of stitching together mostly-useless leather goods ("so, this is, or a headband or something, right?") and endless pointed, sniping with single folk (nearly) as bitter as me.

This one's actually going to be true, right? You promised once that the bitter would inherit Italy. But I've begun to give up hope on that one. Oh, wait! I've got it. If we can just mobilize our Gay Special Forces we can take the entire peninsula in fortnight! What kind of military can a country that elects porn stars to parliament really have? Then we can have Cynical Singles Summer Camp in Tuscany rather than by some unpronounceable lake in Maine.

Yes, the brilliance of your plan is becoming clear to me.

your bitter, evil henchman,

Phineas X. Jones

"Civilization rests on two things: the discovery that fermentation produces alcohol, and the voluntary ability to inhibit defecation. And I put it to you, where would this splendid civilization be without both?"

--Robertson Davies The Rebel Angels

Alex, Thanks for doing your part to topple civilization as we know it. Continue the good work!

Rebel pantscrappers unite! Crap the good crap! Fight the good fight!


[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]

 The Shit
Krushchev Remembers, by Nikita Krushchev (authorship disputed), translated by Strobe Talbott
Five-Star Day Cafe
Athens, Ga.
Salon's "Action Figures"
TV ad
Donna's Famous "Long and Short of It," by Donna Anderson and friends
Two-Lane Blacktop, directed by Monte Hellman (The Anchor Bay/Universal letterboxed edition)
George Bush, Dark Prince of Love: A Presidential Romance, by Lydia Millet (Scribner)
King Kong: The Complete 1933 Film Score, by Max Steiner Moscow Symphony Orchestra, William J. Stromberg conductor (Marco Polo)
Eightball #20, by Dan Clowes (Fantagraphics Books)
The ECW's Little Spike Dudley
Stan Kenton, City of Glass, featuring arrangements by legendary weirdo Bob Graettinger (EMD/Blue Note)
Comix 2000, Edited and published by L'Association, 2000
Star Dudes
Do you know of stuff that doesn't actively suck? Things so good they deserve to make the Shitlist? Send your suggestions to us.

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