The Fish
for 11 September 1998. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Suck Staff

Joey Anuff
Joey Anuff
Editor in Chief


Terry Colon
Terry Colon
Art Director


[the fixin' pixie... ]
Emily Hobson
Production Manager
and Rhythm Guitar


Heather Havrilesky
Heather Havrilesky
Senior Editor


[Ian Connelly]
Ian Connelly
Marketing Manager


[Copy Edit]
Copy Edit

Suck Alumni
Suck Alumni Text

Carl Steadman
Carl Steadman


Ana Marie Cox
Ana Marie Cox
Executive Editor


Sean (Duuuuude) Welch
Sean Welch


Owen Thomas
Owen Thomas
Copy Editor


T. Jay Fowler

Production Manager

& Ass Kicker


[yes, it's a plunger. i'll l
eave the rest up to your imagination ... ]
Erin Coull
Production Manager


Matt Beer
Matt Beer
Development Manager

Filler: Anniversary

Dear Polly,

I'm surprised actually at all
the miserable carping about
your miserable carping. The
main difference is the
miserable carping in the
letters to you isn't funny,
and let's face it, without
funny we're just miserable.
Though that letter from the
insulted technical writer was
an unintended kind of funny.
At first I suspected his
whine was a set up, an inside
job. But then I recalled all
the humorless cretins I've
come across in my life and
thought: Ah, yes, of course,
this character is suffering
from irony deficiency, a
common ailment. It's a good
way of categorizing any
group. I have a cousin who
suffers from this crippling
disease. It keeps him from
understanding the reason for
things like Suck. He reads a
little bit of it, turns to
me, slightly slack-jawed, and
mumbles: "Uh, I don't get

Words to live by in the
Neo-Post-Retro Age.

a fan of your writing,

basil papademos

Hey, I'm not above the
occasional inside job when it
suits my needs, but that guy
was 100 percent real,
guaranteed or your money
back. Except Filler is free,
so ...

He did write back to let me
know that when he wrote that
he'd "never been employed for
more than a day," he meant to
write he'd "never been
UNemployed for more than a
day." With egregious errors
like that, it's hard to
understand how he continues
to get steady work as a
technical writer.

Then again, the world's
commitment to quality has
decreased substantially in
the past few years, keeping
the world's cats, as St. Huck
would say, ass-deep in

Ass-deep in Crunchberries,


Fish With Letter Icon

Hi Polly,

I'm trying to imagine a
scenario where Stephan
Cartlidge (the highly paid
aerospace technical writer
who only works one day) were
to apply his copy-editing
skills toward a pilots'
manual or perhaps text
crucial to the assembly
process of a plane.

My imagination is feeble. So
can y'all solidify my
thoughts with a cartoon or


Brett Ratner (highly
unskilled tech writer at
Deloincloth & Douche)

Okay, here's one. The first
three frames show Stephan
typing on his computer. The
fourth frame shows Stephan
printing something out. The
fifth frame shows Stephan
delivering the manuscript to
an office, where the sign on
the door says AEROSPACE
DEPT. or something similarly
cartoonish. The sixth frame
shows a rocket on the launch
pad. The seventh frame shows
a huge explosion. The eighth
frame (optional) shows
Stephan with a horrified look
on his face, with or without
tears. The ninth frame shows
Stephan typing on his
computer again.

Actually, this concept would
work much better as an action
thriller - Armageddon meets
Revenge of the Nerds meets
Terms of Endearment. A really
horrible title always helps
to draw crowds. How about Not
Without My Tech Writer's
Daughter, Who Never Cries

Yours in highly


Fish With Letter Icon

What great timing - your
third anniversary column,
with its searing
self-revelations, arrived
just in time to confirm the
Carnegie-Mellon study that
Net surfing makes people

Since we're all going down
the same psychic slide, what
we really need is features
like, "Drinking Yourself
Senseless: traditional vodka,
manly whiskey, or modish
Metropolitans?" and, of
course, "Suicide Techniques:
field test reports."

Harry Matthews

Hey. If more people read
Filler in all its unceasing
buffoonery instead of
searching Yahoo! Current News
for the latest, uh, current
news, then more people would
be less depressed. Or less
people would be more
depressed. Or, at least,
they'd find their depression
more entertaining, knowing
that so many people like them
are also entertainingly
depressed, or pathetic in an
entertaining way, or just as
confused and stupid as they

Or something.

Pouring manly whiskey,


Fish With Letter Icon

you guys are so weak! i
finally drag my ass over to
your building from china
basin landing in order to
grab one of those nifty
"suck" T-shirts and, besides
the fact that the fucking
thing is $15, the art is one
color. and it's goddamn
teal-blue at that. nice job,
assholes. how about you
spring for the multicolor
process next time, eh?



Rick Haelig

p. s. teal-blue? jesus

We're still looking for the
place on our site where it
says, "Citizen(s) of San
Francisco: Take time out from
your job at that alternative
weakly (sic) paper and drag
your ass over to our office,
where some office
administrator unfamiliar with
the workings of Suck will
lead you to our prehistoric
bins of merchandise unfit for
current consumption, designed
under the haze of deadlines
and a particularly toxic
strain of Bobe Hope floating
through town about two years
ago .... Remember that shit,
dude? Whoa. We didn't leave
our couch for like weeks
there. Everything looked ...
teal blue. We got used to it,
though, after a while, and
eventually started to like
prefer it almost sort of."

Fish With Letter Icon

Summary Judgment

How dare you include Wishbone
in the same clause as
Dummies, Idiots, and Slate?
No fan of Cliffs Notes, I
find Wishbone to be
absolutely necessary to an
education in post-educational
academia: Wishbone is not a
shortcut to avoid reading the
classics you're best off
experiencing for yourself;
it's a shortcut to avoid
reading the classics best
left digested. Who has the
time to wade through reams of
Dickens or Dumas when a
proper student of literature
cannot, only enroll in classes
that wade through reams of
Rushdie or Pynchon? It's not
like the dog takes on
Spinoza: Years hence,
Wishbone will be presenting
the 20th-century classics of
great literature, Gone with
the Wind
and Bonfire of the
I'll substitute a
talking dog (far smarter,
you'll note, than his human
masters actually stupid
enough to bother reading the
books the canine romps
through) for the most banal
of canonical texts any day.
If only for the absolutely
hilarious love scenes.


Anthony Sarmiento

Anthony -

Perhaps I should have used
"Where in the World of
PostModern webzines is
Carmen Sandiego?" Or
Schoolhouse Rock takes on
lying, adulterous presidents
in a musical ditty?

R. Satyricon

Fish With Letter Icon

Correct me if I'm wrong, but
are you not, in a few short
paragraphs, summarizing and
condensing a complex cultural
phenomenon? Moreover, you
have chosen to make public
your opinions via a medium
notorious for its
non-linearity and the
concomitant 3-second
attention span of its
readers. If I were to truly
ponder your ideas, I would
have to print out and read
more carefully your Web page,
read and assimilate others'
views, and finally, god
forbid, generate my own

Finally, who doesn't love
cocktail party chitchat?
Moreover, if it is done with
a heavy dose of irony and
self-consciousness, who
cares? No one really believes
in being a well-educated and
carefully opinionate
individual, do they?

Esther Parker

OK, OK, everyone loves to
point out the paradox of
briefly summarizing the
practice of briefly
summarizing. But there are a
couple of differences between
Suck writers and Library of
Contemporary Thought writers:

1. Pete Hamill gets paid real
money, not the Suck Company
Store scrip that writers like
me get.

2. Seymour Hersh gets
interviewed by Salon, while
Salon just insults Suck every
now and then.

3. Edwin Schlossberg ... OK,
there's no difference between
Suck writers and Edwin

Furthermore, if it's OK to
opinionate with a heavy dose
of irony and
self-consciousness, then
what's the problem here?

R. Satyricon

Fish With Letter Icon


After catching a chronic case
of "a life" I have not been
reading Suck very much
lately. Then I hear on Howard
Stern something about Monica,
Clinton, and a cigar.
Intrigued I pop those words
into my search engine and get
back ... nothing. At least
nothing relevant. What to do,
who would have such info? The
answer hit me so hard I
almost blinked - Suck. Sure
enough, there in Tuesday's
column was a link to
Clinton's cigar fetish. I
promise next time I'll start
with Suck and work backwards.

Bradley Messmer

Bradley -

Thanks for writing. Suck is
one step ahead of you! As
part of the dissolution of
the Wired empire, Suck will
be establishing itself as the
newest "portal" to the
"information superhighway."
Look out, Yahoo!

P.S. Sorry to tell you, but
having a "life" and listening
to Howard Stern are mutually

R. Satyricon

Fish With Letter Icon

It is more and more evident
that elements of society
don't want to think for
themselves. Given the above,
if Ballantyne doesn't do it -
somebody else will. As sad as
it is, God forbid that an
opportunity to make money
would be passed up.

Ted Sturk

Ted -

Your response begs the
question: What kind of
society would we be if
everybody thought for
themselves? I'm not sure I
want the readers of LOCT to
think for themselves - after
all, that's what got them to
buy LOCT books in the first
place. And thinking for
themselves has led to the
creation and marketing of all
sorts of awful by-products,
like edible underwear,
self-help books, and New

R. Satyricon

Fish With Letter Icon

I wonder if your comments
couldn't somehow be condensed
into one, two, or possibly
three well-thought-out
sentences, instead of the
over 100
sentences? Give it a try.
Maybe you could put some of
those condensed thoughts in a
new version of Cliffs. Go for
it. Of course it's clear that
you buy ink by the barrel,
and I'd hate to see it go to
waste - why not bathe in it?

Roy Waite

In fact, my comments can NOT
be condensed into one, two,
or three well-thought-out
sentences. Or even four or
five. If I were to do so, I
would not be writing columns
or articles, but missives,
jabs, or small, angry

Thanks for counting up the
number of sentences in my
article, though. I couldn't
help but notice that your
letter had five sentences. If
you used more em-dashes, you
could probably get that down
to three; a semicolon here, a
colon there, add some
parentheses, and we're
talking one bitchin'
sentence. It's a hectic world
out there, and we all do our
best in our allotted space,
I'm sure.

R. Satyricon

Fish With Letter Icon

Dear Satyricon,

Your string to the
panning by Richard Howard has
presented me with a couple of
problems that are only worth
addressing on company time.
In this case,'s
company time.

First, I think you've assumed
the best about both
high-school grads and lowly
corporate grubbers. I have
yet to meet any readers here.
Most of them don't have the
time, and even if they did,
would have to pick books with
just the right kind of
(non)cultural-currency that
your e-rag so wonderfully
picks apart. Also, it would
appear to me that our
homepage more closely
resembles a B. Dalton's
storefront pushing yet more
mindless crap than any
bookstore with "street-cred."
The fact that this alt-lit
coolness is associated with
this place is mind-boggling.
This place is like any other
company with hundreds of
young and easily duped
employees, except we have
looser dress codes. How edgy.

Second, Howard's article had
some glaring inconsistencies,
which is too bad, because
this place is wholly
deserving of a good
dressing-down. I don't know
if the Weekly carries all the
letters online, but the
pro-Am letters came flooding
in. Howard insinuates that
temps here make $10. Not
quite. The warehouse starts
at $7 (you get more if you
work graveyard) and most
departments make $8. A world
of difference in terms of
shit wages. Given what it
takes to live in a city, I
could probably save up enough
money to buy one share of
stock every other month or
so. As for those elusive
options, they don't dangle
those until you get hired on
full-time. They'd rather pay
the extra couple of grand to
the temp-service to keep you
bitched out until they can
look into their crystal balls
to tell if you're
options-worthy. On the other
hand, lots of companies do
this kind of thing, and
Howard seems to assume that
Amazon owed him something and
tricked him into thinking his
work environment was going to
be peaches and cream. UNIX
sucks, my back hurts, too (I
stand up to alleviate it,
duh) and there isn't a person
with a GED too brain-dead to
do what we do here. Hey, I
excelled in college toward a
liberal-arts degree, where's
my pony? Sour grapes, indeed.
Howard's incessant
lamentations betray an almost
narcissistic sense of talent.
The truly bookworthy work for
publishers, not in retail.
Believe me, this place has
more in common with The Gap
than Penguin Classics.

I could go on, but there's
work to do and I want to make
this perfectly clear: is muscling into
the world the Starbucks way -
branding a soulless company
to appeal to yuppie and
soon-to-be Gen-X yuppies
through tireless ads, shoddy
promotional merch, "low"
prices, and hiring anyone so
terminally worried about
staying hip that they won't
think twice about working for
a company whose practices are
no different from any other,
all the while deluding
themselves and the
ever-shrinking book-buying
public into a false sense of
literacy. Needless to say,
they could fire my sorry
temp-ass for even reading,
much less writing to, your
mag while at work, so please
keep on suckin', your work is
truly inspiring to the
cubicle-bound like me who
ought to know better.

<Name Withheld to Protect The Temp Worker>

I hope that can't
measure keystrokes, or you
might be doing word
processing for Slate in the
near future.

That said, I think you're
making an assumption about
Penguin Classics. The
venerable orange-covered
tomes are published by the
same flightless bird (former
publisher of every mega-novel
by Stephen King) that not too
long ago bought/merged with
Tom Clancy's Putnam Berkeley
(see Suck 21 March '98), once
again demonstrating that the
book business is basically a
world of corporate grubbers,
lowly and otherwise. In fact,
I know of a New York
publisher where Howard's
article made the rounds, to
much oohing and aahing and
not a few "could we make a
book out of this?" comments.
If you're going to piss on
the hand that fed you, no
matter how badly, at least
try to get a New Yorker
article out of it, right?

Good luck in your ass-killing
cubicle, but beware what you
wish for, you just might get

R. Satyricon

Fish With Letter Icon

Subject: Show Of Respect?


As I surf your site for the
first time in ... a long
time, I find myself drawn
into the well of ... Funny
art. *shuddering* I found the
button site ... I found the
T-shirt page! I've got a
great idea!!! You kids can
buy me a computer ... I will
then devote an ENTIRE Web
Not just the buttons you
release, but the REJECT
buttons, as well! Prototype
buttons, unfinished buttons,
OFFENSIVE buttons!!! And not
just the buttons YOU make,
CONTRIBUTIONS! And to top it
all off, I'll MAKE MY OWN
BUTTONS!! YEAH!! I'll do the
BEST damn job I can do with a
PIRATED graphics program and


BTW: If you send me a shirt,
I'll wear it every day. Heck,
send me two, I'LL WEAR 'EM

You're hilarious. Keep
writing to us, please. Our
readers are praying that
you'll return very soon with
more non-stop funnies.

The computer and the teal
T-shirts are in the mail,

Fish With Letter Icon

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