for 2 December 1996. Updated every MONDAY.



REAL READER MAIL! Send us a letter
and make us feel better. All mail
twisted to fit our twisted needs.
Tell us if you need another name
to remain unharmed.


This week features very little mail
because we were too busy
concentrating on gaining five
pounds in four days to pay much
attention to our bloated
mailboxes. But, before the
excessive snarfing began, we did
have time to read a letter or two.
Luckily, the first half of the
week brought many a
chuckle-inducing letter.


As usual, in "Promiscuous
," Bartleby solicited
encouraging comments from another
reader with an unhealthy
attachment to the letter "C". Nick
Bogaty <> writes:

I didn't understand one word in
your 11/22/96 article. For
instance, what the hell does the
following mean: "With an aesthetic
palette equal parts cinematography
and pornography, he speaks to the
extremes of our consumer
consciousness, consecrating the
unrepentant promiscuousness of
conspicuous consumption into a
kind of smut couture." Does it has
something to do with tits, dicks,
asses, film, buying stuff, and
hairdos, or were you just trying
to cram your sentences with words
beginning in "c"?


Look, Nick. Bartleby knows better
than anyone that wordiness and
alliteration combine to form their
own special art form, and aside
from consecrating the unrepentant
promiscuousness of conspicuous
consumption, there's nothing we'd
rather do than propagate the
polarity of peculiar particulars
and painstakingly palatable
prosody. On a different note, your
use of the words "asses,"
"hairdos," and "cram" in one
sentence disturbed us. Please find
another front to follow through
on such frighteningly foul


Of The Internick's "Royale with
," Tom Williams
<> writes:

I used to own a record company and
one of the acts on the label was
Anvil, a heavy metal trio with
lyrics which were - shall we say -
less than Shakespearean. A phrase
in one of the songs was something
to the effect "chasing beaver in
the school yard." The Japanese,
being nothing if not accurate,
translated the phrase literally. I
often wonder what view of Canada
that simple phrase imparted to the
15-year-old heavy metal fan.


Suck... as always... starts my day.


We used to love chasing beaver in
the schoolyard! Except those
little devils were pretty hard to
catch. Sometimes we'd catch them,
though, and they'd bite us. Ouch!
Those fuckers had sharp teeth. But
it was still fun. That song sure
would bring back memories.


Tom Dowe <>

Another amusing tagline, actually
witnessed by me when in Japan in
1987 - Coke posters reading, "I
feel Coke and sound special," or,
more often, simply, "I feel Coke!"
The English tagline at the time,
"Coke is it!" didn't play well...
when spoken in English by Japanese
persons. This was the oddest part
of the whole phenomenon: all the
posters were in English. So the
marketing was based on what
English words sounded most like a
good tagline when spoken in
English by a non-English speaking
Japanese person.

Don't even get me started on the
teen spokesmodels for this


Ooo... We're feeling Coke just
sounding about it.


Dr. Alan S. Kornheiser
<> asserts:



Translation programs have no
trouble with complex words or
language structures. Indeed, the
more polysyllabic the verbiage the
easier the translation, It's the
short and ambiguous words that
cause the problems. No amount of
"dumbing down" will make
translation programs work any
easier. That's why, as you
yourself note, business text
(traditionally written in
polysyllabic babble with bizarre
grammatic structures) translates
so easily: only one translation is

Or, as we say,

Time flies like an arrow but fruit
flies like a banana.


Fruit flies look nothing like bananas,


<> writes:

I'm surprised you didn't mention
the (also possibly apocryphal)
"Mokusatsu" World War II story.
The bullet-list version of the
above goes like this:

The US developes nukes and builds a
very small number of them.

US nukes Hiroshima.

US sends a telegram to the Emperor
saying effectively "Surrender or

Emperor asks his six advisors, they
split 3-3 on unconditional
surrender. Emperor does not want
to make the decision himself,
that's a loss of face for
everyone. He tries to buy time.
They send back a telegram (in
Japanese) whose operative word is
"mokusatsu." This word can either
mean "no" or "withholding comment
at this time." It is possible that
this ambiguity was intended, given
the Emperor's goal of buying time.

US translators render the reply as

US nukes Nagasaki.

Japan surrenders unconditionally.


Hmm. We like your example, it has a
nice historical flavor... but it's
just not commercial or pop-culture
or postmodern enough. Try to think
of something a little sexier, more
robust, next time.


Michel Rodriguez
<> writes:

I quite agree with your analyse of
the future of the web.... As a
fresh French immigrant to the
States of course I would like to
see more French (or Spanish by the
way) web pages, not for the sake
of showing France's "Grandeur" but
only to exist there, to preserve
the language I happen to master
the better, in which I am able to
express myself better, in a much
more rich manner than in any
other. I will always be a
handicapped on the Net, like most
of non native-speakers, if the
only language used is not mine.


But I disagree on your views on
people limiting their language
level so foreigners, automatic
translators, and robots can
understand them. They won't change
the way they write. In fact they
don't. And I don't want them to
change it. Being handicapped
doesn't make me want to handicap
other people. I want them to
express themselves, it even gives
me a chance to improve myself if I
try to understand them....

M aybe one day
I will
C hange to a
H igher state of conscience,
E levate myself to the
L izard way of sun-bathing...


On ne t'a pas compris... You want
to understand languages better so
you can sunbathe like a lizard? We
suggest you put down the dummy
pipe for a second and return that
overdue rental tape of "The
Doors." Those two simple steps
should make your current
challenges a lot easier.


John G Norman <>

Yep: No one reads the web -
eventally it will be all pictures
with little mottos and captions.


Terry Colon, illustrator,
pondering the future of the


Of Ann O'Tate's "Fire This
," Ray Davis <>

Nice to see Burning Man pissed on,
even if it's a few years overdue.

I've noticed that reminiscing
participants often veer away from
their own memories into flattering
comparisons between themselves and
"New Agers" or "organized
religion," as if the only possible
thing to do with a transcendent
experience is to assert its
superiority over other people's

The assertion seems to be based on
the ease with which Burning Man
fits into "contemporary
lifestyles." The project of
manufacturing a self using only
recognized brand names for
material (already complete in the
realms of sex, food, clothing, and
art) lacked coverage of religious
experience. Thus, BurningManLand:
spiritual fulfillment as a
three-day weekend, and then back,
refreshed, to Real Life, the only
permanent changes being the
GIF-slides with which one bores
the web-neighbors. And maybe a new


We like your BurningManLand, but
let's admit the fact that,
although Burning Man participants
may be aided in their revelry by
that Range Rover they used to zip
across the arid plane and that
four-day weekend granted them by
their "open-minded" boss-peoples,
we can think of far more
bourgeois, far easier ways to
spend a weekend than taking drugs
in the middle of nowhere. It's
easy enough to scoff while we sit
on our fat asses and drink cheap
red wine for the millionth weekend
in a row. And while just because
something's on the cover of Wired
doesn't mean it's utterly pathetic
and passé, we're willing to
consider that this may be an


Someone writes:

Was lookin' around the HotWired
4.11 issue for a bigger pic of
that story article: The devil, his
white wife and the Blue Woman.

There's something mesmerizing about
looking at Blue; I donno what it
is but there is something about
the expression on her face
combined with the blue nude that
just makes me go Zow!

Any info appreciated,


Uh, we think we know exactly what
about "Blue" makes you go "Zow,"
but it's kind of touching that you
try to pin it on something
ephemeral instead of epidermal.
And speaking of "zowing" - are you
writing from work? It's a good
thing they still put "modesty
shields" on most desks these days,


Ian Wyatt <> from
Cyberscope Magazine writes:

Subject: Advertising/Story

Cyberscope Magazine is a new
monthly internet magazine with the
first issue scheduled for December
1996. In each of the monthly
issues, Cyberscope Magazine will
discuss different internet issues
such as....

Cyberscope Magazine is looking for
advertisers. Since the magazine
will be free for everyone who
wishes to view it, it has been
decided that we will sell
advertisments to cover maintance
costs. Advertising space in the
online publication of Cyberscope
Magazine is available for
$150-$300 for a image banner
linking to your site, or for $400
you can have a full page ad put in
the magazine.

Cyberscope Magazine is also looking
for sponsors. For only $600, your
company could be the sponsor of
Cyberscope Magazine. If you choose
to sponsor Cyberscope Magazine,
you will be the sole sponsor of
the magazine....

We would also be interested in
doing a story on the web
site with advertising.

Please contact me if you would to
discuss advertising rates in
Cyberscope Magazine or for more
information on any of the forms of
advertising avaliable in
Cyberscope Magazine.


Thank you so much for providing us
with so much fascinating
information about Cyberscope
Magazine. To think, we could be
the only sponsor of Cyberscope
Magazine, and get advertising in
Cyberscope Magazine, and there
could be a story in Cyberscope
Magazine on if
chooses to advertise in Cyberscope
Magazine! Oh wait. We already did
that with Wired.

But we've got a better idea for
Cyberscope Magazine. Perhaps
Cyberscope Magazine could be the
only sponsor of For only
$500,000, Cyberscope Magazine
could advertise in and could do a story on
Cyberscope Magazine and all its,
uh, Internet issues and stuff...
Please contact us if you would
like to discuss advertising rates
in or for more
information on any of the forms of
whoring... uh, advertising
available in


Polly Esther

Terry Colon