& Recently . . .

Dear N.Y.T.B.R. Pt. IV by Josh Abraham

That's Not How You Shave a Bear by Geoff Wolinetz

Things I Can't Believe Happened (March 2003) by Harold Middleman

Nunnery vs. Cathouse by Geoff Wolinetz

Dear N.Y.T.B.R. Pt. III by Josh Abraham

Axis of Weasel

Polish Fact

Zloty Exchange Rate:

1 USD = 3.95 PLN
1 Euro = 4.67 PLN

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Mein Milchshake holt alle Jungen zum Yard.
My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard.

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March 30, 2003

Dear N.Y.T.B.R. Pt. IV

The Editor
The New York Times Book Review
229 West 43rd Street
New York, N.Y. 10036

March 30, 2003

Dear N.Y.T.B.R.,

You guys don’t want to acknowledge my book. Fine; I’m passed that. I do think it’s worth your while, however, to consider reporting on the world’s first literary rap act: Metaphorz.

Though we are known to our dozens of downtown, hipster, funky, “with-it,” KBG-going, spoken-word-speaking, mainstream-shunning fans as Dougie C, Brit Nicky, Notorious B.E.E., J-Mac, and Flava Abe, readers of your quaint, old-fashioned Book Review might recognize us from your pages by our proper names: Douglas Coupland, Nick Hornby, Bret Easton Ellis, Jay McInerney, and me, Josh Abraham.

Oh, wait, that’s right: readers will recognize all but that last name, “Josh Abraham,” because you consistently withhold my book from the masses. Well, Metaphorz has received five stars—count ’em, five—from Rolling Stone. Spin called us the rap act of the new millennium.

My Lord! What the hell does it take to earn some “street cred” from The N.Y.T.B.R.? Who the hell do I have to sleep with? What’s it take? Are you guys just snobs or what? I can’t give much more to the literary world than twelve novels, a book of poetry, three Off Off Broadway plays, and a rap supergroup.

Get back to me before my freaking head explodes. Thanks, N.Y.T.B.R.

Shocked and awed,
Joshua Abraham

March 28, 2003

That's Not How You Shave a Bear

God, no, you're doing it all wrong. Give me the can of shaving cream. Why are you so inept? Just give it to me. Look, if we don't get this done soon, the guy is going to come to feed the bear and we're going to get caught. Ow! Don't punch me. You're the one who's screwing this whole thing up. Yeah? You and what army, pal? I'd like to see you try.

Look. Look. This is getting us nowhere. We don't have much time.

O.K., this is gel shaving cream. You have to rub it on in a circular motion in order to get any kind of lather. Will you just shut up and make sure that he's still sleeping? How do I know it's a he? Did you see the humongous bear penis? Oh, you haven't looked at this end. Well, take my word for it. What did I just say about circular motions? Jesus, it's like living with a six-year-old. Wax on. Wax off. Wax on. Wax off. You see?

Yes, like The Karate Kid if that helps you.

Now, where's the razor? What do you mean, you thought I was supposed to bring the razor? You brought the shaving cream, didn't you? Why wouldn't you bring a razor also? It stands to reason that if you bring shaving cream, you would also bring a razor! Sharing responsibilities? Did I not bring the shears to break us into the cage? Did I not pick the lock? Did I not bring all of the tools responsible for those feats? I gave you one simple job and you screwed it up. I'm not yelling at you. I'm just upset. I'm upset because we came in here to shave a bear and now we're not going to be able to do so. You know, you work months and months on a foolproof plan to break into the zoo and shave a bear and then some fool comes along and ruins it.

O.K., come on. I'm sorry. Don't cry. No, stop crying. Come on, you're going to wake up the bear and then we're all going to be in trouble. Do you want to get some ice cream? I'll take you for ice cream and you can get all of the toppings you want. Yes, even the Reese's Pieces. I know you like those. Yes, peanut butter in the middle and a thin chocolatey shell. I know all about the Reese's Pieces.

Look, we can just cover him with shaving cream. That will be funny too. Let's just cover him with shaving cream. Here, take the can. Go on. Spray it all over him. Atta boy. Go on. See? We're still having fun. O.K., cover him with shaving cream. Get some by the ears. The guy who feeds him is going to be here any minute.

O.K., now let's go, the fish tanks are over there.

March 27, 2003

Things I Can't Believe Happened (March 2003)

Headlines I Can't Believe I've Read

Crunch! Giant Cheeto Spurs Online Frenzy
Small Iowa town to put it on display
Friday, March 7, 2003

Monkeys Flee Research Center, Keepers Trying to Lure Them with
Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Mountain Covers Its ‘Nipple’
After Pressure From Skiers and Tourists, Wyo. Mountain Covers Its
ALTA, Wyo. March 13, 2003
ABC News

Cameroon Bans Urine ‘Remedy’
Thursday, 13 March, 2003
BBC News

Latrine deaths over Kenyan cell phone
Friday, 14 March, 2003
BBC News

Millionaire Cough Was ‘Dust Allergy’
Friday, 14 March, 2003
BBC News

Comedian Dick Smothers’ Son Launches Porn Career
Tuesday, Mar 18, 2003
Yahoo! News

It’s Yellow, but Not French
Wednesday, March 19, 2003
The Washington Times

Comments I Can't Believe I've Overheard in My Office

“Oh my God, between the war and my back, it’s been an emotional rollercoaster.”

“Are you just telling me that I’m the tallest of the midgets?”

“If I get another box of pencils as a gift, I’m going to kill somebody.”

“Oh shit, there’s my shoe.”
[Upon finding said shoe in file cabinet.]

“Oh yeah, no one would have watched ‘Friends’ then, that’s when anthrax was on. Personally I found ‘Friends’ more entertaining.”

“But I’ve yet to have charges pressed against me.”

“Well, Allie doesn’t drink liquor.”
“Liquor? I don’t even know her.”

“The Q4 2001 Travel Promotion wasn’t successful.”
“No shit.”

“Well, I’ve got a walk-on-water meeting at 2, and then a turn-water-into-wine meeting at 3, and then I’ll look into it after that.”

“Jennifer, go on the Internet and find out what red means.”

March 25, 2003

Nunnery vs. Cathouse


The Place: Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas
The Date: Saturday, March 29, 2003
The Time: 10:00 p.m.

Featured Matches:

Sister Elizabeth “Lizzie Borden” McGuire
Candy “Striper” Lewis

Sister Lizzie Borden is no stranger to the ring. You’ll all remember her marathon NvC IV match against Wanda the Wanderer that went 12 rounds before Sister Lizzie unfurled her patented “Wimple of Death” and ended the match. She’ll have her hands full with The Candy Striper, who’s no stranger to NvC herself. She won the epic, “Scrtach-O-Rama” match at NvC II that cost Sister Mary “The Freak” Margaret 50 percent of the vision in her left eye. Will Candy be able to stripe Lizzie Borden? Or will Lizzie whack Candy?

Sister “Ave” Maria Raguso
Ginger “Hurricane” Gordon

Ave Maria! She’s coming off a string of successful appearances at NvC, including “The Lancing at Lansing” at NvC V in Lansing, Michigan. Raguso took down Charlotte the Harlot in a wild match that featured Raguso recovering from two takedowns to storm back to victory. Raguso came hard at the Harlot with her vicious “Crucifix,” locking the Harlot into submission. Hurricane is looking to avenge her tag-team partner the Harlot’s loss at NvC V. Will she be able to take out Raguso? Or will Raguso have her singing Ave Maria?

Sister Sarah “The Scare-ah” Wilson
Constance “Connie” Lubbock

Sister Sarah put the scare-ah into NvC VII when she unleashed a brutal pummeling on Donna the Prima Donna, knocking her out in the first round with a new move called, “The Canon-ball”. Connie was just as merciless in her last NvC appearance, taking out Sister Colleen “The Queen” McDonald in less than 90 seconds. The Queen had no chance when Connie busted out her “Bustier.” Can Sister Scare-ah send Connie home crying? Or will Connie turn the tables and put the cream in Scare-ah’s coffee?

Heavyweight Main Event:

Sister Sophia “The Sofa” DiPesto
Kelly “The Bull” Dykeman

The Sofa hasn’t lost yet and no one’s been able to figure out her move, “The Ruler,” least of all Heather “The Weather” Murphy, The Sofa’s latest victim. On the slate for The Sofa tonight is Kelly “The Bull” Dykeman. The Bull has trampled her last 7 opponents and scored a major victory in her NvC début last year at NvC VII, taking out Sister Carmella “The Head” LaTesta. Will The Sofa stand firm or will she become a foldout? Can the Bull charge her way to victory and become the first person to take down The Sofa?

These matches and more, at Nunnery vs. Cathouse VIII: The Reckoning. You don’t want to miss this free-for-all! And guys, anything goes: biting, scratching, kicking, you name it! First 1000 subscribers receive a free, autographed poster of Christine “The Scream” Harvey!

March 23, 2003

Dear N.Y.T.B.R. Pt. III

The Editor
The New York Times Book Review
229 West 43rd Street
New York, N.Y. 10036

March 23, 2003

Dear N.Y.T. Rook Beview,

You want blurbs? I’ll give you blurbs. Behold:

“Abraham displays a Swiftian gift for satire . . .”
– Thomas Pynchon

“Abraham has the sly humor of Bret Easton Ellis and manic surrealism of Thomas Pynchon . . .”
– Tom Wolfe

“Bedazzling… Bewildering… relentlessly McInernian . . .”
– Jay McInerny

“Josh Abraham is a latter-day Mailer . . .”
– Bret Easton Ellis

“A darkly delicious tale . . . Abraham is the new DeLillo”
– Norman Mailer

“[Abraham] is a twisted, mangled, broken-down-put-back-together-again Hunter S. Thompson . . .”
– Don DeLillo

“. . . goddamn it, it’s a goddamned brilliant, bloody, explosive, psychotic masterpiece. I wish I wrote it. Or read it. Back off, man.”
– Hunter S. Thompson

“A daring tour de force [yet again], the kind only Abraham would do with such uncompromising élan.”
– Jonathan Swift

So? You think I merit at least a teeny, tiny paragraph in “New & Noteworthy,” if not a review? Thanks, N.Y.T.B.R.

Most sincerely,
Joshua Abraham

March 20, 2003

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March 16, 2003

Dear N.Y.T.B.R. Pt. II

The Editor
The New York Times Book Review
229 West 43rd Street
New York, N.Y. 10036

March 16, 2003

Dear N.Y. Times Book Review,

What gives? Another week passes and still you ignore my amazing novel, Clams Casino. Look, I can sort of kind of halfway almost understand when I'm glossed over for Tom Clancy's newest potboiler, Operation: Fandango or whatever it’s called. And if Sue Grafton spits out her latest, P is for Poppycock—fine, I understand. Hell, even when I’m passed up for a kids' book like Harry Potter and the Golden Shower, I don't complain.

But jeez, N.Y.T.B.R., look at the crap that's been selected over me this week! Twenty books nobody ever read written by authors nobody ever heard of! I mean, seriously, “ZZ Packer”? I think you're making this stuff up! “Ruth Ozeki”? This phoney hooey does not even sound remotely plausible. For shame, N.Y.T.B.R. Where’s your journalistic integrity, I ask? What are you, the N.Y. Post Book Review? It sure is lookin’ that way, my friends.

So, before you start making stuff up for next week’s exercise in hogwash—“T. Congressman Boyle”? It’s like you’re not even trying!—I ask you to take another look at my bloody brilliant novel, “Clams Casino.” You’ll quickly realize the horrendous oversight you’ve made, and, I trust, you’ll choose to rectify this gross negligence immediately. If you like, you can give me a cover illustration: some cheeky caricature that reveals me to be ironically distinguished, humble, manly, and yet delightfully good-humored. This cover should be in muted half-tones, because Joshua Abraham is not about bright colors. You'll understand when you read my novel, which is dark, very dark. In my review, you may compare the themes of innocence and loss in my past books (also, conveniently, overlooked by you guys), Mohandas, and The Jive Man Whistles. See if you can get Michiko Kakutani to write my review. I like saying that name.

Good day.

Josh Abraham

March 09, 2003

Dear Starbucks

Dear Secretary of Transportation

Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Minetta
400 Seventh St. SW
Washington, D.C. 20590

Dear Secretary Minetta,

I've been meaning to write you a letter for so long. It's really an Honor to correspond with you at all. You are the Secretary of the Department of Transportation. I drive the M5 bus in Manhattan. I wanted to write this letter to let you know that you are the best Secretary of Transportation that I've seen in a long, long time. You are way better than Former Secretaries William Coleman and Jim Hall. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that you are the best Secretary of Transportation since Samuel K. Skinner.

The reason that I write you this letter is simple. You are like a god in my household. I scan the papers each and every day just to see if your name is mentioned in the news at all. It seems as though the nation just doesn't understand you as well as I do. I always abide the laws of transportation as well as I can. I never exceed the posted speed limits. I never transport Class B or C explosives across bridges, through tunnels or across state lines. When I am sailing within U.S. waters, I never illegally operate a casino or take bets on sporting events. When on an airplane, I always fasten my seatbelt according to federal regulations as they have been explained to me in the pre-flight safety lecture, as well as locate the emergency exit. Indeed, I always make sure to test my seat cushion as a flotation device in the sink that is provided in the bathroom. When it doesn't function properly, I notify one of the uniformed crewmembers. When I see that other people are not abiding the laws that you and your department have seen fit to establish, I brutally beat them into submission. My fists are as big as turnbuckles. It is you, Norman Y. Minetta, that has inspired me to be a transportationally law-abiding citizen of these United States.

I wanted to let you know that I am doing all I can to follow the laws of your department. If it's not too much trouble, can you send me an autographed picture? I've saved you a spot over my mantle, between former Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen and former Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala.

Thank you,
Geoffrey Wolinetz

March 08, 2003

Dear New York Times Book Review

In which the novelist manqué J. Abraham mounts an epistolary quest for review.

The following is reprinted, without permission (but also, without rejection, as Y.P.R. did not ask), from The New York Times Book Review's letters page:

The Times welcomes letters from readers. Letters for publication should include the writer's name, address and telephone number. Letters should be addressed to The Editor, The New York Times Book Review, 229 West 43rd Street, New York, N.Y. 10036. The e-mail address is books@nytimes.com. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. We regret that because of the large volume of mail received, we are unable to acknowledge or to return unpublished letters.

Dear N.Y.T.B.R., Pt. I

The Editor
The New York Times Book Review
229 West 43rd Street
New York, N.Y. 10036

March 8, 2003

Dear New York Times Book Review,

Surely you’ve heard of me and my little novel, Clams Casino. The literati are ranting about it. The Borders stock boys are raving about it. The Starbucks laptoperati are ordering twice as many Tazo Chai lattes just thinking about it. George Plimpton called the book “Vonnegutian.” Kurt Vonnegut Jr. called it “Plimptonian.” Jonathan Franzen is appearing on Oprah Winfrey’s show just to endorse it. Ashton Kutcher is learning how to read just so he can read it.

How much more do you need to hear, N.Y.T.B.R.? What’s it take to get a review from you guys?

I mean, seriously, you guys are dropping the ball here. I never complained when you ignored my groundbreaking début, Mi Casa, Su Mama, even though Dave Eggers said it outstaggered, outheartbroke, and outgeniused anything he’d ever read. And my sophomore effort, Pulling a Door Clearly Marked ‘Push’, despite being snatched up for a big-screen treatent by two-time Oscar-nominee Frank Darabont, was completely glossed over by you guys yet I said nary a word.

But Clams is different. We’re talking Great American Novel here, guys! How can you not dignify this earth-shattering, mind-boggling, awe-inspiring, life-giving, 100% cliché-free masterpiece with a simple half-page review? You really dropped the ball on this one. You better get crackin’ before I start winning Pulitzers and Nobel Prizes and new awards they have to invent just to properly bestow upon Clams Casino the honors it deserves.

Josh Abraham

P.S. You need a bribe or something? Just say whose palm needs greasing, I will grease it.

March 05, 2003

Hughes, Brian

Brian Hughes hires and fires security personnel for a living. He assures you it is just as exciting as it sounds. He is however, wild and unpredictable and would make a tremendously tittilating morning show host. He enjoys using words that are spelt with multiple Ts.

March 04, 2003

Dear Dairy Barn

Dairy Barn
Merrick Store
2081 Merrick Road
Merrick, N.Y., 11566

Dear Dairy Barn,

O.K., I love your stores. Every morning, on my way to work on Freeport's famous “Nautical Mile,” I stop just off the road and enter the Freeport store. I'll usually get a 16-ounce cup of coffee with a little skim milk and no sugar. NO SUGAR! On the way home, I'll pop into your Dairy Barn (Merrick) for a dinner of Betzio Pizza and a bottle of Yoo-hoo. I've been doing this every day for 16 years and you people still don't recognize me. That's O.K. I dye my hair a different color every day. It's ecru today.

I'm getting away from my point. Point is: I went into the Freeport store this morning to get my customary purchase and I overheard one of the gentleman behind the counter discussing one of your annual get-togethers. As I understand it, you Dairy Barners periodically have soirées to celebrate the success of your company. Anyway, this Freeportonian gentleman, "Dirk" (if that's his real name), said some pretty nasty things about the people who work at the Merrick store. "Dirk" is new to the Freeport Dairy Barn and I could give a rat's ass about some stupid kid getting his feet wet in the world of Dairy Barn, especially if he's a punk. I'm far more loyal to Jeff, Bill, and Anwar, the Merrick staff. You guys work in my hometown. You are the glue that holds this community together. I'm not afraid to admit it.

Here's what I propose. I have a tire iron and some gasoline in the trunk of my car. The Dairy Barn at 177 Atlantic Avenue closes at 11 p.m. My idea would be to start drinking around 10 p.m. We get good and liquored up. Around midnight, we'll head over to the store and throw a brick through the window in front. We'll tie a note to the brick that says, “Cool it, Dirk. You don't want to know what we can do.” We take a picture of the gasoline and rags in my trunk, sitting next to the tire iron, and tie that to the brick also.

You guys at the Merrick Dairy Barn are hardworking men, supporting families. You don't need this guff from those no-good Freeport punks. I'm willing to help you out. Let me know if you are cool with this. I'm open to suggestions.

Yours truly,
Geoff Wolinetz

P.S. Why don't you guys sell Ring-Dings?

Roeder, Jason

Jason Roeder just bought two kinds of charcoal for a continuing-education drawing class because he's had it with words and hopes to instead spend his time sketching nectarines with convincing, dynamic texture. In his previous, verbal life, his humor writing appeared online at Salon, McSweeney's, Opium Magazine, Fascimilation, Somewhat.org, and Haypenny.

Some Replies to “Where’d Ya Get That Shiner?”

I'm tired of telling the story.
Nothing happened.
It’s just a little bruised.
A couple stitches.
I fainted in my bathroom over the weekend.
I slipped on the ice cleaning off my car.
My scarf tripped me into a garbage bin.
My nephew threw a rock at me.
I tried to climb into the boat without using the ladder.
I was making a bow to go with my arrows.
It was the airbag.
CDs have sharp corners.
Belts are not for swinging around your head like a lasso.
An icicle fell from the roof while I was on my smoke break.
I cut in line at the pizza place.
My mother caught me in bed with my stepfather.
I told my roommate she looked fat.
My horse kicked me.
I touched one of the strippers.
My partner failed to hold the branch back while we walked through the woods.
I was drunk and dancing the twist at a wedding.
I punched myself to get a part in a play.
It was a baseball,
a puck,
a squash racquet,
a Frisbee,
a horseshoe.
Stop looking at me!
It’s fine.
What black eye?

Tabby, Binky

Binky Tabby urges you to go to this blog; The New Yorker has been contacted about the possible earnest advertising of this blog in their magazine; it will cost $3000 or so for a black-and-white stamp-sized ad, but the amusement value will be worth at least $100,000, probably; if you wish to fund this, e-mail Binky Tabby; and here is the URL for the blog: http://journalism.nyu.edu/pubzone/weblogs/tl399/.

Smith, J. D.

J. D. Smith’s work has appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Jest, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and Pleiades, and is forthcoming in Ducts.org. He is a weekly columnist for the Journal newspapers of Maryland and Virginia. His books include the forthcoming collection Settling for Beauty (Cherry Grove Collections), his first collection, The Hypothetical Landscape, and the edited anthology Northern Music: Poems About and Inspired by Glenn Gould. His one-act play Dig was produced by Chicago’s Squaresville Theatre in 2003.

Oliver, Jeffrey

Jeffrey Oliver made a big mistake last night: He fell asleep while his wife was watching the sex scene in Boogie Nights where Marky Mark endlessly pleasures Julianne Moore to orgasm. The scene is very long, and is inter-cut with other dramatic scenes making it seem like the sex goes on for hours. When Jeff woke up this morning his wife looked very serious and spoke to him very seriously: “If you want to turn me on,” she said, “you're going to have to last a lot longer in bed.” Jeffrey Oliver is currently reading the book The Multi-Orgasmic Man by Dr. Mantak Chia. He lives in Glendale, California, and works as a story producer for reality TV.

Bradbury-Carlin, Russell

Russell Bradbury-Carlin has a very bad memory. This is why he writes for Web sites such as Yankee Pot Roast. This way, he can check his bios each morning and remember who he is. So, “Good morning Russell. It’s 7 a.m. and you’re already late for work . . . It’s time to make the doughnuts . . . ha, ha, just kidding. Go back to bed." Russell has written for McSweeney’s, McSweeney’s, Opium Magazine, and Über, among others. (Note: “These are hyperlinked, Russell, so you can remember your accomplishments.”)

Robillard, G. Xavier

G. Xavier Robillard lives with his family in Oregon. For a living, he programs man-eating robots. His work has appeared in a variety of journals, both in print and online. His lifelong goal is to collect every color of guayabera. You can see more of his work at All Day Coffee.

Weinman, Jaime J.

Jaime J. Weinman has too much education and not enough food. His writing on pop-culture arcana has appeared in Salon and in his inevitable blog, Something Old, Nothing New. Agents scream and run when they see Jaime approaching them, but he knows it's just their way of showing they care. Jaime's writing process consists of closing his eyes, praying to Gaia, and letting the jokes flow through his fingers onto the keyboard. But the keyboard d isn't plugged in. Gaia screwed him over again.