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shameless pleading





April 10, 1997 Issue


You have probably noticed that this batch of columns, and the last as well, have appeared here a bit later than those of you who wish such things would probably have wished. First, let me offer a hearty mea culpa. Second, let me hasten to add (being a typical American boy) that it’s not my fault. In mid-March I welcomed early signs of Spring by letting my guard down and acquiring a breathtaking specimen of the Flu from Hell. Hardly had my sneezing subsided, several weeks later, than I was called upon to travel to Columbus, Ohio on an vague errand of mercy I myself have yet to fully comprehend (something to do with people claiming to be related to me in some obscure and, if you ask me, implausible fashion). During my sojourn in the Land of Incredibly Bleak Strip Malls (my apologies to all you Central Ohio residents out there, but you really ought to get out as fast as you can, you know), one thought haunted my fevered dreams and dogged my weary steps from the Revco on Morse Road to the Bob Evans on Route 161 — I have to get home to update my web page, I moaned to all who would listen, People are counting on me to lend substance to the Incredibly Bleak Strip Mall known as the Web.

Unfortunately, the only people listening were my purported relatives, who (and I find this really rather interesting) have been trained by a lethal combination of Fox News and Steve Case to instantly associate internet with divorce. My relatives seem to think I run some sort of transvestite chat room.

Anyway, here I am again, tanned (a lie), rested (hahaha) and ready, sortof. By which I mean that these columns are not illustrated because I don’t have the time this time around, but the next batch will be, since I am keenly aware of the importance of funny pictures to the public appreciation of my writing.

Lastly (I promise), a word about you, my loyal readers. I returned from the aforementioned nine-day trip to find 276 e-mail messages in my mailbox, about 75% of which were reader questions. This is wonderful. I feel just like Sally Field at the Oscars. I am even wearing a sequined gown as I write this. But this deluge of what the New Media moguls persist in calling interactivity also causes me considerable anxiety, because I cannot possibly answer all your questions. If you write to me, you will receive an automatic response indicating that your question or comment has been received and will be read. And it will be. That’s the best I can promise until I win Lotto and can hire the steno pool I so desperately deserve. So please don’t send me urgent pleas to settle bets with your boss — if you really need a quick answer, post your question to the alt.usage.english usenet newsgroup, where someone will almost certainly know the answer. You will want to read the AUE FAQ first, of course, a link to which can be found on our main page.

One suggestion, if I may, for those of you who do send me questions and would like to actually see them answered. Your question is most likely to be answered in this space if (a) I haven’t answered it before (check the index, gang), and (b) it consists of more than one word. You’d be amazed at how many people send me e-mail, the entire text of which consists of “Blunderbuss?” or the like. No “Hi, Evan, how’s your cat?”, no “My mother told me that [insert funny story here]”, no nothing. C’mon, folks, be creative. Tell me where you heard the word or phrase, where you think it might have come from, whatever. If you look at the questions I’ve answered so far, you’ll see what I mean.

And if you have sent me more than one question and are getting sick of receiving my autoresponse every time you write, e-mail your questions to me at

And now, away we go….

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