Muck FcSweeney's!

I used to read McSweeney's Lists on a regular basis. While never too consistent, they routinely provided me with an opportunity to stroke my chin and say "That's pretty damn clever"...

Personals From Nonpersons
– Toyota Prius seeks irritating pseudoenvironmentalist for smug attitude and poorly informed dinner-party rant on Middle Eastern oil politics.
– California relocation for "fresh start" seeks disaster-prone individual for postmove loneliness and employment difficulties followed by crippling "sleep all day" depression episode.
– Cringe-inducing racist remark seeks grandfather for slip of the tongue during family get-together.
– Tedious recounting of last night's nonsensical dream seeks potential suitor on first date for obliteration of second-date possibility.
– Surprisingly explicit and seemingly unending movie sex scene seeks family for very uncomfortable viewing moment.

...or to chuckle a bit...

New Anxiety Medications for Coping With Economic Gloom

Norse Spirituals
"If I Had A Mjöllnir"
"Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Skald"
"Faroe's Army Got Drowned"
"Follow The Drinkin' Horn Of Mead"
"Joshua Fit The Battle Of Jötunheimr"
"Sven, Olaf, Sigurd, Snorri, Harald, Ivar, Hagbard, Starkad, Haki, Bovar, Hrolf, Magnus, Haamund, Bersi, Bragi, Heimdall, Hakon, Cnut, Erik, Ingjald, Skjalf, and Mikkel, Row The Boat Ashore"

...or to laugh until I cry and make my office neighbors wonder what the fuck is wrong with me...

Common Illnesses at the Vatican
A bad case of the Antichrists
St. Francis of Alopecia
Immaculate consumption
Ave Malaria

Party Games ForThe Recession
Bobbing for Pride
Seven Minutes in Debtor's Prison
Hot Potato Famine
Spin the Bottle and Then Redeem It for Ten Cents
Stiff as a Board, Light as Your Wallet
Chutes and More Fucking Chutes
Hungry, Hungry Children

Neat, eh? Before long, I started thinking in these kinds of lists, and I eventually grew bold enough to send them a list of my own (they invite such submissions by putting "[Send your list submissions to lists@mcsweeneys.net.]" at the top of the lists page). Here's the first one I sent them:

The Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Imperative Mood: A Complete Chronological List
“Get Up and Jump” (1984)
“Fight Like a Brave” (1987)
“Knock Me Down” (1989)
“Taste the Pain” (1989)
“Show Me Your Soul” (1990)
“Give It Away” (1991)
“Suck My Kiss” (1991)
“Get On Top” (1999)
“Don’t Forget Me” (2002)
“Save the Population” (2003)
“Strip My Mind” (2006)
“Tell Me Baby” (2006)
“Torture Me” (2006)
“Turn It Again” (2006)

Not bad, pretty clever if I do say so my own self, but they turned it down (with a polite e-mail), and I was OK with that. I still think even this list is better than the most recent five they've posted, but no worries. I soon thought of another list, and, after working up the courage to submit again (wussy, I know, but a mild rejection is still a rejection), I sent it to them:

If Snoop Dogg Were Al Pacino
The Godfather
Dogg Day Afternoon
…And Justizzle for Izzle
Stank of a Ho
Tha Insider
(on Cinemax After Dark)

They rejected this list too, which didn't surprise me considering my previous turn-down coupled with this list's relative crudeness, but I have to admit I laughed out loud when I thought of Stank of a Ho. Ah well. I now figured I was just not McSweeney's material and did not know the right people (read: anyone), and I told myself I wasn't going to submit again.

And then, walking across campus one day, I thought of another fake movie title, completely out of the blue: There Won't Be Blood. This too made me laugh out loud, prompting four or five people around me to jerk their heads in my direction. I thought about what I liked in that fake title, and it's the idea of taking an extreme, violent-sounding title and rotating it 180 degrees, so that the promise of splattery action ("in this story, there will be blood") turns into a promise of mildness ("in this story, there won't be blood"). Thus was born the following list, my best and surely last submission to the total douchebags at McSweeney's:

Movies for the Faint of Heart
There Won’t Be Blood
Sprainedback Mountain
12 Irritable Men
Pass Away Softly
Pass Away Softly with Reluctance
The 400 Glancing Blows
Some Like It Warm
Debate at the OK Corral
Lock, Stock, and Two Downy Pillows
Kind of a Country for Old Men
Throne of Platelets
The Gods Must Be a Bit Odd
A Clockwork Lavender
The So-So Train Robbery
Ail, Ail, My Darling
Baked Green Tomatoes
A Few Details About Eve
The Anxious Moment in Needle Park
Stainless Steel Magnolias
Comfortably Outside the Line of Fire
The Infirm
Pacing Bull
The Amityville Startling
The Bourne Request
Fair Will Hunting
Apocalypse Soon
American Depressive
A Man for a Few Seasons
It’s an OK Life

I must tell you that I was nearly certain they would publish this one. It's relatively long, and some of them are obvious (Some Like It Warm, Apocalypse Soon), but I think some of them are not only really funny and clever but also – and this is key – exactly like the type of lists they seem to want. Ail, Ail My Darling? Baked Green Tomatoes? The amount of piss, vinegar, blood, and steely resolve that Kind of a Country for Old Men sucks out of its for-real counterpart? All the romantic drama and sweeping epic-ness that Lusitania doesn't even pretend to promise? Dude, FUCK MCSWEENEY'S!

So even though this rejection was as friendly as the others (their exact reply: "Hi, John - Appreciate your giving us a shot with this one, but I'm afraid we're not going to use it. Best, C***"), I'm pissed about it, immaturely so (as if you couldn't tell), to the extent that I (a) deleted links to them on my website and Facebook profile, and (b) will not provide a direct link to them here, either. That'll show 'the bastards.

I thought about doing a smear piece on them similar to Doug Stanhope's bit on Hertz Rent-a-Car, but I'm neither as funny nor as brave as him, so I bitched out. (I actually typed in here the big punch line from Stanhope's Hertz bit, but as a parent I couldn't bring myself to post something that horrible on the internet, and YouTube doesn't seem to have a clip. You should still check it out, though; it's hilarious.)


  1. McSweeny's loss is our gain, 'cuz those lists are great, and better than a lot of the stuff they're putting up. :) The Vatican-diseases one is about the only one that'd stack up against any of the ones you came up with, if what-makes-me-laugh is a good indicator. They must have some kind of nepotism thing going on there, if they're turning that stuff down.

    The movies-for-the-meek titles reminds me of something I came up with and might post one of these days if I can weed the dreck out of it (it's pretty dreck-heavy)... I came up with brief histories for a bunch of bands that didn't actually exist, and one of them was a band called "Good Company," which was supposed to be a "positive alternative" to Bad Company. I can't remember what songs I came up with for them...

  2. Yeah, dreck or no, I want to see that. :)))Sounds awesome! Also reminds me of an idea I swear I'm going to follow through with one day: rewriting the Blue Oyster Cult classic into "Fear the Reaper," right down to reversing the elliptical guitar and vocal lines so that they're the opposite of what you hear on the original. Must get lawyers first, tho.

  3. We could restart the whole genre of Answer songs like back in the day when rappahs would go back + forth with stupid shit like Roxanne, Roxanne... The Real Roxanne... etc.

    Fear the Reaper, Walking Down Some Other Hill, Stand Up Be Celibate, Ask for It Back Later... Fuckin' Amityville Startling - HAH!