RALPH Goes Commercial?


Subject: Hey

This isn't very good. No. It's actually bad. I mean ... come on.

--- Jack Mann

Hi, Jack:

We'd be happy to publish your letter if you let us know exactly which of our 4000 reviews, readings, or articles you are referring to.

--- Lolita Lark


Subject: Hey

The whole thing.

--- Jack Mann


Subject: I'd like to buy an ad on

I'm interested in buying an ad at

for a company who sells Pet Insurance for dogs and cats.

Unfortunately I don't have a huge budget for this. I was thinking something like $35.

I know you probably don't do this a lot but I'd love to discuss it further if you're interested. Let me know what you think.

--- Ava Melrose
Go to a letter
that, we hope,
should settle the matter forever

Subject: I want to be a porn star



I am a young guy from Ghana and i have always dreamt of becoming a porn star. i HAVE been looking for someone to help me make my dream a reality. I got all the qualities that you might need.

I could also send you some pictures of naked babes so that you can use them for your magazines. But please help me achieve my aim

--- Fiifi Sey

Hi, Fifi:

The thought of you or our editors (or anyone for that matter) offering pictures of what you so gamely call "naked babes" in RALPH does have us spinning --- if not in our graves, then certainly in our rocking chairs.

Thanks for the offer, though. It did quite make us feel sixty again.

By the way: guard these "qualities." Easy come easy go, and all that sort of thing.

And, needless to say, we wish you luck on what you call "your aim." Let us hope it never wavers nor declines.

--- Lolita Lark

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I was wondering if you have read any good fiction by female authors lately. My friends and I started a book club and we are always in need of new titles. I'm looking for something along the lines of "Geek Love." Any recommendations?

--- Jasmime

Hi Jasmine:

The best female author novel that we have read in the last year or so is The Mammy by Brendan O'Carroll (Plume).

A most interesting volume is The Scar of Visibility by Petra Kuppers from Minnesota University Press. It is a description of medical instruments and scars as art. This may or may not be what you refer to as "Geek Love" ... whatever the hell that may be.

In Pro- or Post-Feminist poetry, we have come to be quite fond of Post-Soviet History Unfolds by Eleanor Lerman (Sarabande Books) and Firekeeper: Selected Poems by Pattiann Rogers (Milkweed). There is the noble Monologue of a Dog by Wistiawa Szymborska (Harcourt). She won the Nobel Prize for her writings.

In the memoir department, we were smitten by When All the World Was Young, a Memoir of the 50s by Barbara Holland (Bloomsbury). The best non-fiction of this last year by a woman is Oil on the Brain: Adventures from the Pump to the Pipeline by Lisa Margonelli (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday). And the best recent book about art --- although neither geek nor Greek nor by a woman --- is An Episode in The Life of a Landscape Painter by César Aria (New Directions).

--- Lolita Lark

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Cryptic Letters
Of the Month

Subject: Gravity fed water system I have a gravity fed water system in Vermont for our camp. We have no power and rely on gravity only for our water.

In the spring through the fall the system operates fine. In the winter I have to let the water run so the line from the cistern to the camp does not freeze.

The water comes from a natural spring so running the water does not waste water. However sometimes the line gets air in it which stops the water from running.

I cant seem to break the vacuum in the line now. I can blow air up to the cistern but the water will not run back down anymore. Can you help?

--- Joe Hosford


Subject: Interesting....


Bumped into your website today. Perceived a distinctive anarchist flavor in the articles. Just wondered if we are kindred spirits in the distaste of any form of government. How satisfying it would be to know that we have a mutual distaste for any form of political party/affiliation. Could my assumption be true?

--- "danegeld"

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Dear Danegeld:

You have deconstructed us. We belong to no ideological tendance that could be written down, let alone organized into a party.

But we have a hankering for self-organization, if such a thing is possible, and harbor a soft spot for the CNT-FAI of long ago in Spain. We admit that our freewheeling anarquista ways lead to the occasional chaotic accident --- such as accidentally shooting our own guy Buenaventura Durruti --- but, hey, nobody is perfect. And remember this: we had the best songs.

But tell us about yourself. Does your E-monicker imply that you can be paid enough to refrain from ravaging the monasteries of England?

--- Dr. J. Phage

Subject: Hellfire Damnation


I will probably burn in eternal hellfire for having been inspired to write this by seeing the wax mannequin known as Stephen Hawking being escorted across campus today (this is the first, very rough draft):

The Spontaneous Emissions of Dr. Hawking
    Dr. Hawking, a brilliant astrophysicist, cannot move a single part of his body in the least way. He can however speak with perfect clarity and at normal volume, and the speech has the uncanny property of seeming to be emanating from his closed mouth (his breath coming out and going in via a healed tracheostomy).

    Acquitted with a private grant, he hires a post-doctoral scholar whose specialty is cybernetics and robotic control. The post-doc proceeds to construct an exoskeleton for Dr. Hawking which, via an exquisitely tuned speech analysis and servocontrol system, produces in real-time and in response to Dr. Hawking's speech, all of the bodily motions; down to the smallest flickering of the eyelids, appropriate to the words and inflection of Dr. Hawking.

--- M. Jennings