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The Wiki Man

The Wiki man

A fortnightly column on technology and the web

17 July 2010

12:00 AM

17 July 2010

12:00 AM

To Amy******@************.org: I have a LG microwave that I want to sell for $30. I am aware your ad said whites only, but I am an African American. I sincerely hope that we can put race issues aside and just do business.

From Amy ****** to Me: I am so sorry that you misread my ad. I meant the microwave should be white, because it would match my kitchen.

From Me to Amy ******: Oh, so because I am black, you think that I can’t read… I don’t think I can sell my microwave to a bigot.

Subsequent masters of the art have included William Donaldson (as Henry Root), Ted L. Nancy (American author of Letters from a Nut) and Robert Popper (author, under the name Robin Cooper, of The Timewaster Letters).

I admit this is a polarising type of humour, in that some people — like me — find it inexhaustibly funny, while others are left cold. But, love or hate it, what isn’t in doubt is that email has brought wonderful new possibilities to the epistolary prankster. Two of its best exponents are an Australian, David Thorne, most famous for attempting to settle an overdue account with a drawing of a spider, and the American John Lindsay, whose book Emails from an A**hole is published in Britain in September.

Lindsay’s idea is simple. He takes online advertisements from Craig’s list (as at the top of the letter) and replies under a number of bizarre personas, all of them obnoxious.

To everyone heartily sick of the World Cup, I dedicate this example:

From Me to ************ I have a bunch of old soccer equipment that would be perfect for your daughter. I have soccer balls, nets, cleats, etc.

From ************ to Me: Actually the stuff is for my son because I want to get him started in soccer. I’m in need of a practice net, soccer ball and kid’s size 6 cleats.

From Me to ************ My mistake, I assumed it was for your daughter because it is soccer. If that is the way you want to raise your son, I have some other items you may want to buy for him. I have a pink twirling baton with silver ribbons, and a cheerleader set consisting of two pom-poms, pink cheerleader bloomers, and a toy megaphone… The fact that you are getting your son started in soccer instead of football says a lot about you as a man. Anyway, I need to make room in my garage for my new shotgun and power saw… So do you want the stuff or not? I also have Brokeback Mountain on DVD. I ordered Die Hard, but that was sent to me in error. It sounds like a movie that you and your son would enjoy watching…

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