The Halloween Mailbag

Every day, our virtual mailbag is stuffed with thought-provoking questions from our readership. In honor of Halloween, we decided to debut a new feature called The Mailbag.

We’ll explain it before we begin. A mailbag is a sack in which a postal employee holds mail. When applied to the Internet, we’re not talking about a sack at all. We’re simply referring to our inbox, where ELECTRONIC mail collects. If those pieces of e-mail have questions in them, we’ll answer them below.

Let’s get started:

1.  What are you guys dressing up as for Halloween?  — Domonic Johnson from Beaver, PA

John: Hi, Fat Dom! Thanks for kicking off this new feature. As you know, I typically like to dress up as something trendy for Halloween. This year, everyone I know is all about Twitter. So I’m going to dress up as a Hash Tag. It’s pretty simple. First, I put on a purple sweatshirt and purple sweatpants. I then attach two purple pool noodles to my chest and legs with a hot glue gun. Voila: I’m a hashtag. To really sell the costume, I’ll carry around a piece of paper that says “#Hashtags” — this level of detail will really make the costume pop!

Nick: I like to make costumes from things I have lying around the house, so as to not buy things I’ll use once and otherwise waste (for those of you who don’t know, I’m 3/17th Cherokee, so conservation runs in my blood). So this year, I’m dressing up as a popular movie character: The Lone Ranger! I’ll be making a cowboy hat out of a cardboard box, using a dress shirt from work for my top, and then wearing my assless leather chaps to complete the cowboy look.

2.  What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever seen? — Mike Burns from Yankonia, PA

John: In 2007, I visited New York to see the Broadway show Cats with my wife. It was a really delightful trip. We were headed to Penn Station via the Subway when a man jumped in front of the train. It happened right in front of me. I saw his face as the train made contact. It was truly awful. I still have nightmares about it, and I worry that I’ll never be able to shake that image even though I want more than anything to erase it from my mind.

Nick: Saw III.

3. What is your favorite candy to receive while trick or treating? — Hank Zoo from Los Angeles, CA

John: This is a dumb question, and I can’t believe you wasted an e-mail sending it to us. With that said: Tropical Skittles.

Nick: I’m allergic to chocolate, a majority of nuts, nougat, coconut*, red dye number five and whatever Starbursts are made of, so anything that doesn’t feature all of those things is my favorite.

4.  My son and I are carving Jack-O-Lanterns this weekend.  Do you have any ideas for fun designs? — Heather Wright in Albany, NY

John: Well, when it comes to carving pumpkins, I’m all about doing the trendiest and coolest things out there. So why not carve in a # sign or @ symbol to hop on this Twitter craze everyone’s talking about? That will make your son the coolest dude in school.  If your son is a regular ‘ol Picasso, maybe he’ll even want to try and carve the Twitter bird into the pumpkin. If you guys do that, send me some pictures! I’ll add them to my Jack-O-Lantern collection on Flickr.

Nick: Try carving me giving a shit.

5.  What’s the best prank you’ve ever pulled on Mischief Night? — Tony Chapman from Bensalem, PA

John: Great question, Tony. I have almost too many to list. I was a real pranking champ during my youth. Just pulled off some mental stuff. You wouldn’t believe the half of it. If I had to pick my favorite, I must go all the way back to elementary school.  Me and my mates just put one over on the teacher one morning. She came into class and we had every seat in the classroom turned around. Just picture it: we weren’t facing the chalkboard, we were facing the BACK of the room. It was hysterical, and I’ve yet to top it in the 20 years since.

Nick: In 2008, I was downtown with John. We were on a costumed bar crawl and got really tired at one point, so we decided to take the subway. Anyways, as we were waiting on the platform, I faked like I was going to throw John in front of the train. He went white as a ghost. I got him really good.

*Is this technically a nut since it’s cocoNUT?


Chuck Klosterman & Jonathan Franzen Attempt A Google Hangout

Jonathan: Hello? Chuck? Are you there?

Chuck: Hold on.

J: I can hear you but I can’t see you.

C: I think I have to download a plug-in for this to work properly.

J: I see you now! But you’re not moving! Is your computer frozen? Or are you just really still?

C: Sorry, man. My computer froze. Had to restart. Can you see me? I can see you.

J: It says you’re not available to hangout. How can you see me?

C: Oh, wait, is this the old screen? Which screen are you in?

J: Why don’t we reboot our computers at the same time and try again?

C: Okay, rebooting now.

J: Hello? I’m back. Are you?

C: I never left.

J: I didn’t either.

C: Okay, okay, I think it’s working. I can see you. Can you see me?

J: I think that’s you. Did you get a haircut?

C: No. Does it look like I did? I haven’t taken a shower yet this morning. Maybe that’s it.

J: I think you froze again. Hello? Should we just Skype?

C: I’m here. It’s working. I was trying to click on these icons along the side. What are they?

J: Are you on a Mac? That’s your app dock.

C: I’m on a Linux machine, actually.

J: Does that have FaceTime? Should we try that?

C: Hang on a sec, I’ve got FedEx knocking at my door.

J: OK.

Chuck Klosterman has left the Hangout.

J: Chuck, did you mean to do that?

Chuck Klosterman has rejoined the Hangout.

J: Welcome back!

Chuck Klosterman has left the Hangout.

J: This was fun.


The Custody Hearing

Judge McCormick: Have we all returned from lunch? OK, I’ll have the court reporter read off those present and then we’ll resume.

Court Reporter: Present we have Judge McCormick, Mr. Tony Chapman, and Ms. Grace Smallen.

Judge: Where did we leave off before lunch?

Court Reporter: Mr. Chapman and Ms. Smallen had come to an agreement on the custody of their child, Tammy-Lynn.

Judge: OK. That’s obviously the big one. I’d like to commend you both on being able to settle such an important matter so amicably, as well as without representation. Do we have anything else to settle?

Tony Chapman: Yes, your honor. I’d like to petition the court for custody of all of Tammy-Lynn’s social media accounts.

Grace Smallen: No chance in hell, Tony.

Judge: Excuse me, what are the terms of this disagreement?

Smallen: Your honor, my husband is trying to take over the social media accounts we established for my daughter when she was born about 2 years ago.

Chapman: I think I’ve been a much better proprietor of those accounts than my wife.

Smallen: But we agreed that I would have primary custody, Tony. It makes sense that I would then control the accounts. It’s a package deal.

Judge: Surely this is a minor matter in the–

Chapman: You’re a terrible Facebook poster, Grace. And don’t get me started on Twitter.

Judge: Excuse me, excuse me. Please don’t talk over me again, Mr. Chapman.

Chapman: I’m sorry, your honor. I’m just very passionate about this matter.

Judge: This is definitely the issue that you both want to address right now?

Chapman: Yes, your honor.

Smallen: Yes.

Judge: OK. Mr. Chapman, please present your argument for why you wish to control these accounts.

Chapman: Your honor, I’m a prolific user of social media. I have accounts on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare, MySpace, Friendster, Instagram, Vine, Reddit, Buzzfeed, and the IMDB Message Boards. I’m a bit of an Internet whiz, and I’m sure that’s part of the reason I’m here today.

Smallen: It is. He never took his face out of his phone. It’s why I wanted sole custody of Tammy-Lynn.

Chapman: But your honor, I’d argue that these precise deficiencies as a father are what qualify me to be the supervisor of Tammy-Lynn’s social media accounts. Can I present a bit of evidence?

Judge: Um, sure. What do you have?

Chapman: Shall I approach the bench?

Judge: Why don’t you just tell me about it?


Chapman: I have here a printout of the landing page for a YouTube video called “Baby Burps-A-Lot.” Grace, would you agree that the baby in the frame is our child, Tammy-Lynn?

Smallen: Yes.

Judge: Mr. Chapman, this is not an interrogation. Just tell me why this piece of paper is relevant to these proceedings.

Chapman: OK, well, this video is of my daughter Tammy-Lynn. Note that it has 56,000 YouTube views, by far the most either of us have achieved when uploading videos of Tammy-Lynn to YouTube.

Smallen: I’ve never even uploaded a video to YouTube, Tony.

Chapman: Exactly, Grace! How can you be trusted to properly manage our child’s online brand when you can’t even be bothered to visit, the world’s leading internet video site?

Judge: OK, Mr. Chapman, congratulations on your success. Can we move on?

Chapman: May I present another piece of evidence, your honor?

Judge: If you must.

Chapman: May I approach the bench again?

Judge: Mr. Chapman, please just–


Chapman: I have in my hands a packet of material related to Tammy-Lynn’s Twitter account. Her handle there, if you’d like to follow her, is @TammyLynn69.

Judge: What? Why is that–

Smallen: She was born on June 9th, your honor.

Judge: I see.

Chapman: Your honor, Tammy-Lynn had been on Twitter for 7 months when I realized how June 9th could be interpreted by certain sickos. She’d gained 24 followers. I wasn’t about to lose those followers by creating a new account.

Smallen: They’re mostly family and friends and spam accounts, Tony. Nothing would have changed.



Judge: That’s enough. You need to settle down, Mr. Chapman. What else is in this packet of evidence? Who is @ByTheGraceOfGod78?

Chapman: That is my wife’s Twitter account, your honor.

Judge: Why am I looking at a printout of it?

Chapman: Look at the top half of the page, please. Do you mind sharing with the court how many followers my wife has?

Judge: Mr. Chapman, please don’t question like me I’m on the witness stand. That’s incredibly disrespectful.

Chapman: I’m sorry, sir. But do you see the number?

Judge: I do.

Chapman: Would you mind saying it out loud?

Judge: Do I need to repeat myself?

Chapman: Doesn’t the court reporter need to hear it?

Court Reporter: It would be good to have for the record, your honor.

Judge: Fine. Three.

Chapman: I’m not sure if the Judge uses Twitter, but if he doesn’t, I’ll note for the court that three followers is pathetic. Absolutely pathetic.

Smallen: You made me sign up, Tony! I never wanted to use it in the first place!

Chapman: Exactly, Grace! You keep falling right into my traps. How can you be expected to manage Tammy-Lynn’s Twitter account when you yourself ignore your own Twitter account?

Judge: Excuse me, but can I just ask why there’s an argument over this matter if one of you cares deeply for the accounts and the other doesn’t?

Smallen: Your honor, I don’t think it’s necessary for the world to know when my daughter takes a step, or when she says her first word, or when she passes gas, or when–



Judge: Enough, Mr. Chapman. Please excuse yourself from my courtroom while I talk with Ms. Smallen.

Chapman: But Judge, I–

Judge: Did I stutter? Please leave.


Judge: NOW! I’ll have the bailiff carry you out if you come any further.


Judge: Ms. Smallen, I am very sensitive to the tricky nature of arguments between divorcing couples. But is there any reason we simply can’t placate this man and give him the accounts? He’s clearly invested in them.


Judge: Ms. Smallen, please. Turn off your phone in my courtroom.

Smallen: May I approach the bench, sir?


Smallen: That sound you just heard was my phone alerting me to a new tweet.


Smallen: Can you please read for the court what it says?

Judge: Ms. Smallen, don’t treat me like your husband did.

Court Reporter: I’m sorry to interrupt, sir, but I do need to take everything down.

Judge: OK. OK. It says: “This judge is a major douchebag.”

Smallen: And what account is that tweeted from?

Judge: @TammyLynn69.