We watch... so you don't have to.

TeeVee Mailbag XIV: Stop Us Before We E-Mail Again

We here at TeeVee like to think of our relationship with you -- the countless, faceless dozens who begin each day with a trip to our little Web site just to see what wackiness we have in store today -- as more than just your typical writer-reader soiree. We leave that kind of impersonal, take-a-number-style service to the unfeeling, bourgeois tycoons at MSNBC) or E! Online).

No, what we share with you is a bond, a kinship, a funky kind of Vulcan mind-meld that makes us think of you as more than just readers. We like to think the relationship we share with you is not unlike our own little love affair, with you playing Juliet to our Romeo, Bess to our Porgy, Pamela Anderson to our Tommy Lee.

There's our first couple of dates, when we seem sooooooo cute and clever and witty. "Oh, they're poking fun at Jm J. Bullock," you probably said to yourself. "How adorable."

And later, when we happen to print an article you don't agree with, we have our first quarrel. "Those schmoes made fun of The Nanny," you may have sobbed into your pillow after finishing off that quart of Haagen-Dazs. "But I love The Nanny."

But soon we've kissed and made up and we get to meet your parents and you let us get to second base and... well, you see where we're going with this analogy. The point is, eventually, the two of us reach a point where you accept us for our flaws and quirks and we do the same for you. And that just makes us love each other more.

"Oh, Michaels has written an article where he mentions his ass) again," you might murmur while perusing through the site. "That gets funnier each time he does it."

Ideally that's what happens, anyway. But we have the sinking suspicion that's something amiss between the two of us, that maybe you've been sneaking around and reading other Web sites behind our back. Because if you put any stock in the analogy that our relationship with our readers is not unlike a love affair, then we can't help but feel like we're trapped in joyless, loveless marriage where every little thing we do sets your teeth on edge.

Why our apprehension? Because earlier this month, we made a mistake -- one little mistake in which no one was killed and no animals were harmed -- and you jumped down our throat like a World Wrestling Federation tag team.

And after all we've done for you.

It happened this way. Michaels -- that fellow who writes about his ass a lot -- had finished with another long-winded tedious offering in which he punched Ellen's ticket to the infernal regions. So after spell-checking it and polishing it and fretting over subject-verb agreement, our site administrator Regis hastily posted the article and sent it out to the tens of handfuls of people who subscribe to our mailing list. Then, Regis -- feeling faint since he hadn't eaten all day -- went across town to go enjoy a bowl of soup. Navy bean, we think, but we can't confirm this.

There was only one problem. Regis had screwed the pooch.

It would take a scientist to explain the quarks and analogs and complex mathematical stuff that caused the problem. Suffice it to say, Regis hit one key too many and wound up sending the article to our mailing list on a continuous loop. Every couple of minutes, like clockwork, another version of Michaels' hateful screed would wind up in our readers' mailboxes.

As you can imagine, these folks were none too pleased.

I somehow got [TeeVee] Requiem for Banality article 12 times...I have no idea why...but something you teevee folks might want to know about.
-- Sanj Arora

What's up with sending out twenty copies? Accident? Can you stop it?
-- Jamie Ryan

Oh, would that we could, Jamie. But only Regis really knows about this Web stuff. Mention ASCII and browsers and modem speed to the rest of us, and our eyes sort of glaze over. Regis has offered many times to explain it to us, in case there's ever an emergency and one of us has to fill in for him, but that would cut into our snack time.

So as Regis was enjoying his Navy bean soup, unaware of the disaster unfolding just a few miles away, the rest of stood around, staring helpless at the TeeVee mainframe, impotent as a bunch of lab monkeys. And the frantic e-mail continued to pour in, growing increasingly hostile in tone.

Man, I've gotten about 20 copies of this so far. This is a major drag and I hope someone catches it and stops it soon . . .
-- SharonPerp

I now know that 'Ellen' is a really creatively adrift and banal show. I now know that the McDLT would have worked, only they put the cheese on the wrong damn side. And I now know the plot of the big final 'Seinfeld' episode. All thanks to having received about 50 copies of the last TeeVee missive in my inbox.
-- Jim Graham

I recieved the following email digest item _56_ times.
-- Dave Wilson

This isn't funny. Why was I sent four million copies of it?
-- Robbabe

Now, Robbabe, that's just not fair. Maybe Michaels' article wasn't funny the first 20 or so times, but if you had just stuck with it, by about the 47th reading, it really would have leapt off the page at you. Really. We swear.


Of course, by now, the damage to our tenuous relationship with our readers had already been done.

please remove my name from the email list- thanks
-- Kristina Guillen

This is ludicrous and time consuming. Please remove me from your email list.
-- Wayne DeWald

Hey, Wayne, ludicrous and time consuming our middle names. But your point is well taken.

To prevent something like this from ever happening again, we've instituted a series of rigorous safeguards. First off, Regis is never allowed to leave his computer again. We've chained him to his workstation, and it is there that he will receive meals and sponge baths and conjugal visits from his wife, Dutchie. He will be allowed to leave the room for bathroom breaks, but he must keep the door open at all times.

That should put the kibosh on any e-mail disasters from now on. But even if something happens to Regis -- he passes out or goes mad from sleep deprivation, say -- we have a back-up plan now in place. In the event that multiple versions of the same article are ever sent out to our mailing list again, each Vidiot has been given a passport, false identity papers and an escape route out of town to start a new life in an undisclosed country which has no extradition treaties from the U.S. Tough precautions? Sure. But we're sticklers for perfection.

And so, we can promise with almost godlike certainty, that you will never be plagued with dozens of copies of the same article again. Except for Kristina Guillen and Wayne DeWald. They're getting craploads of e-mail from now on.

Because it's not wise to trifle with our emotions.

This whole e-mail snafu, that had us feeling bad enough. But then reader Ben Barr sauntered up to stick the final dagger in our quivering self-esteem.

Your whole "Six Angry Men: The Vidiots on Commercials" has caused my ire to rise, and believe you me when I tell you that my ire is high enough...

You promised me six angry men. You even listed the six writers who were going to contribute. And, you didn't give it all to me at once. No, you fed it to me one piece at a time, turning each day into a wonderful anticipation. It was like Kwanza and Chuanaka all rolled into one, with a little Thanksgiving thrown in! Today, I open my browser du jour, point it towards www.teevee.org, and await the final installment, like a sweaty, acne-covered boy awaiting his first date. And, I find disappointment. Despair. Disenchantment. In short, I show up to the dance filled with anticipation, and go home with a dull, painful ache in my groin.

Why must you tease?

I will continue to view your site (if only to catch a glimpse of Tori Spelling naked), because you have your hooks into me. I could no more leave you than cut off my right hand.

But, I will never forget.

Mathematically speaking, Ben Barr is right... but that's not the point. A fan of TeeVee -- a true fan -- would have noticed that only five Vidiots weighed on the subject of hateful commercial and then held his tongue.

"Well, those Vidiots certainly have dropped the ball," the true fan would say to himself. "But I'm in such hot, sweaty love with TeeVee because of all the entertainment and joy and mirth and multiple copies of the same article that they give to me, I'll overlook this one, tiny mistake."

But not the flawless Ben Barr. Oh no. He just had to make a federal case out of an honest oversight, publicly ridiculing us for our poor math skills and questionable judgment. He had to strut about like a jealous peacock, making sure to get in a few kicks at our fragile egos on the way.

We're sorry, Ben Barr, but that's just hateful and vile, what you did. When our readers send us e-mail that's rife with errors and misspellings and faulty logic, you don't see us devoting entire articles that hold them up to scorn and jeers, now do you?

Of course we don't. Only jerks would do something like that.

Additional contributions to this article by: Philip Michaels.


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