More Fun Than Previous Projections Indicated

To: Dr. Carl Wynand <>
From: Dr. Alyssa Stark-Palatine <>
Subject: Progress on Project Bedtime

Carl —

I appreciate the time and effort you put into Project Bedtime. And I know it’s a prestige project; it’s already a big name in the journals, and there’s a lot of Hollywood money behind it. Believe me when I say that I don’t for a minute believe in this program and its goals. I am as dedicated to our efforts in scientifically testing the validity of idiomic expression as anyone involved in the Project.

That said, I’m wondering if we chose the right subject for our initial venture into the tests. We’ve had nothing but problems from day one. Briefly:

-While I appreciate the fact that the Hollywood people are funding the project and need to be given the appropriate level of consideration and participation, there seems to be an unduly large degree of demographic homogeneity at play in the selection of the test group. All of the people in the group, I can’t help notice, are from Beverly Hills or Bel-Air, California, and work in the entertainment industry. My request that a more random selection process be used for the test group was met by the response that the ten subjects had a range of letters in their surnames ranging from 5 to 15.

– Although there was not as much trouble as I had anticipated in arriving at a working definition of ‘fun’, there has been a great deal of debate over what exactly constitutes a entire ‘barrel’ of monkeys. Robert’s suggestion of a giant, environmentally sealed BioBarrel, in which are placed a male and a female from each subgroup of genus pan, seems to me overambitious, but he is the senior research director, and my suggestion that he had let the Hollywood money go to his head was met with scoffing. Kenneth is a graduate student, of course, but he still maintains an undergraduate’s sense of humor, and his suggestion of a Heinz Hot Dog Relish jar with 10 ounces of various pureed monkeys in it was thought to be poorly thought out and in literal bad taste. We eventually settled for a sturdy 19th-century combination rain-barrel/pickle keg in two test states (open and sealed), into which were placed various members of each of 8 tribes of pan troglodyte. But there has still been grousing.

– We have had a lot of difficulty arriving at a consensus on what quality of the experiment defines the ‘fun’ value — that is, is placing the monkeys in the barrel inherently ‘fun’, or is there some aspect of the monkey-barrel combination that triggers a fun-reaction? Naturally, the best way to compensate for error was with the use of placebos. However, my idea that we use an empty barrel with “MONKEY” written on the side with red letters has proved insufficient, and no better ideas have been forthcoming save for Bill’s suggestion of a trash can full of broom handles with Afro wigs on them, which frankly I find both impractical and racially insensitive.

Carl, at this point, I wonder if we shouldn’t just move on to one of the other tests. I’ve got a bunch of the poli-sci undergrads ready to fight City Hall; Bill has done some interesting work in the field of lightning-greasing; and the people in Applied Mathematics are this close to coming up with a practical method of formulating a base-9 time-stitching equation. Let’s show Hollywood what we can do!



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