SpecGram Vol CL, No 1 Contents Letters to the Editor

One Hundred and Fifty Romans, or the French Sky

A Letter from the Managing Editor

You, gentle reader, are gently reading the first issue of the 150th volume of Speculative Grammarian. The release of this issue is a grandly momentous occasion, on par with the first manned trip to the moon, the eradication of smallpox, or the naming of Jerrold N. Fungellio as Carpet World's customer of the month in October 1986.

The rich and varied tale of SpecGram has been related before in these hallowed pages, and faithful readers will know that the history of this great institution stretches back untold centuries. The so-called modern era of SpecGram, the series of one hundred and fifty journal volumes, of which this is the 150th, goes back a mere 137 years.

This numerical peccadillo is best explained by the tradition of numbering as a volume each set of four successive issues, regardless of their chronological spacing. There have been painfully lean times (memories of the recent droughts of the mid nineties and early noughties still sting in many quarters) and times of gluttonous over-abundance (the summer of 1888--during which 58 issues spanning 15 volumes were published by a team of nearly two hundred editors in less than 90 days--is still mentioned in senior editorial staff meetings in hushed, reverent tones, with a sense of mythomagical awe).

It is with great sadness that we must recall on this otherwise celebratory occasion that much of our history has been lost. Tradition tells that the Great Splurge of 1888 actually devalued the printed copies of Speculative Grammarian so much that they became a key component in the resolution of the Pernicious Toilet Paper Paucity of 1889. No issues from that time, from an estimated circulation of 17,000 to 28,000 for each issue that glorious summer, have survived down to us today.

A bizarre series of hurricanes (4), tornadoes (2), volcanic eruptions (6), fires (3 7/16) and landfill mudslides (18) reduced the SpecGram archives to the tattered remains we have today. Two junior editors sacrificed themselves to form a human bridge, allowing the most petite senior editor to enter the editorial offices and escape with a bundle of back issues during the San Diego Landfill Slide of 1899. Even the names of those heros were lost after the SpecGram offices moved to Galveston, Texas for two weeks--during which the great hurricane of 1900 swept almost everything away. The devastation to the off-site archives caused when Krakatau erupted in 1883 and again when Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980 is unspeakable.

Despite the run of seeming bad luck that has dogged SpecGram for the last 120 or so years, the Editorial Board rejects all conspiracy theories--both pessimistic and optimistic, ranging from unfounded claims that the Illuminati are still getting back at us for some alleged actions of the more powerful SpecGram editors in France and Italy at the end of the eighteenth century, to wishful rumors that an air-tight, volcano-proof cache of back issues may one day be found buried in the undersea remains of Krakatau.

There is no conspiracy, and all of our luck is good, for what better time or place in the History of SpecGram to be than here and now? There is none.

Letters to the Editor
SpecGram Vol CL, No 1 Contents