The Cookie Mail

Copyright (c) John Leo 1997. All rights reserved.

Last modified December 22, 1998


When I joined the SQL Execution group at Oracle in 1994, Jeff Cohen was bringing cookies (alternating with brownies and occasionally other treats) to work every week. George Lumpkin, in the SQL Optimization group, kept the cookies at his desk and sent mail announcing their arrival. Often he would send out amusing notes derived from some official announcement that had been sent earlier.

In late 1995 George left his group to become a product manager, and I took over distribution of Jeff's cookies as well as writing the announcements. They started out as sorts of parodies of various things I was reading, then there was a period of translations of some Japanese comics (Ranma 1/2 and Urusei Yatsura) that had episodes involving cookies, and then a few random notes. Then, inspired by my discovery of Marie Redonnet, I started writing Cookie Story, which was terminated rather abruptly first by getting too busy at work, and then by Jeff leaving Oracle for Siebel Systems.

At the end of 1997 I too left Oracle, and coincidentally ended up at Siebel as well. Jeff had continued his custom of bringing cookies to work every week and having other people distribute them, but no announcements were ever sent out. I offered to revive the cookie mail a couple times over the next few months, but somehow it never happened.

I had stopped writing fiction for a while, but around September 1998 I started to get in the mood to write something again. Over the past couple years I've become more and more interested in extremely short and dense "minimalist" works, something Redonnet had made me realize was what I enjoyed the most. Although in literature I haven't found any such works recently, I did discover an example of exactly what I was looking for in a most unlikely place: the recurring "Roxbury Guys" sketches on Saturday Night Live! (I should note that the movie appears to remove all good aspects of the original sketches, and looks awful.)

This combined with a few other elements led to me getting interested in writing short summaries of imaginary books, exactly as Jorge Luis Borges describes in the Prologue to Part One of Ficciones. And what better way to connect the stories together than with cookies? Thus the idea for reviving the cookie mail was born. I proposed this to Jeff on September 29, with the plan to revive the Cookie Mail in October.

Early Mail

Date Subject
08/03/95 boule de cookies
08/16/95 a story of love and cookies
08/23/95 a story of cookies and science fiction
08/30/95 Voyage au centre de la cookie
09/06/95 the dark side of cookies (toward the flame)
09/13/95 about cookies this week as usual
09/20/95 Oui, puisque je retrouve un cookie si fidele
10/03/95 La cookie mise a nu
10/11/95 Le cookie qui revient
11/09/95 Hawaii Five-cookie
11/15/95 Yuming Brand cookies
12/06/95 Kurobara cookies (jou)
12/13/95 Kurobara brownies (ge)
12/20/95 Nega give up cookies (jou)
01/03/96 Nega give up cookies (ge)
01/09/96 Take me to the cookie bath with you (jou)
01/17/96 Take me to the brownie bath with you (ge)
02/14/96 A Valentine's Day Cookie Tale
03/06/96 then I'll eat all the cookies (jou)
03/28/96 then I'll eat all the brownies (finale)
04/17/96 A close call at the cookie party (jou)
05/01/96 A close call at the cookie party (ge)
05/08/96 Zorn cookies
05/15/96 greedy cookies
05/22/96 Wowza Cookies
08/07/96 La cookie mise a nu [reprise]
08/21/96 Recollections of the Golden Cookie
08/28/96 Trilingual cookies

Cookie Story

choco chip: chocolate-chip macademia nut cookies
biscotti: extra-crunchy chocolate almond biscotti

Story Date Cookies Sources
1 09/11/96 choco chip Redonnet
2 09/18/96 brownies Robbe-Grillet, Redonnet, Duras
3 09/25/96 choco chip Redonnet
- 10/02/96 brownies (Marie Redonnet's Cookie Story)
4 10/09/96 choco chip Redonnet, Robbe-Grillet
- 10/16/96 brownies (Long Vacation Brownies)
5 10/23/96 biscotti R-G, Long Vacation, Redonnet
6 10/30/96 choco chip (pumpkin coloring) Redonnet
7 03/05/97 hamantaschen Redonnet, music

Cookie Stories

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