Penn & Teller    PCC articles by Penn Jillette        Reprinted with permission.

``I'll Bet it's Your Damn Thurman Unit Again!''

by Penn Jillette
"They pelted us with rocks and garbage"
- David Letterman

The past two years we've given you a phony clip-and-save April Fool's ad for a stupid-cheap computer at the bottom of this page to spread around like a hard copy virus (If you save old copies of PC Computing, check out our joke prices from 2 years ago - they've become damn close to fair. On second thought, if you keep old copies of computer magazines, don't bother looking up my old column - it'd be better for you to start right now trying to get out a little more. Even a T.G.I. Fridays would be a step in the right direction. Learn a joke and don't order egg salad.)

Y'all did us proud. You spread the phony ad by hand, fax, xerox and modem. We shut down some phone lines and got some very important people stupid-angry (you, the customers, are always right and I have a day job - we're invincible). We've been there, we've done that twice. We're done.

Here's my humble plan for this April Fools: Let's all work together and try slide a word into our culture. Herb Cain is credited with making up the term "Rock and Roll. "Saturday Night Live" sure has enriched our culture - not! David Letterman, back when he was a little goofier, tried to get a catch phrase into the culture by brute force - "They pelted us with rocks and garbage." He said it a lot and encouraged others to as well. I did my part but it didn't fly.

Computer people coin like motherhubbards. Jarred started saying "virtual reality" and now it means "kinda 3D-ish sort of." Dvorak must have come up with something (I had a mean-spirited Dvorak joke prepared, but at the NewTek party in Topeka, John dealt me a solid and I owe him one -- next time.) "Multi Media" now means "A/V," and "media" is singular. We can't beat any of that, but maybe we can have some fun.

Clearly, our fake word has to have something to do with Uma Thurman. I was at a computer conference and one of you people came up to me and said, "I don't know who Uma Thurman is, but you sure are making her famous." Bless his pocket protector.

Uma Thurman? My first idea was an anagram, but as great a name as Uma Thurman is, all you can really get out of it is "Math Numura" and what good is that? If you put "Uma Thurman" and "Penn Jillette" together (good thinkin') the best you get are "multiple ramjet henna nut," "implement lutheran junta," or "platinum enthral jet menu" - I like those and the latter could almost work for a Mac but they're not right for us. UMA could be Universal Media Access (controller), the chip in a cdrom that handles the digital video transfer, but where's the beef?

How about just: Thurman - a common noun for the part of the computer about which the speaker knows jack but about which the listener knows even less.

"It must be the thurman." "It's your goddamn thurman that's fatutzed." "Ask your office computer geek to give you a new thurman."

Here's the deal: Whenever some computer ignorant person comes to you with a problem you can't solve, tell them "it's the thurman" and send them to someone else. Any time a computer ignorant person comes to you with a computer problem that someone else told them was "the thurman," look at it, shake your head and say, "yup, it's the thurman," and send them to someone else. Use "thurman" for all R.T.F.M. situations.

If we all work on this, we might each get one good laugh out of it. And what else do you want for April Fool's - a new thurman?