Scarface and Scalability

By JoCo April 21, 2008

Some of you may already have received emails from someone calling themselves “Scarface.” Yes, it’s true: I have hired an assistant. It’s all a part of my distressing slide into complete disconnectedness from the human race. By 2010 I should be shuffling around some airtight chamber with empty tissue boxes on my feet, slathering my body every hour with hand sanitizer while I look over my shoulder for WHOEVER OR WHATEVER IS MAKING THAT SCRAPING SOUND.

This does not mean that I don’t love you. In fact, I did it BECAUSE I love you. See, there was an enormous pile of unanswered emails, some of which were almost a year old, and it was making me sad. Will I ever write another song (I would ask myself)? Not while I have all these emails to answer! And to be perfectly honest, I was writing enough similar responses that it made sense to start using Text Expander to save time on the stuff I was typing over and over. And then Merlin Mann was all “You mean you’re not using Mail Template?” and so I had to start using that. So you see, the process was already corrupt to some extent (because of Merlin Mann, in case I haven’t made that clear).

Now it sounds like I’m making excuses, and I guess I am. But I will continue to read everything that comes in, and I will attempt to respond personally to as much of it as I can. And just because Scarface is pulling the switch that makes the “thank you” email go out, please don’t think I mean it any less. I just don’t have the time to pull that switch AND write the music anymore. A wonderful problem to have, to be sure, but a problem nonetheless.

I hope the internet can forgive me.


Andrew says

"By 2010 I should be shuffling around some airtight chamber with empty tissue boxes on my feet, slathering my body every hour with hand sanitizer while I look over my shoulder for WHOEVER OR WHATEVER IS MAKING THAT SCRAPING SOUND."

Doesn't this pretty much describe that your day-to-day activities during your stint on the moon?

Gingerlink says

I Forgive You!

Now just to round up the rest of the internet...

Martin K says



Halo says

This is only acceptable if the following criteria is met:

1. Is his appearance quite disturbing?

2. Do we have your assurance that his is, in fact, harmless enough?

3. Does he really have a way of finding pretty things, and bringing them to you?

Super Dave says

You are one of the few great artists who will actually correspond with the fans, so it's really understandable as your fame increases. I think that everyone who's truly a fan will understand. I just may have to do a video on youtube for him teaching him how you respond to E-Mails though. :)

Brie says

We still love you, JoCo!

And yay, only a few days left until the Portland show!

Frederick Heath-Renn says

Is Scarface also responsible for the Evening Standard's headline of "London 'Bionic Eye' World First"?

Patrick M says

Hey Scarface,

Igor here. Patrick's got a long list of things to check out in
his RSS feed reader, but I will add this to it and make sure he takes a look
when he gets a chance. Thanks for posting it!



habitrailgirl says

Any chance he can fix the link to Mail Template, which in fact goes to TextExpander?

Internet QA at your service.

Gle3nn says

I am happy for your having reached this level of success.
Next step plastic surgery and a large purchase of zoo animals.

Molly says

I will not be sated until he signs all his emails with "Say hello to my little friend."

TChem says

As as one of the people who had a nearly-year-old-email, I feel like I should point out that I wasn't thinking I'd get any email back at all, even from an assistant whose name confused me until I read the message (then I laughed my fool head off). So I think it's pretty awesome that you're going as far as to hire an assistant to write back to everyone, when plenty of people would've been deleting all those messages in the first place.

Lex says

Why is Scarface's email not on the contact page? What if I want to contact him directly?

Not that I have any plans for a coup. No sir.

junkdraws says

Freedom/time to make what you are known for and to make it well is what I care about. I'm not interested in receiving "personal comments" from someone who doesn't know me. I was actually wondering how you found enough time to do all that you do and am happy to know you've found a Scarface to deal with some of the menial duties. All I have to say now is, SEDAGIVE?!?!

Tindomiel says

First step towards building your bionically enhanced entourage, I see!

Kaethe says

Hmm... someone bowing to your every whim while you write music to entertain the masses, or we lose your brilliance to the void that is your e-mail account...

I think you made the right choice.

Janet says

Well done, you! You deserve minions. Loads of them.

Dan, ad nauseam says

No problem. Remember, Harry Chapin was inspired to write Flowers are Red by a comment on a report card for his assistant's kid.

Mr Chaim says

Congradulations on your obtaining of a minion.

Also, hurry up and come to new zealand. Alas, we do not have cookies.

We can however promise flightless birds, and possibly cake.

M_pony says

My forgiveness is conditional: you must start churning the tunes out again, my friend. This is tough-love, internet style. We love what you write: please make more of it.
You might not even have time to read this post. In fact, if you -are- reading this, stop right now and go write something. It's what you do; the rest is just noise :)

Lindsay says

JoCo, we forgive you.

But why, oh why have you forsaken Somerville? Boston longs to be soft rocked by you again!

and Brookline grows ever more treacherous...

Rachel says

I will forgive you as long as you promise to come back for another Houston show sometime! :)

Chris Co says

We would like to thank you for your recent purchase of our

Minion v1.0 data manipulation unit

unit, which our records show you took the responsibility for this past month

We would like to take this opportunity to remind you that our Minion unit is human, just like your enemies, and as such it might need such trifles as water or food. Sleep is not necessary, but it has been shown to produce better results in some situations.

Should your unit break due to neglecting these requirements, we cannot be held responsible, nor will a new unit be issued until we have a signed copy of the terms of use agreement.

Should your Minion unit fail in other ways, please see the user manual to see if the warrenty will cover your specific failure. Some failures which are NOT covered by this warrenty include, but are not limited to, electrocution (often referred to as "memory enhancement"), drowning (often referred to as "underwater acquisition"), disembowlment by wolves or other wildlife (though some domesticated animals are covered), and fire damage.

Again, we would like to thank you for your purchase, and we hope that you will choose Undead Industries for your future Minion and domestic hosework needs!

But really, this should be great, JoCo! More time for you to get to what you do best by letting others do what they do best. That sounds like economics at work.

Can't wait to see you in Seattle! Sadly I have to wait for the Sunday show...but it's gonna be worth it.

Kerrin says

It's nice to know as a fan when you send an email that you are reading it, and the response is from you, but ultimately it is more important to the fans that you write new songs and perform for us live (like a performing monkey)

Of course we forgive you, we knew it would happen eventually, your just too famous now.

Jack F says

Sing, Damnit, Sing!
If I want to correspond with musicians that are so unpopular that they've got time to reply, I'll write to Paul and Storm.

JP says

As long as he doesn't try to bring me home to you, I think scarface sounds great. :)

I would seriously question his taste if the did.

No, when I will be sad is when you become so so big that I can't see at places like the Birchmere anymore, and I have to pay like a grand on e-bay just for nose bleed lawn seats somewhere.

Marcy says

When someones tells me he is doing something because he loves me, I'm slightly suspicious that Aperture Science is behind it. Does this not sound suspiciously like a female computer we all know.....where is JoCo? how do we know he actually left the UK? has anyone seen him recently? what proof is there that this "Scarface" person is a minion and hasn't taken over JoCo's mind? Makes me wonder....

Brad O'Farrell says

I agree with Lex. We should all get Scarface to start writing songs for us. You have been PHASED OUT Mr Coulton.

Kev Orng says

As some hardline right-wing talk radio host said to some left-leaning country band this one time: Shut up and sing!
Just kidding, do what you like, I'm still enjoying your existing library, and pretty soon, I'm going to pay for the tracks I haven't paid for yet.

Lex says

"where is JoCo? how do we know he actually left the UK?"
This has nothing at all to do with my totally-not-planned uprising. Nosir.

"I agree with Lex. We should all get Scarface to start writing songs for us. You have been PHASED OUT Mr Coulton."
Viva la revolucion!

Paul and Storm says

Dear Jack F:



Phyz says

@P&S: It's okay, you guys will always be #1 in my heart. Right next to grilled cheese sandwiches and spinny chairs.

Luke M says

Writing songs is a much better use of your time than answering fan mail. Good decision. No offense taken.

Speedy says

I thought Jonathan Coulton was the only person making enjoyable music anymore. Then I went to his concert and seen Paul and Storm. I still don’t know which one is which, but they’re also in the small minority of musicians making music that doesn’t suck, so please no more picking on Paul and Storm.

As for you having someone else responding to your mails, if I was popular enough to be filling seats on other continents, my fan mail would be routed to the trash folder (part of why I’ll never be that popular, I imagine), so you deserve much thanks for providing us a minion to do this.

Andrew Simpson says

After the London gig, you were were there for ages signing stuff and meeting fans (I was in a group with the guy that got you to sign a wine bottle); the fact that you're worried about this being a betrayal of the fan speaks volumes about... stuff.

Anyways, go make music! Dance monkey dance!

Meredith says

As long as you write songs, you're welcome to cut off human contact and shuffle around airtight chambers. Just remember, music will drown out that scraping sound!

Oh, and on occasion, it would be nice if you would leave the chamber to visit Boston. Just a thought.

Christophano says

Yeah, I got a response from Scarface a week or so back (which was nice, I never expected to get any reply back) and after a couple of seconds of confusion I got the joke and let out a blast of laughter that had my elderly neighbours in tears.

The Internet says

Dear Jon,

It had to happen. All good things come to an end; I only hoped it wouldn't be so soon. What we shared was special and new and intimate, but we both knew someday you would outgrow me and leave me behind. It was just part of the bargain. At least I can take solace in the knowledge that in some small way I contributed to your success. I knew you when.

So, go. Go and be well. Famous, adored, fulfilled and free. Though I mourn, you will be forever in my heart.

Please don't forget me.

Love always,
The Internet XOXOXO @}-,-`---

P.S.: Tell Scarface I'm flattered; he's very sweet, but he's just not my type.

Jack F says

Dear Paul & Storm,

Doesn't your response prove my point?

(You guys are the best.)


manstraw says

This is automated response unit D-3942 responding with acceptance confirmation.

rozwarren says

It's fine with this fan. Any fool can write an email but only you can write JoCo songs.

Demetrius says

It would save so much time if JoCo just responded to every e-mail in song form. ...kill 2 birds with one cybernetic arm propelled stone, as it were.

Secundus says


...does this mean you're not going to play a Canadian show?

In all seriousness, it's fine.

jimmy says

Roman V. says

Yes, Paul and Storm are quite responsive, not that that's a bad thing.

I think what they need to do is create an email system that lists a bunch of emails on a page with little reply boxes next to each one. Then you type all your responses at the same time, and click a "Send All" button.

Get working on that, monkeys.

Peter I says

The moon landing was staged.

Batshua says

Are you going to be making half-pony, half-monkey monsters to please us, too?

You know, that line always sounded a little bit more disturbing than I was comfortable with…

CoderBlues says

Well I can say that for certain Scarface has been polite and helpful. He directed me to some valuable information that I had asked for. I was tickled that I even got a response that wasn't an automated email response. I think you did right.