Bungie Webmaster Poetry Slam and Hootenanny!

It is June 2000.

It is the seventh last month of the 20th century.

According the Bungie Webmaster, and I quote   "...the single most shameful instance of heartbreaking tragedy in the 20th century..."   has just occurred.

For four long years the Bungie Webmaster has exerted his reign of terror over Bungie fans. But now a far greater terror casts its dark shadow across Bungieland.

To divert attention from his impending demise he announces the Bungie Webmaster Poetry Slam and Hootenanny! in August 2000.

He writes:

It's been a couple years since my last attempt to host a contest, and the memory of the resulting debacle has faded to the point where I no longer wake up screaming. So this sounds like as good a time as any to initiate...

the First And Most Likely Last Bungie Webmaster Poetry Slam and Hootenanny!

Here are the rules:

  1. Unlike the last contest, anyone who does not follow the rules will be immediately disqualified, unless your violation of the rules is so ridiculously stooge-like that it becomes humorous, in which case you will win a verbal ass-whipping on the Letters to the Webmaster page. [Prize generously donated by me.]

  2. All songs/poems must celebrate one of the following lyrical themes

    • celebrations of/attacks upon the Bungie Webmaster
    • an interpretation of letters and/or responses from this page
    • surreal explorations of a distinctly Bungie-related theme (the number 7, Soffish, etc.)

  3. Entries must be funny or at least witty. As always, I will be the ultimate arbiter of what constitutes humor and wit. You have been warned.

  4. Song parody is a vulgar art form best left to professionals like third-rate comics and "Weird Al" Yankovic. Do something original for once in your life. Any submissions which are recognizable parodies of popular songs will be disqualified within ten seconds unless they are really funny. [By "really funny" I mean something that makes me laugh so hard I forget to hunt you down and hurt you for breaking this cardinal rule.]

  5. Songs may be any length, any style, and performed on whatever instruments you like. Bonus points given for musicianship, songwriting acumen, and sheer gall. ["Sheer gall" in this case might be exemplified by an entry from a full gospel choir or ex-Beatle. I know you're out there, Ringo.]

  6. Poems may take any form, including the haiku so beloved by Bungie fans, though forays into iambic pentameter or extended free verse would be a welcome change of pace. Textual submissions should be sent in plain text or Microsoft Word format. Recorded readings or dramatizations of poems are also acceptable.

  7. Send submissions in electronic format (MP3 is probably best but other formats are okay if you clear it first) to songcontest@bungie.com.

    Poem submissions may be mailed to the above address or emailed directly to webmaster@bungie.com. If you wish your email to be filed in my "Contest Entries" folder instead of my "Incomprehensible Babblings of Crack Babies" folder, please put the words "Contest Entry" in the subject line of your email.

  8. Submissions will be judged by me. "Oh, the humanity!" you cry.

  9. All entries become the property of Bungie Studios for use in whatever way we see fit. This will most likely be limited to broadcast on this site, so spare me the histrionics. If we end up using it in a TV commercial I'm sure we'll do something nice for you.

  10. The deadline for this contest is September 30, 2000. Winners will be picked during the subsequent two weeks and announced on an Edition of the Letters page sometime in the appropriately spooky month of October. Prizes will be determined by what we've got or are able to easily procure. Apparently Moo & Oink has not opened its Seattle branch yet, so I'll have to come up with something else.

October 2000 comes and goes.

It isn't until November 17, 2000 that the winners are announced. The Webmaster writes:

Well, I guess that's it for this edition of Letters to the Webmaster. Nothing else to discuss... except perhaps


There were many entries in the Poetry category (much to my chagrin) but only two in the music category. The anxiously-anticipated recording of Ringo Starr and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing "The Webmaster Stomp" failed to materialize. I kept extending the deadline but it never showed up. Thanks for nothing, Ringo. "The friendly Beatle" my ass.

Anyway, let's get the songs out of the way, shall we? They were the toughest to decide.

First prize (one boxed copy of Oni on his platform of choice, autographed by the development team) goes to Carsten Hoefer for his song "Traitor". With it's repeated use of Doug Zartman's girlish scream and a vocal track entirely in German, this charming ditty stole my heart. Carsten says "The story's about a guy who after an alien invasion feels called upon by some higher entity to save the world. A typical alpha male, he promptly grabs his guns and sets out to liberate his fellow humans. But as he's just about to accomplish this noble task, some spray bullets of his hit some unsuspecting bystanders. Fickle humanity turns against him and the guy gets killed in the end. Alien victory is ensured." If that's not the feel-good hit of the year, what is?

Coming in a very close second, and thus winning Second Prize (one free CD of Metal Machine Music by Lou Reed - an hour-long burst of grating feedback which is one of the Bungie Webmaster's Desert Island Discs - and one "Early Times" CD by ex-Bungie soul man David Joost's band The Wild Hell Dogs) is Chris Pruett with his tender ballad "That Bastard". Perhaps the first song to celebrate my brilliant achievements in webmastery, "That Bastard" moves with the slow, malicious atmosphere that characterizes Letters page updates. The insulting lyrics are the icing on the cake, and frankly, if Chris sang this one in German he'd have walked away with first prize.

Now we come to the poetry, perhaps the most justly maligned art form. These entries will do nothing to change that.

First prize (one boxed copy of Oni on his platform of choice, autographed by the development team) goes to Andrew Champion's "Ode to the Bungie Webmaster." Andrew's poem manages to rhyme, even in 1337-speak, and conveys something of the grandeur and majesty in my day-to-day life. Yes, it really is that bad.

Ode to the Bungie Webmaster

Where darkened halls a campus form,
While Bill his porn browsing does perform,
Types a webmaster, unlike norm,
For he is The Bungie Webmaster (tm), his fingers in storm.

"w3bm4st3r: halo wil sux" reads the first line;
Reply: "You confused NSync.com's URL with mine."
So he upon the AOLer's ignorance does dine
With a liberal dose of sarcasm as wine.

But could the next demand be worse still?
"k1|| b1||, 0r 1 w1|| |_|z3 [V]y |-|@x0r sk1||!"
In this response he seeks no great thrill,
"Weren't you my Turkish cellmate, Will?"

So on through tedious mail does he tread,
Yet so brave is he "You've got mail!" brings no dread,
For he crushes all with fingers of lead;
No thought of mercy rest in his head.

And this poem will he regard a bore
To be filed away in /dev/null with more,
But always I can hear his triumphant voice roar:

Second prize (one copy of Poetry for Dummies - to be published in January) goes to Dylan Consla for "An Elegy for PID." Dylan went out on a metric limb with this one: "Remember how you said you'd like a change of pace, such as iambic pentameter or free verse? Well, I decided to take that one step further and use the meter of Latin love elegy: alternating dactylic hexameter and pentameter lines (the pentameter is split into two two-and-a-half foot sections). It even has the correct pattern of Dactyls and spondees as feet.... using the Latin scansion rules on English words, so of course it doesn't really work." Well Dylan, now you see what happens when you break the rules.

An Elegy to PID
I wish I had a Macintosh for I would like to test PID,
But I, poor fool bought, not knowing tru7h before me,
windows. Now windows is sufficient for many good games,
But I think of PID, and hate it till closure comes.

Third and final prize goes to Nicholas Yu for an untitled Haiku. He sent in several, but this is the best of the bunch - which really says something. We certainly hope he enjoys his Third Prize: a roll of toilet paper featuring the text of his poem.

I face ridicule
From the Bungie Webmaster.
Please get off my mom.

All you winners, be sure to send me an email at webmaster@bungie.com so we can work out the details of sending out your prizes.

But the story doesn't end here...

Some enraged fans claimed that the competition was rigged. Only a German speaker could know what the lyrics of "Traitor" meant.

Was the Bungie Webmaster... a German?

Was the song designed to pander to the Webmaster's Germanic origins?

Who was the Bungie Webmaster?

And then the tru7h came out...

A little known bio of one Bungie employee revealed:

The last name is spelled "Soell" and pronounced SELL. It's a silent "O." You would be surprised how many people have trouble learning and understanding this. Once I ordered a pizza and it arrived with the word "SOIL" scrawled on the side of the box. Maybe I should move to Germany; they'd at least get my last name right.

My mother is Polish; my father is of Bavarian descent.

I leave the last words to the Bungie Webmaster:


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