JOIN THE CREW / GOODTIMES / PENPALS / (what the heck next?)

ALAS, Maybe it's true...

This page was originally published (in December of 1996!) in order to combat what was then an incredibly annoying and persistent FUD-based paranoia about not reading a certain e-mail message (FUD: Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt). However, with the advent of active web content and web-enabled mail programs, things are not as clear cut as they once were. It used to be that reading a mail message just entailed putting ASCII characters on your screen. With all this extra junk, aren't we getting a little away from the main function of the medium, i.e., communication?

So here is an excerpt from a presentation I made at work, also some years ago, on the topic. Read and weep... I didn't touch on the dangers inherent in ActiveX or Active Desktop or Microsoft Outlook because almost no-one at work used them at that time. If you are concerned about security, join a mailing list such as BugTraq.

Security: is "Good Times" now for real?

Original Response appended below...

Other Urban Legends

For when someone posts a new virus warning to your mailing list... origin unknown but it's great!

  1. Big companies don't do business via chain letter. Bill Gates is not giving you $1000, and Disney is not giving you a free vacation. There is no baby food company issuing class-action checks. You can relax; there is no need to pass it on "just in case it's true"". Furthermore, just because someone said in the message, four generations back, that "we checked it out and it's legit", does not actually make it true.

  2. There is no kidney theft ring in New Orleans. No one is waking up in a bathtub full of ice, even if a friend of a friend swears it happened to their cousin. If you are hellbent on believing the kidney-theft ring stories, please see: And I quote: "The National Kidney Foundation has repeatedly issued requests for actual victims of organ thieves to come forward and tell their stories. To date, none have." That's "none" as in "zero". Not even your friend's cousin.

  3. Neiman Marcus doesn't really sell a $200 cookie recipe. And even if they do, we all have it. And even if you don't, you can get a copy at: Then, if you make the recipe, decide the cookies are that awesome, feel free to pass the recipe on sans the Neiman Marcus story.

  4. We all know all 500 ways to drive your roommates crazy, irritate co-workers and creep out people on an elevator. We also know exactly how many engineers, college students, usenet posters and people from each and every world ethnicity it takes to change a lightbulb.

  5. Even if the latest NASA rocket disaster(s) DID contain plutonium that went to particulate over the eastern seaboard, do you REALLY think this information would reach the public via an AOL chain-letter?

  6. There is no "Good Times" virus. (Well, maybe not but see above) In fact, you should never, ever, ever forward any email containing any virus warning unless you first confirm it at an actual site of an actual company that actually deals with virii. Try:

    And even then, don't forward it. We don't care.

  7. If your CC: list is regularly longer than the actual content of your message, you're probably going to Hell.

  8. If you're using Outlook, Thunderbird, Seamonkey or some other HTML based program to write email, turn off the "HTML encoding". Those of us with non-HTML mail programs won't (or can't) read it, and don't care enough to save the attachment and then view it with a web browser, since you're probably forwarding us a copy of the Neiman Marcus Cookie Recipe anyway.

  9. If you still absolutely MUST forward that 10th-generation message from a friend, at least have the decency to trim the eight miles of headers showing everyone else who's received it over the last 6 months. It sure wouldn't hurt to get rid of all the @#$% that begins each line. Besides, if it has gone around that many times - it's probably already been seen.

  10. Craig Shergold in England is not dying of cancer or anything else at this time and would like everyone to stop sending him their business cards. He apparently is also no longer a "little boy" either.

  11. The American Cancer Society does not get three cents everytime you send someone else that long letter telling us about someone else with cancer. Instead of forwarding that, why not go to the US POST OFFICE and buy a book of special stamps to fight breast cancer. Don't take my word for it, call your post office and find out for yourself.

  12. Chances are if it sounds amazing and too good to be true, and you learned about it in a mass mail via E-MAIL... It's probably not true.

The original response...


Goodtimes will re-write your hard drive. Not only that, but it will scramble any disks that are even close to your computer. It will recalibrate your refrigerator's coolness setting so all your ice cream goes melty. It will demagnetize the strips on all your credit cards, screw up the tracking on your television and use subspace field harmonics to scratch any CD's you try to play.

It will give your ex-girlfriend your new phone number. It will mix Kool-aid into your fishtank. It will drink all your beer and leave its socks out on the coffee table when there's company coming over. It will put a dead kitten in the back pocket of your good suit pants and hide your car keys when you are late for work.

Goodtimes will make you fall in love with a penguin. It will give you nightmares about circus midgets. It will pour sugar in your gas tank and shave off both your eyebrows while dating your girlfriend behind your back and billing the dinner and hotel room to your Discover card.

It will seduce your grandmother. It does not matter if she is dead, such is the power of Goodtimes, it reaches out beyond the grave to sully those things we hold most dear.

It moves your car randomly around parking lots so you can't find it. It will kick your dog. It will leave libidinous messages on your boss's voice mail in your voice! It is insidious and subtle. It is dangerous and terrifying to behold. It is also a rather interesting shade of mauve.

Goodtimes will give you Dutch Elm disease. It will leave the toilet seat up. It will make a batch of Methanphedime in your bathtub and then leave bacon cooking on the stove while it goes out to chase gradeschoolers with your new snowblower.

Listen to me. Goodtimes does not exist.

It cannot do anything to you. But I can. I am sending this message to everyone in the world. Tell your friends, tell your family. If anyone else sends me another E-mail about this fake Goodtimes Virus, I will turn hating them into a religion. I will do things to them that would make a horsehead in your bed look like Easter Sunday brunch.

Received From Stefan Chakerian <> by way of Rod Falanga, December 1996.
Markup by Pat Murphy ( home / work / comments )

For more, read this CIAC Bulletin.