Acme to Coyote: RTFM

Nothing says you can’t have a bit of a laugh on a Monday, right? So here’s something old and something new — and all of it borrowed, too.

Back in 1990, Ian Frazier did a brilliant take for the New Yorker on product liability law suits when he wrote a “claim” in the matter of:

Wile E. Coyote, Plaintiff
Acme Company, Defendant
In The United States District Court, Southwestern District, Tempe, Arizona Case No. B19294, Judge Joan Kujava, Presiding

To give you a sense of the flavour of the claim, the dry unpacking of poor Wile E.’s misfortune, here’s a sample paragraph:

Mr. Coyote states that on December 13th he received of Defendant via parcel post one Acme Rocket Sled. The intention of Mr. Coyote was to use the Rocket Sled to aid him in pursuit of his prey. Upon receipt of the Rocket Sled Mr. Coyote removed it from its wooden shipping crate and, sighting his prey in the distance, activated the ignition. As Mr. Coyote gripped the handlebars, the Rocket Sled accelerated with such sudden and precipitate force as to stretch Mr. Coyote’s forelimbs to a length of fifty feet. Subsequently, the rest of Mr. Coyote’s body shot forward with a violent jolt causing severe strain to his back and neck and placing him unexpectedly astride the Rocket Sled. Disappearing over the horizon at such speed as to leave a diminishing jet trail along its path, the Rocket Sled soon brought Mr. Coyote abreast of his prey. At that moment the animal he was pursuing veered sharply to the right. Mr. Coyote vigorously attempted to follow this maneuver but was unable to, due to poorly designed steering on the Rocket Sled and faulty or nonexistent braking system. Shortly thereafter, the unchecked progress of the Rocket Sled brought it and Mr. Coyote into collision with the side of a mesa.

Now, just in case you don’t know who the parties (and the “prey”) are, here’s one of the Roadrunner cartoons involving Acme — which protects itself this time with a disclaimer.

So much for the borrowed. What’s new? Well over the holidays the large design firm Pentagram produced a gift booklet for its clients that purported to be a modern catalog from Acme, updating and detailing the various devices we’d seen in action in the cartoons. Alas, the booklet doesn’t seem to be generally available, but there are quite a few graphics of pages from it on the Pentagram site, like the one below of the rocket sled, that now features anatomical hand grips and a foot rest, showing that the lawyers have finally gotten through to management.

Click to enlarge (slightly)

Click to enlarge (ever so slightly)

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