TUESDAY EDITION OF MAILBAG MONDAY: You wanna give us a hand with this thing? We can't tell if it's a mailbag or somebody stuffed a manatee into a sack.

Let's start opening some of this stuff:

Joe McGann writes: "Re: Your column on literacy. You spelled `cities' incorrectly."

Hmmm. Doesn't sound like a mistake we'd make. We're generally a better speller than that.

Karen Zilly writes, "In your article about literacy, the word `literate' is repeatedly spelled incorrectly, with a double letter `t.' Is this intended as sarcasm? If not, the misspelling is a terrible reflection, especially considering the subject matter."

Bob Farrington writes: "If you think Central Connecticut State University didn't give Long Beach a fair assessment in its literacy study, check out your own spelling of the word `fairing.' Didn't you mean to write `faring'? When publishers fired proofreaders and turned that task over to the mercy of computer `spell-check' programs, grammar, syntax, spelling, punctuation, and virtually everything else went flying out the window. It is to weep."

Joe No Last Name writes: "Here are a few others you got wrong, too: Conneticut??????? Citys? Theres? Your're bucket? Mom'll? Most articles, I'd overlook this, but it's waaaaaaay funnier in the context of this article!!!"

What's wrong with "Mom'll?"

John D. Wilson, our Pendant-In-Chief, writes: "Considering your recent columns on the lack of a sense of humor in some of your readers, it seems risky to try and make a point about the LBC's lack of literacy by purposely misspelling some words in your otherwise delightful remarks. I'm sure some folks just will not see the humor in it."

In fact, we made it deeper into the column before we made an authentic error, as was picked up by author and social commentator Greggory Moore (don't write: it's the correct spelling of his name), who gently notes that in our mention of a store we called Move Books, we might've meant open bookstore. We don't even know how we make a mistake like that. We blame Bush.

Turning to more spiritual matters, our friend Pastor Jerry Lossner of St. Philip's Lutheran Church in Compton, righteously scolds us for making our annual Lenten gaffe:

"If I've told you once I've told you a thousand times the Bible makes it very clear that when you're fasting only God is to know about it. If you tell another person what you're giving up for lent then you've lost your reward from God." Sorry, Pastor.

We were hoping he'd let us go after that, but Lossner continues:

"Also the comment about you giving up ketchup when you were young to show the way you felt about what your savior did for you dying on the cross and giving you new life, that kind of cheapens the Gospel. You should be willing to give up more than a bottle of ketchup."

Here, we have to take issue. Ketchup was a pretty big deal for us when we were little. We would direct the pastor's attention to poet Billy Collins' "The Lanyard" for more on the subject of how a child gives thanks and gratitude.

Also giving us Lenten tips was our friend the anonymous Lakewood High drop-out and dimwit who writes:

"For Lent, I really think you oughta think about giving up writing for 40 days. Now I don't want your family to go without a paycheck, though I can't imagine why the Press-Telegram pays you for that column of yours, but you could use that 40 days to go back and get your GED, then you could tell everyone that you graduated from EVERY high school in Long Beach.

"Anyway," continues the affable Anonymous, "I do enjoy your column, and a few weeks back when you called me dimwitted, I laughed so hard I couldn't pick up the phone for two days. Then I figured you probably didn't even know what the word meant."

Finally, on the matter of us acquiring a cat, Lisa of Norwalk tells the cautionary tale: "When our daughter was little she fed a feral cat one time. She's now 30 and moved away and that feral cat still lives outside. It's not gonna bring you pretty little rat that's dead. It's going to bring you rat head or rat bottom, or a gopher bottom - all kinds of ugly strange things. They eat part of it. It's super gross. You might want to go back to throwing your shoes at it because it's no fun going out on the porch and stepping on something that squishes, so you might want to rethink your feline friend."

Re-thinking now in progress.

tgrobaty@yahoo.com, 562-714-2116 or twitter.com/grobaty