Here at the A.V. Club, we get a lot of random, odd mail asking us to comment on or participate in things, to judge contests, or to put people in touch with celebrities. (The usual format is either "I went to school with someone you just interviewed, and we were pals. I'd like to reconnect. Can you shoot me his/her email/phone number?" or "I have an amateur project I'd like a particular celebrity to participate in, and I know s/he'd love to, if I could just pitch him/her directly…")
But this email, which came in today, is one of the randomest I've ever gotten:
In honor of the upcoming Academy Awards, the National Rolling Association is asking film critics to name their favorite movie scene of rolling down a hill. For example, in "10," Dudley Moore hilariously rolls down a long, steep embankment.
On February 20th, this list will be posted on the National Rolling Association's popular website, The Roller, and sent to media outlets. Your submission will be acknowledged on our site and in all releases.
Founded in 1962 and again in 1977, The National Rolling Association is the governing organization of the extreme sport of rolling down a hill.
If you have any questions or request further information, you may contact me at [email] or [number]. I look forward to your participation.
National Rolling Association
Honestly, I get enough mail like this that I was halfway through writing a response before I actually processed the whole email.
"Founded in 1962 and again in 1977"? "The extreme sport of rolling down a hill"? Shades of Monty Python. The website cited above carries the conceit much, much further, with videos of hill-rolling, biographies of and stories about famous hill-rollers, and so much more, all dedicated to "the sport and lifestyle of rolling." It seems to be an utterly straight-faced spoof along the lines of the Landover Baptist website. Unless, of course, I really am missing out on the hill-rolling craze that's been sweeping the nation since the 1920s. Either way, it's a fun site. I recommend the blog, featuring letters from rollers dealing with a troublesome "walkingcentric" world.
So what the hell, I'm sending them my vote for best hill-rolling scene: The "Princess Bride" sequence where Robin Wright Penn shoves Cary Elwes down a hill, then realizes who he is, and throws herself after him. Due to the rocky terrain, it is in fact something of an extreme sport, though not one that I'm expecting to see in Mountain Dew commercials any time soon. Feel free to nominate your own.
In an Ask The A.V. Club column a couple of months ago, contributor Noel Murray bemoaned that "the golden age of useless fact-gathering is over," because the true obsessives with a great deal of time on their hands were no longer putting all that time into TV-show fan sites which we could then use for research. I guess now we know what those obsessives are spending their time on instead.