Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Letters, I get letters

Been a helluva day in the ol' snail-mail bag. Our office spam filters are pretty good, and most of the real whack jobs tend to prefer pen and paper (or a Smith-Corona), so opening physical mail can always be a real adventure. Started off today with this bit of Air Mail from Ghana:

Dear Sir/Madam,
I am very, very gratefull and thankful to you - what you have done has wonder me very much and please Ihope you are all well with good condition as we are in Ghana.
It goes on from there to pitch me on sending money for school supplies. What I particularly admire, beyond the spelling and grammar errors, is that apparently I have done a wonderful thing for this person but they don't know my gender. Moving on, I got this type-written postcard with no name or return address:
Dear Mr. Sepinwall: Please stop writing articles that glamorize "Sopranos." All Mafia are terrorists, and should be treated like they are terrorists. Thanks for considering this possibility.

Then, I got an oldie-but-goodie, which was written in all-caps that I'll spare your eyes from:
Dear Alan Sepinwall & Matt Zoller Seitz: I don't know if this problem has been addressed in your column. I like to watch shows like CSI, CSI Miami, NCIS, but I find that some genius has decided to interject "background" music which is so loud, I can't hear what the actors are saying. What a waste! Can anything be done about it? Has anyone else written to you about this?
Only about a million people, ma'am, all of them using almost the exact same phrasing, with the occasional naive use of "can you please use your influence," implying that I can just get Les Moonves on the phone and order him to dial down the score so people can hear David Caruso pretend to emote.

And, finally, the piece de resistance (excerpts only):

Dear Mr. Sepinwall: I recently read in the STAR-LEDGER your article on the SOPRANOS, which I enjoyed. I compliment you on your excellent reporting.

The reason for this letter is the fact that I've recently completed a novel (factually based) about organized crime that takes place in the Belleville/Newark area...

My question to you is do you know of a publisher who might be interested in the book? As you probably are aware, rarely will a publisher accept a book from a prisoner. It appears that you need an "in" just to get an editor to read the material. I've queried a couple of literary agents and their response has been in thenegative, solely because I'm in prison.
I then noted that the return address included the phrase "Lock Bag," and looked up the guy's name in our archives, where I learned that he's a convicted cop killer who's been in prison for decades. I actually gave some thought to writing back to the guy until one of our columnists mentioned that she's been getting increasingly stalker-ish letters from one of her fans, who has gone so far as to mail her print-outs of his web searches for her home address. The moral of the story: it doesn't pay to be nice to people.

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