Following the last dip into my mailbag, as well as a Hater Mail installment in the print version of this column, I recieved a flurry of emails (3) asking me if the emails I featured are real. Yes, they are. Also, there are more:
tolerability idex … a world without Calvin and Hobbes; a world with OJ, the Burger King, American Idol…my family can't understand why I never leave the house. I am a combat veteran - I fought and nearly died for this! Spider Solataire, beer for breakfast beats the shit out of Sudoku, Starbucks, and … oh, nevermind.
Dear Robert, Should you ever decide to leave the house, I think you have a promising future as a street performance artist. All you'd need is a folding card table, a Casio Keyboard set to "Rhumba," a microphone that distorts your voice so that it can volley smoothly back and forth between Alvin & The Chipmunks and Barry White, and, of course, your pitch-perfect, crazy, stream-of-consciousness rants about pop culture. Or maybe you could become a kind of "crazy consultant" for movies and tv shows. Any time there's a zany, shut-in character who thinks that pop culture and the kids today are going to hell in a handbasket, you could come in and punch up their lines with your trademark stream-of-consciousness observations. Seriously, people get paid to write crazy–why not you? Anyway, glad you like Tolerability Index. I think.
Dear The Hater, or do you go by Miss Hater in informal email circles? Perhaps you're to the point where you might deserve the title of Dr. Hater - though I hear the only place to get your doctorate in hate is Bob Jones University and that's a bit of a commute from New York. (On a side note - "Undergrad in Hate" would be an awesome/terrible band name.)
Some people apparently conclude I'm a doctor myself because of my email address. But for the record, I'm not actually a doctor. (Well, unofficially I'm a doctor of awesome, but that's not something you go to school for either.) My email address looks that way because my actual name is [redacted]. Some people think it's my alias the first time I tell them that online since it's so generic, but I assure you it's not. Having a name like definitely has its advantages and disadvantages though. Sure, it doesn't make me sound like a unique individual like the name Amelie Gilette (a French debutante?), but I can throw on the cloak of anonymity easily and avoid stalkers (an ex once admitted to me that she tried to stalk me once but gave up because it was too difficult) and when I was in high school there was another [redacted] who somehow got my in-house suspension after a I madly wheeled a friend of mine around in a garbage can in the art room while we threw pieces of glue-coated pieces of tissue paper on to the ceiling….
Anyway, my first question for you is…if I want more success as a writer, should I change my whitebread name to something more exotic? Maybe an action hero name - Jack Steele! Or a 80's hair metal name - D.D. Van Thrash! Or does going by my initials give me enough authoryish gravitas?
Secondly, am I an idiot for trying make it as a writer who refuses to even speak the dreaded word 'screenplay' in Los Angeles? When I explain to wannabe actresses that I'm a writer but don't want to do film, the conversations often ends right there except when I ask them to put more cream in my coffee. Also, no one here is a straight writer. You have to be a writer/actor or writer/director or something with a slash in it (I find myself wishing there was more of the guitarist Slash instead).
So my second question to you is…Do you feel like a cliche being a writer in New York City? Aren't there just hordes of pretentious bespecaled, turtle-neck wearing journalists, writers and socalites in waiting in Manhattan that vaguely resemble either Christopher Hitchens or Tina Fey? Maybe I shouldn't have watched that TBS "Sex and the City" rerun recently and wanted to punch every writer in New York because of it.
Dear Ryan, Oh, are you finished? Sure there isn't some other charming high school anecdote or wannabe stalker you want to tell me about? Did anything of interest happen to you while you were writing this letter? Like maybe typing the name "Slash" brought back memories of sneaking your parents' car out of the garage in middle school, and isn't that crazy? No? Well, then maybe I'll answer your questions. (Feel free to interrupt, though, should something worth sharing strike you): 1. I don't think that a person's name directly affects their success as a writer. You know what does, though? Their ability to get to the point fairly quickly. 2. No, I don't think you're an idiot for living in LA and not wanting to write a screenplay. I do, however, think that you're an idiot for living in LA and constantly attempting to chat up waitresses. They don't like that. Unless you're a producer. 3. I don't feel like a cliché being a writer in New York City. That's silly. But if clichés bother you so much, you probably shouldn't be watching Sex & The City, since it's basically a collection of New York clichés held together by puns and Sarah Jessica Parker's "I'm wondering" face. Hope that helps.
Is it right for a 15-year-old kid to look down on others when they watch shit like Epic Movie and American Idol and listen to shit like Fall Out Boy and Panic at the Disco? (note: I don't think they deserve the exclamation point)
Cause if it isn't I learned it from you.
I hope this gets featured so I can be slightly famous.
Dear Joe, Ah, to be a 15-year-old snob again! (A word of advice, though: if you really want to nurture your snobbishness and help it grow in interesting directions, try to get into an arts high school. I did, and I'm a much more focused snob because of it.) To answer your question, it's definitely right for a teenager to judge his peers based on what they watch and listen to–especially if what they watch is Epic Movie. Isn't that the point of MySpace and Facebook and whatever else you people do? And isn't that what every other 15-year-old is doing? Sometimes you should succumb to peer pressure–not in the case of jumping off a bridge, but definitely in the case of looking down on others because their tastes aren't similar to yours. That's basically the definition of "teenager." Also, I hope you like being "slightly famous." Although, considering your company in this column (a veteran who's a fan of elipses and rants, and a writer who thinks Sex & The City is real), I think it's probably a dubious honor at best. Sorry. (Want to help my mailbag? Send an email to email@example.com)