|Sept/Oct 1999 Humor/Satire|
If you're like me, you spend a good portion of your time--possibly more than you'd care to admit--enjoying movies and television, and maybe, also like me, you feel a great sense of appreciation and feel indebted to those who selflessly give so much of themselves for no other reason than to entertain you (this is, of course, forgetting for the moment the sometimes indecent amounts of money they make, the presence of which can sometimes call motives into question, but we must always fight the urge to be cynical, mustn't we?). Perhaps you say to yourself, as you sit in a darkened movie theater or at home on your davenport watching the television, you might say, "If only I could talk to (whoever it is you are talking about) and tell him (or her, certainly) how much enjoyment and personal pleasure he (or, again, she) has given me over the years." Perhaps you've even brought pen to paper--perhaps just near paper--only to be dissuaded by the cavernous gap, the immense chasm, the elephantine gulch, the yawning impenetrable abyss that separates you from them. Yes, I thought you might have. That's why I've decided to share with you a small sampling of my own correspondence with the stars of stage and screen. I hope my example may show you that famous celebrities are, deep down (and, again, obscene salaries aside) more like you and me than they are like, say, dogs.
Dear Mr. Newman,
How are you? I hope this holiday season finds you well. I have noticed that you don't have a film project coming to theaters this season. I do hope this isn't because you feel yourself too old to continue to draw younger audiences to the theaters, because I'm not an old man and I enjoy your movies very much. Also, you might look at Sean Connery, who, though I don't think is quite as old as you, is still very old and still has a very loyal following.
Myself, I've been having some weird days lately. Boy you should see me! I'm a mess. The bottom button is missing from my shirt and it's hanging open like a little curtain. Ordinarily, lost buttons don't bother me so much, as when they are the buttons lost on pairs of pants, in which cases you can wear a belt to compensate and also in which the missing button gives a gentlemen like me some much needed room in that particular area of the body. Yet it's just for that reason that the missing button on my shirt is so troubling, since--let's be frank--I tend to run a bit wider in the waist than other places. Now the shirt is falling open just above my belly button, and so the only way to hide the ample waist I mentioned is to wear an undershirt, which even in this cold weather makes me sweat like a constipated horse.
Another thing that wouldn't make it so bad is if I had the extra button that they sew inside the shirts, but that was right below the button I lost, and I guess something must have happened down there specifically because that one's gone too. I can understand losing the one button, because sometimes I fall asleep in my clothes (for reasons we need not explore here) and I'm a restless sleeper, so I can see maybe how if I jerked this way or the other while asleep on the floor I might pull off a button that was buttoned, but how the hell do you pull off a button that isn't buttoned into anything? I mean, what the hell, right? You'd think they'd sew those things on extra tight since they know you're going to need them when you lose one.
Well, it just gets more confusing, I'm afraid, now that I've spent most of my afternoon on all fours crawling around my apartment like a pig looking for those lost buttons. I found one and a half of them. Yes, you read that right. One and a half buttons, or three halves to be more exact. Somehow I cracked both of them. Now how the hell do you do that? They were both around my sofa, which meant that it happened on a night when I was lucky enough to fall asleep there, but still! I don't know that I could crack even an egg with the cushions on the sofa, and even if it was the case that I rolled over on it the wrong way, then a button is still a lot harder to snap than an egg. What I hope didn't happen is that I did something stupid one night this week and don't remember it. It certainly is possible. Most of the days have a way of flowing into each other and when I try to think of what I did one day and there's nothing to distinguish it from another day, then that makes me think that I could have lost one of them in there somewhere and not even be aware of it. Maybe one night I was extra drunk and threw off my shirt and did a little dance on it and broke the buttons. That's not something I'd do normally, but I guess it makes as much sense as anything else. I never thought I was the type of person who'd eat five dead bugs either, but booze can do funny things to a man, as I'm sure you know.
Speaking of booze, I tried that shot you did in The Hustler in a bar in my neighborhood but I fucked it up. I guess you owe me thirty-five dollars. Ha ha ha. Just kidding, but I know you're rich so maybe you could see sending me a little bit, it being that I only did it because I saw you make it look easy. Ha ha, that's a joke too, but it's also the truth.
My love to Joanne.
Dear Ms. Weaver,
Let me first say that I am a tremendous fan of yours and have followed your career with equal amounts of interest and appreciation for quite some time. This, I suspect, is something you hear frequently, perhaps from people you meet on the street or in restaurants, but I should tell you that my opinion is a bit more considered than most, being an artist myself.
Regarding my art, I was hoping I might interest you in a small (13") piece of mine, a small sculpture which I am making available for sale and which just happens to be a replica of the alien creature from your movie of the same name. It is for this reason that I suspect the piece might be particularly appealing to you. It is a simple construction, but it's art is both subtle and profound. It is constructed entirely from household items as might, indeed, be found in your own home. For instance, the head of the creature is a clothespin. This, actually, was the genesis of the piece, this item, and I'm sure if you stop to consider a clothespin you'll notice the remarkable similarity and further consider how marvelous is the artist's perspective on everyday things that he might see this simple object for something so dissimilar--and then you may further consider how natural and inevitable the comparison is and lead yourself to wonder how you might never have noticed it before. Thus is art. I dare say the remainder of the piece is as complete a triumph.
Because of your interest in the piece, I have gone to great lengths to preserve its availability. At my last exhibition, which took place in the VFW hall in my hometown, and which was in the interest of full disclosure more of a "swap meet", I was persistently hounded by what I must classify as the very basest of collectors, a gentlemen of most repulsive odor and temperament, who insisted that this particular object d'art would be most effectively used at a notepad, the spring-loaded mouth of the statue most practically used to hold, say, a grocery list (this, I may add, would be a wonderful additional feature of the piece to the appreciative collector). That this philistine could view a work of art in such a manner as to... well, I need not tell you that I denied him purchase. Do you know what he said as he left my table? I can't recall his exact words, but I feel sure that I said something like, "I'd like to see you make one yourself," or words to that effect. This is something you've no doubt encountered yourself in the commercial sectors of the entertainment industry. You may rest assured that you have a kindred spirit in me.
I am holding the piece on reserve pending a check from you or your delegates in the amount of $14. I can also send you a brief catalog of other available pieces, some of which may also interest you or colleagues of yours in the motion picture industry. Representative drawings accompany each item's description. This I can provide free of charge upon request.
Dear Mr. Pacino,
I am writing to convey my most sincere appreciation for your work in the film Donnie Brasco, which starred you and the most wonderful Johnny Depp, whose address I should like you to send to me if it is available to you.
I should also like to commend you for your performance in another film which I saw most of on television the other night. The title escapes me, but you played a lovably blind curmudgeon, and I feel certain you know what film I'm talking about. The film struck me particularly because of a so-called "blind man" who lives in my neighborhood and whom I see from time to time on the streets, and whose "performance" is, I can safely say, a shade less convincing than yours. He does not wear the dark glasses I found so convincing in your performance, but does carry a cane that he sweeps in front of him in wide arcs, totally unaware of whose shins he might be close to smacking. In fact, he doesn't wear glasses at all, and also in fact, his eyes move about quite ably and seem to watch me every time I pass him on the way home from the liquor store. One time, I even got in his way (though luckily not in the way of his dangerous cane) and do you know what he did? He just frowned and walked around me! Around me! It's my understanding that you spend a great deal of time preparing and researching each role you take, so perhaps you can tell me how someone who is "blind" might be able to walk around something in their way without running right into it. My first instinct was that the man might simply have very bad eyesight, bad enough to need the cane which he so perilously wields. I myself wear contact lenses, without which I might have some degree of trouble out on the streets. But, as I mentioned, this man wore no glasses at all! If he is able to see enough without the aid of glasses--well enough to know to step out of my way--then I should think that not even the most severe prescription could allow him to dispose of that dangerous cane.
To prove my hypothesis, I waited until he had passed me, then picked up a small rock with which I was very lucky to hit him square in the back. When he turned around, I said, "What color is my shirt?" (The color of my shirt being blue). "Huh?" I said, "what color is my shirt?" I was accosted by a trio of neighborhood roughs before I could prove my assertion.
As a representative of the blind community, I'm sure that frauds like this man sicken you as they do me. I wonder if there isn't some agency or bureau to which I might report him. Be assured that if I ever see him on the street corner with a tin cup of pencils, he will not get one cent of my money.
Please inform me of any upcoming projects of yours which I may hope to see. The only theater near me is a second-run movie house which only shows pictures that nobody went to see when they were in the good theaters. I will hope to see your next picture there.
Attn: Tim Allen
This is the seventh letter I've been forced to write you to tell you to get your sorry goddamn ugly face off of my television. YOU ARE NOT FUNNY. You just jump around and make disgusting noises and are not amusing to me in the least. Don't you realize that you are taking away valuable television time from people who are actually entertaining and can actually make people laugh instead of making them want to throw up. I hope you contract some horrible terminal disease that makes you unable to hoot and holler like a lunatic and gets you off of my television so I don't have to watch your idiotic stupid fucking idiot antics. Leprosy, perhaps. DROP DEAD AND GO TO HELL.
Dear Mr. Grisham,
Let me be the first to congratulate you on your latest novel, which I've not yet had the pleasure to read, but which I'm sure will be a wonderful success like all your others. This praise should not be taken lightly as it comes from a fellow wordsmith, though one who is not yet at your esteemed level.
Speaking of my novel, it is called All Systems Go!, and in writing it I have tried to adhere to the exacting demands of prose styling which you have set for all of us who dare to follow you into the marketplace. It is not, I should tell you, in the genre of lawyerly fiction which you excel at, and so I can hope that you will not feel any undue jealously or professional rivalry if I suggest that, when published, it will be a smashing success the likes of which you will be lucky to see in your lifetime.
My novel, which is again entitled All Systems Go!, resides in the genre of science fiction, though I find that label a bit restrictive in conveying the rich flavor of the text I have been fortunate enough to spill into my notebooks. I understand fully the competitive nature of the publishing industry and hope that you will not take advantage of me if I choose to regale you with a few scene descriptions.
The story is loosely based on my own experiences, but I have taken as we say a certain "poetic license" in transcribing these experiences to the year 2060 and the distant planet of Tundarr. The narrative concerns a young man named Austin Texas who is a space cowboy driving a herd of intergalactic cattle across the moons of Tundarr to the distant outpost of Ranch Planet Alpha. In the midst of this astro-cattle drive, he is subject to many common trials and tribulations as you and I might be well familiar (here, by trial, I do not of course mean the sort you are accustomed to). For instance, in one passage, the landlord of his space apartment building comes to his door at three in the morning and begins pounding furiously. When our hero answers this knocking, he is told that his cosmovision set is much too loud and that several of his neighbors are complaining. Austin Texas explains to his landlord that watching a movie is the only way he is able to sleep at night, and it is during this fine speech that the landlord comments upon the pronounced smell of liquor on our hero's breath. Now Austin Texas, I don't have to tell you, is a rough and tumble man of action, and he says to his landlord that if he likes to drink a little whiskey in the privacy of his own home, then that's his right, by thunder. At this point the landlord reminds him that he is several weeks late with his rent payment of 375 galactic dollars and he can be legally thrown out if he continues to disturb the rest of the tenants. Well, Austin Texas doesn't like this one bit, and after he explains that he's waiting until he can drive his herd of astro-cattle to Ranch Planet Alpha, after which he will get his money, then he gives the landlord a poke in the jaw and a fist in the gut and you can believe that that's the end of that.
This should give you a sample of the rich flavor of the whole work.
As a successful man of letters and also a practitioner of legal matters, I can hope that you'll respect the copyright of the story I've just shared with you. My main reason for writing, other than to thank you for the books you've shared with the reading public, is to ask your advice on how I might go about getting All Systems Go! published by a major literary publishing house. As you were once a struggling writer, I think you'll be aware that when one chooses the arts as his vocation, he must often sacrifice other aspects of what others might call a regular life, and so I'm sure you can appreciate the monetary weight riding on this work.
I will be happy to send you the full manuscript so that you may deliver it into the right hands.
Thanks in advance,
Dear Mr. Seinfeld,
I should tell you right off the bat that I was unable to witness what I'm sure was a stirring farewell episode of your wonderful series. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I was forced to pawn my television set for what I assure you was a most inconsiderate and noncommensurate sum. I hope that you and your fellow cast members all have gainful employment lined up, as I am aware how disheartening it can be looking for a job. Ha ha. A joke, of course, as I am well aware of your riches and it is in fact--and sadly--the reason I must write you.
As you are I'm sure aware, the life of an artist is by no means an easy one, and there are many struggles to overcome. I myself have recently been stripped of most of my possessions by an unscrupulous landlord, and am now in the sad position of living again with my parents. This, I believe, is a situation you may have addressed on your program to, I'm sure, very comical ends, but I can tell you on this end that it isn't as funny as one might suspect.
The reason I'm writing is because I've often thought how odd it is that nobody has proteges anymore or apprentices, a tradition that I feel saddened to see vanish. I wonder if you yourself ever benefited from the patronage of another comedian or artist, or whether you've ever given thought to devoting even a small portion of your vast riches to supporting an up-and-comer. If you have, I would like to offer that I myself am in dire need of such help.
I am an artist of the visual arts as well as a writer, and I'm sure that I could learn much under your tutelage. I don't have many possessions, as I've said, and I'm sure I would not even be noticed were I to occupy a room in what is no doubt an expansive mansion that you own.
I can send you writing samples and drawings of my visual arts, but I should hope you can guarantee their return as my funds are strictly limited.
Please give this proposal the most serious consideration and do not dismiss me as a nut which I am not.
Dear Mr. Spielberg,
Due to the unfortunate lack of response from your office, I must rescind my offer of screen rights to All Systems Go! This is unfortunate for both of us, as I'm sure this picture would have been your best ever.
I would appreciate the swift return of my manuscript to the address shown below.
P.S. If this letter finds you, I may still be reached for negotiation.
P.P.S. How precisely does one go about becoming a movie director?