Writing
How to Mail Something
Nancy the Maildog

Nancy the Maildog, courtesy of Kara Vallow

For those of us over the age of 30, mailing a letter is a task as mentally hardwired as dialing a phone or strangling a saber-toothed tiger with our bare hands. We often used to do all three at once. The same isn’t true for those under 20. I’ve on at least three occasions seen bewildered teenagers standing in the post office, envelope in hand, looking as helpless as children left behind at a rest stop. And I’ve heard firsthand accounts of university student workers frantically googling what the hell to do with a vital piece of mail they’ve been tasked to dispatch. This post is a public service for the youth of today. Be not embarrassed, young ones! And fellow elders, criticize not young ones for their ignorance! We shouldn’t expect a teenager today to know how to send mail anymore than we as teenagers should’ve been expected to know how to send a telegram. If you care why I think that, you can read this footnote, 1First of all, remember that digital communication largely supplanted letters and cards before today’s teenagers were born, certainly before they were literate. Now think of what you yourself still use the postal service for. Business documents? Government forms? The occasional bill? Christmas cards? Packages? None of those are things that someone under 20 has reason to deal with. (I don’t think I mailed a bill payment before I turned 18, with the exception of my subscriptions to the Columbia House Record Club and The Uncanny X-Men.) So it’s not at all surprising that a young person would never have mailed something before leaving for college or getting a job. It’s unfair and unrealistic for us to expect them to understand a service they’ve never encountered. I was taught how to use the mail in elementary school, but if I had children today, I’d prefer that lesson time be spent on something more relevant to our time, say how to keep themselves and their personal information safe online. but if you’re dripping panic tears onto an empty envelope, just keep scrolling. 2Note that this guide only applies to sending mail within the United States. International mail requires extra work. If you’d like to send something to another country, I suggest checking with your local post office or the Postal Service’s web site.

Mail something →

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1. First of all, remember that digital communication largely supplanted letters and cards before today’s teenagers were born, certainly before they were literate. Now think of what you yourself still use the postal service for. Business documents? Government forms? The occasional bill? Christmas cards? Packages? None of those are things that someone under 20 has reason to deal with. (I don’t think I mailed a bill payment before I turned 18, with the exception of my subscriptions to the Columbia House Record Club and The Uncanny X-Men.) So it’s not at all surprising that a young person would never have mailed something before leaving for college or getting a job. It’s unfair and unrealistic for us to expect them to understand a service they’ve never encountered. I was taught how to use the mail in elementary school, but if I had children today, I’d prefer that lesson time be spent on something more relevant to our time, say how to keep themselves and their personal information safe online.
2. Note that this guide only applies to sending mail within the United States. International mail requires extra work. If you’d like to send something to another country, I suggest checking with your local post office or the Postal Service’s web site.
NotFoolingAnybody.com Lives!

Hat Creek in Austin, TXOn May 3, 2012 I drove past Michelle’s Donut House on Santa Monica Blvd., a hilariously mangled former Winchells Donut House. I snapped a picture and then lamented on this blog that I couldn’t submit it to the long-lived but defunct Internet chronicle of such beautifully stupid storefront conversions, Not Fooling Anybody. Well, today I can. Not Fooling Anybody lives, and lazy entrepreneurs should not sleep well at night.

I daydreamed in that post about taking over and resurrecting NFA, but it turned out that its founder Liz Clayton had never given up on the site. She just needed a hand to resurrect it after a hacking and guide it into the twentyohteens. So I lent her one, and this week NotFoolingAnybody.com stepped out of its limo onto the red carpet (discreetly covering its personal area) just in time for its tenth anniversary.

The site now features 171 joy-inducingly awful repurposings, captured by an intrepid group of rangers from across North America. A couple of my favorites are below, but I encourage you to improve your day by perusing all 171. Better yet, submit your own. Any of my Milwaukee readers want to grab a shot of Siva Truck Rental and Leasing on W. St. Paul Ave.? It’s the place with the backwards Avis sign.

See some hilarious crap →

Which of You Canadians Wants to Pay Me to Write the Annotated 007?

Well, Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels are now public domain in Canada. We grungy Americans won’t get our hands on them until 2059 and even Fleming’s fellow Brits have to wait until another 20 years, but the laws of the Great White North, along with nationalizing an entire strain of bacon, mandate that books enter the public domain 50 years after the death of the author. It’s been just over that long since 007 creator collapsed and died after dinner at the Royal St George’s Golf Club.

So if you’re an American who wants to spite sentient jalapeño popper Rush Limbaugh, who dimwittedly insists that Idris Elba can’t become the next cinematic 007 — despite being the first choice of Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal and many Bond fans — because Elba is black and the literary Bond is white, now’s your chance to move to Vancouver to write and publish a 007 novel in which James is a towering Anglo-African with a six-song hip-hop EP. 1While I think Elba would make a great Bond, I wonder what Rushtopher would think of my current first choice for the part: Anglo-Indian actor Raza Jaffrey, most recently seen as Pakistani intelligence officer Aasar Khan on Homeland.

More importantly, now’s the chance for a Canadian publisher to hire me to write The Complete Annotated Ian Fleming’s 007. I meet at least the minimum requirements of having read all the books and possessing a valid library card. There’s no belletristic job I’d rather take on, and it seems only fair to throw me a bone since another Jewish TV writer, Anthony Horowitz, not only was selected to write the newest authorized Bond novel but also authored Moriarty, a Sherlock Holmes book sanctioned by the Conan Doyle estate. Since Horowitz now has control of two of my favorite fictional characters, and therefore it’s only a matter of time before he becomes the next showrunner of Doctor Who while writing the Indiana Jones reboot and tongue-kissing the ghost of Anita Ekberg, I don’t feel like I’m asking too much. 2As envious as I am that one writer landed both of those gigs, it’s not unprecedented. John Gardner, who wrote the first post-Fleming 007 novels and actually authored more than the man himself, also wrote three Moriarty novels.

To prove my devotion to this project and enthusiasm for all things north of North Dakota, I’ve compiled a list of hilariously named actual Canadian newspapers:

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1. While I think Elba would make a great Bond, I wonder what Rushtopher would think of my current first choice for the part: Anglo-Indian actor Raza Jaffrey, most recently seen as Pakistani intelligence officer Aasar Khan on Homeland.
2. As envious as I am that one writer landed both of those gigs, it’s not unprecedented. John Gardner, who wrote the first post-Fleming 007 novels and actually authored more than the man himself, also wrote three Moriarty novels.
This is a 1968 Mercedes-Benz 250S

It didn’t work. I fixed it.

 
I’ve only been trying my hand at car repair for a couple of years, and this is the first car that didn’t run that I brought back to life. It involved removing and rebuilding two carburetors more complexly designed than the toilets in the International Space Station, not to mention replacing the fuel pump and fuel line, all without a garage and without really knowing what I was doing. It also involved several tows while the car was comatose in temporary no parking zones instated by the city of Los Angeles, likely just to spite me.

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Stuff I Liked in 2014, pt. 5 – Twitter

Despite all the vitriol I spray towards Twitter, one of the most enjoyable moments of my year was reading through the tweets I retweeted in 2014, chortling uncontrollably. Below are 25 of my favorites. Thank you to everyone who’s been nice to me on Twitter, or who cheered me up when I needed it, or is simply a good human being in an online sea of terrible ones.

22 more tweets →

Stuff I Liked in 2014, pt. 4 – TV

What a terrible year for TV. 1After I posted this, my pal (and very talented editor on Transparent) Cate Haight brutally and rightly reminded me that both the number of good series and their baseline of quality are higher than ever. Which leads me to wonder why my overall 2014 TV sentiment was disappointment. Is it because my usual favorite shows weren’t as good as I wanted them to be? Has the new Golden Age of TV made my expectations unreasonable? Am I a dick? The fall’s batch of new series could be smelled from outer space, especially the comedies. Seemingly every new sitcom consisted of a thirty-something couples acting so hard that they appeared to be trying to communicate with the next town over via flagless semaphore. Nothing shows faith in one’s script like having one’s actors shout their lines while crouching and waving their arms around. Even shows I’ve liked — or loved — in the past weren’t immune to the Crap Plague, so I’ve had to cut my usual list of 20 shows down to 10 11 2UPDATED 12/31/14: I extra-stupidly left off an essential one. that qualified if I looked forward to watching them more than I did deleting them from my DVR.

The Colbert ReportThe Colbert Report (Comedy Central)

For every weekly episode any other show hauled out, Colbert and co. cranked out four that were each four times as funny and n4 as smart. I worry that we’re losing more than we’re gaining by Stephen moving to CBS, but it’s the place the biggest talent in TV deserves to be.

Nine more shows →

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1. After I posted this, my pal (and very talented editor on Transparent) Cate Haight brutally and rightly reminded me that both the number of good series and their baseline of quality are higher than ever. Which leads me to wonder why my overall 2014 TV sentiment was disappointment. Is it because my usual favorite shows weren’t as good as I wanted them to be? Has the new Golden Age of TV made my expectations unreasonable? Am I a dick?
2. UPDATED 12/31/14: I extra-stupidly left off an essential one.
Stuff I Liked in 2014, pt. 3 – Movies

We’re approaching a cashless society, demonstrated by the fact that my cashlessness prevents me from going to the movies. That turned my previous year-end film lists into the pitiful act of me ranking the few movies I’d seen in descending order of shittiness. Not this year! Thanks in part to free screenings, in 2014 I finally saw enough new movies to be able to pick a handful that aren’t shitty at all.

UPDATE! 12/26/14: The day after I wrote this, I saw a movie that’s funny, exciting, beautiful to look at, effortlessly teaches compassion. This one definitely deserves to be added to my list.

 
Big EyesBig Eyes

There’s a strange phenomenon that occurs whenever Tim Burton makes a movie set in the real world. Something about his Timburtoness sets everything just slightly off kilter, so that I feel like I’m watching a movie based on the movie I’m watching. That’s not a good thing for Big Eyes, which at its core is a simple story about marital strife, albeit especially bizarre marital strife between the artist Margaret Keane and her whacked-out pseudo-artist husband Walter Keane. But Big Eyes withstands that witchery, thanks to a funny and moving script by the kings of biopics, Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski, 1Ed Wood, The People vs. Larry Flynt, Man on the Moon and thanks especially to the performances by the everyone involved, most notably Christoph Waltz as Walter, wearing a smile as big and fake as a Tim Burton sandworm.

Three more movies →

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1. Ed Wood, The People vs. Larry Flynt, Man on the Moon