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March 10, 2009 2:45 PM   Subscribe

John J Marley (Gloria's husband) is Northern Ireland's answer to Lazlo Toth -- writing actual posted mail from his home at Comfydown Cottage, Carryduff, Belfast, to correspond with a variety of corporations and heads-of-state. Whether it's asking Irwin's Bakery to employ his wife Gloria (he's her husband), asking Virgin Atlantic if Gloria could take one of their 747's for a spin, or petitioning Kellogg's for adult-themed cereals, he always (well, almost always) receives an appreciative reply to his polite yet bizarre correspondence. [via cjorgensen; previously]
posted by not_on_display (21 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Always fun, but what I would really like to see is a collection of the Best Of letters that the big companies and name celebrities get from genuine lunatics.

Probably too disturbing. And probably too many copyright issues, but really, it would interesting.
posted by IndigoJones at 2:59 PM on March 10, 2009


Hi!

Henry Root calling!

Here's a pound!
posted by Nick Verstayne at 3:02 PM on March 10, 2009


what I would really like to see is a collection of the Best Of letters that the big companies and name celebrities get from genuine lunatics.

A friend of mine works at the Writers Guild here in Los Angeles, and he said if the guild wouldn't get the shit sued out of them, they could make a mint publishing the crazy letters/scripts/movie ideas that they receive daily from the aforementioned genuine lunatics. HERE IS MY IDEA FOR INDIANA JONES IN SPACE PLEASE PUT ME IN TOUCH WITH STEVEN SPIELBERG IMMEDIATELY I WILL MAKE THIS AVAILABLE TO HIM FOR A LIMITED TIME AT THE PRICE OF FOUR HUNDRED AND SEVENTY TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR REASONS I CAN MAKE CLEAR TO MR. SPIELBERG WHEN HE CONTACTS ME YOU ARE NOT TO INVOLVE GEORGE LUCAS IN THIS PROJECT MR. SPIELBERG MAY CONTACT ME BY CARRIER PIGEON BETWEEN THE HOURS OF NINE AND ELEVEN ONLY PLEASE SEE ATTACHED FOR MY IN-DEPTH PROOF OF THE LUNAR LANDING CONSPIRACY
posted by scody at 3:10 PM on March 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wasn't there a handful of crank letters in one of the Apocalypse Culture antology books by Parfrey? I recall someone complaining about a famous TV newsanchor giving him secret instructions and snooping on him from appliances. My head quickly went from the fun to the sad to the effing creepy level after the first two paragraphs or so, hence perhaps not such a good lulz idea in general, I suspect. Besides the getting sued out of your clothes.
posted by Iosephus at 3:21 PM on March 10, 2009


The Chimpanzees were sleeping when we got there. They’re worse than the Spanish for takings naps. Get their lazy pink arses up and put them back to work. They can sleep at night like everyone else.

This guy's a keeper.
posted by jason's_planet at 4:38 PM on March 10, 2009


Wy am I unsurprised that people in the toaster business have good senses of humor and poor grammar? Good ol' toasties.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:40 PM on March 10, 2009


Here's what he proposes to serve to the Queen of England:


So we are planning to make crown shaped vol au vents filled with beans and condensed mushroom soup, little cocktail sausages, cheese and pickle on sticks and some fish paste sandwiches. To finish we will serve some shortbread in the shape of corgis.
posted by jason's_planet at 4:46 PM on March 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


These are great! Unlike Novello (Toth) these are clearly parody to even the casual reader and quite well done enough to give the people responding quite a chuckle. If you have ever been on the receiving end of a bunch of crank letters you have to appreciate these. Novello leaves just enough on the table to leave the responder wondering, while Marley goes gleefully just over the top. Sweet.
posted by caddis at 5:05 PM on March 10, 2009


Iosephus - Gary Stollman, perhaps?
posted by swell at 5:12 PM on March 10, 2009


Great stuff! I'm gonna pull my copy of The Lazlo Letters off the shelf and reread it now...
posted by Ron Thanagar at 5:25 PM on March 10, 2009


I'm sorry, but Henry Root did this first and did it best.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 7:06 PM on March 10, 2009


Love your link, not_on_display!

USA the best - but also Northern Ireland!!!

Why is there jelly with my egg mcmuffin?

No reply!
posted by Lesser Shrew at 7:38 PM on March 10, 2009


Is not the "crazy letters sent to corporations and other important entities" thing already done to death?
posted by jayder at 8:18 PM on March 10, 2009


swell, I really don't know, that has some of the same vibe and theme, but now I recall this letter was addressed to the anchorman, was much more personal in tone (hence the creepy I guess), and I think it might have been from an institutionalized patient now that I recall the book better. Parfrey presented it in facsimile, and the bizarre typewriter skills of the author just added to the holy-shit-this-stopped-being-funny-two-pages-ago feel, heh. So probably not this other guy Stollman after all.
posted by Iosephus at 9:06 PM on March 10, 2009


My first wife worked at the Bureau of Meteorology in Sydney. They keep a file of letters from nuts which is all types of awesome.

I imagine the constraints on digitising and publishing this stuff are the same as scody enumerates, plus it's a government organisation, so ya ya bad plus. I really wish I'd photocopied some of it, it was wackjob times ten.
posted by Wolof at 11:44 PM on March 10, 2009


Kellogg is a bunch of prudes.....
posted by Mastercheddaar at 6:18 AM on March 11, 2009


Virgin Atlantic seems to have got the spirit of the letters (although they could have thrown in a couple of tickets for Gloria and her husband as "consolation"). Kellogg's...not so much.
posted by Skeptic at 7:28 AM on March 11, 2009


i_am_joe's_spleen, "I'm sorry, but Henry Root did this first and did it best."

That's just not true. You can go back as far as Ben Franklin and Alexander Pope to find spoof letters. There's probably even earlier occurrences, but I am too lazy to cite them yet again. Wikipedia lists Joe Orton writing fictional reviews of his plays to stir up controversy in 1962.

Lazlo Toth was doing it in the 1970s, about 10 years before Root was doing it.

I'll fully admit that I might not be totally accurate with the above, since I used the internet to get my dates, but to give credit to Root as being "first" is inaccurate.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:21 AM on March 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


cjorgenson: damn, you appear to be right. Let's pretend I was being deliberately wrong in the spirit of the hoaxer.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:17 AM on March 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


i_am_joe's_spleen, That's OK. I'm probably defensive about it, since it's one of my hobbies (as mentioned in not_on_display's links). Everyone always wants to say that Lazlo Toth was first. Or Root. I admire both these guys. I'll give Toth credit for having popularized it in North America, and will give Root credit for doing the same in the UK.

I've tried to figure out the first occurrence of hoax letter writing, but it kind of depends on how you define it. Fake letter to the editor? Probably second issue of the first newspaper published. Letters to esteemed individuals? Corporations? Letters written to publish the reply? First published collection of these in book form? I'm betting you'd get different dates for each of these.

And just last night I found another letters site: Guy Petzall.

jayder, "Is not the 'crazy letters sent to corporations and other important entities' thing already done to death?"

Probably. But does this make it not worth doing? Some people like doing it, some like reading the results. I don't get reality shows, since they all seem done to death. I don't get boy bands, or sitcoms, most people's blogs, or thousands of other done to death things, but as long as someone else does there will still be a market. Hell, LOLcats, the bacon meme, and Rick Rolling are still with us. I'm guessing the hoax letter is here to stay.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:11 PM on March 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure that that the Irwin's Bakery letter is a hoax: Gloria's ‘chocolate and goat muffin’....
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 3:20 PM on March 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


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