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Are you there Santa? It’s me, McSweeny’s

December 17, 2009

McSweeny’s Internet Tendency knows how to come up with good prompts for writers, even if their writing is only mediocre.  For example, the recent subject “Letters to Santa by Shakespeare Characters” is brilliant, and has a gem or two here or there, but it doesn’t exactly live up to its potential. E.g.,

Dear Santa:

How does my lord? I am fine. I believe ’tis possible you did not receive my wish list last year, or that it fell into unsavory hands and was rudely tampered with before reaching you, as all you brought me was a chastity belt and some granny underpants. I pray that this one flies to you untainted since this year hath really sucked. I wish for the following:

He’s Just Not That Into You (book and DVD)

— “All About Me” Lock and Key Diary

National Geographic Flower and Leaf Pressing Kit

— Coastal Deluxe Automatic Inflatable Life Vest

Fingers crossed,
Ophelia

McSweeny’s is one of my favorite online publications precisely because they have the brilliance to come up with brilliant topics like that, but the sometimes half-assed execution makes me wonder how often a given article is worth reading.  I imagine that most writers experience similar failures to meet the fullest potential offered by a given topic, especially with the artifice of a deadline to meet (so get off my back for not updating in a couple days, ok?).

To go off on a minor tangent, Copyright law is premised on an idea/expression dichotomy whereby ideas themselves are not protected, but the particular expression may be.  In that spirit, starting now, I’m instituting an official policy on this blog that anyone is encouraged to parody or emulate whatever they see here by some creative continuation.  For example, here’s my attempt at a Shakespearean letter to Santa:

Dear Santa,

I’m writing to inquire why I got what I did this year for Christmas.  I am quite sure that I was good.  Not naughty at all, even if you’re counting that spot of fraudulent practice of law.  After all, I married someone my father would have blessed were he alive, and I used my cunning and ingenuity to save my husband’s best friend from that wicked usurous Jew (surely there’s nothing as righteous as that).  As if that wasn’t enough, after pointing out that he could not take a pound of flesh without also drawing blood from Antonio, I got the Duke of Venice to take half of the Jew’s estate and force him to convert to Christianity!  What more could a lady do to honor Christ’s birth?

So please, tell me why I got this lead stocking with the inscription “For risking everything you’ve got.”

Sincerely,

Portia

P.S. I quite like the fit of a lawyer’s robes if you’re thinking about making it up to me next year.

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