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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Alter egos

I thought it would be a good idea to share a little inside scoop about the process I use to create the Playwrights' Perspective's ‘Alumni news, in brief’ bulletin each week.

Covering Cleveland
There are a number of ways I collect this information. The first, as you may have guessed, is word of mouth (or FB, or Twitter, etc.). I know many of you personally, and you share your news with me, which is fantastic. Thank you (and keep it coming). Second: Other media. I try to be aware of local press, and what's going on. But I can't catch everything, which is why the third method – Google Alerts – is so handy.

Google Alerts is pretty great. You can get updated search results based on keywords, names, subjects – whatever – sent automatically right to your e-mail. Somebody trash-talking about you on their blog? The ultimate tattletale, Google Alerts will find it and show you. Some rogue theatre attempting a royalty-free production of your play? Google Alerts! You get the idea.

But there's a downside. You see, Google Alerts cannot discern some guy named Richard Snee from THE Richard Snee, or some random Kate Snodgrass from OUR Kate Snodgrass. So sometimes, I end up getting news updates about people who are simply not our people. Which brings me to the crux of the matter here: You need to know that there is an entire parallel universe out there, populated by people who are using our names! Who are they? 

Superstar realtor
Well, The Other Richard Snee is a marketing guru who travels the country going to conferences and imparting his wisdom to the masses. I get a lot of alerts for him, so he’s apparently a pretty big deal (or at least, really good at what he does). Fake Kate Snodgrass is a real estate superstar, so she’s the one you need to contact about that timeshare in Boca – not the lady in the office at 949. Alternate Gregory Fletcher is a vocalist for The Cabana Boys. Other Janet Kenney seems to be part of Occupy Flint. Not to be outdone, Not Our John Kuntz has this whole split-personality thing going on: Sometimes he’s an IT bigwig, and other times he covers news in Cleveland. 

And, in case you’re wondering, adding “playwright” as a keyword to one’s name on the alert does not necessarily help filter results; interestingly, there is a second playwright named Melinda Lopez (a.k.a., at least to us, Not the Actual Melinda Lopez).

Uh oh.
Oh, and we're not all overachievers! At least some of these doppelgängers are up to no good: The Other Jonathon Myers was arrested in the Pacific Northwest. Sorry Jon – in another universe, you may be a thug.

You would think, with a crazy name like mine, I'd be able to avoid this kind of thing altogether, right? Wrong! There is an elementary school student in Florida who shares my name exactly – no kidding. But at least she makes the honor roll.


  1. it was better when the real Jennifer Lopez starred as the fake Melinda Lopez on a short lived TV show from the 90's. I'd run into the living room when I heard, "Melinda Lopez is in trouble. Big trouble..." There was also a Melinda Lopez who fell off a shrimp boat in the gulf and survived clinging onto a buoy for 5 days. But thats another story...

  2. LOL -- I love it! I grew up not having the same name (even the same first name) as anybody else I knew or had heard of, so this kind of thing tickles me.