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The Tentacle


Who Is Neal Wirth, And Is That A Pseudonym?

August 15, 2002

I am in fact a real person, as you know, and there are a number of reasons why I need not give you my identity. First of all, I have written under this name since 1969 and even received checks, which my bank willingly paid. I would agree that perhaps there is a degree of reticence, not cowardice, on my part to reveal that identity. Samuel Clemens found that his writing was a bit livelier when he signed the name Mark Twain. A former editor and friend often wrote under the nom de plume of ETAOINSHRDLU and received infrequent mail from those who wondered about his parentage. Little did they know that ETAOINSHRDLU is the order of letters at the top of the linotype keyboard.

I have always been concerned that someone would find out that Superman was, in actuality, a mild-mannered reporter for a thriving metropolitan daily newspaper; or that Bruce Wayne would have too much to drink at a party and stumble into his Batman personna; or that Diana Prince would assume her superpowers as the delicious Wonder Woman by accidentally turning around too fast in the halls of the War Department.

Could these super heroes have been effective without their capes and golden lariat?

I find that the trappings of Captain Pseudonym have pleased many of our readers and caused little angst. We understand that certain politicians dislike the recounting of their deeds and words by the writer they ascribe as Mr. Poison Pen.

Having the Washington Post at least comment on my columns is a little flattering, primarily because they have spelled the name correctly.

Unfortunately, our "owner," is the son of a distinguished Episcopal minister who's name was ASHBURY, not Asbury. Say anything you want about The Tentacle, but get the name right!

We also suggest that a sense of humor with tongue in cheek may often mitigate the effects of reading my deathless prose. My editor has suggested a less aggressive style and we often comply, but when it comes to certain of our elected leaders I will quote that great philosopher Mrs. Forrest Gump, who said, "Stupid is a Stupid does!'

Certainly, if The Tentacle's readers object to the "ethics" of my pseudonym attached to writings herein, we can go back to Mindy's Bar on Broadway (near the Square Corner) and compliment the help.

With all good intentions,

Lee Marshall, Frederick


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