Alexandra Alter

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at

I have spent more than 40 years writing and designing direct mail. One basic rule hardwired into my DNA: Before committing a mailing to print, always hand samples over to strangers to make sure everything makes sense and it's easy to order. These could be relatives or folks in the office who work on other projects.

This past August 10, using a mind-numbing 2,900 words, Alexandra Alter of The Wall Street Journal recounted the bizarre tale of Ric Hoogestraat, 53, a burly, mustachioed Internet addict whose burly, mustachioed avatar on Second Life spends “14 hours at a stretch on weekends as Dutch Hoorenbeek, his six-foot-nine, muscular, motorcycle-riding cyber-self. The character looks like a younger, physically enhanced version of him: a biker with a long black ponytail, strong jaw and thick handlebar mustache.” Avatar Dutch has fallen in love. The object of his affection: a redheaded avatar named Tenaj (Janet spelled backward) Jackalope controlled by Janet Spielman, 38, a divorced Canadian

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