Mandy, prepare to quote yourself

Mandy, prepare to quote yourself

An open letter to Mandy Patinkin.

'STACHED BEHIND THE BAR: Careful observers will note the Mandy Patinkin shrine at John Barleycorn's. Legend has it that if someone were to light candles around it, he will appear and grant wishes. And those wishes would entirely be to extinguish the flaming bottles of rum. Photo by Mike Marlett

Dear Mandy Patinkin,

Hello! It's been a while. We just wanted to drop you a line to check in because we haven't seen you in some time. Truth is, the last time we did see you, you kind of worried us. You had a big scary beard and you were shouting songs in Yiddish. Are you OK? You only ever seem to wear black turtlenecks these days. This isn't an intervention; don't get defensive. We are your friends, and we are concerned.

Remember when we first met? You were swordfighting with Cary Elwes in The Princess Bride and you said this great line about someone killing your dad. You said that several times, and yet it worked — you didn't seem crazy. You were awesome. You should've done a hundred more movies like that and said that line in every single one of them.

Then we found out that all this time you had been a famous Broadway singer. We went to New York to see you in a musical, and while it was OK, all you did was sing in falsetto a lot and you never once said your name was Inigo Montoya. We would occasionally see you on David Letterman singing in your lovely falsetto, deftly interpreting lyrics of popular standards and making us all think about the nature of love and sweetly reminding us of the joys of forgotten classics. That was nice, but we really just wanted you to say that "you killed my father" thing.

Then you just kinda went away for a while. We noticed you did that movie Alien Nation with James Caan, and then I didn't see you in a movie for a long time. Was James Caan mean to you, Mandy? Is that what happened? It's OK. You can say it; you're safe here. James Caan can't get you here.

Oh, Mandy, you came and you said "prepare to die," then you took it away.

Oh Mandy.

We were so happy a few years ago when you came to visit every week on that show Chicago Hope. Then you quit. That's cool, man. We all get a little creatively stagnant and you gotta move on. If they aren't going to let you give the fans what they want, move on.

I even saw you in 1999's The Adventures of Elmo In Grouchland. Mandy, that was terrible, and you didn't even TRY to swordfight with a Muppet. Personally, this would be the greatest regret of my life.

Soon, you did Criminal Minds. This was cool because while you weren't carrying a sword you were saying a lot of things about murder and that was as close as we've gotten to hearing the one damned thing we were interested in hearing you say in years. Then you quit, reportedly because you said you didn't know the show would be about murder. The show is called "Criminal Minds," Mr. P., and you're an FBI profiler on a TV procedural. I'll be honest, I can't speak for the rest of the group, but pretty much everyone except Joe Mantegna and Stephen Sondheim gave up on you at that point.

Then last week we were handed a CD of yours, and were told it had won a lot of awards. Great. We like your way with a song, your voice is nice and you have such a way with a lyric. Imagine our surprise when we popped in Mamaloshen and the entire CD was you SHOUTING in YIDDISH. You'd think somewhere in there, if you're yelling anyway, you could have said "HELLO, MY NAME IS INIGO MONTOYA, YOU KILLED MY FATHER, PREPARE TO DIE!" Just one fricking time. WHY WON'T YOU SAY THIS?

Look, we are not saying you're not an artist and we're not saying you shouldn't be free to express yourself and grow in whatever boring way you want to, but can't you do that while saying that line? Have you ever met Jaleel White? He is an actor, Mandy, and he was on a little show you may have heard of called Family Matters. He said the same line every week for something like 32 years and it was so different and so fall-down funny every time. Just when you thought he'd said "Did I do that?" in every conceivable way he would give you something new and fresh. We have even seen him say that line on completely unrelated shows. He knows which side his bread is buttered on, Mandy.

We all want to support you in the future, Mandy. We understand you might be going through stuff at home, but if you could meet us halfway it might help restore our faith. If you could just give us a call, we will see it's you and we won't answer. Just leave a message on our voicemail. We think you'll know what to say.


Don Winsor, on behalf of F5 on behalf of the United States of America

[Editor's Note: The Princess Bride is playing Thursday, May 9, at 8:30 p.m. as part of Botanica's Kick-off Celebration for its Once Upon A Time exhibit, which is an interactive exhibit where fairy tales come to life through stage sets. It will run from May 11 to July 7, and has nothing to do with this open letter to Mandy Patinkin. However, if you're now in the mood for The Princess Bride, well, there it is. Doors open at 7:30.]