Thursday, February 17, 2011

Okay. Now you're just messing with me.

So, remember the Wonder Woman television series that was on and then off and then on again and then off again and now it's on again?

Well, aside from the fact that its journey to television is feeling more and more like the scenic road Turn Off the Dark is taking to Broadway (1), the casting of Wonder Woman has been announced. And let me tell you, I'm not happy.

I know, I know, Adrianne Palicki can grow her hair out and get it dyed and blah and blah and blah. David E. Kelley and crew might even change their mind and decide NOT to have Palicki play three separate roles  (2) whose very names seem designed to drive many of us into a full on frenzy. (3)

But it's always seemed to me that the role of Wonder Woman needed to go to an unknown, someone who wouldn't be "the girl from Friday Night Lights".

Maybe I'm going to be proven wrong. Maybe I'll one day be glued to my television, waiting to see what Diana Themyscira is going to do next. (4)

1. Can you say re-write? Apparently, the folks in charge can.
2. She's playing Wonder Woman, "powerful CEO" Diana Themyscira and "plain assistant" Diana Prince...we won't even go into all that's wrong with the names. Oh. Who am I kidding. I totally will.
3. Yep. I did.
4. Okay, that made me gag a little. It's the name of the freaking island! What island you might ask? The island where Wonder Woman is actually from. So, essentially, Kelley has essentially renamed Wonder Woman's secret identity in a fashion roughly as imaginative as the Brady Bunch episode where Jan names her imaginary boyfriend after the drinking glass on the coffee table. What the heck are you thinking David E. Kelley? And how does someone act as their own assistant? That would be the opposite of having an assistant! And she's supposed to be a "plain Jane" assistant? As in what? As in the eighties teen movie thing where, "Oh, c'mon plain girl, let me take you in the bathroom and show you how to put on lipstick..." and suddenly she's the bell of the ball and dating the high school quarterback until she dumps him for the earnest nerd...who's also gorgeous but wears glasses...who loved her all the time? And how the hell many secret identities does one person need? Would somebody get me David E. Kelley on the phone? Oh wait. Why don't I act as my own assistant and do it myself!

Fishing trip.

Sarah Vowell has a new book coming out. (1)

I'm a fan of Vowell's writing but can never help but wonder, would anyone read her work if she hadn't been on This American Life? I mean, here's a woman who writes about Puritans and ain't that Constitution a laugh riot essays.

Frankly, it's a question that I have about more and more of the books I see. Not so much, how did this book make it to the shelf but, how did that book become a sensation?

The three of you that read this blog are already familiar with my frustration over the fact that most books aimed at young adults are more about trend targeting than actual writing. The best way to guarantee sales of a novel is to be able to swap your cover out for a still from the "major motion picture" loosely based (2) on its content. A grim childhood or personal history of abuse will move your memoir off the shelf.

And, of course, for a little while longer there's Oprah.

It's hardly a secret that most publishers don't put the time and energy into marketing new books that they once did. The friends I have who have done book tours have done so through a combination of frequent flier miles and the comfortable sofas of friends and relatives. In fact, from Facebook pages to blogs to Twitter to movie trailer-like videos, a good amount of the burden of marketing books falls on the shoulders of the author.

The power of reviews has been diminished by the sheer number of reviews out there. Sure, getting a thumbs up from The New Yorker or the Christian Science Monitor is still a big deal, but people are more likely to check out what the last person to buy a book on Amazon has to say than Fresh Air's Maureen Corrigan (3).

But maybe the problem is the idea of the sensation. Maybe the urge to have books be a sensation is where things go all off kilter and deserving books end up on the dreaded front-of-store $2.00 table. Perhaps I'm getting the question wrong from the very beginning.

Which makes finding a way to end this post a little difficult. I feel a bit like the kid whose finished their assigned essay only to discover they didn't read the question correctly. And maybe that's the point.

A good book isn't necessarily the one that becomes a sensation, it's the one that leads you to think about things a little bit differently and ask different questions.

Now let's all link hands and sing a verse or two of Kumbaya.

1. Yes. Yes. I know Scoopgirl. I know. But that doesn't change the fact that she has a new book coming out.
2. Sometimes to the point of being unrecognizable to anyone...including the author.
3. Whose book is actually in my bag right now. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

A room of my own (and other overused phrases)

I now work from home.

Or, more accurately, I now work from a home some 12 or so hours north on I-95 from the place Leopold and I used to call home. That was the big news, the big change that was coming at us over the horizon that we were only able to share with a very small circle until, it seemed at least, 11,000 pounds worth of boxes were being loaded into a moving truck.

We've traded the monuments and museums of Washington, DC for what the postal service refers to as a "rural city" in northern New England. (1)

So now, instead of heading into a BIG office, I climb a set of stairs to the attic, where Finklestein keeps an eye on the neighborhood from her new perch by the window that is conveniently set near the floor, tucked under the peak of a gable.

In a way that I know would not have have been the case too many years ago, the whole situation seems to be suiting me. The pace is a relief. By my own estimation my productivity seems to be up...getting to tackle projects that have been on the shelf for quite some time. Lunch break means a walk downstairs to the kitchen and dinner has - so far at least - been on the table between 7 and 7:30pm.

I'm not naive of course. This is the honeymoon period. Life hasn't quite kicked in all the way and soon enough there will be appointments to organize and work trips to take and that host of bits and pieces that fill our daily lives.

But for now at least, Finklestein and I are settled in quite comfortably, just enjoying the view. (2)

1. Near as I can tell, all "rural" means in that particular oxymoron is that USPS wants an out when it comes to overnight delivery.
2. Though I don't bark at the FedEx delivery truck nearly as much.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Not done yet.

I've spent time monkeying around with some things here on this much neglected blog, all of which is still up for trashing and reworking at a moment's notice.

What I've decided, however, is that I might wait to directly ask for reactions until I'm ready for the answer.

That wasn't the case with this exchange.

Artboy: I re-designed the header of my blog.

Leopold: So it doesn't look like Freddy Krueger anymore?

Artboy: You thought it looked like Freddy Krueger?

Leopold: (no response).

Artboy: Well open it and tell me what you think.

Leopold: Oh. (long pause) I see what you're going for here.

So, yeah, I'm not done yet. Mind the walls on your way out. The paint's still wet.