November 2005 Archives

The Best BAFTA Invite Ever

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I just received the following e-mail:

Twentieth Century Fox Invites BAFTA Members To A Special Screening
Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
...
Sunday 27 November
1.30 for a 2.00pm start
followed by a Q&A with Supreme Chancellor Palpatine
Children welcome
DON'T LET YOUR CHILDREN GO! IT'S A TRAP!

More Precious Than Rubies

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Having found a mathematical formula that tells me how I feel about my book, I thought it only fair that I undertake a similar investigation into how America as a whole feels.

As mentioned in my previous post, our publisher has sold 10,269 copies of The Government Manual for New Superheroes. Since the cover price is $10.95(**), America has now spent a total of $112,445.55 on our book.

By the irrefutable laws of the free-market economy, this makes The Government Manual more valuable than a well-cut 3.01 karat diamond, which would sell for a mere $112,079--and then only if the color and clarity were up to snuff. Yes, America could have had the diamond, but it chose our book instead. That's a great honor, and it's one we'll do our best to live up to.

Here are some other things America thinks our book is worth more than:

The right to send out pornographic spam

a 5-rai parcel of land in Thailand near Chiang Rai's best little park and not far from Rajabat college. (5 rai is a little less than 2 acres, in case you're wondering.)

• 5 1/2 of the most expensive Olympic pins ever created.


(**) Of course, many people presumably bought the book via Amazon or another source that sells the book at a discount, which means the figure of $112,445.55 overestimates the money spent. On the other hand, other people have presumably paid for used copies, which means that the figure underestimates our total sales. For now, I'm assuming that those two factors roughly cancel each other out. If I discover differently, I'll let you know.


Recently, we got some updated sales figures from our editor Lane. The Government Manual for New Superheroes has sold 10,269 copies (net) thus far. Lane is very pleased with the fact that we've sold that many copies in such a short time.

I,too, found myself thrilled by our sales numbers. But then I started thinking: when I wrote for Dennis Miller Live, hundreds of thousands of people would hear my writing every week--perhaps even a million. (I was always a little vague on what our actual viewership was.) Should I be more or less proud of 10,000 copies of a book that I co-authored than I should be of roughly a million viewers of a show for which I was a small part of a team?

This was an important question, and one that deserved to be answered scientifically.

What did the audience ever do to you?

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I just found a fascinating and lengthy interview with Alan Moore, one of my favorite writers. And speaking of favorites, here's my favorite quote from the interview:

Why were you trying to challenge your audience? What have they ever done to you? I prefer seduction, hypnosis, I don't want to scream at my audience and demand that they understand my gemlike pearls of wisdom. I once said that a good way to describe my approach to writing is that in the story, in the telling of it, the dialogue, the characters, I introduce myself to the reader, I talk to them interestingly, fascinatingly, calmingly, I get them to sort of follow me up the alleyways of the narrative until they are so far within it that they probably can't find their way out, and then you can do whatever you want to them.

The PR Machine

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Pretty much every author I know has had bitter complaints about their publisher's PR department. Before The Government Manual For New Superheroes came out, everybody warned us that, if we wanted any publicity, we'd have to get it for ourselves.

Somehow, though, Matthew and I lucked out. Greg Moore--the PR guy Andrews McMeel gave us--has done a fantastic job. Among other things, he's gotten us a bunch of interviews with radio stations all around the country. Today, for example, we're talking with a station in Alaska at 1:05PM EST, and then, at 3:08PM EST, we'll be on WJBC AM1230 in Central Illinois. You can listen in on the WJBC interview via their webcast.

We asked Greg how he rounded up all these interviews, and it turns out there's a magazine devoted to bringing people who want to be interviewed together with broadcasters who want to interview them: Radio & Television Interview Report. Andrews McMeel took out an ad in RTIR, and the interview requests starting rolling in.

Truffle in Paradise: The Followup

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Three years ago, Lauren and I made a daring voyage to the frontiers of chocolate-eating knowledge by sampling the wares of every single chocolate shop we passed in Bruge, which may well be the chocolate center of the universe. We were proud of ourselves for our scientific approach to the process, but I have recently heard from David B. Sherwood, a man whose devotion to eating chocolate in the most scientific manner far surpasses our own. I'm particularly concerned by the fact that we may have been unfair to Chocolatier Sukerbuyc, which of course invalidates our entire experiment and requires that we return to Bruge and once again gorge ourselves on chocolate. Such are the terrifying consequences of the selfless pursuit of knowledge.

Here is Mr. Sherwood's professional response to our adventures:

I think that you have committed four carnal errors (well okay, not
carnal).

1. Mixing chocolate with beer (really not to be recommended)

2. Not drinking enough water (necessary to clear the palate between shops)

3. Through being inconsistent between shops, you should have kept to the
same one at each for a scientific comparison

4. Eating the Chocolate Waffle thing REALLY damaged your chances of proper
tasting afterwards

Some months back, I reported that my attempts to understand cricket involved a brochure called "Cricket for Baseball Fans." I also mentioned that, before I could understand that brochure, I'd need to see a brochure called "Baseball for Musical Theatre Lovers."

I am pleased to report that my sister-in-law Deborah Sager has called my bluff, and written precisely that brochure. I now have no excuses for my failure to understand either baseball or cricket.

And now, without further ado, I am pleased to present a Yankee Fog world exclusive:

Baseball for Musical Theatre Lovers
by Deborah Sager


Why
: Because Jacob requested it.

While the sport of baseball and the art of musical theatre seem different, they in fact have several points of similarity. After all, one has overpaid, vain divas, and the other has actors[1]. For the sensitive, artistic fan that eschews this sport, but is dragged along to games with his/her sisters, cousins, and aunts, this guide will help them make some sense of this frenetic, fast-paced game [2].

The Tools: Both musical theatre and baseball have a set of tools that assist in proper performance. The musical theatre artist may be a "triple threat" - they can sing, they can act, they can dance (to varying degrees of skill.) Usually one talent predominates, and a true triple threat is a very rare artist. The baseball player has a "tool set" - hitting for average (hitting the ball a lot), hitting for power (when you do hit the ball, hitting it really, really far), running speed (just like it sounds), arm strength (also, not so bloody difficult), and fielding skill (throw the ball accurately, and catch it when it comes to you. This is harder, in fact, than it first appears. Just like the first alto line in the opening song of Brigadoon. I should've gotten a gold vocal cord for singing that one[3]) Five-tool players are also exceptionally rare.

Scoring: Both actors and baseball players do pretty well, thanks for asking. Groupies at the hotel, celebrity entourages, it's one big party. Or possibly this refers to the baseball practice of notating the plays of the game.

Oh, tempora! Oh, mores!

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Global warming, political unrest, the Bush presidency. the fact that "Lost" is being aired a year later in the UK than in the US--these are all painful aspects of modern life with which I have made my peace.

But when an editor of the Oxford English Dictionary argues that using the word "literally" to mean "figuratively is no big deal, I fear for our future.

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