Saturday, May 28, 2005

Heads up on Betty's Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man

Betty's posted "Thomas Friedman wants a little more night music" at her blog Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man.

We were talking this morning (Third Estate Sunday Review is getting an early head start) and I told her I'd put it up here (I'm assuming it will be noted at The Third Estate Sunday Review in some form and Rebecca will mention it at her site Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude).

For anyone unfamiliar with Betty's blog (Rebecca calls her Blog Betty), it's a parody site. Betty's a community member who always sent these very funny e-mails. She is a very funny person and a very talented writer. When she decided to start a site, she worked forever to find her focus and her voice. I'm remembering it as at least a month where she was doing test items -- entries that she wasn't going to post but were being done for her to find her footing. In addition to that, she started assisting with The Third Estate Sunday Review to get a feel for what was involved. (Most famously on the Third Estate Sunday Review article "At the rallies, we ask, 'Why Are You Here?'" For more on Betty, besides Rebecca's interview, you can also check out The Third Estate Sunday Review's "Meet Blog Betty -- the blogger behind Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man").

When Blog Betty went "live" the voice and focus had been determined. The parody has her writing as Betinna. Betinna's a woman we knew next to nothing about at the beginning. She was being given vitamins (drugs) by her husband New York Times columinst Thomas Friedman. At various times, she's either taken lower dosages or no dosages and we've learned a little more about Betinna. (Translation, she's not from the Third World as she's been told.) It's a very funny blog and always a pleasure to read the latest entry.

But when Betty started, Thomas Friedman appeared in the Times on Sundays and Thursdays.
Sundays wasn't a problem in terms of writing because Betty, who works outside the home full time and is also a single parent with several young children, could swing a Sunday entry. She goes to the church with her kids in the morning, then over to her mother's for lunch. That's a lot of added activity to raising children but it's one of her easier days.

So she felt she'd be able to address Thomas Friedman's Sunday column on Sundays and his Thursday column on Thursday or Friday at the latest.

Then the Times changed the op-ed schedule. Friedman's now published on Wednesdays and Fridays. Wednesdays are becoming a problem due to the evenings, problem for her to get something up, so she's posting on Thursdays. Then on Friday, she's looking at another Friedman column.

She's working from an outline in terms of Betinna's growth and revelations coming down the pike so any column has to be processed into that framework first before she can even start to think of how to address it creatively and humorously.

So she voiced the belief this morning that she felt she was letting some down by not having a Friday entry. Both entries each week are probably going to run the day after a Friedman column appears at the earliest.

I'm sure community members who read her writing will agree that's not a problem. But since she's in character as Betinna, she's not able to break character and say, "Hey everybody, this is going to be the new schedule." So we'll pass it on here.

Knowing how many drafts she goes through versus what gets posted, I can tell you she does a great deal of work. (I don't do drafts. Unless I feel the outrage over something is harming the entry, it goes up as it's written the first time.) So no one should be surprised that after a full day's work on Wednesday (or Friday), then taking care of her children, she's going to have time to run through four drafts (that's the lowest number of drafts I'm aware of her doing on something before it posts), let alone figure out where in her outline the latest Friedman column fits in. There's a great deal of work that goes into each entry.

So consider that a heads up.

I asked Betty if it was okay to excerpt the opening of her latest (she plans for another to go up today but it may be Sunday) and she swears I won't step on punch line further in the entry by excerpting, so here's the opening of "Thomas Friedman wants a little more night music:"

I read my husband Thomas Friedman's column and could only think: "That's what happens when I make the mistake of thinking I can listen to my music. I'm rocking out while hand washing Thomas Friedman's boxers -- not just the silk ones but the cotten-poly blends as well -- and he's ripping off Lenny Kravitz."
Ever since we spent 8 days on the road to hell and heartland, Thomas Friedman has taken to referring to himself as a refugee of the road.
Honestly, you'd think Thomas Friedman just got off the chitlin circuit opening for the Ike & Tina Turner Review the way he keeps moaning about "life on the road." In his column, I noticed that eight days became six weeks. I asked him about that and Thomas Friedman replied "poetic license. Didn't you learn anything from Laura Bush posing as a Desperate Housewife!"

Read the entry in full. Again, it's intended to be a twice a week blog, it's a parody, and expect a delay of at least one day between Friedman's columns and Betty's entries.

And while we're talking about community members, for those e-mailing, Ruth is on a vacation with members of her family. She'll be doing Ruth's Morning Edition Report next week. What? Only people at the Times can take vacations?

For those wondering about Ava and my TV reviews. We have one written and our notes from two other shows. Time permitting, we'll have three TV reviews in tomorrow's The Third Estate Sunday Review edition but don't be surprised if there are only two. (Or if we combine two shows into one review.)

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