I am not Tim Robbins
Yesterday, while doing my 45-minute shvitz on the elliptical trainer, I watched CNN's Wolf Blitzer interview Tim Robbins regarding his play, Embedded. The play has been out since 2003, but a film version was just released on DVD; hence Wolf's urge to hold Tim accountable. But I'm guessing here. My ears pricked up as Wolf ran down the play's premise: five reporters embedded in Iraq must decide whether to report the truth or succumb to military brainwashing (as well as pressure from their own networks). This, with a few changes*, is the core of my novel-in-progress. I desperately need to know how much overlap exists. Have I been scooped? Will publishing house readers throw out my manuscript, calling it "a thinly veiled Embedded"? CNN showed a few clips from the play. Painful stuff, and by 'painful' I mean 'Saturday Night Live ever since Eddie Murphy left the show.' Satire with all the subtlety of a jackhammer, characters that give cardboard a bad name. But wait (says I): CNN and their ilk are the targets of Embedded; perhaps they're showing the crappy bits on purpose. Enter Tim Robbins, in two days' growth of beard, black tee shirt and brown sports jacket, left eyebrow permanently arched -- possible evidence of a forehead lift gone bad (although, thanks to Jacko, the bar for celebrity plastic surgery disasters resides somewhere in the Kuiper Belt. But I digress). Unflappable, he deflected Wolf's criticisms by pointing out (repeatedly) that two of the play's five journalists are stand-up folks who risk all to report the truth. Two of Wolf's guests, both of whom did their time as embedded journalists, provided counterpoint. One, a young woman who had actually seen the whole play, was sympathetic to Robbins's satire and said there was a lot of truth in it (as well as some distortions). The other journalist hadn't seen the play and basically read from a prepared statement. By now, I was confused as all hell. Is the play any good? Is it garbage? Can I trust FoxNews.com's review calling it "not so realistic"? (Stop laughing. Jeez, just because I said trust and FoxNews in the same sentence.) Would I be wasting my money buying the DVD? Our contractor delivered the most recent bill today for our remodel; do I even have the money to waste on this DVD? It wouldn't be the craziest thing I'd done to research The Brakan Correspondent. That would be buying The Alamo on DVD (the John Wayne version, naturally). Embedded is being distributed by the self-styled Emperor of marginal film marketing, Netflix. They're the people who brought us "Eve Ensler's 'Until the Violence Stops,' a look at the global effect of her 'Vagina Monologues.'" Is this relevant? No. I just really like the phrase, "the global effect of her 'Vagina Monologues.'" As I read the story of the DVD's release, reported in LATimes.com, all of my problems were solved. It turns out Embedded will air on the Sundance channel this August. I can hang on to my twenty bucks for a few more days. I promise to get back to science fiction. I promise. *** Karen News Flash: Female tarantulas groom frantically after doing the nasty. Karen figures I can work such details into my story line; I keep trying to tell her that she and her arachnid-lovin' e-buddies are the only ones who would understand these in-jokes, and I don't know how many of them read fiction. About a year ago, she posted a link to my sixteen-legged love scene, and did any of her spider pals come by to take a look? Noooo. I ain't gonna be selling too many copies to that crowd, even though I'm pandering to them like there's no tomorrow. D. *As far as I know, Robbins's play doesn't have any birds. Or pigs. Or flies. Or spiders. Or Colonel Kirbys.