Friday, April 28, 2006

The Literary Offenses of Wendi Thomas

All due apologies to Mark Twain for swiping his title there, but had he lived long enough to see Wendi Thomas's daily assaults on the English language, he would have decided that James Fenimore Cooper was at the very least fair to middling.

I've never seen anything like her. She can take something I care about and leave me feeling about as indifferent as a reader could conceivably feel without actually falling asleep. Her phrasing is, at best, Dubya-esque. And more often than not, if I get bored enough to read a column of hers, I usually end up wondering how someone this witless could be allowed to leave the house unsupervised.

I don't know quite how she managed it. Perhaps she had pictures of the editor with a transvestite hooker or maybe Jeff Gannon, but she managed to get a job as a columnist for the Commercial Appeal.

Just last month, she announced that she was taking a job with the Baltimore Sun. I wondered several times WTF the Sun's editorial staff was thinking, but I didn't look a gift horse in the mouth. I figured we could run fifty-year-old "'Lil Abner" strips and get just as strong a handle on current events as she could give us.

Imagine my surprise when the replacement for Wendi Thomas turns out to be... Wendi Thomas.

I was hoping it was a cruel prank. Local newscasters aren't exactly known for their senses of humor, but I was still holding out in hope that it was a sick joke.

Then I heard her doing a phone-in interview with Leon Gray. It made me loathe her even more when she said that she saved the CA's editors the trouble of "looking for the next Wendi Thomas".

I think the search for "the next Wendi Thomas" should continue. So I've compiled a short list of writers with the same kind of skill level as the original Wendi Thomas.

  • My five-year-old nephew Matt. At the ripe old age of two, he sat at my computer as I was talking to a friend on instant messenger. Imagine my pride as he typed something to the effect of ";kijdhfglf aslfidlagflasfdjbv". It boggles the mind when I think of how much he might have improved over the last three years. He might actually be overqualified by now.
  • Tom Wolfe. I know he traditionally writes fiction, but after reading this sex scene from his latest novel, I would put his skill level on Ms. Thomas's: ""Hoyt began moving his lips as if he were trying to suck the ice cream off the top of a cone without using his teeth ... Slither slither slither slither went the tongue, but the hand that was what she tried to concentrate on, the hand, since it has the entire terrain of her torso to explore and not just the otorhinolaryngological caverns ... " - I Am Charlotte Simmons
  • Lawrence O'Donnell. It takes an unprecedented level of bad writing to take the characters that were created by Aaron Sorkin for The West Wing and write them so badly that no one raises an eyebrow when the show is cancelled.
  • Who's writing that new sitcom Teachers?

In short, Wendi, the next time you're gone, stay gone. For the sake of the newspaper and for the sake of the language that you assault daily even though it's done nothing to you.

2 comments:

autoegocrat said...

Wendi's talent lies in her ability to obfuscate the obvious and make the magical seem mundane. You try it sometime. It's not as easy as it looks.

The CA wants a columnist whose writing style doesn't draw attention away from the subtelty and flair of their advertisers. The bar is set at "50% OFF SALE!" and the game being played is limbo, not hurdles.

Freedonian said...

I'm actually now working on an alternate theory as to why she was hired, blowing my "pictures of the editor with a transvestite hooker: theory away. I should soon be able to prove the new theory with court documents.