The first thing that you need to know about Corning, New York, where I am currently sitting in a hotel room, is that it is a 500 bazillion hour drive* from my home in New Hampshire.
(*estimated drive time)
You may also be interested to hear that there is an entire museum here dedicated to glass (yes, as in Corningware, Corning, NY - get it?) and there is a lovely downtown area with coffee shops, art galleries and at least a dozen stores that purport to sell "Country Crafts" or some variant thereof.
The most important thing to know about the town of Corning is that the Vegetable Samosas and the Palak Paneer at the Thali of India Restaurant are unimaginable delicious and palate damagingly spicy. I've no doubt that the lingering scent of my dinner will remain in my hotel room long after I have departed. As will the echos of my screams from its spicy deliciousness.
I was invited to Corning by The Alternative School for Math and Science, which, you may be interested to know, is an alternative school that focuses on math and science. I waltzed in and gave a few quick, snappy lessons on advanced particle physics and really wowed them.
The school is a small private middle school with a fun staff and a bunch of very nice kids. I don't often have an opportunity to visit middle school, but when I do, I mention it to friends who invariably say, "You're going to a MIDDLE SCHOOL?" as if I had just informed them that I was planning on taking a long, splashy swim through shark infested waters wearing a bacon bathing suit.
(Note: I do not own a bacon bathing suit.)
It seems that middle school kids in general scare the pants off of most adults. If they knew how much they frightened most adults, they would take over the world and probably force us all to get our hair cut like Justin Bieber or something.
In my personal experience, I have found middle school kids to be funny and very pleasant. Sure they dress weird and have bad hair and smell kind of funny, but so do I.
Especially since my pungent Indian dinner.
Did I mention already how delicious that was?
So, as expected, my time at this middle school today was delightful. And the kids–those terrifying, monstrous middle school kids–sat patiently when, about 2 seconds before my presentation, the bulb burned out in my LCD projector. They sat patiently as several staff members scrambled to find a replacement projector for me. They sat patiently as the 8 month pregnant tech-teacher quickly and efficiently switched projectors and got me up and running again.
Then, they sat patiently when, 4 minutes later, the second projector failed and we had to try yet again.
The kids didn't hoot and holler and try to steal my soul through a hole they chewed in my chest as so many of my peers seem to think middle school kids would do. They sat and chatted quietly with their friends and occasionally offered helpful advice like, "Try wiggling the cord thingie."
I assumed that they had covered electrical engineering in their science classes already, so I took their advice.
I'm looking forward to my day at the school tomorrow, knowing that if I do have any technical problems, the kids can tell me which cord thingie I should be wiggling.
So, as you are no doubt aware, the posts you read on this blog are listed from newest to oldest. The oldest, by the way, being a fascinating expose of me installing a new floor in the library of my old home. As an odd coincidence, I have just spent the last few days stripping and refinishing that same floor.
Yeah. I suppose.
Coincidences abound today, however. Earlier this morning, I was slaving over my blog, basically groveling for people to:
1. Get a tattoo of me in order to win free books for life (mine, not yours).
In my post, I may have casually mentioned the indoor fireworks display I was developing as part of my presentation.
Within hours of posting that, I received a fairly ominous email attachment from someone at Keene State College.
Coincidence this time?
I'm not so sure.
The attachment on the email was called "Hold Harmless Form" and contained, among many others, the following clause:
2. FULLY UNDERSTAND that:
(a.) Participating in the Children’s Literature Festival activities involve risks and dangers of serious bodily injury, including permanent disability, paralysis and death (“Risks”);
I don't know about you, but I am simply tingling with anticipation to see what's in store for us at the festival this year. All the Festivals I have attended in the past were fun, but I can't remember a single one where I was in fear for my life.
Seriously, if I had to sign a waiver like that, you don't want to miss this festival.
Come to the festival.
This picture is here to help you with the contest. Pay attention, now...
You see, there is this wonderful Children's Literature Festival coming up in Keene, NH at the end of the month. I have mentioned this before, but I'm guessing that with your hectic life, it may have slipped from the forefront of your consciousness.
I don't want that to happen again, because, while all the Keene State festivals are cool, this year's will be Extra-Super-Cool based solely on the fact that I will be one of the speakers at it. I've been working hard on my presentation and, despite a few unfortunate setbacks with the planned indoor fireworks display, it should be a presentation that I will never be allowed to repeat anywhere, at any time, for any reason.
You really should make plans to be there. Which brings me, however circuitously, to the contest that I am trying to resuscitate from the decaying, dusty pile of "older posts" where it has been languishing.
This will help you keep me foremost in your mind.
At all times.
As it should be.
I know, that these trying economic times can be–well–trying. In an effort to help you stock your book shelves and, at the same time, beautify the world, I am once again offering my "Get A Marty Kelley Tattoo And Win Free Books For Life Contest" or, "GAMKTAWFBFLC" for short.
I'll be working on a catchier acronym, I guess.
Here's the deal: Go out and find a competent tattoo artist and get a tattoo of me.
It can be a picture or a delightful message like "Marty Kelley Rocks" or a big heart with my name in it, or whatever else strikes your fancy. I do ask, for your sake, that you take the time to find a tattoo artist with some actual drawing skills. You don't want to wind up with one of these disasters smeared across your skin:
Remember that picture at the top of the post? Go ahead and use it!
And please take the time to make sure that you spell my name correctly. It's Marty Kelley. You might consider administering a spelling test to the artist before any needles start buzzing.
So, that's about it. Get a tattoo of me, send me a picture, and I'll send you a copy of each of my books and a copy of all my future books.
And, it has to be a real tattoo, don't go scrawling all over yourself with magic marker. Seriously.
I'd prefer not to have my name and/or likeness inked all over your rear-end or armpit or something. This is me we're talking about.