Monday, September 28, 2009

Am I Wicked Famous Yet?

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to spend my 12th wedding anniversary with another woman.

But not just any woman - I spent it with Becky Rule: The Moose of Humor and a live TV audience who came to see me be interviewed by Becky for The NH Author's Series at UNH. Becky is a wonderfully funny and entertaining host and she made the whole experience much less frightening than it could have been. She and her daughter even recommended a great restaurant that I could take my wife to after the taping. It was called Dante's or Diablo's or Chez Satan or some vaguely threatening sounding place. It sounded good, but we wound up getting chinese take-out at home. (I'm a romantic fool like that.)

While the day was thrilling and exciting in spite of the fact that I had to wear make-up, I can't say the whole process went flawlessly.

A post I put up the other day mentioned Tracey Lauder, the ASSISTANT DEAN FOR LIBRARY ADMINISTRATION AT UNH.

Yes, a title like that deserves all capitals. She should get to wear a cape, too.

What you are not aware of is the fact that in my original post, in a brilliant display of typing and editing prowess, I spelled her name wrong. She called me and very delicately let me know about the mistake and I corrected it.

A follow up email from her just moments later thanked me for the correction and pointed out that I had also spelled the name of the library wrong (it is "Dimond", not "Diamond" and I would like to take this opportunity to point out that I spelled it correctly and the entire University of New Hampshire spells it incorrectly - please fix that) and that a link I included in the posting might not be the best one.

I was delighted to have been able to make such a wonderful first impression.

I fixed those mistakes and asked Tracey to make sure that there would be no on-air spelling test administered during the interview. While she never actually agreed to that request, imagine my shock and horror when, mid-interview, out of the blue, Becky asked me how to spell "booger". There had been much talk of boogers during the interview (I'm not sure why I tend to have that effect on conversations) but I had clearly been lead to believe that no spelling tests were to be involved.

It is fortunate that I am a professional at spelling "booger", and did so without hesitation. I was even able to supply Becky with the alternate yankee spelling "b-o-o-g-a-h".

Of course, I will be contacting my lawyer about this grievous personal affront I have suffered. As soon as I find a lawyer, that is. I'll bet one of those guys who advertise on daytime TV would be all over this.

Adding to the trials and tribulations of the whole affair was the complete absence of cheese and crackers. Becky assured me in an email that cheese and crackers were always served at these events. I emailed several friends and relations about the interview, and with the promise of free cheese and crackers, was able to lure many of them to Durham to attend the taping.

I had to face a hostile crowd of former friends and angry relatives when they found out that only cider and coffee and tea and delicious cookies were available for their grazing pleasure.

"Where are the cheese and crackers you promised?" screamed the angry mob as they ran me out of town, chasing after me with torches and pitchforks that I strongly suspect were supplied by that caterers in an attempt to divert attention from themselves.

Oh yes. They'll be hearing from my lawyer about this. I've seen these lawyers on TV and they have impressive rows of books behind them and a flashing toll-free number scrolling across the screen. That's a sure sign of brilliant legal council. I'll probably own UNH by this time next month.

Despite the spelling test and the substitution of cookies for cheese and crackers, the whole event was a lot of fun. I was delighted and honored to have been asked to attend.

I won't tell my lawyer that, of course.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Steve Tried to Kill Me!

I have written several times in previous posts about my buddy Steve Blunt.

Today he invited me to his house for a "nice little bike ride".
Those were his words.


I arrived at about 11 this morning and by 1 was eagerly awaiting death's sting. His "nice little bike ride" was a 25+ mile endurance test of pain, suffering, and more pain. Followed by a bit more suffering and punctuated by a little more pain. I do a lot of biking and typically 25 miles would be a long, but very manageable ride. What kills me about riding with Steve is the grueling pace he sets. He seems to operate under the misapprehension that I am some sort of biking hot-shot whose only desire is to leave other bikers in his dust. This is not true. I only do that when I'm biking with little kids, because it makes me feel like a tough guy.

Steve paces his rides to match how he imagines I ride, and I suffer for it. I spend the first 15 minutes chugging along and chatting and having a delightful time dodging the traffic through Nashua. As most of the rides I take are through the rolling, verdant pasture lined roads of rural New Boston, I find the multiple lanes of speeding traffic coursing through Nashua an energizing thrill.

There was a time, many years ago, when I was attending art school in Boston, that a favorite pastime of mine was to venture out on my bike into 5:00 rush hour traffic on Boston's main thoroughfares. That was years ago, and though I find that I don't bounce back as quickly as I used to from catastrophic collisions, there is still a tingle of a thrill when a driver roars past me, leaving a half a centimeter between me and his right front bumper.

By the time we had gone about 10 miles, I noticed that it was hard to talk to Steve, both because I was using all my available oxygen for other purposes (namely, remaining alive) and because Steve was several hundred yards ahead of me.

We slowed up a bit when we entered Beaver Brook (a delightful conservation area suspiciously devoid of beavers or brooks) and I was able to prepare for the ride back to Steve's house, which was brutal. I would not admit this at the time, but Steve threw his chain twice and I was delighted at the opportunity to stop and take a quick break while I watched him work.
I am proud to say that I made it all the way back to Steve's house without throwing up a single vital organ.

I don't consider my spleen vital.

Steve made all amends with a delicious Sangria and some tasty lunch comestibles. After lunch, Steve showed me his new didgeridoo (which he can actually play - he is amazing) and a tiny clay djembe drum that he was given as a gift. Naturally, we broke into song and his suburban Nashua neighborhood was ringing with the tribal beats of our drumming.

His daughter came home from school and said she could hear the drums from several streets away. My secret hope is that the neighbors were in fear of a takeover by some hostile native tribe. I figure that would distract them from the comical sight of me panting and heaving like an overheated buffalo in Steve's driveway.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I'm going to be WICKED famous!

It all started with a phone call from Tracey Lauder, the Assistant Dean For Library Administration at UNH.
What struck me first is how much I really wish I had an excellent title like Tracey has. She sounds very impressive rattling off that post-script to her name.
I can say, "Hi. I'm Marty Kelley, the guy who writes stuff and paints pictures", but it seems kind of weak.

When Tracey introduces herself to people, I'll bet they give her some respect and attention. When I introduce myself to people, they give me their pity and, if I'm lucky, their spare pocket change.

I'm working on a new and impressive title for my position, but it's not easy. I need something that will fill people with awe and, possibly, fear. Marty Kelley, Creator of Alternate Realities for the Mind and the Eye would probably do the trick, but seems to be a bit too grandiose and possibly overstating the case a bit. I'll keep at it and let you know how it goes.

I need to have a good title because Tracey asked me to be on television and I want to be able to impress people. She asked me to be part of The New Hampshire Authors Series. The trouble, you see, is that everyone they have ever had on the show is an author. I need to stand out from the crowd and the only way I can see to do that is to have an awe-inspiring title. Or some amazing super power, but that isn't working out too well for me, either.

Tracey explained that the author originally scheduled to be on the show was my friend Mary Lyn Ray, but she was unfortunately unable to make it. I wondered if Mary Lyn knew something I didn't. Perhaps she, like me, had been on television before and suffered greatly at the punishing hands of the media gods.

My one previous attempt at television stardom came when I was asked to be on a local cable access children's show that featured me looking like a moron and, more often than not, looking into the wrong camera, as well.

I was supposed to go on the show with a handful of my books, read them, explain a bit about my work, be witty and photogenic, and not look like a total doofus. It was the last of these at which I failed most miserably. My jokes, which tend to work adequately enough when I actually have an audience, were shown to be somewhat lacking by the deadpan camera crew who stared blankly at me and talked to the control room on headphones. Since I couldn't hear the control room, I assumed the camera people were talking to me and at several points in the show, I appear to be talking aloud to the voices in my head.

Unstable lunatic is not the impression one most wants to give on a children's television show.

I was also not enough of a seasoned television professional to be completely unmoved when, in the middle of the taping, one of the camera operators suddenly staggered from the room and began vomiting. The director signaled for me to continue, but I'm fairly certain that the look of shocked horror on my face betrayed my lack of experience with such situations.

I'm only fairly certain because I haven't yet been able to get through more than the first thirty seconds of the DVD of the show. It starts off with me looking earnestly into the wrong camera and doesn't show any immediate signs of improving.

Tracey assured me that I will have fun on her show because it has a live audience (who, presumably, will not vomit en masse) and because I will be interviewed by Rebecca Rule, The Moose of Humor. Another person, I feel compelled to point out, who has a cooler title than I do. Becky's title is well deserved as she is a very funny lady (though suspiciously unmoose-like in appearance and demeanor) and she has the most wonderful New Hampshire accent you will ever hear. I could listen to her say "over there" all day long. I've seen her speak on several occasions and have always thoroughly enjoyed it, so having my own personal chat with her in front of a live audience ought to be a special thrill.

An email from Becky highlighted that fact that there will be free crackers and cheese served to the audience to keep them happy. I am not so scrupulous as to be above this sort of bribery, but I personally would opt for free wine or a keg or even personal Prozac packs so we can eclipse happiness and head directly to blissful euphoria. I'm sure the crackers and cheese will be a big help, though. Unless it makes the audience vomit like the camera guy.

The taping will be at 2:00 on September 27th (my wedding anniversary, if you care to know) at The Dimond Library at UNH in Durham.

Admission is free, as are the crackers and cheese. You need to register, though, so they will know how much cheese to have on hand, I suppose. You can register here.

Hope to see you ov-ah they-ah, as Becky would say.