Sunday, May 30, 2010

Some Terrifying Lulu Action

You long time, hard-core Marty Kelley groupies out there–and I'm sure there are millions of you–may remember that for quite some time on my real website (not this fake Marty Kelley knock-off site you are looking at now), there was a picture of a Marty Kelley scarecrow displayed for some time.

Before I continue, I'd like to point out that I have managed to use my first and last names three separate times in the first sentence of this posting. That may be a new record.

Anyhow, librarian Sue Demanche was the evil mastermind behind the Marty Kelley (4!) scarecrow and now she has outdone herself, creating a horrifyingly realistic, life-sized statue of such osculating audacity that it must be named...

Auntie Lulu.

The mascot to my website (Click here if you missed the last link...) has brought terror to the hearts of thousands of visitors to my website (there's another chance...) beckoning them in and daring them to kiss her mustachioed candy-colored lips of doom.

Now Sue has taken this digital threat and brought it to life. The life sized Auntie Lulu doll was posed outside the doors to her library like a sleepless sentry in need of a kiss. Along with her dimpled arms and 250% polyester dress, Auntie Lulu came complete with pinned on wax lips that demanded kissing. Those oh-so-kissable lips also had a tendency to fall off at random times throughout the day, adding carpet lint to her lips for some exciting tactile textures during that kiss.

I begged and cried and whimpered in a very manly way, but there was no escape. I was forced to kiss Auntie Lulu.

It was actually far less pleasant than you may have expected.

Sue's attention to detail was stunning. In this picture, you have a clear view of the extremely fashionable Mr. PotatoHead earrings that she used to compliment Auntie Lulu's dress and really bring out the green in her eyes.

After I recovered from the shock and horror of meeting–and kissing–Auntie Lulu (actually, I don't think I'll ever fully recover) Sue was kind enough to let me rinse my mouth out with the rice crispy treats and fruit that she brought for breakfast. It was quite possibly the most perfect breakfast I have ever eaten.

Sue also has a real, genuine, honest-to-goodness rowboat in her library.

You will notice that Auntie Lulu is NOT in the rowboat. But, you never know where she might turn up next.
What's that behind you?
With the Mr. PotatoHead earrings?


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Chuck! Chuck! Chuck!

And, as if a tasty lunch and wonderful day getting lost in Holderness weren't enough, I had yet another opportunity to get lost driving to Portsmouth Tuesday night to see Chuck Palahniuk.

I'm happy to report that, due to excellent directions provided by Stephanie Finnegan at the school, I did not fall victim to the pervasive idea among the staff there that there is actually no way to get from Holderness to Portsmouth.
There is a way.

It just takes a really, really long time to do it.

But I made it, thank you very much.

I met my friends Katie and Steve (yes, I only hang out with people who have their own web sites) at The Friendly Toast, a delightful restaurant full of tacky souvenirs from days gone by and waiters and waitresses who have more ink tattooed on each of their arms, legs, and necks than I have used in a lifetime of professional illustration.

They serve excellent onion rings, too. Much better than those served at their sister restaurant, The Unfriendly Toast.

As an odd sort of coincidence, we all ordered falafel wraps and deep-fried something-or-other.
We gagged down our food and raced over to the South Church where the great Chuck was to address the thronging masses.

I feel a need to explain at this point that I am going to refer to him as Chuck, not because we are old pals or anything. Simply because it's much easier to type than Palahniuk.

This particular book event–and it was an event–was organized by the River Run Bookstore, an excellent independent bookstore in Portsmouth that, for some reason, didn't ask me to come sign copies of my most recent book, but maybe will have me come in the future, as I am posting this delightful praise of their excellent, superlative, really swell store.

I'll keep you posted on how that turns out...

So the bookstore held this Chuckstravaganza at the South Church because they figured that all the people who would want to see Chuck wouldn't fit in the store. With a ticket priced at $25 (but including a signed hardcover copy of his latest book, priced at $24.95) there were still over 400 people who came. These people know a bargain when they see it!
A five cent ticket?
I'm in!!

A brief introduction, in case you are unaware of the greatness which is Chuck. He is the author of Fight Club, Choke, Invisible Monsters, Haunted and many other books so profoundly disturbing and amazing and funny and horrifying that I can't actually think of  good way to end this sentence.

Haunted, for one example, is a novel of short stories including the infamous story, Guts, a tale so unimaginably horrifying in its excruciating detail, that it is reported that nearly 50 people have fainted while listening to Chuck do readings of it.

So, needless to say, I was very excited for the opportunity to listen to him speak, and possibly to pass out and sustain some sort of traumatic head injury as I toppled to the floor.

Katie, Steve, and I, due in large part to Katie's burning need to arrive several hours before the event was scheduled to start, were hanging around in the rockin' front row seats we had scored. The owner of River Run Books announced that there were signed copies of some of Chuck's previous books for sale at the back of the church.

I strolled back and purchased one book. I eyeballed another, but didn't purchase it. Back at my seat, I decided that I did, in fact, want that other book, but when I went back to get it, they had sold out. It was a bleak, black moment for me.

I wandered downstairs to go to the bathroom, an activity I find comforting in those bleak, black moments. When I was headed back upstairs to rejoin Steve and Katie and wallow in my misery at having missed a chance to get a signed copy of Haunted, I saw a large table, liberally spread with copies of Chuck's books. Among them, Haunted, with it's super cool glow-in-the-dark cover.

I sauntered over to see if I might purchase one. A friendly lady from the bookstore said that Sure, I could buy one, but Chuck couldn't personalize it because I didn't have one of the magical tickets that allowed me an opportunity to meet Chuck before the event and get my book personalized.
It was only then that I noticed Chuck himself standing there signing books.

No problem. I purchased my book and was prepared to merely bask in his reflected glory from a respectful distance when Chuck looked at me and held out his hand. "Hey. Let me personalize that for you," he said.

I may possibly have squealed a very manly little squeal of joy and I most certainly did a very manly little tippy-toe dance of elation.

And let me add that it's a good thing I had just used the bathroom, too.

I shook his hand and when someone there laughed about my "Life Is Adequate" shirt, I explained that I am a children's author and the shirt was a joke from one of my books. I told Chuck that I hoped people that read my books would grow up to read his.

He replied that he hoped the people who read his books would grow up at all.

I skipped upstairs to gloat and brag about my personalized book and the fact that Chuck had shaken my hand. Katie tried to touch my hand, no doubt in an effort to swipe some of the precious Chucklocules still clinging to it. She did not succeed.

After that, the rest of the night could have consisted of Chuck clipping his toenails in front of us and I would have been satisfied. He did not clip his toenails, however. He came out on stage and spoke for awhile, noting to us, as an aside, that he had used some particularly foul language in a church and was planning on using much, much more. He read us a brand-new, not-yet-published story. He had contests where people raced to blow up giant, inflatable Academy Awards in a desperate effort to win–of all things–giant inflatable turkeys. And he answered questions from the audience.

If you were lucky enough to get your question answered, you also got an inflatable turkey.

It was lots of fun and, to be honest, I was jealous. I love the book events that I have done, but I have never had a chance to make people get brain hemorrhages racing to inflate things in an effort to win more things to inflate.

Maybe after my next book.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Cell Phones and Tasty Sandwiches

I've returned safely from the snowy reaches of the great white north and have been doing even more traveling around.
Monday, I was in the delightfully named Center Sandwich with Duncan McDougal, the big cheese in charge of the Children's Literacy Foundation. I have been working with CLiF for several years, visiting schools that typically could not afford to bring in an author without CLiF's generous help.

CLiF also sponsors rural libraries, awarding grants of $2,000 for the librarians to pick out whatever books they want for their libraries. The book donations are made at a big ceremony at the local public school to try to encourage the schools and libraries to find ways to help each other support literacy in the community.

I watched Duncan work his magic and hold a large group of kids spellbound as he told them about the wonders of reading and got them very excited about the books their library was receiving. I'll be doing the presentations at a school at the end of the month. I only hope I do half as well as Duncan did.

Tuesday, I went back up north, this time to get terribly, terribly lost on my way to the Holderness Central School. I had actually driven through Holderness on Monday, so I figured I was all set with the directions and made much of the drive with my eyes closed, just to show off.

I got my directions from Google Maps. (No, I don't have a GPS. I don't have a cell phone, either. While we're at it, I still don't have a Facebook page or a working TV. You have to cope with this. Not me. I'm perfectly content.)

The directions would have been perfect had my destination been the Ashland Central School. I was looking for the Holderness Central School, however. Undaunted, I drove on thinking, "Hey, I was just here yesterday. I'm pretty sure I saw this school on my drive,"

It turns out, I had not seen that school on my drive. After driving farther and farther from anything that looked like a school, I began to get a bit panicky. When I saw the sign that said Welcome to Mexico, I stopped a very helpful guy on a mountain bike and asked him for directions. His response, "Whooo, boy. You're REALLY lost" did surprisingly little to calm my nerves.

This is the point of the story where my friends all jump in and say, "See? If you had a cell phone, you could have called the school." This is true. But here is the amazing part - I was still able to call the school. I found an old fashioned device called a pay phone. It is a slightly more sophisticated means of communication than smoke signals or carrier pigeons, which I am thinking about employing in the future.

Through the delicate art of excessive, reckless speeding, I arrived at the school in time to start my first presentation right on schedule.

It was a delightful day in Holderness. The kids and teachers were loads of fun. They even did enough research about me to know that I would rather eat a plateful of toenails than the average school lunch. So, rather than Sloppy Joes and Tater Tots, I was treated to a gourmet lunch of tasty sandwiches, excellent salads, and delicious desserts. I will be driving to Holderness for lunch every day from now on, and, though the lunch was exceptional, I do expect there to be a larger wine list offered in the future.

They were celebrating Literacy Week (which is way more fun than Advanced Concepts in Math Week) and many of the classes had decorated their doors with pictures from favorite books. I was flattered to see that several classes had chosen my books. There was a three dimensional desk from The Messiest Desk (complete with three - count 'em, three! pairs of undies). There was a complete rewrite of Twelve Terrible Things, changing it to Twelve Terrific Things. It was very funny and clever, though I'm not sure I approve of all the happiness it portrayed. There were lots and lots of new rules for The Rules, and some great artwork and ideas from my other books, as well.

Most frightening of all was a giant, bigger than life picture of Auntie Lulu from my website covering the entire doorway to the library. I almost wet my pants laughing when I saw it.

Please take a moment to notice the last picture. The one of the kid in the red shirt. It's a new rule: Put the toilet seat down. The artist in this case took the time to make the water yellow and dotted with little McNuggets of poop. That's the sort of attention to detail that separates good art from great art. Nice work!!

It's always very flattering to be made to feel so welcomed in a school. At a school like the one in Holderness, I will be walking down the hall and will hear whispers of "Hey! That's Martykelley!"

It's always one word. Martykelley. Like Cher or something. When I walk through the halls I hear "Hi Martykelley. Hi Martykelley. Hi Martykelley. Hi Martykelley. Hi Martykelley."
And the occasional "Hey! Look! Martykelley is going into the bathroom."

I'll try to remember to put the seat down when I'm finished...