Fuse #8

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Wacked Out Week-end Revelry

And how was your week-end? Did you have a nice time relaxing? Yeah, me too. Only, I feel as if something important happened on Saturday. Something interesting. Something like MEETING FRANCES HARDINGE, PERHAPS! Cause that's what I did, babies. Met her. Praised her. And got to see a whole heaping helpful of interesting children's authors and illustrators to boot.

So if you live in the New York City area and you have even the slightest inkling of interest in children's books, the one place to visit (aside from the Donnell Central Children's Room, of course) is the all children's literature all the time outpost, Books of Wonder. Chock full of great books, some eerie dancing cupcake mannequins (would that I had their nice legs) and some wonderful old books, it's a lovely place to stop by. Even more fun are the authors they get. This month I missed Garth Nix but I thank the heavens above (heavens above = Monica) for alerting me to the fact that Frances Hardinge would be there for the seeing. But it's even better than that. I went expecting a single author and I got five, count 'em, five of the puppies. So let's roll 'em out and see how they fared.

Howard Fine

Isn't he though? Fine, I mean. I sniff a potential addition to the Hot Men of Children's Literature man-of-the-week. Mr. He's So Fine was promoting Dinotrain, a sequel to his popular Dinosailors. Basically Fine has recognized an essential truth to dinosaur picture books. Why not just add dinosaurs to everything else the kids like and profit accordingly? Frankly, I'm just pleased that his first book wasn't a dinosaur/pirate combo. That's be playing one's hand a little broadly, don't you think? As it was, he was a nice enough fellow. Moving on...

Arlene Alda

Sorry about the crummy photo. None of these are particularly striking, are they? And to think I wanted to be a photographer before I bowed to the inevitable and became a librarian. Shocking. Anywho, I think I was trying to show Ms. Alda's name in this shot for my own future reference. Truth be told, I'd never heard of her before, though a quick perusal of her website shows that I have heard of many of her books. She's written a goodly number of books and (at least in this case) illustrated some with photographs. She does indeed have some kind of connection to Alan Alda, but I wasn't able to tease out exactly what that connection was. She was talking up her newest title, Did You Say Pears?

Angie Sage

Aw, yeah. You yucksters know who I'm talking about here. Magyk, anyone? Well, Books of Wonder was hosting two Americans on this day (Fine and Alda) alongside three Brits. The Americans were easy to hear in the cavernous chairless space. The Brits? Much more difficult. And while Ms. Sage was lovely to listen to, she was a soft-spoken bit of a thing. Couldn't compete at all with the Yanks, I fear. She was talking up the sequel to Magyk, Flyte. I felt badly because I haven't read her first book yet. It's supposed to be quite good, yes? I felt even worse though when I walked right smack up to Ms. Hardinge (seated next to Ms. Sage) and informed her that she had written the best British import of the year. Sorry, Sage. I call 'em like I see 'em. I promise to read your own book soon. Honest. But wait... who's that I see talking about his book but none other than...

Rob Scotton

It's Hot Man of Children's Literature - Week 7! I'd like to state for the record that I was blessed by the angels the day I chose Mr. Scotton for inclusion on the list. This picture is a dreadfully poor one of him. I took others but not as many as I should have. It was weird enough being a grown woman sitting in a chairless room (seriously, Books of Wonder, what is up with that?) snapping picture after picture of the cute Brit in the blazer. Actually, I wasn't sure how to proceed with Mr. Scotton in any case. You can't exactly walk up to a fellow and say, "Hi. You're week seven on my Hot Men of Children's Literature series on my blog". I mean, how's a guy gonna react that that kind of statement? Brian Selznick reacted with great charm and aplomb, but he's just a swell fella. Other guys might be (oh, I dunno) freaked out by some rabid American floozy with an MLIS degree and too much time on her hands spouting off about their hotness. In short, I didn't tell him who I was. I might have been able to get some play out of being the sole review for his new book on Amazon, but you can't always count on authors checking that sort of thing. Ah well.

Finally we come to the woman of the hour. The reason I was able to pull my stinking carcass out of bed in the first place (10:15 a.m. on a Saturday is MADNESS) and hike on over to the bookstore itself. The one, the only, the...

Frances Hardinge!!!

Books of Wonder was no dummy. They saved the best for last. Prior to hearing her speak I had a chance to talk to Ms. Hardinge on my own. By doing so I learned that she had read my Amazon review of her book, which was heartening. I'd received an e-mail from the editor who purchased the book for the American market, but I'd never had any proof that she herself had read the review. She signed a nice little copy of the book for me and even drew a lovely picture of Saracen in there. When she spoke she resembled (and I mean this in the best possible sense) a children's literature version of the British comic Jimmy Carr. She, of course, brought her own little goose....

... and was lovely all around. No mention of it on her blog quite yet, but here's hoping.

So we left (we being myself and my very patient husband who actually enjoys coming to these things). But was THAT the end of the excitement for the day? You would have thought so. After all we were just going to meet up with some friends at a hot dog venue in Carroll Gardens known as Schnack. Schnack has a lovely website, and I've yet to come across a hot dog establishment that can rival its blog. However, the computer in the back of the bar was apparently on the fritz. So with only six customers (including myself) in the joint, the waiters kept appearing with plate after plate of mysterious food and offering them to us like some crazed I Love Lucy episode. The food that I had actually ordered (one hamburger & one coke) took 45 minutes to arrive. Moral of the story? Schnack's not so hot. Some patrons behind us expressed this opinion with a carefully worded message accompanying one of the Schnack coloring pages available at every table.

But why am I telling you this? Well, after Schnack we walked to Red Hook to take in some Ibsen in the back of a tiny bar called Sunny's. I am not making this up. We were going to see a friend of ours in Ghosts (my husband's take: I hope it isn't too scary. Y'know. With all the ghosts). Our friend was playing Regina, the "filled out" serving girl/potential incestuous figure who eventually becomes a prostitute. Fun! And playing Osvald, the fellow who succumbs to an odd strain of genetic syphilis (this is true), was Michael Maronna. Afterwards we did some hanging out with Mr. Maronna.

Still you do not understand. What is the importance of Maronna? Well, I'm about to date myself here. Did any of you ever happen to watch that old Nickelodeon show The Adventures of Pete and Pete back in the day? Yes? First season is out on DVD, actually. Anywho, turns out I was hanging out with Big Pete, from the show. You'd have to be an old-school Pete & Pete fan to understand how wonderful that was (though it was an unspoken agreement amongst my friends and myself not to say the word "Pete" around him). I tell you, I am rapidly cornering the market on small-time celebrities. My sister is currently working on a children's television show in Michigan in which she acts alongside the woman who used to do A.L.F.'s left arm. That's about the level of fame I'm juggling these days.


At 6:17 PM , Blogger Gail Gauthier said...

I believe Arlene Alda is Alan Alda's wife. I thought she was a musician, and, sure enough, if you read about her at her website it says she was a musician. It also says she wrote something about the last days of MASH.

I'm totally embarrassed that I know this. I'm afraid that my knowledge of celebrity trivia far exceeds my knowledge of literature.

At 12:34 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

holy crap, you met big pete?! incredible. i do believe that pete and pete is the best, and yet most overlooked, show in childrens' tv history. i thought once that i might be overdoing it with that statement, but then rented the dvds and watched them all twice. once without commentary and once with. turns out i've been right all these years. amazing. i'm so jealous.
oh yeah - it finally stopped raining.

At 9:16 AM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

THANK YOU! I'm glad that there's someone out there who appreciates the Peteness of it all. I've heard the show described as The Wonder Years meets Northern Exposure, but that's not quite right. It was it's own mighty peculiar but great beast. Any show where mom has a metal plate in her head is worth watching. So sayeth I.

At 3:59 PM , Blogger Jackie Parker said...

Pete and Pete was one of those shows that I remember loving, but never being able to actually pin down. Am I right in thinking that its showing back in the day was totally random? Or was I one of those kids with no sense of time? Or direction? I should Netflix those DVDs...

At 5:19 PM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

I can't remember. When I was a kid I too caught it at random times. The one episode I remember the clearest involved a stoplight that wouldn't change from red. It's funny what sticks in the brain.

At 6:55 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

any show where the kids revolt against the parents for collective bargaining rights and a new bedtime is okay in my book. oh yeah - and they win!


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