Bits and Bobs

There is an awful lot going on right now, Poetry Month, turn off your TV week, some terrible movies coming out, a new zombie song and a Broadway show about vampires. I've also got the dl on a silent charity auction featuring really nifty items for cartoon fans and recommendations for a couple of books. Oh, I also have a grave and terrible warning about the state of children's education today; to my shock I discovered that not one child in my youngest son's eighth grade class knows how to make disruptive noises using their armpits and their hands! What happened to no child left behind? This is outrageous! Our children deserve to have the same rich and textured childhoods that we did so be sure to take the time to pass this necessary knowledge on to the next generation.

April is Poetry Month and I think we should celebrate with the Bad Poetry Drinking Gameš that I invented. Here is how it works. You need a group of people; the size is up to you. Pick out a piece of particularly bad poetry (tips on how to find the worst of the worst follow) and choose one person to do a dramatic reading of said poem. If the person gets through the piece without breaking character then everyone else has to take a drink. If the reader laughs or grimaces or indicates the true awfulness of the verse in any way, they take the drink. Continue until you start to worry about the health of the players but do remember, only Vogon poetry is actually lethal.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden, editor extraordinaire, has excellent hints for finding bad poetry. She says, "Fans of bad poetry can always locate new specimens of it by using the magic search strings: peom, peoms, pomes, peotry, poerty, and of course that fateful day." Neil Gaiman recently suggested this absolutely amazing gem, calling it "A remarkable poem that should, I think, be read aloud by groups of people, late at night," which makes it the perfect poem for our game. Now I would feel guilty if I left you with only terrible poems so try these links for some poems I particularly like. Give them a try.

Since I don't like to dwell on the negative I will touch very briefly on the subject of movies coming out that I plan to miss. The first one is, Mission Impossible, in which Tom Cruise is repeatedly blown up but it never seems to bother him. I guess the look of steely determination in his eye is what protects him from little things like explosives. I think at this point it would make a better film if only he were blown up and stayed blown up. The ghost of mission impossible where his character is running around trying to get people to notice him would be interesting and would make the walking away from explosions thing a little more believable. The Da Vinci Code is another one I plan to miss (perhaps I could wash my hair during the entire run of the picture?) The book was unreadable (come on, how many world famous curators have you heard of? The whole thing was ridiculous) and the film looks tedious at best.

Great news for Jonathan Coulton (or zombie) fans, JC has released a song called Re Your Brains, about the guy from the office down the hall who has just become a zombie and is trying to talk his way into his coworker's space so he can eat his brains. There is so much to love about this song from the jolly chorus to the corporate speak to the fun rhymes like compromise and eat your eyes. JC says, "My favorite thing about this character is the way his zombie and corporate sides war for dominance - Tom, how about we compromise by EATING YOUR BRAINS!" That is the definition of compromise, right? One of you loses his brain and the other gets everything that he wants.

The Cartoon Network is sponsoring a silent charity auction filled with wonderful things for cartoon fans. You can bid on a phone call from Porky Pig or an original Lone Ranger strips. There are several 2-D art pieces by Genndy Tartakovsky of Dexter's Lab fame. I really like Blue Lion. You can also bid on a chance to be an incidental character on Family Guy. There are loads of goodies available and it's all for an excellent cause.

Lestat - the Musical, based on Anne Rice's much beloved The Vampire Chronicles opens on the 25th of this month. The music is by Elton John and Bernie Taupin and Dave McKean is the visual concept designer. There are quite a few activities scheduled in support of opening night, my favorite is a book signing on the 24th at seven pm by Dave, but others will no doubt want to check out Elton John's "fabulously unique feathered, sequined, and bejeweled stage wardrobe." More information about the musical can be found here.

In support of Turn Off Your TV Week, which runs next week, I've got a couple of book suggestions for you. The first is a somewhat dry but oddly compelling thriller called The Mad Cook of Pymatuning by Christopher Lehmann-Haupt. It's the story of a teenager who takes his little brother to camp and gradually realizes that something awful is going on. Unfortunately for him, his family is overseas and he's on his own, trapped between his responsibility for his brother and his desire to flee from the camp. The author does a nice job of layering tension upon tension. The other book is in the romantic suspense genre and it's called Head Over Heels by Susan Anderson. This book combines a murder investigation, a feisty, spirited woman, a fragile six-year-old, and an undercover ex-Special Forces Agent come to town to prove his brother didn't kill anyone. Sparks and witty dialogue fly as the characters jockey for control and fight their attraction for each other. Like all of Susan Anderson's work this book is pure and simple fun with a chaser of pizzazz.