First off, I’ll admit that I’m a fan of coming of age stories. All the good ones usually follow a protagonist who is struggling to find their way in a world they don’t quiet fit into — that’s just something I related to in adolescence and even sometimes in adulthood. So — generally speaking — I liked the book. If you went to art school or grew up being an outsider, you will likely find something to like about this story. If neither of those apply to you, you probably won’t find it as entertaining… and are likely to see it as a little bizarre or even boring.
The full title of the book is, “The Cheese Monkeys: A Novel in Two Semesters” and the storyline has a very “day in the life” feel to it, even though it spans two semesters (as the title would suggest.) Not a whole lot happens in the book, there are some interesting situations, but it really is more about how the narrator (Happy) feels and thinks about the characters around him and how what they do and say shapes him and how he views himself and the world around him. So… who are these characters?
First there is Maybelle, who is what I think of as ‘the Ducky’. Ducky was the best friend character in the 19080′s John Hughes film Pretty in Pink wherein Molly Ringwald spends the entire film fawning over this rich yuppie dude (and eventually falling in love with him) when all the while she had this amazing friend (and could be love interest) by her side. The only difference of course is that Ducky was an interesting character — Maybelle is not.
Next up, Himillsy. Himillsy Dodd is the manic pixie dream girl. A character troupe that has been played to death in the past decade. Back in 2001 when this book was first published, we hadn’t seen Garden State or 500 Days of Summer so if I had read this back then — perhaps I would not have found Himsy so cringe inducing — but alas. I read it in 2012, at the ripe age of 30, so I see this character as trite.
At this stage, I am beginning to think — maybe I didn’t actually like this book? …Let’s keep going.
In the second semester of Happy, Maybelle and Himilsy’s journey they putz up at registration and are left with only ONE class option left for their studio class, Introduction to Commercial Art. When they arrive to the first day of class, they meet a sign stating, “INTRODUCTION TO GRAPHIC DESIGN: formerly mislabeled Introduction to Commercial Art. Enter the room at EXACTLY 2:25PM -W.S.”
W.S is our final character, Winter Sorbeck. I like to imagine looks a lot like Don Draper, which is enough to explain Himillsy and Happy’s infatuation with him. Sorbeck introduces them all the Graphic Design, which — at this time in history was a completely new concept that none of these kids had ever heard! However excited any of you got the first time you played with Photoshop or CSS, it’s not even close to having your whole world turned upside down when you learn there is this whole new way of communicating that is evolving – and it is so much bigger than what we’d known as “Commercial Art” and it is something completely different from “Fine Art.” Whoa.
The last half of the book follows the gang through their class with Winter, and his various class assignments. There are moments that flash me back to my own school experience — and some dorky art school references that those of you who are part of the club will find amusing. For the most part, I see this book as being about a kid discovering passion. Throughout his childhood and adolescence, he hadn’t really encountered anything that excited him — and now he’s discovering ideas and people that are driving him nutty with excitement. A pretty relatable experience — being young and excited about things. Being a little terrified as you discover the things that excite you the most and how powerful that feeling of passion can be.
I hear this book is being developed into a movie — which does not really interest me. I found the story not to be about the actual characters, but about Happy’s experience of the characters. It’s his observations and inner-dialog about the things around him that tell the story, not really what is ACTUALLY going on.
I still don’t know, DID I like the book? Maybe it’s not that cut and dry… reading it was an interesting experience.
Last month I decided to post a monthly log of my Thursday night Karaoke hijinks. January was much more active, you can check out that post for last months song list (which included some obscure cuts from Babes in Toyland, Dokken, and Peaches.) Only made it out once this month! It was the Thursday before Valintine’s Day, we declared the theme ‘Sad Bastard Heartbreak Songs’ — the goal was to make some sad sap at the bar cry into their beer…
An upbeat sound with some more meloncoly lyrics, one of my favorite Prince jams — and i LOVE the Cyndi Lauper version, which is what is linked here since I couldn’t find the original Prince version on YouTube!
I’m pretty uneducated when it comes to modern day music hits, i’ll admit. I only downloaded and listened to this song for the first time about an hour before heading out to Karaoke — and it being one of the most utterly heartbreaking songs I’d ever laid ears on — it was the perfect selection for the nights theme. If the lyrics to this one didn’t make anyone cry, my attempt to sing an actual ‘singerly’ song might have! ;)
Tonight I just learned about the Vaginal Fantasy Hangout. It is a group of 4 nerdy ladies who share their Google+ Hangout discussion of a steamy fantasy books, (book club style.) The gang includes Bonnie Burton, Kiala Kazebee, Felica Day and Veronica Belmont. The later of which is also on the book club podcast Sword & Laser, which inspired the idea to start MY podcast, Pagebreak! Yay for books! :)
Check out the 1st Vaginal Fantasy Hangout, already posted on YouTube.
Last night, I set aside my skeptisism and watched the documentary “Art & Copy.” It wasn’t bad, but not exactly good either. Mostly a bunch of old white guys stroking eachothers (and their own) egos. Don’t get me wrong, I think a lot of the work cited in the movie was the best of what comes out of the advertising world, for sure… but give me a BREAK guys!
I’m not anti-advertising… and the thing that is making me laugh on THIS particular Friday — is a commerical!
Some might watch this and think Liquid Plumber is trying to get attention by using a cheap tactic… but I see this as pure comedy… from the moment to woman chuckles to herself in the aisle to the Barry White voice over of some tongue in cheek (but informative) writing, and right down to the produce guy with the melons!? Comedy! I’m laughing! …and if you are a red blooded 30-something woman who likes men, you probably are too.
thanks for sharing this link on twitter, @CatherineOmega
OK was a Coca-Cola product in the early 1990′s that never moved beyond it’s test release to reach a national audience. The can designs (done in collaboration with Wieden & Kennedy) are just awesome and a lot of the marketing tactics used to introduce it must have been downright bizarre for 1993 — but in todays social online world, seem pretty smart. OK. That’s all.