Monday, October 12, 2009

...with Apologies to Kate DiCamillo

A continuum of consequences exists in regard to addictions. They creep. They clutch. They control. And worst of all, they cling to one's life with the tenacity of a barnacle. Some have devastating impacts on all aspects of an individual's life. People dealing with addiction recovery agree that the first step in ridding one's life of these pesky disturbances in acknowledgement. goes...I am addicted to Eggz. Lest you think I am making light of the larger issue, know that I am not. Know that I am fully aware that on that aforementioned continuum, Eggz addiction barely makes the defining cut-off . Just the same, this little computer game has pecked its way into my day, and will not go away. Despite the warning glued to the top of my computer reading "Bev, no playing computer games," and signed by Ivan the Terrible, I cannot resist a dozen or so games a day.

The game oddly combines the old piano-playing chicken trick, pinball and Skeball, with a mouse controlled version of air-hockey minus the air and the hockey. Once you hit the GO button, the chicken clucks, bobs and plunges the mechanism that shoots an egg to the tip of your arrow. If your mouse, keyboard, computer and arrow are all in perfect alignment, you can hit the left click and start cracking those Eggz. An egg must hit at least two other like colored eggs to clear them from the field, with your goal being to get your egg to crash against the back wall. Additional eggs are laid randomly as you play. Once you hit the wall, you move up a level, and the behind the scene chickens get real busy shooting those eggs out.

I have made it to level 7; there is no answering the phone once I hit this level...after all, level 8 may just be an omelet away. Sometime, I even play when there are customers in the store. I have learned to turn down the sound on those occasions, after being called out one afternoon by an 8 year-old. "I know that sound" she said, "but I just can't get past level 10!" Level 10! There's a level 10? How long can this go on? I am replacing mouse batteries daily due to the incalculable number of mouse taps. Bills are piling up. I haven't seen my friends in weeks, and my dog may be starving for all I know.

I have named the chicken Louise. For weeks, I was calling her Edna, but then I read Kate DiCamillos's book, and realized, I had been mistaken. Louise is just a better chicken name. After a series of adventures with pirates, circus performers, and street vendors in a land far, far away, Louise learns that there is no place like home.
Hmmm...sound familiar? DiCamillo has a charming way of re-inventing favorite themes, and archetypes. Last weekend I watched The Tale of Despereaux which calls upon the the hero-quest storyline, along with number of comfortable fairy tale elements. If you haven't read the book or seen the movie, do it soon.
I wonder if Kate remembers me? Two years ago, I frightened the bejeepers out of her at a trade show. Against my better judgement, I went to St.Paul, armed with some crazy antibiotics to combat a stubborn infection. The infection, the stress of being sick, and the lack of sleep due to worry about traveling, ...well, eventually, and at the most importune time, I hit an ugly wall.
I happened to sit down at a table with Kate DiC, and her publicist. My stupor first took me on a rambling one-woman performance on how much I loved all of her books, giving her an oral history of everything she had ever written, as if she didn't know. I was winding down, when The Journey of Edward Tulane came to mind, and that is where I lost it. The thought of that little bunny, Edward, falling overboard, and floating toward an uncertain future, was too much and I broke down sobbing. Poor Kate. She looked terrified. Surely I blubbered something about being tired and sick. I bent down to grab a tissue from my knapsack stashed beneath the table, and when I reappeared, they were gone.
I am sorry Kate. I am not a nut. But then, you don't know that for sure, do you? You write about talking mice, and rats, and bunnies, and princesses who long for soup. In that realm, you are at home, comfortable, and safe. You were supposed to be at the trade show to accept the 2009 Midwest Booksellers Choice Award for Best Children's Picture Book...Louise, the Adventures of a Chicken. Instead, someone from your publishing house accepted the honor. He never said why you weren't there.