Tag Archives: college

“Bad days happen to everyone, but when one happens to you, just keep doing your best and never let a bad day make you feel bad about yourself.”

–Big Bird (Caroll Spinney)

At the end of my freshman year of college in May 2005, I went to visit my best friend at Stanford University in Palo Alto, C.A. Stanford is a wonderful school–amazing academics, a gorgeous campus, and what I think is the best college bookstore out there. While my friend/hostess was busy writing an epic paper, I walked around the stacks and stacks of books and gorgeous mahogany wood furniture. I could have bought a book on say, Literary Theory and Criticism as explained by one of the best literature professors in the country. Instead, my big buy from the Stanford University Bookstore was The Wisdom of Big Bird (and the Dark Genius of  Oscar The Grouch): Lessons From a Life in Feathers a.k.a. Big Bird’s memoirs. And I don’t regret it.

Big Bird–er, Spinney, follows the Marie Osmond style of writing, where instead of writing a straight up autobiography, he writes about key memories–how he got into puppeteering, the day he joined Sesame Street, the day he swore at a child as Big Bird (which is a highlight, he’s still remorseful over thirty years later!) Each chapter starts off with a quote, usually by Big Bird, Oscar or Ralph Waldo Emerson, that relates to Spinney’s anecdote.

Spinney’s book isn’t the most remarkable memoir, however, it is a memoir that makes you feel good and helps you to stop and think–not about the hardest things, but just how to have fun and enjoy yourself, much like he does while dressed as Big Bird or Oscar the Grouch. It should also be noted that Spinney is a great illustrator, providing the illustrations seen on various pages. As I said before, I don’t regret buying this book when I did–I was in the middle of a transition, going from a small, private college in Pittsburgh to a big, public university in Binghamton, N.Y.. I felt better, like I was worrying way too much about silly things and that I wasn’t thinking of the greater, more positive possibilities, such as, larger classes at the state school meant meeting more people than at the small liberal arts school.

Reading it again, in the midst of transition from student–>miserably unemployed–>on the way to a full-fledged career. I still felt warm and fuzzy when I finished. However, this transition is drastically different than the one I was going through five years ago. That being said, instead of feeling super stressed, I was more relaxed and very, very entertained.

So, who is this book for? As hokey as it is, anyone who is going through anything but  not quite sad/lonely enough to pick up The Heroin Diaries. I also recommend this as a quick read, as Spinney’s words only fill 176 pages.

What are your thoughts? Have you read The Wisdom of Big Bird (and the Dark Genius of  Oscar The Grouch): Lessons From a Life in Feathers? Comment away!

Next time: Drew Barrymore’s teenage auto-bio Little Girl Lost.

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When Paul Feig Says “Please Don’t Read This Chapter,” He Means It.

As you can see, I finally settled on Paul Feig for the celebrity author of the week. For those of you who don’t know Mr. Feig’s work, he created cult classic T.V. series Freaks and Geeks, played science teacher “Mr. Gene Pool” on the first season of Sabrina, The Teenage Witch, had a part on the very short-lived Dirty Dancing T.V. series from the late-eighties*, and recently served as a co-executive producer on The Office.

He also wrote Superstud: Or How I Became a 24-Year-Old Virgin, which chronicles Feig’s sexual awakening/young adult love life. I felt for younger Feig, as it is very clear the man was very, very sexually frustrated, the frustration brought on by a conflict with his religious beliefs. I wish Feig had touched more on this, as I found his “conversations”  with God entertaining and so true. Religion and sex are both touchy subjects when faced separately, but bring them together and it’s so weird–you follow these beliefs, but what to do about the biological urges?

Then again, if Feig spent the entirety of Superstud discussing the eternal debate of biology v. theology, we wouldn’t get to read his awkward yet hilarious dating stories. I spent most of the book alternating between laughter and cooing “awwww” at his various romantic misfortunes. One story in particular involves the situation everyone has found themselves in: thirteen-year-old Feig falls for a pretty older woman (all of age sixteen) at a roller rink, he thinks it’s love. She loves him too–as a friend. How could you not sympathize?  I also loved Feig’s attention to detail, from the music he was listening to down to the color/brand of people’s shoes. It wasn’t distracting, it helped put you in his shoes, making his angst fresh.

Which is unfortunate when you get to  “Please Don’t Read This Chapter.” Seriously, don’t read it. My reaction went something like this: “hee hee…wait…what did he do?…what…oh shit…oh no…oh [expletive!] What the?! Are you serious? What?!” (and no, I’m not telling you what he did. I’m not a fan of spoilers, which is why I don’t post many lines from the books I critique.) That, uh, interesting chapter aside, I still highly recommend Superstud.

Have you read Superstud? Did you read the chapter Feig begged the readers not to read? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Oh! I keep forgetting. CLC has a twitter now. Follow @CelebLitClub, find out when this page is updated and read news relating to celebrity literature/literature in general! I’ll follow you back!

Next Week: How you doin’, Wendy Willams’ The Wendy Williams Experience: Queen of Radio?

*I found this tidbit on IMDb and just had to share.

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Esquire has published such great authors as Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, and Daniel Desario–er, I mean, James Franco

Surprise! Next week has come a bit early as I recently discovered that a short story of James Franco’s (Milk, Pineapple Express, Freaks and Geeks)  is featured in the April 2010 issue of Esquire, on pages 68-72. Getting published in Esquire, (or any magazine, really) is no small feat. Esquire launched the career of Raymond Carver (R.I.P.,) who many people claim helped revitalize the short story in the eighties. In college, I read two of his short stories: The Bath, written in 1981 and it’s revision, A Small Good Thing from 1983.

Which leads to my critique of Franco’s short story, Just Before The Black. As some of you may know, Franco has studied creative writing, getting his BA from UCLA and his MFA from Columbia. It shows. I felt like I was reading a copy of his assignment for an intermediate level creative writing class. For this assignment, the prompt given would have be something to the effect of  “Write about two men on a road trip, one is contemplating suicide and the other is kind of dimwitted, and throw in every road trip cliché–vintage car, having the two passengers argue and have “meaningful” conversations and the driver staring into space and having deep thoughts while he drives.” (The last paragraph talks about kaleidoscopic buildings coming up on the horizon as he drives his grandfather’s DeVille down the freeway, thinking about knights and how they used to feel. I’ll leave it at that.) Just Before The Black is from his short story collection Palo Alto, due out in October

For a first published story, the one that’s supposed to make readers want to buy a larger collection of his work, Just Before The Black is a bit too safe–which is more likely the fault of the publisher, not Franco’s. Perhaps there are better stories, we just have to wait until October to find out. My verdict is, don’t sell Franco short simply because of one clichéd story in a (sophisticated) men’s magazine. I must say, it was refreshing to read a story by a young celebrity that wasn’t about being a young celebrity, and that Esquire picked his short story rather than interviewing him and asking “how he stays in shape” or “how can I be as cool as Daniel Desario?” Again, I’d say wait until October before deciding whether he’s better off as a movie star or if he has the potential to be a true author.

Oh…I was supposed to write about Tori Spelling, wasn’t I? Don’t worry, I am actually working on that (Ms. Spelling has two 300+ page books for me to go through, while Esquire only gave me four pages of Franco’s work, hence the quick reviewing time.) and it will be up Wednesday afternoon. My updates will usually be on Fridays, I will be out-of-town with no access wi-fi this weekend.

Have you read Just Before The Black? What did you think of it? Feel free to discuss in the comments!

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