Review: I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil

(Cross-posted from We Read to Seek a Great Perhaps)

I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class PresidentI Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President
by Josh Lieb
Published by Razorbill, 2009
ISBN 1595142401
Pages: 304
Ages: Middle School through YA
Lexile: 780L

Sometimes you’re excited about books being adapted into movies – especially if your little heart swells to think of the royalties going to the author. Other times, other books, the idea of a film adaptation is, at best, cringe-worthy. This is one such book. It’s coming to the big screen sometime this year, and I just simply cannot imagine how they can take this hilarious gem of a book and effectively translate it to video.

I first picked up this book based on its deliciously verbose title and its endorsement from Jon Stewart (“If War and Peace had a baby with The Breakfast Club and then left the baby to be raised by wolves, this book would be the result. I loved it.”) When I discovered that its author was one of Stewart’s executive producers, and that it had come out in paperback, I could no longer resist its evil, evil charms.

I was quite wrong about it, though. I thought Genius was going to be more or less realistic fiction about an over-intelligent, misanthropic kid running for student body. As it turns out, I was a tiny bit wrong about that “realistic fiction” bit. The story’s protagonist is Oliver Watson, a thirteen-year-old kid who may be overweight but who is also the third wealthiest person in the world. An evil genius, he built his fortune from a single petty crime (stealing some money from his mother’s purse)  and carved out an empire of subterranean tunnels accessible from his bedroom or a secret locker passageway. He’s a blimp-piloting, minion-smacking, evil gadget-inventing mastermind who, as a seventh grader, holds the strings of any number of puppet corporations and countries.

Oliver is determined not to divulge his crazily successful alter ego, and so he lives his life as a very convincing idiot. He’s got everyone fooled into thinking his shoe size exceeds his IQ – classmates, teachers, even his mother and, importantly, his father. It turns out that Oliver is motivated, not by greed, respect, or a desire to change the world, but by a consuming dislike for what he sees as his self-interested and small-minded father.

He’s also motivated by puppy love, but that’s another story.

As Oliver’s best intentions fall apart around him, he ends up in an amusingly messed-up race for student body president, gets cut down a size or two, and maybe even grows up a little bit. But that’s not why you should read it; you should read it for the footnotes.

I’d say that Genius would be what happened if a Daily Show writer re-wrote Catcher in the Rye as a superhero comic book, but since that’s basically what this is, I guess I’ll just say that it’s now available in paperback and as a $6 hardcover through Amazon. If you’re ready for a good, smart laugh, find yourself a copy and buckle your seatbelt.

I Wanna Live in a Kitty Tower

I came across an adorable weekly webcomic, called Gronk, created by Katie Cook. It’s about a misfit (and eponymous) monster who runs away from the monstery forest and is taken in by a kind gal, her kitty, and her dog. I thought that the comic pictured below rather illustrated me, and since the accompanying blog post for said installment was, “your mission for today is to tell other people about gronk! tweet it, facebook it, add a link to your site, blog it… call your mom! just let people know about it,” I decided to share. Go check out Gronk for your daily dose of cute!
Gronk, by Katie Cook
Click to enlarge.

Googly Eyes

googly eyes

In honor of the fact that I have fifteen more important things to be doing right now, I”ve decided to do a public service and try to help out all of the people who end up at this blog via our mutual friend Google. Clearly, you’re looking for something and have come to the quite understandable conclusion that you will find what you are looking for here – so let me see if I can be of some assistance!

First, to the dozens of Googlers trying to learn about bald eagles: I commend you! More people should take the time to learn about these majestic raptors, even if Benjamin Franklin wasn’t a fan. I hope that those with general inquiries (viz. “bald eagle,” “bald eagles”) found my website edifying. In response to “bald eagle wings” and “wing of a bald eagle,” I am pleased to report that yes, they do have them. And although I don’t have an exact figure in response to “how much does a bald eagle weigh,” Ithink it fair to assume that they weigh slightly less than an eagle with all its hair. 

I regularly have hits from people seeking a Civil War telegraph, which leads me to believe that there are either a lot of kids doing research projects about American inventions or a significant amount of confused, oddly computer-literate time travelers trying to figure out a way to call home. In case of the latter, please allow me to point you in the right direction. We still have telegraphs and Morse code and whatnot; it’s just that they’re called emails and bytes, and you’re gonna need one of these newfangled typewriters you’ve seen around in order to use it.

Someone found this site hoping to learn more about “katana death.” Jessica, I’m on to you. PUT THAT AWAY.

I’m not sure how best to respond to those of you visiting DYHJ in search of information about “dirty classrooms,” other than to point out that just because you can’t see the floor behind my desk doesn’t mean my classroom is dirty! On a related note, I think I need to contact Google in order to find out why searches for “tidy classroom pictures” and “keep classroom tidy” direct to my website. Clearly a programming error. In response to “single surface planing of classroom,” if you are hoping to flatten your entire classroom to the ground and begin fresh, congratulations! I do advise that you remove all students from the room first, even if you’re aggravated with them for sleeping in class.

“Ladies juice”? Really? Sir or madam, it is not considered polite – nor, I daresay, sound dietary practice – to juice ladies, even if they are not highly born. Your friendly neighborhood grocer ought to be able to provide some suitable alternatives, such as oranges or yappy terriers.

Recently, someone arrived at DYHJ via a Google search for “estne volumen in toga, an solum tibi libet me videre.” I am scandalized. Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?

Interestingly, every day brings more visitors to this site who are seeking “creepy house,” “creepy old house,” “creepy photograph,” and occasionally just “creepy.” And it’s true – Did You Have Juice is a veritable house of horrors. Why, just the other day, I took this picture at the base of the stairs in my house:

And earlier this summer, I snapped this photo out my bedroom window, which overlooks my idyllic back yard:

And if you’d really like to see something creepy, you should see me first thing in the morning!

I receive a startling number of Jane Austen-related hits for someone who can only honestly admit to having read one Austen novel in her lifetime. (Yes, I know. Tar and feather me. I’ll wait until you’re done.) I’ll do my best to answer your inquiries, however. In regards to “Jane Austen’s silhouette,” I believe it was cut out of a sheet of black paper and reflected her abnormally long chin hairs, which she gave up on plucking when she realized her career suffered from the fact that she was an authoress. And regarding “Jane Austen jewelry,” I have it on good authority that she was really into hemp macrame and pony beads. Really. Just ask Wikipedia! I’m afraid I don’t  know what “jane austen stilohette” is, although I suspect it may have something to do with high heels. (And no, I don’t have “valerie poxleitners high heels,” so please stop asking.) 

Several people have come calling in hopes of tracking down “monster stuffed animals” and “animal pirates.” I hope you realize those are two distinctly different things. I once made the mistake of thinking something was an animal pirate, only to have my left hand cruelly chomped off my the serrated, venomous fangs of what turned out to be a monster stuffed animal! Ironically, I now appear to be a pirate, although I am only rarely mistaken for an animal. And Shel was right – it does make it tricky to pick your nose. Good thing I’m right-handed.

To the reader who Googled “medicine icanhazcheezburger”: do not take medical advice from cats who speak in Impact. It rarely ends well. How do you think I ended up with a hook hand instead of a decent prosthetic? O hai there, you can haz hook! Kthxbai.

I’d provide more information about “spatial synesthesia,” but looking at the screen this long smells horrible. Try me again next time.

In closing, I leave you with the words of wisdom of one of my Googly-eyed friends:

“In a world full of copycats, dalmation.”

It’s a Little Bit Wyrd

In rather lovely news: I think I’ve got the whole darn thing written at this point. It’s all confined to my skull at this point, of course, but I’m pretty sure I know where I’m going – and that’s SOMETHING. I’m just a little bit taken aback at something that happens about half a dozen chapters down the line… was not anticipating this development when I started off. Then again, some of the things that are about to happen in short order hadn’t occurred to me, either, so I’m not sure why I’m surprised. Some writers know their plots; I find mine out at about the same time that my characters do….

Now if I could just trepan myself and get this story OUT already…!