I can't wait to see the Look again, the "Powell's Look," as I defined it a few years ago after taking my high school students from the Oregon Coast to the epic downtown Portland store. I swear some of them almost pass out when they walk in the main entrance.
But, that's not when the Look occurs. That happens after I tell them to get lost in the store and later come across them with a dazed countenance somewhat similar, I imagine, to Moses after the burning bush or anyone who saw Hendrix play the national anthem at Woodstock.
The Look means they will be a reader for life, a book reader, a paper book reader. The Look also means they understand in a tactile way the vast beauty of the literary universe. Sometimes the Look even means: I'm going to be a writer too.
I couldn't teach that in a million years in a classroom. Powell's City of Books can teach it in one hour.
This Friday night, May 25th, I'll see the Look again, because I'm bringing 35 of my students from Newport High School to accompany me as I present my new book, Sometimes a Great Movie: Paul Newman, Ken Kesey and the Filming of the Great Oregon Novel.
Virtually none of these teenagers, mostly from my creative writing class of 41 students, have ever set foot in Powell's. We're taking a yellow school bus to the show. I'm buying them vegan pizza. They get about an hour on their own before the reading. They're supposed to talk to strangers. We'll get back at midnight. I'm paying for the whole thing myself because the school district doesn't have any money.
Who gives a shit? It's the best money I'll ever spend as an Oregon teacher, and I feel like I have a duty to take my students there because so many of them don't have the means or upbringing to do it on their own.
And at least I'll have someone to carry the chainsaw.
If you are in the Portland area, I'd love to see you in attendance. I have all sorts of surprises in store, including a special musical guest, a trivia contest with some groovy prizes, and I'm hoping for a manifestation of Ken Kesey of some kind. I've got a psychedelic priesthood working on this around the clock. I will also make a special announcement about my next Oregon literary venture that I'm sure will intrigue many, many Oregonians.
Speaking of the trivia contest, I have a special offer for readers of On Oregon. The person with the most correct answers to the Sometimes a Great Notion movie/novel quiz will win a special hardback edition of my book. Only 200 were printed, and it was printed in Oregon and bound by Oregonians (as was, I might add, the entire press run for the soft cover edition).
All you have to do is post your answers in the comments section of this blog, I will read them and then post a comment instructing the winner how to go about contacting me.
Did I mention I'm bringing a chainsaw to the event and that I know how to use one?
Something wild is going to happen Friday night.
I can feel it. To quote my favorite line from Sometimes a Great Notion, the novel: "Give me a dark smeary shiny night full of rain. That's when the fear starts. That's when you sell the juice." (Or books.)
Sometimes a Great Notion Trivia Contest:
- True or false? Cloris Leachman got so drunk at Mo's during a party that she passed out in a garbage can?
- True of false? Gene Hackman nearly got the part of Joe-Ben.
- True or false? Richard Jaeckel was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Joe-Ben.
- True or false? Paul Newman considered Sam Peckinpah to direct the movie.
- True of false? Facing reelection later that November, Oregon Tom McCall visited the set and hung out with Paul Newman for an afternoon.
- True or false? Paul Newman took a couple of belts of scotch and then took Marlon Brando on a high speed drive down 101 in a yellow Corvette?
- True or false? Paul Newman and Ken Kesey drag raced up a logging road during a break from filming?
- True or false? Elvis Presley happened to be vacationing on the Oregon Coast during the filming, visited the set, and asked for a bit part as a logger?
- What Lincoln County river is the site for the Stamper House?
- What Lincoln County beach was the site for the Lumberman's picnic scene?
- Name the Pacific Northwest beer of choice in the movie and on the set?
- What black Country Western star sang the title song for the movie?
- What was the title song for the movie that was nominated for an Academy Award?
- Who wrote the musical score for the movie?
- What city was the site for the motorcycle racing scenes?
- What folk song are these lyrics from:
Sometimes I live in the country,
sometimes I live in town,
Sometimes I take a great notion,
to jump into the river and drown.
- In the movie, Henry's severed arm and extended middle finger was attached atop the tugboat as it steamed upriver. Where is the arm in the novel?
- What obscure Oregon author has had sex in the Stamper House?
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Books mentioned in this post
Matt Love is the author of Love and the Green Lady: Meditations on the Yaquina Bay Bridge: Oregon's Crown Jewel of Socialism