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Posted by: Len Vlahos | on June 9, 2014
As has been chronicled on this blog, and has been discussed at every book event I’ve done, the musical backdrop for The Scar Boys comes from my time playing guitar and singing background vocals in the 80s punk pop band, Woofing Cookies. We were weren’t even a pixel on a blip on the radar of 1980s music, but who cares, we had fun.
Natalie, a reader I met at the Houston TeenCon — which was an awesome event — asked me this: “How did Woofing Cookies get its name?”
“It came from this movie called Times Square,” I answered. “It’s a long-forgotten film about two girls who run away to New York to start a punk band. At one point in the movie, one of the girls says ‘you make me woof my cookies.’ For some reason, my friends and I thought this was really, really funny.”
I didn’t remember the context in the movie in which the line was uttered, and wasn’t even sure I’d correctly conveyed the basics of the plot. Memory gets fuzzy as you get older.
So imagine my surprise and delight when Natalie sent me a clip of the song “Your Daughter Is One” from Times Square. It’s in the middle of this very irreverent song (a song that might be offensive to some, but that really brilliantly skewers hypocritical older establishmentites) that the line in question is delivered (by actress Robin Johnson — or at least I think that’s actress Robin Johnson).
Thank you Natalie for unearthing this rare 1980 clip. You rock!
Posted by: Len Vlahos | on October 2, 2013
This afternoon at the Harry Bennett Branch of the Ferguson Library (Stamford, Connecticut’s public library), I presented The Scar Boys to T-MAD (Teen’s Making a Difference), the library’s teen advisory board. The book doesn’t pub for another three months (January 21), so this was as pre-pub as a pre-pub event can get. In fact, this is the first event for The Scar Boys, anywhere. (A much larger, invitation-only event is scheduled for later this month at Anderson’s in Naperville, IL.)
I do fifteen to twenty presentations a year for my day job, and at the risk of sounding immodest, I’m pretty good at it. I’m energized when I’m teaching and am comfortable on a stage. But today? Today I was flat-out freaked out.
I lugged my guitar, my computer, my Bose Soundlink, and a borrowed LCD projector to the library. The first few teens to arrive eyed me with suspicion as I set up. I didn’t know what to expect, and neither did they.
By the time I started, there were about twenty kids ranging from sixth to twelfth grade. They sat patiently as I played a video of Woofing Cookies and eased my way into the presentation. When the first hand went up to ask a question a few minutes into the session, and a dialogue began, the butterflies went away.
The kids were engaged and engaging. No, as Harry would say, “strike that,” the kids were wonderful.
My presentation had visuals, video, music (including live music), a reading, and lots of conversation. The highlight was when an eleventh grader named Lexi came up to the stage, took my guitar, and sang a Jason Mraz song. Lexi’s love of music, and the way the rest of the teens cheered her on, was a perfect expression of what is at the heart of The Scar Boys.
My favorite moment came when Andres, a high school boy, raised his hand: “I don’t read a lot,” he said, “but I read this book in two days, and I loved it.” That’s probably the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me. Anywhere.
A huge thanks to T-MAD organizers Amy and Steve, thank you to all the kids, and thanks to Kristen and Charlie for being there. If future book events are half as fun as this, 2014 is going to be a great year.