ALA 2009: Kennedy V. Gaiman or How To Win a Newbery in a Fair Fight (Part One of Three)
A video exclusive.
The day started with the slight threat of rain that was never fully realized. My job? To sneak into the YALSA Galaxy Preconference thingy thing so as to tape James Kennedy. Lest you think I am a person accustomed to sneaking, though, I got two feet into the Hilton and then broke down to confess the whole thing to the organizers.
Me: I’m just here for James Kennedy.
Or something along those lines. I may have explained that I had inside knowledge of what was going to proceed. That I would record it for posterity.
They are very cool.
I had knowledge of two things walking in.
1. Something was going down.
2. James Kennedy was missing a tooth.
I recently heard Ed Helms on Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me explain that the missing tooth he displays in The Hangover is his own missing tooth. It has become quite the acting advantage. There is nothing quite like speaking to the man before you and watching his lightning-quick reflexes remove said tooth with tongue and replace it once again within a mere millisecond. Particularly when it is one of the two front teeth. Perhaps there is a YA novel-writing advantage to lacking incisors as well. For example, James provided the following very straightforward explanation of his toothless state:
“You’re wondering, how did James Kennedy lose his tooth? I had been dragged yet again to a Dublin pub by Eoin Colfer, author of the Artemis Fowl series, notorious drunkard, and secret owl-botherer. I had no inkling why Colfer had invited me out – until finally, at 4 a.m., after hours of listening to Colfer tearfully confess about his “lost weekend” in County Cork, mimicking and irritating over 200 owls, that Colfer, squinting and leering at me, his breath rancid with owl, picking at my collar with his owly hands, slurred that he – and no, incredibly, I – had been chosen by Douglas Adams’ estate to write a new book in the Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. Enraged, I threw my hot toddy in his face, Colfer swatted me in the mouth with his shillelagh, and our night ended as per usual, grappling on a pub floor, until one of us lost a tooth – only to weep tenderly in each other’s arms, until – inevitably – Colfer shyly asked if I’d like to come over and look at his illegal photographs of nude owls. No thank you, Eoin Colfer.”
Someday, when I am grown up, I want to be able to write just like this.
I’m burying the lead here, because the video I am about to present to you was Kennedy’s opening speech. It contains the following:
A toothless Kennedy ranting.
Small children reenacting violent, complex insult-laden fight scenes.
Neil Gaiman as you’ve never seen him before beating Mr. Kennedy in a series of fair (?) fights.
(Note: Photo may be foggy due to unexplained forces present in the room at this time.)
The entire process took half an hour, which YouTube has rejected with much tongue waggling in my direction. I have hastily cut it into thirds.
I’ll say no more, so as not to ruin it for you. In the meantime, please enjoy. You ain’t never seen nothing like this before . . . .
Part One: James Kennedy Wants Your Love
If it’s a bit herky jerky that may be because I was wrangling a camera in one hand, a Flip camera in the other, and working with only one contact in (my right eye rebelled that morning and we have yet to get it to obey our whims). Just the same, I hope this gives you a sense of the piece.
The internet here at the conference center is being very herky jerky so I haven’t been able to get up Parts Two and Three yet. Stay tuned for more, good readers . . . .
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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