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Lemony Snicket and The End (San Bruno, CA)


Lemony Snicket/Daniel Handler
Originally uploaded by mhuang.
Yesterday we went up to go see Lemony Snicket's book reading for The End, which continues my initiation into musically accompanied book talks (see John Hodgman at Codys). I wasn't sure what to expect from a Lemony Snicket reading -- with such a mythology of secrecy surrounding the character of Lemony Snicket, I wasn't sure how the actual author, Daniel Handler, would maintain that mythology in front of a crowd of mostly children. The answer was that it was fun, entertaining, and worth the trip, but you'll have to click through for specifics as I don't wish to spoil the details for those that wish to discover for themselves.

Update: added last of the videos (introduction, "This Abyss")

Highlights: * "I'm for some reason asked on so many occassions whether Mr. Snicket's books have any messages for young people, if there are any important moral lessons for young people, and of course, madam, of course these books contain message for young people. The message is, "if you see Count Olaf, scream and run away." One of the most important lessons of all literature. Something that, say, C.S. Lewis neglected to cover. It is a lesson of all the books Mr. Snicket has written, all 13 volumes in a Series of Unfortunate Events, which are, (grabs book from audience member) relatively easy to steal from young people." * "The Bad Beginning teaches the lesson "if you see Count Olaf, scream and run away," for instance, by telling of a time when the Baudelaire orphans lived with Count Olaf, lived with a man he did not love, which we know, madam, is such a terrible thing to do.... Hello sir (looks at man near her)" * During the reading of The End when one of his audience volunteers fails to provide the necessary sound effect. "I see the school system here in San Bruno is as poor as I had heard. Another child... left behind. (applause) I wouldn't applaud that" * The concluding performance of "If You See Count Olaf, Scream and Run Away," was lots of fun because Handler/Snicket had the audience stamp their feet whenever he said "run" and keel over dead whenever he said "die", which lead to an apoplectic fit of stamping and large audience death.

The Gothic Archies -- Daniel Handler (pretending to not be Lemony Snicket) and Stephin Merritt -- came out on stage. They waited around for Lemony Snicket, who of course did not come out, so as Merritt played "Smile! No One Cares How You Feel", Handler pretended to talk to Lemony Snicket on the phone.

Lemony Snicket. Photo by m

"I don't dare repeat the scarcely believable story I heard from this scarcely believable telephone. I don't think what I was told was true. I don't know why anyone would lie... to children. Although it is fun."

"Mr. Snicket wanted very much to be here... with you... and to play with Mr. Merritt and myself the songs inspired from the books he has written. Yes! Terrible songs! But songs not quite as dreadful as the books. The idea was that playing dreadful songs about terrible things happening to orphans would serve as a warning against reading books about terrible things happening to orphans. So that we could avoid terrible things in the future. Unless of course we wanted them to happen. But with Mr. Snicket not here, I don't know how that plan will work. We'll try to play another song, but it will sound terrible without percussion."

Gothic Archies perform "This Abyss"

"The idea was that the songs would teach a very important moral lesson. I'm for some reason asked on so many occassions whether Mr. Snicket's books have any messages for young people, if there are any important moral lessons for young people, and of course, madam, of course these books contain message for young people. The message is, "if you see Count Olaf, scream and run away." One of the most important lessons of all literature. Something that, say, C.S. Lewis neglected to cover. It is a lesson of all the books Mr. Snicket has written, all 13 volumes in a Series of Unfortunate Events, which are, (grabs book from audience member) relatively easy to steal from young people (holds up audience members book and walks away with it). "

Lemony Snicket. Photo by m

"The Bad Beginning teaches the lesson "if you see Count Olaf, scream and run away," for instance, by telling of a time when the Baudelaire orphans lived with Count Olaf, lived with a man he did not love, which we know, madam, is such a terrible thing to do.... Hello sir (looks at man near her)"

"The Reptile Room teaches the lesson if you see Count Olaf, scream and run away, by telling of a time when Count Count Olaf committed MURDER! Which as we all know, sir, (looks at man) is terrible crime to commit if we are not caught. "

"The Wide Window teaches this lesson, The Miserable Mill, The Austere Academy, The Ersatz Elevator, The Vile Village, The Hostile Hospital, The Carniverous Carnival, The Slippery Slope, The Grim Grotto, The Penultimate Peril, all of the books I -- that Mr. Snicket has written, and now the publication of this thirteenth and final volume, which I just stole and will never get it back (sets stolen book on chair). "

Lemony Snicket. Photo by m

In this volume, the Baudelaire orphans find themselves SHIPWRECKED! which inspired the song, "SHIPWRECKED"! which we will play for you now.

Gothic Archies perform "Shipwrecked" followed by a reading from The End with accompaniment by two audience member 'percussionists'.

"Now despite the vast professional skills of the percussionists who joined me on stage, I still as if feel the message, "If you see Count Olaf, scream and run away," has not been properly conveyed and that really I should read all 13 volumes that Mr. Snicket has written. BUT IF I DID THAT, then the floor of this beautiful.. synagogue, would be covered in hair. WE WOULD BECOME SO DEPRESSED that we would tear out, not only our own hair, but the hair of others in our misery and woe. Sorry Nick. And so, I will not read anymore from Mr. Snicket's books, but I will teach the message, "If you see Count Olaf, scream and run away" by performing another song, one last song. The song, which teaches the lesson, "If you see Count Olaf, scream and run away," is called, "If You See Count Olaf, Scream and Run Away." And it goes like this."

Lemony Snicket. Photo by m

Performance of "If You See Count Olaf, Scream and Run Away"

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This page contains a single entry from kwc blog posted on October 29, 2006 2:27 PM.

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