Saturday, June 16, 2007

Precision Drill Cart Wha???

So, 3 years back, I’m walking through the big old convention hall at ALA, when I notice all these guys practicing pushing carts around to music.


So, I goes up to them and I says, I says, “Hubba-Wha?”

The nice, hip librarians explain to me that they are putting last minute finishing touches on their Precision Drill Cart Routines, in preparation for the first annual Precision Drill Cart competition.

Stunned I stagger down the hall until I bump into Jon Scieszka.


“Watch your step!” says Jon, he says. Then I explain to him what I just saw.

“Wubba-Huh?” he says, followed almost immediately by, “We HAVE to join in!”

So off we go. We see the officials setting up and explain to them that we are two very famous authors (James Joyce and Stephen King) and that due to a rare medical condition (actually 2, one for each of us), we HAVE to join in the fun. Perhaps there is a famous author division or something…?

We are met with stern refusal. Teams have practiced months for the honor to push their carts around like loonies. They have themes! And costumes! Insurance for library book carts doesn’t grow on trees, y’know!

We are sorry, but you can’t waltz in and get a slot, no matter how famous you are, Mr. Joyce and Mr. King. But, we says, we says, “Waltzing is precisely what we’ll do. And we’ll be pretty. Oh, so pretty.”

“This is serious,” we are informed yet again. Fortunately, that word is Greek to us, and we persist.

“There is even a BOOK written on the subject!” we are told.

We immediately buy two copies and assure our hosts that we are quick reads.

Exasperated, the management introduces us to one of the august authors of this weighty tome. She looks at our eager, idiotic, un-rehearsed faces and says…

“Sure. We have NO idea what we’re doing anyway.”

Elated, we return a few hours later to be costumed and told what to do (“follow the guy in front of you” turns out to be the salient skill that needs to be mastered here). Jon dons extra costume as he’s SUPPOSED to be at a book signing and there are squads of storm trouping literary assistants searching high and low for him. Jon doesn’t want to get pulled out of the action.

Here is some video surveillance footage that turns out to be admissible in court (who knew?):

We performed beyond our expectations, injuring only a few members of the audience, and kissing fewer of them. Somehow, our team did not come in dead last place (some guys from Las Vegas, LAS VEGAS I SAY, were last).

Historians will mark this exact moment as the beginning of the end for all civilization.

Fast forward one year, and some fine folks from Madison, WI invite Jon and I to join their team. They won the competition last year and promise to do anything in their power not to repeat THAT mistake.

Merrily we accept, realizing only too late that they saw us last year and have ‘choreographed’ their bit with an aim of keeping us off stage as much as possible.

Smart kids, those kids…

But we come prepared. I don a sturdy crash helmet, Jon a somewhat less sturdy cheese fez and plan a coup of our own.

Fortunately, the video of the event gives out before our histrionics…

(please note that due to the quality of the video camera the action appears much more appealing and action packed than in real life)

Which brings us to this year. What to do? Well, thanks to everyone’s best friend Angus Killick, Jon Scieszka and I will be spending this year’s competition as color commentators.

Yup, they’re giving us microphones!


Join us Sunday from 4 pm until they turn off our mics (@ 4:02pm).