Friday, August 18, 2006

Novel Sndtrck: King Dork

Play it: Novel Sndtrck - King Dork
Play it: Dr. Frank & the Mr T. Experience

When I first started reading Frank Portman's (Dr. Frank of Mr. T & the Experience) King Dork, I was reluctant to get into it. It felt like many coming of age novels I'd read before and really was close to moving on to another book. But then something happened.... it was like I slipped and started sliding down a hillside and next thing you know, the Drake was fully absorbed - literally. unable. to. put. it. down.

It happened once the mystery started to set in. Then all the jocular music and high school geek comedy became even funnier, and the 'will the geek get the girl in the end?' plotline doesn't nearly as trite as it might be. Essentially at it's heart, it's both a love story and a mystery... with Freaks & Geeks and Dazed & Confused as a setting. King Dork is the perfect book to be Novel Sndtrck'd, as it's chock full of musical references, with 70s vinyl spinning nearly throughout the book. Got some thinking to do? Turn on the TV to some b-movie, turn down the volume, and put on some Blue Oyster Cult, or Brian Eno, or even The Stranglers. Forget playing Dark Side of the Moon to The Wizard of Oz, I want to see Evil Dead II with Rattus Norvegicus as the soundtrack.

Throughout the book, our hero Tom Henderson and his next-in-the-alphabet-buddy Sam Hellerman create new bands complete with names, first album titles and monikers. When it's time to kill off an old band, Sam whistles "Sweet Home Alabama," to which they have their own words ("We all died in a plane crash,") and it's time to form a new band. The Underpants Machine then might become Sentient Beard (Mot Nosredneh on Guitar/Vox, Samerica The Beautiful on Bass and Upholstery, first album Off the Charts-Way Off.) Other favorite band names include The Elephants of Style and their final one, We Have Eaten All the Cake. Album titles that I'd be tempted to pillage include Pentagrampa and, my favorite, Margaret? It's God. Please Shut Up.

There's plenty of music references throughout the book, including a couple fine digs on Led Zeppelin. From the hilarious glossary:
hey, gang! Let's all get stoned and head down to the Mississippi Delta and watch four goofy-ass English guys in wizards' hats and girls' blouses play "the blues" and teach us everything there is to know about elfin princesses; gossamer wings; the tooth fairy; the land of Winken, Blinken, and Nod; the wise dark and mystic pilgrim brooding in the mist; and Puff the Magic Dragon.
Come on, it'll be magical.
While there is also criticism of The Catcher in the Rye cult, don't be fooled into thinking that's what the book is about. There's a lot more (and a lot less) going on then that... reminds me a bit of a funnier The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys. While no one will confuse it with a a critical masterpiece, it seemingly does what it set out to do - both entertain and rock you.

The trailer for King Dork (YouTube - features The Stooges' "TV Eye")
King Dork's reading list
King Dork's discography

Novel Sndtrck - On Beauty
Novel Sndtrck: Anansi Boys
Novel Sndtrck: Lunar Park
Novel Sndtrck: The Hot Kid
Novel Sndtrck: Glass Soup
Novel Sndtrck: White Apples
Novel Sndtrck: Kafka On The Shore (Ribaldry and Schmaltz's J Shifty)
Novel Sndtrck: Killing Yourself To Live (Drive Like Hell's Dallas Hudgens)
Novel Sndtrck: Drive Like Hell
Novel Sndtrck: Fortress of Solitude
James Frey's My Friend Leonard
Jonathon Lethem's The Disappointment Artist

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1 comment:

drake leLane said...

Novel Sndtrck: King Dork

#1. "She Sells" Roxy Music p. 17 - thinking about lyrics to this song in class
#2. "No You Don't" Sweet p. 27 - listening to Desolation Boulevard while rolling stats for "War in the Pacific"
#3. "Brown Sugar" The Rolling Stones p. 27 - learning to play this on guitar when step-dad comes in and says "Rock and Roll!"
#4. "7 Screaming Diz-Busters" Blue Oyster Cult p. 28 - things began to turn around for the allies in "War in the Pacific" by the time this song came on
#5. "Sweet Home Alabama" Lynyrd Skynyrd p. 31 - We had our own words to the song "We all died in a plane crash," which is how all our ficitional bands ended
#6. "Mother's Little Helper" The Rolling Stones p. 37 - the look on Sam Hellerman's face was enough to tell me that he was thinking of a Rolling Stones song
#7. "Sister Morphine" The Rolling Stones p. 37 - Sam knows where my mom keeps her vicodone
#8. "The Real Me" The Who p. 39 - I let him slip into the void and put on Quadrophenia
#9. "Slip Kid" The Who p. 39 - After Quadrophenia, I put on The Who by Numbers and thought rather intently about the lyrics to "Slip Kid"
#10. "Christine Sixteen" Kiss p. 55 - I wrote this song called "Kyrsten Blakeney's a Total Fox" realizing that I'd basically rewritten "Christine Sixteen"
#11. "Cretin Hop" Ramones p. 60 - put on Rocket to Russia and began to go through (his father's old class books.)
#12. "Yummy, Yummy, Yummy" Ohio Express p. 84 - I have a big collection of Bubblegum records... there would have been no Ramones w/o "Yummy, Yummy, Yummy"
#13. "Wig Wam Bam" The Sweet p. 84 - there's something seriously
wrong with a subculture that would prefer "Stairway to Heaven to "Wig Wam Bam"
#14. "My Baby Loves Lovin'" White Plains p. 85 - so I went over and started singing and doing this little Greg Brady/Jackson Five dance
#15. "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" The Rolling Stones p. 106 - I tried to imagine what the circumstances were when my dad had read (Brighton Rock)
#16. "Mr. Tambourine Man" The Byrds p. 106 - song that he imagines his father listening to on the radio in 1965
#17. "Help Me, Rhonda" The Beach Boys p. 106 - song that he imagines his father listening to on the radio in 1965
#18. "Burning Airlines Gives You So Much More" Brian Eno p. 112 - I put on Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) and turned the tv volume down on Invasion of the Body Snatchers
#19. "Intro / Sweet Jane" Lou Reed p. 119 - you know (our song) "My baby Who Art in Heaven" sounds an awful lot like "Sweet Jane"
#20. "Substitute" The Who p. 132 - in my fantasy Fiona is still a mod and she and I are living in a flat in Carnaby St., London, listening to this
#21. "Surrender" Cheap Trick p. 153 - we played "Surrender" "Cretin Hop" "Fox on the Run" and "Whole Lot of Rosie" - sort of
#22. "Fox On The Run" Sweet p. 153 - We sounded like three different rock bands with one member each playing different songs at the same time
#23. "Peaches" The Stranglers p. 171 - Evil Dead II had just started... I put on Rattus Norvegicus and turned the TV sound down
#24. "You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory" Johnny Thunders p.
244 - Thunders was singing this song on the stereo: for the first time, I really felt I understood what he was getting at
#25. "Ace Of Spades" Motorhead p. 305 - we were in my room at the beginning of X-mas vacation, istening to Ace of Spades
#26. "One Nation Under A Groove" - Funkadelic p. 310 - can you turn that Funkadelic off.. it's giving me a headache
#27. "Caught With The Meat In Your Mouth" Dead Boys p. 310 - I put
on Young Loud and Snotty... headache gone!"
#28. "Rock And Roll, Hoochie Koo" Rick Derringer p. 314 - I put on
All American Boy and looked at Sam who was staring off into space