(Originally posted at the Old Realm on 6/9/03. For obvious reasons, this version is updated.)
This was my very first book review at the original Realm. While I had more weird movies than books, I wanted to do more book reviews (I’m more of a reader than anything). Eventually, I did find more funny books to review, though they never approached the movies in number and I never really figured out how to modify my usual review format to fit books. Oh well. I’ll leave that to the new reviews.
Okay, now that I’ve bored you to death, what kind of book did I choose to kick off with? Well, it was going to take SOME book to outdo this one, I tell ya. I had a monstrous head cold at the time of writing the original version and, coincidentally, I am recovering from another very nasty head cold at the time of editing, so you know where this is all coming from.
Dancing the Dream is a collection of stories and poems and the like, and what sets this apart from other collections of stories and poems and the like is the fact that everything you read in this book comes from the mind of Michael Jackson. The book is illustrated with photos of Jackson (some of which have him in ridiculous costumes) and insane drawings and paintings (sadly, that lovely painting of Jackson as Pan surrounded by cherubs is nowhere to be seen, but what is included is plenty strange). In other words, this book gives you a true glimpse into the squishy core of Le Jacko’s brain. Dare you find out how far down this rabbit hole goes?
And it’s funny I should say that because I really can’t tell you what it’s like to read this here book; you have to experience it for yourself. The bookstore I found this at was begging people to take all their copies of it away. It may be considerably harder to find now. Expect many a dissertation on children, and angels, and the Earth, and children, and animals, and more children, and magic. And, above everything else, Jackson writes at length about how dancing makes you, like, One with Life, the Universe, and Everything and… yeah.
In other words, about a quarter of the way in, I was wishing I’d cut down on the cough syrup.
Inevitably, this review feels very weird in the wake of Jackson’s passing. Still, it seemed appropriate to have it be the first thing rescued from the original Realm. Here’s hoping Heaven is either just like Disney World or just like E.T.’s home planet. And see also “Moonwalker”.
The Best Parts:
Page -1 (or something) – Liz Taylor’s Introduction. This is a very bad way to begin (see “Classic Quotes” below).
Page 4 – The poem “Planet Earth”, which uses the phrase “a capricious anomaly in the sea of space”. Um… yes…
Page 13 – “Why did you grow wings without me?”
Page 17 – Okay, how the hell did he do that?
Page 28 – AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!
Page 31 – Okay, with all due respect, I read an essay like this and I get a sense of why M.J. might have been right in calling himself “hard to love”. Can you really see Lisa Marie putting up with this for very long? Only Darius “The Dolphins make me cry” Rucker might really sympathize and even then I don’t know if he meant the same thing.
Page 35 – “Are you not entertained? Are you not ENTERTAINED??? Hee-hee! WOOOOO!!!”
Pages 38-41 – The complete lyrics to “Heal the World”. This is the point where my brain shut off.
Page 46 – I think I might send this poem to my mom, just to see what she says.
Page 51 – Alright, who the heck did he get to paint these things for him? I want that job. Are you a musician looking for an artist to paint insane commissions for you? I’m here for you.
Page 121- I’ve had the “Free Willy” theme in my head all weekend, but I still must say that it’s great for lobster bakes…
Classic Quotes and Excerpts:
“When I hear the name Michael Jackson, I think of brilliance, of dazzling stars, lasers and deep emotions. I adore Michael Jackson… he is not really of this planet.” – the Introduction (by Elizabeth Taylor, please note)
“The stars draw me near, close enough so that I see through their twinkling act. They’re dancing, too, doing a soft molecular jiggle that makes my carbon atoms jump in time.” – Jackson, from “Dance of Life”, pg. 14
(Oh man, there’s so much to choose from. I’ll go with this selection from “Magical Child: part one”, pg. 7)
“Don’t stop this child, he’s the father of man
Don’t cross his way, he’s part of the plan
I am that Child, but so are you
You’ve just forgotten, just lost the clue.”
Things I Learned from this Book:
* – All matter on planet Earth is “held together with a bit of glue”. Take THAT duct tape!
* – “If a child wants chocolate ice cream, he just asks for it. Adults get tangled up in complications over whether to eat the ice cream or not. A child simply enjoys.”
* – After stars burn out, they turn into *smiles*!
* – Building a dam makes baby rabbits die!!! 😦
* – Children and elephants know EVERYTHING.
* – All guardian angels are female.
* – Baby seals are avatars of the Life-Force.
* – If you want to pick out your Lucky Star, don’t pick one out of a whole group of stars. You’d hurt it’s friend’s feelings.
Things That Can Save Any Book:
Cool Creatures? All-knowing baby animals.
Creative Ideas? The only song lyrics to be found here are from Michael’s wimpiest songs. So no.
Memorable Characters? Just Michael.
Memorable Setting? The mind of Michael Jackson. Enough said.
Nifty Illustrations? Seriously, if you are a celebrity who wants to commission a series of paintings, I will paint anything for you (but not that).
Drinking Game Potential? Oh, heck yeah. Take a sip anytime Jacko talks about animals and children and dancing, ect. ect.
I can’t really separate the actual quality of this book from it’s novelty potential. I’ll give it a Jordan. Right on the fence.
Dancing the Dream: Poems and Reflections was written by Michael Jackson. Illustrated by David Nordahl and Nate Giorgio. Copyright 1992 and published by Doubleday, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc, New York City, New York. ISBN# 0-385-42277-6
Amazon page – And when Nessie saw how much copies of this book were going for, she went
(OK, it shouldn’t be that surprising, but still…)