07 June 2007
Mahalia Mouse Goes To College
Author: John Lithgow
Illustrator: Igor Oleynikov
This book is based on Lithgow's commencement speech at Harvard's 2005 graduation. The book is alright, and Oleynikov's illustrations are wonderfully dramatic, but a graduation speech? It's bad enough that the last words you hear before crossing the artificial threshold into adulthood will be from a man most famous for playing a deranged alien space captain whose greatest weapon was his receding hairline... but then to have him tell you a patronizing story about a mouse who enrolls in college? Can you spell a-n-t-i-c-l-i-m-a-c-t-i-c?
For a second, I thought... it's kind of refreshing. Maybe it's better than some smarmy politician or boring academic giving you recycled platitudes about "one journey coming to an end and the doors to another exciting adventure about to open". Maybe a whimsical tale about a determined mouse is just what these kids needed, one final reminder of their youthful vigor and optimism before they are cast out into the cold harsh winds of reality... but then I found out that Lithgow also sang a song called I'm a Manatee during his speech.
Verdict: John Lithgow is certifiably insane.
After doing some research, turns out that I'm a Manatee is a featured song on his Grammy nominated kid's album Sunny Side of the Street. So in the span of one speech, he managed to promote both his upcoming children's book and his music album, basically turning his commencement address into a university-sponsored infomercial.
Final Verdict: John Lithgow is not certifiably insane, he is merely a shamelessly opportunistic capitalist.
But his timing couldn't be worse. Honestly, trying to sell your wares on the day that families are turning out to collect the receipt for the most expensive purchase of their young lives? (A diploma being one of the few receipts people deem worthy of framing.) Trust me, no one is in the mood to buy anything with the grim specter of student loan payments lurking around the corner.
Not only that, but parents are too busy running around and taking pictures to pay attention, and 95% of the graduates are either too hungover to listen or asleep beneath their rented robes anyways.
So take that, Lithgow!
p.s. Congratulations to the HGSE Class of 2007! May your job search be significantly shorter and less soul-suckingly sucky than mine!