Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #41
(and a lame Poetry Friday entry):
Minh at Bottom Shelf Books

h1 August 24th, 2007 by Eisha and Jules

Jules: We’re doing things up a little bit differently today here at 7-Imp. First of all, our apologies to Poetry Friday for the lack of a poem here this morning, but we’ll get back to it. We promise. Or, okay, to make it work, how about this:

Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
We have a new blog
we’d like to share with you.

Ahem, rather pathetic. But, poof, I just made this a Poetry Friday entry, albeit a lame one.

We have an entry today in our blogger interview series, and what is a tad bit different is that this blogger, Minh over at Bottom Shelf Books, is fairly new to the kidlitosphere in the grand scheme of things. We still have a long list of bloggers we have yet to — and really want to — interview, and many of them have been blogging much longer. But, well, we just couldn’t help ourselves — not to mention, if you haven’t already noticed, we pretty much post about whatever inspires us at the moment. That’s just how we roll here in 7-Imp Land. So, Eisha and I had already discovered Minh’s blog and were immediately hooked, and then he emailed us a question and we corresponded a bit, and we found ourselves saying, “Hey, up for an interview?” (Additionally, we’ve only interviewed two — count them, two! — male bloggers thus far, and that would be Roger Sutton and David at the excelsior file, unless you include Hank Green in that list. Shame on us. Not to sound all token-y, but it’s time to shine a spotlight on some XY chromosomes again, even though it’s probably fair to say the kidlitosphere is female-laden).

Really, we know the last thing you probably need is another blog added to your daily reading blogroll list, but HOO BOY this is a great blog, and Minh is a seriously funny human being. We just had to take the opportunity to feature him, to tell you: SHOO! SHOO! Go read this wonderful blog.

As for what you’ll get over at Bottom Shelf Books . . . hmmm, how to describe it? You best read about it yourself over at the blog’s template (the blog’s FAQ-like column on the right). But, here’s a sample:

Warning: Not Meant For Kids

…unless you are the kind of kids that are allowed to read bad words, expose yourself to various degrees of blasphemy, and see the occasional picture of a bare butt. In which case, by all means: Get on with your bad selves. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Why Picture Books?

As the old saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words… and weighs significantly less.” I love reading as much as the next person, but there are only so many hours in the day. For example, why spend weeks (or months) reading David Foster Wallace’s indulgently long Infinite Jest when you could spend minutes reading Crockett Johnson’s Harold and the Purple Crayon which is basically the same story? (minus the prescription drug addiction.) It’s really just a matter of efficient time management.

So, yeah, he picks random picture books — from then and now — and he . . . well, he riffs on them if that makes any sense. You just have to experience one for yourself. Here’s one of my favorites. Or this explanation of the blog’s title from Minh might give you a good sense of the tone of the blog: “I decided to call it Bottom Shelf Books because the bottom shelf is where I keep my picture books… also, it can be abbreviated to BS Books, which is appropriate because most of what goes up on the blog is bs… hopefully funny bs, but definitely bs” . . . and, as for other regular features at his blog, he says there are none yet: “The fact that I can post on a relatively regular basis is a minor miracle in and of itself.” But his picture book posts are well worth your time.

Eisha, how did you first hear about this blog? I remember you telling me about it first. Also, I can’t exactly confirm this, but I have a vague memory of hearing about it from Jarrett J. Krosoczka as well — either a comment at his blog or something he said to us in an email?? Am I imagining this? And then there was Minh’s recent Rolling Stone-esque interview with the members of Punk Farm, courtesy of Jarrett (Parts One and Two). Minh says that, eventually, he would like to have a semi-regular author interview series. So far, Live From The Bottom Shelf has only two interviews: one with Maxwell “The Velvet Wolf” Eaton III a while back and the Punk Farm one. He’s got some other ones lined up, but “if there are any other authors/illustrators out there who are interested,” he told us, “shoot me an email!” Hey, wanna write a quick book so he’ll interview us?

And what about this baby pic he sent us, Eisha? He said he noticed these baby pics are becoming a trend (thanks to TadMack and aquafortis). Look at those sugar britches!

Eisha: … {speechless}

… I think… I think my left ovary just ruptured. Gimme a sec…

…Whew. Okay. Um, I gotta look away…

Right. Anyway, I first heard about BSB from Fuse #8, back in June, when she quoted his review of Miss Nelson is Missing:

…The transformation from good to bad by switching to black hair and black clothing is a common narrative devise. The most recent instance of this is Spiderman 3. Peter Parker, loveable All-American boy, gets infected by an evil alien substance and his dark side begins to emerge. How do we know this? Easy. Peter Parker’s every day appearance begins to change… he starts wearing all black, his hair starts to grow long and cascade down his forehead… before we know it, Peter Parker he has gone Emo on us. Bad news. By the way, I never thought that I’d be psyched to see a blockbuster action flick where Toby Maguire and Topher Grace duke it out. Seriously? I think that fight happened in my junior high and no one even stopped to watch.

As Fuse pointed out, that is good stuff. And she mentions hearing about it from JJK, too, so you didn’t make it up.

Okay, for real, I can’t get over that baby picture. I wanna take a bite out of that little tushie. C’MERE, SWEET POOKIE MUFFIN!! OOH, COME TO AUNTIE EISHA!! COME AND GET SOME SUGAR, LIL’ HONEY BEAR!!! YOU PRECIOUS PRECIOUS BEAR-NEKKID BABYKINS!!!

Oh, man… sorry. I gotta tap out, J. I can’t handle the cute.

Jules and Eisha: Allright then, let’s get to the interview, and thanks to Minh for stopping by.

Wait! It’s the Perfunctory Curse Word Disclaimer: Pivot Questionnaire. Curse-word question. Won’t edit responses. Saucy words sometimes. If easily offended, skip it. Blah. Blah. The usual drill.

* * * * * * *

7-Imp: What do you do for a living?

Minh: I just started a job a couple months ago overseeing early literacy programs for a branch of DC Government… local government, not federal. Though my office is one block away from the White House, so I am within spitting distance of George W. himself. I’d gladly prove it to you, but I don’t think the Secret Service would appreciate that.

7-Imp: How long have you been blogging?

Minh: Since February.

7-Imp: Why did you start blogging? Why do you continue to do it?

Minh: 1) My girlfriend was in Northern Uganda studying and doing really amazing work with families and education. So when she would call home and ask how my day was, I wanted something more interesting to say than, “Well… I woke up at noon, watched tv for 3 hours, and then fell asleep on the hardwood floor next to a bowl of half-eaten Ramen.”

2) I had just graduated from the Harvard grad school of education the previous summer and quickly leveraged that expensive degree into eleven months of extended unemployment and crippling credit card debt. I desperately needed a creative outlet before all those damned cover letters squeezed the last ounce of sanity from my withering soul. Not to be melodramatic or anything.

7-Imp: Why do you continue to do it?

Minh: Because my cat is too damn lazy to take over for me.

7-Imp: Which blog or site would you take to the prom to show off and you love it so much you could marry it?

Minh: I’m still new to the whole scene, so I’m still scoping things out. Though, I recently stumbled upon Saints and Spinners (through a recent interview with 7 Impossible Things) and may be developing a bit of a crush… her Children’s Books that Never Were feature is really cool… add to that the fact that she posts guitar tabs AND has photoshop skills… talk about babe-a-licious!

7-Imp: What are your other favorite things to do, other than reading and blogging?

Minh: Ordering the strangest thing on the menu.

7-Imp: What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

Minh: There’s a reason most people don’t know this… let’s just say some things are better left between me and that flowerpot on Main Street.

7-Imp: What’s in heavy rotation on your stereo/iPod lately?

Minh: I’ve been listening to Paul Curreri and Devon Sproule, this awesome couple from Charlottesville. Watching them live makes me run home, grab my guitar… and wish i could play something beyond the first three frets.

Some other songs currently on the Bottom Shelf Playlist:

7-Imp: If you could have three (living) authors over for coffee or a glass of rich, red wine, whom would you choose?

Minh: For the most interesting (and least intimidating) conversation, i’d invite Sarah Vowell, Michael Eric Dyson, and Bill Bryson.

The Pivot Questionnaire:

7-Imp: What is your favorite word?

Minh: “Rapscallion.”

7-Imp: What is your least favorite word?

Minh: “Glottal.”

7-Imp: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Minh: Free Refills.

Good live music.

…and this scene from “Eat Drink Man Woman”:

7-Imp: What turns you off?

Minh: People who talk on their cellphones while trying to parallel park.

7-Imp: What is your favorite curse word? (optional)

Minh: “Mary Fuckin’ Poppins”

Explanation: I used to reflexively say Jesus F—in’ Christ a lot whenever I got pissed off. I realized that this was wrong because:

1) You should not use the lord’s name in vain
2) I’m Buddhist, so I was using someone else’s lord’s name in vain, which is worse.

So I tried substituting Jesus’ name with something arbitrary… and the first thing that popped into my head was Mary Fuckin’ Poppins.

It’s somewhat appropriate… if you agree that “cleanliness is next to godliness,” then Mary Poppins is a reasonable substitute for Jesus… and much less likely to get you smacked upside the head with a copy of the King James Bible.

(As an added bonus, just saying “Mary Fuckin’ Poppins” automatically makes you less angry, because it’s just a really goofy thing to say. And anything could work, like… “Winnie the Fuckin’ Pooh!” Say that next time you stub your toe and tell me you don’t automatically feel better).

7-Imp: What sound or noise do you love?

Minh: Onions being sauteed (especially early in the morning).

7-Imp: What sound or noise do you hate?

Minh: Styrofoam being rubbed together.

7-Imp: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Minh: Animator at Pixar or Line Cook at Waffle House.

7-Imp: What profession would you not like to do?

Minh: White House Press Secretary.

7-Imp: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Minh: “Would you like fries with that?”

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18 comments to “Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #41
(and a lame Poetry Friday entry):
Minh at Bottom Shelf Books

  1. Okay, I’m forgiving you for skipping Poetry Friday, because: a) Eisha made me bust out laughing with her “bursting ovary”…I can’t believe I’m typing that…and b) I love “Eat, Drink, Man, Woman” and c) “Seriously? I think that fight happened in my junior high and no one even stopped to watch” is by far, the best reason I’ve heard to avoid Spiderman 3 and go read Minh’s blog instead.


  2. Great interview! Thanks, Minh, Eisha, and Jules.


  3. If Minh weren’t already my good friend, I would need to meet him.


  4. Great interview J & E and Minh! Even though Minh and I have corresponded, it’s interesting to know where this blog comes from. It’s hysterical! When I stumbled on it way back when that first Punk Farm piece went up, I thought everyone already knew about it, I had no idea the blog was so new!

    And in addition to Bottom Shelf Books being known as BS Books, it’s also been referred to as BSB, just like the boy band. Which is also BS, so it works out…


  5. I also keep my picture books on the bottom shelf. Does everyone do that, I wonder?

    “Mary F-ing Poppins” is great. I’m going to try that one.


  6. Adrienne, I do — but primarily for my girls’ sakes, since they’re wee and all.

    I love any blog that focuses primarily on picture books, and then his is just so perfect for a daily laugh.

    I’m also glad to be reminded how great a word “rapscallion” is. I must try to work it into a conversation today. Think I can? Wait, I just did.


  7. Backstreet Fuckin’ Boys!

    Jarrett, I had never made that connection before… thanks for nothing!

    Thanks again for asking me for an interview. Some other good cussing possibilities that were thrown around:

    Captain Fuckin’ Underpants
    Willy Fuckin’ Wonka
    Amelia Fuckin’ Bedelia…

    any other potty mouths out there have any other good ones?


  8. Curious Fuckin’ George
    Popper’s Fuckin’ Penguins


  9. Great interview, guys. And Minh wins the competition for cutest baby ever!


  10. I don’t feel good about using Captain Underpants’ name that way. I’m all about Curious George, though.

    How about “The Cat in the Fuckin’ Hat”?


  11. I’ve been enjoying BSB posts on JacketFlap, but this interview is funny enough – Mary Fuckin’ Poppins indeed – that my very next action after Submit Comment is to add this sharp fellow to my egg-clue-sive blogroll. And you can take that to the prom, Mr. Minh

    Great interview, as always my 7-Impers.


  12. Oh my GOSH, could you people put a WARNING on these things!?!?!

    No, sillies, not about Minh’s fave words –nor his bare butt — which is completely biteable — but you should warn people about the prospect of loud guffaws drawing surprised reactions from the people around your readers!

    I laughed so loudly I scared a bird on the deck!

    I’m totally getting out my KJV to whap Minh upside the head. Older version of the Bible have so much greater aerodynamics…


  13. TadMack, HA! Good one.

    When I first got these responses, I was laughing so hard that tears were streaming down my face.

    And, yes, that’s a biteable butt.


  14. Jules and Eisha,

    Thanks for another great interview. You gotta love a guy with a great sense of humor–much better to have one than bulging biceps and washboard abs!


  15. Terrific interview! I’ll have to remember the Mary F. Poppins as an alternative to swear words!


  16. Elaine: luckily, since i just so happen to have washboard abs, you don’t even have to make that difficult choice!

    (Though I’m still working on the bulging biceps. Right now they just kind of bilge, which makes me think I should go to the doctor.)


  17. Hips Fuckin’ Manlis.


  18. [...] they wanted the domain back — perfect plan!).  Not only Oliver, but another best friend, Minh Lê — of Bottom Shelf Books fame — is also part of this.  Well, all of this is moving [...]


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