Billy Hazelnuts

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Friday, December 07, 2007
by Tony Millionaire

Last night on my way home I stopped off at JoAnn's to get some necessary crafty doodad that somehow, despite having more crafty doodads than is reasonable, I did not have. While there I was subjected to the most godawful noodly "lite jazz" version of a vaguely familiar but ruined Christmas song. Oh, it made me mad! I was ready to commit violence by the time I finally got to the cash register. I'm generally pretty easy-going, but I worry sometimes about how easy it is to manipulate my mood with music. Some things make me instantly and inexplicably happy, other things drive me to robot rage so fast it takes me completely by surprise. What if this information fell into the wrong hands? I could be turned into a violent criminal by excessive (aka: any) Kenny G!

This has actually come up before. Not so much with the violent crime, but being driven to speak when I would have preferred to be silent. (I will save my tale of boarding school, religion class, getting hopping mad and speaking out to defend Billy Joel (!) and by extension all popular music in an atmosphere of religious fucknuttery and Let's Burn Records insanity for another time, although that's pretty much it. It was much less Footloose than it sounds.) (I must be having some sort of age crisis -- I keep thinking of things that happened a long time ago.)

Believe it or not, this does have a tenuous relationship to Tony Millionaire's delightful and insane graphic adventure novel Billy Hazelnuts. Billy has a bit of a short fuse; he's a hot tempered homunculus prone to shaking his fists and shouting things like "Come and get us, boys! I'm a barrelful of hate! Come open me up!" I may not share the feelings, but I can relate to the impulse.

Here's a paragraph from the back of the book which I think gives enough information to trigger either the "HELL YES!" or "oh, god no!" response. I'm (obviously) in the hell yes category. Here's the quote: "In the all new graphic novel BILLY HAZELNUTS Millionaire dishes out a story about Becky, girl scientist, her pal Billy Hazelnuts (who was created from suet, yeast and discarded mince-meat pie by mice in the basement), and their journey to find the missing moon while battling an evil steam-driven alligator with a seeing-eye skunk." I was intrigued by the time I got to the parentheses (made by mice in the basement, you say?) but then came the STEAM DRIVEN ALLIGATOR, at which point I was completely helpless. That blurb doesn't even mention Adventure on the high seas! Finally, a book for those who have been longing to read about an ill-humored hero made from suet.

I picked this up browsing at the library and it turned out to be one of those wonderful surprises. The story careens along from one crazy thing to the next, but adheres to a rigorous internal logic. Billy Hazelnuts is a dark and creepy story, yet maintains an innocence you might not expect from a story with an evil steam-driven alligator and a foul-tempered protagonist. I found it to be charming, surprising, disturbing and in possession of an oddball kind of grace. Also funny. Recommended!
8 comments on "Billy Hazelnuts"
  1. Defending Billy Joel? Interesting. Something to think about. A JoAnn's stop for a doodad that you don't have? I can't imagine what that could be...

  2. I know! It was one of the single most bizarre classroom experiences of my life.

  3. I hope that you take some time this weekend to enjoy the cool sunshine. I like the cold, hot sun up in the sky. Go Billy Joel!

  4. I will have to check out that book. And though I know you have carefully concealed the identity of the doodad, I am racking my brain...

  5. bbd -- the sunshine has been MARVELOUS. I hope you're enjoying it as well.

    patty -- I think you'd like it! It's CRAZY, but in all the best ways. (crafty doodad shall remain cloaked in mystery, as it's actually pretty boring.)

  6. I think that my copy of BH is in transit. The way the library has changed the on line account data is a bit odd, but not really all that confusing once you figure out what they have changed. The sunshine? Amazing yesterday. As we were walking along Hawthorne I could atually see the patchouli mist drifting off the bodies. A lovely "weird" Portland sight...

  7. I think you'll like it, BBD. He's awfully crabby in ways I think you'll appreciate.

    As for the Hawthorne Hippie Mist sightings... lucky you?? (I was on hawthorne on Friday! but it was not sunny enough for the hippies to have visible scent clouds.)

  8. The hippies are always in a good mood. I envy them that, but I probably would not enjoy their lifestyle. I like hot water and soap and not wndering the town in ripped up clothes...I guess that's how I roll?


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