order of oddfish cover

The Order of Oddfish

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Winners were glorified, losers were eaten

Thanks to everybody who made it out to the Dome of Doom last Saturday! We had beautiful weather for it, and the talented team at Collaboraction did a brilliant job of pulling it all together. Thanks also to Brandon Will for helping me sell books! (Brandon was also my partner-in-crime in my Audrey Niffenegger impersonation caper.)

Last time we did this, we had the services of the costumed marching band Environmental Encroachment (check out the joyfully ludicrous video!) This time we had the similarly fantastic DJing of Jayve Montgomery. We also had a giant eyeball to loom over us.

The premise of the Dome of Doom is that two combatants put on costumes, get in the dome, and battle-dance at each other (no touching) until the judges call a winner. It’s a recreation of one of the scenes in The Order of Odd-Fish. (A more complete video explanation here.)

Before we began the Dome of Doom, a huge anti-war march passed right by us!

After the protest of the real war went by, we went back to our fake battles. After all, Cthulhu showed up:

Thanks again, everyone who came out! I can’t resist—I have to end with one more shot of Cthulhu and his lovely wife:

There, now I’m happy.

Freya’s Lily Larouche Rap

Reminder: We’re throwing an outdoor Dome of Doom dance party this Saturday, October 16, at Pritzker Park in Chicago. Details, with raucous video, here!

My protégée Freya is at it again! Check out the ingenious Lily Larouche rap video above. (For those just dropping in: Lily Larouche is one of the main characters of my novel The Order of Odd-Fish. In a perfect world, Helen Mirren would play her in the movie.)

This is via Freya’s blog, which you should all check out. If you can’t see the video, here’s the lyrics. Extra points for rhyming “movie star” with “Côte d’Ivoire”:

Lily Larouche was a famous movie star
She vacationed in Tahiti or on the Côte d’Ivoire
She was the tabloids’ favorite, caused a rumor a week
But Miss Larouche’s style was always quite unique.
She got busted twice for reckless hot air ballooning
But she didn’t mind; no, she found it quite amusing
The President Dwight Eisenhower loved her from afar
One quiet Christmas Eve, he sent his eyebrows in a jar!
Then suddenly the great Larouche was gone, right off the map
This vanishing was big, it left the tabloids in a flap
They swore, “We won’t forget her!” but as the years wore on
Detectives and search parties had naught to build upon
Her memory just faded from everybody’s mind
Until, forty years later, Lily awoke to find
She was in her Ruby Palace (her giant crimson home)
The sobs of a small baby said she wasn’t alone
She followed to the laundry room where she was shocked to see
A baby in her washer, pinned to the cloth a plea:
Please take care of Jo, but beware: DANGEROUS baby!
Lily thought the unknown note-writer to be crazy
For Jo seemed just as dangerous as a glass of milk
But Lily, she got older, lost her grip, wore gowns of silk
That she used to use in movies she filmed in days of glory
And little Jo grew older – well, that’s another story!


Fantastic work, Freya! She also just wrote a similarly awesome Nora McGunn rap; I’ll post that video too when she’s done. Freya’s en fuego lately!

Other news, briefly: there was a great article by Sean Callahan in the Notre Dame alumni magazine about my attempts to publicize Odd-Fish, and other alumni writers’ attempts to publicize their books. The magazine photographer, Matt Cashore, turned out to be the husband of a college friend, Maria Rogers. (He also turns out to be a distant cousin of Kristin Cashore, the author of the acclaimed Graceling and Fire. The world of young adult fantasy can be surprisingly small!)

Anyway, when the time came for us to take a picture for the article, we made a day of it at my wife’s family’s cottage on Lake Michigan. We decided to take the pictures down on the beach. The picture they eventually used was of me obliviously rowing a kayak on dry land (a stinging metaphor for the futile, quixotic nature of book publicity, I suppose). It’s a good picture, but it’s not the most interesting.

We found a elderly, nearly dead bird on the beach. It was so feeble I could pick it up without it flying away. I thought it would make for a great photo, in a Mary-Timony-by-way-of-Gob-Bluth way:

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Fly, bird of literary ambition! Fly!

Outdoor Dome of Doom on October 16!

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Remember summer? On August 22, Collaboraction and I threw an outdoor Order of Odd-Fish Dome of Doom costumed dance party in Chicago’s Logan Square. We’re going to do it again, on October 16—details below!

Here’s a video of what happened. Check out the adorable dancing children! The nascent breakdancers! The, uh, guy who kept throwing his infant daughter in the air, scaring the crap out of me?

It was like our Odd-Fish fan art show and dance party back in April—but outdoors this time, anyone wandering by could get involved. And they did! You can feel the happy vibe in the video.

My partners-in-crime at Collaboraction and Environmental Encroachment deserve a hand for this. It was all made possible through the Richard J. Dreihaus Foundation and the Chicago Park District.

It went so well, we’ve decided to do it again!

This time it’s going to be Saturday, October 16, from 2-5 pm. The location? Pritzker Park, at the corner of State and Van Buren, right next to the Harold Washington Library (not Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, mind you.)

But wait, you say—isn’t there a giant eyeball in Pritzker Park right now? Why yes there is:

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The Dome will be set up right next to the eye! I hope Rahm Emmanuel shows up at the Dome of Doom and gets in a staring contest with the eyeball. I think it will blink.

For music, Jayve Montgomery of the Chicago Park District’s “Inferno Mobile Recording Studio” will be on hand with something called Sound Beams. I’m told that “the Sound Beams can be placed so that while the kids dance they will trigger the beams and make music.” So the music will actually be controlled by the movements of the kids in the Dome? Awesome!

Here’s the official write-up for this outdoor dance party:

The Chicago Park District, Collaboraction, and The Order of Odd-Fish present

The Dome of Doom
Saturday, October 16, 2 – 5 pm
Pritzker Park
310 S. State St.


Two dancers enter. One dancer leaves!

Inside a geodesic Dome, competitors of all ages dance-battle to the delight of judges and a raucous crowd of spectators! Collaboraction and James Kennedy, author of the young adult fantasy The Order of Odd-Fish, present the Dome of Doom: an audience participatory dance battle zone, in which costumed competitors have 60 seconds to show off their best dance moves and take their opponent down. (Don’t have a costume? We’ll have plenty on hand for you to use.)

This wacky, fun, interactive outdoor spectacle is a blast for the whole family. It’s also a reenactment of the climactic scene from The Order of Odd-Fish! Signed copies will be available on site for purchase.

It’ll be a hoot. If you live in Chicago, please do come.

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