Bringing Sexy Back (or: Gimme Five Bees For a Quarter).

I'm sure you've all seen the Simpsons episode in which the workers of the power plant go on strike, and Burns bring in strike breakers from the 1930s, including Grandpa, who explains that the best trick in the elderly strike breaker's arsenal is to tell stories that don't go anywhere, like the time he tied an onion to his belt (which was the style at the time) and took the ferry to Morganville (which is what they called Shelbyville in those days), which cost a nickel (which in those days had bees on them).

Just about every trend of yesteryear has made a comeback since the 90s. I wear a bowler hat and cardigans regularly (though wearing them together is sort of overkill). I even ordered a bow tie the other day. Bow ties have come roaring back (thank you, Doctor!)

But no one seems to be bringing onions back.

Yesterday, I needed my coat dry-cleaned. So I tied an onion to my belt and took the bus to Milwaukee and Damen. If you want to bring a trend back, you have to impress the hipsters, and Milwaukee Avenue is sort of the hipster corridor. But once I saw Alan Rickman there. He was coming out of a store and gave me a look, like "for the love of God, don't talk to me." And when that guy glares at you, you STAY glared at.

But the important thing is - I had an onion tied to my belt. And there were hipsters everywhere, with their ironic mustaches and trucker hats and stickers for bands I'd never heard of. I got off the bus and walked up the road, past all the vintage shops, and a record store, shaking my butt so the onion would swing around.

I was outside of Myopic Books when someone noticed.

"Is that an onion tied to your belt?" she asked.

"I'm bringing it back," I explained. "It's retro."

She nodded and headed (I assume) for the nearest farmer's market. 

I went into a record store and went straight to the Bob Dylan section, like I always do when I go into record stores. They didn't have anything I didn't have already, so I went to the counter to see if they'd leaked out the 7" single of Lena Del Ray's "Video Games," the most haunting torch ballad of the year. They hadn't, but at least I made it into the store. On Record Store Day I couldn't get within a block of it, because there were lines stretching WAY back around the block. 

Anyway, the important thing is, I had an onion tied to my belt, but no one at the record store noticed, so I went into the used book shop down the block, where they have four floors of books and the cats have the run of the place.  The hipsters upstairs were talking about how uncool YA books are now. 

"It's all either dystopia or paranormal romance," one of them said.

"I used to like zombies," said the other one. "But now they've wrecked those. The other day I saw a book called I Kissed a Zombie and I Liked It."

"Oh, dear god," said hipster #1.

"I was hoping it was a joke," said the other. "But it wasn't."

"Yes it was," I interrupted. "It's about as realistic a love story as you can get in a book, but it was intended to be a satire. Kirkus called it 'a scathing parody.'"

"Whatever," said the first one. "If you're over twelve it takes a lot of nerve to be seen reading a YA book, anyway."

I was just about to reminisce about those happy post-Harry Potter days when it was hip to be seen reading YA, or point out that if these guys had READ I Kissed a Zombie, they probably would have liked it a lot better than the Twilight kids did, when one of the hipsters finally noticed that I had an onion tied to my belt.

"I'm bringing it back," I said. "Somebody had to."

They were not convinced. By most standards I am probably considered a hipster myself, but I am entirely too big of a dork to get along well with other hipsters.

This is why I don't try to rewrite sonnets into modern slang to make Shakespeare hip for kids in the new Smart Aleck's Guides to Shakespeare, due out this Fall.  Between the guide to Hamlet and the gay main character in SPARKS by SJ Adams, I am really doing my part to annoy Orson Scott Card, whose new novel is basically a homophobic interpretation of Hamlet where everyone is gay except Hamlet.  In our guide, we explain what happens in the play much more clearly than that, but we don't try to rewrite it into slang, because my idea of hip, modern slang would make me sound like the instruction booklet for a skateboard-themed video game from 1990.

But I WILL bring the onions back. The other day my wife and I went to a test taping of the new Rosie O'Donnel talk show that's being taped in Harpo Studios, which is about five blocks from my house. The guest was Crystal Bowersox, who used to work in my landlord's office and once had to threaten to kick me out of my apartment on their behalf. My guitar/accordion player, Jeff, knew her better than I did, and I seem to recall he once asked me to come play at a gig he was doing with her, but I couldn't do it. I wish I had now. But when I saw her the other day I was afraid the landlord was even sending OLD employees to get me to pay my rent on time (which I haven't done in years).

Anyway, we get to come back for a proper taping once the show starts airing, and I told my wife I'd be tying an onion to my belt in attempt to get some TV exposure for this retro fashion tip. My wife told me I'd better not if I wanted to sit by her, because she hates onions.

I guess I just don't know how to make things fashionable. I am over thirty and my heart has died. 

But, anyway, I needed to get my coat dry cleaned, so I tied an onion to my belt and took the bus up Milwaukee Avenue. Two people noticed the onion, I dropped off my coat, and picked up a copy of Tales of a Teenage Muppet by Kirk Scroggs, which I am enjoying tremendously. I have two new books out in November, so I will probably doing some interviews with bloggers. Perhaps THEY can help me bring onions back.  

If you're a book blogger and wish to arrange an interview/guest post/etc, please throw an email to  I don't have any swag or free stuff to offer right now, but I CAN dispense fashion tips onto which even the hipsters have not yet latched, and there will probably be a FREE iPhone app for Extraordinary.

And THAT is my attempt at the longest, most rambling shameless plug yet.

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Adam's New Book: Sept 2013