We have entered the time in a toddler's life when she becomes mildly obsessive about particular things beyond the immediate attraction of her mother's nipples, or, as my wife so eloquently put it yesterday in Piagetian terms : "object permanence is a bitch."
Right now I'd say the primary object of her obsession is Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, or in Juniperian terms, "Ah-ooh, Ah-ooh, Ah-ooh!" (the sound the wild things make during the wild rumpus). Given her nightly reading demands, it is the last thing she thinks about before she retires. And considering the incessant chanting of ah-ooh, ah-ooh, ah-ooh we hear from her crib at 5:45 in the morning, it is probably the first thing she thinks about when starting her day. When we are out and about and see anything anywhere that resembles a wild thing, the chanting starts anew. She carries the book around during the day, thumbs through it, chanting and waving bye bye to the wild things. I have read it so many times I have begun to create subplots in my head and imagine subtexts and backstories and sequels just to keep me from starting a wild rumpus between my head and the fucking bookshelf.
My favorite wild thing is this one. I know Sendak wrote the book in 1963, a full year before the Beatles would invade and encourage every buzz-cut American male to grow their hair out nice and shaggy, so check out Wild Thing #3 here. Like Agee or Kerouac before him, this dude is clearly ahead of his time. Look at that red hair! He looks like he could have been a backup keyboard player for Rush in 1974. What I love best about Wild Thing #3's hair is that he clearly styles it. Wild Thing #3 may be wild, but not so wild that he can't occasionally wash, condition, rinse, repeat, and then conair the shit out of his hair before brushing it more times than Mary Ingalls. Although I must say, it does look a little greasy during Max's visit.
Wood's favorite is Wild Thing #1, the one on the cover. Why? Because he has human feet, of course. I find him a bit boorish.
I do like that he is such good pals with that rooster-headed Wild Thing. The look they're giving each other during the second page of the wild rumpus tells me there just may be something between those two. I don't really like the rooster-headed Wild Thing. He seems to be all cock-n-strut with no substance; he seems somewhat vapid, with none of the soulfulness you see in the other Wild Things' eyes. I sense a broken heart in Wild Thing #1's future.
All of my imagining may be cured however, as all imagination is cured: through the wonder of motion pictures. Yes, it's true, Maurice Sendak has cashed his check and sold the rights for Where the Wild Things Are to become a movie. Production begins this month on a film version that (as with all less-than-500 word children's books that become potential blockbusters) will stretch a simple story into two hours of CGI-saturated delight. It should be released in 2008, just in time for Juniper to become obsessed with the movie and demand to watch it over and over and over.
But before we get all hopeful that this movie will be as awesome as Garfield Two: A Tale of Two Kitties, we should consider who is at the helm: Where the Wild Things Are is being directed by Spike Jonze (who directed all those movies I couldn't understand) and the screenplay is being written by Dave Eggers, who is apparently some guy who runs a pirate supply store in San Francisco. The film version will include the voice of Benicio Del Toro as a Wild Thing and Catherine Keener as Max's mom. Hello, Hollywood: what the fuck? Dave Eggers? Couldn't they have just gotten the guy who adapted Cat in the Hat? And were Rosie O'Donnell and Robin Williams too busy this summer to share with us the gift of hilarity? Cripes, this is going to horrible.
At least there has been one good movie made about Wild Things: