of the Oddballs
Memoirs from a professed Outsider that is funny, and poignant
"Queen of the Oddballs," Hillary Carlip proves that being odd doesn't
necessarily mean you don't have something to say
you just say it in an offbeat
sort of way.
such teenaged wild adventures as tracking down Carole King, more accurately, stalking
the singer songwriter, or engaging in a (perhaps a one-sided) friendship with
Carly Simon, Carlip's recounting of a rather unusual life is peppered with celebrity
encounters, wild goose chases and insightful views on herself and the world at
views life through a lens unlike any other. The chapter that details her creation
of an all girls rock band, comprised of ex-cons who met in prison, is a terrific
window into her brilliant mind of shameless self-promotion. Some might say she
has chutzpah. (That is an understatement!)
up in Bel Air, and naturally exposed to celebrity up close and personal, Carlip,
who as a child is precocious beyond any parent's wildest dreams, single-mindedly
becomes an expert juvenile juggler. In a bid for attention and self worth, she
actually manages to secure gigs for herself on stage between musical acts in L.A.
Adept at the art, one of Lucile Ball's writers summons the mini-master to pass
down the skill to Ms. Ball directly. Apparently, the '50s comic icon had to learn
every stunt inside and out before trying her very best to look amateurish.
wealth of insider tidbits pop up sporadically throughout the book in chronological
order starting with 1965 and ending with 2004. Detailing the times and trends,
"Oddballs" becomes a miniature primer on American pop culture. Preceding
each of the 18 chapters are insights into what took place at the time phrased
as only Carlip can, with devastating, but subtle, wit.
title of the book comes from an episode in the author's life when she was a contestant
on the notorious '70s talent extravaganza "The Gong Show." Taking her
singing-juggling act on stage, Carlip, to her own amazement, wins with a perfect
score from the Gong Show's notoriously critical judges. Earning a standing ovation
from the most critical of critics Rex Reed, and smiles and approval from sultry
singer J.P. Morgan and "uber" blonde "Love Boat" guest star
extraordinaire Elke Sommer, it was that moment of victory that set Carlip off
on an unconventional and amazingly funny life.
is that Chapter of her life that Carlip recreated for Valley fans when she not
only read that section of the book, she actually recreated the juggling act that
won her a perfect score on the Gong Show. Smiling and singing all the way, Carlip
is an effortless juggler today. She proved that to her audience at Changing Hands
Bookstore in Tempe during her promo tour for her latest book last spring.
experiences, love affairs that went, well south, and interjecting the spirit of
the times, Carlip has fashioned a page turning memoir]
also wasted no time in "venting" her frustration with talk show giant
Oprah Winfrey regarding another book she authored. "I didn't always want
to bitch-slap Oprah," says Carlip in the opening lines of the last chapter
of the book, "Finding the Oh! in Oprah."
written in 1995 "Girl Power: Young Women Speak Out," Carlip was thrilled
to learn that she was slated to be on the Oprah show to promote the book.
with the exposure, Carlip was bitterly disappointed when she was basically given
a seat in the audience and about two minutes of air time. She vents her frustration
with the segment in hilarious detail that is both poignant, bitingly harsh, bitchy
and, most important of all in a book like this, funny.
the celebrity encounters and the many attempts at show biz fame from singing telegrams,
a bit part in that mega musical disaster "Xanadu," scripts that were
never realized and a relationship gone sour, Carlip opens up her love life to
public view. Her own misconceptions, missteps and leaps of faith are equally detailed.
Carlip takes a candid look at herself, her coming out, and her own career in a
mesmerizing mix of enlightened observation sprinkled with comedic sections that
are as funny as they are candid. Carlip makes herself transparent as cellophane.
the hands of a less accomplished writer, all of this could have amounted to a
cute foaming froth. Mingling personal experiences, love affairs that went, well
south, and interjecting the spirit of the times, Carlip has fashioned a page turning
memoir that keeps you guessing just exactly what this multi-talented Jacqueline
of all entertainment media is going to do next.
a book that may appear slight, Carlip has touched on subjects that have weight
and significance while making you laugh through the rough and rocky road that
is life as a "Queen of the Oddballs."