Star-Bulletin Features


Friday, January 8, 1999


art

DARE to
bare it
in SLAM

Describe yourself in three words ...
Who's got the most awesome eyes ...
Who do you love? hate? And why? . . .

Stories By Michelle Ramos
Special to the Star-Bulletin

Tapa

YOU have to be invited into these pages. With a strict warning on its cover, "SLAM" is "not recommended for reading by parents, teachers, perverts, prudes, psychotropic losers or inhibited individuals," according to its creator Claire Morris-Dobie. Only those with a functioning brain can leave their mark.

"The dumbing of America is so bothersome to me," said Morris-Dobie, who lives on Kauai. "We don't take time to think. We want instant gratification. We don't take time to look things up. We want everything given to us."

Morris-Dobie is marketing her own version of the slam books popular in the '60s and '70s. Those slam books were homemade, usually written into black-and-white composition tablets or three-ring binders. Friends would write in their opinions of popular songs, movies and actors of the day. But the bulk of the "slams" were often reserved for people they knew and disliked.

Morris-Dobie's "slam" book is a kinder, friendlier one, filled with 55 questions for teens and pre-teens to ponder, discuss and/or slam. Instead of using the old style of ruled pages where each person is assigned the same line number to keep track of who is saying what, Morris-Dobie has "slammers" signing in at the front of the book, aliases accepted, and white, open space following each question.


Courtesy of Claire Morris-Dobie
From left, Pam and Cassandra Rull and Brittany
Sussman of Kauai check their slam books for
the juice on their friends.



"The idea is to get people to think and communicate and write and express themselves," Morris-Dobie said. "A lot of people hold things in which may account for the rash of people shooting ... especially on the mainland. By having a place for people to express themselves, maybe there won't be more violence."

However, Morris-Dobie also wants teens and pre-teens to use SLAM to have fun, gossip and/or keep to read years later -- maybe at a high school reunion.

Morris-Dobie, now 54-years old, found a page from her 5th grade SLAM book while rummaging through some boxes. One question was, "What is your favorite color?" Back then, her answer was turquoise. Today, her favorite color is purple. Both colors make up her SLAM book cover.

So far, the book has reached parts of the mainland, the Netherlands and England (it was sent to the latter two countries because nieces of an acquaintance live there.) But for people who can't get their hands on the book, or who prefer a keyboard and computer screen to a pen and paper, Morris-Dobie has some of the questions from SLAM online.

Responses are also posted so slammers can see whether there is someone out there on the same wavelength as them. For example, Slammer No. 17 from Philadelphia would like to "get jiggy with" any of the Hansons; and Slammer No. 22 from San Francisco prefers to "get jiggy with" John Travolta -- "But when he was younger, like in Grease."

If a question pops into a slammers mind, he or she can click on a button, type in the question, and Morris-Dobie will post it on the website. Connect to http://www.slammit.com.

There are also value-based questions in the SLAM book for teens to think about, such as, "What would you do if somebody asked you to lie about a serious crime he or she was involved in?" Question No. 43, 13-year-old Vanessa Rull's favorite question, asks "Would you shave your head for a thousand dollars?" Rull said she would and then use some of the money to buy a "real" wig with real hair.

The questions show the sign of the times, Morris-Dobie said. During the "composition book" era, questions were more tame. Today, pre-teens and teens are faced with bigger issues.

Lauren Calhoun, a 14-year-old who attends Kauai High and Intermediate School, said some of the questions made her feel uncomfortable but they were good because they made her think. "Most of the people in Hawaii would answer no to the question about whether we think people who are not white are probably inferior in terms of intelligence," Calhoun said. "But maybe it would work on the mainland or in the midwest."

Calhoun and Rull enjoy reading the responses in their SLAM books and both know who wrote what. "Only one person wrote their real name (in my book)," Rull said. But Rull knows who they are and they trust her with their anonymity. Most slammers in Calhoun's book, on the other hand, used their real names.

Several of Rull's friends asked her where they could get their own copy of the SLAM book. So for Christmas, she gave them copies of SLAM.

"I've had adults ask me if I have one for adults." Morris-Dobie said. So, the SLAM sequel is aimed at the 17 and up crowd. The questions will be a little longer and "meatier."

Morris-Dobie also hopes to do a Euro-slam where questions are translated into French, Italian and other languages.

Morris-Dobie, public relations director for Kauai's Wilcox Memorial Hospital, was born and raised in Philadelphia and moved to Hawaii at age 32.

For more information, call 1-877-339-0065 or e-mail slammit@slammit.com.


Book signing

Bullet Who: Claire Morris-Dobie signs copies of SLAM

Bullet Where: At noon Saturday at Borders-Ward Centre (591-8995), and 4 p.m. Saturday at Borders-Waikele (676-6699)


Junior slammin'!

Art Sanrio has "slam" books for the pre-teen crowd called "friends files."

The colorful, vinyl covered books have three sheets of stickers and 40 pages. Questions are on peel-off stickers so owners can choose questions they want and the order they want to use them.

All of the questions are tame and very general -- favorite song, most talkative, favorite sport. If the owner doesn't like the questions provided, they can write their own questions on the pages.

Each person signing in can also choose a symbol sticker representing himself.

The books cost $8 each and feature Sanrio's popular characters, such as Pochaco, Keropi, Hello Kitty and Badtz-Maru.



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