Re: Their chum Chet Morton was dead, and he wouldn't be alive again any time soon

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I more or less learned to read via the intrepid sleuthing of Frank and Joe Hardy

It was the equivalently weird Famous Five for me.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:24 AM
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The other big fave was Tom Swift. I always wondered why we didn't have out own rocket ship.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:26 AM
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I read an extraordinarily large quantity of Hardy Boys prose when I was little; I don't think I read anything close to all of the books, but I would read them five or six times over. They are kind of strange.

Starting in 1959, the first 38 stories were revised and somewhat abridged, much to the dismay of long-time Hardy Boys fans. The books were shortened, obsolete prose was updated and racial stereotypes were eliminated. Although the stories were given the same titles and some of the plots remained basically the same, many books were given new plots and are unrecogizable from the originals. Unfortunately, the quality of the writing was nowhere near as high as in the unrevised

Oh, I must know.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:27 AM
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Yeah, I read the Famous Five (and the Secret Seven). Although they came a little after I learned to read. The first things I remember reading were Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr Fox and Danny, the Champion of the World. I also read the Hardy Boys [which our local newsagent sold for a price that meant I could afford to buy them with my pocket money].


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:28 AM
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I did the same with Nancy Drew books. I would check out seven of them every week from the library and read them all at the same time: chapter one of each of the books, then chapter two of each of the books, and so on.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:29 AM
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I read the new-school Tom Swift books, which featured Tom living on an orbiting space station with his pals; surely not the same as "Tom Swift and his Magnetic Horse" or whatever.

Speaking of Tom Swift, I assume everybody knows the origin of the acronym "TASER", right?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:30 AM
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I also loved the Bobsey Twins.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:31 AM
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The one series of books I used to read voraciously were the Dr Who novelizations. I could get through several of them in a day.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:33 AM
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I read the Hardy Boys, but liked the Three Investigators (including obese former child star Jupiter Jones!) better. Their hideout in the junkyard was the coolest.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:37 AM
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Pete Crenshaw was far more atheletic. Bob was the recorder of the group, sort of obsolete like the appendix. Uncle Titus had forgotten that he had once told Jupiter he could have that junkyard trailer, and then it had been covered up with junk. The investigators had a network of tunnels leading in and out of the trailer, so that they would never be seen entering or leaving Headquarters, or "HQ" as Jupiter called it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:44 AM
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Joe Meno's The Boy Detective Fails and Kelly Link's "The Girl Detective" in Stranger Things Happen are recent fun takes on the Stratemeyer Syndicate's finest. Nobody has written a irreverent and wittily over-referential take the stocky but deductively brillaint Jupiter Jones and his comrades in crime-fighting in Rocky Beach, however.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:45 AM
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brilliant


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:46 AM
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I liked the Trixie Belden books, too.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:47 AM
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5: Let me guess: you have a highly idiosyncratic method of eating oreos, too.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:47 AM
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Jesus, my typing is terrible this morning. I blame pie hangover.

The investigators had a network of tunnels leading in and out of the trailer, so that they would never be seen entering or leaving Headquarters, or "HQ" as Jupiter called it.

Yes! And all the secret entrances were described in elaborate detail, and had codenames! (There was one called "Red Rover", where there was... a graffito of a dog? Or a "Beware the Dog" sign on the junkyard wall?) And Jupiter got to drive around in a Rolls Royce because of... something, I don't remember. It wasn't his Rolls, but he got to drive around in it. That was the kind of fat boy detective I wanted to be!


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:48 AM
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I read both the 1980s Tom Swift (space) and the 1950s/1960s series, which was a much larger collection, thanks to the local public library. Fusion and FTL travel for everybody!

I'm suspicious about #3, because I remember noticing that the Hardy Boys books were all exactly the same length - 128 pages, or something similarly publisher-friendly.

Three Investigators fascinated me with the geographucal depictions - California seemed so weird!


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:48 AM
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According to Wikipedia, the Three Investigators books are huge in Germany.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:48 AM
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When I was about ten, I tried to withdraw all the money from my bank account (about $20, I think) so I could spend it on Hardy Boys books at the used book store, but the teller wouldn't do it.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:49 AM
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Whatever happened to Encyclopedia Brown, anyway? Did he marry that tough girl who used to protect him, only to discover his true sexuality in the course of one wild night with Bugs Meany?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:50 AM
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I think the Rolls Royce belonged to Alfred Hitchcock, their shadowy sponsor, perhaps? Right, Red Rover. That was awesome.

I love how the supporting cast was always so baffled by their codespeak, and all seemed to have THC-comically impaired memories.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:51 AM
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Flippanter should definitely read The Boy Detective Fails.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:51 AM
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It was a painting of a dog watching the Great San Francisco Fire, the latch concealed in a knothole that was one of the dog's eyes.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:51 AM
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Did he marry that tough girl who used to protect him

Sally Kimball! She was tough.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:53 AM
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A la 11, is there a commenter who is consistently going by the handle of not entering a name? Or has there been a rash of named-commenters forgetting their names and not later saying "11 was me"? And where has LizardBreath been on The Case Of The Missing Named Commenter


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:53 AM
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?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:53 AM
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They acquired use of the Rolls in one of the early books. Secret of Terror Castle, I think.

I still think of the Three Investigators when I'm studying ancient Greek philosophy, because the talking skull in Mystery of the Talking Skull (which was the first one I read) was named "Socrates". (Which, at the time, I mispronounced as "So-crates".)

The best one was Mystery of the Stuttering Parrot. Art theft is truly the most romantic criminal enterprise.


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:53 AM
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The impetuous Joe was younger and fairer than his older, darker, more thoughtful brother Frank.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:54 AM
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She was tough, I should say.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:54 AM
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21: I've got a copy somewhere in the Flippantercave, but haven't cracked it yet. One of the creators of The Venture Brothers recommended it on the show site.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:54 AM
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11 was Snarkout.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:54 AM
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Labs identified with Biff Hooper, of course.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:55 AM
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Did he marry that tough girl who used to protect him, only to discover his true sexuality in the course of one wild night with Bugs Meany?

This reminds me of a New Yorker cartoon where Popeye and Bluto are holding hands at a cocktail party, chatting with some unseen third person, and Bluto is saying "...and then we finally realized where all that anger was coming from."


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:55 AM
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Mystery of the Stuttering Parrot

To-to-to-be, that is the question. No! It's an address! 222B! And it's a graveyard, and that San Francisco fog is rolling in!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:55 AM
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25 - 11 was me. Bugs Meany told some of the little kids that if they posted without their handle, he'd give them a dollar. That Meany is up to no good! He's so bent, Clive Owen had to pay him royalties. I want you and Sally to find out what he's up to!

I am so glad that Wikipedia contains the plot summary for The Mystery of the Stuttering Parrot! Part of the secret treasure riddle rested on the use of the phrase "a lead-pipe cinch", which I had never encountered.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:56 AM
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11 was Snarkout.

Well, I hope he learned his lesson.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:56 AM
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It certainly wasn't a deliberate strategy on my folks' parts, but long summer vacations at my Mom's parents' house led to my becoming fairly immersed in the 50s incarnations ofTom Swift and the Hardy Boys. I also read (and mangled) quie a few golden age comic books--Superman, Batman, Scrooge McDuck, etc. I sometimes wonder if part of the reason I've always felt out-of-step with current culture is that grounding in the arcana of that era. When I got older, I read a lot of 50s sci-fi--mostly Ace Doubles--for the same reason.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:58 AM
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Look under the stones beyond the bones,
For the box that has no locks!


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:58 AM
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One of the adventures had a big thing on rhyming slang. Jupe, being so smart, knew that "apples and pears" meant stairs. Can't remember which episode, though.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:00 AM
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Threads like this one make me realize that, whereever I stand with respect to the general population, I am nowhere close to the rightward extreme of the nerdiness distribution in this crowd.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:01 AM
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It seems there's a Three Investigators movie coming out next year.

Hurray for nostalgia!


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:01 AM
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Also excellent, if less earnest and more self-aware, are the books of John Bellairs.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:01 AM
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Ha!


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:02 AM
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41: Classics! They scared the daylights out of Young Flippanter, who spent several years in New England's post-industrial wasteland without a television.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:03 AM
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At the risk of contradicting myself w/r/t 39, did anyone else get into the The Dark is Rising series?


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:03 AM
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Did anyone read the Lois Duncan books, like Stranger with my face and Killing Mr. Griffin and Down a Dark Hall? Those scared the shit out of me.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:05 AM
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44: Oh yes. We've talked about it a bit before, even, and so I know it has several fans here. I adored the series but really loathed the ending.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:06 AM
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I learned at a young age that if you are setting up a detective agency staffed entirely by nine-year olds, you are going to have much better luck if you are located near to a major urban centre than if your headquarters is out in rural North Wales and you don't even have an entry in the Yellow Pages, let alone an advertising budget. I seem to remember that we were genuinely surprised when no myseteries turned up. Even one of the soul-destroying divorce or debt collection cases which apparently make up the mainstay of a private detective's work would have been something.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:06 AM
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Also, I love the sentence in the title of this thread.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:07 AM
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I read Killing Mr. Griffin, Heebinator. The big reveal that one of them is a sociopath was, um, stupid.

Although that's reminded me of House of Stairs (which I know we've discussed before) and Anna to the Infinite Power, which -freaked me out-. Jupiter Jones would never freak me out. His solid frame is composed of pure love.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:09 AM
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What I remember about the Three Investigators was one of the later books, in which a Chinese (?) cook fooled someone into thinking he had a gun at their back when it was really only the tip of a wooden spoon. The character was a horribly racist stereotype, IIRC, but the trick was awesome, at least to an eleven-year-old.

Trixie Belden was great, although the first books were stronger and had forward momentum (new characters appearing, Trixie growing and changing) that the later ones lacked. The early, unrevised, full-of-stereotypes Nancy Drew, too. She doesn't meet need until book #7, I think, and she also acquires her dog Togo. After a while, the formula gets set and she never ages, changes, or acquires new friends (except as necessary to show up for a single book/chapter).


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:09 AM
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Also, I love the sentence construction like, "Everyday, Aunt Mathilda/Nancy Drew/Bob Hardy did X, and today was no exception."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:10 AM
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Three Investigators truly did have the hideout to end all hideouts. The Rolls I thought was fine, whatever.

36: I read endless compilations of golden age sci-fi because they were really cheap at the used bookstore. The anachronism of them all was mostly lost on me, except when there'd be a story with a "computer" and it was some dude sitting there computing things.

John Bellairs was great. I hadn't realized he died so young; sad.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:10 AM
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The big reveal that one of them is a sociopath was, um, stupid.

OH YEAH? SO'S YOUR FACE.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:11 AM
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re: 44 and 46

Yeah, I read them and liked them.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:11 AM
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45: Yes!! I was especially into her more ESP-y ones, like A Gift of Magic and The Third Eye.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:12 AM
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45: Heebie, it's funny, but the only one that really scared me was Locked in Time. The rest just seemed garden-variety mysteries.

I tell you what else scared me: The View from the Cherry Tree. Talk about a kid's worst nightmare: the adults don't believe you witnessed a murder! Except (of course) the murderer.

As far as geekiness, nothing could outclass Miss Pickerell series and the Danny Dunn series. I think sci-fi ages worse, in a lot of ways.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:13 AM
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Also on the paranormal powers lit tip, I adored The Girl With the Silver Eyes.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:13 AM
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I liked that TV series about the serial killer who's always having vivid paranoid hallucinations. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I think it was called.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:13 AM
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The Third Eye...You know, having those powers is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, you help get the white babies being sold to unscrupulous adoption agencies back, but on the other hand your first boyfriend ever breaks up with you and you paraphrase in your head, "This is how senior year ends...with a half-hearted kiss and a 'see you on Monday.'".


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:14 AM
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My brother and I were also very fond of the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books when we were young. They and the Chronicles of Narnia* are the ones that I remember my parents reading to us.

(Yes, I know: sexist, allegory, Susan, Neil Gaiman, racist, Tolkien, etc. So's your face.)


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:15 AM
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I tell you what else scared me: The View from the Cherry Tree. Talk about a kid's worst nightmare: the adults don't believe you witnessed a murder! Except (of course) the murderer.

I never read that, but I see it's by the same author as The Girl With the Silver Eyes. I think I might need to have a little YA reading binge soon.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:16 AM
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57: Yeah, yeah! I love the part where she's home alone and can use her powers to make breakfast without getting up. With the detail that she has to get the milk the normal way, because it's too heavy.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:16 AM
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I loved The Girl With The Silver Eyes and The View From The Cherry Tree. There was four of them with silver eyes! Somehow it didn't seem so lonely any more.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:17 AM
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59: But after the book ends, you get to marry a dreamy police officer!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:17 AM
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re: paranormal kid lit

I remember reading and being deeply freaked out by Theodore Sturgeon's Dreaming Jewels when I was about 7 or 8.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:20 AM
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64: We can't be sure of that. But at least you get to marry someone with beautiful ice-blue eyes


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:20 AM
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I may be the only American child to have read The Demon Headmaster. I don't quite know why our library stocked it.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:21 AM
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The kind of eyes that would be a dominant trait in certain families.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:22 AM
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Willo Davis Roberts was prolific. I liked a lot of those books, I see.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:22 AM
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I tore through almost all the Nancy Drew books when I was five or six (and picked up a number of the Hardy Boys books at the same time, even though they were NOT as good), and then I got very bored with them abruptly.

While I was into them, though, I used to get so scared I'd have to stop reading for awhile. Oh no! Will Nancy, who's tied up in the underground cavern by the villanous somebody, manage to escape or THIS TIME IS SHE GOING TO DIE???


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:23 AM
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67: Game for Demons got me interested in the occult at the tender age of seven.

I drew made-up occult symbols on my sneakers, just like the kid in the book.


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:28 AM
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The Great Brain beats Tom Swift and Encyclopedia Brown.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:29 AM
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9, 49, 50: I knew someone would love The Three Investigators as I did. Especially the final-chapter Hitchcock cameo.

redfoxtailshrub: Even our YA tastes are the same!

And, Anna to the Infinite Power left me permanently damaged.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:31 AM
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72: I am going to write The Great Brain Meets Mitt Romney.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:32 AM
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In re Three Investigators: Wasn't it "Uncle Alfred's" limo?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:34 AM
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The Great Brain books were fantastic. Remember when Sweyn came home from boarding school acting like a dandy?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:36 AM
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Oh no! Will Nancy, who's tied up in the underground cavern by the villanous somebody, manage to escape or THIS TIME IS SHE GOING TO DIE???

Whew! Her boyfriend / her father rescued her just in time! That Nancy, she sure does manage to get into some scrapes.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:37 AM
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I always assumed that when Jupiter Jones grew up he became Doc Savage. Even though the Doc Savage novels were well before the Jupiter Jones books. Maybe there was time travel involved.

I always wanted to be Ham when I grew up*. Sword canes are awesome! My parents did not take kindly to my request for one for my tenth birthday. They apparently didn't think I could be trusted not to stick people with it. That was probably smart.

And yet here I am grown up, and I am not a Brigadier General, and I don't even have a sword cane. I'm a failure.

*at least the female version thereof.


Posted by: winna | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:38 AM
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My favorite was The Great Brain at the Academy. The basketball game and the candy-bar smuggling in particular are memorable to me.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:38 AM
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Her boyfriend / her father rescued her just in time!

That's not fair. My recollection was that she generally was the most competent person around, even if sometimes she got in over her head.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:39 AM
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79: making the key blank with soap!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:39 AM
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79: That was one of my favorites, but also Me and my little brain where they adopt Frankie and then he gets kidnapped by bad mans in the barn.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:40 AM
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Did anybody else read any of Jane Langton's childrens books? I always thought she had it all over James Bellairs.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:41 AM
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Wow, for me it was Encyclopedia Brown, all the Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes stories, The Great Brain, and anything at all by Asimov. For some reason, I've never read a word of Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew. Man, reading was the best thing ever in those days.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:41 AM
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Winna, thanks to the miracles of grown-up salaries and the Internet, you can realize your dream.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:41 AM
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Also I like the book covers.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:43 AM
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83: Me! Me! In addition to The Diamond in the Window and its sequels, I was also fond of her Grace Jones books.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:43 AM
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I had nightmares for weeks after reading Ten Little Indians.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:43 AM
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I also read all of Agatha Christie and all of Isaac Asimov at a tender age. Ah, wonderful, heady youth.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:45 AM
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I had nightmares when my parents took me to see Platoon by mistake, at age 6 or 7.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:45 AM
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Remember the Great Brain book where the kid died of diabetes? What was that all about?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:46 AM
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Frankie let him keep the rocking horse named Bullet, because he knew the kid would die soon. Insulin wouldn't be discovered for another thirty years.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:48 AM
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I had nightmares when my parents took me to see Platoon by mistake, at age 6 or 7

One of the two movies I have ever cried at (during the village massacre scene; I was 16 or 17 years old at the time).


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:49 AM
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Oh, yes, Agatha Christie! I read The Big Four over my father's shoulder (and terrified myself), and then went on to The Blue Train (talk about weird racism) and all of Poirot, Miss Marple, and Tommy and Tuppence. By the Pricking of My Thumbs was pretty scary too.

I couldn't believe that I noticed the tip-off clue in the Murder of Roger Ackroyd, but didn't understand it. Argh!


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:53 AM
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84: Weirdly I didn't read any asimov until I was 15, but I'd read Tolkien 1.33 times by the end of fourth grade.

93: So what was the other, wuss?


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 10:00 AM
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I read all of the Agatha Christies as a wee lass as well. Even then, I recognized Tommy and Tuppence as horrible reactionaries. Oh noes! The workers are planning a general strike!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 10:00 AM
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My son and I were reading the Hardy Boys the other day. I was surprised at how outlandish the stuff was. I shouldnt have been, but I was.

A teacher of their's tells them someone tried to kill him and asks his 16 and 17 year old students (the Hardy boys) to go back with them. No discussions of body armor or glocks or barratt .50s.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 10:07 AM
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I loved the three Investigators, and only really read the Hardy Boys because they were there. Another great favourite was the Willard Price Adventure series - Hal and Roger and their year off collecting animals for their father's business - fantastic. The Secret Seven were a bit boring, but I spent a couple of years wanting to be George out of the Famous Five, as well as wanting to go to Malory Towers.

There are sequels to the Great Brain which I recently acquired but haven't yet read.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 10:16 AM
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I can barely remember that far back. I do remember Tom Swift, Bobbsey Twins, & Nancy Drew being around the house and from libraries but not Hardy Boys. Also a lot of Alcott & Twain and the Brontes. The mother had ambitions for us and played classical records and bought literature. But I was reading SF & F by 8 or 9, yes the complete Doc Savage but also the 40s & 50s stuff in reprint.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 10:37 AM
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In the Famous Five universe, you could probably write quite a good unreliable narrator book from the POV of Uncle Quentin, who is clearly insane and paranoid.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 10:41 AM
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I read only Nancy Drew. That's why I'm so sensitive and feminist.

Actually, also the Roy Blakely Boy Scout books (affiliated with Peewee Harris).


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 10:46 AM
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I had a reading crush on Encyclopedia Brown. Everytime I found a new title I was so happy, but sad that I was closer to a time when there wouldn't be anymore new ones. That's kind of embarrassing.

As soon as I saw Great Brain I thought of that kid with diabetes!
And how to make a replica of a key using a bar of soap.
And some scam that involved wine, so no Mormons got invited that time.

I love this thread. Are the Americans at their parents houses looking at their old bookcases?


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 10:47 AM
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aiee, .s/b parents',


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 10:48 AM
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The Enid Blyton boarding school books were addictive, especially as they all contained elaborate descriptions of food eaten at night (at least once in every book.) But they were toe-curlingly embarrassing, especially when the inevitable foreign student did something "mad and Spanish" or "she was French, and did not have the sense of fair play that the English girls had", etc.

A friend just gave me some Blyton books for little kids, which I will let my kid read when he's into Monty Python. The best story is a disobedient boy who as a punishment is required to eat a fresh carrot out of the garden (for acting "like a donkey").
He mends his ways, and is rewarded with a nice dinner of tinned potted meat.


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 11:04 AM
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Sword cane! I would probably end up sticking people with it, beautiful as it is. I think that you get into trouble poking people with a sword cane unless you actually are a Brigadier General.

Poirot was also fun, but he was so smug I always wanted to see him get it terribly wrong. Why do they never have stories in which the brilliant observer of human nature gets it completely backward?

'You! You are the criminal! You had a fleck of concrete on your cuff, and you have a limp which indicates a man who has spent years in a Turkish prison!'

'Uh, I helped move some cinderblocks at work that day, and I'd dropped one on my foot. Nice try, though.'


Posted by: winna | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 11:08 AM
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I read tons of Enid Blyton in my childhood, starting with her stuff for smaller children e.g. Magic Faraway Tree (for a few years I thought her name was Gnid Blyton because of the font on the book covers). Then Famous Five/Secret Seven/Five Find-outers and similar, and the St. Clare's /Mallory Towers stuff.

I far preferred the Narnia books but there was less of that type of thing readily available especially in rural Ireland. Also much better - Noel Streatfeild. We did have a few Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books. I think I was more into the Chalet School but my main criterion was "something I haven't read" to feed my voracious fiction habit. I had a tendency to disappear when in friends' houses and all the other children were playing outside, to be found hours later holed up somewhere reading their books.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 11:12 AM
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Whatever happened to Encyclopedia Brown, anyway?

You didn't hear?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 11:16 AM
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106 Also much better -Noel Streatfeild.

Oh my gosh I had completely forgotten those. They were great. Ballet Shoes was a completely unsentimental look at child performers. At the end the smartest kid goes on to be an aircraft engine mechanic.


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 11:23 AM
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107: NOOOOOO!


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 11:25 AM
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107: Not a chance. He's just pulling the ol' Reichenbach Falls maneuver. He will return to expose Meany's machinations soon.

Speaking of which, I visited Meiringen and the falls this past summer. Lovely place.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 11:31 AM
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I learned at a young age that if you are setting up a detective agency staffed entirely by nine-year olds, you are going to have much better luck if you are located near to a major urban centre than if your headquarters is out in rural North Wales and you don't even have an entry in the Yellow Pages, let alone an advertising budget.

My brother and I figured out that we weren't going to get very far setting up a lemonade stand at a nickel a glass on our small rural road, so we figured we'd try a rabbit stand and make two or three dollars on every sale. I would dearly love to know what was going on in the heads of the occasional passersby as they watched two little boys chasing after their cars waving rabbits.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 11:34 AM
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I also remember Doyle. Rex Stout & the lighter Westlakes (under some pseud) in 3-for-one bookclub editions.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 11:37 AM
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What actually happened to Encyclopedia Brown.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 11:49 AM
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Wow. I am among my people, I see. :)

The last volume of the Dark is Rising series has a special place for me because it was first time I was competing with friends to be the first to get it and read it. From the library, of course, since our parents weren't going to spring for the hardcover. Unfortunately, the Pasadena library system didn't get in enough copies for all of us in the band-and-theatre clique who were craving it, let alone any others, so there were unseemly bouts of piling up at the reserve and check-in desks every time one of us finished and returned it. We liked each other enough for it to be entertaining rather than nasty, fortunately.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 11:49 AM
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Sword canes might well be illegal in your area, would-be purchaser of a sword cane, so check up on that.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 11:51 AM
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I highly recommend that all lovers of Noel Streatfeild should read at least the first volume of her fictionalized autobiography/autobiographical novel, A Vicarage Family.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 11:55 AM
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Rfts and I among others run Kidlit; anyone wishing to post there is welcome to drop me a line. I'm trying to pin down why Jupe Jones is better than Frank Hardy for a post there right now, in fact.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 12:00 PM
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113: "Things went downhill for him later in life."


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 12:13 PM
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Are the Americans at their parents houses looking at their old bookcases?

Made me smile. My brother hasn't got any kids, so I have nabbed all the books that had been stashed away in my parents' loft. I try to make the kids only read my old favourites, but they want modern stuff more. Fortunately I can control bedtime stories!

which I will let my kid read when he's into Monty Python

How old is he? My 11 (today!), 9 and 7 year olds are *very* into Monty Python. Which is kind of a pain, as I'd thought my days of having to hear the dead parrot sketch mangled, repeatedly, were long over.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 12:14 PM
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Jupiter has a better name, for a start. Also he has down-to-earth relatives (and their almost super-human staff), whereas Frank has had a massive headstart in mystery-solving due to his dad. Oh, and of course Jupiter's much younger than Frank - Fank should be doing better by now.

The Three Investigators books use the word "umpteen" umpteen more times than the Hardy Boys (as in "Bob had broken his leg in umpteen places the year before falling down a hill, hence qualifying to be 'Records and Research'). Not really about Jupiter, but I imagine that the phrase came from him.

Jupiter can do an awful English accent. Bet Frank can't.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 12:18 PM
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I read The Horse That Played Center Field at least three dozen times between the ages of 8 and 10.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 12:21 PM
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I read a series of books in the library when I was in elementary school that involved a kid who was the son of the housekeeper for this somewhat crazy but amiable old professor. And he hung out with other kids (one of whom was named "Irene" which I thought was pronounced "irony") and solved mysteries. But I can't remember what the books were called.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 12:47 PM
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122: Ref'd above: Danny Dunn.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 12:57 PM
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What I remember about the Three Investigators was one of the later books, in which a Chinese (?) cook fooled someone

There was another Three Investigators novel about an incredibly old Chinese dude who drank a potion made of dissolved Chinese pearls, which staved off death indefinitely. The pearls instantaneously dissolved in water, which was surprising, given the natural habitat of oysters. But maybe the pearls would have stayed intact in saltwater. Mysterious!


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 1:00 PM
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124: I remember that one! The pearls were crushed in a cave-in and Not-Fu-Manchu-No-Sir-No-Fu-Manchu-Here sent a lackey to sweep up the dust.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 1:03 PM
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And they had to crawl through the mining tunnels, and Jupiter got stuck, cause he was fatter than the other boys!


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 1:05 PM
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In retrospect, Jupiter Jones sounds a lot like Eric Cartman in my mind's ear:

"I'm not fat! I'm festively plump! Now pull!"


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 1:06 PM
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Books I read over and over again at that age: The House With a Clock in its Walls, I Want My Sunday Stranger (a story about a boy's search for his horse after it's stolen by rebel troops during the civil war), Watership Down, Absolute Zero (which was the first of a funny series about an idiosyncratic family). Also, for some bizarre reason, Shogun.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 1:11 PM
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Anyone else read any of the Edward Eager books? Half Magic, Magic by the Lake? I got them from my very oddly stocked elementary school library.

They also had a bunch of decades-old books in which 'career girls' find love. There was one about a ballerina, and one about a nurse who becomes the first nurse in space.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 1:19 PM
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"Starting in 1959, the first 38 stories were revised and somewhat abridged, much to the dismay of long-time Hardy Boys fans. The books were shortened, obsolete prose was updated and racial stereotypes were eliminated."

I read my father's pre-1959, unabridged Hardy Boys books when I was a kid. I don't remember any racial stereotypes, but I do remember a scene at the beginning of one book in which Frank and Joe were excited about seeing an airplane, as if catching sight of one were a rare occurrence. I also remember them using the phrase "pulling a boner" in its now archaic non-sexual sense.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 1:32 PM
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Edward Eager is super, and I would expect and hope also widely read.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 1:33 PM
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124, 125: That was Mystery of the Green Ghost.


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 1:33 PM
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126: And a utilitarian pushed Jupiter in front of a trolley to save five other kids!


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 1:35 PM
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I remember finding some old, racially-inappropriate-at-times boy detective stories in my great-grandmother's attic. I can't remember what they were at all, probably because I wasn't much for detective books at that age, but I do remember finding Homer Price in the same attic.


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 1:36 PM
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Maybe Jupiter Jones, Encyclopedia Brown, Homer Price, Henry Reed, The Great Brain and Danny Dunn all inhabit the same universe, pace Alan Moore, and have formed a band of crimefighting adventurers: The League of Precocious Gentlemen.

This, on the assumption that the travails of their youth and young manhood led the women in their lives to hate their guts.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 1:54 PM
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Half-Magic! That's the book that has been gnawing at me for so long!

All I could remember was that it featured a family that somehow felt Victorian and terribly old-fashioned. I loved that book.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 2:18 PM
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Danny Dunn! What's strange is that though I remember some of the books clearly, that name doesn't ring the bell like I thought it would, even though it's right.

Ah, the Homework Machine. Yet another way in which the future has let us down.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 2:23 PM
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Wikipedia tells me that I too read Danny Dunn; the only thing I that now rings a bell is the character "Irene Miller". Mind like a steel sieve!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 2:47 PM
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Can it be that nobody remembers the vivacious Iola?


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 2:50 PM
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She's dead, slol. How could you be so heartless?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 2:53 PM
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It says in Wikipedia that you read Danny Dunn?


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 2:54 PM
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141: by implication, yes. It says "you remember these characters and situation, don't you? Dooooooooon't yoooouuuuuu?" And so I do.

Arguably it's a recovered memory thing that's gotten the wires crossed and I was really molested by Nora Dunn, my precociously irritating babysitter, while "Goodnight, Irene" played on the stereo while I lay back and thought of anti-gravity paint, but "doooooooooon't yoooooouuuuu?" is what it's telling me.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 2:57 PM
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Waaay more than I wanted to know.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 2:59 PM
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141: "Citation needed."


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 2:59 PM
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142: Whiled away a while with my wiles, wily Wiley.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 3:02 PM
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Confessions of a Teen Sleuth by Chelsea Cain tells the story of Nancy Drew's passionate lifelong crush on Frank Hardy, her grim grey marriage to Ned, and her relationship with that parasite, Carolyn Keene. Rather well done.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 3:05 PM
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140: Ah, the Hardy Boys Casefiles. I was a bit scandalized by those back in elementary school, after moving on from the old series. Smoking! Death! Drugs! Sex! Oh my!


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 3:06 PM
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I deny the canonicity of that explosion.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 3:08 PM
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She's dead, slol, and nothing you say is going to bring her back.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 3:14 PM
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Magic by the Lake?

The title of this book, of which as far as I can recall I have never heard, reminds me that in eighth grade, when we were supposed to do some reading on our own, with a list suggested for those as didn't already have tastes in such things, and then report on the book we read, one of the suggested books was The Mists of Avalon.

The only reason I remember this, I think, is that I had already read it and was therefore able to recognize that it was kind of an odd choice. I think that one was supposed to clear one's reading of it with the teacher first, or with one's parents in consultation with the teacher, or something, but still. Sex in our middle schools!


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 3:29 PM
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A great deal of our TDay conversation yesterday was about how we all, as 12-16yo's, found wank material and justified it to our parents. Fantasy lit was a good source for me, since my parents considered it "kid's books" even if they were long, porny novels.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 3:35 PM
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151: same with me and coprophilia porn; "oh, it's just toilet humor. You know how 12 year olds are."


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 3:37 PM
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Yeah, Iola killed by a car bomb, kinda weird, huh Frank?


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 3:40 PM
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Funny you should mention that. My host said he got away with reading porn if it looked old and fancy and European, so he'd borrow books by the Marquis de Sade from his local library. (Apparently his parents were totally unfamiliar with this name.) In the end, he said he wished he'd gotten some idea of sex that didn't involve rape and torture, but eh, he turned out okay somehow.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 3:41 PM
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In first or second grade, one of my reading comprehension workbook exercises involved an excerpt from Danny Dunn and the Homework Machine, which I then sought out in the school library -- very possibly the reason I got interested in computers to begin with. Couldn't tell you why I never got that interested in antigravity paint or artificial noses, though.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 3:56 PM
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119: Happy Birthday, asilon's 11 year old.

Your kids sound like they're a lot of fun. My son's 15 months old. I rewatched the Python episodes when he was tiny, and how young the Pythons look now, like they're just out of school really.


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 6:02 PM
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151: I pretty much learned about sex by reading every V.C. Andrews novel I could get my hands on. Based on a sample set of my elementary school cohort, it would appear that this isn't uncommon - we passed those books around and around during our fifth and sixth grade years. In retrospect, it's pretty amazing that I've had several fairly functional romantic relationships in my adult life, and that none of them have revolved around incest, rape, or the love of an impoverished Appalachian mountain man.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 6:14 PM
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Can it be that nobody remembers the vivacious Iola?

She was a dancer. But that was thirty years ago, when they used to have a show.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 6:15 PM
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157: I thought of those earlier, too. They had the Flowers in the Attic series in my middle school library!


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 6:24 PM
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Huh, I read Nancy Drew voraciously, but I think I actually didn't like her. Didn't do a thing for me, really. Didn't she have a dark-haired friend? Nan?

Encyclopedia Brown, on the other hand: I still remember being miffed when he solved a case by observing that the hood of somebody's car had been steaming in the morning dew. Dammit, Encyclopedia, no, I did not connect the dots there.

Trixie Belden was cool. Also Pippi Longstocking.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 6:26 PM
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When I was in the right age cohort, I looked upon VC Andrews as SINFUL---and managed not to read any of them. Sweet Valley High was also SINFUL, but I've forgotten exactly why that was so.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 6:27 PM
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157: See, whereas all my proto-porn was stuff like Jean Auel novels, the latter three of which are mostly thirty-page descriptions of what seems to be endless hours of loving cunnilingus stitched together with thoughtful romantic dialogue, and I've grown up to be the sort for whom that now sounds like boredom on a stick.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 6:30 PM
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Sweet Valley High seems disappointingly tame to an 11-year-old who has already been exposed to V.C. Andrews. Like, Jessica spends the night in the woods with Bruce Patman but they don't do anything but kiss?


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 6:32 PM
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162: There's some kind of reverse causal effect here, then -- I grew up voraciously consuming pages and pages of rape, rape, incest, molestation, sadomasochism, and rape, and now? I'm thirty years old, and all I want is some thoughtful romantic dialogue. Cunnilingus is nice too.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 6:33 PM
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I liked Tom Swift a lot.

Hardy Boys were ok: I remember liking the ones where they had to rescue their dad from bad guys who had caught him. That seemed more exciting than "I'm busy sleuthing, boys. Take care, and I think there's some food in the refrigerator."

One other thing I remember was that Frank and Joe often ended up hitting bad guys in the solar plexus. When I was a young'un, I thought maybe this was a euphemism for them kicking some guy in the nads.


Posted by: Timothy Burke | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 6:37 PM
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endless hours of loving cunnilingus stitched together with thoughtful romantic dialogue, and I've grown up to be the sort for whom that now sounds like boredom on a stick.

I would have thought the lack of sticks was part of the problem?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 6:38 PM
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165: I remember spending a fair amount of time thinking they were somehow punching people's brains.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 6:38 PM
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No Moomintroll love?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 6:41 PM
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When I was a young'un, I thought maybe this was a euphemism for them kicking some guy in the nads.

I thought this, too! In fact, I still imagine that's what they originally wrote, but all YA fiction editors have a search-and-replace macro that turns "nads" into "solar plexus."


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 6:41 PM
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No, indeed, all love to Moomintroll! I recently bought a very charming Moomin picture book called "Who Will Comfort Toffle?" It's a love story.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 6:42 PM
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Have you read "The Fir Tree"? It's one of the stories in Tales from Moominvalley. A nearly perfect Christmas story -- a genre for which I have an almost pathological affection. The story also inspired a perfume by Christopher Brosius! Now I have to read Who Will Comfort Toffle?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 6:46 PM
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Sweet Valley High seems disappointingly tame to an 11-year-old who has already been exposed to V.C. Andrews.

I think it was all the talking unkindly about each other, shopping, dating, and kissing that added up to SINFUL. (I was raised without an allowance or much TV and wasn't allowed to date---or, of course, kiss---until I was 16.) As I remember the logic, VC Andrews was unrealistic, but poisonous, and Sweet Valley High was realistic if you wanted to be a horrible person. I was very aware of what sort of thing they both were, though, and even the names of some of the characters.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 6:46 PM
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I wasn't allowed to read Sweet Valley High either, and I don't remember why. My mother handed me Red Dragon to read when I was 12, but SVH was forbidden.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 6:50 PM
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I very much wanted to be a horrible person, when I was a kid. I was just much too geeky to make it so.

I remember a conversation I had when I was 11 or 12, when another immigrant girl (with very convincing authority!) told me that white people just had really shocking lives, and the V.C. Andrews-type stuff happened all the time, just not to people to us. Pretty hilarious, although I believed it, at the time.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 6:53 PM
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171: I haven't! My Moominlore is patchy, because I wasn't raised on it. I love good Christmas stories, too, so I will definitely seek it out within the month.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 6:56 PM
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129: Edward Eager, fuck yeah(belated)! Also, this thread demands a link to the modern humorist EB series, but they have been removed "by request of the author." You'll have to settle for this OT, but excellent series, which prefigures "Fuck You, Clown".


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 7:10 PM
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Ha! The Basho ones are my favorites.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 7:14 PM
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Here's what I want to know: why can't I find Oscar Brown, Jr.'s rendition of "All Blues" on soulseek? Does anyone have it? Would anyone like to email it to me?

It would be a great service to one who remains your humble and obedient servant,


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 7:16 PM
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The Holy Tango was much expanded upon and made into a book which you can read free gratis online.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 7:16 PM
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Of the originals I can't help but want to give the nod to WC Williams, if only for the concluding lines "so feathery / and so dedicated to Allah".


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 7:18 PM
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Williams is definitely my favorite. Best anagram, too.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 7:20 PM
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Those are fantastic, foolishmortal.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 7:24 PM
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Oh, I take it back-- Walt Whitman is the best one!


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 7:30 PM
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Gwendolyn Brooks is hilarious, too.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 7:51 PM
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"Dammit, Dave" is awesome.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:05 PM
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Or from Allen Ginsberg, "Bangles Linger":

Moloko! Moloko! Did I mention Moloko? Moloko! Molokomolokomoloko!

I do believe I'm going to burst my spleen.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:14 PM
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Right now, this from Heaney's blog is cracking me the fuck up.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:17 PM
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Williams is very good, but the Cummings one is excellent as well, particularly the last line.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:20 PM
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e.e rulez!!!


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:23 PM
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Looked up a series we read at our house - The Happy Hollisters - turns out it was a Stratemeyer Syndicate production as well. I had no idea of the breadth of output of that one "group". (Bobbseys, Hardys, Drew, Swift, Rover Boys [started it], Hollisters and a slew of more obscure ones.)

In the early 1980s, Adams decided it was time for Nancy and the Hardys to go into paperback; the hardcover market was no longer what it had been. Grosset & Dunlap, however, loath to lose massive profits, sued, and the ensuing case let the world know, for the first time, that the Syndicate existed. The Syndicate had always gone to great lengths to hide its existence from the public; ghostwriters were contractually obliged never to reveal their authorship. Many ghostwriters remain unknown.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:44 PM
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I used to play "News Quiz" back in the early days of Slate, before Randy became The Ethicist. Francis Heaney was a reliable winner.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:50 PM
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Dammit Dave has completely cracked me up.


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:53 PM
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My two favorite proto-nerd series (just several books in each) were Henry Reed (mentioned above) and The Mad Scientists' Club. I have no idea if the latter was at all well-known.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:55 PM
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Okay, so y'all have long-since moved on from the Hardy's, but I will add that Frank and Joe deserve much of the credit for my years of early reading. I remember thinking a "jalopy" must be the coolest car in the world.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:07 PM
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OMG, I loved loved loved Anna to the Infinite Power, especially the supremely creepy movie version, which had such blatant incestuous undertones that even my 8 year old self picked up on them. If you're a fan of the book, you should totally hunt it down. I have it on VHS somewhere.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:23 PM
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Also, I wasn't allowed to read Sweet Valley High because my parents thought it would make me materialistic and slutty but I wanted to be able to read them so bad because everybody else was and the pictures of the girls on the front made the girls look so pretty. I even named my Cabbage Patch Doll "Jessica Elizabeth" after the forbidden twins.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:39 PM
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I was allowed to read Sweet Valley High, but only if I paid for the books myself.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:42 PM
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only if I paid for the books myself

At the time in money, or subsequently in psychological disorders?


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:47 PM
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Ha. Both, perhaps, but certainly the former.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:50 PM
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Theirchum Chetmorton might be a setting for an Edward Gorey book. A grim estate, with a chilly lake.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 9:50 PM
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A particularly enticing cover.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 10:05 PM
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Will Suzanne Succeed in Changing Ken?

He wear a diaper? No wonder he looks unhappy.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 10:08 PM
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He wear a diaper?

Monkey no fly. Boy lie.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 10:08 PM
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Oooh! I think I read 201. I think her name was Suzanne Shipley. I think she was bad news. I think later on, during a Christmas Special, she was in a wheelchair and had to convince everyone that she was good news, and had reformed.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 10:09 PM
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"Have you heard the GOOD NEWS about how I'm good news?"


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 10:12 PM
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"Everyone's glad 'bout how I'm found!"


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 10:18 PM
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No one else read the works of Cynthia Blair?

I guess there were only 10 of them, and not a billion and one.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 10:21 PM
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Looking at the cover again, she's certainly got an excessively confident gleam in her eye. Slut.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 10:21 PM
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I had no idea that Sweet Valley High was so controversial.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 10:27 PM
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Jackpot: covers of every SVH book.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 10:35 PM
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And this is hilarious: American Apparel vs. Sweet Valley High cover 21.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 10:37 PM
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I also remember being really confused by Sweet Valley High: Malibu Summer, where Jessica and Elizabeth drive down to Malibu for vacation, as a little girl because I thought Malibu was in Hawaii. How'd they drive there?


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 10:43 PM
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Ex-Girlfriend #1 (in psychological prominence) had a substantial collection of '50s and '60s-vintage teen novels about the adventures of one Barbara Millicent Roberts.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-24-07 5:19 AM
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not books, but
the best suspense from childhood
revisited :)



Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 11-24-07 7:17 AM
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Over 200 comments and nobody's mentioned Mark Tidd? Biohazard? Emerson? Crone-aspect of kid bitzer?

I read one Nancy Drew -- The Mystery of the Old Clock or some such nonsense -- but I could never get more than a chapter into any Hardy Boys book. Dunn, Brown, Investigators and Great Brain were read too though. But just about the time I was reading those, I started getting into Christie and Conan Doyle, so I didn't go after the kiddie stuff as voraciously as I might have.

My great love from 3rd-5th grades, however, were the C.B. Colby books about war and weapons. The school library had a decent collection, and I had to be asked (nicely) not to do any more book reports on them after the first half-dozen.

Ah, childhood.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 11-24-07 8:07 AM
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the best suspense from childhood
revisited :)

This is great!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-24-07 8:13 AM
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212: Which of course brings us to the Dead Milkmen:

Joe - Uh, how you gonna get down to the shore?
Rod - Funny you should ask, I've got a car now.
Joe - Oh wow, how'd you get a car?
Rod - Oh my parents drove it up here from the Bahamas.
Joe - You're kidding!
Rod - I must be, the Bahamas are islands, okay, the important thing now, is that you ask me what kind of car I have.
Joe - Uh, what kinda car do ya' got?
Rod - I've got... a BITCHIN CAMARO!Joe - Uh, how you gonna get down to the shore?
Rod - Funny you should ask, I've got a car now.
Joe - Oh wow, how'd you get a car?
Rod - Oh my parents drove it up here from the Bahamas.
Joe - You're kidding!
Rod - I must be, the Bahamas are islands, okay, the important thing now, is that you ask me what kind of car I have.
Joe - Uh, what kinda car do ya' got?
Rod - I've got... a BITCHIN CAMARO!


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 11-24-07 9:55 AM
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Aaaargh doublepasted. *headdesk*


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 11-24-07 9:56 AM
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OT: Thanks to Sifu Tweety, I'm listening to hypem.com. My current track is Muse's "Apocalypse Please". which I am unable to read as other than "apocalypse, please!" This amuses me endlessly. That is all.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 11-24-07 10:13 AM
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I'm currently listening to this, and it's funny, funny shit.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 11-24-07 10:17 AM
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216
glad you enjoyed it


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 11-24-07 6:38 PM
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Man, I can't believe I missed this thread. The Rolls actually belonged to Alfred Hitchcock, if I recall correctly -- JJ won some contest allowing him to use it for a month, and exploited it to implicitly represent himself as Hitchcock's nephew, because of his coincidental resemblance to Hitchcock. After the month was up, they got to keep using it because the chauffeur liked them.

And Danny Dunn and the Time Machine, or whatever the title was, nearly gave me a nervous breakdown. Joe (the poetic sidekick) got his timeline looped -- went back to the past, and so existed twice in the same time period, present in the same room with himself. Except the moron who wrote the book got it wrong -- he described it from Joe's point of view, and wrote it as if Joe had lived through the same events twice from the same perspective, except that the second time he was compelled to repeat his actions exactly, rather than first seeing events from one perspective, and then going back in time and seeing them from another perspective. At eight, or whenever I read it, I couldn't make this make any sense (because it doesn't) but couldn't make the conceptual leap to think that the nitwit author had screwed up, and puzzled over how that could possibly work for ages.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-24-07 7:23 PM
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