Re: "Whassat, Sonny? I said, 'Shake my claw hand.'"

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The books were bad enough, but the educational films of the 1970-1985 era were truly horrific. I remember in first grade watching a small child die on his deathbed of cancer. Plus, a LOT of movies about the dangers of PCP, including kids jumping out of buildings, being hit by cars, etc. All shown to kids in grade school.

Also, I actually remember reading one of the books linked in the post as a kid -- the one about how hard it was to live with your incompetent dad when Mom was away on a trip for work. My grandmother gave it to me when my Mom did, in fact, go out of town for a few weeks for work. Amazingly, I remember being reassured by the incompetent dad in that book when my own Dad did, in fact, forget to pick me up from school.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 8:03 PM
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Plus, a LOT of movies about the dangers of PCP, including kids jumping out of buildings, being hit by cars, etc. All shown to kids in grade school.

And did they mention that PCP is super fun? Not even once.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 8:04 PM
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The Mormon church made a couple of classic terrifying/depressing films in the '70s. The Mailbox is about an old lady whose kids and grandkids neglect her, and every day she keeps tottering out to the mailbox waiting for a letter from them. OMG it's sad and makes you feel incredibly guilty. Then there's Cipher in the Snow, where this kid is found dead, in the snow, and the grownups figure out that nobody at school ever paid any attention to him. So pay attention to the unpopular kids or they'll die -- or maybe you'll die if nobody pays attention to you. Eek.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 8:15 PM
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I loved Richard Scarry

In that case, read this paper, which is a kind of madcap tour de force of sociological theory and data analysis, if you like that kind of thing.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 8:15 PM
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Richard Scarry is the ne plus ultra of children's lit. Richard Scarry, then Asterix, then Tintin, then Asterix again. Anything less is child abuse.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 8:20 PM
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Holy shit I remember that one about the kid dying in the snow. That came from the Mormons? Take-away message: be popular or die.



Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 8:23 PM
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Frances is gonna fuck you up, togolosh.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 8:26 PM
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Oooh! I do remember one educational film about tsunamis that spooked me deeply. The narrator was pointing out all the signs on the beach that the tourists were failing to notice. Then the tourists would naively say things to each other like, "Gosh, the tide sure is low today."

I think the footage might have been from a big tsunami in northern California in the 60's?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 8:27 PM
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Togolosh has an excessive love for the Swiss, Bretons, and Belgians. How about some motherfucking American anthropomorphic animals?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 8:29 PM
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All the raddest childrens books are by David Macaulay and Norton Juster.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 8:31 PM
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And finally later writers, like Barry Bames (1981), completed the circle by implying that there is no difference between totemic logic and our logic at all - who knows, maybe they are parrots.

Reminds me of JZ Smith's observation (probably badly misremembered by me) that you'd have to be pretty stupid to attribute to a tribe that subsists in part by hunting or otherwise profiting from animals an Urdummheit consisting of the belief that some members of the tribe really just are those animals.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 8:32 PM
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Richard Scarry, then Asterix, then Tintin, then Asterix again.

I have to point out here that I was unaware of either Asterix or Tintin until college, and I turned out OK. Good old all-American Mr. Sneeze, Mr. Clumsy, Mr. Noisy, Little Miss Chatterbox, Little Miss Splendid, Beatrix Potter, Roald Dahl, Bunnicula, Brer Rabbit, Tink and Tonk, Teep and Beep, and Jane Yolen's Collection Of Folk Tales From Around The World aren't good enough for you?


Posted by: Styptic Cred | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 8:33 PM
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Oh yeah, Phantom Tollbooth and the Dot and the Line. Good stuff.

Also, of course, "A Hunt in the Jungle" featuring Chim Cham and the Roundi Doundi Gang.


Posted by: Styptic Cred | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 8:36 PM
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Holy crap. Someone scanned in the entirety of A Hunt in the Jungle just so they could add stupid snarky commentary to it on their blog. Well, anyway, that should give you an idea of what it's like, although I remember the colors being much brighter.


Posted by: Styptic Cred | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 8:39 PM
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4,5: Yes.

I add also Richard Condie and the Big Snit which reaches 11 on the laughter and terrifying scale.



Posted by: Econolicious, Mayor of Busytown | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 8:45 PM
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Cred, are you older than I think you are? A Hunt in the Jungle is 1971?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 8:45 PM
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Are children expected to only read the brand newest children's books nowadays‽‽


Posted by: Styptic Cred | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 8:50 PM
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Otherwise expressed: "But it was observed that members of the Bird clan never tried to mate with birds, but always with other humans."


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 9:00 PM
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17: Mm, I don't know what the 2 squares at the end of your comment signify, but A Hunt in the Jungle seems somehow familiar. The genre, I mean; the graphics. I worked in a children's library at one time, saw a lot of this stuff, but it was all a while ago.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 9:09 PM
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This one is great because the main character has my name, which is exciting for a kid!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 9:09 PM
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Most kids don't even know who you are, apo.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 9:12 PM
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Or so the parole board would have you believe.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 9:13 PM
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Those two squares are supposed to be interrobangs!


Posted by: Styptic Cred | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 9:15 PM
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heh. okay.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 9:17 PM
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No love for Daniel Pinkwater yet? Heathens.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 9:20 PM
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They showed up as interrobangs for me.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 9:20 PM
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I think I should write a children's book about the dangers of computer programming.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 9:21 PM
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26: I presumably don't have something enabled.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 9:23 PM
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the dangers of PCP, including kids Helen Hunt jumping out of buildings


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 9:25 PM
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We had a copy of Struwwelpeter, which I knew my parents found appalling, but not enough to disappear it. It made quite an impression. Poor little Suck-a-Thumb.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 9:28 PM
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Helen Hunt jumping out of buildings

Yikes


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 9:31 PM
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my mom read us Robinson Crusoe when i was 5-6, cannibals, but it was not that scary, like, it's just a book, not for real
so books were not scary, tv, radio talks about chilean junta, the gang of 4, then pol pot etc were scary, i was very interested in politics as a kid


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 9:33 PM
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27: not aimed at me! My program (eventually) worked, goddamit.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 9:37 PM
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I've heard that one before, Sifu.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 9:53 PM
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"I do remember one educational film about tsunamis that spooked me deeply."

Little Tilly Smith of Surrey, on vacation with her family, saved them from the Indonesian tsunami because she remembered the tsunami warning signs from her geography class. I remember reading that story and thinking how my family would all have died because my parents would have been like "What are you talking about? What's a tsunami?" And when I explained, they'd be like "Well, how is that any different from a tidal wave? And how does a fourth-grader know when one is coming?" And by the time I was done explaining it wasn't any different from a tidal wave, and I could tell because the bay had suddenly emptied and YES they do teach that in my 4th grade geography class, and NO, I don't know why...it would be upon us.

The story that still scars me from childhood is the Velveteen Rabbit. There was even that horrible black and white movie! I am still depressed from it. And, ugh, in my parents' home there is an entire closet full of childhood stuffed animals that even now, thirty years later, I still can't bring myself to murder.


Posted by: theorajones | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 9:59 PM
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If you cut me open, my heart is shaped like Norton Juster.

I re-read a bunch of kids' books before teaching a class in kiddie lit recently, and re-discovered that Bridge to Terabithia is a pointless exercise in tear-jerking that's extra-bad because his best friend dies while he was off pursuing an absurdly inappropriate crush on his adult female teacher. Sigh. Way to make an entire generation hate their sexual desires, Paterson.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 10:15 PM
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I remember loving Island of the Blue Dolphins when I was a kid, but that was because being left alone on a deserted island was kinda my ideal future.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 10:17 PM
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When I was wee, this was read to me.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 10:24 PM
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Bridge to Terabithia is a terrible book and children should not be forced to read it by "language arts" teachers who think it's deep. Fucking A. We were assigned to write an essay from the perspective of one of the characters and I wrote mine from that of their dog; turned out he hated his people and wanted them to die.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 10:49 PM
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The four-year-old loves, loves, loves his Richard Scarry. But how is it that all you parents and proto-parents and former children are forgetting the good Doctor? Jesse Jackson knows his Seuss. Where the Wild Things Are has gone over, but I'm thinking Sendak is just a gateway for Edmund Gorey. That introduction should start with Fletcher and Zenobia. T4YO and his siblings can discover later that the author of the story of the cat and the tree and the party cake could also be naughty and ghastly. T4YO has sorta mixed views on The Hobbit. On the one hand, Bilbo Baggins is just such fun to say, and he's seen Gandalf in the trailer for Fellowship, so he knows wizards are great, plus of course subtle and all that. On the other hand, not nearly enough pictures in the edition we have. But what he really liked reading with me? The Canine Kalevala. Because it's never too early to start enjoying Finno-Ugric epic poems, I say.


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 11:07 PM
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Teach him to play Sibelius on the recorder and you could make it a whole multimedia experience.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 11:14 PM
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I did not read Doctor Seuss as a kid, and I'm better for it.

I have no specific memory of Richard Scarry, but the style is so familiar to me that I must have read him as a kid.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 11:14 PM
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I remember my mom reading Where the Red Fern Grows to my brother and I when we were really little, like 4 and 6. It was scarring. Mom sobbed inconsolably throughout the whole last section, and we did, too, and my dad came home wondering what the hell had happened to his family that day. We were miserable.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 11:15 PM
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to my brother and me, dammit.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 11:15 PM
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45

42.1 is probably incorrect.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 11:16 PM
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40: Doug, I'm liking the Canine Kalevala.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 11:17 PM
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I did not read Doctor Seuss as a kid, and I'm better for it

That explains a lot, Walt.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 11:18 PM
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The only book children need is D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths.


Posted by: ed bowlinger | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 11:21 PM
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49

My ex became weirdly obsessed with the book Crispin's Crispian: The Dog Who Belonged to Himself and would get a maniacal gleam in his eye while he read it to his kids.

At this blog, a conservative explains what Crispin's Crispian has to do with conservative values, including a small sample of the text that, in two paragraphs alone, may drive you insane. It's a weird fucking book.

Today, I was trying to describe the Romantic attitude toward the Enlightenment as sort of like watching a guy say, really clearly and deliberately, over and over, "I am sane. Let's all be sane. I am sane." Then I did my best Werner Herzog impersonation ("I am clinically SANE") and asked them how they felt about it. That creeped-out feeling of being in the presence of a barely-controlled insane person is how I feel reading Crispin's Crispian: The Dog Who Belonged To Himself.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 11:23 PM
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Hey, I just realized that I'm listening to a late '70s/early '80s porn soundtrack. Who knew!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 11:26 PM
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Where the Red Fern Grows is really sad. I remember trying and failing not to cry in the classroom when I finished it on my own (it was assigned, but we hadn't reached the end yet) during our individual reading time. I must have been older than 6 - probably 10 or nearly 10.

I did not like A Taste of Blackberries, which I read when I was much younger.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 11:30 PM
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Composed by, as it turns out, the same man responsible for this haunting melody.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 11:30 PM
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Addendum to 49: Don't let the title page fool you. The dog is never referred to as "Mister Dog," as I recall. He is only called, repeatedly, to the point of sickening madness, "Crispin's Crispian [the dog who belonged to himself]."


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 11:31 PM
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Last week, I came across a thread somewhere of conservative conversion narratives. It was creepy.

My favorite scene in Pynchon's Mason and Dixon is when they run into the talking dog. They ask the dog who is master is. The dog acts offended, and says, "I am an English dog, sir. No man is my master."


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 11:32 PM
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47: What book was that, Jesus? I followed the links back, but the original link is broken.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 11:35 PM
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That dog sang some good songs.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 11:35 PM
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54: I love that scene too! I adored that book, ate it up so fast I'm sure I missed full enjoyment of it. Was in tears at the end.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 11:35 PM
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49: The conservative blames his conservatism on Margaret Wise Brown? Way to dodge personal responsibility. As it happens, I was just looking up another book I remembered, which it turns out is also by Brown. A bee in your throat—how frightening!

I don't remember Goodnight, Moon from my own childhood, but I have very fond memories of it from reading it to my daughters over and over again beginning before they were two.

55: Moscow to the End of the Line. I can't wait to read that one to my kids.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 11:41 PM
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I thought Fantasia was deeply disturbing. I haven't watched it since I was a kid, so I can't really explain why. It could have been the Sorcerer's Apprentice section. The Never-ending Story bothered me too. I think I was haunted by the sections toward the end.

I don't remember many "educational" materials presented as entertainment.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 11:45 PM
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From ages 8 to 12 I wandered the length of my grandparents' house searching for things to read. AFter finishing all the Lewis Grizzard and Robert Fulghum collections, I found a book of toastmasters' jokes from the 40s. Then nothing. I tried novel after novel (URIS! MICHENER!) but they were all boring and preachy. Until I got to Joseph Wambaugh's "The Choirboys". I have no idea what the hell the point of that book was, but I certainly remember several scenes quite vividly.


Posted by: Styptic Cred | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 11:47 PM
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I thought Fantasia was deeply disturbing. I haven't watched it since I was a kid, so I can't really explain why. It could have been the Sorcerer's Apprentice section.

I was definitely terrified by that as well.

The Never-ending Story bothered me too. I think I was haunted by the sections toward the end.

I was bothered by The Nothing. You can't negotiate with The Nothing, man...it's inevitable and all-powerful. And that flying dog creature always looked so sad.

The only one that actually made me cry was The Little Mermaid, though. When Ursula was glorifying so much in the mermaid's downfall. I couldn't stand it.

as stated earlier


Posted by: Styptic Cred | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 11:50 PM
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57: I was surprised how sad the ending was. My other favorite was how Dixon became obsessed with the exotic Malay delicacy of ketchup.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-20-08 11:51 PM
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54: Engraved on the Collar of a Dog, Which I Gave to His Royal Highness

"I am His Majesty's dog at Kew.
Pray tell me, sir, whose dog are you?"


Posted by: Alexander Pope | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 12:12 AM
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63: I AM THE DOG WHO BELONGS TO HIMSELF.


Posted by: OPINIONATED CRISPIN'S CRISPIAN | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 12:15 AM
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46: Sometimes we even play Vainamonen and Antero Vipunen. But also hooray for Ilmarninen and Mr Bones of Tuonela and all the rest!


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 12:17 AM
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In terms of general poorness as an investment, American REITs (as proxied by the MSCI REIT index) produced annualized returns of 12.4% for the 10 years through 9/30/08, and that even includes the big recent drop

But that return's going to be blown out of the water by the return on mortgage-financed residential housing over the same period, isn't it? (Also, it's a roughly 2x levered return, so I would guess that apples to apples, it's not that different from the stock market).


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 12:22 AM
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Very sneaky responding in a different thread, d*d.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 12:26 AM
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Only a right bloody tosser would suggest REITs as reading material for children.


Posted by: Styptic Cred | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 12:27 AM
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Oh golly. You people are already talking about good books.
So, in elementary school, let's say circa 1980, we were shown an educational film about proper techniques for safely crossing a street as a pedestrian (stop, look both ways, that kind of thing). Boring, no? Well this film was called The Lead-Foot Tot Squasher. One needed to know how to cross the street, you see, in order to avoid the leering leather-clad maniac in the hot rod who was actively trying to run over children. The children defeat him at the end by looking both ways and thereby avoiding his tot-squashing.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 3:41 AM
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48 -- Norse myths too. And Buffalo Bill.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 6:34 AM
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AWB's shaggy dog book story got me looking up St. Crispin's Day, thinking it might be today. Nope, it's Saturday. But did you know that the Light Brigade charged on St. Crispins? Men then abed do not hold their manhood cheap.

Today is St. Ursula's Day. Find a bear or bear-like female, and celebrate. Alternatively, find 11,000 virgins. Don't behead them, though.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 6:44 AM
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Good old all-American Mr. Sneeze, Mr. Clumsy, Mr. Noisy, Little Miss Chatterbox

Maybe this belongs on Standpipe's blog, but I do believe the author of that series is British.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 7:14 AM
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I had an awesome Richard Scarry's Storytown playset (still in my dad's basement). So awesome that it has subsumed any memory of the books themselves.

The most horrible children's book ever written is "Love You Forever," by the very weird Robert Munsch. I once bonded with clients over its awfulness.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 7:18 AM
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The Reason Why by Cecil Woodham-Smith is an excellent look at the Charge of the Light Brigade. Makes you really hate Lord Cardigan - He was a genuinely horrible man.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 7:19 AM
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According to my parents, the favorite book of the preliterate Knecht was The Littlest Angel, about a dead boy who in heaven who is always losing his halo.

As an early reader, I used to love the Frances books, but I got turned off of them when my parents got me the vinyl recording of a lady with a spooky voice reading the book with (to me) disturbing musical accompaniment.

Of the "classics" they have been exposed to, my children are partial to the Little House series and to The Boxcar Children.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 7:24 AM
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The most horrible children's book ever written is "Love You Forever,"

We got that book as a gift right after Keegan was born.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 7:27 AM
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Maybe this belongs on Standpipe's blog, but I do believe the author of that series is British.

Yes, should be on Standpipes blog. I originally thought they were all British (Beatrix Potter was, the series you mention is British, Roald Dahl was, etc.), and that was the point. But the Brer Rabbit stuff was written by an American, Joel Chandler Harris, anyway. Shrug.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 7:29 AM
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The most horrible children's book ever written is "Love You Forever," by the very weird Robert Munsch. I once bonded with clients over its awfulness.

OMG, that book is dreadful! It was given to one of my girls by our neighbor (wife of the right-wing gun nut), who couldn't say enough good things about it, which in retrospect should have been one of the early warning signal about her.

Even worse was when I went to the funeral of a wonderful, beloved colleague, and her adult son gave a tearful eulogie in which he revealed that this was her favorite book to read to him. As he tearfully read the eponymous poem from the book, I had to suppress my sense of disappointment in my deceased colleague.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 7:35 AM
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The reason you guys don't remember the plots in Richard Scarry books are because so many of them are really more like picture dictionaries. You get a page of "building a house" with construction vocabulary, not a narrative. But the characters! Who can forget Lowly Worm?

All the raddest childrens books are by David Macaulay

Presumably you've seen md 20/400's Macaulay-esque photo in the Flickr pool?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 7:35 AM
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Kipling's Just So Stories were my favorite. Like Brer Rabbit, they're accused of racism, but I don't see that.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 7:46 AM
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Kipling was racist; people interpret stories in that light I suspect.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 7:49 AM
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Frightening book? The Runaway Bunny. No matter where you go, $PARENT will be there.

The Macaulay books (for kids and others) are almost enough to make me want to have my own kids so I can share the joy. Heck, I almost became an architect because of them. That or a civil engineer. I do give them as presents to friends' kids.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 7:49 AM
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Thank you, Witt.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 7:50 AM
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The Brer Rabbit author was also an active racist. But I think that kids realize that talking-animals stories are not real.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 7:52 AM
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Do you guys remember this that Bitch posted on her site a million years ago, the bastardized version of Golden Book, "My Little Golden Book About God"? I always put this in Top 5 Things On The Internet.

(The animated version is stupid. Just read it like a book.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 7:54 AM
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84: I should probably also have noted that when I said he wrote them, it may be more in the sense of wrote them down, than created anything.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 7:57 AM
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81: My recollection is that the stories themselves are pretty unambiguously racist.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:01 AM
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Searching for "Just So Stories" kipling racism does not find me any sources claiming that the Just So Stories are racist. Here it seems that they are not deemed so by the New York Times. I think only a couple stories had humans in them, and those were a family of cavemen, so if they were presented as less sophisticated than modern city dwellers you might have a case.


Posted by: Styptic Cred | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:08 AM
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i read Brer Rabbit and Mark Twain, Kipling when i got older 12-14 yo maybe, enjoyed them very much, never thought the books were like racist, though i don't know it could be it was some kind of edited versions


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:09 AM
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82.---Finally, someone agrees with me!


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:10 AM
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I just looked it up. About half the stories have no human characters. Several feature a neolithic family of caverpersons who were white in the version I had. There's one Arab, one Ethiopian, one Parsi, and two generic characters. All of the human characters are moderately ridiculous, like all the animal characters, but not as far as I know in specifically racial ways.

Kipling's contribution to ev psych trumps all these petty concerns anyway.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:12 AM
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80, 81, 87: The Just So stories have one use of the word 'nigger', albeit not used as an epithet. Other than that, any racism I can see is in more along the lines of Orientalizing: the 'Parsee' in 'How the Rhinocerous Got His Coat' is a comic figure with nothing particular to do with the actual ethnicity of that name, various folktales are played for laughs without much sensitivity to their origins... other than the one word, they don't actually bother me as children's books. I'd listen to an argument that they're more harmful than I think they are, but I honestly don't think they're that bad.

On Kipling generally, who I love despite his racism. Yes, racist. But so was every other nineteenth century British writer you care to name -- most of them get away with it by hardly ever mentioning a non-white character, and then once every third book there's a one-line mention where you realize how non-human they think everyone who isn't European is.

While it doesn't make Kipling a better person, he was still unambiguously a racist, I think it's a better thing to write and read books with characters of all, or many, ethnicities even at the risk of exposing unsavory racial attitudes rather than avoiding the issue entirely.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:14 AM
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who I love despite his racism

By the same token, I loved loved loved the Uncle Remus books as a kid. Great stories.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:20 AM
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Trivia: Samuel Butler, author of "Erewhon" and "The Way of All Flesh", raised sheep in New Zealand for 5 years and retired on the proceeds. Both books are worth reading, as are the selections from his notebooks. He was a pioneer of snark and a happily closeted gay man. he was also the greatest crank of his time, with cranky ideas on evolution, Homer, and Shakespeare.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:21 AM
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There's the one about how the Ethiopian can't change his skin or the leopard his spots. (Though they did, once).


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:25 AM
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I'd put the Just So Stories and Uncle Remus in the ambiguous category of books about wise old peasants, wise tribal elders, wise oriental sages, etc. There's condecension but not in a hostile way, and a definite recognition of some worth in the Other. I'm sure that if a Parsi kept getting references to the Parsi-man every time he met someone, he'd be pissed.

having th Ethiopian be a hunter-gatherer was pretty much the premise of the stories. There could have been a neutral hunter-gatherer (that's what the Neolithic Man was) but it had to be a hunter-gatherer.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:29 AM
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Yeah, that's the one with the word 'nigger' in it. The actual presentation of the Ethiopian was, IMO, inoffensive, as long as presenting him as a hunter-gatherer wasn't wrong.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:31 AM
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I loved the B'rer Fox and B'rer Rabbit stories, but my children's version must have left out the Uncle Remus frame entirely. Did I miss much?


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:33 AM
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left out the Uncle Remus frame entirely

He was just the narrator.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:37 AM
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The Littlest Angel, about a dead boy who in heaven who is always losing his halo.

The Understanding Angel was kinda hot.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:37 AM
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The cavemen in the Letter/Alphabet stories were black in my version's illustrations; my parents read it all, but were a little uncomfortable about re-reading the Letter/Alphabet stuff, IIRC.

The money quote in How the Leopard Got His Spots is the Ethiopian choosing his skin color after giving the leopard his spots, and saying "Oh, plain black's best for a nigger." It's funny in retrospect how nonsensical that sentence is.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:38 AM
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The cavemen in the Letter/Alphabet stories were black in my version's illustrations; my parents read it all, but were a little uncomfortable about re-reading the Letter/Alphabet stuff, IIRC.

Either you misunderstood the illustrations, or the illustrator got it wrong -- the cave-family is unambiguously located in Britain. One of the poems is Kipling explaining to his kids that the story took place on the same river they live by. Also, man, WTF? (Sorry about directing this at you, you're just the one who said it, but I'm sure plenty, getting to most, parents would have the same reaction.) It's a set of funny stories about cavemen. What would be racist about making them black?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:42 AM
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I didn't read Call of the Wild until after college. When I did, I thought, "Wow, this is racist. I wonder what I'd have thought if I'd read it as a kid."


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:43 AM
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Richard Scarry, then Asterix, then Tintin, then Asterix Babar ...

At the moment, The Little Prince and The Velveteen Rabbit are the only books I can think of that I especially disliked/was disturbed by as a child, but I'm probably repressing the traumatic memories of dozens more, I'm sure.

OTOH, I loved Seven Chinese Brothers and, later, Harriet the Spy, in spite of the fact that these stories troubled me.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:47 AM
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102: To clarify, I don't think the problem was that they were black in the illustrations, but perhaps that highlighted some problems in the text I don't remember.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:49 AM
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Harriet the Spy bothered me a lot, because the milieu was familiar in general -- NYC, not too long before I was reading it -- but I couldn't make it fit into any sort of normalcy. Rich enough to have servants, but a nine year old kid was unsupervised enough to be hiding around in other people's apartments? It either made no sense or was very scary: like, there was something really terribly wrong with her parents or something like that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:51 AM
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105: Can't have been a racial problem in the cavemen stories, though, because the cavemen were in England.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:53 AM
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106: Sounds like Alameida's crazy family.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:53 AM
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Yeah. You just got the feeling that if Harriet got hurt, or hit by a car, no one would know where she was or come looking for her for days. It's funny -- kids off on their own doing dangerous stuff never bothered me in more fantastic children's lit, but the realistic setting made that one really creepy.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:57 AM
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My mother had a trove of alarming old-time children's books around. George MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin and the Princess and Curdi (goblins, poison, and various forms of class warfare). East of the Sun and West of the Moon and other tales of the North (uneasy melding of pagan Norse beliefs with Christianity). The original Pinochio. All fairly scary. To lighten things up she had Life with Father by Clarence Day, which was a pretty good send-up of my dad, shifted 60? 70? years earlier.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 9:00 AM
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MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin and the Princess and Curdi (goblins, poison, and various forms of class warfare).

Oh, I loved those. And his other fairy tales as well.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 9:02 AM
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Who says people in England have to be white? (In practice, yes, genetic evolution happened, but different assumptions can take over when it's cavemen.) At any rate, reading it over, there are certain minor stereotypes, like "reverberating tribal drums," "except when he was hungry he was quite happy," the names, and someone having a foolish superstition, which considering the pictures they might not have wanted me to get too lodged my head.

This is all surmise, tho; we never actually discussed it. Maybe it was the "[since then] very few little girls have ever liked learning to read or write " they objected to.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 9:03 AM
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112: Go back far enough and it was all Picts there, wasn't it. Hardly a standard for `white'.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 9:07 AM
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#104. Apparently, there were only five Chinese brothers in the Claire Huchet Bishop version. I distinctly remember two more brothers, but maybe I've mixed it up with the REM song.

#106. Yeah, I haven't read HTS since I was eight or nine, but that's how I remember the story, too. There was something vaguely scary about everything. But whatever that scary thing was, Harriet seemed to be able to cope with it. I'm sure that's why I liked it.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 9:10 AM
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But it is really implausible to read those as racist against any currently existing ethnicity; whether you'd call Neolithic hunter-gatherers in the British Isles white in the social sense, given that the social sense didn't exist at the time, it seems implausible that they were anything other than fairly lightskinned. The stories were condescending to cavemen, sure.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 9:11 AM
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The stories were condescending to cavemen, sure.

And you so blithely dismiss this bigotry? Have all those PSAs by GEICO taught you nothing?


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 9:14 AM
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On the other hand, those are literarily the weakest of the stories, IMO -- maybe your folks weren't uncomfortable with them, but just didn't enjoy them much?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 9:14 AM
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116: Heh. That was exactly what I was thinking.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 9:14 AM
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What was book that involved a boy inventor (named Henry, perhaps?) with a little sister named Daphne and a best friend he called "O mighty athlete"? That book rocked.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 9:18 AM
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I was at my mom's house over the weekend and picked up my old copy of Outside Over There. A recent article caught up with Maurice Sendak worrying about whether his reputation will be closer to William Blake or Norman Rockwell; I thought that another fan letter wouldn't cheer him up much, but perhaps if I let him know that that book continues to scare the living fuck out of me, he'd be pleased.

A girl is tasked with watching her baby sister when goblins steal the baby and replace her with an ice goblin. The artwork is among Sendak's best; like In The Night Kitchen, it has the helpless motion feeling of a dream, but it's much more realistic and much scarier.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 9:22 AM
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At any rate, reading it over, there are certain minor stereotypes, like... "except when he was hungry he was quite happy,"

Wait, are you saying this is some kind of racial stereotype? I thought getting cranky when hungry was a universal.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 9:23 AM
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Also HTS was creepy because the characters were creepy. The Old Doughy nanny that she sort of dislikes, yet feels very abandoned when she leaves, the snot-filled Pinky Pinkerton kid who is sort of her friend but sort of disgusting. She's very ambivalent about almost everyone in her life, and then they all turn on her. It's totally unsettling and the resolution at the end is something like, "And then they all found someone new to pick on."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 9:24 AM
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The most recent genetic evidence is that the predominant biological ancestry of Brits is from the oldest, pre Celtic, pre-Indo-European population. Celts, Anglo-Saxons, Norse, and Romans follow in about that order. All of the invasions seem to have been of the elite-replacement type, not the massacre type.

Definitely subject to later revision. This result surprised everyone. Some speculate that the Basques are the only descendants of these pre-IE peoples who kept their language, and that it was these peoples who built Stonehenge. No evidence of non-whiteness, though.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 9:24 AM
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The secret of Stonehenge: it was an ancient megalithic stand mixer.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 9:28 AM
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"And then they all found someone new to pick on."

My brother and his wife spent about two years watching their daughter trying unsuccessfully to befriend the Mean Girls. They didn't pick on her, but two of their victims in succession transferred out, and my niece was cued up to be next. But ha! she transferred out before the bullying began.

When you try to understand Americans, the period of schooling from 8th to 10th grade is where you should look. Sex, gender, race, class, consumerism, that's where it's all stamped in. And "good schools" is a big factor in home-ownership, tax structures, politics at every level, and even finance.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 9:33 AM
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The way Wikipedia summarizes the end of Harriet the Spy

"Harriet's parents speak with her teacher and the headmistress, and Harriet is appointed editor of the class newspaper (replacing Marion Hawthorne). The newspaper--featuring some stories about the people on Harriet's spy route, as well as juicy gossip about her schoolmates' parents (which Harriet has overheard from her own parents)--becomes an instant success."

—makes me wonder if Harriet grew up to become Nick Denton.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 9:38 AM
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I think I mentioned before that after reading "Alfred Hitchcock Presents The Three Investigators", me and my friends set up a detective agency and were genuinely surprised when no cases turned up.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 9:38 AM
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When did the concept of the "caveman" originate? I'm sort of surprised it was around in Kipling's time and would have naively guessed it originated after the Lascaux cave paintings were discovered. I guess Altamira was found earlier.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 9:40 AM
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You needed the chauffeured Rolls for credibility.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 9:40 AM
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127: I did something similar as a kid. Set up a card table on the front lawn in my boring suburb, sat there with some friends asking everyone who walked by if they had any mysteries to solve. Someone asked for help finding their keys. We were disgusted.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 9:41 AM
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Set up a card table on the front lawn in my boring suburb, sat there with some friends asking everyone who walked by if they had any mysteries to solve

See, that was your mistake right there. You needed a gasoline can.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 9:43 AM
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I thought getting cranky when hungry was a universal.

It is, it's the being happy the rest of the time that's a stereotype of non-whites. Everyone knows that white people are hollow bitter creatures.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 9:44 AM
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See, that was your mistake right there. You needed a gasoline can.

No, you need a knot in the wood of a fence right where the dog is painted in the depiction of the San Francisco Fire that you press on and lets you into a web of trash to HQ, an old trailer which Aunt Matilda has forgotten she ever lent you.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 9:46 AM
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I can totally imagine D2 as Jupiter Jones.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 9:47 AM
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A fat young man without a good word for anybody? Yeah, it does work pretty well, doesn't it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 9:47 AM
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109: Harriet the Spy had Ole Golly, and the cook (who isn't named, I think) would at least have noticed Harriet wasn't there - and she did see her parents at least once a day.

Besides, quite honestly, the message I got from Harriet's unsupervised adventures was that any adult who messed with Harriet would find themselves nursing bruises, bite-marks, and wondering "hey, where'd she go"? as Harriet sped round the corner and out of sight. She is a classic role model for little kids who want to be writers, or any solitary kid who wants adventures on their own.

(I used to be given the Peter And Jane Ladybird books when I was small. Ugh.)


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 9:50 AM
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As for modern kid lit, you can't beat Junie B. Jones. Hilarious


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 9:56 AM
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Ole Golly, Old Doughy, something like that. Who's to say.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 10:04 AM
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I just realized that Maurice Sendak is not the same person as Mercer Mayer.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 10:09 AM
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117: Also possible.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 10:22 AM
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A girl is given the tasked with of watching her baby sister

We can keep this from happening if we are sufficiently relentless.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 10:31 AM
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What was book that involved a boy inventor (named Henry, perhaps?) with a little sister named Daphne and a best friend he called "O mighty athlete"?

I've never read this book but I want to know the answer to this question as well.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 10:35 AM
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What, no love for the Jungle Book?

I reread that just recently and was struck by "Servants of the Queen" - didn't think much of it when I was a kid, but now I recognise that the entire story is a faithful transcription of a lot of soldiers from different service arms giving each other shit about how the only ones who really know how to win battles are the heavy artillery/field guns/cavalry/MI/whatever, except with the animals rather than the soldiers talking.

But as a kid I loved the rest of it - Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, the White Seal, Bagheera, Mother Wolf facing down Shere Khan...


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 10:38 AM
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The Henry Reed books maybe? I don't remember the sister's name, and I don't remember Midge being referred to as "O mighty athlete", but it would have been reasonably appropriate. Anyway, they were great.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 10:39 AM
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119: (named Henry, perhaps?)

Wondering if this is Henry Reed (series of 5 books) of Henry Reed Inc. He had a friend named Midge Glass, but do not recall a sister. (The "o mighty athlete" rings a bell though). Good stuff, had Robert McCloskey drawings. A somewhat similar book with kids getting in over their heads that I really liked was The Mad Scientist's Club.

And for those who were worried about Harriet, what was your reaction The Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil Frankenweiler?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 10:40 AM
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The link didn't work.

And yes, the Jungle Books. Although I grew up on an edition of just the Mowgli stories -- I didn't see the other stories until I was older.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 10:41 AM
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And for those who were worried about Harriet, what was your reaction The Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil Frankenweiler?

No problem. It wasn't the actual danger that bothered me, for Harriet, it was the feeling that there was something really screwy about her life generally. The MUFOMBF kids had run away, but presumably there were off-screen parents worrying about them. Harriet's normal life, on the other hand, involved all sorts of abandonment and emotional strain.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 10:43 AM
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I had a copy of the novelized version of Charles In Charge, which I totally worshipped.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 10:47 AM
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Turns out Henry Reed Inc. is searchable at Amazon and no mentions of "athlete". So unless it is in a later book in the series ... It does sound familiar though.

I was pleased that Amazon linked Reed with Mad Scientists (and another favorite I used to read at my grandparents, Homer Price).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 10:47 AM
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148: boggle.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 10:48 AM
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What was book that involved a boy inventor (named Henry, perhaps?) with a little sister named Daphne and a best friend he called "O mighty athlete"?

Alvin Fernald

http://www.alvinfernald.com/characters.htm


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 10:49 AM
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151: Oh, right! I totally read those.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 10:54 AM
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148: boggle.

Now don't be jealous.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 10:56 AM
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148. For Heebie

http://www.vh1.com/shows/dyn/scott_baio_is_45_and_single/series.jhtml

I'm sure Jammies will be understanding


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 10:59 AM
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Oh please, like I don't keep my finger on the pulse of VH1 reality TV shows. Which one of these commenters is having their BEST WEEK EVER?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:02 AM
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Can't have been a racial problem in the cavemen stories

I dunno, LB; IME an awful lot of the articles, museum exhibits, textbooks, etc. of cave people are racialized in disturbing ways. I can't find the link to the iconic visual chart of the crouching simian ancestor slowly evolving forward into the upright, running man, but I vividly remember how appalled I was at the explicit link of the skin color getting lighter as the creature became more human. Ugh.

George MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin

Was that the one with the princess stuck on the rock, watching the water come up higher and higher around the prince's neck until he was drowning? That was a horrible, horrifying story. One of the very few I regret reading as a child.

141: I heart mcmc.

Alvin Fernald, Mayor for a Day!

The perfect fantasy for a policy-wonk-in-training. Alvin wins a meaningless contest, actually decides to be mayor for a day, enlists his friends as department directors (including a feminist breakthrough -- I think the girl is the police chief), uncovers corruption by the real mayor, and Saves the Day.

I bet TLL liked the Secret Code book better.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:03 AM
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That was me.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:03 AM
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153: Not so much, no. Surprised they'd done that....


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:04 AM
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151: Yes, thanks. And the illustration on the home page looked very familiar and I see that the first book at least was illustrated by Charles Geer, who also did the drawings for the Mad Scientists book.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:04 AM
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147 - Oh, sure: Harriet is abandoned by her only consistent adult carer, Ole Golly, and her parents don't care enough about her/know enough about her to know how much her world is rocked by losing her. And while Ole Golly cares for Harriet, looking after Harriet is her job - and a job she is willing to leave. Harriet goes from a child who still gets bathtime supervision by Ole Golly to a child who's expected to deal with being left alone all evening in a matter of days - that's an enormous wrench, and her parents just don't seem to care.

There's at least one sequel, The Long Secret, half of which is from the POV of one of the other kids in Harriet the Spy, in which Harriet's parents do seem to take more interest in her - at least during the summer.

For me it wasn't any kind of realistic book, though - the concept of having parents who didn't see much of you because they'd delegated care to a nanny and then to their cook (the concept of having a full-time nanny and a full-time cook!) was just too alien.

I did try to find someplace where one could buy an egg cream the only time I was in New York, but the only Chock Full O'Nuts place I found was closed and I saw them listed nowhere else. This made me sad: it was one of the things on my list.

I loved The Mixed Up Files. It was great.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:05 AM
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Don Cherry, ex-Ornette Coleman, for better or worse the inventor of World Music (in Norway), father of Nena and Eagle-eye, used the title rhyme of "Tikki-tikki-tembo, No-sa-rembo...." in one of his avant/world pieces.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:06 AM
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The story with the drowning prince was The Light Princess, which I loved. He was drowning voluntarily, to save the princess and end the drought! And then she saved him, and recovered her gravity, and everyone was happy except her aunt the evil witch, who drowned.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:08 AM
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The cave men to me looked like Southern and Eastern Europeans with their unibrows, dark hair, hairy bodies, dark skin, and brutish stupidity.

Caucasians! Who deserve it! Not racist at all!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:09 AM
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I'm sorry, LB, we can obviously never be friends now. It was really nice knowing you.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:09 AM
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162: I hate children's books which inculcate realistic optimism. If prince had betrayed the princess in order to enter into an uneasy power-sharing arrangement with the evil witch, that would have prepared LB for the real world.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:12 AM
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156: Oh, 'can't' is an overstatement, but 'isn't' is right. I swear there's not a word in the Just So caveman stories that would mark the people as racially or ethnically distinct from modern English people -- to get to a racial problem, you'd have to import the equation of prehistoric with non-white from other representations of cavemen, and then take offense at the depiction of the cavemen as bumbling. The whole joke of those stories is that it's an ordinary English family like Kipling and his wife and kids, doing ordinary parent-kid stuff, except that the parent-kid stuff they're doing is inventing first written communication by pictographs, and then the alphabet.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:13 AM
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I did not like Mixed-Up Files, but I only read it recently.

I never liked Roald Dahl, despite the urgent tone librarians took with me. Uncle Remus was racist, but those were some damn good stories.

One summer, I worked at a Center for Talented Youth camp, and they had a whole three-week class on investigative forensic science, which taught the students how to compare dirt samples in shoes, blood type, etc. I'm sure the kids signed up because they all wanted to be Harriet or Encyclopedia Brown, but the class scared the shit out of them. Some were fine, but we dealt with a lot of nightmares and kids needing their parents to come pick them up, like, now. But that was at the camp for 5-6th graders.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:18 AM
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164: There's something to be said for the idea that a book that can be that disturbing is, on some level, a good book. I'm not buying my kids Harriet the Spy because I found it too upsetting to be enjoyable -- I'd reread it like picking at a scab, and I didn't like the process. But I don't think it's badly written: there's enough substance to it to make it have had that effect on me.

Probably the same with TLP -- I loved it partially because it felt substantial. If it had struck me as disturbing, with the amount of narrative force it had, I'd probably feel like you did.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:18 AM
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I have an ill-formed belief that the Uncle Remus stories are all separately attested African folktales, and should be obtainable in some format untainted by association with the racist Chandler version.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:21 AM
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The scarifying book I remember from preliterate days was Are you my mother?, in which a bird goes around a humanless world asking machinery and plants the title question.


Posted by: Meg Omega | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:22 AM
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We had to stop the Jungle Boo film for my 3 1/2 year old grandnephew because lions and tigers killing people scares him, even if they're bad guys.

The bad guys in The Jungle Book were extremely stereotyped upper-crust British military officer, if I remember rightly.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:23 AM
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On the theme of sheltering children from the real world, I am hoping that this article is a typical NYT three-examples-make-a-trend, but boy is it depressing:

School officials and parents across the nation are turning an increasingly critical eye on the time-honored tradition of voters' casting ballots in the gymnasiums and hallways of neighborhood school buildings while classes go on as usual just a few yards away.
Citing a litany of safety concerns, many officials are opting to keep youngsters home on Nov. 4, Election Day.
"School districts across the country now spend millions of dollars each year on controlling access to buildings with locked doors and surveillance cameras to keep strangers out," said Kenneth Trump, president of the National School Safety and Security Services, an advocacy group, in Cleveland. "In a post-Columbine, post-9/11 world, we shouldn't be opening the doors at our schools on Election Day, and just hoping everything will be O.K." ...
"The impetus for our resolution was simply a parent who asked, 'Does it make sense for the security measures we have in place at our schools to be abandoned on Election Day?' " said Robin Church, president of the Parents' Council at Indian Prairie School District 204 in Aurora. "We all agreed that student safety was paramount every day, and that includes Election Day."
... "In today's world, we ask a mother to show her driver's license before she can deliver cupcakes to her daughter's classroom," said John H. Weicker, security director for Fort Wayne Community Schools. "But on Election Day, we were allowing every Tom, Dick and Harry to walk in the front door." [...]

Yeah, I've met some Harrys, and those guys are dangerous, for sure.

Thank goodness there is a voice of sanity:

"Our schools are public buildings, and we need to make them as available as possible to our community," said Mike Vaughn, a Chicago Public Schools spokesman. "Our primary concern is that there is not a disruption to the students, so we've made sure the voting booths are not located in high-traffic areas."
It is a decision with which the Cook County clerk, David Orr, whose jurisdiction includes the Chicago Public Schools, respectfully disagrees, especially since a record number of voters are expected to cast ballots.
"In an ideal world, it would be nice for children to see voters in their schools," Mr. Orr said. "But you have to ask yourself, what if?"

Yeah. What if...um, what? The record-number of voters also means a record number of pedophiles and kidnappers? Huh?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:24 AM
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My daughter loves Tikki Tikki Tembo, Where the Wild Things Are, and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.

I will happily do dramatic readings if you ask me nicely.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:24 AM
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I am in LOVE with this children's version of Gulliver's Travels, but it is seriously disturbing. Unlike most children's Gullivers, it contains all four volumes, and illustrates even some of the most disturbing passages (the scientist trying to turn shit into food, Gulliver leaving Houyhnhnmland in a horse costume made from Yahoo [i.e., human] skins, a dog dying from being blown up rectally with a bellows). The illustrations are incredibly beautiful, and although the prose is altered to be less 18th-centuryish, it maintains a lot of the style and the social satire.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:24 AM
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160: If you have chocolate syrup, soda water, and milk, you can make yourself an egg cream. 8oz glass, half fill with milk, squirt of chocolate syrup, fill with soda water, and stir to mix and froth the top. Mmmm.

But they really are almost gone. You needed a dusty old luncheonette to find one even when I was a kid, and the place in my neighborhood that still served them ten years ago changed hands and doesn't anymore.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:24 AM
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One of the books of Gulliver shows Swift to be a seriously anti-scientific know-nothing (yahoo). Tobias Smollett also had something somewhere premised on the belief that no good can come from examining shit. Aristotle knew better.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:27 AM
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Are you my mother?

No, you are a snort.

My kids laughed and laughed. Of course, there mother is a snort.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:27 AM
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The scarifying book I remember from preliterate days was Are you my mother?

I had a barely literate high school Spanish teacher who for some reason thought that reading this book in Spanish and watching some cartoon version of it was a useful learning activity for 16- and 17-year olds. ¿Eres tú mi mamá?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:28 AM
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We had to stop the Jungle Boo film for my 3 1/2 year old grandnephew because lions and tigers killing people scares him, even if they're bad guys

My parents took the family to see the play version of Little Shop Of Horrors when I was about 4, and I screamed bloody murder when the plant started eating people. I still remember distinguishing in my mind that this was not on a screen, but happening live mere yards from me, and how terrified I felt. They tried to calm me but I kept on screaming, and so I spent the rest of the play in the lobby with my mom.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:29 AM
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You know what else scared me? The original Pinocchio. Cruel, scary, horrible.

I was disturbed by A Wrinkle in Time, but still thought (and think) it is a good book. So yeah, the quality of getting under your skin can be a marker of a good book. I think the scene TLP was just too vivid and psychologically unpleasant for me. Like the flying monkeys in A Wizard of Oz, or the entire story of the Pit and the Pendulum.

(And, um, I know this belongs on Standpipe's blog, but 164 was a joke, LB. I wasn't really asking you to justify why you liked TLP. Imagine 164.2 as recited by a really insincere 12-year-old.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:30 AM
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Anyone scarred by Bible stories? I didn't actually hear any during my formative years, but those are plenty gruesome.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:31 AM
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Honest, I knew you were kidding. I was thinking about me and HTS, more -- that a book that can freak you out has something real going on in it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:31 AM
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25: Daniel Pinkwater

SERIOUSLY. I frequently subject friends to Story Time when we are at my house and it is late.

Also good for this: Carl Sandburg's Rootabaga Stories.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:31 AM
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25: Daniel Pinkwater

SERIOUSLY. I frequently subject friends to Story Time when we are at my house, and we are drunk, and it is late.

Also good for this activity: Carl Sandburg's Rootabaga Stories.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:32 AM
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Anyone scarred by Bible stories?

Yes.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:32 AM
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ahem


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:32 AM
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176: Don't fuck with me about this. Book 3 of Gulliver is about the irrelevance of (in turn) the pure sciences, the applied sciences, the study of history, and life experience to forming an ethical society. It's not that he thinks scientific inquiry is inherently "bad" any more than he thinks studying history is "bad," but, without critical thought based in ethics, a total focus on any of these will inevitably be used in the service of human suffering.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:33 AM
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Is it late where you are, Cecily?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:33 AM
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but the class scared the shit out of them

Did all the campers get copies of Spitz and Fisher? I was in 6th or 7th grade when I leafed through my mom's copy, and as I've mentioned before, some of those images I'll never forget. That was around the same time I started reading my parents' Arthur Hailey novels, which were mostly boring but had some tepid sex, IIRC. My parents either weren't into restricting my reading or had no idea what I was getting my hands on.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:34 AM
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Cure for scary bible stories:
http://www.thebricktestament.com/


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:34 AM
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Pinocchio scared me too.

I really enjoy the Seven Silly Eaters for its approach to cooking.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:34 AM
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my favorite when I was 5 and my sister was 2 was Outside Over There which is about when goblins steal away the protagonist's baby sister and she has to go save the baby.

My sister HATED it and would have horrible tantrums at the sight of the book jacket, which is probably why I liked it so much.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:34 AM
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172: Is it wrong of me to have the following succession of thoughts?

1) Well that's ridiculously paranoid, but then, we're in absurdly paranoid times and sadly that sort of nonsense is to be expected.
2) Sucks for the BoE, though, since the only other people ever willing to be used as voting precincts are churches.
3) Oooooooh, so that's why the paranoid, 9/11-alluding types want to ditch schools as precincts.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:35 AM
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188: might as well be.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:35 AM
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180 is funnier if you read TLP as "Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus"


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:36 AM
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192: I always hated the Shel Silverstein poem, "One sister for sale! One sister for sale! One crying young spying young sister for sale!"


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:36 AM
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Witt, is joking one of your assigned tasks? I think not.

As time goes on my grandnephew will come to understand that feeding bad guys to starving hogs is not only not frightening, but a fun way to spend a family weekend.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:36 AM
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SERIOUSLY. I frequently subject friends to Story Time when we are at my house, and we are drunk, and it is late.

Clearly, Unfogged is filled with geeky people who would find great enjoyment at reading children's books at parties.

If you promise me that, BR and I might come to SF.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:38 AM
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And yes with the Pinkwater love. Should I ever have a solo blog (unlikely, given my posting frequency), despite my entire lack of interest in music, it would be called Lizard Music.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:39 AM
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Oddly enough, young Jesus found his mother's forensic pathology books relaxing.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:40 AM
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I'm a recreational joker only, Emerson. If it were one of my tasks, I would certainly have done something with your 165.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:41 AM
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196: then again my parents told all my younger siblings on a regular basis that if they were bad, they were going to be given to the Gypsies at night.

Any time a major change occurred (selling of a car; removal of the hammock) they were told that "the Gypsies must have taken it." You know, to give the terrifying threats more tooth.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:43 AM
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Does anyone remember which volume of Encyclopedia Brown featured the story in which the mystery was solved based on a character's false tears falling from the outer corner of her eye?


Posted by: Amber | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:43 AM
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199: the two best (objectively speaking) are Ducks! and Irving and Muktuk: Two Bad Bears. The first one's out of print but it's so worth it. SO WORTH IT.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:44 AM
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193: It's comforting that others remain more paranoid than I.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:44 AM
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Secondary to 187: Reading Gulliver as a simple critique of certain aspects of British society is a mistake. The whole thing is a massive satire on the vanity of nationalist imperial enterprise. The British defended imperialism with a lot of lofty thoughts about how they deserved to spread their own society because they were uniquely blessed as the "perfection of nature" with political sophistication, brute military force, scientific excellence, literary genius, and civilized behavior. Swift demolishes all those as truly excellent, and then ends with the Houyhnhnms declaring themselves the "perfection of nature," and Gulliver, a disaffected ex-patriot who has come to hate his own species, falls for it, becoming their slave. Rather than colonizing, he has been colonized, and comes back to England to tuck himself away in a barn with a few horses to talk to, hating the English for their vain imperialism.

To be fair, this isn't how it's traditionally read, but, I'd argue, it's been traditionally read by people who have some sympathy for British imperialism.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:45 AM
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187: That's the best case for Swift, and it's a valid point today. Bit is there countervailing evidence showing him not to have been a know-nothing about science more generally.

My appreciation of Dr. Johnson and Dean Swift is very severely crimped by what I know about their personalities, lives, and social attitudes. The misanthropy and grumpiness are fine with me, obvs.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:46 AM
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To be fair, this isn't how it's traditionally read

Believe it or not, that was what I took away from the Ted Danson version on TV a while back.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0115195/


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:49 AM
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Why do I so often forget to put questions marks at the end of questions.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:49 AM
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also terrifying, but a great favorite, was Gorey's pop-up The Dwindling Party in which one by one, a family is devoured/snatched away/seized by monsters. I don't know why I was allowed to read this when I was 4.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:50 AM
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207: Everyone was a know-nothing about experimental science in the 1720's, even the scientists. Have you read the proceedings of the Royal Society from that era? Each of the experiments Swift describes in the Academy at Lagado are based on real experiments that were done. Accusing Swift of not understanding modern applied science would be like accusing Johnson of not understanding modern psychology. I.e., there were some free-floating ideas about those things, but not a lot of organized thinking.

And if you start being a dick about Johnson, I will pull out the knives.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:51 AM
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"I refute you thus," she whispers, as the knife slips between your ribs.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:57 AM
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AWB is convincing me to reread Gulliver's Travels. I read it when I was a teenager but I had no clue...the humanities are wasted on people who haven't lived a little.

A teacher's influence never ends.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:57 AM
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I had a barely literate high school Spanish teacher who for some reason thought that reading this book in Spanish and watching some cartoon version of it was a useful learning activity for 16- and 17-year olds. ¿Eres tú mi mamá?

I never ever missed class in college or grad school, because my whole strategy was "go to class/don't study much". I don't think I missed a dozen classes in as many years. Which makes me incredibly bitter that the only class I missed in my Farsi class was the one where we translated "Red Fish, Blue Fish". The prof was super charming and that must have been a lot of fun.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:58 AM
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206: IANALC, but I thought that was what Gulliver was about, i.e. a massive satire on the imperialist project, etc. Bearing in mind that I haven't read it for years, though.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 12:00 PM
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Each of the experiments Swift describes in the Academy at Lagado are based on real experiments that were done. Accusing Swift of not understanding modern applied science would be like accusing Johnson of not understanding modern psychology. I.e., there were some free-floating ideas about those things, but not a lot of organized thinking.

The point of calling him a know-nothing isn't that he was making up stuff about what natural philosophers/scientists were doing, but that he didn't understand it well enough to realize that as an activity, it wasn't as stupid as it looked.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 12:01 PM
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"I refute you thus," she whispers, as the knife slips between your ribs.

Oh, God, fair cousin, thou hast done me wrong.
Now is steel twixt gut and bladder interposed.
http://www.shaksper.net/archives/2005/1372.html


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 12:02 PM
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214: Sounds like fun. The Spanish class would have worked better if we were translating it into Spanish instead of reading someone's published translation. I think the reason it annoyed me was that it came after the class basically fell apart while trying to read Alarcón's El sombrero de tres picos, largely because the teacher didn't seem to understand the humor and made it utterly boring, and we reverted to vocabulary and grammar drills punctuated by silliness like Are you my mother?

Wow, I'm surprising myself by how much I still don't like that teacher. Probably because I still regret not being a very competent Spanish speaker despite years of classes.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 12:05 PM
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Also good for this: Carl Sandburg's Rootabaga Stories.

So good. A while back I found my old copy.

It's made to be read out loud.

I also love Daniel Pinkwater -- my favorite is Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 12:07 PM
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I'm sure I've said this before, but publishers are wildly variable in how much they cheap out on getting a decent translation of children's books. The Spanish translation of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is one of my favorites. Some of the Dr. Seuss titles are disappointingly bad.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 12:08 PM
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You're not going to trap me with your Royal Society one-upsmanship. Of course I've read the Proceedings -- in their entirely! I just choose not to reference them at this point.

Rather, I'd refer you to Shapin's "Social History of Truth", which talks about Boyle in the period immediately preceding Swift's. It was a pretty interesting, foundational era for experimental science.

Be it know that I have quite a considerable ingrained dislike of Anglican gentlemen as such, which is traceable to my early reading of CS Lewis and Chesterton, reinforced by unfortunate encounters with English profs who thought of themselves as Christian Humanist Gentlemen.

And ja, Chesterton was a Catholic. So shoot me.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 12:08 PM
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Does anyone else remember the Mrs Pepperpot stories? I remember reading them repeatedly as a kid, but I don't remember any of the actual plots.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 12:09 PM
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¿Eres tú mi papa? would be an even more interesting question to teach to a bunch of Spanish speakers.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 12:10 PM
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215: I think that's right, but most LCs who write about Swift end up getting bogged-down trying to make it about these tiny little issues he raises here and there. But LCs also like to ignore the possibility that anyone in the 17th-18th knew damn well that imperialism was racist, exploitative, commercial, genocidal bullshit. The problem is that a lot of the texts people read about colonialism were told by the imperialists--travel narratives by Hocquenghem, Gorges, Cook, Dampier, etc., which sure make it sound like they didn't know anything was wrong with what they were doing, because they were marketing the project to British readers. But a lot of people fucking knew. They also read Bartolome de las Casas, who doesn't sugarcoat it at all.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 12:11 PM
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Not Hocquenghem, who is a queer theorist. Hickeringill. I always get those names confused, for some reason.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 12:14 PM
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Everyone was a know-nothing about experimental science in the 1720's, even the scientists.

And now that we know so much more, we can begin the imperialist project anew!


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 12:15 PM
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I get Hocquenghem mixed up with Houellebecq.

Man, is that Houellebecq a grumpy-looking motherfucker. His opinion of relationships seems to be approximately as affirmative as mine.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 12:19 PM
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IANALC and also NAH but wasn't the "imperialism" that Swift was concerned about primarily England's relationship to Ireland? Which raises somewhat different issues than imperialism writ large.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 12:21 PM
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224: Got it. Interesting, and not surprising, I guess. I didn't know this wrt Gulliver in particular, but again, not surprising to hear.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 12:23 PM
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God, do I ever hate Houellebecq. What a fraudulent asshole.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 12:23 PM
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228: True, but he also writes it pretty large, especially in the very last chapter of GT, about the "MODERN COLONY," which is formed by genocide, enslavement, rape, and theft of resources.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 12:25 PM
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Halford is willing to accept only the most genuine assholes. Don't try to run any fakes past him.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 12:26 PM
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I am a trained expert, my friend. My expensive asshole-spotting eyeglass can spot even the tiniest assholic imperfection.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 12:28 PM
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I like Houllebecq a lot and I thought Elementary Particles was a great book. His next novel was good too (with the plot about the travel agency). Not sure what fraudulent would mean in this context, he never pretends to be anything other than what he is.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 12:31 PM
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224 is good. Lots of people knew at the time that colonialism was horrible.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 12:31 PM
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I would like to see Houllebecq write a children's book.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 12:33 PM
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The fraud is in pretending that he has more than one idea, or that it's enough to sustain even one novel, let alone multiple ones.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 12:36 PM
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228, 231, and above: Is it the case that certain strains in LC may be overly enamo(u)red of historicizing any given text to the point of denying the writer any broader theme he may have been developing?

That's a leading question, obviously -- sorry -- and I imagine this is an internal struggle, a fraught question, in the field. I think that if it were my field, I'd become as, if not more, absorbed in study of critical treatment of texts as in the texts themselves. Distracting! Frustrating! Then again, it's what philosophy does as well.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 12:36 PM
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the kipling caveman-alphabet story is as much as anything about RK's adoration of his daughter

the proper illustrations should be the ones by kipling himself, which are great, full of odd detail and curious stuff -- tho can be a bit fiddly and hard to make out in small paperback editions -- i don't remember the cavemen (the dad is called tegumai and his daughter is called taffy) being pictured at all in his illustrations (but i can't put my hands on my copy of just so stories right this second to check)

the fact that no one has mentioned tove jansson and the moomin books means you are clearly all deprived and damaged

update: just found it, and no, kipling's own pictures to the cavemen stories in just so are all just of the making of the letters and so on... no people who aren't stick people as drawn by taffy herself (also, unexpected feminism alert: taffy herself invents writing)



Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 12:40 PM
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I was chattering about Kipling above because I couldn't think of anything from childhood that I thought poorly of. But now that I recall, the Big Green Book provokes some shivery memories in me. Perhaps it was the good kind?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 12:41 PM
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ok i have to reread this entire book tonight


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 12:44 PM
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a dog dying from being blown up rectally with a bellows

I may be a sicko, but I found that passage hilarious upon first reading it. Out loud, I laughed.

I was complaining of a small fit of the colic, upon which my conductor led me into a room where a great physician resided, who was famous for curing that disease, by contrary operations from the same instrument. He had a large pair of bellows, with a long slender muzzle of ivory: this he conveyed eight inches up the anus, and drawing in the wind, he affirmed he could make the guts as lank as a dried bladder. But when the disease was more stubborn and violent, he let in the muzzle while the bellows were full of wind, which he discharged into the body of the patient; then withdrew the instrument to replenish it, clapping his thumb strongly against the orifice of the fundament; and this being repeated three or four times, the adventitious wind would rush out, bringing the noxious along with it, (like water put into a pump), and the patient recovered. I saw him try both experiments upon a dog, but could not discern any effect from the former. After the latter the animal was ready to burst, and made so violent a discharge as was very offensive to me and my companion. The dog died on the spot, and we left the doctor endeavouring to recover him, by the same operation.

Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 12:51 PM
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238.1: I think this is correct, and it's one of the reasons I don't like the way historicist analysis works, despite being very interested in historical context myself. Historicism, as it stands, tends to assume that authors are not particularly aware of the ways they're informed by their culture, to the point of ignoring the moments when they're specifically addressing those very things. And LCs are notoriously bad about making excuses for racism and sexism, IME.

One of the major problems with Brit Lit is that British literary history shows a weird amnesia about writers whose genius was recognized in their lifetimes, but who challenged the racist, sexist, nationalist agenda. Everyone who read poetry in Aphra Behn's time knew that she was fucking brilliant, according to any standard of poetic excellence, but queasiness about her subject matter and gender meant that she sort of disappeared from literary consciousness for, like 250 years. A few scholars read her, but it's shocking that a poet of her stature is someone my students have just never heard of. Even if they haven't read Milton, Jonson, Dryden, etc., they know who those dudes are. Behn is totally off the map, and LCs often talk about her in that condescending "woman poet" way.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 12:51 PM
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I object to the use of Aphra Behn in thedefense of Swift, but admire AWB's boldness.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 12:57 PM
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the scientist trying to turn shit into food

They just hadn't discovered efficient digestion.

I was under the impression that Aphra Behn wasn't well known in her own lifetime, but this is an impression got from HS English, which (though my teachers were wunnerful, just wunnerful) may not have been completely accurate.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 12:59 PM
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Efficient digestion.

I really fucking hate typepad's new default of splitting long comment threads over multiple pages, and am not aware of a way to turn it off. Charmingly, they haven't changed the way comment permalinks are generated, so they're all wrong past the first page.

Snarkout, don't you work for Six Apart? Get on the stick.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 1:01 PM
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The amnesia about Swift is not that he's failed to be popular, but the reception history shows a marked repression about his massive criticism of imperialism. Or they like to psychoanalyze his obsession with shit without recognizing that, no matter what his personal problems were, he was also really explicitly writing about shit for a conscious reason. I.e., maybe he's not a psychotically repressed person as much as he is writing about psychotic repression in British society. (Norman O. Brown makes this point; I can't take credit.)

With that, I'm off to therapy! Toodles!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 1:02 PM
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"In today's world, we ask a mother to show her driver's license before she can deliver cupcakes to her daughter's classroom," said John H. Weicker, security director for Fort Wayne Community Schools. "But on Election Day, we were allowing every Tom, Dick and Harry to walk in the front door."

I agree, it makes no sense that a mother must show her driver's license before she can deliver cupcakes. Let's fix those rules.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 1:05 PM
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240: I recall very little of what I read as a small child, period. Dr. Seuss, yes, and I'm sure there was a great deal else, but no recollection beyond isolated things like Tikki Tikki Tembo, The Story of Ping, Thumbelina. Peter and the Wolf!

I jump ahead suddenly, in memory, to Nancy Drew, the Bobbsey Twins (boring), Trixie Belden, Pippi Longstocking (oh, yea!) somewhere in there, and Encyclopedia Brown and such. Then ahead to adolescent fantasy: Anne MacCaffrey dragon series, Lloyd Alexander, C.S. Lewis, Ursula LeGuin. Along with S.E. Hinton, the Are You There, God, It's Me, Margaret woman, and J.D. Salinger (Franny and Zooey). Whoa!

Some of my memories of this are confused by the fact that I worked in a youth library from age 15-17, and became familiar with what was popular for young and middle children. Did I read those things myself at that age? I really can't tell.

A lot of things people mention in this thread -- Harriet the Spy, say, or even "Are You My Mother?" -- I read during the library period. Weird.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 1:08 PM
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Citing a litany of safety concerns, many officials are opting to keep youngsters home on Nov. 4, Election Day.

I didn't realize there were some schools that stayed open on election day. We always had it off. Seems like it would be hard to have class what with a bunch of adults filling up the hallway and cafeteria all day.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 1:10 PM
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I am a big fan of writing about shit. Rabelais, Cervantes, Montaigne, Swift, Sterne, Luther, Erasmus. The great age of the toilet joke.

Authors who do not write about shit have deep-seated emotional problems.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 1:12 PM
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They also read Bartolome de las Casas, who doesn't sugarcoat it at all.

Las Casas didn't sugarcoat anything, but I'm not sure how much influence he'd have had on Swift's contemporaries and near-contemporaries, because the moral framework of early eighteenth century England is vastly different than that of early sixteenth century Spain. Las Casas was a humanist, but he was arguing from very specific hierarchical and neo-Classical talking points, as it were. The thing that blew my mind when I was doing research for a term paper about the Valladolid debate was that Las Casas stands up as literally the first defender of los Indios in the entire European world, and simultaneously gets the idea that it would be a good idea to import African slaves (although he later changes his mind). Plato has a lot to answer for.

The Houyhnhnms were gross and creepy, and I've never been sure how much of that Swift wrote and how much I just wrote in. Good to know that horsefucking jokes are a lasting comedy staple, though.

On the original topic, the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books are a wonderful piece of parental wish-fulfillment. We'll just take ill-behaved children to Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, who will use magic to torture them into realizing that they're being brats!


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 1:14 PM
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My favorite cousin made a children's book for me when he was five. It is as grimly awesome as could be desired.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 1:16 PM
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Seems like it would be hard to have class what with a bunch of adults filling up the hallway and cafeteria all day.

ACORN uses election day as a cover to infiltrate schools and kidnap small children. They then sexually abuse them and raise them to execute the next generation of ACORN election frauds. A massive percentage of all American missing and exploited children are actually traceable to ACORN.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 1:17 PM
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So I read somewhere today that apparently because Pennsylvania does not have early voting or same-day registration, McCain has chosen it as the best candidate for taking some electoral votes against the will of the voters with intimidation and voter fraud fraud.

Now, the first thought that came into my mind was "Really? It's unusual to not have early voting or same-day registration?"


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 1:18 PM
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I always get shit for defending The Corrections, but it's got a good fecal sequence.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 1:19 PM
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256: DS will help you defend The Corrections if necessary.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 1:22 PM
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Montaigne is also scandalized by European treatment of the Indians, and seems to have the expectation that his audience will have no problem recognizing this.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 1:22 PM
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257: Yes, but he's chopped liver.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 1:24 PM
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259: Right, we (or you) have had this conversation before; I'd forgotten that you were ... implicated. All parties acquitted themselves well, I feel, and don't you be calling DS chopped liver again.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 1:30 PM
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John Dolan's negative review of The Corrections.

The fraud is in pretending that he has more than one idea, or that it's enough to sustain even one novel, let alone multiple ones.

the idea that modern life is a giant catastrophe and we all suck is enough to sustain at least one novel, possibly several. Perhaps you find the idea itself annoying.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 1:35 PM
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153 is great, i recalled my youngest sister used to write with all the vowels omitted when she was learning how to write


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 1:36 PM
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253


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 1:37 PM
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the idea that modern life is a giant catastrophe and we all suck is enough to sustain most of the post-1960 novels I have ever read. Yawn.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 1:39 PM
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261: No, the lone idea is: "They promised me freedom, but hot chicks still won't fuck me. CONTRADICTION."

Over and over and over and over again.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 1:41 PM
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253: why are the chapter headings, and only the chapter headings, written backwards?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 1:42 PM
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246 - Email me. [the obvious name]@gmail.com.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 1:47 PM
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261: PGD, I'm not sure we need to rehash The Corrections debate.

And wrongshore, you know I'm kidding in the DS chopped liver remark. I mean, not that you should do that.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 1:50 PM
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Let's not get little Cecily's 5-year-old cousin Ernest confused with Houellebecq. That would be fair to neither.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 1:52 PM
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the idea that modern life is a giant catastrophe and we all suck is enough to sustain at least one novel, possibly several. Perhaps you find the idea itself annoying.

I find this idea annoying because modern life is a giant catastrophe and we all suck, so I tend not to dig novelists who merely re-state this as fiction. But I haven't read The Corrections so I can't judge it other than to say that it has never seemed like a book I could fall in love with, personally.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 1:54 PM
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What's LC? Literary critic?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:00 PM
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Long Century.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:04 PM
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Lord Chancellor.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:08 PM
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Library of Congress.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:10 PM
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||
So I missed the mix thread last week, but here's my belated contribution. For You, My Friends.

Tracklist:
Les Djinns (Trentemøller Remix) - Djuma Soundsystem
Song For Holly - Esthero with Danny Saber
Rendez - Vu (Radio Edit) - Basement Jaxx
Becoming Insane - Infected Mushroom
Mayhem - Federation
B.O.B - Outkast
Jerk It (Original Mix) - Thunderheist
L'aigle Ne Chasse Pas Les Mouches - MC Solaar
Les Cités D'or - Psy4 de la Rime
All Rights Reversed - The Chemical Brothers Feat. Klaxons
Vapor Trail - The Crystal Method
Ice Cube - Juno Reactor
I Believe - Simian Mobile Disco
St. Louise Is Listening - Soul Coughing
Beautiful Burnout - Underworld
|>


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:11 PM
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The Twenty-Seventh City was also a good book, and noticeably different from The Corrections. The author in interviews seems like kind of a twit, but so does TC Boyle. Defoe and Balzac weren't very nice either, and both Hume and Gibbon were apparently smelly.

Also, anyone really believing that we all suck would stay quiet, I think. Isn't almost any communication a form of optimism? I don't think this is a good precis of The Corrections for whatever that's worth.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:13 PM
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Rot in hell you deacronymizing bastards.

That Dolan review is awesome. It makes me actually want to hate The Corrections (which I've never read). I better not read it any time soon.

I liked Elementary Particles because it didn't sugarcoat middle-aged satyriasis. It didn't paint the main character as anything other than a creep. Since the premise of 76.9% of male twentieth century literary fiction is "They promised me freedom, and hot chicks are now fucking me," it's a nice change of pace.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:17 PM
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I think PGD's comment referred to Houellebecq, not the Corrections. But he first person to come up with the name of the new thread-unifying theme that links Houellebecq, Franzen, Cecily's five year old cousin, Jonathan Swift, and Harriet the Spy wins!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:18 PM
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Also, anyone really believing that we all suck would stay quiet, I think.

That's worth considering. Going on about it seems a bit shrill, perhaps histrionic. It strikes me that the only way to go on about it while avoiding that is to be angry. Which I actually find okay, but YMMV.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:20 PM
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Still, Dolan's complaint that "[Charles] Portis is all but unknown, while Franzen is everybody's darling" is OTT. Charles Portis must be the most popular unknown writer in America. Ron Rosenbaum has been flogging his books for twenty years.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:21 PM
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266: not sure. It seemed to be related to them being on pages that were on the left side (the whole book is actually written backwards, actually, so that you open the front cover from the left side).


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:23 PM
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I had never heard of Charles Portis until about three minutes ago.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:24 PM
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Portis' Dog of the South is very funny.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:28 PM
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I have never heard of Charles Portis. Or Venedict Erofeev.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:30 PM
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I, too, had never heard of Charles Portis, and finding that he is the author of True Grit does not make it more plausible that he is America's great unknown novelist.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:30 PM
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280: Hm. Right, well, I haven't read the Dolan review, but the line you quote reminds me of a not very long ago exchange over several issues of Harper's -- maybe a year ago? two? -- in which Franzen was dubbed the poster-boy for a certain sort of contemporary, celebrated literature that the author of the initial Harper's essay (an 'experimental' writer, name escapes me) derided as fundamentally hackneyed, emblematic of a variety of ills not just in writing but in publishing. It was well-done, well-argued, and not just about Franzen himself.

It was an interesting exchange, a lengthy reply following the original essay, and so on. Can't remember the details. I'll see if I can find the Harper's exchange, but am off momentarily for a while.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:33 PM
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Masters of Atlantis is fantastic, but I've never read Dog of the South.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:36 PM
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Related to the idea that writing itself is an act of optimism -- Houellebecq provides an alternate explanation

Generally, the initial reaction of a thwarted animal is to try harder to attain its goal. A starving chicken (Gallus domesticus) prevented from reaching its food by a wire fence will make increasingly frantic efforts to get through it. Gradually, however, this behavior is replaced by another which has no obvious purpose. When unable to find food, for example, pigeons (Columba livia) will frequently peck the ground even if nothing there is edible. Not only will they peck indiscriminately, but they start to preen their feathers; such inappropriate behavior, frequently observed in situations of frustration or conflict, is known as displacement activity.

Early in 1986, just after he turned thirty, Bruno began to write.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:36 PM
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286: it was Ben Marcus, unless there've been more than one.

I love Ben Marcus.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:38 PM
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172: We could just make election day a holiday.

Also, I voted today.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:39 PM
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288 -- I rest my case. I don't mind dyspeptic commentary, but I do prefer it to be either funnier or provided by John Emerson. And certainly not presented in the form of a "novel" that's really nothing but an overlong didactic tract riffing on a not very interesting theme.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:40 PM
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289: There you go. Thanks.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:40 PM
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286 - You're talking about the Ben Marcus essay I haven't read? And not this godawful older piece from the Atlantic by "B.R. Meyers", about which I am inclined to rant all out of proportion with the actual merits of my argument (see also: American Beauty, the perfidy of John Wayne, Dook basketball sucks!!, etc.)? Right? Just making sure.

Fuck you, "B.R. Meyers".


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:41 PM
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But they really are almost gone. You needed a dusty old luncheonette to find one even when I was a kid, and the place in my neighborhood that still served them ten years ago changed hands and doesn't anymore.

Oh, this is so sad. I don't think I can tell my sister. They were pretty common IME as a youth in Westchester, but then my mom loved dusty old luncheonettes, so.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:43 PM
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Are your positions that American Beauty was, or was not, bad; that John Wayne was, or was not, perfidious; that Dook basketball does, or does not, suck!!?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:43 PM
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291: But The Elementary Particles has a happy ending!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:44 PM
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Was, was, and does, dear Benjamin. And I'll whip any man in this here town what disagrees.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:44 PM
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American Beauty was awful.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:46 PM
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You know who loves dusty old luncheonettes? Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer.

I remember reading the essay by Franzen in which he saw fit to slag on Gaddis. Come to think of it, maybe it's reaction to that that saw the star of The Recognitions rise among the successors of n?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:46 PM
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Those aren't very contrarian positions.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:47 PM
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Houllebecq's stance fits an angsty adolescent, not an adult. There are people who can pull off a literary voice of sustained rage and discontent, but it takes a special touch to be successful, I think. Bukowski, maybe Alfred Jarry. It's a specialized literary mode, not a stream-of-consciousness.

IMO controlled minimalism fits rage and despair best-- La Rochefoucauld,


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:47 PM
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American Beauty was awful.

But! It had titties! Don't forget where you are!


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:48 PM
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Does La Rochefoucauld really rage?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:48 PM
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I liked Elementary Particles because it didn't sugarcoat middle-aged satyriasis. It didn't paint the main character as anything other than a creep.

right, there's no pretense of being a "nice guy". The obsession with sexuality is seen as one part of an overarching human selfishness. It's the one that manifests itself in periods of material plenty, like ours, where you don't have to worry about getting enough to eat (although as the animal brother Bruno has some great eating scenes).

Also, in both "Platform" and "Elementary Particles" there's an escape route from the obsession with sex. In Elementary Particles it's the saintly, celibate brother, who is every bit as important to the book as the sex-obsessed one.

Houllebecq is a pretty sly writer, he's so accessible and easy to read -- he almost goes down like a great Emerson-esque net rant at times -- that you can skip past the artfulness.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:51 PM
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299: You should read the Ben Marcus essay linked above. Gaddis, etc.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:52 PM
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I punch like an adult, not like an angsty adolescent, lw.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:52 PM
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Those aren't very contrarian positions.

The Academy, the Plain People of America, and the the Doug Neidermeyers of Last Night's Shots would disagree, but I'm glad you have my back.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:53 PM
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No, he's despair. Auden's controlled and angry sometimes. I was actually thinking of Satie. Mostly this is pointless generalization, I guess. Always a way to seed disagreement, sorry.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:54 PM
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Those aren't very contrarian positions for one of your sort to hold, I mean.

305, and 299 cont'd: because naturally the successors of n couldn't have spontaneously come to Gaddis, I guess is the thrust of my speculation. There must be some reason to dislike them!


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:56 PM
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punch like an adult,

self-defeating. Adults lie, steal, and sue.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:57 PM
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Houllebecq's stance fits an angsty adolescent, not an adult.

sure, sure, but part of his point is that modern culture serves to massively magnify the angsty adolescent part of human nature, and it's much harder to escape from this than you'd think. It's a worthy literary topic. I don't think human beings ever fully escape from the adolescent stage any more than we truly escape from the insecurities of childhood.

IMO controlled minimalism fits rage and despair best-- La Rochefoucauld,

I agree that La Rochefoucauld is a very great writer who is often underrated. (Nietzsche learned a lot from him). Greater than Houllebecq, certainly, although they are recognizably from the same culture. If you want the truly "great writer" version of Houllebecq look to Celine.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 2:58 PM
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310: Maybe in your sissified part of the world.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 3:00 PM
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I tried to read the Ben Marcus essay and was instructed to look for Harper's on the newsstand.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 3:00 PM
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Those aren't very contrarian positions for one of your sort to hold, I mean.

I'm not asserting that I am a bold contrarian; I'm saying that these particular subjects have a peculiar ability to heat up my blood. There's no reason that Wayne's red-baiting or Alan Ball's dopey misogyny should get me riled, but there you have it. Let this song I'm singing be a warning!


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 3:01 PM
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Step outside and say so again.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 3:01 PM
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309: Ben, you've lost me for the moment. I gather you're talking about n+1? And they have a preoccupation with Gaddis? And Ben Marcus and Franzen are somehow associated with this?

I don't know.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 3:02 PM
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315: I'm already outside. I comment exclusively from the outside, on horseback.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 3:06 PM
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Hasn't it been pretty widely accepted among the cognoscenti that American Beauty is the prime exemplar of that genre of "respected" artsy Oscar-ambitious movies which in fact totally suck?

Speaking of movies, as I noted in the other thread, the Coen brothers' new "Burn After Reading" is worth seeing.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 3:07 PM
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My impression is the same as 318. Everyone now hate American Beauty. I would defend it, but I don't want to anger up snarkout's blood.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 3:12 PM
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Smart man. I'd hate to knock you off your horse.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 3:18 PM
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I tried to read the Ben Marcus essay and was instructed to look for Harper's on the newsstand.

Does your school library have a subscription? You can probably access the online version that way, if you care a lot. Or if you want a biscuit.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 3:19 PM
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318, 319- The Ben Marcus thing was more or less claiming that Franzen and his ilk are the literary equivalent of American Beauty. All tryin to be fancy and artistic and still "accessible", but sucking instead


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 3:20 PM
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the Coen brothers' new "Burn After Reading" is worth seeing

What's the original?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 3:20 PM
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I emailed you, snarkout, just like you said to do.

321: maybe through some service or other. I guess I could "check it out", as the kids say.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 3:21 PM
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Actually, I rather liked American Beauty.

But then again I have nothing against the middle brow. Nor do I have a problem with high brow pretending to be low brow, low brow struggling to be high brow, or Garrison Keillor.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 3:28 PM
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Um, American Beauty wasn't uniformly bad. Annette Bening was good, Kevin Spacey was OK, the domestic scenes were nicely done, I thought. A lot depends on how badly grating the romance was for people, I guess-- I just rolled my eyes.

Commercial and artistically sound aren't disjoint categories; maybe the criticism is focused on disproportionate acclaim rather than modestly successful and basically pleasant bits of work?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 3:29 PM
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Seems like it would be hard to have class what with a bunch of adults filling up the hallway and cafeteria all day.

Around here the schools that are precincts use the gym, which generally has its own entrance/exit. In the precinct I worked last year the voting enclosure was in a dance classroom that had its own exterior doors. It's a valid point but I haven't personally seen a setup that caused too much distraction or disruption.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 3:29 PM
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Rob is one of the rare brow-neutral idealists so thoroughly despised the various brow-identified folk. A lonely position -- like that of Jesus, or the first crusaders against slavery, or the Marquis de Sade, or Ted Kazynski.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 3:33 PM
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Seems like there should be a German word for brow neutrality. Or at least a word in German that could be borrowed for such purposes. Not knowing German puts me at a disadvantage.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 3:41 PM
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Annette Bening was good, Kevin Spacey was OK, the domestic scenes were nicely done, I thought.

Annette Benning was wasted in a ridiculous, misogynistic role; Kevin Spacey was self-indulgent; and the whole thing was incredibly irritating from start to finish. Sez me.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 3:43 PM
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Of course, the neutrality part would be handled by the Swiss, which sounds German.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 3:43 PM
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325: Actually, I rather liked American Beauty.

I was scrolling down to the bottom to post precisely that. Because I'm unique, the reason is. Plus I'm a sucker and I have neither taste nor good judgment. Anyone want to buy a barely used Bowflex?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 3:44 PM
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I liked the part where the credits ran.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 3:52 PM
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Annette Benning was wasted in a ridiculous, misogynistic role

Not wasted. Many other actresses would have made that character a harpy. She was merely a shrew.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 3:57 PM
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The plastic bag was nice.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 4:02 PM
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American Beauty is not at all a "good" movie, but the inevitable backlash to its over-praise means that it's now probably slightly underrated. It's a pretty decent, if dumb and pretentious, family melodrama (a "woman's picture," as they used to say) with some good photography and pretty good acting.

The first two seasons of Six Feet Under, also by Alan Ball, were affirmatively good IMO. Actually, Brenda on that show dealt better with some Houllebecq-esque themes than anything Houllebecq himself ever wrote.

What really irritates me about Houllebecq isn't so much the unrealistically adolescent view of the world (although I think it is both adolescent and unrealistic) but how unbelievably didactic he is.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 4:11 PM
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Oh. You weren't talking about "American Splendor".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 4:15 PM
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I liked American Splendor.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 4:20 PM
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||
A TV news anchor who doesn't even own a TV.
|>


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 4:25 PM
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I didn't really like Six Feet Under, although I expected to. I just couldn't sit through it, it seemed staged and artificial, with a weirdly didactic undertone. Though not as bad as American Beauty, which seemed to scream LOOK AT MY SEARING CRITIQUE OF THE SUBURBS. I'm fine with critiquing the suburbs, it's a standby theme in post-WWII American art, but the annoying thing about AB was that it was a foreigners view of the American suburbs, mechancial and shallow and not rooted in any first hand knowledge. Plus self-congratulatory and unaware of what an almost cliched theme this was. I preferred the 80s rock video takes on boring suburban life, where the heavy metal band starts, the teacher whips off her glasses and lets down her hair, and the students start throwing desks. At least it's not pretentious, has an entertaining soundtrack and good hair.

Strange what we do and don't find didactic. I think a lot of artists are heavy-handed in various ways, but how we react to that heavy-handedness depends on how we feel about the authors underlying persona. I always felt that Alan Ball was sort of smug and superior, while Houllebecq was a guy who really, honestly, didn't like his life and his society and yearned for more than it gave him, and wrote out of that. But liking Houllebecq better than Alan Ball probably does make me a worse person.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 4:29 PM
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Has everyone already seen this campaign ad? It's pretty awesome.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 4:34 PM
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I think a lot of artists are heavy-handed in various ways, but how we react to that heavy-handedness depends on how we feel about the authors underlying persona

Really, Mr. Stone, I had no idea you felt that way about Viet Nam.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 4:35 PM
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This one's interesting too.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 4:35 PM
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Well, when Obama wins, I hope he thanks the witch doctors.
http://www.injesus.com/index.php?module=message&task=view&MID=CB007FA2&GroupID


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 4:39 PM
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340 -- It helps if you realize that Six Feet Under's not really about the suburbs at all, but is actually one of the more perceptive shows about life in LA for its long-time, non-Hollywood residents-- it's one of the better depictions the weird way in which people maintain single family, whitebread-seeming homes in the middle of a truly bizarre and diverse urban culture.

I admit that this is a personal and idiosyncratic reaction to that show, though, since I live a few blocks away from the house used to film the Fisher House. I think most people don't even know where the show is set.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 4:39 PM
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341: the irony being that contra the last line in the ad, *you* actually can't bring real change to Washington. But Heebie-Geebie can!

342: Oliver Stone is some level beyond heavy-handed, there's some other category for him.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 4:40 PM
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340 -- It helps if you realize that Six Feet Under's not really about the suburbs at all, but is actually one of the more perceptive shows about life in LA for its long-time, non-Hollywood residents-- it's one of the better depictions the weird way in which people maintain single family, whitebread-seeming homes in the middle of a truly bizarre and diverse urban culture.

I admit that this is a personal and idiosyncratic reaction to that show, though, since I live a few blocks away from the house used to film the Fisher House. I think most people don't even know where the show is set.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 4:40 PM
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340 -- It helps if you realize that Six Feet Under's not really about the suburbs at all, but is actually one of the more perceptive shows about life in LA for its long-time, non-Hollywood residents-- it's one of the better depictions the weird way in which people maintain single family, whitebread-seeming homes in the middle of a truly bizarre and diverse urban culture.

I admit that this is a personal and idiosyncratic reaction to that show, though, since I live a few blocks away from the house used to film the Fisher House. I think most people don't even know where the show is set.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 4:41 PM
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Well, that was embarassing.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 4:42 PM
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345: yeah, the suburban stuff was meant to apply to AB, I never quite got Six Feet Under at all, what it was supposed to be doing, except that everyone was very clever and there was supposed to be something profound happening. But as usual with art you don't viscerally enjoy, I never gave it the time or attention it would take to understand it. Your take is interesting.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 4:42 PM
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350 applies equally to 347 and 348.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 4:43 PM
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Los Angeles is 72 suburbs in search of a city


Posted by: Dorothy Parker | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 4:44 PM
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And Mexican gangsters run at least 22 of them!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 4:48 PM
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341 is awesome. I love AARP, and steal their magazine to read whenever I get my hands on one.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 4:49 PM
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354: Careful, AWB, some of those retired people can be surprisingly vicious when you try to steal their reading materials.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 4:57 PM
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AWB would be wise not to mess with my reading matter.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 5:07 PM
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I'm remembering a particularly awesome issue from six years ago in which the AARP mag was promoting the phenomenon of "ElderCool" by talking about the affinities of hipsters for especially awesome old people like Johnny Cash and old blues guys. It went on to explain how, if you're an old person having a hard time connecting with your teenage grandkids, you could very easily win their hearts by, like, not trying to be cool in their way, but by being yourself and not giving a fuck about pretending you're a prude. I can see how that backfires, in the case of grandparents not giving a fuck and being openly racist and shit, but I can see how it would work. One of the only memorable interactions I ever had with my grandmother was when she was on a lot of Xanax and started telling me about the boyfriends she had before my grandfather. Very hot stuff. I was impressed.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 5:13 PM
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The way to AWB's heart is known.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 5:26 PM
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You young whippersnappers haven't suffered until you've been forced to read Elsie Dinsmore. Elsie made Pollyanna [Carebears, to you] look like a serial killer on crack.


Posted by: DominEditrix | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 5:29 PM
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I don't find Houllebecq didactic because I don't think he knows what his point is. I have no idea what the point of Elementary Particles was, and I doubt Houllebecq does either.

I didn't think that Annette Bening's character in AB was that misogynistic, just because Kevin Spacey's character was equally as unlikeable. In so far as it was a movie about the suburbs, it was uninteresting. As a dark comedy about midlife crises, it was pretty good.

Hmm. I liked by Elementary Particles and American Beauty more than the median Unfoggedtarian. I wonder if it's because when something has an objectively unlikeable main character, I read/view it with a great deal of critical distance. (There's also the alternative explanation, that I'm just a clod. The fact that I just discovered that I like the kazoo version of "The Final Countdown" is evidence for the latter.)


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 5:39 PM
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Sausagely lights the W-lfs-n Signal:

at the same time one has to keep in mind that white male suburbanites are just much more conservative than are non-white males or white males who live in big cities or white women.

Or is that the Apo Signal?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 6:08 PM
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350: I never quite got Six Feet Under at all, what it was supposed to be doing, except that everyone was very clever and there was supposed to be something profound happening.

You and I will never get along. That was a great show. You kinda had to watch the series in order; if it wasn't given that time and attention, fail.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 6:12 PM
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357: I'm remembering a particularly awesome issue from six years ago in which the AARP mag was promoting the phenomenon of "ElderCool" by talking about the affinities of hipsters for especially awesome old people like Johnny Cash and old blues guys. It went on to explain how, if you're an old person having a hard time connecting with your teenage grandkids, you could very easily win their hearts by, like, not trying to be cool in their way, but by being yourself and not giving a fuck about pretending you're a prude.

Sorry to quote at length, but this is fascinating. You realize it's a younger person's version of: elders are actually interesting. Who knew! Hey, you guys, check this out! Older people don't actually suck and should just die and all like that!

We older people approve.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 6:28 PM
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What I like about it is that it's advice for the older people. "Old people! Younger people have noticed that you might actually be interesting, and like it. So stop pretending to be uninteresting, since nobody wins when you do that."


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 6:38 PM
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I thought Parsimon and AWB were separated by like 8 years.

I sometimes look forward to being an old person because I prefer to be dignified than to be wacky. But yes, that won't actually work.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 6:44 PM
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364: I don't know, this confuses me. Are older people pretending to be uninteresting?

I didn't think they were. But obviously younger people think they are, not just uninteresting, but pretending to be so. I'm not seeing that. The only example we have so far of what's interesting is AWB's grandma's boyfriend stories.

The younger people should try to be interesting to the older people as well.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 6:46 PM
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The younger people should try to be interesting to the older people as well.

That reminds me, I haven't called my grandfather to talk about the Phillies winning the pennant.

Let's see, he might be asleep now.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 6:47 PM
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Portraits of older people are frequently more interesting than those of younger ones.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 6:51 PM
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I saw the first six episodes of Six Feet Under, and didn't see what the fuss was about. As far as I could tell, it was a wry exploration of how life is complicated, a genre that doesn't do much for me.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 6:51 PM
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364: I don't know, this confuses me. Are older people pretending to be uninteresting?

Don't you think people at least sometimes tamp down the expression of their enthusiasms and ideosyncrasies because they think others will consider them dull or incomprehensible or unseemly or something? I suspect that dynamic comes up a fair amount with the way people act around their grandkids. It certainly comes up the other way around, where people tiptoe around the presumed delicate old-person sensibilities of their grandparents.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 6:52 PM
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You have to be careful to avoid angrying up their blood.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 6:53 PM
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The younger people should try to be interesting to the older people as well.

AARP isn't in the best position to address that issue. Plus, I suspect that people tend to stress more about winning over their distant grandchildren than vice versa. Perhaps on the level of what is right and good it should not be so, but this was presented as practical advice for the problem of feeling that you are failing to connect with the younger folk.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 6:54 PM
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Okay, good enough. I understand that the grandparents are in a position in which they must try to win over the grandkids. Sucks, but there.

More generally, people do of course tamp down their enthusiasms; we all do. I don't know what to say about this, except that if we think we can, like, handle it -- something which seems to be in question -- we'd be better off.

Apologies; I'm hungry and therefore cranky, and have a hot bowl of black bean soup right here!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 7:17 PM
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Robert Halford is triply perceptive in 347 et seq.

I'm a big 6FU fan -- one of the reasons I want to write television. I think it's got the best female characters on TV aside from Buffy. It's more melodramatic that Deadwood and the Sopranos, which is why I think it's slightly denigrated compared to those. But I had my gob smacked by many, many episodes, and the last one left me sobbing.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 7:20 PM
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I don't think old people pretend to be uninteresting so much as they are afraid of demonstrating a lack of gravitas. Plus they like setting a good example so they feel obligated to disapprove of interesting young stories, and to be reticent about their own interesting stories.

None of my own grandparents ever did this, and they are all my favorite people to get drunk with. Everybody wins!


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 7:22 PM
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for example, when I told my grandfather the story about how I made out with a Marine in Rwanda who turned out to be gay, my grandfather's response was "huh. That anecdote really improved my impression of the military. I thought they were all pretty, you know, blah, toe the line, these days. Good to know things haven't changed too much."


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 7:26 PM
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374: I think it's got the best female characters on TV aside from Buffy

I'm with you except for this. I liked Buffy, but let's face it, the female characters were all hot chix in one way or another. Not so with Six Feet Under, for which I praise them to the heavens.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 7:29 PM
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I don't think old people pretend to be uninteresting so much as they are afraid of demonstrating a lack of gravitas. Plus they like setting a good example so they feel obligated to disapprove of interesting young stories, and to be reticent about their own interesting stories.

Precisely. I don't think anyone is aiming for uninteresting as their goal, but pretending to be less interesting than one is is often the result.

"huh. That anecdote really improved my impression of the military. I thought they were all pretty, you know, blah, toe the line, these days. Good to know things haven't changed too much."

Yay, Granddad Messily!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 7:32 PM
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378: I know, right? My grandparents are the best.

My uncle got all annoyed with me one time because I said "fuck" on my blog. "You know your grandmother [his mother] reads that!"

I was all "well yes, she is a grownup though. I'm pretty sure she knows that word already. She probably knows I say it sometimes, too."

My other (step) grandmother was full of stories about being a single woman living in Greenwich Village right after the war. There was a lot of whiskey in those stories.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 7:39 PM
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Cecily et al., those are cool stories, but it's also the perspective of older people that one would like to be graced with, have access to. If being interesting is what's sought, it doesn't have to harken to the past, with stories akin to our own (about how they all messed around too, just like us, though that 's true).

Mm, I'm not inclined to make more of this now. I'm sounding grumpy. Point is just that looking backward seems to be the primary perspective offered older people as a way to be vibrant, and it makes me sad (it's really wrong, I wanted to say).


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:05 PM
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I kind of trailed off reading this thread, but thanks due to TLL for reminding me of Alvin Fernald. Those books ruled.

Also futuristic old people are neat, what with the shiny jumpsuits and enormous, boatlike flying cars.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:11 PM
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I disagree; I think the response to/willingess to tell any interesting story is the key. I wouldn't tell my grandparents interesting stories about myself if I were trying to keep it G rated, and they wouldn't tell me interesting stories about themselves if they were trying to "set a good example". When the stories took place (if they ever really did) is irrelevant, except that younger people with no families and jobs are maybe more likely to participate in crazy shenanigans.

This is as applicable to jokes, movies, politics and whatever else people talk about as it is to personal experiences. And I don't think "older people" have a particularly different perspective on anything much; the perspective of being unable to reach across generational gaps cuts both ways.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:12 PM
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Or I guess, I don't disagree that it's looking backward as the primary way for older people to be vibrant is wrong; I disagree that that was what was being demonstrated or extolled by the preceding comments.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:15 PM
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it's


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:16 PM
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I'm glad that before my grandfather the minister died I got to tell him about that crazy night where we got all fucked up on acid and went up on the roof of that tranny drug dealer with AIDS's house and threw toilet paper tubes filled with black powder off the roof.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:19 PM
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I disagree that that was what was being demonstrated or extolled by the preceding comments.

Fair enough. But I do think older people have a different perspective on things, and might like to talk about different sorts of things. We'll have to differ on that.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:20 PM
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I'm sure he's really glad too.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:21 PM
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I think Sifu might be trying to make a point here.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:22 PM
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But I do think older people have a different perspective on things, and might like to talk about different sorts of things.

That's just your age.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:22 PM
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Toilet paper tubes? That's senseless.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:23 PM
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388: never!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:24 PM
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I liked both American Beauty and the first two seasons of "Six Feet Under". The latter seems a bit more heavy-handed to me than the former. I guess I didn't see either of them as advancing a particular critique of the suburbs though. (There is that one episode of SFU where the mother and daughter go to visit their really annoying deep-suburban [like Antelope Valley or whatever, assuming Mike Davis didn't make it up] counterparts and it's all creepy and they run away.)

Frankly, and I suppose the more learned amongst you may sneer, I kinda thought American Beauty had anarchist tendencies. Not in any brilliantly original way, but at least we're not stuck with the same old recuperation-of-the-nuclear-family horseshit as in The Ice Storm or similar works. And if you're going to rip off someone's outre structure, you might as well rip off Billy Wilder.

I really need to start watching more movies again. I did get to see Death Race recently, which is definitely going on the syllabus of my fantasy class in Bad Movies. (There would probably be a whole Jason Statham Actioner subsection to the class, actually.)


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:24 PM
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390: yeah it didn't work as well as we'd hoped.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:24 PM
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MY point is, being "older" doesn't seem to me to be the most pertinent differential characteristic here- some old people would love to hear about acid and tranny drug dealers and black powder, and some young people wouldn't. You gotta choose your discourse community wisely, as always, but "older people do x" seems to create more problems than it solves.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:26 PM
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Death Race? Try a thriller about class struggle, "Frozen River". Well, there aren't any wealthy people in the movie, but there are struggling people.

||

Baffling Guantanamo/Vandeveld update: US drops charges against Binyam Mohamed, Noor Uthman Muhammed, Sufyiam Barhoumi, Ghassan Abdullah al-Sharbi and Jabran Said bin al-Qahtani.

|>


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:26 PM
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Have any of you ever experienced an erection lasting more than four hours? Whose was it?

Is that just a come-on for guys who want bragging rights for 3 3/4 hr erectios?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:26 PM
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pertinent

There are a bunch of philosophers here, you're supposed to use the word "salient"


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:27 PM
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but "salient" makes me think of drooling. I'm a descriptivist; words mean what I want them to mean!


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:28 PM
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Or "seminal". "Seminal" is always good.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:28 PM
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[like Antelope Valley or whatever, assuming Mike Davis didn't make it up]

Antelope Valley is weird, but I dunno if I'd describe it as "deep suburban"; more "desert-y meth".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:29 PM
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"the most importantest significant thing of all the things I'm saying"


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:29 PM
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A four hour erection would be salient and possibly pertinent, but not seminal.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:32 PM
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394: yeah if I'm going to be completely honest, I was conflating several characters in my anecdote, one of whom -- who was a drug dealer and actually only looked like a tranny -- was in her seventies.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:32 PM
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you should probably check with her before telling the story to any more ministers then. You don't want to get her on the wrong side of The Lord!


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:34 PM
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although, I guess that is me just making ageist assumptions about God, who probably likes a racy anecdote just as much as the next guy.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:35 PM
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Was your grandmother a tranny or a drug dealer? Your narrative is confused.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:36 PM
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405: GOD IS A GUY? SEXIST

AND YOUR WUSSY ANECDOTES MAKE ME THINK NO HIGHER OF YOU ALL


Posted by: YOUR OPINIONATED GRANDMA | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:41 PM
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406: so was she, apparently.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:45 PM
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Tranny drug dealer minister of the gospel grandmother dying of AIDS and throwing poorly constructed black-powder bombs at her grandson from the roof? Let's get to the bottom of this. (Where's Megan when you need her? She knows about fun.)


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 8:50 PM
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Has everyone already seen this campaign ad? It's pretty awesome.

Hahaha. It wouldn't load when I was at school, and it was just a fluke that I happened think to go back and watch it at home.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 9:03 PM
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Sorry, parsimon. Once again, I forgot to add the context. My grandmother is a semi-catatonic agoraphobe who has not discussed anything other than crossword puzzles in my lifetime, and has not willingly left the house in forty years. She doesn't watch the news, or any movie rated anything other than G or PG. She's an extreme example of Grandma Who Has Nothing To Talk About Syndrome. I don't have to talk about my other grandmother's past to find her interesting, but paranoid emotionally-housebound silent and still grandma is rather hard to make chitchat with.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 9:11 PM
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411: No, no, I wasn't targeting your example specifically; it was just the first one mentioned. Just that younger people generally seem only to be able to connect with older ones on their own (the former's) terms. But thanks for the clarification.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 9:15 PM
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I have to say, before this thread goes dormant, that the title is completely hilarious, especially when I read it in my head in this high-pitched Southern grandma voice that AWB does sometimes. "Ah sayed, 'Shake mah claw hayund.'"


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 9:18 PM
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413: Hee! That's my grandfather, exactly. If you added "Gimme some shugga!" and a "Hawneh? Bring me haffa haffa piece a pie!" it would be complete.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 9:20 PM
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ROTFL!


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 9:22 PM
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415 in all seriousness.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 9:25 PM
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No love for my mix? I'm going to go pout now.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 9:25 PM
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I'm never going to find out what LC stands for, am I?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 9:54 PM
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418: Little Caveman.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 9:58 PM
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Licensed Cutpurse.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 10:13 PM
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LongCat.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 10:53 PM
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There are a bunch of philosophers here, you're supposed to use the word "salient"

This is 100% true.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:48 PM
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As a noun.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-21-08 11:55 PM
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Also "agency".


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-22-08 12:04 AM
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The word "salient" has been retired in honor of the dead at Verdun.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-22-08 6:05 AM
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425 comments and yet no love for Corduroy...

Or The Sailor Dog. That one was always disconcerting. He goes off to sea all on his own. And if he's such a-place-for-everything-and-everything-in-its-place type, why doesn't he do a neater job on the driftwood house, and on stacking the bricks for the chimney?



Posted by: Amit | Link to this comment | 10-22-08 6:48 AM
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Houllebecq wrote a wonderful little study of HP Lovecraft. It isn't what you might call disciplined, but it certainly is interesting.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 10-22-08 7:45 AM
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Seems like there should be a German word for brow neutrality. Or at least a word in German that could be borrowed for such purposes.

Meisterbrow.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 10-22-08 9:46 AM
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+"an"


Posted by: Amit | Link to this comment | 10-22-08 5:55 PM
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430

429 is a god-damned lie.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 1:41 AM
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Trying to get the last word on some old threads, Sifu?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10-25-08 1:44 AM
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