Friday, April 12, 2002

Authors of Yesteryear, Part V of VI

John D. Fitzgerald wrote a seven book series about the Great Brain in the 1970s. It was about a boy in a small Utah town at the end of the nineteenth century who was smarter than the average joe. Told from the point of his little brother, the Great Brain spends most of his time swindling his friends and family. An eighth book was published from manuscript after the author's death but I haven't read it. The books were light, enjoyable reading and provided an interesting "historical fiction" look at the old West. The only problem in the series was the first chapter of each book, which was usually a literal repetition of all the family background information necessary to the story. If I were a big musical geek, I could say that reading the series straight through was like a 13-part sonata rondo, but of course, I'm not...

Another good author was Zilpha Keatley Synder, who wrote The Headless Cupid series and a few side novels. I didn't care for many of her books, but the Cupid series was always a winner, with its mixed divorced family getting into strange situations. My favourite Snyder book was The Great Stanley Kidnapping Case, not because the story was so great, but because it had some of the best dialogue in the series. Janie and Tesser were two well done characters in all the books. Of note outside this series was The Egypt Game, Black and Blue Magic, and Eyes in the Fishbowl. I don't really remember why I liked the Egypt Game so much; I have fond but vague impressions of it. Black and Blue Magic was a good coming-of-age story with a dash of magic flying ointment. Eyes in the Fishbowl was probably the oddest book of them all. I didn't really understand it when I read it as a kid, and still didn't understand it much when I read it over Christmas last year. It seems to be a fairly trippy story about strange occurences in a department store after dark. If anyone else has read this and gotten something from it, feel free to enlighten me.

Speaking of creepy doings in department stores after dark, there was a Nickelodeon show in the 80s called Today's Special with a mannequin that came to life after dark, a postman made of play-doh, and a scary looking mouse that talked in rhyming couplets. The only thing scarier than that strange show in my childhood was the big red bird marionette on Pinwheel with cocked eyes that spoke like a cross between a hyena and a Slinky.

Tomorrow: Franklin Dixon, Ellen Raskin, and Brian Jacques

I read The Street Lawyer by John Grisham yesterday, which is like his other law books but with a little bit of moral conscience. It was made more enjoyable by the fact that it was set in D.C. and really felt like it, down to details such as the "freezing rowers on the Potomac". Grisham's books are always good for a little pleasure reading, though they're definitely not worth getting in hardback ever. I used to read them hot off the presses, but lost track of them a few years ago after the horrible Testament.

To finish off the pep band MP3s, here's two more featured arrangements: Verve, an up-tempo swing chart (MP3, 884KB), and X-Marks, your run-of-the-mill "descending seconds bass line with a Lydian melody" rock chart (MP3, 882 KB).

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