Pixel Scroll 11/1/17 Surely This Has Been Done Already?

(1) TALESPINNER. Ken Liu’s Star Wars book is out today.

Star Wars: Legends of Luke Skywalker [is] a set of tall tales about the Jedi Knight that have been passing from cantina to freighter and from mouth to audio receptor ever since a certain farm boy left Tatooine for the wider galaxy far, far away…

Devan Coggan interviews me for Entertainment Weekly: “Ken Liu Tells Star Wars Tall Tales in The Legends of Luke Skywalker:

Legends follows a number of young deckhands working aboard a ship bound for Canto Bight (a casino world featured in the upcoming The Last Jedi). Together, they swap six different stories about Luke, each passed down from a different storyteller. One comes from a droid who claims to have witnessed Luke singlehandedly lead a droid rebellion, while another comes from a tiny, flea-like creature who claims to have had a pivotal role in Luke’s escape from Jabba’s palace. One of the particular highlights is the tale told by a former Imperial engineer, who says that Luke Skywalker was nothing but a piece of propaganda made up by the Rebellion. The real Luke is a con artist named Luke Clodplodder, who orchestrated a massive scam with his friends aboard a ship called the Century Turkey.

(2) BORDERLANDS GETS ITS PERMANENT HOME. Via Shelf Awareness, the good news: “Success: Borderlands will buy Haight St. building thanks to its fans”.

Unable to secure a large loan from a bank, Beatts put the question to Borderlands’ clientele – would they be interested in funding the purchase for 1373 Haight St?

They were. In 18 days, lenders put up $1.9 million.

Recycled Records currently occupies the building, but the record store owner was planning to retire after the sale of the building, Beatts said.

Were any lessons learned?

“I learned that I’m the kind of person who can raise close to two million dollars in two and a half weeks, that was a surprise. I also learned that, if you really want to achieve your goal, you have to pursue every single solution,” Beatts wrote in an email to Mission Local.

He’d made offers on two other buildings before Haight Street panned out, and had toyed with other funding models before settling on the patron loan approach.

(3) IN THE SLAM. SPECPO visits Minneapolis: “Outreach report: The Not-So-Silent Planet [MN]”.

This month I had the chance to see the work of the folks at Word Sprout who organize The Not-So-Silent Planet.

As a regular event, The Not-So-Silent Planet currently holds the distinction of being the longest-running speculative literature slam in Minneapolis, Minnesota at the famed Kieran’s Pub. We’ll have to do some research to verify, but so far it seems like it may also well be the longest-running speculative literature slam in the country or even the cosmos. But then again, space is a very big place.

Typically held in the Poet’s Room at Kieran’s, it’s an evocative space with great energy and a supportive and enthusiastic audience. For an October reading they had almost a dozen readers and audience members including their special guest Kyle Dekker, organizer Phillip Andrew Bennett Low, and Riawa Thomas-Smith. There was a good mix of poetry, short stories, flash fiction, and experimental works.

(4) GIRLS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN. Io9’s Charles Pulliam-Moore tells how “The Gotham City Sirens Are Taking Over Riverdale in Harley and Ivy Meet Betty and Veronica”‘.

The premise to DC and Archie Comics’ crossover special Harley and Ivy Meet Betty and Veronica reads like a piece of fan fiction, something television or film studio executives dream about but would never dare actually writing. Obviously, this is why the comic’s first two issues, written by Marc Andreyko and Paul Dini with illustrations from Amanda Conner and Laura Braga, so damned good. They’re so ridiculously absurd, it’s almost impossible not to enjoy the hell out of them. [SPOILERS FOLLOW]

Daniel Dern sent the link with a comment: “Looked fun when I skimmed the new issue (#2) at the comic store, I’ll wait until the six issues are available as borrowable book (or issues show up via one of the legitimate free/low-cost digital comic services I’m using).”

(5) ANOTHER CASUALTY. Book World customers are going into mourning – the chain is shuttering its 45 stores: “Closing the books: Book World to close all its stores and liquidate inventory”.

Book lovers in the Brainerd area are likely to shed a tear at Tuesday’s announcement by Book World Inc.—it is closing all its stores because of poor sales and online competition.

The Appleton, Wis.-based company will liquidate all its inventory starting Thursday in an “everything-must-go” sale at all of its 45 locations across seven states, including the one in Baxter.

“We anticipate that running at least through the end of the year … into January, but that’s really contingent on inventory—and certainly staffing plays a part in that, too—but primarily inventory,” said Book World Senior Vice President Mark Dupont.

The family-owned independent chain of bookstores located throughout Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota and Missouri offers a huge selection of books for all ages.

(6) IN THE REARVIEW MIRROR. TIME Magazine anointed this pair the winners of the internet’s Halloween costume contest:  “This Couple Won Halloween By Pranking People With Their ‘Levitating’ Star Wars Bike”.

YouTube vloggers Jesse Wellens and Carmella Rose dressed up as Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia, but not in their classic Star Wars garb. Instead, they dressed as Luke and Leia as rebels zipping through the forest world of Endor from The Return of the Jedi and the only thing missing was an Ewok or two.

While that retro costume would certainly rate well with Star Wars fans, Wellens and Rose had a plan to put their costume over the top. With a little help from some friends at Lithium Cycles, they built a replica of a Speeder Bike that looked like it was actually floating and rode it through the streets of Manhattan. The sight was exhilarating enough that even wizened, seen-it-all New Yorkers couldn’t help but gawk.

 

(7) ON THE BLOCK. Robby the Robot is one of the star attractions in Bonham’s Out of This World auction on November 21.

There’s also a good article about Robby at New Atlas: “The original Robby the Robot goes up for auction”

Forbidden Planet was MGM’s first major science fiction film. Robby cost US$120,000 to build (US$1.2 million in today’s money) and was constructed out of vacuum-form Royalite plastic, acetate, and aluminum with rubber hands, a Perspex transparent “head” and a pair of men’s size 10.5B black leather loafers inside the feet for the actor wearing the 100 to 120 lb (45 to 54 kg)) prop/costume, which was articulated like a suit of armor.

But Robby was more than a suit. He included seven war-surplus electric motors to power his mechanical “scanners” and “brain,” plus a “mouth” made of blue neon tubes run by a 40,000 Volt power source run via a cable out of the robot’s heel or onboard batteries.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born November 1, 1917 — Zenna Henderson
  • Born November 1, 1923 — Gordon R. Dickson

(9) COMICS SECTION

  • John King Tarpinian finds a bittersweet farewell to Halloween in Lio.
  • Mike Kennedy was convinced that it sucks to be chosen after reading today’s Basic Instructions.

(10) DUBIOUS HOLIDAYS FOR CHILDREN. Camestros Felapton is back in full stride, in another argument with Timothy the Talking Cat: “McEdifice Returns: Chapter We’ll Be Back After This Short Break”.

“Well I for one endorse the concept,” replied replied replied Camestros, “After all you made up International Tim Day, Catmas and The Feast of Saint Felix the Squirrel Killer.”

“It is a DISTRACTION you fool! A distraction from our important work!” replied replied replied replied Timothy, slamming his tiny fist-like paw on the desk in front of him. “I need some help from you with this project and you are off doing who knows what for that mechanical fusspot!”

“I was burning what Americans call ‘candy’ in a pre-emptive bonfire night.”

“Bonfire night?”

“Ah, yes – you miss out every year because pets must be hidden on bonfire night. It is an annual British festival of fireworks and municipal arson based on 17th-century anti-Catholicism and remembrance of a time some time tried to blow up parliament but with syncretic elements of pagan pre-winter festivals. Also traditionally children beg for money by demonstrating to adults that they have made an effigy of a man who was tortured to death which they will burn later. It is very traditional.”

“Now who is making stuff up?” said the cat skeptically.

“On reflection Catmas sounds more plausible.” agreed Camestros. “So what help do you need?”

(11) HALLOWEEN FOR THOSE NOT IN THE WORLD SERIES. MLB.com has pictures: “The baseball world pulled off some epic Halloween costumes this year”. Here’s one of them:

(12) THE GREAT UNREAD. Mental Floss revisits “15 Children’s Books No One Reads Now”. The list includes a story that stresses how important it is to stay between the lines.

12. TOOTLE BY GERTRUDE CRAMPTON

Ask anyone about anthropomorphic trains and their first response is likely to be “Thomas the Tank Engine.” Or, if you’re a purist, “The Little Engine That Could.” “Tootle,” first published in 1945, is likely way down the list, if he even comes up at all. But for many years, the industrious engine was on track to become one of the best-selling books of all time.

Andrew Porter says, “Gosh, I have the Little Golden Book of this, which includes numerous wonderful illustrations, including –”

(13) ON OLD OLYMPUS’ TOWERING TOPS. Chip Hitchcock suggests, “Since we’re discussing variations in religion, a note on a fannish religion,” “The Other Reformation: How Martin Luther Changed Our Beer, Too”

On this day 500 years ago, an obscure Saxon monk launched a protest movement against the Catholic Church that would transform Europe. Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation changed not just the way Europeans lived, fought, worshipped, worked and created art but also how they ate and drank. For among the things it impacted was a drink beloved throughout the world and especially in Luther’s native Germany: beer.

The change in beer production was wrought by the pale green conical flower of a wildly prolific plant — hops.

Every hip craft brewery today peddling expensive hoppy beers owes a debt of gratitude to Luther and his followers for promoting the use of hops as an act of rebellion against the Catholic Church. But why did Protestants decide to embrace this pretty flower, and what did it have to do with religious rebellion?

Therein foams a bitter pint of history.

In the 16th century, the Catholic Church had a stranglehold on beer production, since it held the monopoly on gruit — the mixture of herbs and botanicals (sweet gale, mug wort, yarrow, ground ivy, heather, rosemary, juniper berries, ginger, cinnamon) used to flavor and preserve beer. Hops, however, were not taxed. Considered undesirable weeds, they grew plentifully and vigorously — their invasive nature captured by their melodic Latin name, Humulus lupulus (which the music-loving Luther would have loved), which means “climbing wolf.”

(14) TIME TO CONFESS. Keeping up the seasonal theme: “After 20 Years, Can Cornell Finally Bust Open Its Great Pumpkin Mystery?”

In 1997, someone speared a massive pumpkin on the spire atop of Cornell’s McGraw Tower … 173 feet in the air.

No one knew who. No one knew why. And no one knew how.

In fact, for a while, no one even knew — for sure — if it was a pumpkin. Suspicions grew as the gourd lingered on, month after month. But some students figured that one out with the help of a drill attached to a remote-controlled weather balloon, which captured a sample. (Seriously.)

It was definitely a pumpkin.

But the other mysteries remain today. And Farhad Manjoo — Cornell alum, former editor-in-chief of the school paper and now a tech reporter at the New York Times — wants answers.

He calls the pumpkin-ing of the tower “the greatest prank in Cornell history.” And he’s asking the pranksters — or those who love them — to step forward and claim their glory.

(15) SPLASH. More data on Chicxulub: “Asteroid impact plunged dinosaurs into catastrophic ‘winter'”.

An independent group earlier this year used a global climate model to simulate what would happen if 100Gt of sulphur and 1,400Gt of carbon dioxide were ejected as a result of the impact.

This research, led by Julia Brugger from the University of Potsdam, Germany, found global annual mean surface air temperatures would decrease by at least 26C, with three to 16?years spent at subzero conditions.

“Julia’s inputs in the earlier study were conservative on the sulphur. But we now have improved numbers,” explained Prof Morgan.

“We now know, for example, the direction and angle of impact, so we know which rocks were hit. And that allows us to calibrate the generation of gases much better. If Julia got that level of cooling on 100Gt of sulphur, it must have been much more severe given what we understand now.”

(16) STILL GOING AROUND. Play it again: “The firm saving vinyl”.

Whether gathering dust in your loft or currently spinning on your turntable, it’s a fair bet that at least some of your vinyl records came from a small factory in the Czech Republic.

The facility in question is the headquarters of GZ Media, based in the small town of Lodenice, 25km (16 miles) west of the Czech capital, Prague.

GZ is today the world’s largest producer of vinyl records, of which it expects to press 30 million this year, for everyone from the Rolling Stones and U2, to Lady Gaga and Madonna.

The success of the company is a far cry from the early 1990s, when vinyl records appeared to be on the way out, with music fans having switched en masse to compact discs.

(According to an NPR interview a few years ago, Jefferson Airplane bassist Jack Casady is a fan of vinyl.)

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, JJ, Dave Doering, and Daniel Dern for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the diurnal period Acoustic Rob.]

68 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 11/1/17 Surely This Has Been Done Already?

  1. 1) Its only up for our patreons so far, but Julia Rios and I talked to Ken about Star Wars for Skiffy and Fanty.

  2. clicking…

    P.S.

    In a Susan Cooper mood tonight “Pixels on the mountain, shall find the harp of Scroll”

  3. 12) Hmph. I read Pinocchio just last year.

    It’s pretty bad.

    I was amused by the occasionally too-literal translation, as when Pinocchio is reported as saying, “Mother mine!” (The image of Disney’s little puppet saying “Mamma mia!” is irresistible to me.)

  4. (12)
    I have “When We Were Very Young” (and “Now We Are Six”, the other poetry book in that group).

    James James Harrison Harrison Weatherby George DuPree
    Took great care of his mother, though he was only three.

  5. 12) I’ve read both The Water Babies and the original Raggedy Ann by Johnny Gruelle as a kid.

    But a lot of children’s and YA books that lasted a very long time (Enid Blyton, a couple of German ones most people here won’t know) have fallen out of favour in the past 25 years or so. In fact, I’m probably of the last generation that read them. It’s not so much that they’re dated, because those books were already horribly dated by the time I read them in the early 1980s. But since the explosion of children’s and YA books in the past twenty years, there is so much better stuff to read that today’s kids don’t have to put up with hopelessly dated books anymore.

  6. P J Evans on November 1, 2017 at 7:49 pm said:
    Ah, the synapse finally kicked over all the way – that should be “Morrison”, not “Harrison”.

  7. I’ve always preferred old children’s books to newer ones, and now my digital Mt. Tsundoku is even taller, with freebie Kindle editions of Water Babies and History of Sandford and Merton. I couldn’t handle Goody Two Shoes, it makes the Adam Ant song start playing uncontrollably inside my head.

    Don’t pixel, don’t scroll, what do ya do?

  8. That song inevitably reminds me of a story Isaac Asimov told in print about himself, where someone he met at a party tried to get him to drink, and Asimov said he didn’t drink; and then it came out that Asimov didn’t smoke either; and when the person asked him, “What do you do?” Asimov replied, “I fuck a lot.”

  9. 2) BORDERLANDS GETS ITS PERMANENT HOME & 5) ANOTHER CASUALTY – I’ve been following the Borderlands saga somewhat nervously and I’m so delighted the unconventional approach worked. There was also recently a good news story about the Barnes and Noble in Maui, which was slated to close (due to an expiring lease, not lack of business) and was saved due to the outcry from residents and visitors.

    So many stores have closed or will soon though and for me and maybe most of us who love to browse in bookstores, it’s sobering.

    12) I’ve read nine of the 15, thanks mostly to libraries and the few books that survived my mother’s childhood, plus years of buying obscure books in antique stores (Cherry Ames anyone?). A few were delightful (I still have fond memories of Caddie Woodlawn), most didn’t hold up well.

  10. (12) THE GREAT UNREAD

    The list has an american bent, but I did read some Hardy Boys as a boy.
    I’m not sure if I ever read The Water Babies, but the movie – with the confusing shift from live action to animation – was a childhood fave.

  11. @Charon D.

    Pixel and the Pants present Scroll Music

    Soooo unplug your Kindle
    And do us all a favourrrrr
    That genre’s lost its taste
    So try another flavourrrrr –
    ‘scroll music'(oh, oh, oh, oh, oh) ‘scroll music’
    ‘scroll music’ ‘scroll music’

  12. 12)
    I’ve read the Milne of course, and I’d say it continues to have a venerable place in the UK children’s library.
    I fondly remember Little Black Sambo from my youth, but the region variations are key. In the UK the book had rather quaint illustrations of an Indian boy tricking those pesky tigers and turning them into ghee. A bit patronising perhaps, but that was over 40 years ago and the book wasn’t new then. The US edition though had the offensive pictures.

  13. Title credit again! What has been will be again, and what has been scrolled will be scrolled again; there is nothing new under the pixel.

    (obscifi ref: But there are new pixels.)

    (12) I’ve read about half of the books on the list. I devoured all the Hardy Boys books I could get my hands on–it took me a while before I realized how formulaic they were–and fondly remember Tootle.

    (14) happened after I graduated from Cornell but I remember reading the coverage as it happened. Truly one of the great college pranks.

    (6) reminded me of another video I’d seen before and sure enough, it’s the same people who flew Aladdin’s flying carpet through NYC a few years back.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqlrru1V69E

    I’m not sure which I’d rather have, a speeder bike or a flying carpet, but those are two of my favorite SFF-flavored ways of getting around.

  14. Caddie Woodlawn was required reading when I was in fourth grade. I had Raggedy Ann, Raggedy Andy, and Raggedy Ann in Cookieland when I was 7 or 8. I still have my copy of Raggedy Ann in Cookieland.

  15. I read Tootles this year. We have some “classic” kid’s books we were passed on by my mother in law, who collected children’s books in anticipation of grandchildren. I thought it was cute but not worth getting a better copy or trying to interest the kids.

    I read Milne of my own free will. And not just in childhood.

    There’s a mystery regarding James James Morrison Morrison. Pamela Dean’s Secret Country books have the kids SINGING the poem, and playing the tune on (IIRC) a flute separate from the lyrics. I have never found any tune related thereto.
    (and, P J Evans, it’s “Took VERY good care of his mother”. due to Scansion.)

  16. I have a vague memory of reading “Little Black Sambo” when I was a young child. If memory serves, the tiger turned into butter (I don’t remember anything about “ghee”)… which even as a young child made absolutely no sense to me. I agree, my fuzzy memories of the artwork are that it was VERY racist (big red lips; wide white eyes…) although as a kid I was, of course, oblivious.

    I also read “Hitty”. At least, I’m pretty sure I did. Is that the one where at the end the little stick doll is accidentally grafted onto an (I think) apple tree…?

    I not only read “When We Were Very Young”, I committed several of the poems to memory.

    The Hardy Boys books were aggressively marketed as BOYS books, so I never read them. I read the Nancy Drew books instead. (And was perplexed by what kind of car a “roadster” was, that Nancy drove on her adventures…)

  17. I am very puzzled by the idea that no one reads When We Were Very Young. Though some of the others are clearly read to an extent as well.

    As I know it, it’s
    ‘Took
    Great
    Care of his mother’ – no ‘very’. And it scans fine that way ‘Took’ and ‘Great’ each get a beat to themselves.

    A lot of the poems were set to music by Harold Fraser-Simson (sic), so the tune is presumably one of his.

  18. 16) From what I’ve seen, the vinyl revival has been building steam for a long time and it’s still going strong. Analog recording has a formidable mythology around it and a lot of people are acolytes. There’s actually been griping amongst the scenes I frequent about delays in releasing recordings due to the pressing backlog.

    Maybe that’s why an analog cassette revival boomlet has been riding on the coattails of the vinyl revival—there are full racks of brand new cassettes at my favorite Baltimore record store that are around $5 each.

    If you look at Bandcamp, a lot of artists seem to release a set of boutique physical releases (say 100 albums and 100 cassettes) and then sell unlimited digital copies. The CD is almost lost in the shuffle, which is a shame because I think it’s the best audio format now that we know how to master recordings to a digital medium.

  19. Lenora Rose–I first encountered “James James Morrison Morrison” as a song–it was back in the 1960s, on a Chad Mitchell Trio album. (Pause to Google.) It’s on “Live at the Bitter End,” and (of course) findable on YouTube.

  20. @Andrew: “There have been scrolls. There will be scrolls again.”

    @Lenora Rose: there are tunes for several Milne. I learned “They’re Changing Guards at Buckingham Palace” and Pooh’s days-of-the-week song (I forget the opening line) around 1961; it’s possible that Chad Mitchell merely popularized a previously-obscure tune (attributions on the net being less than rigorous). A cover: Google also finds a much more relaxed setting:
    And my memory agrees with @Andrew’s. The poem as a whole is a crazy mix of 1-, 2-, and 3-beat feet — consider just at the first line, 113332! — so there’s no scansion to match. Notice how the Mitchell cover(?) sets the text.

  21. Well, the news about Borderlands is very nice to hear after the news about Dark Carnival, just across the bay, closing. It’s not as convenient a location for me, but I suspect it’s convenient for a lot of people.

    As far as bookstores overall go, I’ve heard that small, indie bookstores are actually doing fairly well on average, despite the existence of Amazon. This may be true, but my town is slightly down over the last decade (lost two, gained one), despite being a college town.

  22. Contraterrenean Homesick Blues

    @ Nick Pheas
    In the UK the book had rather quaint illustrations of an Indian boy tricking those pesky tigers and turning them into ghee. . . . The US edition though had the offensive pictures.

    The original UK illustrations are plenty offensive, as is the text (parents named “Black Mumbo” and “Black Jumbo” — and these are Indian characters!). [The linked copy is an American reprint, but with Helen Bannerman’s (who was a Scot, born in India) text and illustrations.]

    Phyllis Yuli wrote a book on the history of Little Black Sambo and the associated criticisms.

  23. The NPR story is cute, but I’ve never heard the claim that the Catholic Church had a monopoly of gruit, and I’d like to see Bostwick’s evidence for that claim. Gruit is mostly herbs. How was the Church supposed to prevent people from picking plants?

  24. I think we had a copy of the original little Black Sambo (Who wasn’t named that) which I set aside as looking very, um, dubious by modern standards, if not nearly as dubious as the American illustrations.

  25. Lenora Rose on November 2, 2017 at 10:58 am said:
    Epaminondas is the name I remember from it. (I never took it as anything more than a “just-so” story.)

  26. We had a record with a lot of song recordings of Milne poems as well; unfortunately the record is with my parents (and I’m at work) so I can’t easily check who did it. I can still call a lot of them to mind, the wistful tones of ‘Halfway up the Stairs’, and the marching beat of:

    They’re changing guards at Buckingham Palace (brum, brum, brum, brum)
    Christopher Robin went down with Alice (brum, brum, brum, brum)
    Alice is marrying one of the guard; “A soldier’s life is terrible hard!”
    (Dun duh-da daaah!) Said Alice. (brum, brum, brum, brum)

    The record cover had a special copyright notice for Vespers, which I think they had to get royal assent to do a recording of?

    Then again, I also remember the Muppet Show doing a version of “The King asked the Queen, and the Queen asked the Dairymaid, ‘Could we have some butter for the royal slice of bread?'”

    I think I’ve actually got a Folio Press edition of those poems at home…

  27. I’m an old so I learned to read with Dick and Jane. I had a picture book called Little Brave Sambo, and the illustrations clearly depicted India. I didn’t understand why it was considered racist until I was older and saw other versions. I never read Caddie Woodlawn but it was a favorite book of my best friend in 4th grade. Never read any of the others.

  28. I had a picture book called Little Brave Sambo, and the illustrations clearly depicted India. I didn’t understand why it was considered racist until I was older and saw other versions.

    There is also the animated version from 1935.

  29. They see me scrollin’ my pixel
    I know they’re all thinkin’ I’m so
    White and nerdy

  30. Darren, I had to stop watching that cartoon. I couldn’t stand the casual racism the creators clearly thought was charming…

  31. There’s a Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, or possibly Nancy Drew And The Hardy Boys, comic that just finished it’s first arc recently, a decent noirish take that’s unsurprisingly slightly reminiscent of Veronica Mars.

  32. Anyone here read “The Bobbsey Twins” series? The ones we had may have had horse-and-buggies in them; I’m unclear now. I do know that even as a child I thought they were rather quaint. The one I remember best had them building an Epic Snow Fort. I think they sprayed it lightly with water so it would ice over.

  33. Random observation: For a brief period (a few weeks? a month? more?), when I was browsing Kindle titles on the Amazon website, it would actually show the purchase date on the ones I already owned.

    And for some reason, they have subsequently removed this actually useful & helpful feature, unless I’m missing something obvious.

  34. @Cassy B: I was very bummed to dig out either The Bobbsey Twins or The Happy Hollisters (I read them both as a kid) only to discover there were “colored” people in it. I’d really hoped some of what I’d read as a kid could be safely passed on to my kid. Sigh.

    (I skipped “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” on the The Band CD with the kid in the car, too. It’s a great song that I wish I didn’t love in quite the unthinking way that I do, and so I’m trying not to pass that imprinting on to the next generation. We’ll see how that goes.)

    I do remember the Epic Snow Fort. I wanted to try the trick with the water but never got to.

  35. I was very bummed to dig out either The Bobbsey Twins or The Happy Hollisters (I read them both as a kid) only to discover there were “colored” people in it.

    Or you could just explain to your children how language changes over time. You can’t blame the books for using the correct, non-slur word that was used at the time. (Although I’d kind of like it if the NAACP was renamed to NAAAA.)

  36. I’ve never seen the Little Black Sambo book in any incarnation, though I had (and loved) this pretty offensive children’s book as a kid. And this is a postwar edition – there are older editions which are even more racist. The book is still available, though the title has been changed to “Ten little children”. The illustrations have probably been altered as well.

    @Darren Garrison @World Weary
    Wow, that cartoon is really bad. Worse than some of the censored eleven Looney Tunes/Merry Melodies cartoons.

    @John A. Arkansawyer
    My local radio station frequently plays “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”, probably because the audience has no idea what the lyrics mean and it’s not our history anyway. Besides, that radio station plays all sorts of songs with problematic or just plain rude lyrics that would never be played on the radio in the US such as “Bobby Brown” by Frank Zappa.

  37. Or you could just explain to your children how language changes over time. You can’t blame the books for using the correct, non-slur word that was used at the time. (Although I’d kind of like it if the NAACP was renamed to NAAAA.)

    Reminds me of the time at university when I slammed a “History of the United States” textbook first published in the 1970s onto the desk of the professor who’d recommened it and asked her how she could recommend an academic book that contained racist language. The professor asked to see the offending passage and was shocked. It turned out she’d read the book as a student around the time it was first published and had been recommending it to her students ever since. Apparently, I was the first one who ever complained. It vanished from the class reading list soon thereafter.

  38. @Darren Garrison: “Or you could just explain to your children how language changes over time.”

    It was my opinion that talking about that particular problematic aspect of the text (am I high-falutin’ or what? You should hear me go film critical on the relative merits of Tinker Belle movies versus Barbie movies) was not age-appropriate. Possibly I was wrong, but the kid’s mom and I were in agreement, and there are a lot of great books out there.

    @Cora: I have all the mixed emotions about “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”, written by a Canadian with a local boy helping. I can read it at least three ways that don’t much contradict each other. I have a good understanding of it now, so its power over me is lessened. I love it for what’s good about it with eyes open about the rest.

    Whereas “Bobby Brown” was not a high point of Zappa’s career. It’s well-performed and the vulgarity is exceptionally vulgar. It might have other virtues, but those are all I know of.

  39. @World Weary:

    I’m an old so I learned to read with Dick and Jane.

    So did I. I remember vividly being very sad on the last day of first (?) grade, when we read the last page of Dick and Jane, in which they say “goodbye.”

  40. Thanks for the answer re James James Morrison Mortison.

    The Flash Girls also did a good rendition of Buckingham Palace.

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