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Mary Poppins was a commie

I was four when Mary Poppins was released, and I was obsessed with it. I made my mother take me to see it, like, five times — and I might have gotten a sixth out of her, if I hadn’t made the grandmama of all mother/daughter faux pas.

“Mother,” I asked dreamily, “if you died, what are the chances Papa would marry Julie Andrews?”


Oh, don’t worry. I paid. Yes, I did.


I watched Mary Poppins again last week, and it…really, really doesn’t hold up. The special effects are horrible, the dream sequence in the middle is long and boring and…I didn’t remember it as an anti-capitalist message movie. Three years before the Summer of Love, while the Beatles were singing I Wanna Hold Your Hand, the movie gives off a definite whiff of “fuck this Victorian work ethic shit — let’s get high and fly kites.”

Take the tuppence sequence, where Michael’s father and Mary P offer competing visions of what a little boy could do with two pennies.

Mister Banks the banker advises him to put it in the bank (ooooh…subtle):

You see, Michael, you’ll be part of
Railways through Africa
Dams across the Nile
Fleets of ocean greyhounds
Majestic, self-amortizing canals
Plantations of ripening tea

Mary Poppins offers him a bag of crumbs.

See…even at four, I wasn’t sure Michael chose well.

Many years later, I lived the tuppence-a-bag experience, sitting in London’s Victoria Station flipping bits of my sandwich to the pigeons. “Technically,” Uncle B told me, “those are vermin. You could get arrested if anybody sees you doing that.”

Everything looks sparklier in the movies.

Anyhow, the point is, bad ideas are like bad diseases — you usually have to go WAY back further in time than you think to find Patient Zero.


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 12, 2010, 10:49 pm

…and that’s not even mentioning Dick van Dyke’s famously appalling fake Cockney accent.

The Mary Poppins books — which I didn’t read until my twenties — were very different. Weird and spooky.

Comment from Enas Yorl
Time: July 12, 2010, 11:15 pm

I always thought the concept of hiring servants to raise your kids was kinda weird and spooky. With the rising prevalence of day care centers clearly I’m in the minority on this one.

I never saw Mary Poppins. Come to think of it Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang is a complete miss too. I guess I missed out on the Golden Age of Dick Van Dyke movies.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: July 12, 2010, 11:24 pm

The three things I know about Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang are:

1/ The orignal car actually existed (though it didn’t fly).

2/ Ian Fleming wrote the book but there were no Walther PPKs in it.

3/ It would have been better if there had been.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: July 12, 2010, 11:27 pm

I HATED the movie–because, when it came out, I had long loved the books. Weird and spooky, indeed–and it is utterly impossible to imagine the true Mary Poppins proclaiming that a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down. . .Nor would the sweep–or for that matter Bert the Matchman–in the books behave at all like the movie sweep and. . .

Never mind, I’ll shut up. Bad movie! Bad! Bad!

I still love the books, and I’m still not crazy about the movie. And, Enas Yorl–trust me, Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang (the movie) is even worse, and I didn’t even LIKE that book!

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 12, 2010, 11:37 pm

Yeah, if I’d had the books first, I would have hated the movie.

Same with the Wizard of Oz. The Oz books weren’t as good as the Mary Poppins books, but they were seriously, seriously trippy.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 12, 2010, 11:38 pm

…and such a huge franchise, they kept writing them after Baum died.

Comment from Nina from GCP
Time: July 12, 2010, 11:44 pm

All the above were vastly more entertaining as books than as films, but with that said, I did like MP and CCBB as movies–as long as you didn’t compare them to the books.

Willy Wonka was another example of the same.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 12, 2010, 11:48 pm

I’d go along with that, Nina…except, there’s something about Gene Wilder that makes me want to break out the whaking stick.

The Johnny Depp remake…wasn’t as bad as you’d think, but it wasn’t good. Except, there was one split-second sight gag in the film that I just adored.

Comment from SCOTTtheBADGER
Time: July 12, 2010, 11:50 pm

I always liked Terry Pratchett’s description of someone looking as surprised ” a pigeon that had just learned that Lord Nelson had gotten down from his column, and had been seen buying a 12 guage pump, and a case of shells”.

I agree about Mary Poppins, the one in the book has a zero fluffy content.

As to the OZ books, which I quite like, given the hallucinogenic properties of ergot contaminating rye bread, I suspect that Lyman Frank Baum really, really liked ham on rye sandwiches. The illustrations in some of the books are quite creepy, with the illustrator being unable to draw the porpotions of a childs face, so you would have a small girls body, and 23 year olds face.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: July 13, 2010, 12:00 am

Hunh. Maybe I should reread the Oz books. TWOO was read to me as a child, and I think of it as a beloved childhood book. . .but the last time I reread it was in law school almost 30 years ago, when I read several of the others. . .and didn’t like any of them. But I do find my taste flexes over time. . .Anyway, I like the movie of TWOO well enough, but I think that may be familiarity more than taste.

Never could get excited about Roald Dahl, though. . .so I skipped the Willie Wonka movies.

Comment from SCOTTtheBADGER
Time: July 13, 2010, 12:08 am

I much preferred Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka. There was a certain unstated menace about him, as in when the Oompa Loompa was unsure about the wisdom of taking Mike TeeVee to the taffy stretching room, and wispered his qualms to Wonka, who replied, ” No, no, I won’t hold you personally responsible”. Much, much better, than the effeminate Depp version.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: July 13, 2010, 12:08 am

Nina from GCP says:

All the above were vastly more entertaining as books than as films,

I can only think of one movie that was actually better (way better!) than the book–and that was To Kill a Mockingbird–which took the (overwritten, underplotted, and badly-structured) book and pared it down to the essentials. I really wish the folks who want to make movies would just for crying out loud write their own ORIGINAL material.


Rant done.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 13, 2010, 12:15 am

The illustrations of the Wheelers in Oz totally skeeved me out, Scott. People with wheels for hands and feet. Brrrrr.

I suppose everyone here knows Oz was named for a filing cabinet in Baum’s office? A-N next to O-Z.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: July 13, 2010, 12:34 am

I just wish they’d hire some damned script writers these days, Can’t Hark. They can dispense with the speshul FX for me: just deliver a decent story, not scripted by a committee of Hollywood marketing drones, with spreadsheets for souls.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: July 13, 2010, 12:40 am

Uncle Badger. . .well, yeah. Did you by any chance see Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day? I mean, there are some good films out there, but you have to wade through so much dreck. . .

Comment from EZnSF
Time: July 13, 2010, 2:17 am

OK, I’m game.

You know how some people have this inexplicable ‘clown’ phobia? Well, I don’t have that. But I do have a phobia concerning every one of these movies mentioned.
Even as a yungin I hated Mary Poppins. And Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? Forget it. To this day that song makes my skin crawl. What twisted, perverted, sociopath would write these movies, let alone let a child see them?

The Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie was another of my nightmares and Gene Wilder was my scary clown. I could never really like him as an actor after being traumatized at such a tender age from watching that film. I even refuse to by ‘Wonka’ chocolate bars to this day.

Vicious, vicious movies that no child should be allowed to see.

James and the Giant Peach. The greatest book ever written! (and I think they made a movie of it.)

Comment from SCOTTtheBADGER
Time: July 13, 2010, 3:12 am

Stoaty, I could never figure out how the wheelers could get dressed. You would think that the wheels for hands would make buttons a problem.

Comment from Elphaba
Time: July 13, 2010, 3:29 am

I seem to remember that one of the WoOz books had an evil queen character who had a removable head that she could replace with others when she got bored with the one she had. Totally creepy, but I loved the books as a kid.

Comment from jwpaine
Time: July 13, 2010, 4:25 am

Weird and bit spooky…. just like the Charlie & the Chocolate Factory (Willy Wonka) book (although Gene Wilder did manage to show a bit of just-beneath-the-surface darkness). Lots of kid’s books were kinda creepy, if you ask me.

Comment from Mrs. Peel
Time: July 13, 2010, 4:46 am

I had nightmares about the Echthroi after reading A Wind in the Door.

The Princess Bride is a good movie and a good book. I think the movie might actually be ever so slightly better.

Labyrinth (one of my favorite movies) is based on (or perhaps inspired by) a Maurice Sendak book, Outside Over There.

Elphaba, that was in Ozma of Oz, iirc. She was the princess in the country of Ev. The ruling family had all been changed into ornaments by the Nome King, so the princess, who was the king’s cousin or something, was left in charge – until Dorothy and Ozma rescued the royal family. Just checked – her name was Langwidere. And she wasn’t evil exactly – it was just that head #17 had such a dreadful temper.

Comment from SCOTTtheBADGER
Time: July 13, 2010, 5:09 am

That was also the book that had the Wheelers in it. And Good Old Tick-Tock, the Copper Clockwork Man.

Comment from Roman Wolf
Time: July 13, 2010, 5:46 am

Heh. Being quite a bit younger, I grew up with cartoons. The one with the most anti-capitalist pro-environmental propaganda was Captain Planet. I’m actually somewhat glad it was so blatant because it made me realize it was propaganda when I was in my teens. Plus the power of “heart”? Dear god, if Whoopie Goldberg, the spirit of the Earth, ever called me to give me a magic ring I’d want fire. Not some wimpy power like “heart”.

Comment from Mike C.
Time: July 13, 2010, 8:19 am

My favorite book/movie example is “The Hunt for Red October.” It would have been a fabulous movie if I hadn’t made the mistake of reading the book first.

The less said about “Dune”, the better..

Comment from Bill (still the .00358% of your traffic that’s from Iraq) T
Time: July 13, 2010, 8:34 am

Best movie adaptation of a book I’ve seen was We Were Soldiers…. The ending was pure Hollywood, but the rest was pretty darn close.

Of course, *no* movie has ever gotten a helicopter crash sequence right — too violent for the paying customers an’ all…

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 13, 2010, 11:52 am

Ahhhhh…cartoons. That should be another thread for another day, Roman Wolf. I’m a particular fan of really awful, terrible, cheap and crappy cartoons. Captain Planet is possibly the all-around worst I’ve seen.

Silence of the Lambs was an astonishing book — and I don’t read fictional murder, as a rule. Totally overshadowed the movie for me (Clarice Starling crying? I don’t think so!)

Comment from Steve I n Tulsa
Time: July 13, 2010, 12:37 pm

You remember when she was released? I never realized she had been in jail.

Comment from steve
Time: July 13, 2010, 12:45 pm

To Bill T (along with all of that .00358% of the traffic from Iraq):

While you are on the We Were Soldiers Once bandwagon…

Winston Groom (of Forrest Gump fame) wrote a very excellent novel, set in the Ia Drang Valley in Viet Nam…

Highly recommended!

By the way, Forrest Gump was a side splittingly funny book….that was totally wrecked when they turned it into a movie.

Comment from Princess Bernie
Time: July 13, 2010, 12:48 pm

Terribly cheap and crappy cartoons? My favorite of all time – Tom Terrific and Manfred the Mighty Wonder Dog.

Comment from steve
Time: July 13, 2010, 1:32 pm


So long as I am doing book reviews I should probably try to include the title of the book….

Better Times Than These

Comment from Clifford Scridlow
Time: July 13, 2010, 1:39 pm

The devil spawn of children’s entertainment: The Banana Splits. Death to all things Hanna Barbara.

Comment from steve
Time: July 13, 2010, 1:43 pm

BTW, Princess Bernie…

For all around crappy cartoons, you almost cannot beat Clutch Cargo! I mean, the whole concept of drawing a cartoon and leaving a small opening where the mouth is…so you can stripe in film of someone’s mouth speaking the dialog….Well…It is something that simply has to be experienced.

And whatever you think about Tom Terriffic….you have to look at it in context….

I mean, it was released the same time as Colonel Bleep (1957)…and it actually had (arguably) better production values.

Comment from Sporadic Small Arms Fire
Time: July 13, 2010, 1:55 pm

Marry Poppins is atrocious. My Fair Lady (with Hepburn) and HMS Pinafore are timeless.
These are not my opinions, just verifiable facts.

Comment from Nina from GCP
Time: July 13, 2010, 2:56 pm

I agree with the Princess Bride film being better than the book, the same with Mockingbird.

The original CCBB was NOTHING like the movie. Nothing at all. Plus it has a fudge recipe at the end. And it tries to explain British money to you as well (at least the US version of the book did).

Another book better than the movie, The Rescuers. The film sort of has elements of all three of the books, but the first book especially is quite charming.

Comment from Can’t Hark My Cry
Time: July 13, 2010, 3:10 pm

Well, I really loved the movie of The Princess Bride, but hadn’t read the book before I saw it; I did later read and enjoy the book, but still love the move more. But I remember thinking, as I read the book, that the movie did a surprisingly good job of adapting the book without changing the action much. . .except the frame tale, of course, and the original wouldn’t have translated well into a movie, I think.

Comment from Wiccapundit
Time: July 13, 2010, 3:40 pm

In Mary Poppins (the movie), George Banks was a wife and child abuser:

“It’s grand to be an Englishman in 1910
King Edward’s on the throne;
It’s the age of men
I’m the lord of my castle
The sov’reign, the liege!
I treat my subjects: servants, children, wife
With a firm but gentle hand
Noblesse oblige!”

Feed the birds?
Shoot them, I say.

Comment from Roman Wolf
Time: July 13, 2010, 4:48 pm

Heh. Sorry for bringing cartoons up, Weasel. But it’s what I grew up with. Hence when I went digging for something from my childhood that was anti-capitalist(and not a member of the California teacher’s union) it was the first thing that came to mind. There were tons of cartoons on when I was really young in the early 90’s and well, I really loved to watch cartoons back then. Heck, I still love watching cartoons but typically only from the mid-90’s or earlier. Even the really bad ones. They simply don’t make cartoons like they use to…not even bad cartoons.


I always wandered what that cartoon was called. Clutch Cargo looks positively awful.

Comment from BigBlueBug
Time: July 13, 2010, 5:28 pm

Kimba the white lion changed my life.

Speed Racer ruined it.

Comment from Mike C.
Time: July 13, 2010, 8:44 pm

“Master and Commander” wasn’t really from a single book, and it definitely mangled the character of Dr. Maturin. But it captured the character of Jack Aubrey perfectly.

Cartoons… I was raised on pre-war, WW II and late 40s/early 50s cartoons. A lot of them can’t even be shown anymore. Warner Bros. and Popeye were the favorites. To this day, I’ll be driving along with the local classical music station on the radio, a piece will come on, and I’ll have a flashback to some cartoon from my youth.

The WW II Popeye and WB cartoons were often quite good, if not politically correct. Later, there was Rocky and Bullwinkle. H-B sucked. Animaniacs and Tiny Toons brought some of the old spirit back – watched ’em with the kids. When the kids didn’t want to watch them, I watched them by myself.

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: July 13, 2010, 9:17 pm

Meh, i’ve always been suspicious of a girl who only puts out to Chimney Sweeps who dance around on the rooftops.

(Light in the loafers, if ya ask me….)

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 13, 2010, 10:22 pm

You can get many of the old cartoons on DVD, Mike C. I’ve got the Popeye boxed set, f’rexample.

Comment from jw
Time: July 13, 2010, 11:52 pm

LOL @ wiccapundit.

As to the rest of Mary Poppins…don’t you see how absurd that was? The whole movie was a parody, imho. Though it may have still been that way, way back when, it wasn’t made for this time and place. The wife defied him, the children defied him, the nanny defied him, hell even the chimney sweep defied him.
Sooooooooooo…..lets go fly a kite, up to the highest height..and send it soaring……hell, we all might as well sing “Kumbaya” while we’re at it! *giggles*

Hell, I want a tea-party on the ceiling!
Laughing gas indeed!

Comment from Gromulin
Time: July 14, 2010, 12:45 am

Kimba the white lion changed my life.

Speed Racer ruined it.

Blasphemy! As sucky as Speed Racer was, it was the Brass Ring to me as a kid. It was on channel 44 (UHF!) and we only had a 13 channel b/w TV. On the rare, RARE occasion where I could go to a friend’s house after school,that had cable (Cable!) and a color TV,…those sucky moments of early anime were pure gold. I still remember something about some giant articulated super-bus that I thought was the COOLEST THING EVER.

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: July 14, 2010, 5:24 am

Idunno. I thought the singing dancing bankers were pretty cool – a lot more interesting than real bankers.

And there have been quite a few books adapted into really good movies.

– The Godfather
– The Maltese Falcon
– True Grit

Sure, there are lots of failures. But why not try?

Comment from scr_north
Time: July 14, 2010, 6:50 am

The problem you experienced while watching Mary Poppins again (aside from this fantasy of replacing your Mom with Julie Andrews) is simply one of being chemically unprepared to view the movie. As you get older, these wonderful movies of our youth can’t possibly stand up to the layers of cynicism that we’ve built up over the years. This can be overcome by the proper use of chemicals to strip those layers away. I’d suggest 500 ml of a dry white wine, followed by an oral dose of cannibis (using a white paper tube and flame delivery system). Snack cakes can be added as needed. In no time you’ll be dancing in the movie aisle (or your front yard) to the strains of Supercali…whatever. Please note that accidental movie special effects can be encountered should the movie goer improperly dose. 🙂
I love your column, you really remind me of a blogger in the US that goes by the handle of “The Pioneer Woman”. You are both guaranteed to make readers laugh out loud.

Comment from steve
Time: July 14, 2010, 12:35 pm

@ Gromulin:

Speed Racer? Feh!

He can’t hold a candle to Tom Slick!

Comment from David Gillies
Time: July 14, 2010, 3:59 pm

Big-screen adaptations of beloved childhood books that do a really good job are few and far between, but what about The Railway Children? I can’t even picture the final scene when the children’s father returns without crying. Actually seeing it makes me howl.

Fun fact: E. Nesbit was a really hardcore Fabian socialist.

Many treatments were better as TV adaptations. Nesbit did very well out of this as I recall (The Phoenix and the Carpet and Five Children and It were done very well as BBC productions in the 70s.) The Beeb version of John Masefield’s The Box of Delights was wonderfully spooky. The 1974 Tom’s Midnight Garden was brilliant. And prior to the Hollywood version, they did a very creditable Lion, Witch and Wardrobe.

Another notable mention: Carrie’s War.

Comment from BigBlueBug
Time: July 14, 2010, 5:16 pm

Fear me,

I shall post a link to a cartoon video and with this link
drag all of you into the abyss of madness and despair I live in.

And not even him who’s the king of all the animals in Africa, who’s the one who just won’t turn and run, that badass mofo whosa gonna slapya la, Kimba the white lion is the one.

(I might have made part of that Kimba theme song up)

Can save you.

Cue Giselle: Act II Introduction (Adolph Adam)

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: July 14, 2010, 10:47 pm

David Gillies–Seriously? They are worth watching? I adored everything I could ever get my hands on by E. Nesbit, and both of Masefield’s books about Kay Harker, and both Tom’s Midnight Garden and the (non-fantasy) Minnow on the Say. Really good and faithful adaptations of any of those would be welcome, although I can’t help but fear that the absence of the narrative voice (part of what I love in any book) would be a detriment.

Wonder if those BBC adaptations are available online. . .

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: July 14, 2010, 10:59 pm

Fun Facts II, III & IV about E Nesbit:

She was an occultist – a member of the Golden Dawn (hence the Five Chldren and It)

Her second marriage (her first husband was an unmitgated wretch) was to the retired captain of a Thames ferry and they lived in a tiny house on Romney Marsh, in Kent.

A friend and lifelng admirer was the young Noel Coward.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: July 14, 2010, 11:31 pm

Yeah–Nesbit (um, actually, Edith Bland) was a bit out there for her time. But she wrote some utterly terrific children’s literature (If she had never even dabbled in fantasy, The Treasure Seekers and The Wouldbegoods would guarantee her a place in my personal pantheon). And some great adult ghost stories. OK, she also wrote at least one clunker ghost story (I haven’t read that entire body of her work–finding it would take some time, I fear–but I’ve read a LOT of ghost story anthologies), but then really good ghost stories are HARD to write. Even M.R. James had the occasional off day. . .

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: July 14, 2010, 11:58 pm

Golly, yes – (even) M.R. James could be quite hit and miss at times.

Horror seems to have become The Lost Art… When I was a young teenager we had a long series of anthologies published in the UK – ‘The Pan Book of Hororr stories’, edited by the magnificently named Herbert Van Thal (who wouldn’t want to sign the hotel register, ‘Herbert Van Thal’?).

The first few collections contained all the classics: James, Blackwood, Benson, plus some of the ‘new boys’ like Bloch and Matheson.

But as time went by, the slashers and stalkers crept in. At the end ‘horror’ had decayed into ‘perversion’.

Or maybe I just outgrew the groo?

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: July 15, 2010, 12:48 am

Oh boy, I mean, oh wow, ok, um oh boy, well. . .


Uncle Badger–I’m having trouble dealing with the reality of actually talkin to another person who has READ (and apparently appreciated!) M.R. James. . . gimme a moment, ‘k?

Right. First, I guess I distinguish between “ghost stories” and “horror”, although the bleed at the border between the two is unquestionably big. And, well, I can see that the distinction is probably more personal than global.

I think the slashers and stalkers were always there, and always a prominent feature of the genre (I could point you to some examples, but it’s late, I’m tired, and it would involve surrounding myself with open books, and skimming TOCs, and well. . .not worth it unless you are actually interested). At the same time, there have always been the folks like James who could reliably turn out the subtle, intellectual, but deeply chilling story. Actually, there are a few by H.G. Wells. . .and even peripheral writers often turn out one remarkable gem.

You know the real problem? And it is the same problem for other genres. . . .(I’m thinking “detective fiction,” here, but I suspect other genres may be equally affected).

There are no longer any pulp magazines. Yeah, the cost may not have been great, but you had to PAY to read those stories. And the editors paid the writers (yeah, agreed, not exactly a fortune, but they did pay, and apparently you could manage to make a living at it); but the editors also served as a filter, to ensure some level of literacy and readability. So, OK, there might have been only 1 story in any particular issue of “Weird Stories” or “Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine” that you enjoyed, but you kept buying them because the price wasn’t excessive, and there was always the chance you would strike gold.

Sigh. Well, pointless and ill-organized rant over. Glad to know there is another MRJ fan out there (have you ever read The Five Jars? I love the Internet, and would never go back to a world without it. . .doesn’t mean I don’t miss some of that world!

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: July 15, 2010, 1:19 am

Oh, missing a world in which one never lived? I think that’s a problem I’d have to confess to.

Only this morning, as we strolled Badger House’s garden, quite without thinking, I came out with something like ‘The ground seems commendably damp…”

Cue peals of (quite justified) Weasely laughter.

Be fair, we’d had the first rain for two months… it was getting serious out there. Not my fault if I just hapened to be channelling the last owner but five….

Anyway, James… yes… a great favourite of ours, too. And I agree, the oddest names pop-up with some really quite fine stories now and then.

I’d honestly never thought about the loss of the pulps – and we had them here, too – after a fashion. Even the serious newspapers ran short fiction.

I know next to nothing about detective stories, but a close relative must be the espionage tale and those I have read in some depth. There was never a pulp market for them, but they vanished, too.

Which makes me think we’re back in Idiocracy land again… that dulling of the general wit, for whatever reason.

Then again, the skirmishes I’ve had with book publishers nag away. You are right – we didn’t just lose the pulps, we lost the editors, too. And we lost them in the ‘great’ publishing houses as well.

It’s too late to work this out. Holes to dig, worms to be unearthed.

Perhaps Her Ladyship might post about the great Montague Rhodes one day?

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: July 15, 2010, 1:22 am

Oh, and no ! The Five Jars has escaped.

It will be hunted down and read.

Comment from Can\’t hark my cry
Time: July 15, 2010, 1:26 am

Uncle B, I am not going to petition for a Montague Rhodes post (have you ever taken a look at the edition of the New Testament Apocrypha he edited?) because I don’t want to try her patience, and I am not persuaded there would be more than we three who would actually know what was under discussion.

About the pulps–well, the physical artifacts are still out there, and there are people who collect them, and with luck some of those folk will upload them. ‘Course, you gotta wade through a RIVER of bad stuff to pan out an ounce or two of gold, but it might well be worth it.

Why I bless the universe for Project Gutenberg. . .

Oh, just saw your second post–the 5 Jars isn’t a ghost story, and is more than a bit odd. However, if you have trouble tracking it down (or can only find it at an exorbitant price) lemme know, and we can work something out. Same deal for the New Testament Apocrypha.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 15, 2010, 1:30 am

There’s an old tradition of telling ghost stories at Christmas. Makes sense…it’s cold, everybody’s gathered around the fire. What better time to tell spooky stories?

Before I met Uncle B, I took time off at Christmas every year for an orgy of book reading — at least some of which were always ghost stories. I highly commend the practice.

If you’ve ever wondered, that’s why A Christmas Carol is a ghost story. Tradition.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: July 15, 2010, 1:35 am


My (extensive!–like, hm, 8 linear shelf feet?) collection of ghost/horror fiction only gets read (at least in theory) between mid November and mid January. Well, OK, some years the indulgence begins on October 31, and lasts until St. Valentine’s Day. I fantasize of having the time to scan the stories I actually like (man, there’s a lot of drek in those anthologies!), and creating a database to read from. But, actually, having to reassess things each year has its moments!

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 15, 2010, 1:55 am

It’s the only time to read horror — when the wind is hooing around the house.

Although we’re having a Summer gale tonight. Very spooky weather indeed for July.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: July 15, 2010, 1:58 am

Actually, I kinda owe the two of you a Thanks! I had read and enjoyed a couple of E.F.Benson ghost stories, and as a result bought a Benson short-story collection. . and the first couple of stories (ghost stories, hm) turned me off. But when Stoaty said y’all liked Mapp and Lucia, I tried it again and, well, OK. One has to be in the proper frame of mind to appreciate them, but I liked his stuff. So, y’know, thanks?!

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: July 15, 2010, 2:02 am

It’s the only time to read horror — when the wind is hooing around the house.

Yup. I gather (pardon me for being diversity-correct here!) that this is also true in certain North American native cultures–during the winter season, one tells the big tales. Makes sense to me–I hate winter sports, so as far as I can see, once the snow starts flying there is NOTHING to do except snuggle up to the fire and tell tall tales.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: July 15, 2010, 2:27 am

Look, I personally adore physical contact with books. But. . .

The Five Jars? Um. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/24089/24089-h/24089-h.htm

I believe there may have been some illustrations. I’ll take a look and, if so–and if you would like–I’ll arrange to copy them.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: July 15, 2010, 11:42 am

Why, thank you!

Time for a confession. I have never read a book online. I’m not even sure if my eyes wouldn’t rebel at that much type on a white screen (floaters – ugh!) but I’m going to give it a try!

Ain’t the interweb wunnerful?

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: July 15, 2010, 12:27 pm

Far be it from me to discourage experimentation–but, um, you could actually print it out if you wanted. . .wouldn’t be a book, exactly, but might be less of a shock to your system.

And, yup, I LOVE the interweb!

Comment from Elphaba
Time: July 16, 2010, 12:10 am

I have resisted reading online or digital books because I love they way real books feel…the way the paper smells, the texture of the paper, the whole 3D experience. There is something, I dunno…sterile about the idea of online books. I’m old school.

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: July 16, 2010, 11:56 pm

Uncle Badger:

One can load the text into a simple editor that displays white on black (if you so opt). I use Text Wrangler for Mac OS X…

When I had to use Windows it was TextPad.

This only works for a _text_ version of the work. E-books (of various types) are different, as are HTML versions and Word docs. But you can get text versions at Project Gutenberg.

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