A flash of titian hair.

On Saturday Kate and I rode our bikes to a nearby garage sale, lured by the promise in the classified ad of American Girl swag. (Yes, we’ve arrived at American Girls. Don’t ask me what I think about it. Yet.) We found what I’d feared — some woman had arrived a full hour before the opening bell and bought it all — but as usually happens at garage sales, we found something else: A stack of Nancy Drew mysteries, including several of the older titles. “The Secret of the Old Clock,” “The Bungalow Mystery,” etc.

Just opening a Nancy Drew title stored in someone’s basement for a few years brings not the whiff of mildew but of chlorine, so embedded is Nancy with my memories of summer, when I went through them like popcorn. My first experience with librarian disapproval came when I asked where I could find her in the school library. “We don’t have any,” she all but hissed. “Those are junky books. They’re written in about half an hour, and they don’t have anything to offer.”

I was shocked. Nancy Drew had nothing to offer? The girl with the titian hair, the snappy blue roadster, the accessory boyfriend? I couldn’t imagine how anyone could arrive at such a conclusion.

The librarian was right — the books are junky. They probably were written in half an hour. But they were wonderful dashed-off junk, and I plan to spend a chunk of this summer with my stash (of course I bought them all), getting reacquainted.

You can read any number of fond appreciations of Nancy Drew by baby-boom women elsewhere. I’m cutting this one short. If the books are, indeed, junkier than I remembered, I will report this fearlessly.

God, am I tired. It’s been trying to rain here for weeks, and never quite getting around to it. When it does, it’s like angry tears — given grudgingly and stopped as soon as possible. We need a night and a day of gentle soaking, but it’s not in the forecast. But last night we had a mini-thunderstorm, which barely made a noise but for the SPLAT SPLAT SPLATTING of rain on the bathroom skylight at 4:18 a.m. Nothing like being awakened at 4:18. You know first light is coming in 40 minutes, so the chance of another REM cycle is scant. The brain fills with Monday thoughts — What do I have to do today? Did I make a list? Are my good jeans clean? Should I work out first thing, or after lunch? Is George Bush still president? What do we have for lunch? Will Ohio ever find that missing $215 million? — and ohhhh, but the next thing you know the birds are tweeting and you have to get up in 90 minutes and it’s stopped raining and might as well go make some coffee but no! Sleep is coming! And then it comes, and the alarm rings 30 seconds later.

So, let’s cut right to the bloggage:

Shakeups, reinventions, hurt feelings, secret memos left on the copier — boy, do I not miss the newspaper business. That said, it would be interesting to work for Michael Kinsley, because at least when he shakes things up, you get the feeling there’s a functioning brain behind it. What he’s planning for the LAT editorial page sounds long overdue, and I hope it works.

The Poor Man — snicker: June 11 (Bloomberg) � In a surprise move expected to send shockwaves through the world of TV journalism, CNN, the orginal cable news network, and NBC, which owns cable channels MSNBC and CNBC, announced a deal to consolidate their news organizations into a single giant news network. By pooling their journalistic resources, the organizations will be able to offer deeper coverage of the most important stories of the day, and will be better equipped to compete with current cable news champion FOX News. The new network — to be called Where the White Women At?, or WWWA — is set to debut this week.

I was a little bleah on “The Comeback” when it debuted last week on HBO, but I needn’t have been. After last night, I think it’s going to be great. Lisa Kudrow is a talented, talented actress.

Ya bum! Buy a cup of coffee or get off that wi-fi!

Posted at 8:53 am in Uncategorized |

13 responses to “A flash of titian hair.”

  1. colleen said on June 13, 2005 at 9:26 am

    I had a similar experience at the ACPL when I was a kid. Oh, they had ND books, you just had to ASK for them. Kept under lock and key, they were. Or at least in a closed room. A few years ago during a bout with the flu, I reread some of my collection….it was all I could concentrate on in my feverish state. They aren’t that trashy. And where else would a girl learn words like “chided”, “mused”, and of course, “titian”?

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  2. blue girl said on June 13, 2005 at 9:37 am

    My nightly re-charging session was interrupted last night at 3:08 a.m. And it was very peculiar — because all I had on my mind was whether or not the cordless phones and my lap top were re-charging. So, off I went searching and, ah-ha! none were. So, I plugged in the lap top, put both phones back on their bases — and back to sleep I went.

    If only every middle-of-the-night interruption could be so productive!

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  3. Dorothy said on June 13, 2005 at 9:49 am

    Tsk, tsk to that librarian. Even “junky” books can ignite a flame of interest in reading, which might bring about a lifelong love affair with libraries. The first thing on my priority list, after the boxes and furniture were off the truck for my last 4 moves, was to ask a neighbor where the library was. Then I drove there.

    I feel fortunate that the Nancy Drew books were on the shelves in my hometown library. How I loved the smell of that place…I wish they could bottle it! The dark coolness of the third floor location of the children’s department; the giant wall murals between floors as we ran up many steps to get there. I was so disappointed when they installed an elevator. The walk was so much more interesting!

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  4. Connie said on June 13, 2005 at 10:24 am

    I started my Nancy Drew period with my mother’s old copies. Wonder where they went. If you really have those oldest versions – re-edited several times since – you may notice a certain amount of, um, how to describe it, implied racism. Notice the descriptions of bad guys, for example. I would like to hear what you think once you’ve read a few.

    And most librarians today would rather see kids read anything, junk or not. Today’s is it junk issue series seems to be Captain – I think this is the word that is blocking my post, just think undies.

    And the Nancy Drew’s weren’t so much written in half an hour as they were factory produced by the Stratemeyer Syndicate, also producers of the Hardy Boys, the Rover Boys, Honey Bunch, the Dana Girls, and many other classic series. Hired writers were provided with outlines, the company owned all rights. Lots on the web. Wish it had been there when I did my research paper on stratemeyer back in grad school.

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  5. MarkH said on June 13, 2005 at 10:55 am

    I have three sisters (no brothers), and, as a result, even I read a couple of ND books, lo those many years ago. My wife still has a couple of her old ones. When my son was Kate’s age, the equivalent was RL Stine, or Harry Potter, I suppose. I’m not much of a fan of either series, but, as Connie said, I’m grateful it got him to enjoy reading. We still have his collection of both series.

    Nance, I’ll strongly second your nomination of Kudrow in the talent department. Why she hasn’t done more, or been more successful is a mystery. Only she and David Schwimmer made “Friends” remotely watchable, for me, at least.

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  6. brian stouder said on June 13, 2005 at 11:12 am

    For me, the Alvin Fernald series was always great stuff. Plus Henry Huggins – which I believe was by Beverly Cleary (and Beezus and Ramona turn up in that series) – was always a fave. ‘Course, the James and the Giant Peach book is much better than the movie, as was Charlie and the Choclate Factory…although I confess that the Charlotte’s Web movie/cartoon captured something of the book.

    Back when I was in school, we read a color-coded series of short pieces and excerpts from books, from someplace called Scientific Research Associates (SRA), which was followed by a quizz about the story (it was a reading comprehension tool). I recall that orange stories were OK, but the really cool ones were up in the blue and silver series. I would pay some money to get a collection of those stories again.

    Our 9 year old reads anything Star Wars related he can get, and he was less than completely impressed with the newest, biggest, most whizz-bang Star Wars movie…!! Triggered an interesting discussion between he and I about books and movies, and how one’s imagination is able to convert a book into something more compelling than a big screen movie.

    Folks with no imagination just don’t successfully ‘receive the signal’ that an interesting book transmits, or they cannot see the picture or the colors through the snow

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  7. Nance said on June 13, 2005 at 11:16 am

    Yes, I noticed the editions I bought had a “re-edited” note in them, and I vividly recall the racism in them. Actually, I don’t remember racism, but very antique language regarding black people, which I probably noticed because it was the ’60s, and the colored/Negro/black nomenclature debates were happening then.

    I remember one bad guy was described as “a Negro with freckles,” and much is made by the characters of how incredibly unusual that is — a Negro with freckles, can you imagine such a strange thing?

    Of course, living in a place like the D, where even in the suburbs you see every imaginable shade of non-white skin most days of the week, I wonder how anyone could write that. But then, it was a different time. In my earliest N.D. books, which yes, I bought at garage sales, Nancy wears cloche hats in the illustrations. When were the first ones written? 1929?

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  8. Miss Beth said on June 13, 2005 at 4:29 pm

    Nice job, Nance! The first Nancy Drew was written in 1929. It was written (God’s honest written) by Mildred Wirt at the ripe ol’ age of 24. Fun stuff…my first Nancy Drew was actually a bastardized version called The Nancy Drew Files: Secrets Can Kill. You want to talk “junky?” I mean, really…

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  9. Maureen said on June 13, 2005 at 7:57 pm

    I don’t know about The Comeback. I am a big fan of most HBO shows, but this one seems neither fish nor fowl. I suppose they are going for the Larry Sanders – peek into the real world of television – vibe, but it doesn’t seem to work in The Comeback. (Although since I consider Larry Sanders to be one of the best shows on TV, ever, perhaps that is an unrealistic standard.) I have no doubt that the pathetic quotient on display in The Comeback is real, but it is still not very entertaining to watch. Sometimes accuracy is not enough. I just don’t see greatness here, but I do agree with your assessment of Lisa Kudrow.

    Are you doing Entourage?

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  10. Nance said on June 13, 2005 at 8:54 pm

    >Are you doing Entourage?

    Yeah, and that one’s starting to grate. I wonder how long they’ll be able to continue in this vein — the boys want to get laid, the boys go to Vegas, etc.

    And since when are men so squeamish about having sex during a woman’s period? It’s like the ’50s again.

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  11. basset said on June 14, 2005 at 1:07 am

    what ARE you talking about? popular culture escapes me again.

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  12. Maureen said on June 14, 2005 at 10:54 am

    For me, what blows wind up my skirt is when I feel that a book or a film really captures the reality and truth of a situation. Fantasy, she does nothing for me. I lived in a big house during graduate school with six guys. And Entourage has that guy thang nailed. (Although guys never talk about girls’ periods so that whole subplot was lame.)

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  13. Dave said on June 14, 2005 at 8:54 pm

    And the Bobbsey Twins, of which there was a whole series in my hometown library. Read them, Hardy Boys, even a few Nancy Drews’. All part of the same syndicate, I think the “author” of the Twins book was Laura Lea Hope. I was about eight when I discovered the library.

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