By Carolyn Keene, Laura Lee Hope, Franklin W. Dixon, Victor Appleton II, and Victor Appleton, Sr.
Epigraph: “Forgiveness means letting go of the hope for a better past.” --Lama Surya Das
All the best to the beautiful new R.J. Julia Bookstore on Main Street -- natural light pours in from skylights all the way to the handsomely finished basement.
At the store’s soft opening, I met a local elementary school librarian who said children’s book authors visit in her school by Skype, addressing classes and answering pupil questions. At the bookstore, authors come in person.Even the Hardy Boys get jaded:
JOE: “A secret door!”
FRANK: “We haven’t seen one of those in, oh, several months.”
Sgt. Pepper’s is 50. “My baby does the Pablo Fanque."
"I don't condone violence, but in Gianforte's defense, he simply didn't know the answer to the question.” --Shanghai Lil Yachty-Yachty Seinfeld
Does modern slang make you cray-cray?
Last weekend was the Paradise City Arts Festival in Northampton, a place of many vendors’ booths. A sign there imparted this wisdom: “Buckles are interchangeable.” It suggested a good cat name: “Interchangeable.”
“Growler and Renard” is the business name used by the artist Juliana Boyd. Growler was a wolf and Renard (rhymes with Leonard) a fox in the bedtime stories her father used to tell her.
Seeing handmade chess sets in late May made me think, “No more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty rooks.”
“Any of these cards could blow up a plane in the air. One blew my head off, as you can see. So be careful with them.”
Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) was an economist who wrote gracefully and lucidly, avoiding “pedantic heaviness of expression,” a phrase that sounds just like what it describes.
Mises favored an approach to controversy much missed today. An economist, he thought, had no business arguing ad hominem or questioning the motives of opponents.
He adopted Spinoza’s attitude: “Sane sicut lux se ipsam et tenebras manifestat, sic veritas norma sui et falsi est.”
That’s “As light defines both itself and darkness, so truth sets the standard for itself and for falsity.” Or as he sometimes put it, “Let the dogs bark.”
“Let the dogs bark.” What is the small object in the lower left? A penny to show the viewer the size of the object? A microscopic Flat Earther colony? A UFO? Nessie curled up all comfy?
A tiny tree from the Flat Earther microcolony, founded by refugees from the Bottle City of Kandor, where people say just what they think.
Victor Appleton, Sr. (b. March 17, 1875), turned 142 in March, but keeps busy working on Tom Swift, Sr. manuscripts. He no longer writes them himself (“I’m all storied out”), but extensively edits unsolicited manuscripts into publishable work.
“I massaged a manuscript that came to me as ‘Tom Swift and His Multiversal Dune Buggy.’ We published it as ‘End This Depression Now!’ under the pseudonym ‘Paul Krugman.’ It was a best seller! All too briefly. Some things don't change -- people these days love a far-fetched tale as much as ever,” Appleton said, and dozed.
Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottonmouth, and Peter went for a walk one day. Only Cottonmouth returned, very slowly, lying through his fangs about what happened to Flopsy, Mopsy, and Peter. (Farmer MacGregor, indeed.)
The cottonmouth or “water moccasin” is North America's only venomous water snake. It has a distinctive blocky, triangular head; a thick body; and a dangerous bite. Water moccasins rarely bite humans, however, and only attack when threatened.
"Cottonmouth" and "water moccasin" are both common names for Agkistrodon piscivorus, according to Dr. Davis Logsdon, the chair of the Department of Anthropology and Herpetology at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
“These lads are semiaquatic,” Logsdon said, “so they’re equally happy swimming with the fishes or basking on land in their native range in the southeastern United States.”
"The name 'cottonmouth' comes from the white coloration of the inside of the snake's mouth," Logsdon said in a telephone interview. “Other local names include black moccasin, gaper, logsdon, mangrove rattler, potus, snap jaw, stub-tail snake, swamp lion, trap jaw, water mamba, and water pilot.”
“Water moccasins are pit vipers, like copperheads and rattlesnakes,” Logsdon said. "Like all pit vipers, they have heat-sensing facial pits between their eyes and nostrils," he said, flashing a winning smile over the telephone.
“These pits are able to detect minute differences in temperatures so that the snake can accurately strike the source of heat, which is often potential prey.”
There’s more, but you can’t handle more. As it is, your sleep tonight will be full of dreams in which a venomous snake clamps its fangs onto your hand, and no matter how much you thrash about, you can’t shake it loose.
In the dream you die in agonizing pain, only to awake in a UFO piloted by reptilian shapeshifters. One holds up a mirror and you see that you have yourself become a reptilian shapeshifter.
You open your mouth to scream, but no sound comes, and you wake up, heart pounding, only to realize that the whole nightmarish sequence -- thank goodness! -- was nothing more than immutable waking reality.
In your new life, when you dream, it’s either that you are Grandpa in Robert Benchley’s “A Good Old-Fashioned Christmas” or that you are some comic-book hero or villain named “The Rabid Raccoon.”
When you wake up, it’s back to following reptilian shapeshifting orders all the live-long day. When your master “SSSlogsdon” isn’t looking, you shapeshift into a replica of your own mother, hug yourself comfortingly, and say, “There, there, my precious child, everything will be all right.” But it won’t.
In time, you grow used to your new diet, similar to that of cottonmouths: bullfrogs, fish, small mammals, birds, amphibians (including bullfrogs), lizards, baby alligators, turtles, snakes, and sometimes even others of your own kind who haven’t followed orders, or not fast enough.
You learn prompt obedience because you just don’t want to find out what "ruru" is, or to become food for your fellows. No job you ever had was even nearly as disgusting and horrible, except for that stint at The Middletown Eye under “Whipmeister McYone.”
That job was so bad that when you were fired you paid a back-alley brain surgeon to burn away the neurons that held those memories. So of all the jobs you can remember, this reptilian shapeshifter job on the UFO is the worst.
The reptilian shapeshifter language isn’t easy to learn, either. Most of the words in the Reptilian part of the English-Reptilian dictionary start with a triple “sss.”
But as Raskolnikov put it, “Man grows used to everything, the scoundrel!” So soon you relearn the meaning of humdrum and the banality of evil.
According to The Pipeline, the official newsletter of the Middletown Water and Sewer Department, a state study shows that the high incidence of sanitary sewer main blockages is due to accumulations of FOG.
FOG is an acronym for “fats, oils, and grease.”
The city must enforce the grease-trap laws for restaurants and homeowners must learn to follow these simple tips:
Never pour FOG (especially bacon grease) down sink drains, toilets, street gutters, or storm drains.
If no FOG recycling is available to you, put your FOG into containers and the containers into the trash.
Use a sink strainer to collect food scraps, and put the scraps into the trash.
Wipe pots, pans, and dishes with dry paper towels to soak up FOG. Throw the FOGgy towels into the trash. Only then rinse or wash the dishes.
Spread the word by speaking with your family, friends, and neighbors about how they can keep FOG out of their septic fields and sewers.
I am not spiritually ready to pre-wipe dirty dinner dishes with paper towels, but I pledge to scrape plates, pots, and pans thoroughly before rinsing or washing.
I hope doing that will postpone the crisis until Science, in a graceful pas-de-deux with Technology, comes up with a solution that involves no onstage role for Effort or Hard Work.
CUSTOMER: How do you prepare your chickens?
WAITER: We tell them they’re probably not going to make it.