Tagged With the 123 Meme.

January 30, 2009 at 10:12 am | Posted in Arts | 2 Comments

N.B.  This post has been languishing in my Drafts folder for a while now.  Not very exciting, but maybe it was really an early contribution to Super Bowl hype.  Let’s just accept it for what it is….

Well, it seems that I’ve been tagged unawares by Anastasia with the 123 Meme.  For the few not in the know, the rules are simple:

Pick up the book nearest you and:

1. turn to page 123,
2. count the first five sentences,
3. post the following three sentences.

Let’s see … what’s nearby…  The closest “book” is the binder with my script for the Golden Age Radio Buff’s upcoming performance of A Christmas Carol at the Baltimore Museum of Industry, in which I have been fortunate to have been assigned some fun parts.  Unfortunately, the script only has 57 pages.

Nearby is my wife’s copy of Smart Moves, by Carla Hannaford.  However, I’ve only glanced at it, and she’s already blogged about it elsewhere.

Moving to the other side of my computer, I find my bookshelf with my treasure trove of Grosset & Dunlap juvenile fiction.  This was the publishing house that was responsible for The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and my all-time favorite, Tom Swift, Jr.  But, oddly enough, the book closest to me is …

Flying Tackle: A Bronc Burnett Story by Wilfred McCormick.  Bronc Burnett was their nod to the sports-minded tween boy, and each book saw him overcome some sports challenge with personal dignity.  In this book, IIRC, Bronc gets moved from his star halfback position to the offensive line, but still manages to lead the team to the championship.  Now, unlike the Stratemeyer Syndicate authors who usually shared a byline, apparently Wilfred McCormick did write all his own material.  But, the prose is still classic G & D:

“And, say,” Pude cupped his hand to Bronc’s ear, “just between you and me,” he whispered, “I happen to know that it would break his heart if they took him out of the backfield.  He’s a sentimental guy, anyhow, and he’s done so well that –“

“I know just how he feels,” Bronc replied thoughtfully.

“Sure. I knew you would.  And, after all, we’ve won every game since he went into the backfield.  As for you, brother!  You’re a cinch for an all-Conference honor if you stay at tackle.  We thought — that is, I thought you might keep that in mind when we start scrimmage this afternoon.  For the good of the team — in the long run, I mean — maybe you won’t try to hard when –“

“Sh-h-h-h! Cap’n Al’s ready.”

The group quieted hastily, save for the sounds of deep, quick breathing.

“You’re a bunch of pantywaists!” the coach began, pretending sourness but with a twinkle apparent in his gray eyes.  “You’re puffing and heaving like a herd of old plow horses!  Gentlemen, I thought we had a football team!”

That’s a bit more than three sentences, but I couldn’t resist the old G&D prose.  This excerpt has it all: tension, drama, a compassionate hero, broadly drawn but loveable characters, and adverbs.  I used to devour this stuff when I was younger.  Maybe that explains why I like using dashes so much in the middle of sentences.  I could plow through a book an hour — it’s a good thing there were literally hundreds of books available.

The G&D series had a mild revival in the mid-Eighties, but they seem to be rather defunct now, except for Nancy Drew who seems to have survived the leap into the Digital Age.  But, there still seems to be countless series of books out for kids nowadays, which is a good thing, given the competition for eyeballs that rages within our living rooms.  Even the most highly literate of readers needs to start somewhere….



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  1. I love this post! Why isn’t JT reading those books – as much as he devours the goofy Matt Christopher stories…?!

  2. To be honest, I don’t think I got much out of the Bronc Burnett books until I started playing football in high school. Then all the positions and formations started making a lot more sense. Right now, the best way I know to learn football is to play Madden.

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