Elementary School Nostalgia-Filter
March 19, 2008 1:42 AM   Subscribe

Blogger Beware! Troy Steele reads through all the Goosebumps books and snarkily recaps them. So you don't have to.
posted by nasreddin (34 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
The blog's about page is pretty great:

The blog is not really intended to be read by kids, but that's never stopped anyone before. The site has apparently helped a lot of children cheat on their book reports, which is wonderful.
posted by Bizurke at 1:55 AM on March 19, 2008

Some of the creepiest stuff about Goosebumps is the cover art, I'm well past the age where I read them but damn if Camp JellyJam doesn't still creep me out.
posted by Rubbstone at 1:56 AM on March 19, 2008

The Goosebumps series is what got me started as a regular reader when I was young. In fact, I'm fairly sure that Welcome to Dead House was the first book of any real length I ever read. I have literally dozens of well-worn paperbacks back home.

So Stine's a bit of a cliche writer, so what. Good on him for being my generation's Rowling. (Except, you know, for the blockbuster movies and the celebrity status and the hundreds of millions in revenue.)

On a side note, this post has inspired me to prematurely announce The Curse of Mathowie's Tomb, my upcoming Metafilter-Goosebumps crossover fanfic. Here's a taste from the end of Chapter 1:
I finished typing the comment, full of warm feelings for days gone by, and turned around
to pick up my trusty glass of water. But I saw, to my horror, that the water had turned
blood red. For a long time I couldn't say anything at all. And when I finally opened my
mouth, nothing emerged but a terrifying scream...
spoiler: turns out the water was red from a dash of Kool-aid powder from my mischievous yet lovable little brother Kyle.

double spoiler: Kyle turns out to be a VAMPIRE GHOST.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:11 AM on March 19, 2008 [11 favorites]

good gracious, he really writes a lot about those books.
posted by Large Marge at 3:47 AM on March 19, 2008

I never understood why people read Goosebumps, when the infinitely more talented Christoper Pike was probably on the same bookstore shelf.
posted by absalom at 6:07 AM on March 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Oh man. I went to a(n?) lolxtian elementary school, where such materials and topics were verboten. So of course, I checked out every Goosebumps book I could find at my local library and read them at home.

I love blogs like this, and I love the "Questionable Parenting" sections, e.g.: I don't know what's worse: Hiding a vampire grandparent in a hidden chamber, or keeping the knowledge of another bathroom a secret in a crowded family house.
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 6:18 AM on March 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Say Cheese And Die! is and always will be the greatest title of any book ever.
posted by burnmp3s at 6:28 AM on March 19, 2008

This is like a funny Mr. Cranky!
posted by GooseOnTheLoose at 6:46 AM on March 19, 2008

Damn. Now instead of writing a paper I will be reading Goosebumps summaries all day long.
posted by milestogo at 6:58 AM on March 19, 2008

Could someone please summarize these summaries for me?
posted by Dizzy at 7:05 AM on March 19, 2008

I never understood why people read Goosebumps, when the infinitely more talented Christoper Pike was probably on the same bookstore shelf.

Yeah, but who wants to read a book that just goes





A Star Trek joke. I feel so dirty. One of you fuckers better laugh.
posted by DecemberBoy at 7:07 AM on March 19, 2008 [14 favorites]

I never understood why my classmates were reading Goosebumps when there was the truly awesome and scary series Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. They were well written, but the drippy-trippy sketch art in the book truly sketched me out.
posted by madpercolator at 7:37 AM on March 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

I laughed, DecemberBoy. And then I converted Rhaomi's excerpt into binary and then converted the 0s and 01 into beeps and beepbeeps. And you know what? I didn't want to read it either. So it's funny, because it's true.
posted by Sparx at 7:43 AM on March 19, 2008

Man, I'm glad for this site, because I was really pissed about having to do all those snarky recaps. What a time-saver!

(He is pretty funny though. I like this post.)
posted by danb at 8:06 AM on March 19, 2008

[Fry is in a Captain Pike-style life-support machine]
Captain Zapp Brannigan: Do you understand the charges?
Kif Kroker: One beep for yes, two beeps for no.
[Fry beeps once]
Captain Zapp Brannigan: Yes, so noted. Do you plead guilty?
[Fry beeps twice]
Captain Zapp Brannigan: Double yes. Guilty.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:08 AM on March 19, 2008

I was more into Stine's Fear Street series. I lusted for gore, and Fear provided. To this day, I still think of that one about the cheerleader when I take a shower, and I have never figured out why she couldn't have just stayed out of the scalding stream when she got trapped in the stall by a psycho rather than standing there and boiling to death. What a terrible way to go. But that's how Stine's writing works! These aren't just horror stories for young readers. They're tragedies at heart. Brenda or whatever... she was a good kid! She had that dreamy boyfriend, you know, and she wasn't afraid to dump him when he didn't respect her values! She made friends with the underdog! She had flawless skin! And then she died in a shower. God damn it.

But then Goosebumps came along. I guess ol' RL had to make a buck somehow. It's all right. Sometimes art must be sacrificed for Rice Crispies.
posted by katillathehun at 8:15 AM on March 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

To this day, I still think of that one about the cheerleader when I take a shower
But then again, don't we all?
posted by Servo5678 at 9:43 AM on March 19, 2008

In elementary school, when everyone else was reading Goosebumps, I was absolutely convinced that I was cooler and smarter then them, because I was reading Fear Street. I probably was cooler and smarter, but now I really regret missing out on that common childhood experience because I never get to participate in those bonding conversations about how great those books were.

For the record, I was too cool for power rangers and pogs, too. And I regret that to this day. Once a hipster, always a hipster?

Great post, thanks.
posted by lunit at 10:51 AM on March 19, 2008 [2 favorites]

Never read Goosebumps as a kid, but The Baby-Sitters Club was a staple of my youth. BSC Headquarters is a great trip down memory lane, if only for the outrageous fashion descriptions.
posted by meesha at 11:20 AM on March 19, 2008

Er, I meant I have literally dozens of well-worn Goosebumps paperbacks back home. I didn't want to seem like I was bragging about reading. Even though reading is AWESOME.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:51 AM on March 19, 2008

Jezebel reviews well-loved YA novels.
posted by granted at 12:40 PM on March 19, 2008

Speaking of the Baby-Sitters Club... (possibly nsfw)
posted by granted at 12:41 PM on March 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

I never understood why people read Goosebumps, when the infinitely more talented Christoper Pike was probably on the same bookstore shelf.

Oh man, Christopher Pike. Talk about a blast from the past. I read every Pike book I could get my hands on way back when. I think I still have Chain Letter tucked away in a closet at my mother's house.
posted by LeeJay at 12:43 PM on March 19, 2008

Er, that should be Chain Letter.
posted by LeeJay at 12:45 PM on March 19, 2008

madpercolator nailed it. The drawing in those books were freaky-deaky. I feel compelled to purchase that box set just to see the illustrations again.
posted by owtytrof at 1:05 PM on March 19, 2008

Jesus Christ. I just spent the last half hour reading through the blog's archives and I realized something: I read the entire series and forgot all about it. Seriously. I open up the page, recognize the cover art, and recognize the plot summary.

What the hell, me?
posted by flatluigi at 5:30 PM on March 19, 2008

3rding madpercolator. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was and is amazingly awesome. I still remember the illustrations for the Wendigo one.
posted by fuzzbean at 7:31 PM on March 19, 2008

I will have to add this to the list of pop culture that is specifically from my generation.

/me tosses Goosebumps book on top of The Oregon Trail.
posted by Monochrome at 7:47 PM on March 19, 2008

madpercolator: "I never understood why my classmates were reading Goosebumps when there was the truly awesome and scary series Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. They were well written, but the drippy-trippy sketch art in the book truly sketched me out."

Oh, hells yes. I read those a lot, too, and it's true that the illustrations were the stuff of nightmares. Stephen Gammell has a twisted mind.

(For those wanting to see samples, take a look.)
posted by Rhaomi at 8:49 PM on March 19, 2008

Rhaomi, I both love and hate you for linking to those image searches. I loved those books as a kid, in part because the illustrations scared the shit out of me, and they still hold up to that today. The one that scared me the most that I can remember came from a story about a greedy man who steals a pair of silver dollars that have been placed over a dead woman's eyes and I'm trying to restrain myself from clicking through the search links in case I find it.

Another one I can remember came from a retelling of the old "Mexican Rat Dog" urban legend, which Stephen Gammell apparently took to mean "Mexican Walking Tumor".
posted by kosher_jenny at 9:45 PM on March 19, 2008

I remember that story well, kosher_jenny. Though I always took it to be more of a gross-out "gotcha!" than something really disturbing.

You want disturbing? I'll give you disturbing:

by Alvin Schwartz
(Requisite creepy illustration)

When it got hot in the valley, Thomas and Alfred drove their cows up to a cool, green pasture in the mountains to graze. Usually they stayed there with the cows for two months. Then they brought them down to the valley again.

The work was easy enough, but, oh, it was boring. All day the two men tended their cows. At night they went back to the tiny hut where they lived. They ate supper and worked in the garden and went to sleep. It was always the same.

Then Thomas had an idea that changed everything. "Let's make a doll the size of a man," he said. "It would be fun to make, and we could put it in the garden to scare away the birds."

"It should look like Harold," Alfred said. Harold was a farmer they both hated. They made the doll out of old sacks stuffed with straw. They gave it a pointy nose like Harold's and tiny eyes like his. Then they added dark hair and a a twisted frown. Of course they also gave it Harold's name.

Each morning on their way to the pasture, they tied Harold to a pole in the garden to scare away the birds. Each night they brought him inside so that he wouldn't get ruined if it rained.

When they were feeling playful, they would talk to him. One of them might say, "How are the vegetables growing today, Harold?" Then the other, making believe he was Harold, would answer in a crazy voice, "Very slowly." They both would laugh, but not Harold.

Whenever something went wrong, they took it out on Harold. They would curse at him, even kick or punch him. Sometimes one of them would take the food they were eating (which they both were sick of) and smear it on the doll's face. "How do you like that stew, Harold?" he would ask. "Well, you'd better eat it -- or else." Then the two men would howl with laughter.

One night, after Thomas had wiped Harold's face with food, Harold grunted.

"Did you hear that?" Alfred asked.

"It was Harold," Thomas said. "I was watching him when it happened. I can't believe it."

"How could he grunt?" Alfred asked. "He's just a sack of straw. It's not possible."

"Let's throw him in the fire," said Thomas, "and that will be that."

"Let's not do anything stupid," said Alfred. "We don't know what's going on. When we move the cows down, we'll leave him behind. For now, let's just keep an eye on him."

So they left Harold sitting in a corner of the hut. They didn't talk to him or take him outside anymore. Now and then the doll grunted, but that was all. After a few days they decided there was nothing to be afraid of. Maybe a mouse or some insects had gotten inside Harold and were making those sounds.

So Thomas and Alfred went back to their old ways. Each morning they put Harold out into the hut. When they felt playful, they joked with him. When they felt mean, they treated him as badly as ever.

Then one night Alfred noticed something that frightened him. "Harold is growing," he said.

"I was thinking the same thing," Thomas said.

"Maybe it's just out imagination," Alfred replied. "We have bee up here on this mountain too long."

The next morning, while they were eating, Harold stood up and walked out of the hut. He climbed up on the roof and trotted back and forth, like a horse on its hind legs. All day and all night long he trotted like that.

In the morning Harold climbed down and stood in a far corner of the pasture. The men had no idea what he would do next. They were afraid.

They decided to take the cows down into the valley that same day. When they left, Harold was nowhere in sight. They felt as if they had escaped a great danger and began joking and singing. But when they had gone only a mile or two, they realized they had forgotten to bring the milking stools.

Neither one wanted to go back for them, but the stools would cost a lot to replace. "There really is nothing to be afraid of," they told on another. "After all, what could a doll do?"

They drew straws to see which one would go back. It was Thomas. "I'll catch up with you," he said, and Alfred walked on toward the valley.

When Alfred came to a rise in the path, he looked back for Thomas. He did not see him anywhere. But he did see Harold. The doll was on the roof of the hut again. As Alfred watched, Harold kneeled and stretched out a bloody skin to dry in the sun.

Nighty-night, folks...
posted by Rhaomi at 12:46 AM on March 20, 2008 [3 favorites]

Why the fuck did I decide to check my "Recent Activity" page right before going to bed? Damn you, Rhaomi!

I'm not going to click on the image link I'm not going to click on the image link I'm not going to click on the image link...
posted by kosher_jenny at 2:10 AM on March 20, 2008

Not to worry, kosher_j!
Almost an out-take from "The Wizard Of Oz".
Just think Ray Bolger.
With an eating disorder.
And dead.
posted by Dizzy at 9:07 AM on March 20, 2008

Muahahahaha... hi-res image scans mean you will never sleep soundly again!
posted by Rhaomi at 1:33 PM on March 20, 2008

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