Thursday, May 29, 2014
Book Clubs Are Junk: Golden Daze
I buy way more books than I read. So much literature, in fact, I doubt that I'll ever get around to finishing most of them. It's the same sort of borderline-hoarder behavior that I exhibit when it comes to VHS; stockpiling titles for rainy days that never seem to come. Eventually, though. Someday, I'll continue to tell myself, even though I know the sad truth that those days will never come. Those pages will remain untouched, unread, left to yellow and wither to dust. Everything is dust.
Normally, when it comes to books, I tend to gravitate towards movie novelizations, sci-fi and fantasy, pulp trash and early cyberpunk. The type of stuff I feel I should have been reading when I was a teenager, back when I used to devour title after title, preferring the company of a good read over my high-school peers. It's rare that I break my normal thrift-habits, never venturing into departments or browsing shelves outside my comfort-zones.
But then, sometimes, I see the type of stuff that my blogging peers are scoring out in the wild. My insane jealousy at their discoveries forcing me to seek fantastic nuggets of nostalgia in all the wrong places.
Like the kids' book section.
It's a terrifying proposition; rifling through shelves of children's titles is risky business. The potential danger of discovering a decade-old picture book that's somehow still sticky with bits of food or snot or I don't even wanna contemplate the other options. Or there could be an exciting find ruined by a torn cover or crayon doodles littering every page.
Why even bother..?
Well, I bothered because sometimes there's gold lurking in them thar hills.
More specifically, Golden Look-Look Books.
These, like their Little Golden Book brethren, were an absolute staple of my childhood. Often featuring characters from films and television programs, they were "designed to appeal to the ever-widening interests of children three to eight years old". They also appeal to a thirty-something year old with a penchant for collecting absolute junk.
Let's see what I found.
Hey, it's future stars of the silver-screen, Jem and the Holograms.
I stumbled upon these about midway though my salvage mission and immediately knew there was no way I was leaving them behind. I never had much of a fondness for Jem and her fellow band-mates, but I'm always a sucker for anything '80s "retro". Plus, I know a couple folks who will definitely appreciate these more than I ever could, so this pair of pop-heavy adventures will find themselves on the move sooner rather than later.
I actually owned The Great Mouse Detective years back, despite never actually sitting down and watching the film it's based off of. My inner Vincent Price fan-boy has been berating me over that fact for years now, but I doubt it's an omission that I'll ever rectify. I'll just have to settle for occasionally flipping through this book for the rest of my life. I only hope that Vincent's ghost can forgive me.
Oliver & Company (1988) is another animated flick I somehow avoided during the heydays of VHS. There's snippets of plot that somehow burned into my brain; and I know that Cheech Marin supplied the voice of the chihuahua, but that could just be my affinity for stereotyping. I mean, if the movie had been released two decades later, I'm sure they would have cast George Lopez or something.
Sorry, Beverly Hills Chihuahua (2008).
The real star of this show is easily The Penguin's Plot, which is mostly based on the brilliant Bat-sequel from 1992, Batman Returns. Retroactively removing Catwoman and Max Shreck from the story doesn't seem to negatively impact the dramatic elements of this tale, and it's possible Tim Burton could have learned something from that fact.
The lesson is less Christopher Walken and more Vincent Schiavelli, less Pfeiffer and more Ice Princess.
We're actually moving away from the Golden Look-Look titles and into new territory, even though the faces may seem awfully familiar. I can't say I cared much for Heathcliff and his junkyard-dwelling, feline-friends, but his cartoon series definitely had one of my all-time favorite theme-songs. I also appreciate how Marvel Books didn't appear too concerned that they were publishing a knock-off of the Golden titles, since this is billed as being "A Big Looker Storybook". Ballsy move, guys.
I adored anything Muppets back in 1985, and the Fraggles were far from an exception. And even though I probably would have preferred the stories that revolved around Sprocket or The Doozer Who Didn't, I'm very okay with Red Fraggle and her adventures in The Cave of the Lost Fraggle.
Still, it would have been nice to see an appearance from Marjory the Trash Heap.
Last and possibly least is a Disneyland Record and Book of The Grasshopper and the Ants. I am way too familiar with this fable thanks to grade-school and old storybook collections and, naturally, the Disney Silly Symphonies short from the mid-'30s that this is based on. Digging through stacks of other children's titles, this one jumped out at me because it also included the original 33-record with it. I can't find any trademark dates anywhere on the book or the record, but a quick search seems to indicate that this particular release is from sometime in the '70s.
I'm not sure how I find myself feeling nostalgic for items that are older than I am, but here we are.
There we go.
Everything is dust.