Archive for February, 2007

a Trixie Belden for every occasion: disappointments

Friday, February 9th, 2007

Life is full of little disappointments, as Mrs. Quimby once said to Ramona. Learning to deal with disappointments is a part of life. When others disappoint us, we must learn forgiveness and how to set limits, both vital interpersonal skills. When we disappoint ourselves, however, we must learn even more difficult lessons: humility, knowledge of our own faults, and how to rise above circumstances. Just as Trixie Belden guides the way in so many other areas of life, she helps us learn to deal with disappointments as well.
Most of the Trixies take place within the continental United States; mainly in upstate New York, but also in such varied locations as Iowa, Missouri, Vermont, Arizona, and Virginia. Only two Trixies take place outside of the U.S., in England and Paris respectively. Thus, the dedicated Trixie reader might look forward especially to these excursions into the great world. Instead, the reader confronts two valuable exercises in that great life skill, overcoming disappointment, in that neither of the books is very good.
The Mystery of the Queen’s Necklace, #23 in the series, involves a somewhat murky plot in which a portion of the Bob-Whites head to England to sight-see and track down the original of a family heirloom necklace, recently inherited by Honey. The gang dutifully tromps around to a laundry list of sights, somehow making the great monuments of England sound significantly less interesting than those of rural Iowa (see The Happy Valley Mystery). For some reason, English people are universally depicted as hostile to the Bob-Whites. The somewhat lame explanation provided for this is that the American young people were just too boisterous for English people. Um, what? When a more youthful version of myself was in England (admittedly not as youthful as the BWGs), everybody I met fell all over themselves to call me “love” and tell me what bus I needed to get on.
Further, the eminently practical and cheery Miss Trask falls for some jerk just because he has a Scottish accent, and proceeds to act mean and dopey for the rest of the book. This total Scottish stranger is allowed to accompany the group as a guide, which is just one of the things the Bob-Whites do which I would classify as ill-advised. Quite out of character for this group, in which even the teenagers act like 50-year-old Senators or something. Well, not senators; somebody really respectable. You know what I mean.
The Mystery of the Antique Doll is #36 in the series, and is therefore located in the twilight of Trixie Belden. By this time, the books were shorter, dumbed-down, and acknowledged by most as not as good as the earlier books. Only Trixie and Honey get to go to Paris, and they’re only there for like 36 hours or something. The author apparently thought a fly-by-night antique store and the interior of an old woman’s home were much more interesting scenarios for most of the plot to unfold. Every character in the book acts monumentally stupid, including an “Inspector Marcel Patou of the Paris Surete,” who is kind of an Inspector Clouseau on smack. Also, Trixie is studying to be in the “Eastern Regional Spelling Bee,” which, if you know Trixie, makes no sense at all.
Finally, says Trixie at one point: “After all, my name wouldn’t be Trixie Belden if I just sat on the steps and did nothing.” Okay, Miss Branding…I mean Belden.
Okay, so it’s fun to be critical; but I have to admit I still enjoy reading these books. Just not as much as some of the others. As disappointments go, they’re pretty minor, and I’ve long since gotten over it.

not too shabby, winter

Sunday, February 4th, 2007

We’ve had a weekend of heavy snowfall and “extreme cold,” as they say on tv (current temp: 0. There is no temperature!) I went out for a little walk, bundled up like I was going on a trek to the North Pole, to see what winter’s come up with for us.
It’s very white outside. Except for the fact that there were cars driving on them, you’d never know there were paved roads out there. Snow is about knee-deep, adorning evergreens, adhering to buildings, tree trunks, and pedestrians. In the park, the pond is frozen over and covered with snow, and the ducks have left for warmer climes. Snow was still falling, muffling all sounds and rendering shapes more than 100 feet away mere soft, pleasant smudges of their former selves.
It’s days like these that make me long for the life of a hermit, living in a small, warm cabin in the middle of the snowy woods. And yes, the cabin would be magically stocked with everything I need, so that I wouldn’t have to trek out to the store.