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In this issue you'll find articles about While The Clock Ticked and Wreck & Roll plus new collectible discoveries and more.
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One False Step (#189) - Grade: D
"One False Step" finds the Hardy Boys in Philadelphia visiting a flying circus. Highrise apartments are being robbed and, of course, the Boys investigate. The action is frenzied and, at time, completely ludicrous, such as when the Boys tight rope walk 40 stories in the air. Not once but twice! The cover art pretty much gives away the story and even the youngest reader should have no problem figuring out who are the bad guys just a few chapters into the story. All in all a very poor story.
Farming Fear (#188)
- Grade A+
No Way Out (#187) - Grade: B
Hidden Mountain (#186) - Grade: C
Wreck And Roll (#185) - Grade: C-
The Dangerous Transmission (#184) - Grade: B+
Warehouse Rumble - Grade: B
The Secret Of The Soldier's Gold (#182) - Grade: A-
|While the Clock Ticked: A Dixonian Portrayal of the Great Depression
by Brandon Booth
No author who wrote during the most distressful times of American history--the Great Depression--can escape the issue Americans faced at hand: loss of fortunes, bank failures, job losses, bread lines. John Steinbeck portrayed the stark realities of the Depression by writing about a family migrating west because they lost their land to a dust bowl. F. Scott Fitzgerald honed in on economic class difference in his novel The Great Gatsby. Those authors told it like it was. What about Franklin W. Dixon? The average reader at first glance might overlook such hardships. Therefore Dixon paints a rosy picture of the era: nice house, roadster, friends not hard up for money but for ice cream, hungry for adventure. But Dixon does not forget that this is the Great Depression. That comes out in the plight of the principal outlandish characters in While the Clock Ticked, Dalrymple and Applegate.
Dalrymple is a shrewd banker. He had his head above water right from the beginning of the Great Depression. He saw alot of banks fail because customers and failed businesses could not pay their loans. Dalrymple’s bank was not going to fail. He would not lend Amos Wandy money for some gimmick. Dalrymple could see Wandy’s freelance project was not going to pay dividends. Bombarded with requests for loans, Dalrymple would lock himself in the secret room at a dilapidated house. “I am a busy man, and when I leave the bank and return to my house at Lakeside, business matters often follow me.” (Dixon, 1932, 30). He was that desperate to return to the secret room after several death threats. Although he stated that he had no intention of occupying the house, he could risk losing his Lakeside home in the event of a bank failure.
Hurd Applegate is a victim of the stock market crash. Though he is still living at the Tower Mansion, he has almost no money. Gone are the days when the Tower Mansion was the masterpiece mansion of Bayport. He had to fire Henry Robinson, the caretaker from the first tome “The Tower Treasure” because he could no longer pay him. “[The Hardys] were near Hurd Applegate’s house and they saw that he was out mowing his lawn.” (Dixon, 125). Applegate's only asset left are his stamps that someone someday would buy. But he got gypped by Jensen.
How could the reader not notice the distress of Applegate and Dalrymple during the Depression era? Applegate accused Dalrymple of stealing his stamps. Characters get angry and say things they don’t mean to say. Dixon chose subtle ways to paint the stark realities of the Great Depression. Way to go Dixon.
|Table of Contents’ Contents:
An Analysis of Hardy Boys #11 (While The Clock Ticked")
Red and Blue Spine Editions
by Kenneth Maage
The fact that Franklin W. Dixon rewrote his works from the 1920s, updating them for 1962 can be categorically confirmed, while some in the Hardy Boys Literary Society and other Hardy Boys scholars believe the rewrite to be performed by a third party. Many attribute both works to be the hand of Franklin W. Dixon. This second view is the one taken by this author for the purpose of comparison in this essay. To examine the main differences between Dixon’s 1932 version and his 1962 work, one needs look no further than the first few pages--to the table of contents.
The first thing one notices is the confident spacing Dixon uses between lines, as if he knows that his readers, in their leisure of the late1920s and early 30s, have time to peruse the offerings. Readers in this time have defeated the aggressors of World war I and have yet to experience the rest of the Great Depression and World War II. Dixon is saying in the spacing of the table of contents--”take time to peruse the contents of this book.”
In his 1962 version Dixon has compressed the lined spacing. In the anxiety of the cold war, Dixon has chosen a line spacing for the table of contents that reflects both the decrease in leisure time as well as a desire to conserve natural resources.
The second thing one observes is that in both versions Dixon has chosen Roman numerals to represent the chapter numbers. While this might be viewed as a unifying aspect, one can see that Dixon is saying two different things, in a more detailed analysis. In 1932 he is saying “Remember the fall of Rome because of their drunkenness and debauchery.” In this he’s encouraging the moral thrust of prohibition. In 1962, he’s reminding readers of how Rome spread its culture aand democratic principals to the ends of the then known world. In this he’s encouraging readers to stand firm in the global struggle against communism.
The third thing we notice is the 1932 table of contents is split into two pages, while in 1962 it’s contained on one page. In this, Dixon is reminding the 1932 readers that the world reamins undiscovered. We must continue to explore by “turning the page,” as it were. In 1962 Frankllin W. Dixon is reminding readers that the next great step in exploration is to leave the confines of the page entirely and travel to the moon. As the Russians have shoown, they had the lead in space exploration.
In conclusion, we see the masterful hand of a brilliant artist when we examine any part of the Hardy Boys books, even the table of contents.
|An Examination into the Authenticity of Hardy Boys #185: Wreck and Roll
by Brian Porick
When presented with the volume entitled #185: Wreck and Roll, any lifelong Hardy Boys reader will immediately notice a few things "different" about this particular tome, as compared to those books recognized as the standard Hardy Boys canon. To the best of my knowledge, there exists no other such group like the Wheaton, Illinois chapter of the Hardy Boys Literary Society. The Hardy Boys online newsgroup is probably the only other such gathering of Franklin W. Dixon connoisseurs, but clearly that group is more of a casual interaction. In contrast, the Wheaton chapter of the Hardy Boys Literary Society is comprised of a group of individuals committed to meeting regularly in rigorous academic pursuit of the insight contained within the Hardy Boys canon, taking a high view of Dixonian authorship. (Mission statement, anyone?) As such, we find ourselves in a position of both privilege and responsibility as the only group with the tenacity, and dare I say authority, to grant canonical or apocryphal status upon any new Hardy Boys writings which are "discovered." That being said, we have a critical task in front of us over the course of this essay. It is up to us to carefully examine Hardy Boys #185 in light of recognized canonical criteria, and make a determination as to whether Wreck and Roll contains the same wisdom that we’ve come to expect from our Dixonian literature.
Let’s begin with an examination of the volume’s external appearance. Certainly, we can toss the old adage out the window here, as countless essays by my colleague Mark Bartlebaugh have proved time and again that, in the case of the Hardy Boys mystery series, you can judge a book by its cover. What, then, are some external criteria of a recognized canonical Hardy Boys book? For starters, the classic blue spine is unmistakable, (and of course we have the even older red-spine writings which are recognized widely as being Dixon’s early writings). The cover always ascribes authorship to Franklin W. Dixon, and thirdly the entire accepted canon is bound in a hardback, not a paperback cover. If we meticulously analyze Wreck and Roll, these factors can be used to determine canonicity. Wreck and Roll begins our examination on a good foot. As we can see, the spine is colored blue, and in fact, the shade of blue fits well into the accepted blue-spine color of other recognized canonical volumes. The second factor of ascribing authorship raises a small question, but perhaps not enough doubt to write off our examination immediately. In general, the original Hardy Boys books ascribe authorship to Franklin W. Dixon on the spine, on the front cover, and on the back cover. A look at #185, however, grants authorship only on the front and spine. No mention of Franklin W. Dixon is made on the rear cover at all, which might lead one to question whether the high regard for Dixonian authorship is present in this volume. Lastly, a simple attempt to physically bend Wreck and Roll should quickly raise a red flag for the authorities considering admitting this book into the Hardy Boys canon, because it is obviously a paperback and not a hard-cover release.
We would be in error if our examination ended with the cover of Wreck and Roll. After all, it is our purpose to be careful in our examination, and some content analysis is clearly called for here. Let’s first take a look at some of the interpersonal relationships found in Wreck and Roll to see if they correspond with the canon. On page one we are told, "Phil Cohen . . . walked into the living room in Frank and Joe Hardy’s home" (Wreck and Roll 1). It appears as if we are being introduced to the same two detective brothers that we’ve come to admire, and even their old friend Phil Cohen is in the scene. However, one paragraph later, things begin to go awry. We read, "Frank, Joe, and their girlfriends—Callie Shaw and Iola Morton—all laughed" (Wreck and Roll 1). What’s wrong with that, a person might ask. After all, Callie and Iola are common characters in the rest of the Hardy Boys canon. However, it’s not their existence we are questioning here; it is the nature of their relationship with Frank and Joe Hardy. We are told these two are Frank and Joe’s girlfriends. This is unheard of in the recognized canon, where Callie and Iola are not Frank and Joe’s girlfriends, but rather, their favorite dates.
A second factor relating to content has to do with where the characters live. We are told early on that the Hardy family lives in Bayport, but what of their friend Chet Morton? Iola tells the Hardy boys that Chet is "helping our grandparents out on the farm this week" (Wreck and Roll 3). From this, a reader familiar with the Hardy Boys canon would likely infer that Chet’s grandparents are visiting the Morton farm in order to receive assistance from their grandson at his place of residence. Iola continues, "That farm’s been in our family for generations. Even though we live in the city now, it’s nice to go back for vacations and stuff" (Wreck and Roll 3). This completely conflicts with the rest of the canon, where Chet and Iola reside on their farm in every volume. The only slim possibility is that this volume would fit immediately after the rest of the canon, as far as chronology goes. However, it’s a stretch to assert that during one or two years of high school, the Hardys could squeeze in fifty-odd mysteries, and still allow for sufficient time after the final mystery for the Mortons to have moved to Bayport proper and then yearn nostalgically for past vacations spent at the farm.
I could spend the time analyzing Phil’s use of cell phone (page 53) or Frank’s owning a van (which is actually quite believable, given the Hardys propensity for owning multiple and oft-repaired vehicles in the original canon.) However, I think it is important to spend a moment reflecting on Dixon’s value systems in the recognized canon. This is especially important, given my well-documented analysis of postmodernity and teenage music culture in The Flickering Torch Mystery, and Wreck and Roll’s similar subject matter. In The Flickering Torch Mystery, Frank and Joe are initially enthralled and numbed by their infatuation with rock ‘n’ roll music, but ultimately recognize it as a hellish and vapid experience. Given the author’s strong insistence upon a post-canon chronology, one would assume that the author of Wreck and Roll would also be familiar with the strong Dixonian lessons Frank and Joe have learned from past mysteries solved. That does not appear to be the case, here, though as Frank and Joe are caught up again in the lifestyle’s attractions. Joe says, "You know . . . it might be fun to be a rock star" (Wreck and Roll 18). We can’t blame the author for scripting the story in such a way that Frank and Joe fall into the same trap twice. What’s more disturbing is Frank and Joe’s reason for deciding not to be rock stars. Later in the novel, Joe concludes, "The music business is way too cutthroat for me" (Wreck and Roll 123). Notice that this author thinks the reason for avoiding the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle ought to be the lazy avoidance of difficult interpersonal struggles (which are certainly accurately portrayed throughout the book), where Dixon’s original point was the emptiness of the music itself as it acted as a metaphorical portrayal of the hell-bound postmodern teenage experience. As acceptance into the canon is considered for Wreck and Roll, the question must be asked as to whether it is possible that Franklin W. Dixon’s world view could have changed so drastically in a matter of a few years.
It is with these pieces of evidence, then, that I, Brian Porick, in the presence of the Wheaton Chapter of the Hardy Boys Literary Society, the recognized authority on scholarly analysis of the Hardy Boys mystery novels, would strongly recommend that Hardy Boys #185: Wreck and Roll not be accepted into the official Hardy Boys canon on the grounds of poor cover design, errant content, and non-Dixonian authorship.
For Sale From Amazon.com: Wreck And Roll (#185)
|“Grab your dancing shoes and prepare to Party!”
A pediatric view of suburban life (based on "Wreck and Roll")
by Christopher H. Waln
Phil opens this tome by bursting into the Hardy home and enticing his friends to go dancing, which he mislabels partying. Because who, really, would confuse dancing with having a good time? Anyway, Frank remarks on his appearance by comparing him to a fashion plate. My aunt Lisa used to play with fashion plates and she fondly tells tales of rubbing the chalk over the paper with the plates underneath to create all manner of outfit drawings. We’re not told which skirt and top combination Phil has on right now, but he’s humming the opening bars of Vette Smashs’s #22, “I Pop My Clutch When You Wear Red.” So we can gather from that . . . well, not much, really.
On the way to the concert, which, incidentally, is neither a party nor a dance, Phil explains that he recently started dating Chrome Jewel from the band. Then we see a small exposition about how there are actually two local bands on the verge of making it big and they hate each other. The other band is the delightfully named Green Machine. My esteemed father, who read this book to me page by page at bedtime each night and then ran out of time to type my dictated causerie for the last meeting of the HBLS, never got a Green Machine. He had a Big Wheel and while he would debate his green machine owning best friend, Mike, endlessly about the merits of the big wheel, he secretly admired and even coveted his friend’s far more cool ride.
The next scene is a little too stupid to even bother discussing save for the fact that it introduces two elements. One is that the Hardys can fight, and this is such a lame book that maybe that had to be presented so that, were this my first exposure to the Hardy Boys from my esteemed father, I would be told early on that the Hardys are cool and not actually the lame fairy dancer types with a penchant for standing around back stage watching nothing in particular that they appear to be the rest of the book. Option two is that we need to be introduced to Geo Kasper in a bold way because he actually plays an integral part in the plot, what little of it there is. While he’s guarding the back entrance he’s quietly singing Vette Smash’s country crossover hit #46, “The Dog Likes My Ride Better Than Yours.”
So the band plays two sets, Phil gets pushed by an unknown assailant, and two agents are vying to get the band to sign with them. This leads up to the big publicity stunt in which the band members will bungee jump off of a bridge to promote the band’s new soon to be hit #141, “Unfurl My Bungee Cord Of Love.” Ms. Miyazaki graciously refers to this tripe as “an interesting stunt.” The next day the Hardys are helping Phil load equipment from the storehouse and discover that an extra bungee has been intentionally cut. Phil begins furiously scribbling notes to the next song, Vette Smash’s #142, “Please Don’t Bobbitt My Bungee.” The Hardys and Phil manage to stop the jump and discover that the lead guitarist’s cord had been cut. We were told earlier that Kasper also played a pretty mean guitar, and here he’s looking at the action still quietly singing “The Dog Likes My Ride Better Than Yours.” So Ken hops in his red sports car and speeds away.
He manages to show up in time for that night’s concert, however, and it’s another two-fer. During the second show the lightning generator goes awry and poor Chrome Jewel, in her metallic outfit, takes a bolt of juice and goes down. That completely interrupts the smash hit from the first self titled album, #6, “My Distributor Cap Came Loose and Now My Juice Is Everywhere” and also puts an end to the show. Julie is, fortunately, just fine and the band soon takes to blaming Phil for all of it’s ills of late. He’s a little hurt by the accusation and during his didactic diatribe on the merits of being a friend of Frank and Joe and therefore could not possibly be a bad guy, Ray grabs the backup keyboard and starts playing the melody to Vette Smash’s #134, “Speeding Down the Highway to Loser-Ville, Population: You.”
Just in time for the next concert, they make up with Phil and that allows our imperturbable onlookers, Frank and Joe, to come and stand around while more exciting events unfold. They soon do. Green Machine takes the stage first even though Vette Smash was supposed to. As the lead guitarist is about to strike the downbeat to their first ever hit, “Big Wheels Suck, And So Do You,” he gets shocked by the guitar. As I lay in my crib I thought I heard the voice of my esteemed father falter ever so slightly and as I looked over I saw a lone tear run down his cheek. “For the Big Wheel?” I asked. He simply nodded and went on.
So Green Machine leaves in a huff and Vette Smash provides a new guitar and heads on. They, of course, lead the show with maybe their biggest hit of all time, #101, “Suck, Squeeze, Pop, Poof. Another Otto Cycle Friday Night.”
The next day, since it was Saturday, the boys slept in and then went to help the band set up for yet another concert. Ken’s car nearly ran over the boys so they hopped on the motorcycles to give chase. The car got in front of a train and the boys were behind it. When the train passed they spotted the car stuck in a ditch. Ken was in the trunk and the car was wiped clean of fingerprints. The Hardys failed, however, to check the cd still playing Vette Smash’s #18, “My Engine’s Still Hot.” Ken was fine in time for the Power Bar concert and Kasper was discovered as the bad guy. Even though the concert was on Saturday night, the third and final encore ended with the remix 17-minute dance version of “Suck, Squeeze, Pop, Poof.”
©2004 Christopher Henry Waln
For Sale From Amazon.com: Wreck And Roll (#185)
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