Monday, June 23, 2008

#26 My Hairiest Adventure



#26 My Hairiest Adventure

Front Tagline: It keeps growing... and growing... and growing...
Back Tagline: He's Having A Really, Really Bad Hair Day...

Official Book Description:
Larry Boyd just found the coolest thing in the trash. It's an old bottle of INSTA-TAN. "Rub on a dark suntan in minutes"-- that's what the label says. So Larry and his friends do. But nothing much happens.
Until Larry notices the hair. Dark, spikey [sic] hair growing on his hands and face. Really gross shiny hair.
Hair that jeeps growing back even after he shaves it off....

Brief Synopsis:
Well, we might as well get this out of the way. All together now: This is the one where it turns out they're all dogs or something.

As the book opens, Larry Boyd is running from a pack of dogs. For some reason, dogs just love chasing after Larry. Maybe I misremembered the twist and they all turn out to be Milkbone Dog Treats or something. Larry slides across ice and snow as he races towards his friend Lily's house. Luckily Lily has just the thing to stop a dog chase: a snow shovel, which she waves around in a threatening manner. The dogs all scamper away so they can laugh at her without hurting her feelings. Please note that this opening sequence is the only remotely adventurous event in a book with the word "Adventure" in the title.

Larry made the trek to Lily's house so that they and their friends Manny, Kristina, and Jared can rehearse for the upcoming Middle School Battle of the Bands. I know what you're saying, "I've never heard of a middle school throwing a Battle of the Bands" contest, and the fact that they only have one other band competing against them certainly would explain why this isn't a regular event. Their main competition is a band called Howie and the Shouters, a superior rock n' roll group led by the titular school jerk. But Larry and crew's band is offering stiff competition for the, um, competition.

See, their band, the Geeks, consists of three guitars, a keyboard, and vocals. Bass guitar and drums are a lot easier to learn than the guitar, but not in Goosebumps world. Another questionable musical moment soon follows when the keyboard's "saxophone" preset is said to perfectly recreate the sound of a saxophone solo, over which the characters roundhouse their instruments. It doesn't help the band any that they spend as much time changing their name as they do actually playing music-- "Pirate Gold" is vetoed for not being as cool as "the Geeks," which is almost as bad a decision as that time Vampire Weekend rejected any other band name at all in favor of "Vampire Weekend." The Geeks work each other up with trash talk about Howie and the Shouters, joking about how horrible Howie's squeaking guitar sounds. Somewhere, Isaac Brock is sobbing into a couch cushion.

Perhaps you're thinking, "Well, they may be no match for Howie and the Shouters, but maybe they've got the right look for a popular band." First, that's a very relevant thought and I thank you for thinking it. Second, nope. Larry has big ears (which are over-exaggerated on the horrible horrible cover) and wavy blonde hair; Lily is blonde with bangs and her eyes are two different colors (remember, this is the one where they all turn out to be Marilyn Manson or something); Manny is a man, so there goes any relevant Degrassi jokes; Kristina is fat and so of course she's always eating in every scene; Jared plays keyboards and if he was given more character information than that, I don't remember it. Maybe he's the mysterious fourth Smoosh sibling.

Well, after running through a couple classic rock songs, the kids decide to take ten and go play in the snow. While outside, they decide that if they're gonna be in a rock band, they might as well practice being poor. While digging through their neighbor's trash, they come across a discarded medicine cabinet. Showing they indeed are not ready to be musicians, they ignore the pharmaceutical bottles and instead retrieve a bottle of INSTA-TAN. For some reason, all five members of the band think that it would be really awesome to get a fake tan.

So awesome that they excitedly race into the bathroom and take turns squirting the liquid on their bodies. I guess this was written before adults realized what groups of children really do in a bathroom together. Everyone is having such a grand old time rubbing fake tan solution on their bodies that no one cares when Larry expresses concern over the fact that the INSTA-TAN expired in 1991.

The hilarious bathroom tanning party ends when Manny pretends to peel off his skin, only to reveal that it was merely a wet kleenex. Again, so close to what teenagers are doing in the bathroom and yet so far.

The gang makes its way back outside and participates in a massive, highly-unlikely snowball fight. The fun of the afternoon proves to have been too much for Larry and he loses consciousness and collapses. I'm avoiding making puberty and pubic hair jokes in conjunction with the forthcoming hair-growth scenes, but I'm not above raising my eyebrows over the name of Larry's pediatrician: Dr. Murkin. Dr. Murkin gives Larry his regular bi-monthly shot and reminds the boy that he's not supposed to overexert himself, as he doesn't have sweat glands. Larry whines and Dr. Murkin pats Larry's head and tells him he's still a good boy, a good boy! Yes he is, yes he is!

Please note that for every half-assed attempt at giving the characters dog-traits, such as different colored eyes and no sweat glands on the skin, there's still plenty of missteps, such as the fact that everyone can see colors. Also, outside of barking "Jingle Bells" in popular Christmas novelty songs, dogs don't possess musical abilities.

After his injection, Larry races back to the snowball party but finds that it dissipated shortly after he left. Apparently Howie came by to gloat about having bought an Eric Clapton songbook for the contest, so I guess the sixth grade audience can look forward to being regaled with a squeaky-guitar rendition of "Cocaine."

That night, between the snowball fight, the fake tan party, and playing with his cat Jasper, Larry's simply exhausted. But before he can drift off to sleep, he's shocked to discover a thick patch of hair growing on his palm. He races to the bathroom and luckily he beat Jack Lemmon, so there's still razorblades inside. He lathers up and shaves his palm. It's a disgusting scene. There's a lot of shaving scenes in the book and they're all disgusting, though at least they all end before "Needle In the Hay" can start playing.

The next morning, Larry is paranoid about his hair growth. Everyone already calls him "Hairy Larry," and since kids aren't very creative, this wouldn't get them to stop. He tries asking Lily if she experienced the same thing, since he's attributing this growth to the fake tan they all used. Lily reveals that in fact she has and also she's a werewolf. Larry buys her story for a few minutes, which goes to show you, dogs are dumb. Proof:
But I had believed her story. Up to the part where she said she ate three people.
In class, Howie gives a book report on a Matt Christopher novel. If you never read a Matt Christopher book as a child, they were basically the Horror at Camp Jellyjam without monsters. Howie's oral report is awful but he's Howie, so he manages to ace it. Larry goes up to give his Bruce Coville (!) report but Howie trips him. Larry's confused though: it's winter but he'd just been wished a nice fall. Sorry. While picking himself up the ground, Larry notices the hair has grown back around his hands, this time covering both palms. He runs out into the hall and retrieves his gloves from his locker. Things could be worse, though. Lots of cool people wear gloves: chauffeurs, elevator operators, Mickey Mouse.

What follows in the book is sixty pages of hair growth. Sometimes on the knees, hands, arms, and regrettably near the end, across the forehead. Let me reiterate: reading about hair growth is gross. At some point, Manny disappears and a dog with the same shaggy hair as Manny joins the pack of dogs that runs around the small town. When Larry goes to investigate, he discovers Manny's house is completely empty. He can't figure out why he left, but of course his biggest concern is that now the Geeks only have two guitar players instead of three. Oh no, now they can no longer re-enact Zaireeka on stage.

Things go from bad to bad when Lily also disappears. When Larry tries to talk to her parents, they quickly drive away, but not before insisting they never knew any Lily. Now down to one guitar player (If they keep losing members, they'll just turn into Casiotone For the Painfully Alone), the Geeks must make a difficult decision as the Battle of the Bands approaches. If they drop out, someone's going to have to scribble out the final 's' on all the promotional material. The remaining kids ultimately decide that regardless of the dwindling size of their band, the show must go on. Triumphantly, they declare that they'll do it for Lily. And they're not the only ones doing it all for Lily:



Finally the night of the Battle of the Bands arrives. Luckily, Jared's mother was in the audience and while she ignored the other members of the group, she did capture some excellent footage of her son's performance:



Since Howie and the Shouters went on first and were even called back for an encore, the bar was set pretty high for the Geeks. Luckily they brought the house down with "I Want To Hold Your Hand"-- or should that be "I Want To Hold Your Paw"? Amazingly, the Geeks win the Battle of the Bands on the strength of their special effects. See, while performing, Larry turns into a dog. The audience, being huge fans of the Teen Wolf movies, thinks this is done with Hollywood Magic, when it is in fact done with Larry being a dog.

Ashamed, Larry runs home and tells his parents what happened. His father's reply?

But the Twist is:
"You're a dog."

See, Dr. Murkin developed a way of turning dogs into children and then giving them to his employees. The twice-monthly injections were booster shots of the serum, but after a dozen years, the formula loses its effect. Everyone in the town works for Dr. Murkin and all the children are in fact dogs. His former parents tell Larry that Dr. Murkin has decided not to turn dogs into children anymore. The book ends with Larry's parents bringing home a newborn baby girl named Jasper. So at least one of them turns out to be a cat or something.

the Platonic Boy-Girl Relationship:
Larry and his bandmate Lily, who disappears halfway through the novel and also turns out to be a dog or something.

Questionable Parenting:
Nope, I can't think of a single instance of any adult in this book making a poor decision.

Questionable Employing:
"Mr. Boyd, I've called you and your wife into my office to tell you that your company dog is now your company child. If you have any parenting questions, remember, I'm a scientist. Buy a book or something. Okay see you guys l8r."

Memorable Cliffhanger Chapter Ending:
I'll never get tired of this. Ch. 25/26:
"You're a dog."

Great Prose Alert:
"Let's try it!" Manny repeated, grinning his crooked grin.

Conclusions:
Most Goosebumps books are dogs, but this one is a real howler.
Thank you.

66 comments:

Reepicheep-chan said...

Man, I was wondering when I would be let in on this people being dogs thing. Never read this one when I was little.

prince-of-cats said...

A Degrassi, Royal Tenenbaums, AND Veronica Mars reference? Nice!

Anonymous said...

How could the twist actually be worse than I was expecting?

dru-plus-spike said...

Yeah, The Geeks suck, but are they any worse than Prussian Blue?
Are the shaving scenes as bad as the ones in the movie Eegah?

Zak said...

Sweet, from the getgo I had so many possibilities as to what the entry for this one will look like. However Troy, I have a few questions! Unfortunately this book is missing from my collection, but from memory:

1. Exactly how many chapters end with a cliffhanger about hair? Moreso, have the last word be "Hair"? I seem to remember a lot of "the back of my hand was covered in thick black hair", "my arms were covered in thick hair", like every other chapter. Also correct me if I'm wrong but was one of them a red hair-ing (yep) where it ended up being a scarf?

2. I was gonna look this up but unfortunately like I said I can't find this book, but can I have the transcript of the scene where Larry turns into a dog during the band performance? I honestly don't remember that part at all but if you don't wanna post it all here can you email it to me at Zak6009@gmail.com please? Or if anyone else reading the comments has the book can they do it?

Thanks,

~Zak

Rhomega said...

Is that a camera or a miniature bazooka?

And so the infamous twist shows up. I was quite curious about the bi-monthly injections. Oooh, look at the doggy playing piano!

Sardo's Magic Mansion said...

Hooray! Just as ridiculous as I'd hoped. Also, Vampire Weekend. Ahahahaha.

Anonymous said...

Oh memories! Thank you for making me realize I've wasted my childhood :) Please keep it up!

Kris Montello said...

A Flaming Lips reference!? Awesome!

Great entry, man. Only one more to go!

Actually, it's probably nothing to be excited about. The Goosebumps 2000 books were truly awful.

troy steele said...

Everyone keeps telling me that. Surely the Series 2000 books couldn't be any worse than the cover art that adorns them.

I don't have the book in front of me but the aforementioned scarf scene did take place-- it was one of the many boring scenes about hair growth that I distilled and simplified to their bare essence for the entry, pun definitely intended.

Kevin said...

There's a lot of shaving scenes in the book and they're all disgusting, though at least they all end before "Needle In the Hay" can start playing.

This reference just depressed me :(

Zak said...

The series 2000 books were actually awesome from what I remember. Of course that was eight-ish years ago, so I don't know if it'll be the same now. But I remember even then they made the original series look like a joke.

All I can say is that I hope they don't mean the end of this blog!

Anonymous said...

Just watched the TV version of "My Hairiest Adventure" which is remarkably hiarious and so very very 90s. The best is that after Jared disappears, everyone justifies it to themselves by saying, "Well, you know Jared."

Are you going to finish up the TALES TO GIVE YOU GOOSEBUMPS soon? There's one story..can't remember the title..it takes place at a hospital. Can't wait for that review.

You are doing an amazing service here, man, thank you so much!

-Ambrose

Anonymous said...

Series 2000 was, typically, more... "intense" is one way I've seen it put. I think they tended to be a bit darker, or possibly just more gruesome. Hence the cover art. I think Cry Of The Cat, the first one, was actually kinda subtle, but after that they brought on the monsters. Something I'm watching out for is whether or not it was a good idea to make Invasion Of The Body Squeezers a two-book story. But "Be Afraid - Be Very Afraid!" is amazingly barmy.

Fear Street said...

Being a dog myself, this was one of my favorites.

Anonymous said...

The little tuxedo wearing keyboard playing pooch is adorable. Is he yours, Troy?

eponine said...

I'm sure I've said this about at least 10 books, but as far as I can remember this was my favorite as a kid...

Either way, I've been waiting for the entry for a long while and it did not disapoint. Awesome as always

Kokomo said...

Doggone it, that twist came out of nowhere.

Anonymous said...

I didn't read many of the 2000 books myself, but one of them was "A book within a book within a book".

So that should be some indication of what they where like.

Anonymous said...

A dog playing the keyboard. If for nothing else, this entry was worth it just for that.

Anonymous said...

What, no masturbation jokes?

Q & T said...

They should have got Brian Eno to help them with the concert. Only Eno could make their sound somewhat good.

Ryan Ferneau said...

What's with these terrible taglines?

"It keeps growing... and growing... and growing..."

Didn't the description for Monster Blood do that one already? And do we really need a reminder of the Energizer slogan?

"He's Having A Really, Really Bad Hair Day..."

More like Bad HARE Day! Ha ha HA!

Anonymous said...

This one always gave me a boner.

ec said...

R.L. Stine is one of the fifty most translated authors of all time.

Proof is at:
http://databases.unesco.org/xtrans/stat/xTransStat.a?VL1=A&top=50&lg=0

I discovered this via National Geographic Magazine.

Spongey444 said...

Hey Troy are you gonna ever gonna do the tv series?

Anonymous said...

"If you never read a Matt Christopher book as a child, they were basically the Horror at Camp Jellyjam without monsters."

This is actually an amazingly accurate description. Great write-up overall; I never read this one so I had no idea how stupid it was.

Christian A. said...

As you have stated previously,
'you are going to stop the blog after revenge of the lawn gnomes, as that was the book that made you stop reading them.'

So I presume that you'll move straight to 2000?(or horrorland).

ANyway, great review.

troy steele said...

Just to make sure there's no confusion, the blog will not be ending next week. If a book is listed in the sidebar, it will be covered by Blogger Beware.

Spongey444 said...

awnser my question troy

Q & T said...

You wouldn't like him when he's angry, Troy.

I am excited for the 2000 books. I haven't read any of them but I can only assume that they are so bad that they caused 9/11.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if Series 2000 was bad enough to cause infamous terrorist atrocities, but I think they were pretty awful. Although I think I liked Return To HorrorLand. Troy, do you think you'll do them in order or not?

Anonymous said...

It seems like not as many people remember the Series 2000 books. I haven't read them all, but they had some good moments (and probably a ton of bad ones, too). Can't wait for them!

troy steele said...

I think I'm going to do them in order, with one-off Goosebumps books (More Tales... &c) being covered at random intervals in-between the Series 2000 books, so that readers of the blog will still have a chance of being surprised by each week's update.

I will be covering the TV series in some capacity.

Oliver said...

Could you make a post on R.L. Stine The Haunting Hour Don't Think About It?

Q & T said...

The TV series had one of the greatest performances ever put on film. In the Piano Teacher episode, the Piano Teacher screams HANDS in the best/worst way possible. It's on par with Marky Mark's JAAAAAAAAAAAAAAKE in the Happening.

Brodie said...

Is Ghosts of Fear Street still happening in some capacity? Would you invesitgate The Nightmare room at all (which I only really know from one episode of the Tv show with ikkle Justin Berfield. So cute.)?

troy steele said...

The Ghosts of Fear Street is happening VERY SOON.

Chelsea said...

i've been waiting for you to do this one!! for some reason it sticks out in my memory. also, because someone has to say it: furries.

Jaya Lakshmi said...

"Bass guitar and drums are a lot easier to learn than the guitar, but not in Goosebumps world."

Eh . . . sorry, troy, but I have to disagree. Acoustic guitar is easier to learn than drums because drums require two of your hands. Many bass guitars are heavy as well.
Keyboard is harder than guitar, though, since it's like playing piano.

troy steele said...

I should have been clearer, all three played electric, not acoustic, guitar, complete with a fuzzbox(!), and all the children had a working knowledge of this and other effect-pedals... just like dogs.

I undersold how ridiculous their band is. In a realistic version of this novel, the band would have consisted of three tambourines and a pair of HitStix.

AL said...

Hey troy I just discovered this blog on Sunday and I am all the way to number well 26. Your blog is brilliant it also shows me how I wasted my childhood reading useless crap. Keep up the good work. I really need to stop reading this so much and focus on my college work. Oh well.

-Alan-

Z-man said...

So the tanning lotion was a red hair-ing, then?

Oh, I see, I'm 2 months late on that pun.

Oh well. I'd love it if you covered the "House on Fear Street" trilogy.

Ildikó said...

Many points for the casiotone reference.

Also hilarious review, I love this blog.

spysweepk said...

when you said RL stine slipped up because except for barking christmas songs they don't have musical talent, well they still got it right because thats why their band is terrible they can't hold the instruments right due to the whole dongs have no thumbs situation

awsome job love ur bjlogs i read em' everyday between classes

Kristine said...

New reader, discovered your write up on ThreeThousand, first time commenter. Hilarious blog. This is one of my favourite posts though. Ahh, what dodgy books of debatable levels of child-appropriateness.

Anonymous said...

(which I only really know from one episode of the Tv show with ikkle Justin Berfield. So cute.)

Reply: The episode of The Nightmare Room with Justin Berfield was called "A Tangled Web" about a kid's lies coming true because his substitute teacher tells him, "If you say that's what happened, then I believe you". The book version is vastly different; it's still about a boy who pays the price for lying, but the boy finds a boy who looks like him and gets sent to a parallel universe.

Anonymous said...

Is that... a The Apartment reference?

Wow, Billy Wilder movies are scarier than Goosebumps.

Chaos said...

Good to see that the origin of this running gag.

I've only read a couple of mainline Goosebumps books, and none of them in their entirety, but this was one of the couple that I happened to skim, along with Why I'm Afraid of Bees. I admit to being... very confused as to why any of these were at any point considered scary, especially when I had read a far superior children's horror series whose name I can't remember right now but I do remember it being genuinely creepy. I think I had goosebumps only because the air conditioning was turned too low.

Granted, I didn't have opportunity to read the better books of this series, such as they are, but the couple I skimmed did not impress, and that seems to be a common theme for this series.

"You're a dog." Srsly?

Anonymous said...

If you'll allow me to indulge in a little bit of smartass know-it-allery, dogs can actually see colours. They see a higher number of darker colours, such as blue and browns, as dogs are crepuscular (mostly active at dusk and dawn). The more you knooooow!

"You're a dog." What

Groggy Dundee said...

Here's the complete quote for you trivia mavens:

"It isn't the tanning lotion," Dad said in a quivering voice. "Larry, you've got to know the truth now. You're growing all that hair because you're not human. You're a dog." (Stine 119)

Cool Person said...

just a note- my middle school had battle of the bands competitions. And they were always really lame, almost like in the book minus the hair growth. but good write up :)

Anonymous said...

And BTW...HES GOT MONKEY EARS ON THE COVER??? WTF?!?!

forgotten sin said...

Anyone ever notice that his name is Larry Boyd? Possibly Stine's attempt to subtly reference basketball great Larry Bird. Though with Stine, it's as subtle as a safety pin in your intestine.

Marowak said...

Wow, you make a Modest Mouse reference and NO ONE mentions it?

I love you and everything about you, Troy Steele.

Anonymous said...

benny here. this oe was interesting. 6/10 adventureous just like the title.

Anonymous said...

I really didn't mind My Hariest Adventure. I thought it was very well written, and had a good twist. It was freaky because you would put yourself in Larry's shoes. Can you imagine growing thick hair all over your body? (and no I am not counting being pubescent, thank you very much! :)) The book was way better than the episode. In the episode, Larry is annoying as they come and his friends are total Jerks.

Love the dog playing keyboard clip!
Freaking Hilarious, Troy! You can always make me smile!

jasonZak said...

You love his BJlogs, huh? Seems odd and a little creepy as well…

Anonymous said...

This book has the distinct honour of being the last Goosebumps book I attempted to read. By attempted, I mean I borrowed it from the school library, read the first 2 or so chapters and then I quickly got bored with it so I never finished reading it.

Anonymous said...

The platonic b/g relationship wasn't that platonic. Kind of cute, sweet tiny voice, etc.

Anonymous said...

Dr. "Murkin?" Isn't that how Americans say "American?"

Anonymous said...

Love the Modest Mouse reference, the whole write-up was great too

Anonymous said...

Ha,ha Hilarious I used to love goosebumps they were daft though. Still it's part of the nostalgia.
I did always wonder why did they want to turn kids into dogs anyway and how is that good use of funding for research? Ah well ours is not to reason why...

Anonymous said...

I kid you not, when I watched the "Dog playing piano" vid on YT, a Regaine Foam ad appeared on the sidebar! :)

Anonymous said...

I would totally read a book where they turn out to be Marylin Manson. NO MATTER WHAT.

Anonymous said...

I never read the book but I remember after he becomes a dog again his cat Jasper is also revealed to have been transformed into a human. Also In the tv episode Lily wore a necklace that looked a lot like a dog collar is this in the book too?