Monday, April 18, 2011

Series 2000 #24 Earth Geeks Must Go!

Dr. Cass Tatum, Notes on my psychiatric session with Troy Steele, 04/11/2011

After entering my offices, Mr. Steele attempted to sit in my leather-backed plush chair. After gentle prodding, Mr. Steele was persuaded to sit on the couch facing opposite me. Upon being prompted for his current emotive state, Mr. Steele simply waved a pipe feyly in the air and made vague dismissive tones. I asked him to kindly return my pipe to the side table where he found it. He declined and attempted a poor René Magritte reference. I had been warned to watch out for such referential behaviors and countered with a quick, "Pipe down." This quip silenced the young roustabout and allowed us to begin.

I began the session-proper by engaging Mr. Steele in some simple background questions. After some particularly evasive and antagonistic answers (Q: Where did you go to school? A: Oh, I went to the University of I Hope You Die of Poisoning), Mr. Steele began to open up about his continued absence from the internet. Mr. Steele had previously been the proprietor of a popular web-site, Blogging Anywhere, and it was his continued absence from this internet journal that had prompted several of my patients to mention his plight in passing. However, as our discussion progressed, Mr. Steele proved less interested in questioning the limited mental acumen required to mock cheap books written for small children and far more invested in discussing his current difficulty in writing a new update. After several minutes of feverish plot description of the book in contention, I paused our session to fetch a tape recorder. So fantastical and confounding were the words coming out of Mr. Steele's mouth, I knew for certain that I would not be able to do justice to the madness unless I could transcribe it directly.

Doctor: Sorry about that. Now you were saying that in the-- I thought I asked you to please not play with that pipe. It's been in my mouth, you know.

(The patient then heaved pipe across the room. I later found it wedged between the leaves of one of my many office ficuses)

Patient: Why do you leave things that have been in your mouth just lying around? That's disgusting. I thought doctors were hygienic?

Doctor: I'm not that kind of doctor.

(Patient holds up empty pill bottle)

Patient: So, I'm not going to be able to get this filled while I'm here?

Doctor: Mr. Steele, you were telling me about this children's book that was difficult for you to read. Would you mind telling me about it again, for the sake of posterity?

Patient: Well, I guess posterity's never done anything to cross me, so sure. So it's called Earth Geeks Must Go, and right away we're introduced to this kid named Jacob, who tells the reader that he's just an ordinary kid. He goes through a lot of trouble at the beginning of the book to convince the reader that he's ordinary and boring and not even remotely interesting. Well, other Goosebumps characters convinced me of that without going through nearly as much work. Jacob gets an eh for effort though and opens the book by describing himself as nondescript-- which in retrospect is some feat, really-- and listing the dull things that he's into, which are bland enough to double for the Facebook interests of anyone who graduated from state college with a business degree. But despite all this front-loaded detail, Jacob shortly finds that once his first day of school arrives, he can't remember anything about himself. He finds himself in a strange classroom in a strange school being taught strange lessons in a strange language, a scenario that could only be described as--

Doctor: Heteromorphic?

Patient: Exactly. Things only get worse when he goes to eat lunch and all his new classmates start shoving their food into their armpits.

Doctor: What.

Patient: Yeah, and that's one of the major plot hinges, too. Everyone else in the school is shoving food into holes in their armpits and they actually get physically ill when they spy Jacob trying to put a sandwich in his mouth.

Doctor: Is it possibly meant to be some sort of anorexia commentary?

Patient: Bulimia maybe, because you'll definitely want to throw up after a few pages of teethed-armpit-eating. But luckily Jacob catches the eye of a short-banged classmate who isn't shoving food under her arm and they sneak outside to discuss what's going on. Turns out this girl, Arlene, also eats normally and she too can't remember how she got to the school. While trying to figure out what's going on, the two kids are attacked by scores of gross hairy bugs called Splatters. While the two roll around trying to fend off the attack, a gaggle of their new classmates gather around and fend off the insects' assault with high pitched singing. See, here's where I'd make a reference to a musician with an unusual or unappealing voice.

Doctor: Why?

Patient: Because people like feeling smart enough to get pop culture references that are even remotely obscure, which lends my site an esoteric vibe that all so-called outsider comedy thrives on. Also references are way easier to write than real jokes.

Doctor: So, for instance, if you were to say that the two kids were anxious to thank Judy Holliday for coming to their rescue--

Patient: Exactly. See, this stuff writes itself.

Doctor: But it obviously doesn't if you take so long to write an update.

Patient: Well, see, the problem is rarely the books, no matter how terrible they are. The problem is that I feel like I've already done all I can within the format I've established. There's only so many times I can say the same thing. I mean, do you realize that there are like eight books all about an evil ventriloquist dummy?

Doctor: I'm confused, I thought these were books for kids. Why would kids want to read about ventriloquism?

Patient: And that's the least of the series' problems. All these Goosebumps books follow a clear formula of artificial threats mixed with ludicrous actual threats, coupled with a dozen or more recurrent conventions that I studiously document every entry. And then, every once in a while, the author will just throw in some weird garbage that unfolds for six or seven pages before being revealed to be a dream. RL Stine loves non sequitur dream sequences like Tumblr users love Skins. Ack, see, I can't stop!

Doctor: I guess in a sense even your being here is a reference, since you were referred to me!

(The patient proceeded to give me a stern, disapproving glare)

Doctor: Sorry... So, you were saying that the entries themselves are hard to write?

Patient: No, that's not it. It's just that I kind of feel like all of the nostalgic glee that used to fuel my earlier entries has been replaced with easy tomato-lobbing-- I didn't read these more recent books when I was a kid, it's hard for me to figure the appeal this new series has for anyone, and thus making fun of something that obviously sucks seems like something less than a challenge.

Doctor: So, if it's not fun anymore, why not quit?

Patient: "Quit"? That's your advice? You are a terrible doctor, unless you are an addiction specialist, in which case you are a wonderful doctor. No, not only am I not going to quit, I'm going to go back to a regular update schedule. I just have to figure out a way to not bore myself writing these updates. And if that means that occasionally I have to do a self-indulgent meta entry, then so be it.

Doctor: Well, would anyone even want to read that?

Patient: Of course! There's a reason why everyone's favorite M. Night Shyamalan movie is Lady in the Water.

Doctor: Uh, actually--

Patient: Anyway, we got sidetracked there for a moment. Let's talk about those gross bugs.

Doctor: Oh right, I forgot all about that.

Patient: Don't sweat it, I forgot all about it while I read it. Anyway, from what I can recall, what happens next is the two kids are approached outside the school by a disheveled-looking man in a raincoat, and afraid that he wants these Earth geeks to come, the kids hightail it away from him. The two struggle to remember where they came from and Jacob vaguely recalls one of the houses around the block looking familiar. Once inside the house, the two start watching TV and learn that the planet they are on is under invasion by "Earth Geeks." Oh, and I forgot to mention, instead of creating a unique and interesting alternate reality, Stine just makes this world slightly weirder than our own and smudges words.

Doctor: What does that mean, he smudges words?

Patient: Well, instead of signifying a new language, he merely presents familiar-sounding words with their letters smudged-- things like "trelth grade" and "double meener." It's really snucking flupid.

Doctor: I snee mut you did mere.

Patient: Anyway, uh, how we doing on time?

Doctor: We could wrap this up anytime. I do have a sandwich waiting for me in the fridge, but, you know, it's in the fridge, so it's not like it's going to go bad.

Patient: Unless the fridge breaks.

Doctor: Why would you say that?

Patient: Huh?

Doctor: Why would the fridge break?

Patient: I don't know. I was just making polite small talk.

Doctor: What do you know about the fridge? What did you do to it?

Patient: Nothing, jeez! Can we get back to my session?

Doctor: You'd like that, wouldn't you? While we talk and talk, the fridge gets less and less... Very clever, getting me to talk about children's books when my sandwich is in peril. Now, if you're excuse me.

(Several minutes pass)

Doctor: Okay, well, I'm sorry about that. Go ahead and continue, please.

Patient: Look, I'll level with you: I'm not really here for psychiatric slash therapeutic slash whatever kind of doctor you are-ic care. I just parked in your garage while I went to go see Hanna across the street and didn't realize that the theater didn't validate parking.

Doctor: You're aware that an hour session here costs way more than it would cost to validate parking, aren't you?

Patient: Well, it would, if I had any intention of ever paying you.

Doctor: I've really got to stop opening sessions with the parking validation. Okay, fine, but can you do me a favor and let me know how the story turns out. Call it morbid curiosity.

Patient: Well, she shoots Cate Blanchett.

Doctor: Not the movie you saw, the children's book!

Patient: That was the book. Like I said, Stine's a master of the non sequitur.

After our session ended, I sought out the rest of the story online, in the form of a Wikipedia entry on the novel. It was from there that I discovered that the strange dirty man was really the father of Jacob and Arlene, and that these "Earth geeks" had been taken to this new planet by those gross insects and armed with a secret bomb. Jacob diffuses the bomb and unleashes a screeching siren that kills the bugs. The weird people on the new planet hail the "Earth geeks" as heroes, but this is not enough for the family and they travel in an experimental rocket ship back home, only to discover upon arrival on "Earth" that everyone has lizard heads. This is then followed in the Wiki entry by the word "BOOBS" repeated sixty times. That Stine really is the master of the non-sequitor!


Anonymous said...

Oh, it's this one! I confused it with Calling All Creeps. I can definitely see how you would have trouble seeing the appeal of this. I read both it and the review and I've already forgotten how it ended myself.

UnclGhost said...

Gee, Troy, maybe you should have gotten an actual referral while you were there...

(Also, is it "Earth Geeks Must Die" or "Earth Geeks Must Go"?)

DarkfireTaimatsu said...

Troy, you magnificent bastard, you've done it again. If there's several things I love, one of them is well-done meta-humour.

The doctor says "What." It's classic.

Don't worry too much about having to keep it interesting, Troy. We love you anyway. I've read every entry at least three times, even that really short one for Egg Monsters From Mars. In fact, I should probably read that one six times to even it out.

And as for the book, to me it sounds absolutely dreadful, in that it is not absolutely dreadful. To me, the middle-of-the-road, forgettable books are worse than the awful or good ones, since there's nothing of them about which to talk. If you need to spice up the entry for such blandy-books, do it. But don't forget the classic formats that we all love, too.

Here's to you, Troy, and to your many future entries, to your platonic boy-girl relationships, to your memorable cliffhangers and flat whats, to your esoteric jokes and your vomiting scenes, and most especially to your parking validation being five dollars.

Trist said...

Is.. is it true? Are you really back? You've got my hopes up so many times before... I know I shouldn't but I just can't stop trusting you.. My mother warned me this would happen but I just wouldn't listen.

M R said...

Aww sheeeit! Good to have you back Troy! excuse me while I pop on down to hell and build a snowman

troy steele said...

Don't worry, the format isn't going anywhere. And I'm not either. [/inspirational]

Groggy Dundee said...

Um... that was odd.

Chad Walters said...

Well, luckily, you only have one Series 2000 book left, and then you can move on to the suprisingly-pretty-good Horrorland series. Even given how you feel about Horrorland, I think you'll like them.

David T. said...

I get references.

Revengeofevan said...

Alright. Now powerhouse through the next, final book, Aulnz Traulnz! By the way, did you just let these books stockpile so that we could enjoy reviews more often?

Damian Garcia said...

Glad that the one day I decided to check up, was the day we get an update! Loved it. And I hope hope hope that we get regular updates. Cauoose uve svill glaut it.

Anonymous said...

Remember when Troy's entries actually gave an adequate summary of the book?

Groggy Dundee said...

I don't think Troy's to blame for the quality of this entry.

Anonymous said...

Who can turn the world on with a smile?

Anonymous said...

Loved the new entry. Am very excited to hear about more regular updates(unless I misread).

Mission Inc said...

This, by god, has got to be the creme-de-la-creme entry of this whole damn blog. I'm not even just saying that because it's been such a long time; hell, you could have come back with a regular entry and it would be business as usual. No-sir-ree here, bob. You actually went out of the fucking way to write an entry that was not only completely different, but it hilariously and very effectively conveyed what I have perceived as your decimated patience over the remainder of the books. And I really love that, because you actually explained without explicitly explaining the pretty rational reason why you've been away from the blog so damn long. It's a reason I can totally buy, cuz it really sucks when what you did out of nostalgia is now out of obligation. I totally feel ya. But man, the way you integrated the book's plot into the dialogue was just brilliant. I actually really hope you bring variety to your entries from now on, if not for the incredible humor, then at least for your own relief at not having to do the same type of entry over and over again. It was great seeing you again, sir. Thank you.

Groggy Dundee said...

Actually Mr. Inc, at the risk of sounding critical I'd want less of this sort of comment. It's fun as a one-time thing but this level of meta-humor/self-analysis couldn't be sustained from post to post.

On the other hand I wouldn't mind an occasional quiz. Troy does those pretty well.

Mission Inc said...

It's not about having an entry as specifically exact as this one. Believe me, if I wanted that sort of thing, I would have specified it. I said I wanted variety, not entries exactly like this. The sheer desire to break out of what I suspect Troy believes to be a mindnumbing routine is a much stronger sign of Troy wanting to do more, represents his new interests, as opposed to writing the same type of thing all over again. We always act like little pigs demanding for more slops of entries when we never consider just what effect writing these entries would have on Troy. And I think it was important for Troy to write this entry in this different way so as to properly convey his feelings for the current state of the blog. If he had just flat out stated them, we wouldn't really understand or care. So, yeah, your dislike of doing things differently is duly noted, but sometimes people want to do things differently and they may have personal or professional reasons for doing so and that's something you just have to accept.

Zenuk said...

I'm still skeptical of the return to regular updates, but if you really are this was quite the way to bring them back.

ALB said...

Wait, everyone else gets references too? Like, EVERYONE? This means that I'm...not special?

...does anyone have the number of that psychiatrist?

Anonymous said...

With only one 2000 book left, I can't see that it matters particularly. Troy will develop whatever style the book in question demands, and HorrorLand is a bit of a different animal.

Anon e Mouse Jr. said...

Found "Night of the Giant Everything" at the local B&N earlier today. More news as it comes.

Until next time...

Anon e Mouse Jr.

Groggy Dundee said...

"your dislike of doing things differently is duly noted"

Your ability to condescend through generalization is quite impressive.

Spongey444 said...

NOW my life is complete

But one question still remains...

Is there vomit in this one?

Groggy Dundee said...

"Is there vomit in this one?"

Don't hundreds of exploding alien bugs make up for it?

I think there are some places even Stine wouldn't go - like vomiting out of your armpits.

Travis C said...

Epiic blogg. Really unexpected! Glad to see you back!

Anonymous said...

There is one Horrorland series book I consider to be good, and that's "Help! We Have Strange Powers!" It's very different from the usual Goosebumps fare... at least for a while.

However, the one involving Dr. Mutant or whatever his name is was pretty interesting too.

At least please check those out. They don't totally suck.

Groggy Dundee said...

Help! We Have Strange Powers! is pretty good. My Friends Call Me Monster is hilarious though I'm not sure if it's intentional or not.

Spongey444 said...

GB Horrorland as a whole is pretty good, by goosebumps standards anyway.

I'm sure Troy will like some Horrorland books, and if he's like me, he'll hate the first one.

Groggy Dundee said...

So Ghost in the Mirror should be up in the next twenty-four hours. I can't wait.

troy steele said...

It'll be up at 12:01AM PST, to be exact

Anonymous said...

I stumbled across your blog one afternoon when I should have been working and I've been hooked ever since. I was in hysterics with this entry. Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

was poop

Justin's Beaver said...

GRRRR! some faggot deleted the Earth geeks must go entry as well as all the other books!

Anonymous said...

the only thing scary about this is the cover. It's kind of creepy and would probably be confused for an Iron Maiden album cover.

tsmall said...

I always liked this book. Sure, the cover is completely stupid, and the "Cliffhanger" chapter ending about the ship exploding always irritated me (I mean, come on! He was narrarating the whole book! How could he do that if he blew up?!? We're not stupid, R.L. Stine.) But, I thought it was very well-written and had a creepy atmosphere. Although the whole "I could read their thoughts" was stupid, as well as the whole "eat through your armpits, read with your tongue" just seemed ridiculous, the entire book was okay up until the ending, where it felt rushed.
P.S. You don't have to keep struggling to find new ways ton interest us! You are hilarious when it is the typical blog form.
The great prose alert for this should have been:
"I've never seen so much champagne and cake flowing into people's armpits before!"
And I was inspired by you and the Nostalgia Critic to make my own blog. It is
The books we review make Goosebumps seem like Shakespeare. Really.

Spongey444 said...

"No, not only am I not going to quit, I'm going to go back to a regular update schedule. I just have to figure out a way to not bore myself writing these updates. And if that means that occasionally I have to do a self-indulgent meta entry, then so be it."

Troy, that comments is EXACTLY why i love this blog.

Anonymous said...

This is one of the best entries on the blog