The Spigot: Encyclopedia Brown author dies, taking Jon Lord with him
A couple of years back, the Spigot was taking the family for a nice walk in the district of East Vancouver when we happened upon a series of brightly coloured balls, hanging from trees in the vicinity of Victoria Park and arranged in an approximation of our solar system.
Being that it was an interest of hers at the time, the Spigot’s four-year-old daughter was quite taken with this display, voicing her childlike wonder at the majesty of the universe and “the poetry of heliocentrism reflected in this captivating work of public art,” blah blah blah (God, she talks a lot).
I could not permit this nonsense to go unchallenged. Unsheathing the scalpel of reason from my utility belt of rational materialism (as they say), I pointed out that the ball representing Mars would have to be hanging somewhere near Hope if this infernal “model” was meant to represent anything accurately, and then I angrily batted at the little ping-pong ball Earth and screamed “BULLSHIT AND LIES!” until the string broke and it flew off and landed beneath the wheels of a passing ice cream truck, where it belonged.
“Let that be a lesson to all of you!” I hollered at my family, secure in my conviction that the primacy of SCIENCE must never be suborned to the boo-hooing of some child with an undisciplined imagination. It was a bright and lovely summer day, and I’m sure we’ll all look back on it very fondly.
Anyway, I bring this up because I remember reading an almost identical scenario in one of the Encyclopedia Brown books that I devoured as a young Spigot in elementary school. Although in this case, Leroy “Encyclopedia” Brown (not be confused with his contemporary, “Bad Bad” Leroy Brown) used his scalpel of reason to scupper some con game involving a model of the solar system and the Grand Canyon (the memory’s a bit fuzzy).
Donald J. Sobol’s series about the junior detective Leroy “Encyclopedia” Brown is probably second only to Roald Dahl’s canon in my memory, and I suspect it’s the same for many millions of others. He died this weekend at the age of 87. There’s a very nice piece on Mediabistro about the author, who once said, “Readers constantly ask me if Encyclopedia is a real boy. The answer is no … He is, perhaps, the boy I wanted to be—doing the things I wanted to read about but could not find in any book when I was ten.”
Given his hostility to both science and literature, one wonders how things might have worked out if our PM had read the Encyclopedia Brown books as a pre-pubescent neoconservative in grey woollen short pants. Or indeed if he’d ever read any books at all. I guess we’ll never know, although I think we can reasonably expect that Harper will be among those rattled to learn today of the discovery of 14,000-year-old human shit in a cave in Oregon.
This presents yet another clear challenge to the belief that we were placed on the face of the earth like little action figures by our Lord and God back in 1926, or whenever these types think it was. And speaking of our Lord and God, Jon Lord of Deep Purple also passed today. As a session man, he played keyboard on the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me”, and as a key member of the mighty Deep Purple, Jon Lord taught us about the primacy of the Hammond B3.
You can follow Adrian Mack's contribution to the lobotomizing techno-nightmare known as Twitter at @AdrianMacked.