"I wrote 63 songs this year. They're all about Jeter." Just kidding. The game we love, the players we hate, and more.

Culture and Criticism

From Norman Mailer to Wendy Pepper — everything on film, TV, books, music, and snacks (shut up, raisins), plus the Girls' Bike Club.

Donors Choose and Contests

Helping public schools, winning prizes, sending a crazy lady in a tomato costume out in public.

Stories, True and Otherwise

Monologues, travelogues, fiction, and fart humor. And hens. Don't forget the hens.

The Vine

The Tomato Nation advice column addresses your questions on etiquette, grammar, romance, and pet misbehavior. Ask The Readers about books or fashion today!

Home » The Vine

The Vine: November 24, 2010

Submitted by on November 24, 2010 – 11:08 AM10 Comments

A very happy (American) Thanksgiving to the Nation, and the safest of travels. Got a gift- or holiday-related question you need help with? Ask The Readers is here for you, so send those emails to bunting at tomatonation dot com. And now, your holiday-eve queries!


Dear Sars,

I need some assistance from you, and the Nation, in finding a comic that I saw a long time ago.

It was a single-pane comic and it featured an elevator. The title was called something like "Elevators at Motown" and the up switch said "Get on up" and the down switch said "Get down." I thought for a long time that I might have been imagining this entirely, but when I tried MetaFilter, the Cartoon Bank of the New Yorker, the Far Side Gallery Search, and Google, I came up with one other person who is also looking for the same comic, also with zero luck.

Can anyone help? Many thanks,



Dear Sars,

I've got a couple of books that I'd like to ask your readers about, though unfortunately I don't have a huge amount of details about either of them.

The first one is a YA book I read and really enjoyed when I was about ten or eleven, and I remember very little about it, except that the heroine was at a summer camp that she wasn't happy about being made to attend, and that before the camp she had had an incident with a hairdresser in which she'd indicated with her fingers the small amount of hair that she wanted to have cut off, but the hairdresser had interpreted it as the amount she wanted left on, so she ended up with a buzz cut.

My husband would love to find out the name of a science-fiction trilogy that he read when he was about the same age. He doesn't think they were YA books as they had a lot of very adult themes.

It was the story of a guy who was some kind of space policeman whose entire planet (well, its population) was destroyed by gas, and he just barely escaped because he was just leaving in his spaceship at the time. However, the gas got him a little bit, and made him very sick because it was getting into his bones. And then someone found him and did some kind of wacky (possibly mystical) surgery that basically made his bones unbreakable and him more or less immortal.

Later, he got into some kind of fight with some people who were torturing him with some kind of device that attacked the whole nervous system, and eventually they tried to kill him, but because of his special bones, he managed to survive and fake being dead till he could escape. Then he came back and killed them, and went after the people who destroyed his planet.

This all happened in the first book, but there were actually two more that my husband can't remember much about.

Does anyone know what these books are?


Be Sociable, Share!



  • Meri says:


    No ideas on your husband's book (sadly, as it sounds like something I would have read as a kid), but could yours be How to Survive Summer Camp by Jacqueline Wilson? Here's the wikipedia page:

  • clobbered says:

    Oooh! Finally I know one! Maddie's boyfriend's book is surely the "Last Legionnaire" series (actually a quartet) by Douglas Hill.

    Description of the first book (taken from his obituary, sadly):

    […] Galactic Warlord (1979), the first of a quartet of novels that turned him into a best-selling writer.

    The story starts with Keill Randor, the finest strike-group leader of the planet Moros, in search of fellow lost legionaries from his former country, now wiped out by a mystery attack of poison gas. Slowly dying of radiation, Keill is determined to take vengeance on his attackers while he can. Exploring every mean street in search of clues, he is the SF equivalent of the pulp- fiction private eye, permanently depressed but still sticking to a moral code and equal to every challenge.

    But his fortunes change when he meets Talis, the elderly head of the Overseers – a collection of leading scientists trying to protect the universe from its most deadly enemies. Talis replaces Keill's diseased skeleton with bones made of an unbreakable alloy, a sensible precaution given the amount of savage fights to the death he still has coming to him.

  • Maddie says:

    Thank you so much to Clobbered and Meri – you got them right off the bat, and we're so pleased!

    Thanks Sars for posting the query!

  • Dawn says:

    I don't know about an "elevators at Motown" cartoon, but I do recall an old issue of the The Onion, featuring an article on a Parliament (Funkadelic) debate over whether to "get on up" or "get down." I don't recall the exact issue, but it appeared sometime in the late 1990s or early 2000s.

  • Wehaf says:

    Piggybacking on Dawn's comment, is it possible the cartoon you are looking for is actually an "elevator in Funkytown" or something else similar? I know someone else independently remembered it as Motown, decreasing the chances of that, but maybe casting a slighter wider net would yield some results.

  • Profreader says:

    That Onion article is here:,625/

    I have been testing my Google-fu just to see if I can help track down the elevator cartoon (I know you've probably searched many times over, but hope springs eternal…) I seem to recall seeing it or something like it — a "Far Side"-ish cartoon, although it seems in my brain to be one of the Far Side ripoffs that were everywhere for a while.

  • Kristina says:

    I can't help you with your search, Stef, but wanted to tell you that just your description of the comic in question made me burst out laughing! Good luck finding it!

  • Allison says:

    I could've sworn the elevator button thing was an actual scene/dialogue/conversation in a sitcom. "Scrubs" and "NewsRadio" come to mind, specifically, but I can't place it.

  • Mrs. Apron says:

    I actually know one!

    I think the first YA book is "Yours Till Niagara Falls, Abby". The girl is red-headed, and ends up with a "shredded wheat" haircut. She goes off to camp with a friend, but the friend breaks her ankle, so Abby has to go alone. She ends up making a good friend, Roberta, having misadventures at summer campe, etc. I loved it when I was a kid.

Leave a comment!

Please familiarize yourself with the Tomato Nation commenting policy before posting.
It is in the FAQ. Thanks, friend.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>