Saturday, February 28, 2009

BSC #41: Mary Anne vs. Logan

Brief Synopsis

Logan Bruno, Mary Anne's long time better half, is on his way to becoming a scary obsessive boyfriend. He shows up randomly at Mary Anne's house, calls her repeatedly and is really bossy. MA pulls a Ross Gellar and asks for them to go on a break, which they do. A week or two later, on Valentine's Day, MA shows up for a sitting job at the Brunos' house (for Logan's two younger siblings), only to find out that he's secretly arranged an elaborate V-Day dinner for them, complete with gifts. She realizes he doesn't get it and a few days later she breaks it off with him officially.

Subplot: Jenny Prezzioso's mother is expecting a new baby and little Jenny, who's a spoiled brat, is jealous. Mary Anne, along with Stacey and Claudia, helps the P's host a baby shower, and eventually Jenny gets over herself when she meets the new baby.
  • This scary looking cover is from the British version. Logan looks kind of redneckish. Somehow, I always imagined him looking a little like Zack Morris--I have no idea why. And Mary Anne looks like she's carrying a crossbow.
  • At one of the meetings, Mary Anne thinks she's dressed like a nerd compared to Claudia. But Mary Anne is wearing a cropped t-shirt with a picture of a cactus sporting a cowboy hat. Wow, bare skin! On a BSC member? Shocking! Also, if I were a cactus with a propensity for hat wearing, I'd be rocking the tam 'o shanter look. Just 'cause.
  • After Mary Anne asks Logan if they can go on a break, she starts worrying that he's going out on a V-Day date with another girl. Have no fear, MA. I never thought Ginger was all that hot myself.

  • At the very end of the book, when MA goes out to talk to Logan to break things off, Dawn tells her that she needs to stop dropping everything for her boyfriend. Dawn, honey, how long ago was it that you were crying in your bok choy because you thought that a sixteen year old boy who took you out on one sort-of-date would have liked you better if you'd only gotten that third piercing in your ear? Taking relationship lessons from Dawn "I wanna be Travis's girl" Schafer--yep, always a fine, fine idea.
  • Speaking of Travis, this book reminds me of Dawn and the Older Boy because there's another scene where a boy orders for a girl without asking her what she wanted. (Travis orders Dawn a grilled cheese, Logan orders MA a cheeseburger, when she really wanted a grilled cheese.) For the record, Dawn says nothing to Travis because she's relieved that he at least didn't order any meat. Mary Anne complains even though she doesn't call back the waiter to change her order. Now who's the budding feminist in training?
  • At the meeting where Mary Anne reveals that she broke up with Logan, the other girls start reminiscing about all the boys they've loved before, like Stacey's lifeguard Scott, Alex and Toby from Sea City, Will from Camp Mohawk, and Terry from California. Claudia asks, "'How come we always fall in love when we're out of town and the relationship can't last?'" Because, Claudia, the carefully assembled team of ghostwriters doesn't have enough personality traits to sustain more than one well thought out male character at a time. And they've already used up "athletic," "controlling," "good with little kids" and "Southern" on Logan and "athletic," "good with little kids," and "looks good in a lobster suit" on Bart.
  • Jenny thinks that the stork brings babies. Claudia starts to tell tell her where they really come from, but MA stops her after she mentions something about Mrs. P's stomach getting much bigger. This is BSC world, after all. Where restrooms have no tampon dispensers and where the drugstore doesn't even have a family planning aisle.
  • Karen's going through some angst because of her pretend husband Ricky Torres. She even calls up the BSC and asks if they'll sit for her stuffed cats, Moosie and Goosie. Yeah, yeah, cute today, but wait till she's one of those creepy middle aged ladies who collects stuffed bears and dolls obsessively, and won't leave home without counting all of them, gives them all elaborate names like Reginald Furrington III, Esq., and even makes tiny teddy bears for her stuffed bears. Not that I'm describing anyone I know personally.
  • When Logan takes Mary Anne out ice skating and to play in the snow, he gets pissy when she says she's way too cold to enjoy it and wants to go home. Aw, come on, Mary Anne. What's dignity, comfort and fun got to do with it?
  • The Prezziosos had no real plan for when Mrs. P went into labor. The morning that they go to the hospital, they ring up Jessi at the last minute to come sit for Jenny because she was the only one available. So if she'd gone into labor at night or while the girls were all in school, they would have, um...what? Do the Prezziosos have no family? no adult friends? Seriously, someone has to break this nasty co-dependency that the BSC has with its clients.
  • When Mary Anne babysits for Jenny, they play a game called Flamingo Fight in the front yard while they wait for Jenny's parents to come home with the new baby. To play Flamingo Fight, you have to hop around on one leg blindfolded trying to knock each other over. We used to play this game when I was a kid, but we had a different name for it. I think we called it "How to turn your babysitting charge into roadkill without really trying."
  • Logan is the one who decides when their "break" ends, even though he's not the one who initiated it. He also was planning their reunion only a week after they'd taken a break. (They decide to cool things off on a Friday night, and MA tells Dawn, but she doesn't tell the BSC anything at school the next Monday. Then we jump to the next Monday meeting where she explains the break up and where Logan calls to set up Valentine's day.) I think MA should have run screaming from the house when she saw what was going on. Do you really want to wait until he starts making you watch "Citizen Kane" every night and showing you the glass coffin he'll keep your body in if you leave him?
  • MA gets a gold heart bracelet, a corsage, a gigantic box of chocolates and a spaghetti dinner meal for V-Day. The best thing I ever got was some cheap (um, I mean, lovingly crafted) origami animals. Oh, and the complete works of Alfred Hitchcock, which are going to fetch a pretty penny on eBay one of these days.
Words of Wisdom from Dawn Schafer

'"'Did he take part of you, or did you let him take part of you?'" Oh, Dawn, I totally want to go out and read The Second Sex with you, and then eat tofutti ice cream and talk about how the word "semester" is a sign of patriarchy and should be changed to "ovester." To the feminist bookstore!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

BSC #64: Dawn's Family Feud

When Dawn's little brother, Jeff, comes to visit from California, Dawn is stoked. The Schafer-Spiers decide they're all going to go on a weekend trip to Boston, and that at the end of the weekend, they'll have a family portrait taken. Everyone's excited, but of course, all goes to hell because blended families are the devil. Mary Anne's father, Richard, tries to bond with Jeff over sports, but since he's athletically disinclined, it's a little awkward.

Mary Anne and Dawn start picking petty squabbles over this, and then eventually all three kids start acting super obnoxious. The kids end up doing most of their sightseeing with their respective parents, and everyone is very sulky. When they get home, their portrait posing starts to go horribly until they see the Polaroids of how bad they look. Then everyone has a good laugh and they all inexplicably make up.

The B-plot? The BSC is sitting for the Barretts a lot more often and having to deal with another family feud (Mrs. Barrett is engaged to a man called Franklin who has four kids of his own). The kids all hate each other, but learn to become friends with a little help from the BSC. Except you know that they're totally going to back to hating each other again the next time the DeWitt kids make an appearance.

  • Dawn and Mary Anne don't know what the Boston Tea Party is. They're in eighth grade and they still don't know? I've known since I was in second grade. Granted, that's because I knew all about this girl:

  • And she taught me a hell of a lot more than Dawn ever did. Like, you can rescue animals without being preachy about it (take that, Jiggy Nye!), and that taxation without representation is so uncool.
  • When Dawn and her family go to the movies, Jeff orders Junior Mints and buttered popcorn. I thought he was also a health food fanatic, like Dawn. Is everything I thought I knew and loved about the BSC wrong?
  • Dawn goes on a whale watching trip with her mother and Jeff. I'm impressed Dawn managed to get through the trip without worrying about whether they're impinging on the whales' right to exist without being watched by oppressive humans, or lecturing anyone about turtles getting stuck in six pack soda rings. (I guess she figured wearing her "Save the Whales" button and her "The Earth: Save It Or Leave It" shirt made up for it.)
  • Dawn tells Mary Anne that her father looks like a complete dork trying to play sports with Jeff. MA responds, "'Dad didn't have to take time off from work...He did it for Jeff." You just know MA's going to hold those two days off against Dawn and Jeff forever when Richard fails to make partner next year.
  • Dawn writes postcards complaining about Mary Anne to the other BSC members. Nothing says classy like airing your dirty laundry.
  • Has Jeff always been this bratty? The morning of the trip to Boston, he decides he wants to go to D.C. Then after the whale watching trip, he refuses to go to the aquarium and then says he doesn't want to go out to dinner with the rest of the family which makes Sharon and Dawn feel guilty enough to stay at the hotel with him. And then he decides he wants to go back to California early. Now I know why Sharon barely disputed giving up her custody rights back when Jeff wanted to go live with his dad.
  • Mary Anne's pretty bad herself, though. Sharon and Richard rent two rooms, one for them and one for the kids. But MA decides she'd rather stay with the adults. So not only do Richard and Sharon have to deal with the kids kvetching at them all day, they're also not getting any until the trip is over. Groovy!
  • A formal family portrait seems like a bizarre idea for people as casual as Sharon and Dawn. Maybe it was Richard's idea. Does anyone outside of books, sitcoms and inbred upper class British twits ever have a portrait commissioned for no reason? I have never participated in one but maybe I just come from a super non-photogenic family.
  • Mallory goes along on to help out on a day outing that the Barretts and the DeWitts are taking together. Mrs. Barrett starts falling to pieces because she doesn't know what to pack for a lunch, so Mal tells her to bring some bread and various sandwich fillings and that way everyone can make their own sandwich. It disturbs me that even someone as scatterbrained as Mrs. Barrett can't figure this out without the help of an eleven year old. It also bothers me that everyone always points out how Mrs. Barrett is so hot she could be a model. No, dressing like you're on the cover of Vogue does NOT make up for being so incompetent that even a middle schooler can solve your problems.
  • When the Barretts and DeWitts go on their day trip, one of their stops is a puppet show that begins at three. Mrs. Barrett is annoyed because, apparently, everyone knows that all matinees start at two. Tell that to the producers of Jersey Boys, Mrs. B.
  • Mary Anne thinks it would be romantic if Mrs. Barrett married Franklin DeWitt. And I'll bet the almost never heard from Mr. Barrett thinks so, too. And by romantic I mean a big relief now that he can cut off her alimony checks.
  • In the end, Claud and Shannon get the Barrett and the DeWitt kids to become friends by showing them that they need a big group of kids for fun games. Their idea of funny games? Red Rover and Mother May I. My idea of funny games? Let's just say they involve Michael Pitt, Naomi Watts and a nine iron golf club. (And you really only need a family of three for my game, so I win!)

Bitchy Remark Du Jour

Sharon thinks posing in front of the fireplace is boring and that they should pose on the porch. Richard to Sharon: "'I say it's elegant. Much better than a family of hillbillies on the porch." Go, Richard, go! Now I know where MA gets her adorably snarky streak from.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Face on the Milk Carton
Fifteen year old Janie Johnson has the perfect upper middle class life in Connecticut (yes, I hate her, too). Apart from a milk allergy, she has it all—cute boy next door, rich parents, good grades and an alliterative name. Except one day at lunch, she sees a photograph of herself at age three on the back of a milk carton and recognizes herself. Supposedly she was kidnapped from a New Jersey shopping mall ten years ago and her real name is Jennie Spring. About two hundred pages of obsessing later, the conclusions?

Janie’s parents tell her that they had another daughter before her—Hannah, who joined the Hare Krishna cult as a young adult and got brainwashed. The Johnsons did all they could to get her back, until one day Hannah showed up with three year old Janie in tow, saying she was her daughter. The Johnsons assumed Janie was Hannah’s biological daughter from the cult and decided to raise her as their own (and Hannah disappears from their life forever to rejoin the Hare Krishnas).

Turns out Hannah, on the run from the cult, found Janie, or Jennie, at a shopping mall in New Jersey and took the child (for no real reason—but we’re given to believe she was something of a pathetic, lost soul). The book ends with Janie figuring all this out and then phoning her New Jersey family.
  • After reading this book, I assumed that the Hare Krishna movement was sinister. I couldn’t even listen to the George Harrison song “My Sweet Lord” without shuddering. (And not just because I’m a huge fan of the Chiffons.)

  • Janie looks at a picture of Hannah when going through stuff in the attic. “Sweet, blond, mild. The kind Sarah-Charlotte would refer to as a Used Rag Doll. ‘Not much stuffing in that one,’ Sarah-Charlotte liked to say of girls who were short on personality.” I hate you already, Sarah-Charlotte, and not just because you have a ridiculous double name.

  • The whole idea of Hannah being so passive and short on personality that she joins a cult is such lazy writing. If Will Smith and Shawn Hunter can fall in with bad crowds, so can anyone. Caroline B. Cooney could have constructed a normal, popular girl who joined a cult, and that would have been even creepier. After all, Hannah would not be the first pretty, rich blond girl to join a cult.
  • Much like myself, Janie is lactose intolerant and can’t drink milk. However, unlike me, she seems to think this is a bad thing and wishes she could drink milk like her friends. Her reasoning for swiping her best friend’s carton of milk is that when you eat peanut butter, you have to drink milk. I am so sick of mouth breathers who can’t function or answer simple questions about who shot Alexander Hamilton without glorified cow juice. So from page four, I knew our protagonist was a moron and I was completely unable to sympathize with her.

  • When I first read this book, the scene where Janie cuts school with her boyfriend, Reeve, to drive to New Jersey to track down her biological family really impressed me. From the car, she sees what she thinks are her brothers coming home from school to the Springs’ house and they all have red hair. When I first read this, I thought this totally proved that she was related to them. Except that milk carton girl had to have been a redhead or Janie wouldn’t have assumed it was her in the photo. And if Jennie Spring was a redhead, it makes sense that her family members would be as well. So really, this proves nothing and the trip to New Jersey is just another way to fill the book with incidents till the shocking denouement.

  • The Johnsons are obnoxiously rich. When Janie goes through a bunch of her old stuff in cardboard boxes in the attic, she finds some horrible Christmas tree sweaters that used to belong to her. Yeah, when you’re that rich, you pretty much have to buy stupid sweaters. It’s like a law. Janie also has an extensive collection of nightwear that range from flannel pajamas to teddies (dude, she’s fifteen!) and her mother is one of those do gooder women who tutors basketball playing Laotian kids and serves on hospital boards.

  • Oh, and Janie and her mother take cake decorating classes as a bonding exercise. Yes, cake decorating classes. I really wish I could photograph the cake Mrs. Johnson makes for the tailgating party in chapter six and send it to Cake Wrecks because somehow I know Mrs. Johnson can’t space to save her life.

  • Janie’s boyfriend and next door neighbor tells his older sister, Lizzie (who's in law school), about what’s going on because he figures they should get some kind of legal counsel. She also helps Janie’s parents sort everything out at the end of the book, and Mrs. Johnson even asks if Lizzie will meet with the New Jersey parents, the Springs, on their behalf. Reeve asking his older sister for advice, I understand, but Mr. and Mrs. Johnson? They’re rolling in it and they go to a first year law student? (And they’re actually surprised when said advice turns out to be wrong in the sequel.) Then again, who am I to judge? In college, my legal advice consisted of my token pre-law friend and the occasional nugget of wisdom I got from Miranda Hobbes.

  • The story ends with Janie getting in contact with the Springs. Actually, it ends with her dialing the phone and saying, “Mom?” as soon as she hears a woman’s voice. Cliff hanger-y and exciting, except no one’s even taken a DNA test or spoken to someone who’s passed the bar exam, so you might not want to be so quick to admit anything.

  • The years don’t really add up. Jennie Spring was kidnapped at age three, according to the milk carton, and that was ten years ago. Which would make Janie thirteen, not fifteen. But Jennie’s birth date is only six months prior to Janie’s. The back of the book says Janie was kidnapped twelve, not ten, years ago. I have no clue who to believe. All I can say is that she’s on the wrong side of sixteen (the age of consent law in Connecticut). Her sex obsessed boyfriend is seventeen, so you guys just might want to look into establishing how old she really is. (For the record, the age of consent is sixteen in New Jersey, but minors aged 13 to 15 can have sex with people up to four years older. Now we know why Reeve was so eager to go on that road trip to New Jersey.)

Conclusions and Improvements

  • I sort of sympathize with Hannah. I think I’d rather go join a cult than live in an upper class WASP nest. And not just because I look better in saffron robes than in twin sets and pearls.

  • Janie’s parents tell her that the reason they didn’t realize that she was a kidnapping victim was that they thought that the cult would do anything to track them and Janie down, so they were on the run for several weeks afterwards, too busy to watch news reports or read the papers. They seriously thought that the people who sold flowers in airports were going to be able to stalk them? This story would have been so much better if Janie’s parents really did know that Janie probably wasn’t their grandchild but were secretly fooling themselves because they were so desperate for another child.

  • This book would’ve also been a lot better if Hannah had to kidnap a young naïve woman so the cult could impregnate her with the son of Satan. But I got to read that book when I was in high school.

All in all, this was terrible, but I can’t wait to read the follow up.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

BSC #83: Stacey vs. the BSC

Brief Synopsis:

Stacey’s getting fed up with the BSC. Other than Claudia, the other girls seem way too immature for her, especially since Stacey’s been spending more time with her beau, Robert, and his mature friends. She’s also late to meetings and cancels her sitting jobs. This culminates in her throwing a party for her new friends that she decides not to invite the BSC to (except for Claud). Dawn and MA show up at the party to yell at her for not inviting them. The B plot involves the BSC having a talent show. Charlotte Johanssen plans to play the piano at the show, but freaks out when Stacey flakes and doesn’t come to support her. At the next club meeting, the girls all fight and Stacey ends up leaving the club.

  • You think that the girls would realize by now that Charlotte Johanssen is incapable of public performance after the meltdown at the Little Miss Stoneybrook pageant. Considering how well Stacey knows Charlotte and the fact that Stacey isn’t all that interested in the BSC’s little projects, I have no idea why she encouraged her to play in the talent show in the first place.

  • Stacey inwardly groans when she sees Mary Anne wearing an “I Love My Kitty” sticker on her backpack. Hey, you know, dress up MA in a short plaid skirt and her old penny loafers, with said cutesy sticker, and she’d fit in just great in a Max Hardcore video. I almost agreed with Stacey, though, for rolling her eyes when MA said that she and Stacey were still “bestest friends.” But then I remembered that I sometimes turn my r’s into w’s for comedic effect. Plus, the lolcats regularly misuse grammar and they’re way more popular than you’ll ever be, Stacey.

  • Someone was paying attention to continuity. When the other members of the BSC are at the burger place where Stacey and her friends are also eating dinner, Carlos Mendez walks in. Mary Anne, Dawn and Kristy all start giggling. In Mary Anne’s Makeover, there are rumors that Carlos, a high school guy, has asked MA to a dance. Thirteen year olds spazzing out about a cute high school boy that one of them was vaguely associated with? Realistic thirteen year old behavior for once! At the same time, Dawn has been on a date with an older guy herself and Kristy up until now has never been interested in giggling over boys (or anything, for that matter), so they do seem pretty immature compared with previous books.

  • Yeah, Dawn’s that annoying vegetarian you can’t take anywhere. She actually refers to meat as “cow carcasses.” Hey Dawn, you don’t win friends with salad.
  • Stacey thinks it’s immature that Kristy’s wearing mismatched socks and an old Krushers sweatshirt. When you guys get to college and have 9 AM classes, Kristy in her old clothes is going to fit in way better than the girl in a sexy dress and pumps. (I should know. I was the latter.)

  • Stacey refers to Dawn as “Nanook of the North” for wearing a long scarf and heavy coat when she leaves Pizza Express. As lame as Dawn is, I think this is the one time Stacey was wrong to criticize her. What, you want she should freeze on her way back from eating cow carcasses?

  • Stacey thinks her new friends are so considerate for bringing sugarless cookies to her party and asks herself how many friends would be nice enough to do that. Um, you know Claudia did that on a pretty much weekly basis for you, right?

  • When Stacey sits for the Newton kids, she stays on the phone with Robert and basically ignores Jamie, not realizing he’s got a stomach bug. Dumb, but you know, I’m surprised this doesn’t happen more often, considering they’re only thirteen.

  • Why is Ann M. so obsessed with little kids who model? One of Stacey’s new friends, Andie, mentions that she was a baby model and that her parents put the money she earned away for her college fund. Plus, in another book, Stacey makes an attempt at professional modeling when her mom makes her get a summer job (she also constantly reminds us that people tell her she could model but that she doesn’t want to skate by on her looks). And Dawn apparently was so cute that she won a cutest baby contest. I don’t know why, but it kind of makes my skin crawl. Maybe because we live in a world where this is possible:

Continuity Alert

Stacey tells us she spent some time with Robert on Fire Island. No, you selfish little pig, as my astute fellow BSC fans have noted, you practically shacked up with him. You “spent some time” with Claudia.

Stacey muses about her old best friend, Laine Cummings. She thinks that she may be outgrowing the BSC, just as she outgrew her friendship with Laine. Hmm. Laine obsessed over her boyfriend, thought that the babysitting was immature and mocked Stacey’s pig collection. Yeah, you’re the one who outgrew her, Anastasia.

Assessment of the BSC Members

Stacey’s a real bitch to the other members, but I can see why she wouldn’t want to hang out with them. Kristy’s also surprisingly immature, but I mostly hate her for being such a fascist about the club and for freaking out every time someone puts the BSC second in their life. Her childishness (sticking straws up her nose?!) is really out of character here. MA seems more or less okay except for when she shows up with Dawn to crash Stacey’s party. Dawn isn’t so much immature as she’s always been self-righteous and obnoxious and I’m surprised Stacey’s just now noticing. I don’t really count Mallory and Jessi since they are only eleven, and it’s not like they’re all that close to the older members.

Claudia’s the only one I actually feel bad for. She can’t bail on Stacey’s party since they’re best friends, but telling her to hide it from the BSC is just putting her in an awkward position. Claudia’s also the only one who points out at the final meeting that the real reason Stacey should be apologetic is that she broke a promise to Charlotte. To be honest, I think she was way better off without Stacey. (Yes, I mean both of them.)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

BSC #36: Jessi's Baby-sitter

Jessi’s mom goes back to work and so her dad’s older sister, her Aunt Cecilia, comes to live with the Ramseys to help run the household. Jessi and Becca feel that Aunt Cecilia treats them like little kids and they resent this, referring to her secretly as Aunt Dictator (ouch!). The subplot is that there’s a science fair at Stoneybrook Elementary School, and Jessi helps Jackie build a working model of a volcano, but ends up doing the whole project for him. Jessi learns to empathize with her aunt when she sees that she was just as controlling of Jackie as Cecilia was over her and Becca.

  • I love Jessi's dibbly fresh vintage wear on the front cover. And by love I mean hate. And by vintage wear I mean Bill Cosby sweater. With both parents working full-time, they're on their way to becoming the Huxtables in no time.
  • Jessi thinks that the big news is that her mom is expecting a new baby, and she’s super excited. What is with these kids? Kristy wanted her mom to have another baby and they go to pieces every time a client is expecting a baby. And Jessi’s got enough experience to know that having a baby around is kind of obnoxious.
  • Jessi and Becca play pranks on Aunt Cecilia in the hopes that she’ll leave. You know, when Jessi whines about not being treated like an adult by her parents, I find her a lot harder to take seriously considering she short sheets her aunt’s bed, puts shaving cream in her slippers and puts a spider on her pillows. Actually, the hardest part of this to believe is that someone her age knows how to short sheet a bed. I always thought that was one of those lame fifties summer camp things. Then again, the girls have already been to Camp Mohawk.
  • And word to the wise, Jessi, punking your nanny isn’t effective. It’s not even cute unless you look good in lederhosen and enjoy romping around the Alps.

  • And it’s not like you have the excuse of having no mom and a strict dad who doesn’t let anyone have a good time until a free spirited woman enters his life. That’s Mary Anne’s story.
  • Jessi and Mal put ridiculous signs on their doors to keep people out. Jessi’s is:

KEEP OUT (please)
  • Even Mallory thinks the sign is dumb. Always worrying when even Mal thinks you’ve done something stupid. (Mallory’s sign is much more succinct. Hers says “KEEP OUT OR ELSE.” Love the brevity—someone’s been digging out her Strunk and White!)
  • Jackie Rodowsky gets the idea for the volcano from The Brady Bunch. Good to know Ann M. has moved on from I Love Lucy.
  • Jessi describes Kristy as being less mature than the other thirteen year old members of the club because she doesn’t date and pays no attention to clothes or make up. Jessi, you know you just lost all credibility, right?
  • Kristy’s really condescending. David Michael keeps pitching ideas for the science fair and she ends up rejecting most of them (drawing a diagram of the planets, etc.). Dude, he’s seven. She also tells the others that she knows he won’t win. Hey, for a second grader, a mobile of the solar system is pretty good. And speaking of projects, the fact that Charlotte Johannssen is only eight years old and yet knows enough about science to make a control group when she’s doing an experiment about the effect of music on plants raised my eyebrows. (And that’s really hard to do, especially since the incident.)
  • Aunt Cecilia’s not even all that bad as a sitter. Jessi thinks she’s a bitch for not letting them take Squirt out for a walk when it’s cloudy. (I don’t think it’s all that realistic that an eleven year old would want to spend all her time taking care of her siblings, though, which is what Jessi would prefer to having Aunt C. here.) It sucks that she’s so upset about Jessi being ten minutes late. And not letting her go to the BSC meeting as a punishment is overkill, but the fact that Jessi doesn’t even say anything to her parents is just stupid. Oh, she also tells Jessi and Becca that they can’t have a sandwich for a snack, but instead have to eat some weird Dawn-esque health cookies. For really bad living situations, turn on TLC any time of the day or night.
  • Jessi also asks Kristy to phone her during the meeting so that Aunt Cecilia will feel bad for not letting her go to the meeting. The girls call fourteen times. Because that’s not passive aggressive at all.
  • Aunt Cecilia’s also apparently a bitch because she thought it was irresponsible for the Ramseys to go out of town for the weekend and leave Jessi in charge of her siblings. Gotta agree with her there. She’s eleven! Jessi didn’t earn herself any responsibility points when she wanted Aunt Cecilia not to call Mr. and Mrs. Ramsey and tell them Becca was missing because it would ruin their vacation. Aunt Cecilia, you rock.
  • We have to have yet another Jessi-is-black talk here. Aunt Cecilia explains that part of the reason she’s so hard on Jessi and Becca is because black people have to work so much harder to be respected. Okay, true, but some people just are dominating—the story plot works well even if her aunt is just a fairly critical type without dragging in the painfully labored racial awareness angle. Now, Aunt Cecilia, go give Obama a talk about how not wearing a suit and tie is going to hold him back.
  • Besides, lots of white people have horribly controlling relatives who micromanage their lives and sometimes they even manage to get a book deal out of it. Hmmm. Jessi is a dancer already…

I Hate Mallory Alert

Jessi mentions that Mallory isn’t feeling particularly pretty these days because of her braces. And I think that’s the closest they can get to saying Mallory’s ugly. It’s a little worse since Jessi goes on to describe herself as having super long legs and thick eyelashes. Well, when you got it, flaunt it, I suppose.

Continuity Alert

Jessi talks about the Little Miss Stoneybrook pageant, and says “‘We rehearsed the girls for the pageants” and Mal points out that they did, but they didn’t get up and do everything for them. Except Mal and Jessi were the only two who made a point of not getting involved because they thought the pageant was sexist.