Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Where Are They Now?: The BSC Edition

Be honest, you don't really want to know whatever happened to the kid who played Paul on the Wonder Years or that dog from Full House. (Okay, okay, he went on to play Air Bud.) Let's focus on some people whose fates we really want to know!

Kristy
. CEO and/or founder of pretty much every organization at Stamford's Women's Correctional Facility where she's been for the last eight years since Karen Brewer was found on the third floor of the Brewer mansion with an ice pick in her skull. She's currently pioneering the Penpals program where women in prison write to girls between the ages of five and twelve.

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Mary Anne. Owner of Cute Overload, 4chan, icanhascheezeburger.com, and Cute Things Falling Asleep, Mary Anne decided long ago that the best way of sublimating her pesky urges (same sex or otherwise) was by delving into all things saccharine. Of course, let's not forget that MA is pretty passive aggressive and downright nasty when push comes to shove. She's capable of sighing over Keropi frog wearing a bow tie one minute and laying off an entire factory of Indonesian children going blind as they create I made you a cookie but I eated it pencil cases the next.

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Claudia. In between stints at the Tracy Gold Center for Bulimia, Claudia went on to use her love of art and pop culture in a unique way. Remember those adorable little girl icons we adored as kids? Yeah, Claudia's the one that made Strawberry Shortcake and Rainbow Brite into the wet dream of the type of guy whose favorite show is Toddlers and Tiaras. And I hear she's behind Dora the Explorer's transition from moon faced, adventurous toddler to fashion and weight conscious tween.

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Stacey. Stacey's a hobag at heart. No, not for money--dad keeps her in insulin and apparel from Bloomie's, after all. But she's always going to be the BSC's best lil attention whore. After doing the model slash actress slash accountant thing, she finally figured that the best way of stretching out her fifteen minutes was to publish a memoir. As soon as Ed McGill kicked the bucket (work induced heart attack), Stacey published Hypoglycemic on Arrival, where she discussed what really happened when her dad showed up the night before her wedding begging her not to go through with it. I'll give you a hint. It makes his line in Stacey's Lie ("How would you like to go buy yourself a pretty summery something to wear to dinner tonight? I'll take you to the Lion's Lair") look as wholesome as a PBS creation.

Dawn wrestles with her two sides--the independent, "You don't own me," "That's Ms. Schafer if you're nasty!" side and the "I wanna be Travis's girl" part of her persona. She published a sequel to the The Beauty Myth about how wearing ripped sweat shirts looks hot and how to best do Sexy Face on your MySpace page pictures...and how all of those things are examples of how patriarchy sucks out our souls, puts them through a blender, and makes Oppression Shakes out of them.

Mallory. Like all former ugly three legged eight winged ducklings, Mallory probably does everything (and everyone) to seek validation of her freckled, pale, droopy assets. So when I stumbled onto the blog, Confessions of a College Call Girl, I realized that our little Mal had grown up.

I could tell from stuff like this:
I think that's part of why I do this. I've felt like such an ugly duckling all my life and the idea that men want to fuck me--want to fuck me so bad that they'll PAY for the privilege, just really gets me. I had at least 5 different men tell me I was beautiful. That word slays me every time.
Or this...
I know now those boys at school were so mean to me because they wanted to fuck me. They could feel the latent sexuality radiating off of me, sending signals to their underdeveloped hormones. But I was too smart, too brazen, and too impossibly scary for them. I was an adult taste like caviar, and they were accustomed to cheeseburgers.
Jessi. Oh, you didn't think she actually became a ballet dancer, did you? That would be too easy. When she hit the big 1-4, she inherited Aunt Cecilia's metabolism and her dreams of Swan Lake disappeared along with her size zero hips. On the plus side, she still had her rigorous training, her great posture, the organizational skills she learned at the knee of Kristy Thomas, and Aunt Cecilia's sense of sass. And trying to get Becca and Charlotte ready for that play in BSC Summer Vacation was perfect prep for founding her own Runway School.

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Abby. Oh, Abby-come-lately. I just don't care what happened to you. What is it with girls with A names trying to insinuate themselves into already established groups? There's our Abby. And Andie McPhee whom everyone hated because she just wasn't Joey and yet had the audacity to date Pacey. And Audrey who filled the sex/drugs/rock'n roll vacuum of Dawson's for a couple of seasons. And poor Andrea whose overachiever status and penchant for Hispanic pro life law students never won her any favors around the Peach Pit gang.

Anyway, Ann M., you know the rules. When a blonde leaves, another blonde should take her place, and when a brunette leaves, another brunette should replace her (or at least that's what I learned from Shannon Doherty's 90210 departure)--strike one against Abby. So what happened to Abby? In my vision, she went into that part of the hallway we never see, along with Stewart Minkus, Mr. Turner, Chuck Cunningham, Tiger from The Brady Bunch, and Judy Winslow.

And the rest. Logan's the inspiration for the Vince Vaughn/John Travolta film Domestic Disturbance, Shannon went to high school and changed her name to Tracey Enid Flick, Janine Kishi writes webcomics under the pen name Randall Munroe, and Gabbie Perkins is in a weather balloon still orbiting the earth.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Build a Better Chick Lit: The Nanny Diaries

http://a2.vox.com/6a00e3989977b1000200e398dcffa20003-500pi

The Nanny Diaries is a timeless tale of chick lit...ery. Our protagonist, an NYU psych major, goes to work for an Upper East Side (read: insane) family and learns a lesson...the lesson being that rich people with hired childcare are obnoxious snots. Which I already knew. (Hey, one of my high school yearbook jokes was "You know you're from _____ton if you fondly remember your darky nanny.")

Let's meet the cast of characters. FYI--this book is so incredibly paint by numbers. I see it less as fun lite poolside reading, and more as the template I'd suggest to anyone writing a chick lit book about a pretty, spunky everygirl who takes a job she hates while trying to woo the guy she likes with a hefty side of what passes for wit nowadays. First off, the characters aren't fleshed out people--they're archetypes. Most of them don't even have real names.

Meet the cast

We have Mrs. X, an uptight sour puss. She's a stay at home mom obsessed with getting her five year old son into the right kindergarten, into the right afterschool activities, and on the right playdates, yet who somehow spends less time with her kid than workaholics Miranda Hobbes or Murphy Brown. And she takes out all her frustrations--sexual and otherwise--on the help.

http://dearbloginheaven.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/betty-draper1.jpg
(Except Stepfordier.)

Our protagonist, Nanny. Yes, her name is actually Nanny. No, it doesn't make it better that her friends occasionally call her Nan.

http://images.fanpop.com/images/image_uploads/Nannies-nanny-911-91217_400_600.jpg

The token love interest: Harvard Hottie. He's from Harvard. He's hot. What more could any woman want? Nanny meets him in the X's building. And yes, that's what Nanny refers to him as. H.H. for short.

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Mr. X. Workaholic extreme, goes to any length not to hang out with family. See also: philandering douchebag.

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Grayer Addison X. (Yay, a real name! I guess Emma and Nicola's editors thought naming him Baby Boy Doe was a bad idea.) He's five. His mom would probably sell him to the circus if Parenting magazine said it was a good idea, and his father has barely any idea he exists. I actually feel pretty sorry for him.

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So, what else makes this book Chick Lit by Numbers? You can tell that the two authors (themselves former nannies and first time book writers) broke down what makes a book chick lit, diligently filled in scenes and characters, and voila--insta book. Here we go:

A hilariously embarrassing scene. Our heroine has to undergo some indignity. Bonus points if the sexy guy sees her. Think Bridget Jones's cellulite ridden ass bouncing up and down the fireman pole on TV for all to see. Or Jane Eyre's skirts blowing out in the wind exposing her petticoats while Mr. Rochester takes his daily constitutional in the garden. (What? You didn't read the unexpurgated Eyre?) In this case, Nanny has to accompany the X's to a work-related Halloween party to watch Greyer. Nanny and Greyer are both dressed as Teletubbies. Horror of horrors, Harvard Hottie sees Nanny in the elevator dressed as Tinky Winky.

A healthy dose of self deprecation. Chick lit chicks have made an art out of being confidently self-deprecating. Of course they're still white chicks with loving families, so a line like "I went back to my cardboard box under a bridge to whore myself out for a sandwich" is too deprecating. "I scanned the wardrobe of my three bedroom apartment wishing I didn't have so many cute outfits" is too confident. Nanny has rich parents, a grandmother who spoils her rotten, but lives in a sixth floor walk-up studio apartment that she shares with a bitchy flight attendant.

Of course, in my experience, the best way to make a girl likable but not too intimidating (at least according to my dear two dimensional friends) is her dress size. A size zero and she's too intimidating. Anything in the double digits and the reader feels too superior. But make her a pretty girl who's carrying a teensy bit too much fat (and who bitches about how orgasmic chocolate chocolate surprise is and how masochistic anyone who voluntarily uses the Stairmaster is) and she's every woman! And that is why they call it a perfect size six.

Evil employer. Employers in chick lit books about work are ruthless castrating bitch goddesses. For example, Mrs. X cares about getting her son into the perfect kindergarten, but has no idea he's even had the croup. The spunky heroine still goes to great lengths to defend her when push comes to shove. Whether it means hunting down lingerie that her boss's husband's left in the bedroom (yeah, I know, awkward), or running clear across Paris to let Nuclear Wintour know about a buy-out she's already aware of, our heroine endears herself to the reader by licking the hand that smacks her.

Protracted romance. There's got to be something inane keeping chick lit girl from the boy of her dreams. Anything from, "Um, I have to find myself, and get involved with art, and make out with the homosexual spaz who just came to town with his neurotic schizoid sister," or the fact that he thinks you wear snowman sweaters as a matter of course. In this case, it's H.H.'s idiot friends. After work one night, Nanny shows up at a bar to down a martini and internally kvetch, and winds up meeting H.H.'s high school friends who hit on her and ask her if being a nanny means she sleeps with her boss's husband.

Our angel wears Prada. Bourgeois sensibilities are the name of the game here. Whether she's Emma Bovary or Carrie Bradshaw, there's no ill (AIDS, ennui, a broken engagement) that an expensive garment won't cure. No matter how hideous the article of clothing, as long as it's stamped with a designer label, all is good. Even if she's a self professed smart girl who doesn't know an eyelash curler from a hole in the ground, when Pat Field breaks out the Chanel mink pashmina or the Burberry jumpsuit, it's on. And Nanny is no exception. When Mrs. X, the original Louis Vuitton mom, says she doesn't want a pair of silk lavender Prada heels, and tells Nanny she can have them, our little minx explodes: "PRADA! As in Madonna. As in Vogue. As in, watch me walk off in style..."

If you'd like to read this for yourself...well, clearly you haven't been paying close attention to this blog post. But hey, maybe you'll be able to churn out a book for yourself.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Rose and the Beast: Fairy Tales Retold

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This is yet another Francesca Lia Block story collection. After Girl Goddess #9, it was my favorite, and I'm ashamed to admit that Charm was my favorite story. One of the back cover reviews describes this collection as "lush beautiful words [that] turn modern-day Los Angeles into a fantastical world." I call it Franny's Fractured Fairy Tales.

Charm

Looks like Francesca "Don't call me Franny!" Lia Block churned out a short story with yet another "Oh, life would be so much easier if only I were ordinary looking!" protagonist. This story is a convoluted Sleeping Beauty re-imagining, where the title character is Rev, a gorgeous drug addled woman who sleeps with men in exchange for heroin. (Get it? She pricks herself and falls asleep?)

Rev goes to a party with some creep called Pop who shoots her up with the good stuff at the house of same actress named Charm. Then while she cruises on the heroin, a bunch of guys take pictures of her and I assume try to violate her seven ways from Sunday. Charm shows up and kicks out the guys, then invites Rev to stay while she recovers from the addiction. Only in FLB world can letting a drug addict end without Charm's TV, stereo, CD player, and basic faith in humanity disappearing into the night.

Charm helps Rev kick the habit and then it turns out that they were both adopted as kids and were part of the same family who apparently pimped them out and had pornographic photos taken of them. But now that they've discovered each other, they can become lovers, and all is well.

Quotable quotes

Was the curse that she was born too beautiful? Had it caused her real parents to abandon her, fearful of the length of lash, the plush of lip in such a young face? FLB, goddamnit, stop cribbing from your notes from back when you wrote copy at Maybelline. Was it the reason the men with cameras had sucked away her soul in little sips because any form that lovely must remain soulless...? Francesca, I swear to god. And no, you don't get bonus points for alliteration.

Was it what made Old-Woman-Heroin's face split into a jealous leer as she beckoned Rev up to the attic and stabbed her with the needle that first time? Oh, FLB, you took this tired old Sleeping Beauty metaphor way too far. Is Old-Woman-Heroin an old washed up heroin chic model, who at the old crone age of 35 cursed Rev out of jealousy at not being invited to baby Rev's christening in a toilet bowl in a bathroom at that bar off Avenue A?

http://www.freewebs.com/willbecome/heroin%20chic%20girl%20on%20lawnchair.jpg
(Mirror Mirror on the Wall/Who's the most emaciated of them all?)

Credit where credit's due

I have to give Rev some credit. Her breasts are described as "heavy" and "satiny." It takes some serious talent to shoot up heroin and still retain a figure that Kate Winslet, Beyonce, and Crystal Renn would envy. (Maybe she was also mainlining KFC.) I'm surprised FLB didn't depict Rev as her usual skinny, heavily eyelinered, vaguely feral looking girl. I was assuming less a blissed out Christina Hendricks with a syringe in her arm, and more Rachael Leigh Cook in a white tank top and scowl.

I'd provide a photograph of what Rev actually looked like, but the closest thing I got when googling for voluptuous heroin addicts was Lenny Bruce's bloated autopsy pictures.

Wolf

This one's about a girl whose stepfather is raping her so to grandmother's house she goes to take refuge. Eventually, she makes it to Granny's where PedoWolf finds her. In a fit of rage, she takes Granny's shotgun off the wall and fires two warning shots...into his head. Granny takes the blame for it, and it's implied that all turns out well.

Between this one and the last one, I'm starting to wonder what it is with FLB and child molestation. Is it that common, and if so, why didn't it happen to me? Sure, I'm not a big eyed, elvin-like waif, like a trademarked FLB character, but c'mon. It's enough to make a girl start screeching to every creep on the A train, "You didn't molest me! YOU DON'T LOVE ME!"

Movie tie-in

Incidentally, the Little Red Riding Hood as molestorino story is quite common. I think I even saw a film version.

http://www.hotmoviesale.com/dvds/7255/1/Olsen-Twins-To-Grandmothers-House-We-Go.jpg

And yes, getting kisses on the lips from John Stamos before he tamed the savage beast that was his mullet counts as child abuse.

Bones

This one is FLB's Star Trek fanfic that accidentally made it into this collection. (Stupid editors.) Who knew? I always thought she'd be a Spock fan.

No, no, I kid. It's about the legend of Bluebeard, but this time, Bluebeard isn't an evil nobleman who kills his wives. He's a rich guy named Derrick Blue who owns a huge house, is really big in the Scene, and kills the pathetic groupies who hang at his place. (Though I can't really blame him for offing these sad skanks--on the scale of groupie loserdom, Derrick Blue groupies rate just above Insane Clown Posse groupies and just below Tito Jackson groupies.) At one of the parties he throws, he meets a skinny pale girl who wears too much eye make up. Ah, the FLB prototype, we meet again!

Skinny girl stays at his place, and he tells her he named himself after Bluebeard in the story and tells her stories about girls he's taken home in the past. The main character flees into the night and decides to tell the stories of all the girls he supposedly killed: This girl has a little knife to slash with, a little pocket knife, and she can run.

Meeting FLB at my hometown's independent bookstore

Sadako: So...did the girl in Bones kill Derrick Blue? And was Derrick Blue really a killer or was this just an American Psycho fantasy deal?

FLB: Ummm. Which story was this again?

Sadako: Uh...the...Bluebeard one?

FLB: Oh, um, yeah, sure. Want to know some more quirky facts about me? When I was thirteen, I wore nothing but lingerie and fairy wings and combat boots to school every day. And I have a tattoo of a fairy bathing in the moonlight on my left hip. And my cats are named Artemis and Luna--isn't that quirky?

The FLB fan girls swooned, I sulked and left without getting my book stamped with her autograph, and so ended yet another literary love.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Jennifer's Body

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Here be no spoilers, so don't worry.

Jennifer's Body
, for those of you not in the know, is the story of two girls, Jennifer and Needy. After a horrible fire at the local watering hole, Jennifer, in a daze, finds herself going off with a group of indie musicians in their mystery van--and no, she doesn't get rushed to the hospital to get her stomach pumped to remove gallons of semen. But she does develop a taste for human boy-flesh. It's up to Needy, Jennifer's best friend, to save the town of Devil's Kettle from the evil that is Jennifer.

And yes, there will be snark. No, not because I want to mindlessly leap on the Megan Fox hate bandwagon. Or because it was the worst film I ever saw--it gets a passing but not mindblowing C+/B- grade from me. But because due to the dearth of intelligent stuff out there, I know this movie will get more cred than it deserves. I fear that the alternatively minded teens who are no longer girls, yet not quite women, who are too smart for 90210 and Melrose Place redux, not mainstream enough for Vampire Diaries and not Canadian enough for Ginger Snaps will flock to this movie, unaware that there are way better horror movies out there that that feature slightly smaller and less famous tits.

The film is perfectly mediocre but full of eye candy, and it'll get a lot of young people thinking that dressing up like Jennifer is hawt, and even more "alternative" (read: cleavage bearing) than dressing up as Bella Swan! Demon girls are so the next cat girls. Take this shot of Jennifer when she comes back from hanging out with the indie band:

http://www.filmofilia.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/megan-fox-jennifersbody-02.jpg

I'd be shocked if Hot Topic didn't start stocking red distressed leggings designed to look as though bloody flesh is being ripped from your legs.

And for the cute and vaguely popular girl who wants to experiment with a new look, but is scared at the thought of looking too edgy, there's the flag twirling outfit.

http://www.roughcutreviews.com/images/jennifers_body3.jpg

You can always add it to your wishlist under sparkle glitter, Emily the Strange Eyeliner, and Twilight sponsored DuWop lip venom. (And the fact that this lackluster lip plumper pads Stephenie Meyer's bank account is yet another reason why it's one of the most overrated of Sephora's top-rated beauty products of last year.)

http://www.geekologie.com/2009/06/24/twihard%20makeup.jpg

And come on. By spring formal time, you know every girl who, in a bygone era, (by which I mean the eighties) would have taken a pair of shears to a cute pink vintage dress while playing the Psychedelic Furs in the background, will be resorting to some variation of this:

http://www.shockya.com/news/wp-content/uploads/jennifers_body_megan_fox_bloody.jpg

Grab a white dress off the rack, head to Ricky's for some fake blood, and voila. The generation who's probably never heard of Carrie, or Prom Night, will think they've come up with the hippest thing since blood red jeggings(TM).

And finally, this film simply reinforces the notion that in Girl World, Halloween is an excuse to sport something slutty without hearing any bitchy comments through the grapevine. Will any girls dress up as anything remotely creative, like a missing milk carton kid or Frankentist (half Frankenstein, half dentist)? No, your average girl will just sport a cleavage bearing tank top, a tiny schoolgirl kilt, cork heels, and a red lipsticked mouth slathered in Clamato juice and decide she's being Transgressive.

http://static.reelmovienews.com/images/gallery/jennifers-body-picture.jpg

The film's main problem? The filmmakers were way too afraid to lose their "Megan Fox is a goddess" fanbase by portraying Jennifer as the genuine monster she is. Despite the tag line of "Hell is a teenage girl," and a few gory scenes, the most frightening thing about Jennifer seems to be, horror of horrors, that she'll steal your boyfriend, wear a sexier dress than you, and go behind your back to tell all your friends about the time you got your first period in a restaurant bathroom and had a complete meltdown because you thought you were hemorrhaging to death. Sure, there are a few scares, but let's get real--Megan Fox is never going to face the problem of Linda Blair or Anthony Perkins of being typecast into a horrifying role. Compared with the title character of Ginger Snaps where the lady really is a tiger, Jennifer's about as threatening as a Bratz doll. (Hey, they both have that eerie uncanny valley thing going.)

Which brings me to my greatest pet peeve with certain horror movies with regard to the transformation theme. There's nothing horrifying about a metamorphosis--whether it's into a gigantic bug or a bloodthirsty teen--if you don't lose something of yourself in the process. The protagonists of Jennifer's Body and Twilight blossom into creatures of the night so effortlessly, that it's enough to make you wonder if there are some hideous portraits of Nosferatus or succubi in an attic somewhere. There's so little self doubt or fear about the transformation that it makes Jason Patric's ambivalence towards becoming a vampire in The Lost Boys seem on par with MacBeth's "dagger" monologue by comparison. (Is that a sparkle I see before me?)

And though I snarked the wardrobe choices, they're not inherently bad. The movie just felt like an excuse for Diablo Cody to take all the elements she's seen in other horror films and make a pretty montage out of it. If you want a horror movie you can play dress up with, Jennifer's Body is your pick. But this Halloween, if you want some genuinely horrifying movies about the bloodier sex, I recommend The Exorcist, Ginger Snaps, Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed, Heavenly Creatures, Carrie, The Bad Seed, and the Masters of Horror episode directed by Dario Argento entitled, appropriately enough, Jenifer. (And for afterwards, when you need a bit of light comic relief--Teeth!) Those are all movies where you'd have to be one psychologically twisted puppy with at least eight DSM diagnoses to even think about wanting to emulate the main characters. And of course, they all have the Sadako Seal of Approval.



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Thursday, October 8, 2009

BSC #79: Mary Anne Breaks the Rules

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In honor of Halloween, which I'm celebrating all month long (and by celebrating I mean gorging on candy and watching horror movies), here's a book that takes place around Halloween. Incidentally, Dawn and the Halloween Mystery came out the same month (October of '94) as this book. But when Mary Anne talks to Dawn on the phone, Dawn doesn't mention that there's an insane clown on the loose that she's trying to track down. Is having killer clowns rampaging just an everyday occurrence in Palo City? Remind me not to hold my coulrophobics unite convention there.

Synopsis:

Mary Anne notices that little Jake Kuhn has been feeling out of sorts because he misses his dad. (His parents are divorced and his dad lives really far away.) So she enlists her boyfriend Logan to provide some male guidance. Logan comes over a few times to play soccer and basketball with Jake while Mary Anne sits for Laurel and Patsy, Jake's younger sisters. It all comes to a crashing halt when Mrs. Kuhn comes home early and assumes Mary Anne has been doing the horizontal tango with Logan instead of watching the kids. Of course, she's on the hotline to the BSC complaining the very next day.

Naturally, MA lost all traces of the working spine she acquired in MA Saves the Day and MA's Makeover (Ann M. Martin wields that reset button like it's a Hitachi Magic Wand). So she's back to being Mary Anne the Meek and she doesn't explain what's really been going on to Mrs. Kuhn. The BSC worries that Mrs. Kuhn will call up other clients and tell them what bad sitters they are and that they won't get any more jobs. But about a week later, Jake tells his mother what really was going on, and everything goes back to normal.

Subplot: The babysitters supervise the kids while they come up with a haunted house for Halloween.

  • On the book cover: MA leans against the garage door smiling while Logan gives Jake some soccer tips. Lesson one--the jock strap you're wearing, Jake? It's either too big or too small. Not pictured: Laurel and Patsy Kuhn who are presumably locked in the car-hole.
  • Poor Jake. He's been described as a bit chunky, and just look at that cover. The only thing keeping that jacket on is the Perfect Fit Button(TM). He's the kind of kid who really needs help. Plus, can't you just picture Logan's reaction when MA asked him to mentor Jake? "I'll take him! Do you have him in a size small?"
  • In one scene Stacey asks Logan where he gets his energy. Logan replies, "'Rechargeable batteries...[and begins] unbuttoning his shirt. 'Want to see?'" Can we say the most gratuitous fan service, apart from the Bada Bing? Though I must admit, if I had been a preteen when I first read this, it would've given me such a clit-on, the likes of which I usually only experienced when climbing the ropes in gym class or seeing a Boy Meets World character do a hair flip.
  • When Jake tells Mary Anne he's jealous of Buddy Barrett (whose mother is getting remarried), that's when she realizes he needs to have a guy in his life. But she's afraid of criticizing Mrs. Kuhn. Okay, I know I mocked MA for not saying anything to Mrs. K, but this I can grok. My friend's sister's boyfriend's cousin works on Kate...Plus Eight and one day he got reamed out by the Divorcee Gosselin for playing Hot Wheels with Aaden on his break because "how dare [he] imply that she can't provide a male influence in his life? Aaden has plenty of male influence from when He Whose Name Shall Not Be Spoken used to live with us and from the bodyguard, handlers, and my publicist Lance." (This is probably why none of the little boys know how to pee standing up--well, that and Mama Gosselin's undiagnosed OCD.)
  • Later, MA watches old Facts of Life episodes to seek out more fashion advice from Tootie, while Logan simmers at home because he can't pass on more male guidance to Jake (like foreskins need to be retracted for cleaning, and which Pokemon are butch enough for boys to like--Charmander and Bulbasaur, FTR). And then, Mrs. Kuhn comes over with Jake in tow to talk to Mary Anne...
  • I decided to update this scene because things have changed since 1994 when this book was first published. We have Megan's Law, Law & Order: SVU, and we know that Snuffy was wrong to tell Big Bird to keep their friendship a secret. So here's the scene presented for a modern audience:
Mrs. K: "I had no idea Logan was coaching Jake in soccer. I had thought...well, I had been confused. At any rate, Jake told me that Logan was spending all his time with him, while you looked after the girls."
MA: "Yes."

Mrs. K: "That Logan didn't come over to see you, Mary Anne, but to hang out with Jake.

MA: "Yeah."

Mrs. K: "And Jake never told me that he was spending all this unsupervised time with an older thirteen year old boy without my permission who hasn't passed a background check. Logan? Why don't you have a seat?"
  • In one scene, Logan and MA meet up with Stacey and her boyfriend Robert. Stacey tells them a story about how they and some other kids went to a French restaurant. One member of their party ordered sweetbreads (the thymus/pancreas of a calf) and it was so disgusting that none of them could eat their dinners so they just paid up and left. (The guy who ordered sweetbreads had to go home and lie down when he saw it.) Between this and the escargots incident in California Girls!, I have to wonder Ann M.'s beef is with foreign foods. Did she have an incident as a child where an authority figure stuffed foie gras down her throat?
  • The other sitters act pretty cold towards MA after Mrs. Kuhn calls. When clients call asking for the girls to sit, every time Mary Anne is free, someone else quickly volunteers to take the job instead. Mary Anne feels awful, and I don't blame her. I always thought that they could be fairly bitchy to her (especially in Mary Anne's Makeover). Don't you wish Erica Blumberg could play the Janis Ian to MA's Cady, and encourage her to take them down? This would so work since SMS has no Tina Fey-esque teacher to tell all the teen queens and wannabes to play nice.
  • The haunted house plot. Some of the kids (Jake, Nicky and Buddy) want a funny haunted house, and the others (Vanessa, Haley and Matt) want a scary one. Since I've been to a real scary one, and barely lived to tell about it, I'll go with the first option. Okay, okay, it wasn't so much a haunted house as it was the time I was trying to get into this guy named Christian's pants, and his idea of a date was watching the video of Andrew Lloyd Webber's CATS in its entirety and I had to go along with it. (And yes, he did turn out to be an Oscar Wilde reading, Streisand ticket holding friend of Dorothy, and no, I haven't really recovered from the trauma.)
Happy Halloween everybody!

Friday, October 2, 2009

BSC Super Special #5: California Girls!


http://img.flipkart.com/bk_imgs/758/9780590435758.jpg


To make up for the fact that I barely posted in September, I'm putting this one up a few days early. Have a great weekend!

The babysitters splurge on lotto tickets. They each buy one and decide that if they win, they'll split the money seven ways. Even though they don't win, they get the second prize--ten thousand dollars. They pool their funds and go to California to stay with Dawn's father and brother for two weeks. (And no, I have no clue why we don't see the bloodiest murders in California since the Tate-LaBianca killings. Mr. Schafer must have remembered to fill his Klonopin scrip before the BSC arrived.)

Dawn's mostly a heinous bitch because Carol (her dad's young girlfriend whom she hates) is spending a lot time shuttling the gals around. The gang also meets Dawn's California friends who have their own club, the We Love Kids Club. Kristy and Mary Anne take sitting jobs while they're out there. Stacey hangs out with a wild older crowd who love to surf. Claudia dates a guy who intimidates her because he's so smart/cultured. Mal gets a horrible makeover (dyes her hair and spends all her money on makeup) and Jessi spends time hanging out with Derek Masters, a boy who's in a sitcom that the BSC used to sit for in Stoneybrook.

  • Most of the Dawn chapters just deal with her being bitchy to Carol. Something tells me Carol's going to be in for a fun adventure when she marries into this family despite the fact that she always goes out of her way to be really nice to Dawn and Jeff. You know, stuff like, "Hey Dawn, do you want to borrow that top I bought last week?" "Um, I can't wear large, polyester clothing." Or, "Dawn, Jeff, do you guys want to make tofu dogs for dinner?" "Tofu dogs contain a percent of a percent of dairy, and I'm a level five vegan, DUH."
    • On the plane on the way over, the girls watch Vertigo and are terrified. I think Ann M. has a very quaint idea of what scares teenage girls. Vertigo's suspenseful, but not all that scary, especially for 13 year olds in 1990 who have probably grown up on a steady diet of Halloween and Friday the 13th films. I love how outdated Ann is in terms of scares--one time when I obsessively stalked her attended a book signing, she was asked to name one of the most frightening moments she'd had reading a book or seeing a film. She replied with, "The conclusion of the Velveteen Rabbit--I thought he almost wasn't going to become a real live rabbit." Please, guys, let's invite Ann to a sleepover party where we screen Donnie Darko?
    • This is when I knew I was wrong to identify with Mallory. Only Mallory gets to undergo the proverbial makeover and go from ugly duckling to radioactive swan. Even Meg Griffin managed to look hot when she got her makeover. Is it because Mallory forgot to take her hair out of a ponytail? Or to remove the glasses?
    • Luckily, I soon read Mary Anne's Makeover, my favorite G-Rated "mousy girl becomes a head turner" story of all time. Not till Nick Arrojo and Carmindy entered my life would I experience such a great vicarious makeover. (Incidentally, I blame both Mary Anne and Mia Farrow in Polanski's Rosemary's Baby for why every few years I think I can pull off the pixie cut. Yup, I know lots of people are hating on old Roman for that fleeing justice stuff--not me. I blame him for so many horrid haircuts of bygone years.)
    • When the gang goes to Universal Studios, some director chooses some extras for a movie. Mal sulks because when she asks, he tells her that she doesn't have the right look. Aw, Mal, they already cast all the trannies for To Wong Foo--they don't need any more.
    • Claudia dates a guy called Terry Li. He's into artsy films and foreign food. He's also pretty serious and conservative, and she doesn't seem to like him all that much. But since his last name is Li, I'm going to assume he's Asian, and so of course Stacey gives Terry their phone number, without asking Claud. Claud gets pissed because she's not into Terry, but Stacey knows better: in sitcom/YA lit land, minorities date other minorities. So even if you're hot and a good dresser, until the editors/casting directors find another guy of your race, you're stuck fielding come-ons from losers and sighing over the hot guys in Ethnic Tiger Beat. (See also: Lisa Turtle.)
    • At one point, Claudia and Terry go to a French restaurant and Claudia orders the only thing she can pronounce--escargots. Which are snails. Claudia thinks they're slimy and horrid and can't help thinking of Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts as she chokes them down, but doesn't want to say anything because Terry's the artsy/sophisticated type. So delectable garlic infused snails are disgusting, but snouts and hooves are fine? (I toured the Hostess factory least year--I know how Twinkies are really made. No, the secret ingredient may not be...people but after that tour, you really wish it was.)
    • Incidentally, escargots are so small that they're a pretty sucky entree. Terry was probably sulking the whole time over the fact that he's going to have to shell out all this for about twelve tiny snails--and all this on a girl whose idea of culture is wearing a silkscreened Warhol t-shirt. And considering how nauseated Claudia looked after chowing down, I bet he was tempted to pay off the bathroom attendant to check for signs of a purge after.
    • Mary Anne thinks babysitting on vacation is awesome, so she agrees to spend a few days sitting for Stephie, a shy little girl whose mother is dead. Oh, MA, I can't relate to this even a little bit because I feel boxed in when my neighbor down the hall asks me to stop in over the weekend to feed the fish and water the Chia Obama head. (And I'm so passive aggressive that my idea of revenge was to scowl at the head.)
    http://image.examiner.com/images/blog/wysiwyg/image/happy_obama_chia.jpg

    Incidentally, Chia Obama is hotter than post makeover Mallory. Stuff like The Princess Diaries and ad campaigns that make sexy versions of even Strawberry Shortcake and Rainbow Brite may make awkward girls think that hair straightener and contacts are enough to make hotties of us all. But Chia Obama says, "Yes, we can't," to you, Mal.
    • Later on in the book, when Mal has redyed her hair red (it would take too long to let the blonde hair grow out) and is embracing her inner and outer nerd, Jessi points out a guy checking Mallory out. Mal finally feels cute. (Conveniently edited out by Scholastic, the part where the guy comes over and says, "Hey, I'm a female impersonator, too--don't you love the store Ain't It a Drag over on Rodeo?")
    • Stacey hangs out with a cool California crowd of older kids and goes surfing with them. One of them is a wild driver. There's even a bit of foreshadowing where he comes near to swiping a truck. But since Stacey is more of a Gia than a Stephanie, she's in the car when it gets into a terrible accident. The other kids ask her to lie and say that it was the fault of a truck driver. Stacey refuses, and the others get pissed. FYI, Stacey later hangs with the cheerleader crowd who blackball her for being too pretty and talented, and with the bad girls who use her good girl image to get away with drinking and shoplifting. Can this girl pick them or what? By my calculations, by the time she hits high school, she'll be convincing her parents why she should shave her head and chill with the Hare Krishnas at JFK. (They'd save a lot of money on perms!) And by college, she'll be begging her parents to donate all her tuition money towards a turkey dinner for every poverty stricken Stoneybrookite, sponsored by the Symbionese Liberation Army.