Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Literary Tattoos!

I don't know if I'm behind the times, but I definitely just discovered Contrariwise: Literary Tattoos today.

I'm kind of in love.

A lot.

I now want a tattoo somethin' fierce.

The only problem is that I would run out of space too quickly!

Unfortunately, there were no BSC themed tattoos. Even more unfortunately, there were Twilight tattoos.

To end things on a happy non-Twilight note: my roommates and I just made hypothetical plans to get this bad boy someday:
"Mischief Managed" in white ink? I think so.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Tiger Eyes

I've recently decided that I'm like the Angelina Jolie of used books. I can't stop. Really. Seventy-six books in the last three months say I have a problem. But they deserve to be loved, and I can love them. (And yes, I am unemployed. In my defense, I cracked open the PayPal account, found some previously forgotten money, and accidentally bid on a bulk lot of books. Accidentally.)

I said I was going to stop. Really. But then, I accidentally found myself inside of Salvation Army and Tiger Eyes was just sitting there. Looking at me. Looking at me with it's big unidentified-liquid-stain and dog-eared pages. Wanting to be loved. Wanting to have a shelf to call home.

So, I dug in my little pocket and found the 39 cents demanded by the price tag.

I went to pay, and the cashier said, "Was that a student ID I saw?"

I flash him the sexiness that was me at freshman orientation.

I then look up and notice the sign: 15% Discount for University Students. I have hit the rock bottom of my addiction. I accepted a student discount at Salvation Army.

Am I ashamed? Slightly. Do I have an extra 6 cents to put toward another book in need of love? Absolutely.

The story opens on Davey Wexler getting dressed--for her father's funeral. He was murdered by a drug addict--who only stole $50 from the Wexler family's 7-11. Davey, her brother Jason, and her mom slip into their own worlds. Davey's mom isn't holding things together--No one has been back to the 7/11 (they live above it), Davey hasn't gotten out of bed in over a week, and Jason's drifting around the house on his own.

Davey finally does get out of bed--to start high school. She goes home sick the first three days. From panic attacks. The school nurse keeps asking her if she's eating or if she's preggo. Nope. She just saw her dad after he was gunned down. A doctor diagnoses Davey with anxiety (no wonder!), gives her horse vitamins, and suggests the family get out of town for a while. Davey's mom jumps on this idea. Soon enough, the family is headed out to New Mexico to stay with Davey's dad's sister and her husband--Bitsy and Walter.

Meet Bitsy.
She is over involved in her community--nine clubs, volunteering, and jazzercise.
She drives a Volvo for it's safety ratings.
Bitsy never had children of her own, 
so she's been just waiting for some unsuspecting creature to nurture.

Meet Walter. He works at the Lab in Los Alamos.
He likes science and academics. He does not like skiing, Santa Fe, or driver's ed.
Those things are too dangerous, says the man that designs bombs for a living.

Davey's family settles in with Bitsy and Walter. Walter takes the family on one too many sight-seeing trips, so Davey begs off to spend the day bike riding. After a bit of a struggle, Bitsy agrees to let Davey borrow her bike as long as Davey wears a helmet. Davey ditches the helmet ASAP and rides over to a canyon. She decides that climbing down the canyon is a good idea. (Probably just because Walter and Bitsy made such a big deal about how dangerous this is. People die in canyons everyday, ya know?)

Davey is mindin' her own business when she finds someone else in the canyon--a man that for all she knows is the one that murdered her dad. Initially, Davey plans to bash his head in with a rock. Smart girl! Turns out his name is Wolf. Davey, in turn, introduces herself as Tiger. The Wolfster helps Davey climb out of the canyon, recommends the girl get hiking boots, and goes off on his merry way. Davey starts going back to the canyon to meet up with Wolf everyday. But everyday Wolf leaves for an appointment at two o'clock...

It becomes clear that Davey's family won't be going back to New Jersey anytime soon. Her mom is being treated for depression (durr!) and is spending all day in bed. Davey gets enrolled in the local high school, much to her disgust. She just wants to go back to Jersey (Why?!) and be with her boy toy, Hugh, and her best friend Lenaya. No one seems to understand the social trauma that is switching schools. The only bright spot is Davey's daily hikes with Wolf.

At school, Davey meets Jane--the All-American teen. Jane's father is high up at the Lab, and her mother works hard at making the family look perfect. The reality? Jane is terrified that she'll never leave Los Alamos. She knows she'll disappoint her parents if she doesn't choose their alma maters for college--MIT or Wellesley. She doesn't have "much" experience with boys. What is going right in Jane's life? Probably just her volunteer activities. Oh, and her status as a budding alcoholic.

At home, Walter and Bitsy are taking the faux-parenting thing a little too far. Walter is making decisions that Davey's mom should be making--like if Davey can go skiing or take driver's ed. He bitches the girl out for wanting to take typing class instead of chemistry. She wants to have an easier year! Again, her dad was just murdered! I'd like to think that MIT would understand. The truth is that Walter and Bitsy want to make Davey into the kid they wish they could have had. Perfect. All-American. The winner of the Sarah Rose Cosmetics Mount Rose American Teen Princess Pageant.

In an attempt to find something to do (and get Walter and Bitsy off her back), Davey becomes a candy striper with Jane. Once a week, Davey trots over to the hospital to pass water and other excitement. There, Davey meets a terminally ill man. She really enjoys talking to the man and spends as much time with him as she can. In a sweet gesture, the man promises Davey a dancing bear toy--after he dies. His son, a college student/Lab employee, got it for him. His son that visits at 2:00p everyday. His son, Wolf.

Davey didn't see that coming at all. Wolf is really Martin. He's going to college to be a physicist but took a semester off to spend time with his dad. Aww. This really solidifies the crush that Davey's been sporting. She dreams about Wolf. Dreams. *nudgenudge*

Wolf gives Davey a ride home from the hospital and all hell breaks loose when Walter sees that a Hispanic drove her home. Ah, racial tension. Walter didn't need to get his whitey-tighties in a twist, though. Wolf's dad dies shortly thereafter and Wolf up and disappears. (Davey tried writing him at his college, but the letter was returned-to-sender-ed.)

The school year is coming to a close. Davey gets a part in Oklahoma! Jane auditioned but revealed herself to be a tone deaf drunk. (Who auditions for a high school musical drunk? Thoughts on this, Zac Efron?) After the musical, Walter chills a bit when he sees that Davey does have an interest in something. (Walter and Davey got in a huge fight about Davey's grades--B's and C's. He went so far as to crack her on the face. After that, the two didn't speak. For weeks.)

Everything is working out for Davey. Except for Wolf leaving. And her mother's new relationship with the Nerd, a middle-aged divorcĂ©e. Then, Davey's mom reveals that the Nerd has proposed...and she turned him down. In fact, Davey's mom has made plans for the family to move back to New Jersey and to sell the 7-11. Davey is elated over this news. In a show of closure, she goes back to the canyon where she met Wolf. In a cave, she buries a paper bag under a pile of rocks. Inside the bag are the clothes she wore the night her father was murdered. Nearby, she leaves a stack of letters under a rock in hopes of Wolf finding them.

The last page has Davey, Jason, and their mom walking on the beach in New Jersey.

Okay. Stay with me here. I was a pretty classic Judy Blume reader--Are You There God, It's Me Margaret; Deenie; the Fudge Series; Just As Long as We're Together. That is as deep into JB as I got. I regret not reading this sooner. I may have found myself relating to Davey a little too much. Especially considering my dad is alive and well, I've never been to New Mexico, and I don't have a d-bag uncle that controls my life.
  • Davey is short for Davis. That was Davey's mom's maiden name. I think that's cute. I was really confused by the whole girl-Davey thing at first, though. It's works for her.
  • Why didn't the nurse know that Davey's dad had been murdered? Doesn't the school notify staff about students' "special conditions"?
    • I am with Davey on the frustration of being asked if she's pregnant. Can't a girl just be sick? I realize they're trying to prevent having prom Melissa Drexler-style...but it is possible for a girl to be sick without it meaning she has some guy's spawn breaking dancing in her hoo-ha.
  • I'm completely with Davey on planning on how to bash Wolf's head in when they first meet. I, too, am convinced that I'm going to be murdered. In the past, I may have purposely left hair behind and rubbed on stuff so bloodhounds and CSI people could track me. Girl needs to be prepared. 
    • I understand that Davey's mom is under a lot of stress and is depressed. Her husband was just murdered. But it drove me crazy how she constantly deferred any parental decision to Walter and Bitsy. It almost felt like she was letting Walter make decisions because he was the one with a penis.
    • Jane is a girl without a filter. She's named Jane so no there will never be confusion about her name--unlike Davey. She freely tells Davey (who she just met) that her parents make love on Saturdays. Jane's sister and brother-in-law were virgins when they got married.
      • Dear Jane, It's not TMI Thursday. Back off!
    • I can relate to how Davey felt watching Jane get drunk and all hot and heavy in the car. Jane clearly doesn't realize what she's doing. (Or does she?) It's uncomfortable for everyone not involved...
    • Well into the book, Davey starts seeing the same therapist as her mom. 
      • Why did it take so long for Davey to start going to therapy? The book was published in the late 1970's, so maybe therapy wasn't quite what is today. If anything deserves a trip to a therapist's office, though, it's holding you father as he dies.
    • I was so angry with the way Walter and Bitsy reacted to learning about Wolf. They assume he works as Lab maintenance because he's Hispanic. Really? Walter, were you not the one telling Davey about the Lab's efforts to attract more minorities into research positions at the Lab?
    • Hugh sent Davey a Valentine's Day card. It was the first time she'd heard from him since October. So it's safe to assume he's not her boyfriend anymore, right?
      • Maybe this isn't so bad. They're fifteen. And it's in the days before e-mail. Or cell phones. Or texting. And her dad did just die.
    • About Walter and Davey's fight--holy hell. Walter tells Davey that her parents both have a "wasted life." When Davey goes to defend her parents, Walter slaps her.
      • Whoa. Just whoa. And all because the girl didn't 4.0? So she got a C and a couple Bs on her report card. She did just hold her father while he died! Cut the girl some slack! Not everyone wants to be a physicist like the Almighty Walter. Except for Janine Kishi.
    • Davey gets a part in Oklahoma! Little Davey will be playing the part of Ado Annie. I'm glad she did what she wanted to do.
    • I wasn't devastated when Wolf's dad died. I didn't feel a big connection with him. I felt more for Wolf and Davey. The book didn't spend enough time with him for me to get attached.
      • Maybe that was the point. The book is more about someone else's grief than my grief over a fictional character.
    • I don't want to judge or anything...but isn't Davey's mom moving a little fast with the Nerd? He's proposing?!
      • I was relieved that Davey's mom turned down the proposal. Mhm. Too fast.
    • Jane is a bit of a bitch for flippin' on Davey for being a "liar." Davey told Jane that her dad died of a heart attack. Because she didn't want to talk about the murder. Where is Jane's compassion? Can't she cut Davey a little slack?
    • I was actually disappointed when Davey and her family moved back to New Jersey. Yes, the move to New Mexico was supposed be just a two week trip. Yes, they do have a business/house to sell. Yes, Walter was overbearing somethin' awful. But what about Wolf? What about the Nerd? Does the family keep in touch with them?
    • Judy Blume admitted that this is the only book she voluntarily censored. In order to attract a broader audience, she took out passages that involved Davey masturbating while she thought about Wolf.
    • According to Judy's blog, she's working on the screen adaptation. Woo!
    • I was searching for a cover picture on Amazon when I came across this gem.
        • The worst part? This is the "cleaner" cover for a book by this name. The other one--which had a different author--involved live models. The woman was arching backward in...pain...yeah, and the guy was, uh, checking her heart rate. By holding onto her rather bodacious boob. Obviously, I went with this cover because it doesn't make me want to scratch my eyes out.
        • Did I mention that I want to scratch  my eyes out? What would Walter say?

      Tuesday, March 23, 2010

      BSC #8 Boy-Crazy Stacey

      The Cover:
      • The age difference between Stacey and her hunka' burnin' love lifeguard (five years! or about 100 years in BSC time!) isn't a problem for Stacey. What is a problem? That the cover makes the lifeguard look like he could be Stacey's dad. Like so:

      The Plot:
      At the end of Claudia and Mean Janine, the BSC gets a phone call from the Pikes. They want two of the girls to go to Sea City with them for two weeks. Cause they're outnumbered 4:1 on the kid situation. Stacey and Mary Anne get the job because Dawn is going to California to see her dad, Claudia's going on a family/fix Mimi vacation, and Kristy has to hang out and bond with her new step-dad, the real-life millionaire. How very   Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants of them.

      Stacey and Mary Anne head out with the Pikes. The trip there goes fine. Except that Margo and Claire keep a bucket labeled PIKE BARF BUCKET between them. Nicky bugs everyone with "Jingle bells, Batman smells..." and Mallory puts that boy in his place. Otherwise, the ride is uneventful. Stacey just worries about hiding her diabetes from the kids. Because it's contagious.

      Everyone gets to Sea City safe and sound. The family is renting a Gingerbread-like house on the ocean. Right in front of the lifeguard stand. The family goes and explores Sea City--a place much like any other touristy town with miniature golf, trampoline places, etc. The kids are all jazzed about it, but can't wait to get to the beach the next day.

      Stacey and Mary Anne are with the kids at the beach the next day, when Stace Face notices God's gift to men--Scott the Lifeguard. He's older (18!), dreamy, and has a gaggle of girls around him. Soon, Stacey worms her way to number one in Scott's heart. He's busy calling her "love," and she's getting him pop (which she mistakenly calls soda! Arrr!) like a little puppy dog. Girl is whipped.

      This goes on for a week or so. This whole time, Mary Anne is wrangling eight kids. By herself. Mary Anne befriends a male mother's helper, Alex. Mary Anne is clearly getting pissed that Stacey is always with Scott. (And why shouldn't she?) Mary Anne even tells Stacey that she and her stupid perm can go eff themselves. (Okay, maybe not. I can dream, right? Mary Anne's alphabet probably skips straight from E to G.)

      All is well, though. Stacey and Mary Anne go to the Boardwalk (i.e. the main street) to shop and spend their five free hours. (Don't even let me get started. After a week of work, the girls get five hours off. The BSC should unionize!)  Stacey wants to get a present for Scott, so she buys him a $10 box of chocolates. (That's $18.64 after inflation.) I suspect the girl has spent way too much on chocolate. Anyway, just as Stacey buys the overpriced chocolate, she sees Scott canoodling with some girl his age. Stacey is heart broken and leaves the chocolates on a bench as she runs away. Mary Anne does feel bad about what happened. (I hope.) Even after Mary Anne bitched her out, Stacey spent their free night "making it up" to Mary Anne by shopping for Scott. What? Girl deserved what she got. 

      The next day, Stacey is pouting and sad and says she has a headache to avoid taking the kids to the beach. Even without Scott, Stacey is dodging work.  In a really nice gesture, Mary Anne sets up a double date for her and Stacey with the boy mother's helper, Alex, and his cousin Toby. (Where did Toby come from? He wasn't hired to help Alex. Does he live on the Jersey Shore?) Stacey has never met Toby before, but when she does--Whoa. Scott who? The double date is set for the next five hours the girls get off. (Yep. A ten hour break in two weeks.) The kiddos go to a hot dog place (Stace Face has a hamburger--without cheese.) and walk around on the Boardwalk. They agree to split up after an awkward and un-subtle talk between Mary Anne and Stacey that went something like this:

      Stacey: Can we split up, Wet Blanket? Toby and I want to go hook up in the Tunnel of Luv. Then, I'm going to let him go buy me some Plan B.

      Mary Anne: So I'd be alone with Alex. What if he tries to hold my hand? I'll get pregnant! And then I'll die! That's what my dad told me happens!

      Stacey: ...

      Anyway, Stacey gets Mary Anne to agree to go off with Alex. (I suspect a roofie was involved.) Stacey and Toberoni go off in the Tunnel of Luv, a cheesy swan boat ride. They even kiss. When the kiddos meet back up, Mary Anne says that she and Alex rode in the swan boat, too. Ohmygod. Mary Anne likes a boy? Mary Anne mentions that she does like boys. Besides Kristy. Awww...

      The girlies exchange addresses with Alex and Toby head back to Stoneybrook. After that, it's pretty boring. Mary Anne and Stacey call each other when they get home to talk about Scott and Toby and Alex. 'Cause they haven't seen each other in five minutes.

      Stacey appears to be the first Stoneybrookite to get it through her fat head that the Adam, Jordan, and Byron are individuals and not a unit. Byron won't go in the ocean with the boys and hangs back a lot. It's this huge mystery. No one asks him about it, though. Eventually, Stacey learns that Byron is afraid of the ocean...and a lot of other things. He'd prefer to hang on the sand.

      While Byron is trying escape his wombmates, Nicky is desperate to be with them. He wants to be one of the boys, but the triplets think he's too much of a baby. (Nicky is two years younger than the triplets.) With the triplets rejecting him, he's left with Vanessa (who is rhyming everything), Claire (who ends every word in "silly-billy-goo-goo"), and Margo (who is void of identifying features.) Can't say that I blame Nicky for hating to be around those girls.

      I actually like the subplot. It's the first acknowledgement (outside of Kishi v. Kishi) that not all siblings are exactly alike. And that some of us don't get along with our siblings so much. And that sometimes, a kid can want to cause his/her sister bodily harm. (That's you, Vanessa and Claire!)

      Over Analyzation, Considering the Book's Literary Merit:
      • The BSC goes to Kristy's new mansion for a sleep over. Stacey is busy worrying about what to wear so that she fits in with the neighborhood. Something tells me that Stacey's wardrobe wouldn't be that cute anywhere.
      • When the girls head three miles/the other side of the universe to Kristy's house, Claudia, Stacey, and Mary Anne carpool. Dawn's mom drives her. Uh, what's up with that? Even the BSC doesn't like you, Dawn!
      • When the girls show up at Kristy's mansion, Kristy is on the front porch reading People magazine. This is not a baby-sitting or sports related magazine. I don't believe that Kristy would read it.
      • It's mentioned that Kristy is probably glad that she's the only one staying in Stoneybrook for the two weeks--because she'll get all the sitting jobs to herself.
        • Mhhm. Why am I not surprised?  Kristy would like that.
        • How much family bonding is Kristy doing if she's baby-sitting all the neglected children?
      • Stacey gives a quick summary of the Pike kids and their ages: Mallory, 11; Jordan, 10; Adam, 10; Byron, 10; Vanessa, 9; Nicky, 8; Margo, 7; Claire, 5. 
        • Do you realize what this means? Mrs. Pike punched out 8 kids in six years. Who does that?! Whose womb allows that?! Good God, woman! Use a condom! What's the rush?
      • Because she's a sneaky ho, Stacey takes Sun-In-like hair lightener with her to Sea City. She has to hide it from her momma.
        • This part touched my soul. I, too, once owned a bottle of Sun-In that my momma took away from me. Probably because it wasn't recommended for red-heads and I was a strawberry-blonde in denial. My tenth grade school picture has me sporting some orange locks. I didn't give up, though! More Sun-In made me look like a chubby-faced Marilyn Monroe. I was cool.
      • Mrs. McGill asks Stacey what she's taking to the beach to amuse herself--a book or some needlepoint. Because it's the 1800's and Laura Ingalls is coming to Sea City, too.
        • Stacey did turn the needlepoint down. Cause she's been working on the piece for the last five years. Damn right! *Stacey and Alison fist bump*
      • Stacey brags about her awesome new swimsuit:
        • "It was skimpy (and we're talking very skimpy) and yellow, with tiny bows at the sides on the bottom part. And if I do say so myself, the top part was filled out pretty nicely."
        • Uh. Did this really just come from Annie M.? The top part was filled out nicely? This is not the BSC. This is some alternate universe where a BSC character is sounding like a real thirteen-year-old girl. Except that Stacey doesn't ever mention jiggly thighs or battling her bikini line.
      • Richie Spiers lets Mary Anne get a bikini. Like OMG! The universe has imploded. Or Sharon Schafer is drugging him.
      • Rather than starting chapters with an entry into the BSC journal, we see postcards the girls sent to each other. Stacey will jot one line pertaining to baby-sitting on the postcard to Kristy, but she sends Claudia two or three to outline what's going on. Mary Anne sends Dawn a letter bitching about Stacey and ends the letter with a note to burn it. Bahahahaa.
      • The first morning in Sea City, Claire and Margo wake Stacey and Mary Anne up really early. Mary Anne asks what's going on, and Stacey replies that the girls want to go to the beach but it's the middle of the night.
        • I read Annie's biography when I was a little monster. When she was younger, Annie wasn't allowed to get out of bed before 6 AM. Official Martin family rule. Write what you know, yes. In the case of a child wanting to be up at 6 in the morning (for no reason!), no.
          • I'm glad that Mary Anne and Stacey aren't springing out of bed to be at the beach at 8 in the morning. They want to sleep. Like normal people. Any other book, and they'd have already saved the world from baby-sitting disaster by that time of day. Annie was actually able to extract the personal details from this one. Even though Mary Anne's character is based off of herself.
          • A lot of the BSC books have the girls baby-sitting at 9 in the morning on a Saturday. It really bothers me that Annie thinks that it is normal for a person to 1) want to baby-sit at that time, 2) have a parent choosing to run errands at this time of day, or that 3) the baby-sitter, parent, and child all seem to have been awake for hours. They're all chipper and functional. Do these people have no respect for Saturday?
      • Mary Anne makes it only two days before she gets a wicked sunburn. Probably because she's not used to having that much skin exposed to daylight. Luckily, Mary Anne snapped a quick self-portrait:
      • Scott gives Stacey his whistle. It's, like, the most romantic gift ever. Seriously.
        • Or it's disgusting! He spits in that thing! And how is he supposed to warn the kiddies about sharks and mermaids without it?
      • I was sitting in my neuroscience class last week, and my professor started talking about diabetes. About how your body is classically conditioned to release insulin at the taste of pop. Even if it's diet pop. Meaning? Stacey McGill can't even drink diet pop.
        • I realize not everyone is severely diabetic, and that this wouldn't harm everyone. But the girl doesn't eat cheese. And is taking insulin daily. And is constantly going to New York to see doctors. So, I suspect her diabetes is on the more severe end of the spectrum.
        • Additional diabetic thought regarding Stacey turning down cheese: I was volunteering at the hospital today (yeah, I know I'm awesome...) and saw that cheese (processed!) was listed as an appropriate snack for diabetic patients. What's with the lies, Stacey?
      • It is really stressed that Alex is a boy mother's helper. Who knew that boys were allowed to baby-sit? There couldn't possibly be another boy baby-sitter in this world, could there? Or what about one that would catch Mary Anne's eye? Naahhhh. Impossible!
      • I hate how naive Stacey is. Yes, she's thirteen. But did she really think an eighteen-year-old would be interested in her? Has she heard about statutory? And didn't she notice all the other girls flocking around him? You know, the girls he was treating exactly the same?
        • Okay. She thought she was special. She puffy hearted him and thought he did the same. Ah, to be young and naive--Oh, wait. Yeah, not relating so much. Because I'm a normal, realistic human being.
      • When Stacey meets her new luv, Toby, she introduces herself by "casually" mentioning that she's from New York City. Toby falls all over her, just like we know Stacey secretly hoped.
        • Do you know what happens when I tell people where I'm from? The general response is not "Wow," like Toby so eloquently said. It's more along the lines of "People live there? Sorry..." and then lead into some question about log cabins or if we have plumbing. Stacey really is a lucky bitch.
      • Toby wears a blue headband. I'm all for gender equality but not in terms of hair accessories. All I can picture is this Mexican exchange student in high school. He wore a headband to contain his gorgeous curls. Believe me, it was a crime.
      • What other accessories does Toby have up his sleeve? These extremely practical sunglasses of course!
                 Claudia would approve!
      • What does Toby pair with a headband and some stunna shades? White swim trunks and a shirt that was "amazing--tan with silly pictures of cowboy boots and cactuses [cacti!] all over it."
      They even got their pictures taken 
      while at the beach! 
      How adorable!
               (I know, I know. 
      You're jealous that 
      I got these exclusive pictures. 
      Unfortunately, Toby whipped that 
      hot cowboy-boot-and-cactuses shirt off 
      before I could get a picture of it. 
      He said something about 
      one day regretting his
       fashion choices in the '80s. 
      • I'm not even going to go into Toby's stupid joke. Okay. Maybe--This guy wants a city named after him when he dies. His name is Al. Al Buquerque. Stacey about pisses her bikini bottoms when she hears this. 'Cause she loves a man that makes Dad Jokes.
      • Stacey and Toby (and even Mary Anne and Alex!) rode through the Tunnel of Luv. Yep. Even the operators of a giant swan boat ride spells Love like a thirteen-year-old girl.
        • I just can't find the idea of a swan boat romantic. Probably because my friend's little brother had a swan shaped potty when he was little. Yep.
      • I hate how obviously it was setting up that Mary Anne did like boys. Like where she says she likes boys. And that she's not afraid of the big, scary boys anymore. Lucky girl doesn't know that Logan is two books away. But Annie M. does!
      • There's a metaphor in this book. A real live read-between-the-lines metaphor.
        • Earlier, Stacey wrote Stacey + Scott = Luv in the sand, and the waves washed it away.
        • When she writes Stacey + Toby = Luv, the waves don't wash it away.
        • Awwwww. How sweet. Not even a wave can destroy the Luv between Stacey and Toby.
      I kind of hate to say this.

      I actually liked this book. Probably because it was light on the baby-sitting. And light on the dramas of toddlers. And heavy on the romantic trials of a thirteen-year-old girl. It felt a little more realistic--a book where the baby-sitter isn't awkwardly obsessed with the children she sits for.

        Saturday, March 20, 2010

        Hello, Cupcake--Take Two

        A few weeks ago, I posted about the delightful cupcake book my roommate got for Christmas.

        I think that the first set of cupcakes set us up for failure on this set. We got cocky. We raised the standard for quality. We fell flat on our faces.

        This time around, we went for the sunflower design. Because it was warm and spring and we got to break out the Pikachu kite and life was good. (That is, until we were awoken by a dusting of snow this morning. (Ah, Michigan. How I despise your weather patterns.))
        Any who, this is the book example:

        The basic cupcake is frosted green. Then different sized Oreos are put on it "randomly" to make the centers of the sunflowers. 

        (Stellar frosting job, right?)

        Reality? A normal sized cupcake is too small for this to really work. Everything gets too close together so there isn't enough room to make petals. Then, that asshole, Gravity, took over. By the time we were done, we had some rather ugly sunflowers. So, you can't put the Oreos on there "randomly." Not if you don't want to be washing frosting out of your shirt/pants/roommate's hair later. Yep.

        See? Not the most successful. (Also, note the color of the ladybug...apparently we fail at making black frosting.)

        Again, the book was really better for pictures than directions. Again, the book borders on ridiculous when listing ingredients and directions. The book says "pipe" the petals. We say "bloop and ploop!" (As in bloop some frosting on, stop squeezing the supahclassy Zip-Loc bag/frosting bag, and ploop it off! I swear it made sense!)

        Next problem with this book: They want you to make four different colors of frosting. What do we look like? The yellow and orange frosting are supposed to be put in the same frosting bag, but not mixed. Um, have you ever tried that? The bag sticks together and everything gets very messy very quickly. Then, there's the black frosting situation, as noted on the ladybug above. Who owns black food coloring? (Okay. I do. It's from when I made a Communist Manifesto themed red velvet cake with black frosting. Ah, high school.)

        Again, a problem: 15-20 candy spearmint leaves or 2 rolls of green fruit leather for leaves? What is that? And why do I need to sprinkle my work surface with sugar to roll out the candy spearmint leaves or the fruit leather? (Is fruit leather by chance Fruit-by-the-Foot? Or not so much?) We substituted with watermelon Airheads. Worked just as well, thankyouverymuch!

        After a lot of practice, cursing, and refrigerating the frosting for an hour (something not mentioned in the book) we did manage to make about six cupcakes that were up to our standards.

        We're not giving up complete hope on this one. We still have to make the other cupcakes in the book, of course!

        Friday, March 19, 2010

        Mirror, Mirror

        I remember buying this book because I had freakin' loved Wicked. (I read it for an English class in high school and actually finished it. Meaning that it really was freakin' awesome.
        (I officially read four assigned books in high school. 
        Yep. Two years of advanced English and five AP classes, 
        and I managed to read one assigned book a year. 
        God only knows why those people gave me a diploma. Oops!))

        So why read this book now, four years after my assigned-reading-victory?

        I'm on this kick of reading books that I bought but never got around to reading. I have a hard time justifying the purchase of a book if I have a whole stack waiting to be read. (Except BSC books. Those things just keep popping up everywhere. And for less than a dollar apiece, I can't say no!)

        How bad is this problem?
        My copy of this book has a sticker on the front that reads:

        Son of a Witch, sequel to Wicked
        Coming October 2005

        Five years.

        I'll be honest: Wicked was way better. Having read that, this book was a disappointment.
        I mean, just look at them! There's no debate. One is clearly more awesome and makes for better entertainment than the other. (I hate the Disney version. She cleaned a house. That does not warrant a movie! And she's so effin' happy all the time! I hate it!)

        Plot (in long winded format):
        Bianca de Nevada (Bianca = White, de Nevada = Snow) is Snow White. She and her dad live in Italy in the late 1400s. Pops approached Lucrezia Borgia for help in finding a manor back when he and Baby Bianca were new Spanish immigrants. Years later, Lucrezia comes a-knockin' for re-payment of that debt. Her big bro/lover Cesare wants Mr. de Nevada to go look for a living branch from the Garden of Eden's Tree of Life. It "might" be somewhere around Turkey. If he doesn't go, he'll be killed and Bianca will be thrown on the streets. So he goes.

        The story skips ahead five or six years ahead. Lucrezia and Cesare pop in to check on Bianca. Cesare puts the moves on Bianca, so Lucrezia 'bout busts a nut. She's not so worried about her pedo brother. It's more of a jealousy thing. Lucrezia orders the hunter to take Bianca out into the woods, yadda, yadda. The hunter can't do it, yadda, yadda.  Bianca runs away and falls down. She's fallen onto the dwarfs house. Except that it's an indistinguishable pile o' rocks in the forest. She falls asleep for five or six more years. It's not explained why she falls asleep.

        Girl wakes up. She's freaked the hell out by the "dwarfs." Really they're rocks that appear to be transforming into humans. The more time Bianca spends with them, the more they look human. They didn't think to speak until she came along. She asks their names and they reply with traits that have: Mutemutemute, Tasteless, et c. Having names would ruin their unity. As it is, they are a well-oiled machine and don't require names or individuality. They mention an eighth dwarf that is MIA.

        We pop over to a Turkish prison to find out that Bianca's dad is very much alive. He did find the Tree of Life locked away in a monastery. Just as he was about to grab it, he was found by some monks who threw them in their dungeon. Dude's been rotting there for years and no one knows. He's busy feeling sorry for himself when what-what! A boulder pops out of the wall. It's the lost eight dwarf! He's been chilling as a rock in the wall for years. He burrows Bianca's dad a tunnel into the monastery treasury to jack the Tree of Life and then get the hell out of there. Why the dwarf didn't do this years earlier really has to burn de Nevada, right?

        The Goose Boy, as in the boy that watches geese, is stumbling through the woods looking for a lost goose. He happens upon in the woods. The kid is Bianca's age and most likely cognitively impaired. He doesn't really remember Bianca at first, even though they had played together a bit when they were younger.

        Meanwhile at the manor, Lucrezia pops in for a visit. She is looking at this mirror hanging over a fireplace. It's the best mirror anyone has ever seen. Bianca's dad pulled it out of the mud in a lake they'd drained years earlier. No one knew where it came from. Turns out, the dwarfs made it. They put it in the lake to cool after making it. The dwarfs use mirror-to-mirror transmission to find out where it is. They can look through a mirror in their cave/house and see out the missing mirror. Just as Lucrezia is asking the mirror in the manor who is the fairest of them all, the dwarfs are showing Bianca the unknown room the mirror is the mirror on Lucrezia's end shows her an image of Bianca. Naturally, she flips when she realizes that Bianca is alive.

        Lucrezia is asking around to find out where Bianca's been stashed all these years. The Goose Boy mentions seeing her, and Lucrezia makes him take her into the woods and show her where. Lucrezia takes it upon herself to off Bianca. Except that it takes her a couple tries. Every single time Lucrezia tries, those pesky dwarfs save Bianca. Damn them!

        Simultaneously, Bianca's dad arrives home with the Tree of Life and two perfectly ripe Tree o' Life apples in hand. (One apple was hidden with the doge in Venice as collateral against Lucrezia.) He hands the twig and fruit over and goes a-lookin' for Bianca. Lucrezia tries to cover herself and says that Bianca ran away to find him...or go to a convent. Cause those are the same thing. And they really narrow down his search.

         Lucrezia takes one of the apples and coats half of it in poison. Crezia trots back to Bianca's place to hand over the apple. To show that she's trustworthy, Lucrezia first takes a bite of the non-poisoned side in front of Bianca. Bianca takes the apple and gets herself one bite before she drops. When the dwarfs return to find Bianca playing dead, they build her a glass-topped coffin.

        Eventually, Papa de Nevada finds the dwarfs and his Bianca-in-a-Box. Obviously, he's heart broken. She was all he had, and he had just spent a decade or so trotting around Turkish prisons in an attempt to keep Bianca safe. Just as he arrives, the Goose Boy is about to kiss Bianca. Cause he's a prince. Bianca's dad intervenes and says if anyone is going to kiss her, it should be her daddy. So he does. And she awakens. It's a miracle.

        Everyone lives happily ever after. Pfffffffftttttt.
        • Lucrezia Borgia. Hands down the best part of this book. I kind of loved her when I took AP Euro in high school. There weren't a lot of females mentioned in that class, so I took what I could get.
        • Up until the time that the hunter leads Bianca into the forest, Bianca's never gotten off the farm without her dad. Literally. Girl was sitting on the farm for ten years without ever leaving. Dad told her to wait there for him, so who's she to argue?
        • When Bianca wakes up, she's...matured. Her clothes rotted away, she got herself some boobs, and she has this fierce pain in her stomach...Wait!...The pain...Oh, yeah! That's four or five years of menstruation happening within ten minutes.
          • Here, Bianca!         
          • 'Cause those douchebag dwarfs certainly didn't offer. They just stood there watching and being awkward.       
        • The whole dwarfs are really rocks thing confused me. Are they rocks or are they people? Was Bianca imagining them? Is the story saying that dwarfs aren't people? If this is true, it would knock out about half of TLC's programming. 
        • At the end of the story, Lucrezia is calling the Goose Boy. She refers to herself to being his mother. Mhmm. That would explain why Crezia has really been keeping the de Nevada's home safe. After Cesare died, she had no need or desire for the Tree of Life. She just wanted to keep her secret illegitimate son's home safe.
        • What does it mean that a kiss from Bianca's dad awakens her? Wasn't it supposed to be a prince, her true love? So her true love is her dad?
          • Okay. You know what? I like that Bianca needed her dad to awaken her. A good woman doesn't need a man to save her. (Unless that man is named Dad.)
        • An epilogue hints that Bianca and the Goose Boy have a little somethin' somethin' going on. Wasn't he cognitively impaired a couple chapters ago? What kind of living are they going to have if he can't remember who she is or where he's left his goose? He can't get paid much! He watches geese for chrissake! What will they do when his job is eliminated after the invention of fencing?
          • Oh, yeah.

        Wednesday, March 17, 2010

        BSC #7: Claudia and Mean Janine

        The Cover:

        • Uh, who's that kid? I don't recall the Claudster and Janine getting into a smack down in front of any little kid.
        • And what is with the subplot being the cover art? The book isn't really even about Mean Janine. The book should be called Claudia and Mimi-and-the-Blood-Clot-in-Her-Brain-That-Resulted-in-Dead-Brain-Cells-and-Brain-Damage. Or something like that.
        • The unidentified kid (A very large Jamie Newton? David Michael?) clearly did not dress himself. I don't know any little boy that would willingly wear a button-up tucked into blue jeans at any point in his life. Not to mention that it's summer.
        • What are with Janine's fug glasses? Or the Sunday school teacher outfit? I realize that it's the '80s...but Janine! Let Claudia have an intervention!
        • But, then again, maybe Claudia shouldn't get to be the one holding the fashion intervention. I'm no fashionista, but I'm saying no to that sweater.
          • What shape is it? A sack with sleeves?
          • What is that print? Horses with unusually long necks? Giraffes with unusually short necks?
          • What the eff is up with the angle that Claudia's arm is at? Is it broken? Is she doing the robot?

        It's summer vacation and Claudia has original plans--baby-sitting! Unfortunately, Mimi decides to ruin Claudia's fun and games by having a stroke. How selfish of her! Claudia blames herself because just before Mimi had her stroke, Claudia yelled at her about the family liking Janine better...Well, they do!
        Now instead of taking care of the neglected children of Stoneybrook, Claudia is getting paid to stay home and work with Mimi. Claudia does different home therapies and what-not to bring Mimi back to maximum Mimi-ness.

        Sub-plot 1:
        Because the mass baby-sitting job at Kristy's went sooo well, Money Grubbin' Kristy makes her minions start a play group for the summer. "To help socialize" the kids. Kids come and hang out in Stacey's yard for $3 a morning. Because Kristy will find a way to make money from a play date. So, the neighborhood kids are there: some Pikes, Jenny Prezzioso, Jamie Newton, some Barretts, David Michael, et c.

        Subplot 2:
        Claudia and Janine aren't getting along. What's new?
        Janine is busy taking summer classes at the university because she's awesome like that. She spends more time on her computer than with her family. (This book has a 1987 copyright date. So what did this computer look like or do exactly?) After Mimi's stroke, Janine is too darn busy with physics and being an Asian stereotype to bother helping out with Mimi. The one time that Janine is supposed to be watching/helping Mimi, Claudia comes home to find Mimi by herself and Janine hanging out with her boyfriend computer.
        • As much as the BSC sugar coats serious issues, I do like that they show that Mimi has to be worked with constantly. Claudia is looking at every moment as an opportunity to help Mimi improve. Even Wheel of Fortune has its benefits.
        • A negative? How quickly Mimi is recovering from her stroke. I know that a quick recovery can happen, but how often? The realist in me thinks that Mimi should have been in a lot rougher condition. Within a month of the stroke, Mimi is up, walking, and re-learning to talk, knit, cook, et c.
        • I might have mentioned this before: I was fifteen or sixteen when I realized that Janine Kishi was named Janine. Before that, I read it as Janie. Points for me and my selective reading.
        • Mr. and Mrs. Kishi want Janine to become a physicist. Is it because she's smart or because she's Asian-American? The BSC's trend toward racial stereotyping doesn't help me answer this burning question.
        • I despise the way that Janine speaks. She sounds arrogant and pompous. Like Claudia, I would want to punch her in the throat. Talk like a normal person, Janine!
        • The play group gives Louie, the Thomas' collie, a bath so that he'll look nice and "fit in" in Watson's neighborhood. Because we all know how those rich dogs snub a dog for...looking like a dog.

          Thursday, March 11, 2010

          Tsk, Tsk.

          I woke up this morning to find this on my stalker feed:

          Mystery solved on why we haven't spoken since high school.

          Tuesday, March 9, 2010

          At First Sight

          I've been sitting on this post for about two weeks. That is how disinterested I am in this book and the author. It's shameful.

          Reasons that I hate Nicholas Sparks and his books:
          • He likes to kill off the female love interest way too much.
          • He likes to have his female love interests have a rocky past relationship that just won't go away. If it's with the deputy sheriff in town, thus complicating matters for the male love interest, all the better.
          • He is incapable of creating a character whose parents who are both alive.
          • He names his characters after his children. Okay, actually that's kind of sweet of him.
          • He sets every book in some hick, dying-but-quaint-and-filled-with-charm small town in North Carolina. There are other places in this world. Like South Carolina.
          • He created a character that is quite possibly the biggest creeper in the world as the male love interest in The Lucky One. Who walks--walks!--across the country in order to identify a woman in a picture he found. Found! I would be creeped out like hell if that happened to me.
          • He can't write a book without it being made into a movie.
            • Six out of fifteen, actually. And two books are being made into movies.
          • After he writes a book and it becomes a movie, you can only buy the book if it has a screen shot for cover art. I hate books that have movie screen shots as cover art because then I feel like I'm reading the book just because of the movie. And most of the time, that is not true.
          • The girl sitting at the computer next to me in the library is listening to Only Hope (as featured in the movie A Walk to Remember (based on the Nicholas Sparks' book of the same title)) without realizing that no one else cares about what Mandy Moore is doing at the top of her lungs. (And if volume is any indication, Mandy is really singing at the top of her lungs.) She is now on her third time playing it.
          • He specifically wrote The Last Song for it to be made into a movie starring Miley Cyrus.
          • He came up with the idea of writing a book to become a movie to star Miley Cyrus on his own.
          • I despise Miley Cyrus and anything that promotes her "fame."
          Reasons that I love Nicholas Sparks and his books:
          • The main character in The Notebook is named Ali, short for Alison. It's the only positive character that I've ever come across with the same name as me. Alison is the name reserved for the slut/bitch/boyfriend stealer/murderer/dead hooker character.
          • ...
          • Yep. That's about it.
          That aside, here's the deal with this book:

          This guy, Jeremy, is a columnist for a scientific magazine. A native New Yorker, he gives it all up to move to Boone Creek, North Carolina to live with the girl he has 1) met, 2) gotten pregnant, and 3) gotten engaged to. All in the last two weeks. Cause Nicholas Sparks is all about the realistic relationship. Jeremy ends up in this hick town and finds himself living in this creepy little motel  rather than Lexie's house because Lexie doesn't want people in town to think that they're sleeping together. Because engagement ring, cross-state move, and pre-marital pregnancy normally occur without the couple ever having sex.

          Jeremy suffers from some fierce writer's block in the new setting. It's okay, though. He keeps sending in his back-up columns to the newspaper. No biggie. Lexie's grandma, Doris, offers him her journal as a possible column topic. (Doris predicts the sex of babies with 100% accuracy.) (Also, important: Jeremy's column is about unexplained phenomenon--aliens, Big Foot, how Lexie got pregnant if they're pretending not to have sex.)

          Jeremy brushes it off until he starts getting anonymous e-mails asking if he is really the father of Lexie's baby (Valid point. Jeremy and his ex-wife divorced because of the stress of his infertility.) and another one telling Jeremy to check Doris' journal. He does. He finds a listing for Lexie and a miscarriage she had with some summer fling. There's a big hullabaloo over it. Lexie apologizes for neglecting to mention that she was knocked up before. Turns out the e-mails were written by Jeremy's BFF who thought he was "protecting" Jeremy. Because nothing says legitimate concern like a creepy anonymous ALL CAPS e-mail.

          They kiss and make up and get married. All is well. Except that it's Nicholas Sparks and he hates his characters. So the baby possibly has Amniotic Band Syndrome, meaning that this little string-thing is floating around the womb and waiting to latch on to the baby and self-abort a limb or two. The baby's born and has everything intact. Lexie, though, springs a leak and amniotic fluid shoots into her heart and dies.

          Jeremy goes on. An epilogue has him with their five-year-old daughter. The kid is having night terrors that will be cured by seeing some mysterious lights in the cemetery. (It's the same thing that happened to Lexie when she was little. Her parents were dead, she had night terrors, and she was "cured" by seeing the lights/their ghosts. I need to work on providing background information, right?) Jeremy recovered from the writer's block and punched out a book about Doris and her sex-prediction skills that sold 24328.32 billion copies. Life is magical.


          So what's so irritating about this piece of fiction?

          This book is a sequel to Sparks' True Believer, a book I never read. I don't feel like I missed much. The book takes care of explaining any back story. You're wondering why Sparks wrote the sequel then, right? Well, he certainly couldn't end True Believer with everyone being happy and alive, could he?

          Doris's journal irritated me. The second it was handed to Jeremy to write an article on, I was like BAM!!--Lexie's gonna be in it for a miscarriage she had with her unnamed lover. And whaddya know. I was right.

          I'm no fool. I knew that Sparks wouldn't set up the death of the baby. He's not going to kill a kid. The kid'll be fine and he'll find some way to kill the mom. And just like before, I was right.

          Tuesday, March 2, 2010

          BSC #6: Kristy's Big Day

          (My apologies for the misaligned pictures! This is frustrating me to no end!)

          Notice something?
          That updated-Andrew is suddenly lost the Michigan shirt-and-tie combo?
          Or that updated-Kristy's dress is way uglier?
          Or how about that Karen completely changed?
          She went from a sweet little flower girl to an obnoxious, bespectacled brat.
          I'll admit, I was confused by how innocent she looked on the old cover.
          I think the updated cover portrays her personality much better.

          Elizabeth Thomas and Watson "The Real-Life Millionaire" Brewer are tying the knot! They set a date for September, but Elizabeth has a business trip to Europe that can't be canceled! (She's a marrying a Real-Life Millionaire. Can't she cancel?) As Elizabeth is looking for another date, her house gets an offer. That means that she's going to have to marry Watson soon! Cause co-habitation is dirty! and evil! Elizabeth and Watson plan and execute their wedding in two or three weeks. It's all crazy and hectic leading up to it--Nannie makes the bridesmaid and flower girl dresses, the Watson-Brewers need to make side dishes for dinner, and Watson's house has to be made ready to host the wedding and reception. Aunts, uncles, and college friends come to help out and bring their 8.3 million kids with them.

          Subplot 1:
          Remember all those kids from two lines ago? Okay, well there's not 8.2 million. More like fourteen or fifteen. And they need to be baby-sat while the adults are prepping for the wedding. And Kristy the soon-to-be-step-daughter is a greedy little ho so she capitalizes on this opportunity. Basically, Kristy makes a daycare in her backyard. It's the first week of summer vacation, so the entire BSC is available to help out. Everybody has two or three kiddos to tend to and Watson is paying over $100 a week.
          I'm sure you can imagine what happens with the daycare. Kristy has a Plan. There are name tags for each age group and group mascots, games, crafts, plays, and wholesome BSC fun. The kids fight and cry and mix-up their rehearsal dinner clothes and throw conniption fits at the barbershop and rumors of an alien attack. Kristy & Company regain control of each situation. In the end, all the kids are alive and well, the girls are  each a $100 richer, and Kristy assures herself that she's awesome.

          Subplot 2:
          This one is pretty lame. Elizabeth and Watson have their six kids act as the entire wedding party--Kristy and Sam are bridesmaid and best man, Karen and Andrew are flower girl and boy, David Michael is ring bearer, and Charlie walks Elizabeth down the aisle. Kristy and Karen get to choose what their dresses look like down to the color. Cause they're the ones getting married. That's about it...
          • Fun Fact: This is Ann M. Martin's favorite BSC book.
            • Why? This book hurt me to read. It was pretty boring. There were no BSC cat fights. Claudia didn't run away to live in the back of some guy's VW bus and sell tie-dyed t-shirts on the beach. Stacey didn't have to go get tested for STDs. Dawn didn't get arrested for firebombing the slaughterhouse. Nothing good happened.
          • I desperately want to know what kind of friends Watson has that take a week off of work to help him get ready for his wedding--to a woman they've never met. Are these people really Watson's BFFs if the Thomas' have never even heard about them?
            • Watson is a man with money. If that one Jennifer Aniston movie with the romance and comedic misunderstanding taught us anything, it's that you can pay people to pretend to be your friends. I think that's the case here.
          • Kristy and Karen get to choose thee colors of their dresses for the wedding. They agree on yellow and fight over what color to have the sashes.
            • Karen doesn't want the sash to be white. Now, normally I'd say white was the right choice here. A yellow-white combination on Brunette and Tan Kristy would be fine. As a fellow blond with the skin tone of Casper though, I'm with Karen on this one. Brunette and Tan Kristy will look great. Pigment Deprived Karen will look sickly. Trust me.
          • Elizabeth and Watson wait until after they're married to move in together. While I find this to only be something that happens in BSC-land, I think it's nice that Elizabeth and Watson are setting the example they want their children to live by. Did these fictional characters think that maintaining separate houses until they were married would keep Kristy & Co. from co-habitating someday? We'll never know.
            • Minor point: I don't think anyone needs to worry about Kristy moving in with a dude before she's married...Sam and Charlie? They've got live-in girlfriend written all over them. And something about Karen tells me that she'll be a crazy cat lady or another Morbidda Destiny.
          • Elizabeth and Watson go to an "inn in Vermont" for their honeymoon. Isn't that the standard, cliche romantic get-away for couples from New England? If I marry a millionaire, he damn well better take me on a honeymoon that involves getting my passport stamped. And that does not mean Canada!
          • A quick search for this book on Amazon brings up Ferris Bueller's Day Off. The better choice by far, I think.