Thursday, April 29, 2010

BSC #12 Claudia and the New Girl


The Cover:
  • Why is Ashley wearing Timberlands? Why did I own a pair of those same boots when I was in elementary school?
  • Claudia is not looking so fashionable.
  • Why is every male sitting charge depicted on a BSC cover have to wear a polo shirt tucked into jeans? Have the cover artists ever met a child? No kid dresses like that!
The Plot:

Ashley Wyeth moves to Stoneybrook from Chicago. She and Claudia quickly become friends. The girls are taking art classes together and Ashley is becoming Claudia's "mentor." Because 13-year-olds are qualified to mentor other 13-year-olds. Claudia is happy to have a friend that understands about her art and shares a similar passion. The thing is, though, that Ashley is a better artist than Claudia. She studied at a prestigious school in Chicago and appears to understand a little more art than Claudia.

The BSC does not take kindly to Claudia spending time with Ashley. The Claudster has been missing meetings to go with Ashley to find inspiration for a sculpture for an art show. (Isn't it kind of weird that they're holding meetings in Claudia's bedroom without Claudia being there?)

The BSC has some lovely things to say about Ashley and Claudia's friendship:

  • Kristy: Some people around here are TRAITORS. And you know who you are.
    • Ouch.
  • Kristy: Famous jerks: Benedict Arnold, the Wicked Witch of the West, Claudia Kishi.
  • Stacey: ...She hangs around with a person who wears BELL-BOTTOM BLUE JEANS to school.
    • Dude, Stacey. Really? That's what you can come up with? And you're talking about Claudia. Bell-bottom jeans are a lot closer to this side of normal than 95% what of Claudia has come up with.
  • Stacey: All right, so how many meetings do you plan to miss, Ms. Artist? How many shopping dates do you plan to skip out on? And what does "friend" mean to you, anyway? ...I don't feel like you're my friend anymore. Or that you want to me mine.
    • What makes this even more gut wrenching is that Stacey has written it in the BSC journal. So all the i's are dotted with hearts. Nothing says ruined friendship like teeny hearts everywhere.
  • Stacey: Roses are red, violets are blue, traitors are jerks, and so are you.
    • This lovely note went under Claudia's pillow. Stacey should really consider being a poet.
  • Stacey: In my breadbox of friends, you are a CRUMB.
  • Dawn: But I don't mind being vice-president, you guys.
    • Claudia--Dawn doesn't want to see your gorgeous almond shaped eyes ever again. She wants to have a legitimate position in the club! If you don't quit the BSC for Ashley, then
    • Claudia: ...you'd think she'd enjoy the chance to be a real officer instead of just sort of an officer-in-waiting...wouldn't you?
      • Whoa. First off, what'd you do to get the VP spot? Oh, yeah. Your parents got you a personal phone line. Secondly, what exactly have you done as VP? Clogged the club's arteries?
  • Dawn: Traitor, traitor. Claudia--we hate 'er! Traitor, traitor. So long, see you later! Good-bye Claudia!
    • Awesome rhyme. I especially love the last part that doesn't really continue the flow.
Just as the BSC is about to give up on Claudia, she pulls through on her own. In the kind of move I hate in books, Claudia and Ashley get in a fight without a natural progression leading into it. In a bit of crazy, Ashley wants Claudia to give everything up for art--BSC, other friends, any outside interests. Claudia gets accused of being ungrateful. 'Cause Ashley helped her a couple times, Claudia owes her her first born. And Ashley gets accused of lacking human emotion.

In light of her fight with Ashley, Claudia decides to do her own thing and sculpt something living. So she picks Jackie Rodowsky 'cause he's more alive than anything else. When she's sketching Jackie (while baby-sitter Mary Anne watches), Ashley comes over to the Rodowskies to talk to Claudia. Basically, Claudia stands up to Ashley for criticizing her choice to sculpt Jackie. Everything gets straightened out with Mary Anne. Claudia makes the next club meeting and successfully apologizes.

Claudia decided not to put her sculpture of Jackie into the art show. She didn't have time to finish it unless she gave her other activities up. Without telling her, Claudia's art teacher entered the sculpture into the art show as a work-in-progress. Surprise, surprise, Claudia got an honorable mention and Ashley's sculpture of a fire hydrant got first place. Another shocking revelation: If Claudia's sculpture had been finished it would have won first place.

And so, all is back to normal in BSCland. The BSC is eating lunch together and has 100% attendance at meetings. And Ashley Wyeth? Well, she's a "sometimes friend." But mostly she eats alone. Because you can't be an artist without being a socially awkward loner.
  • I like that one of the BSC-ers actually dared to have a friend outside of their little group. 'Cause really, how many kids only socialize with four other people?
  • If I were Claudia, I'd drop the BSC like it was hot. What the hell is up with their journal entries? I can see these girls taking the cult to a new level and stalking Claudia. Leaving dead flowers in front of her house. Calling the BSC line to listen to her breath.
  • I find it hard to believe that Claudia is shocked by the idea of sculpting something inanimate. She's never heard of sculpting inanimate objects? She doesn't even know what "inanimate" means?
    • I am shocked by her lack of knowledge about modern art. I really would have pegged her for a modern girl.
  • One of the "coolest" things about Ashely is that she has her ears pierced three times. Well, so do I. Plus I have an industrial. Therefore, I'm cooler than Ashley.
  • Last line of Chapter 2:
    • "I don't know what I'd do without the club--or my friends."
    • Foreshadowing! Dun dun dun!
  • Claudia can't imagine naming a kid Archie, as in Archibald. Of all the Rodowsky kids to pick on  for their name, she picks Archie. As opposed to Shea.
    • Jackie, Archibald, and Shea. These names do not go together!
    • One of my friends was almost named Archie. Just Archie. Not even Archibald. He said if he has a son, he'd name him Archie. But it'd be short for Archimedes. Which would be a bad ass name, even if the kid has to get the crap beat out of him on the playground.
  • What a fabulous coincidence that Ashley and Claudia both want to be sculptresses! How many eighth graders dream of that?
  • Claudia asks the Rodowsky kids where the key to their bathroom door is because Jackie is locked inside. There are keys to bathroom doors? Try a bobby pin, Claudia.
  • "What a nice mommy." That is what Claudia thinks about Mrs. Perkins. Claudia's inner dialog is a four-year-old kid?
  • Page 90: Claudia's pretzels are in an old pyjama box. That'd be the pyjama box, not the pajama box.
    • Now, I don't even care about the outdated spelling. Instead, my mind has just been blown by how funny the word "pajama" is.
    • When did pyjama switch to pajama?
    • During my Nancy Drew phase, my mom had to explain the pyjama/pajama and cooky/cookie situation to me. I really don't think you can just change the spelling of a word!
  • Much like any other BSC book, the plot to this book was way too predictable. Of course Claudia would go back to the BSC. Of course her sculpture would end up in the show. Of course her sculpture would be the best. Pshhhhhh.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Eeek!

Whoa, whoa, whoa.

Check it out. Or for those of you who don't feel like hyperlinking it up, just scroll down two posts.

Notice who commented on it?

John Elder Robison.

Like Augusten Burroughs' brother.

Now, yes. I am interpreting his comment to mean that 1) I must read his book instead of just talking about reading it and 2) he wasn't so into his brother's versions of things.

This just completely made my week/month/year! A real, live brush with someone whose name I recognize! And he read my post!

This totally beats the time I sat next to the camera crew for Girls Gone Wild in a restaurant. Mainly 'cause I like books a whole lot more than porn!

Imagine me squealing 'E' at a very high pitch about 42,000 times! That was my reaction!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Are You There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea.



Plot:
Mmmm. Yes. About that.
It's more of a collection of short stories.
I don't feel like giving you long winded summaries of each, though.
I have other things to busy myself with. Like finals.
So we're gonna keep this short and sweet.
  • Like every one of my 4.2 million dedicated readers, I automatically have to like a book with a Judy Blume reference in the title.
    • Less obvious Judy reference?
      • "I tried out for cheerleading once, but then I had to go to the doctor to get checked for scoliosis."
  • When Chelsea was telling about convincing her elementary school classmates that she was going to be in a Goldie Hawn movie, all I could think about my friend who told her second grade class that she played Matilda. Unfortunately, her parents made her publicly apologize to her class...
  • After Chelsea got a DUI, she was sent to prison for a night because her older sister had turned her in to the FBI. Chelsea had been using her sister's license as a fake until she turned 21.
    • Favorite part? Chelsea's bed is next to a woman that has murdered someone. Apparently, prison doesn't care about the severity of your crime when assigning beds.
  • I love that Chelsea's dad tells her that she's too uptight...as he's peddling her first book My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One Night Stands. Nothing says 'uptight' like writing a book about your one night stands.
    • Am I the only one who would find it weird having my parents read a book I wrote about one night stands? That vein in my father's neck would finally burst.
  • In the section "Big Red," where Chelsea is simultaneously dating Big Red (a man with a similar hair color, texture, and volume to Chuckie and Carrot Top) and Darryl (simply an FB), she flips their names around in the narration. Big Red's fish did not die! Definitely Darryl's fish!
  • There are one liners left and right. This makes for a funny book. It also makes for a loose interpretation of a memoir. Unless every single second of Chelsea's life is really like that. Maybe my life is just extremely un-funny...
  • I was kind of bummed that Chuy wasn't mentioned. The only "nugget" mentioned was Kimmy-- a miniature version of Chelsea, a scam artist, and a guest star on Girls Behaving Badly-- rolled in one. I'm bummed I can't find the clip from Kimmy's appearance. I must see this!
    • The book is partially dedicated to him, though. How sweet!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Running With Scissors


I saw the movie version of this when it first came out. I remember liking it. Unfortunately, I no longer remember what I liked about the movie. I don't remember a thing about it. I can't tell you if they did the book justice. I can't tell you if the translation sucked or if the book or movie version was better. I would go rent it to rewatch and compare, but 1) I owe Family Video $4 as a result of my inability to return Mulan 2 on time (shutup.) and don't feel like giving them any more of my money, 2) I have about a week of school left meaning finals are about to take over my life, and 3) I like when lists come in threes.

What I can tell you is that I freakin' loved this book.

Augusten grew up with his parents having violent fights. His older brother has already moved out at sixteen-years-old to escape the madness. When Augusten was about nine-years-old, his mother started visiting Dr. Finch, a psychiatrist. Dr. Finch is...different. He spends hours at a time with Augusten's mother, leaving the little boy in the waiting room to hang out with the receptionist, Dr. Finch's daughter Hope.

As Augusten's mother's mental health deteriorates, she decides to leave Augusten with the Finch family for the time being. Needless to say, Augusten 'bout busts a cap. He's a meticulously clean little boy...and the Finches live in filth. The sink is overflowing with dirty dishes, the six-year-old grandson takes a crap on the floor, and there is a severe roach infestation. His mother moves to an apartment a few miles away and promises that she'll come pick him up for visits. Her appearances become less and less frequent, though. As the years pass, Augusten accepts that he will probably not be living with either of his parents ever again.

The Finch family is...alternative. There are six or seven kids. Augusten doesn't introduce all of them. Natalie is the same age as Augusten. The two are close friends throughout the book. Vanessa is a few years older and stops in every few months when she's not touring the country with hippies. Hope is about fifteen years older than Augusten. As her sisters like to remind her, she's a spinster still living with her parents and working for her dad. There's an older daughter with a son named Poo Bear and two more biological Finch children. The last two children are the more normal ones. Kate is a hairdresser and lives in a normal apartment. The son lives in Boston, and the family believes that he thinks he's above them and embarrassed by them.

On top of the children, there are patients that Dr. Finch has taken in. (He once dreamed of owning his own psychiatric hospital. Having patients live with him is the best he can do.) Neil Bookman is Dr. Finch's "adopted" son. He's in his thirties, resentful that his bedroom is in an outbuilding, and the first gay man that Augusten meets (besides himself, of course). Joranne (who lives upstairs) suffers from severe OCD. She's only heard from when she has a conniption fit that her spoon has a spot on it. Other patients file in and out of the house over the years.

The Finch family believes that a child becomes an adult at the age of 13. After that, no adult can tell them what to do, and in the case of Augusten and Natalie, the children can date whomever they choose--regardless of age--and choose their own guardians. Augusten begins a relationship with Neil Bookman, the "adopted" son of Dr. Finch. Overtime, it is revealed that Natalie had chosen a wealthy, older patient of her father's as a guardian. This guardian was really Natalie's abusive boyfriend. Despite his daughter getting the crap beat out of her by her pedophile boyfriend, Dr. Finch doesn't rethink his position on the onset of adulthood.

Each chapter in the book is a story in itself. There's one on Augusten walking in on his mom having oral sex with the pastor's wife. Or him and Natalie trying to get jobs or ripping down the kitchen ceiling. There's a lot on Augusten playing with Neil's emotions and delicate mental state. There's Augusten's faked suicide attempt in order to leave school indefinitely to be under Dr. Finch's "care." The anecdotes are really all over the place.

The running theme through these stories (besides the craziness that is the Finch household) is that Augusten just wanted a normal life. At first, the idea of having complete freedom was intoxicating. As he ages, though, Augusten wants a parent to tell him what to do. He wants someone to care about where is and what he's doing. I feel terrible for him. He was essentially abandoned by both his parents and the only people that will take him in aren't providing him the structure and help that he needs. Dr. Finch, despite his medical education at Yale, understands little about human development.
  • Augusten Burroughs isn't even AugustenBurroghs's real name. I learned this via Wikipedia. He's really a Christopher Robison that changed his name when he turned eighteen.
    • Therefore, little known fact (at least to me!): Augusten's brother, John Elder Robison, has his own memoir which is actually on my To-Read list: Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's. Although, now that I look at the cover, I realize that Augusten wrote the foreword. Durr.


  • In a post-James Frey world, I'm hesitant to believe memoirs. Really, how likely is it that a person will remember a lifetime of stories exactly? (Or in the case of Jimmy Frey, at all?) More Wikipedia "research" says that the real-life Finch family sued Augusten for invasion of privacy and defamation of character and wanted him to stop calling the book "memoirs." The book is still called a memoir (except in the author's notes) and there is a little disclaimer blurb stating that the memories are his own and not intended to harm anyone. This slight change tells me that the real-Finches didn't have proof that Augusten's memoirs weren't memoirs. Augusten is even quoted saying that the family has agreed that the book is a memoir.
  • The Finches live near Smith College...Ann Martin went to Smith College...it is quite possible that Augusten was putzing around the campus at the same time Ann was putzing around! A brush with celebrity at such a young age!
  • Dr. Finch has a  "masturbatorium" in his office. It's his own little private room dedicated to masturbation. You know, in case he's ever with a patient and needs to rub one out. Now, who else in pop culture can you imagine having a personal masturbatorium?
Despite any questionable architecture this man may have, I'd still let him give me herpes.
You know, if he offered. And Boyfriend understood and let me take one for the team.
  • I'm a liberal girl. I'm no prude. Despite this, I was quite surprised by Augusten's introduction to sex via a rather descriptive account of having oral sex with Neil. I was really not emotionally prepared for that...but I suppose that's what Augusten was going for--Shock.
  • Dr. Finch thinks that mental illness comes from repressed anger, so he encourages his family to yell and scream at each other. Favorite fight ever? Natalie telling Hope that her "cunt is more secure than Fort Knox" or something along those lines. So true, so true.
  • Natalie is thrilled that she's a McDonald's counter girl. This makes me very sad for her. Ringing up Big Macs is as far as she sees her life going.
    • There was an epilogue! I don't have to feel bad about her Mickey D's career. Girl was driven!
  • Augusten on Natalie:
    • "She was in her fat mood. When she gets into a fat mood, she just wants to sit on everything."
    • Story of my life.
  • Augusten's mother claims that Dr. Finch drugged her and raped her. This leads to Augusten cutting ties with the Finch family. Do I believe that he drugged and raped her?
    • He did hand out sample pills like they were candy.
    • Augusten's mom did tell the waitress that intervened while she was recovering from a mental break that Dr. Finch had raped her.
    • Dr. Finch is a sexual old dude. He has that masturbatorium.
    • And three mistresses that he parades around, much to his wife's dismay.
    • Patients were leaving his care left and right...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

BSC #11 Kristy and the Snobs

The Cover:
  • No. I do not have the new cover. I like to stay true to the cover of the book I actually read. Unfortunately, people choose not to put the Old School cover online. And I choose not to photograph/scan my copy. So be it.
  • The cover shows Kristy walking Louie, Shannon Kilbourne walking Astrid, and Amanda Delaney carrying Precious. An actual scene from the book!
  • Why are Shannon and Amanda out walking together? Shannon is thirteen and Amanda is eight. The book doesn't say that Shannon was baby-sitting Amanda. So why are they together? Shannon doesn't strike me as the kind of baby-sitter that would voluntarily spend time with her charges.
  • Who the eff is Shannon to comment on Kristy's wardrobe choices? I see your knee socks! I see your knee length skirt paired with your knee socks! You have no room to talk!
Plot:
Kristy is still flipping out about how snobby her new neighborhood is. Her assimilation is not helped by an encounter with a few girls waiting for the Stoneybrook Day School bus. One of these girls turns out to be Shannon Kilbourne. Kristy and Shannon share a less than pleasant interaction when they meet on a walk (as depicted by the cover artwork)
As in BSC #10, Kristy's been working on finding new clients in her new neighborhood. She begins sitting for the Papadakis and the Delaney families, and resident baby-sitter Shannon does not take kindly to this change. Shannon attempts to sabotage each of Kristy's sitting jobs by making prank phone calls about the house being on fire or having pizza delivered to the house that Kristy is sitting at. On top of those shenanigans, Shannon keeps hatin' on Louie Thomas.
Kristy sticks to her guns and keeps on sitting. In the kind of plot move that drives me crazy, Shannon and Kristy resolve their feud and become friends with little explanation as to what caused this change. Kristy agreed to split the cost of Shannon's prank pizza, so this makes them best friends? Shannon is invited to be an associate member of the BSC, like Logan.

Subplot 1:
Louie Thomas the collie is getting old. In the week that the book covers, Louie goes from being a happy little pup to a blinding, arthritic geriatric that requires twice daily injections from the veterinarian. In the end, the family decides to have Louie put down. David Michael is devastated by Louie's demise. The rest of the family puts on a brave face for his sake. In the end, Shannon offers the Thomas-Brewers one of her dog Astrid's puppies as her condolences. David Michael names the dog Shannon.

Subplot 2:
The Delaney kids are frickin' brats. They keep telling Kristy to do things for them and extremely rude. Kristy doesn't know what to do about them, so it's surprising when Stacey asks if she can sit for them next. Stacey read an article in a magazine, so now she knows "psychology." Really. She knows psychology. All of it.
Basically, she just pisses the Delaney kids off until they do what she originally wanted them to do. Problem solved.

  • It bugs me that Kristy makes such a big deal about Watson cooking meals, running errands, and cleaning the house. 'Cause--gasp!--he shares those responsibilities with his wife! Like he should!
  • Sam makes a comment on Kristy's wardrobe. Even Watson offers her money to go shopping. If the men of the Thomas-Brewer clan are commenting on Kristy's wardrobe, there is a serious problem.
  • Amanda Delaney bugs the hell out of me. She's constantly bringing up the price of her cat. Her purebred cat. 
    • As a person that has never owned a cat and has no intention of ever caring for a pet that craps indoors, I am a little confused. Do people actually pay for cats? I didn't realize that cats came in purebred form.
  • Kristy gives a description of the Thomas-Brewer kitchen: "Although it has all of the modern conveniences and appliances, it looks kind of like an old country kitchen. We eat at a big parson's table with two long benches...Most of the counter tops are covered with blue and white tiles. Copper pots and pans hang from the walls. The curtains--tiny pink and blue flowers on a cream-colored background--match the wallpaper."
    • I think we can all agree that that was 13-year-old middle-aged Kristy Thomas Ann Martin describing that kitchen.  
  • I freaking love names. I peruse Nameberry way more than any twenty-year-old girl who is not forecasting children for at least eight-to-ten years should. This is why the Perkins' name choices for their new spawn upset me so much.
    • Possible Girl Names: Sarah, Randi
    • Possible Boy Names: John Eric, Randy
    • Do you see the problem? Like that:
      • 1. Randi does not go with Myriah or Gabbie. Those are very feminine names and Randi is gender neutral.
      • 2. Randy/Randi for a boy or a girl? This had damn well better be some family name.
      • 3. John Eric? Where is the hyphen? But really, Eric had better be the middle name and not an extra first name.
      • 4. I don't remember what they end up naming the baby, so I'm just going to remain outraged about this until I find out in a later book.
      • 5. Also, no offense to anyone and their spawn, but I freakin' hate "alternative" spellings. Like Myriah for Mariah. The letter 'y' does not make any kind of sound close to 'a.'
        • I had a class with a girl named Cahla. Allegedly, that's Kayla. I didn't realize that the letter 'h' makes a 'y' sound.
  • Jamie Newton came over to play with the Perkins girls. After he gets upset, he leaves. Or at least Mary Anne thinks that he left. Actually, she doesn't really know. 'Cause she let a four-year-old walk out of the house to go home without 1) telling her, 2) her escorting him or having his parents pick him up, or 3) even calling to make sure that he made it home and wasn't murdered by the Stoneybrook Strangler.
    • What happened to the BSC that flipped out about Jamie being in the front yard by himself without mittens?! Kristy would not approve!
  • Linny Papadakis is a he. I am shocked. I read my first BSC Little Sister book--featuring Linny Papadakis!--when I was seven-years-old. This week, I learned that Linny is a boy. How did I miss that?
    • Is Linny a nickname? Is Linny really a Linus?
  • Five of the Pike kids had chicken pox at one time. What a cruelcruelcruel world.
    • Mrs. Pike told Claudia that the healthy kids were fine because they'd been exposed to the pox for a week and not developed any. Of course, by the time Claudia leaves, seven of the eight Pikes have the pox.
    • Fun Fact: I don't think I'm immune to the chicken pox. And my lovely mother (that is a nurse) doesn't support me in my quest for the vaccine. Unlike her, I suspect that my case of the chicken pox was simply diaper rash that coincided with my sister's chicken pox. I fear the day that I encounter a child with chicken pox and put this theory to the test.
  • Why is Max Delaney--a six-year-old--wearing an alligator shirt? Why is Kristy Thomas, the least fashionable person in BSCland, able to describe his shirt so specifically? What is an alligator shirt exactly? A Lacoste shirt?
  • Fun Fact: The Delaneys have two tennis courts.
    • How big is their yard?
    • Why do you need two tennis courts?
  • Dawn baby-sits for Jeff and things don't go well. He tells her that he wants to move back to California. Dawn describes Jeff's attitude as "cross." What thirteen-year-old says "cross"?
  • Kristy has the BSC over to hang out. She says,
    • "We'd just had a meeting the day before, of course, but every now and then we like to get together and not conduct business. Besides, my friends enjoy visiting the mansion."
    • Let's see how many ways Kristy makes herself sound like an ass in those two sentences. I see three ways!
      • Of course I should know they just had a BSC meeting!
      • Those crazy kids don't always conduct business! They're not so holy that they only baby-sit!
      • And yeah, Kristy's friends do enjoy visiting her mansion. It's nothing, really. Just a mansion that will never be mentioned 8.265 billion times. By the way, did you know that Kristy lives in a mansion?  
  • This book made me teary eyed. No BSC book should do that. My own little pupperoni passed away a year and half ago. Much like Louie Thomas, Leon woke up and his little legs wouldn't hold him up any more. A few hours later, he was put to sleep. He's now chilling out inside a maple box under my parents' coffee table. He leaves behind his wife of seven years, Lili (alias: Puppy Longstocking).
Us. Circa 1994.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Now All I Need is a Staircase.

I may have mentioned before my demands for a Beauty and the Beast library.

Because I like to be realistic, though, I understand that I probably won't have that kind of square footage in any future house. Or enough books. Unless I rob a library. (Which is actually a really good idea. Who would expect that? Give me a U-Haul, a team of ninja thieves, and strip me of my morality, and I'll fill those shelves!)

Tangent aside, I've been in love with these shelves since I saw them on some other random blog...and stalked traced them to their source.
I want bookshelf stairs and I want them now!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Deenie


Holy Judy Blume! Don't you worry, kiddos. This is the last Judy Blume book in my possession at the moment. Although, I did see Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret at Goodwill this week. But it was missing it's cover. And it was the updated version that did not involve sanitary belts...Yes, I checked.

Although, why am I so concerned about Judy overload? Isn't Annie M. overload a regular part of this here blog? 

Any hoodles...

Deenie (or Wilmadeene...) is a thirteen-year-old aspiring model...or so her mother would like to think. As Mrs. Fenner likes to point out, Deenie's sister Helen got the brains and Deenie got the looks. Way to pigeonhole your kids. Unfortunately for Mrs. Fenner, Deenie just wants to be a thirteen-year-old girl. She wants to make the cheerleading squad or hang out with her friends on Saturdays instead of heading to New York City to meet modeling agents.

Deenie's attempts at modeling haven't been going well, though. Everyone keeps commenting on her posture. Despite Deenie's greatest efforts, her posture is still just off. After she fails to make the cheerleading squad, her gym teacher asks her to stay after school so she can check Deenie's posture. This leads to Deenie's parents getting a call to take Deenie to an orthopedist and eventually a physician specializing in scoliosis.

Without asking anyone, Deenie decides that she'll have surgery to correct her scoliosis as opposed to wearing a brace for four years. She tells all her friends, and they take her out for a special day and even buy her a nightgown to wear in the hospital. Then, the poor girl has to break the news to them that she's getting a brace.

Throughout this whole ordeal, Deenie's mother is terrible. Mrs. Fenner acts like the scoliosis is something that Deenie developed on purpose. Mrs. Fenner constantly cries and tries to convince the doctors that Deenie doesn't need a brace. It'll ruin her modeling career! Helen is dating an employee at the family's gas station, and it is suggested that Mrs. Fenner had him fired to keep him away from Helen. Because love will ruin Helen's academic career! Hello, control freak!

Deenie's feelings about her brace are certainly not helped by her mother's reaction. Her friends are doing their best to keep her spirits up, though. Deenie does make a new friend by wearing the brace--another rejected girl, Barbara, who suffers from eczema.

As the weeks pass, Deenie goes to a school dance (where the world's cutest boy, Buddy Brader,  tries to feel her up) and a party at a friend's house. For the party, Deenie plans not to wear her brace but her father tells her she'll just have to wear it longer. After sneaking an extra change of clothes to the party (so she'll have a set that fits without the brace underneath them), Deenie decides against changing. If her friends (and Buddy) don't like her with the brace, they're not worth it. She accepts that she needs the brace and that wearing it just like she's supposed to is the best thing she can do.


I remember reading this book when I was younger. There are a few things I missed, though:
  • I thought Deenie was sixteen or seventeen. Not thirteen.
    • Knowing that Deenie is thirteen, I think it's kind of weird that Buddy wants her to take the brace off so he can feel her up. Cause taking it off would involve removing her shirt. And they're thirteen. And that's just not how things go down where I come from.
  • Nine-year-old me didn't know what Deenie meant when she said she touched her "special place."
    • Nine-year-old me apparently didn't even pick up on what that meant after Deenie submitted an anonymous question about it to the gym teacher. And the gym teacher called it "masturbation."
  • This is one of the most frequently challenged books of the 1990's. I didn't realize that Juvenile Alison was such a rebel in her reading choices.
Musings Based on Reading This Book as an Adult-In-Training:
  • Does anyone else remember being checked for scoliosis in sixth through eighth grade? My school sent a letter home telling us to wear our bathing suit tops instead of a bra so we wouldn't be embarrassed. All the girls were taken into either an office or the locker room, had to pull our shirts up, and touch our toes. This was nerve wracking shit. For the week leading up to the check, we all had the best freaking posture you ever saw. Getting checked for scoliosis was worse than getting checked for lice. So. Much. Worse.
  • Deenie is fitted with a Milwaukee brace. Dedicated reader/blogger that I am, I Googled  that shiz. It is just as emotionally traumatic as Deenie promised.
  • Michelle of Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion wears a Milwaukee brace (or something very similar) in one of the flashbacks to high school. Some kids put giant fruit refrigerator magnets on her brace. Kind of like Pete and Pete did to their mom's skull plate.

  • Shortly after Deenie gets her brace, she gets her period. She has to ask Helen for help in getting a pad. This would be humiliating. But Helen is freakin' Sister of the Year and even offers to help Deenie to situate it. (Situate? I don't know pad related terminology. You know what I mean!)
  • Deenie's mom is a bit of a selfish bitch. All she cares about is Deenie's modeling career. Did she ever ask Deenie if she wanted to model? And what about ever telling Helen that she's beautiful too? If this book were set 30 years later, I have an inkling of how Mrs. Fenner would want Deenie to look.
Like a creepy-as-hell minion for Satan.
  • I freaking loved Helen. I wish we could have seen more of her. She loses her boyfriend because of her mother. She helps Deenie when she gets her brace. She gives Deenie her clothes to wear over the brace. In the end, she even stands up to Mrs. Fenner. Helen tells Mrs. Fenner that the girls are more than just a pretty face or a smart brain. I'm proud of her! Someone needed to tell that bee-yotch off! Tear!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself




Plot:

Sally J. Freedman is a ten-year-old Jewish New Jersey girl growing up in the 1940s. It's just a few years after the end of WWII, and Sally's active imagination often leads to her playing games that involve escaping from concentration camps. Cause, you know, that's what all little girls play in their free time.

Sally's older brother Douglas breaks his collar bone while jumping over a creek. As a result, Dougie gets a blood infection and nearly dies. Sally's parents decide that it would be best for Douglas' recovery if the family (except for Dad but plus grandma, also known as Ma Fanny) move to Miami for the school year. Needless to say, this is traumatic for Sally. What kid wants to move from their nice suburban home to a teeny one room apartment in a different state?


In Miami, Sally starts school on the wrong foot. She got lice on the train ride down and is banned from school for the first few days. Then, she wears the wrong clothes and some bitch Harriet hates her. Ah, elementary school. Sally does end up making some friends: Andrea who lives down the hall, Barbara from Sally's class, and Shelby from another class. Peter Hornstein, who sits behind Sally in class, is Sally's "Latin lover," despite being white.


Sally spends the school year getting into various shenanigans. There's the time she was stung by a jellyfish. Or when Peter Hornstein keeps putting her hair in his bottle of ink. (That's so 1947.) Georgia Blue Eyes, the boy Sally's neighbor Andrea is in Stacey McGill style-Luv with. Dance class with Andrea. Spying on Douglas and his girlfriend. Oh, and spying on Adolf Hitler Mr. Zavodsky.

Sally fixates on Mr. Zavodsky. She's sure that he's Adolf Hitler in disguise but just needs enough evidence to prove it. Throughout the book, Sally writes letters to him (that she never sends) letting him know that she's onto him and will be contacting the police soon! At one point, Sally picks up the party line while Mr. Z is using it. From the conversation that she overhears, Sally convinces herself that Mr. Z is giving a code to a Nazi. Unfortunately, Sally's "evidence" is that Mr. Z looks like Hitler and always offers candy to the kids in the building. That's it.

By the end of the school year, Douglas is healed up and the Freedmans (Freedmen?) head on home. Mr. Zavodsky has died of a heart attack before Sally can turn him into the FBI and reveal who he really is. Everything wraps up nicely. Except for what happens with Douglas and his girlyfriend.
  • Sally is slightly obsessed with Lila, a cousin she never met that was killed in a concentration camp. This was a little strange. Would Sally be so obsessed if her family spoke more openly about Lila?
  • Sally's favorite movie stars are Esther Williams, Rita Hayworth, and Margaret O'Brien. Turns out, these are real people. I like real-people-crossovers.
  • In music class, Sally is in the "Listener" group. Apparently if you can't sing well, you're a listener. You get to lip sync while the other kids belt it out. Ouch.
    • I know what group I'd be in...and it wouldn't be the "Singers."
  • Do people really move to warmer climates for their health? Sally's entire school seems to be made up of kids either recovering from a serious illness or whose family members are recovering from an illness.
(The Ohio and Wisconsin shirts made me LOL. Literally. Because they're so terribly, terribly true.)
  • Poor Sally gets lice! She's kicked out of her new school for the first few days.
  • Sally signs her letters "Love and other indoor sports, Sally F." Just like her old baby-sitter did in the letters she wrote to her boyfriend.
    • I honestly had to think about what that meant. I'm twenty-years-old. Would Judy's target audience understand that? Probably not. That is the joy of reading her books as a grown-up-in-training--I understand the sneaky dirty parts now.
  • I feel bad for Douglas. He's trapped in that teeny apartment with three women. And everyone in the building seems to be female. (Except for Mr. Z.) Douglas makes up for it by spending a lot of time in the bathroom...Wonder what he's doin'?
  • Sally has a friend over for lunch. They eat cottage cheese and sour cream. Uh, what? I didn't realize that Dawn Schafer came over, too.
  • Sally overhears her neighbor telling Sally's mom that Sally is too old for paper dolls. Well, excuse me. I still have all the paper dolls that came in the American Girl magazines. Which I showed to Boyfriend a few months ago. He did not share my love for them.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Freedman go to Cuba for a weekend trip. I'm kind of jealous. Mrs. Freedman doesn't appreciate that rare opportunity, though. She's too busy convinced that the airplane is going to crash. I'm with Mr. Freedman though--Airplanes are safer than cars.
  • Sally is upset that she has to miss her class's Hanukkah party because she got stung by a jellyfish.
    • My aunt taught me to carry meat tenderizer in my car in case of jellyfish stings. (Because those happen so often in the Great Lakes...) Or just get someone else to pee on the sting.


    • I remember deciding if I would stay home from school sick depending on what was going on in school that day. Choir or gym class day: I'm sick. Art class or library: Miraculous recovery.
  • Georgia Blue Eyes--Andrea doesn't know his real name, but she's madly in love with him. When she finds out that he goes to the same swim club as Sally and knows Sally's name, she quits speaking to Sally. I think Sally's better off that way.
  • I think it's really cute when Sally kisses her Latin Lover, Peter. It's such an elementary school thing to do: Stalk the boy. Tell him you have something to tell him. Kiss him. Run away. Judy Blume knows her audience.
  • The sixteen-year-old neighbor, Bubbles, runs off with a goy (code for: Christian boyfriend) after she gets pregnant. Her parents give her up for dead and go so far as to sit shivah for her. Like Sally's mother and grandmother, I cannot imagine what kind of parent would do that.
  • Swear to God, I actually got really worried every time Sally wrote a letter to Mr. Z. I was like "What if she sends it! That'll be so awkward and humiliating to explain!" That was a real nail biter for me. Really.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

BSC #10 Logan Likes Mary Anne

The Cover:
  • Mary Anne, Logan, and Jackie Rodowsky with his hand stuck in his grasshopper's jar--How romantic.
    • Regarding the hand stuck in the jar--Totally a That 70's Show scene like this. Only it's Kelso with his hand in the jar. And it's weed, not a grasshopper.
  • What is with Logan's shirt? Or Mary Anne's shirt? Huge white stripes must be IN. 
  • And why do all BSC sitting charges depicted on covers wear that same enormous polo shirt in various colors?
  • I wonder if Logan and Mary Anne realize that Jackie has no soul. He uses his clumsiness and charm to try to cover up his status as one of Satan's minions. He's not fooling me,though! I see your ginger hair, Jackie!!!
Plot:
It's the beginning of eighth grade, and there's a new boy! Logan Bruno. He's dreamy. He's got a Southern accent. He looks like Cam Geary. He loves to baby-sit. And...he likes Mary Anne!

I'll give y'all a minute to collect yourselves. That last part's a big shock, I know!

Someone likes Mary Anne. As in he like likes her.

Logan is invited to a BSC meeting to see about becoming a member. (See Subplot.) He ends up getting crazy embarrassed when Claudia almost says B-R-A S-T-R-A-P. I'm sure a thirteen-year-old boy has never heard those words before. This event is so humiliating that Logan won't give Mary Anne an answer about joining the BSC or go to another meeting. In the end, Logan and the BSC agree that the meeting was too uncomfortable for all of them. Plus Logan has cooties.

Logan and Mary Anne do go on a sitting job together as a bit of a job interview for him. (He ends up accepting a position as an alternate officer.) There's magic and fireworks and Jackie Rodowsky being himself. The job goes well enough--except for the part where Jackie gets hurt and Logan forgets to ask him if he's okay. (Mary Anne is a bit of a bitch when she's reviewing Logan's work. Especially for someone that hasn't taken the baby-sitting safety class offered to sixth graders. Or CPR. Or gotten a DHS clearance.)

L&MA are chatting on the phone every day after school but before Richie gets home. In a show of rebellion, Mary Anne talks to him for eleven minutes at a time even though Richard set a ten-minute rule. The phone calls are magical. Butterflies are everywhere and little woodland creatures are sewing Mary Anne a dress in the next room.


Logan and Mary Anne decide to go to The Dance together. (Per Richard's rules, they have to meet there. He enforces this rule, even after crying tears of joy that his daughter had a date to the dance.) The BSC cancels a meeting and gets Richard's credit card in order to help Mary Anne find an outfit for the dance. Enter the famous cities skirt. Woo! The dance is, like the rest of Logan and Mary Anne's relationship, magical. The two are getting their groove on until horror of horrors--Mary Anne's shoe flies off and hits the wall. This catastrophic event leaves Mary Anne huddled on the bleachers the rest of the night. Despite this, Logan still likes her.

All this time, Stacey has been planning a surprise birthday party for Mary Anne. Do you see a problem with this? Like that Mary Anne is painfully shy? Or that she hates surprises? Regardless, Stacey forges ahead. She tells Mary Anne she's having a get-together and to invite a date. And Mary Anne isn't the least bit suspicious. Again, Richie makes Mary Anne meet Logan at Stacey's house. Thus, Mary Anne does not realize that she's getting to the party forty-five minutes after everyone else. The surprise is not handled well. Mary Anne runs out and goes home. No one calls her to apologize. The next day, Mary Anne breaks down and calls Stacey and Logan. S&L thought MA hated them, so that's why they didn't call or check on her yesterday. All is well.

Finally, Richie agrees to get Mary Anne that cat she's been pining for. He even picks Logan up to go to the animal shelter with them. (Richie waits in the car. He's a cool dad.)

Mary Anne and Logan drive off into the sunset.

Subplot:
Kristy is worried that no parent will want to hire her because they'll have to transport her to and from the sitting job. Her Great Idea is to hand out fliers at a PTA meeting. This idea is so Great that the BSC becomes swamped with new business. They need another sitter. What ever will they do?

  • It bothers me that Logan's name comes first in the title. Almost every other BSC title has the narrator's name as the first word in the title. Is Logan narrating this book? No!
  • Page 1-2 of the book: "We baby-sit for the kids in our neighborhoods and we have a lot of fun--and earn pretty/ much money, too."
    • See it? Or am I crazy and not understanding the English language? What is "pretty much money," Mary Anne? Hm?
    • The slashy-do (/) is showing where the line bumps onto the next page. So by the time you make it to the next line/page, you don't realize what's wrong. And you replace much with something that makes sense. Like good. Don't ask me what that process is called, though. Psych 100 was many moons ago.
  • Ah, yes. Mary Anne subscribes to Sixteen magazine! It comes with a free poster of Cam Geary! So it's J-14?
  • Cam Geary is dating Corrie Lalique. Who is too old for him. Because she's fourteen. How old is Cam Geary exactly? I always pictured him being sixteen or seventeen.
Mystery solved. And I've just lost some respect for Mary Anne. And Corrie Lalique
  • At the BSC meeting, the girls are discussing someone who got a bra over the summer. Um...They are in eighth grade, right? The girls are scandalized by it.
    • Way to make me feel like a freak of nature, girls! Not all of us are blessed enough to be completely flat chested in eighth grade. Or even in fifth grade. Some of us hit eighth grade with a C cup, bitches. I assure you that is more emotionally scarring than whatever training bra this girl was filling out.
    • Mary Anne does admit that her dad took her to get a bra the day before, too. I'm with the rest of the BSC on this one: Awkward. Thankfully, Mr. Spier let the saleswoman take over, and Mary Anne avoided more humiliation. But good Dad move on his part.
    • I was glad that Dawn stepped in and discussed her bra. So, I wasn't a pubescent freak by having the chest of a Victoria's Secret model in junior high.
      • How bad is it that this part completely destroyed my self-esteem for like five minutes?
    • Additional note: Not all the girls have bras? They're in eighth grade! They should almost all have their periods, right? In my sex ed experience, we were taught that breasts, periods, and junior high go together like Twilight movies, screaming girls covered in body glitter, and the death of my soul.
      • Again, puberty-related self-esteem has taken a hit.
  • Mary Anne talks about how excited she is that she's the "king of the hill" at SMS. And next year, she'll be in high school!
    • Um, no you won't! Twenty-plus years later, and you still haven't hit high school, darling! 
      • I suppose that's good for Claudia, though. Even after twenty years, eighth grade was still hard!
  • The BSC makes fliers to advertise at a PTA meeting in hopes of drumming up more business near Kristy. (Kristy is worried people won't want her to sit for them if they have to drive her 300 3 miles back to Watson's mansion.) Just like in BSC #1, they have Kristy's mom make fliers at work--150 fliers.
    • Remember BSC #1? Where Kristy's mom made ten fliers? Oh, how times have changed.
    • When people do reply to the fliers, why are the girls surprised? Did they think they'd make 150 fliers and gain one or two new clients?
  • My cousin and I once watched a clip on E! where this girl was attracted to her boyfriend solely because he looked like Will Smith. He even had the same shaped canines. Crazy, right? A one time thing, right?
    • Oh, wait. Cam Geary...Logan Bruno. Mary Anne has some 'splaining to do 'cause that is exactly why she likes Logan.
  • I really got tired of hearing about Logan's dreamy accent. It isn't dreamy. He sounds ridiculous. He is quite possibly his own cousin. What's so dreamy about in-breeding?
    • Fine. My aunt is married to Boyfriend's dad's cousin's son. It's a small town. Leave us alone.
  • Logan says he has a lot of "experience." Whoa. Annie M. makes it seem like he's referring to baby-sitting, but he's not. I think we all know the real reason Logan's family left Kentucky--to escape the trail of knocked up girls Logan left across the Bluegrass State.
  • When Logan attends the BSC meeting, it's awkward. Claudia almost says bra strap. Uncomfortable, right? It's like she was called out Kristy's androgyny or Stacey's weekly visit to Planned Parenthood.
    • Logan is so embarrassed about this that he won't tell Mary Anne why he isn't joining the BSC. Who knew that b-a s---p would keep a person from joining the BSC? 
  • Mrs. Rodowsky greets Mary Anne and Logan at the door. She's wearing blue jeans and a denim jacket. Mary Anne concludes that Mrs. Rodowsky isn't dressed like most mothers.
    • What was Mary Anne expecting? An evening gown? And if Mrs. Rodowsky isn't dressed like "most mothers," how are the other Stoneybrook moms dressing?
  • One failed attempt at chin-ups, a spilled cup of juice, ripped pants, and several other mishaps and Logan and Mary Anne have survived their first awkward hang-out. Oh, Jackie Rodowsky was there, too.
  • Claudia's charges' dog, Chewy, goes crazy. He runs away with the little girl's backpack. Claudia gives up hope that Chewy will come back and begins to worry about how she'll tell the family that their dog is gone. Just in the nick of time, a construction worker knocks on the door and tells Claudia that Chewy is in the backyard--with the construction site's orange cones. Chewy is some kind of kleptomaniac. Fabulous.
  • Charlotte is learning "map skills" in school. What kid calls it "map skills"? And if she's so smart, shouldn't Charlotte say she's learning cartography?
  • The BSC cancels a meeting and hires Janine to answer the phone in order to take Mary Anne shopping for the dance.
    • I call bullshit. There is no way Kristy would cancel a meeting. Or that Janine would agree to answer the phone. Are the girls trying to lose business?
  • When the girls go shopping for Mary Anne's dance outfit, Kristy suggests they look in sportswear...so Mary Anne can wear the same cleats and cup to the dance as Kristy.
    • Mary Anne uses her dad's credit card to pay. As an ex-retail employee, I'm gonna say that should never happen. If Mary Anne  or someone else (re: estranged wife) didn't have permission to use the credit card and signed the receipt, Richie Spiers is under no legal obligation to pay the bill. Remember that next time you think about letting your angry ex take the credit card, kids!
    • Ooh, ooh. That famous cities skirt. I actually think I have a Barbie with something similar. I may need to investigate that the next time I go home.
  • I love that Logan's sister teases him about a girl calling him. This is real. As a little sister, I have to say we are bound by the laws of the universe to mock an older sibling mercilessly if someone of the opposite sex calls the house.
  • At the dance, Mary Anne and Logan share many-a magical moment.
    • Logan makes a comment about how all the girls he's normally with are too busy trying to impress him. Uh, how many girls is that, Logan? Or are you just trying to impress Mary Anne and make your one seventh-grade girlfriend sound like eighteen people?
    • Mary Anne is busy copying Logan's dance moves when her shoe flies off and hits the wall. Across the room. She spends the rest of the night pouting/crying on the bleachers because of her humiliation.
      • Grow a pair, Mary Anne. The first time I went out with Boyfriend ended after I vomited in his driveway. Three times. (And, no. I wasn't drunk. Not even a teeny bit.) Did that stop me from gettin' my man? (Okay, almost. I was under the impression that vomit was a deal breaker. Apparently not.)
  • What's even more embarrassing than your shoe flying across the room? Typos. Unless of course "wending" is just a word I'm not familiar with.
    • Page 92: "By the time I'd put it back on and was wending my way back to Logan..."
  • Watson gave Kristy a portable TV. The book specifies that this was a color TV. Oh, boy!
  • I understand Mary Anne running out of her surprise party. She doesn't like surprises. Or being the center of attention. Why did no one see this coming?
    • Since Mary Anne bailed, I'd just like to point out that I would never do that. If you want to throw me a surprise birthday party, I would gladly eat the cake and accept the presents. So I'll see you in November, right?
  • Mary Anne gets Tigger the Kitten from the animal shelter. She kind of sprung the idea of a cat on Richard, but it took him about two milliseconds to decide that she could get one. What happened to the straight-laced, overbearing Richard of yesteryear?
    • I actually like the change to wild and free Richard. He really is trying to be a good dad--the cat, the credit card, the bra. What will this crazy man do next?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Letter to Nicholas Sparks.


Dear Nicholas Sparks,

I hate you. I hate you more than Alfalfa hated Darla. A lot more!


What brings this on? My roommate sent me the link to this today. Finally! Someone else has recognized the conspiracy that is your success!


(Let me just stop for just a tick. Yes, I do own several of your books. I've only purchased one, The Notebook. It was on the bargain shelf at Wal-Mart. The cover is a screen shot of Rachel McAdams jumping Ryan Gosling's bones. I can't blame her. I would too. I quickly realized how much that book sucked when I started skipping chapters at a time. I'll read anything. Skipping chapters is not a good sign.


As far as your movies go, I've seen three. It's true. The only one that got me was A Walk to Remember. I can't help that I sob uncontrollably whenever anyone in a movie dies. I would have cried just as much if it were Hitler that had leukemia and was being nursed by Shane West, so don't take my display of emotion as proof that you're a powerful writer.)


Back to book situation. Do you know what the word "plagiarize" means? It means copying and passing off as your own. If I were to quote you, I'd have to mention that it was you that spewed the literary poison that is overtaking our society. I don't want to take credit for what's not mine. It's illegal and just not nice. All you do is plagiarize yourself. We all know it.


I have long suspected that you've just re-published the same book over and over and over again. I'm sorry that people keep buying your books and movies and thus giving you the false idea that you're doing something wonderful for the literary world. You're not. So, please stop using the "Find and Replace" function on MS word to replace "Cancer" with "Other cancer" and "Small, North Carolina town" with "Other small, North Carolina town." You are the Milli Vanilli of literature. I look forward to the day MS misses a name it's supposed to replace and your ways are exposed.


Let's move on.


You're a romance writer. Get over it.


In this article, you claim that you're not a romance writer because your books are in the fiction section. 
"If you look for me, I'm in the fiction section. Romance has its own section,"
See! I'm not making this up!


Great logic. Really. Somewhere, my elementary school librarian is crying over your grasp of the fiction and genre situation. You're letting the seventeen-year-old Borders employee decide if you write fiction or romance. Great. The article shows you trying to cover up the fact that are a little confused about what separates what you write from romance:
"Sparks disagrees. 'No, the themes in love stories are different. In mine, you never know if it's going to be a happy ending, sad ending, bittersweet or tragic. You read a romance because you know what to expect. You read a love story because you don't know what to expect.'"
Soon thereafter, you said:

"(Romances) are all essentially the same story: You've got a woman, she's down on her luck, she meets the handsome stranger who falls desperately in love with her, but he's got these quirks, she must change him, and they have their conflicts, and then they end up happily ever after."
(Notice what I did there? I used quotation marks. That means I didn't say it. When I used the pronoun "you," it was in reference to the antecedent "Nicholas Sparks." So when I said "you said," it really meant "Nicholas Sparks said." I gave you credit. You should try giving yourself credit sometime.)

Didn't we just cover this? Readers do know what to expect from your books! I've read some of your books! I was in no way shocked about the endings! Someone always dies! You don't have happy endings! They're always tragic!



I do not appreciate that you criticized the quality of Shakespeare, Hemingway, and Austen's work. All because you consider them to be "romance" writers? You are not on the same playing field as them. You are not in the same league as them. They are timeless. They wrote for the love of it. I don't see any of them writing a screenplay for Miley Cyrus. You're more in the realm of Stephenie Meyer. I didn't go on a field trip my senior year of high school to see the closet you wrote a book in. I didn't plan to go on a trip (it was canceled) to see any of your work performed on a replica of the  Wooden O. I didn't power my way through a soft core porn adaptation of one of your novels because my love for you ran that deep. (I didn't know it was porn when I got it. Honest.)


Do I need to mention how you compared your books to the Greek tragedies? Really? Are you trying to sound like a douche bag? How delusional are you? I'll ask you again: Have you read anything you've ever written? Have you ever read a book with any literary merit? Do you know what separates what you write from those books? How many rhetorical devices are you familiar with? Have you considered using them? Go make friends with Nathaniel Hawthorne. Maybe you could learn something. (Actually, no. I wouldn't make Nathaniel go through that. It would be too cruel.)


I have no problem if you want to continue writing. I do have a problem if you plan to keep selling your books, making movies, and forcing my family members to believe that I am just dying to get my hands on a copy of either. There are several romance genres that you might explore. I think the NASCAR genre would be a good fit for you. You already like to write about North Carolinians dying young, so why not? Plus, I did once see a NASCAR romance book on the clearance rack at Walden's. That seems like the perfect place for your work!


Also, I came upon this little tidbit. I do realize that the credibility of the Post is questionable. I also know that you can rest assured that no one wants to stalk your or your family. If I were to hunt you down and publicly shame you for the things you've done to the printed word, two German shepherds would not stop me. I'd become the fuckin' dog whisperer and use ESP to get them to come back from the dark side and join me.

Suck my balls, Nicky.

Love,

Alison

P.S. I noticed in the USA Today article that your "favorite tale of youth" is A Walk to Remember. You can't choose your own book as your favorite. Douche bag.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

BSC Article in the Washington Post!

Check this out!

Done reading yet? Good.

What's that? A quote on page 3 from a certain blogger touched your soul? You're kicking yourself for not having that as your senior yearbook quote? You're quitting your day job to follow this blogger around the country to hear what other genius things she has to say about the BSC? You're getting that quote tattooed on your bicep? You're naming your first-born after her?

Oh, wait.

This amazing quote is "via e-mail." And we all know that "via e-mail" really means What-you-said-in-your-e-mail-was-100-times-better-than-what-you-said-in-the-phone-interview-because-your-e-mail-didn't-make-your-social-awkwardness-and-failure-to-communicate-as-obvious-and-reveal-that-despite-claiming-that-you're-a-Stacey-you're-a-total-Mallory.

In that case, I think this sums things up quite nicely.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

BSC #9: The Ghost at Dawn's House



The Cover:
  • What immediately bothers me about the cover is that Dawn and Jeff appear to be going up stairs. The passage's staircase went down. So, the cover is really showing Dawn and Jeffy looking up the attic stairs. Why was this the logical scene for cover art when the story centers around a secret passageway?
  • Jeff Schafer is rockin' a mullet. Woo!
  • California Casual Dawn looks... relatively normal for the time period. Lazy cover artist!
Plot:
Dawn has gotten it into her bleached blonde head that there's a secret passage in her house because it's so old. Really. Age is the only thing she has to go on. The BSC comes over to do a search of the house. Dawn and Claudia are in charge. They find nothing, but find it suspicious that there is a wall of "fancy" molding in Dawn's bedroom. The girls give up for the day.

Awhile later, Dawn is reading in the barn because it's so freakin' hot in the house. (Um, isn't she from California? I suspect that Stoneybrook summer is the equivalent of a California winter. Suck it up!) Dawn is all settled into a bale of hay readin' her book. Ploop! She fell through a trapdoor. Suspicious. She climbs back up a wooden ladder that leads down the trapdoor. (Dawn gives us a play-by-play of this. She discovers the rungs one-by-one. Six rungs later, it finally occurs to her that it's a ladder. Genius.) Dawn grabs a flashlight and follows the passageway to the end. It leads to a stairway with a spring loaded door at the top.  Where ever could this door lead?

Her bedroom, of course! I'm shocked! She explores it a bit more and finds a buckle and a few other things.

Dawn keeps the passageway on the DL for a while...that is until she starts hearing noises in it. A little research (and a few jumps in logic) make Dawn convinced that there is a ghost in the passage. (Why didn't she hear the noises before?)

The last straw is when Dawn and Jeff hear the noises while home alone. They call their mom home from a date (with a man that is not Richie Spiers). Not-Richie investigates the passageway and finds a buffalo nickel. No one is in the passage (not even a ghost). Not-Richie suggests that they put a lock on the door into Dawn's bedroom and the trapdoor in the barn. A lock is put on Dawn's door (how? what about the molding?) and a bale of hay is put on the trapdoor.

Despite these awesome anti-ghost efforts, Dawn is still hearing things. (Schizophrenia?)

For the conclusion of this "awesome" plot, journey on over to the sub-plot.

Sub-plot (if you can call it that):

Continuity from BSC #8! Nicky Pike is still a-warrin' with the triplets. He still wants to hang with them. They still think he's too young. As a solution, Mrs. Pike give Nicky the "two block rule." He can leave the house and go by himself as long as he's within two blocks.

Which is fine and all, except that Baby-sitter of the Year Dawn has a history with losing kids she's in charge of. Nicky repeatedly disappears, Dawn repeatedly looks for him, and Nicky repeatedly pops up unexpectedly. He's always dirty. He never tells where he was. Can you see where this is going?

Nicky's hanging out in Dawn's secret passageway. He's the one that's been creeping between Dawn's walls. Kinda like the Borrowers. Only full sized. And creepy. Somehow, I'm not shocked by this plot twist.

  • In Annie M.'s book Ten Kids, No Pets one of the kids finds a secret passage in their house. Plot recycling!
    • Also, one of the kids, Hannah, constantly complains about not being able to figure out a nickname for herself. Maybe she should go talk to Karen's friend Hannie about that.
  • Is Dawn a natural blonde?
    • I suspect not. The BSC acts as if Dawn is blonde because she's from California. In BSCland, people from California have blonde hair as a dominant gene. None of that recessive crap. Don't ask them how they all ended up blonde, though. 
      • Her mom is from Stoneybrook. Therefore, she had boring Stoneybrook genes--dominant genes for boring Stoneybrook hair and boring Stoneybrook eyes.
        • Assuming this is true, Dawn should have Stoneybrook hair and eyes. Like Mary Anne and Kristy. Any recessive genes that California Dad brought to the mix would play no role.
          • Even if mom had was heterogeneous for Stoneybrook/California hair and eyes, there would only be a 25% chance that Dawn would have blonde hair and blue eyes. There's a 12.5% chance that Jeff would have the same traits.
  • How Californian is Dawn? I know a few people from California going to school in Michigan and vice versa. Dawn shares none of the same traits with these people. Dawn doesn't fit the stereotypes I know!
    • She doesn't say "heck a."
    • She doesn't take Ducky to San Francisco for the gay pride parade.
    • She doesn't drive eight hours to go to Jack-in-the-Box. (There are no Jack-in-the-Boxes in Michigan. You have to head to dark, dark places for that. Like Ohio.)
    • She doesn't spend her Saturday nights smoking pot and hitting Denny's for 3am breakfast.
    • What's Claudia's qualification to be a leader on the search for a secret passageway? Oh, yeah. She reads a crap ton of Nancy Drew books. 
      • I, too, have read way too many Nancy Drew books. That does not make me feel qualified in the least to find a secret passage.
    • When Dawn's mom is gone for the day, Dawn and Jeff make their own lunch: Cottage cheese, pineapple, coconut, and peaches.
      • Hello, I just threw up in my mouth. Is it just me, or is that the worst lunch ever? Peaches, yes. Everything else, no.
    • How bad is it that my major thoughts surrounding the passageway are that it'll make it so easy for future adolescent Dawn to sneak in/out of the house one day? As a kid that sneaked back in like it was my job (I never actually sneaked out), I see this as a wonderful opportunity.
    • Dawn's kind of a bitch about the ice cream cone inside the passage. She's had maybe one or two in her life? She guesses that it must be an ice cream cone? She doesn't know for sure what an ice cream cone looks like?
      • Way to make me feel great about my eating habits, Dawn. Excuse me, but some places do offer frozen yogurt. Don't act so innocent.
    • I live in a rural area. Full of barns. Barns that are less than a hundred years old. And are still falling apart. There is no way in hell I would step foot in a three hundred year old barn, let alone climb a ladder in it.
    • What kind of hay bale did Dawn's family put over that trapdoor? It's small enough that Nicky--an eight-year-old--can move! That is no hay bale I've ever seen.
    • Dawn corrects Nicky's grammar. He said "good" instead of "well." Bitch. He's eight.
    • I've been wondering this for a while: When do the girls write in the BSC diary? There are always entries, but you never see them writing in it. Do they take turns taking it home? When do they read it? Kristy wouldn't want them reading it during a meeting. 
    • You can bet your Kid Kit that I'll do just about anything to get these boys to work on my future hypothetical house. Ah, the cultural influence of Dawn and Scooby Doo!
    When I was younger this was one of my favorite BSC books. Why? Because I was caught up in the idea of a secret passage. The only secrets my 1970s house had was the pink, blue, and teal paneling underneath the drywall. Now, I think this book sucked. It didn't even have a legitimate sub-plot!

    Honestly, I never fully understood everyone's problem with Dawn. Now I do.
    She makes me feel bad about my grammar and my eating habits. Those are two things I take pride in: Having a full grasp on the your/you're situation but not being so pretentious as to never make a mistake. And eating. If I could put eating on my resume, I would.
    Bitch.