Sunday, October 30, 2005

Scrapings from the underside of a sea snake; or, BSC #17: Mary Anne’s Bad-Luck Mystery

Okay, so I have always pronounced Mary Anne’s last name as “SPY-er,” I’m not entirely sure why, especially because I read this book early on. So, imagine my shock at the earth-rattling revelation that Logan pronounces her last name “Spee-yuh.” Does that mean her name is pronounced by normal, non-southerners as “Spear?” How did I miss that?

Anyhoo, this book is another example of the fact that Ann M. Martin thought all the BSC members were monumental suckers. Not only do they believe that the chain letter is bad luck, they believe that the necklace that Mary Anne gets in the mail is bad, back luck (sing it with me, Social D fans: “You got bad, bad luck / Bad, bad luck / You got bad, bad luck / Bad, bad luck”). They freak out completely after they all have some bad things happen, and they blame it on the charm, instead of blaming it on Hale-Bopp or El Nino, or something reasonable. Finally, they decide to go to the library to look up books on witchcraft, cause they’re sure that someone has put a spell on them.

The library incident cracked me up, for a couple of reasons. First, Claudia hates the library. Now, I know her mom is the librarian (although nobody mentions this), and her parents try to make her read “good” books. But, seriously, let’s assume her mother dragged her to the library as a kid, even then she could have found the cool kid’s books or the cool art books. What art student doesn’t have to use the library?

Mary Anne has this fantasy where she’s picturing old musty library with “stereotypical librarian” and a dark corner with the witchcraft books. I just think she’s seen the beginning of Ghostbusters too many times. Anyway, they find a bunch of fantasy novels disguised as books on witchcraft (I don’t think ANM has ever looked at a modern wicca book, cause they don’t require horror movie ingredients for spells, just candles and herbs and stuff. Hey, I was infatuated for a while when I was younger, give me break).

Then, after the Halloween Hop, during which Cokie lets it slip that she’s in on the prank, Mary Anne gets a letter telling all the BSC to go to Old Hickory’s headstone at midnight, blah blah…Well, after finding out from Daddy that the necklace is actually a mustard-seed symbol of faith, she figures out the whole thing, and the girls decide to play a prank on Cokie and Grace…scare the shit out of them, embarrass Grace-crushing-on-Logan-which-is-the-whole-reason-behind-this in front of Logan.

ANM really likes the mysteries, but really not so good at writing them. Her mysteries remind me of the witch and ghost stories I used to write when I was young. Nothing was connected other than superficially, there’s no depth. Now, I’m sure part of that was me being influenced by her. But, a crazy rich published writer should have worked a little harder. (Ouch, I know.)

Friday, October 28, 2005

She of the fluffy blond perm (Hey, I had one of those)

I love how Stacey's supposed to be sooooo sophisticated and grown up, especially compared to the other girls, but her favorite movie of all time is Mary Poppins.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

I looked like I had just kissed a pumpkin; or, BSC #37: Dawn and the Older Boy

Not too much to say about this book. In it, Dawn gets a crush on an older boy (sixteen with his own car) and loses all sense of self. I never read this series for realism, so this one kinda blew…if I wanted to see girls turn into doormats for stupid boys, I’d watch mtv or lifetime or Degrassi. She realizes she’s being an ass when she finds out he’s sucking face with a high school girl.

My favorite thing about the whole debacle is that Dawn keeps talking about how great Travis’s personality is, but he’s a complete dickwad who thinks he’s tastier than ice cream with magic shell. Or, as Zoolander would say: he thinks he’s too cool for school, but he’s not.

Parallel story: Young Aussie transplant James Hobart lets one of his classmates bully him into leaving his dreams of the footlights and yelling like a madman at poor actors who trip up their blocking. Ah, childhood dreams.

And now for “Awesome 80s Outfit Theatre”—

“But he wasn’t alone. He turned around and linked arms with a great-looking girl. Her long red hair tumbled down her back, and she had high cheekbones, just like a model She was dressed in a white cotton flight suit, exactly the kind of trendy outfit that Claudia or Stacey would wear. I hated her on sight, and then I stopped and reminded myself that it wasn’t her fault she was gorgeous.”

Actually, Dawn, it’s okay to hate someone who is not flying a plane that wears a flight suit of any color or material.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

and I thought I had too much time on my hands...

Ice Cream Sundaes and Chocolate Cake

A whole bunch of BSC fan fic

Just like Vanessa Pike

haiku for Judy*

she calls you missy.
dirty, crazy, bag lady
teaches compassion.

*Judy is the homeless woman that lives outside Stacey's apartment in New York.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

They are smart, worldly New York kids; or, BSC #18: Stacey’s Mistake

So, apparently Stacey’s titular mistake was thinking that her friends were hicks, or that they weren’t? I’m still not sure I understand the frenemy dynamics in this one. Anyway, a bunch of the adults in Stacey’s building (this is during the few months she lives back in New York) decide to have a big meeting about the homeless problem. Five different families want the “New York branch of the BSC” to sit, so she decides to invite Mary Anne, Kristy, Claudia and Dawn to come to the city to visit and to sit for 10 kids during the homeless meeting. And Stacey is a total hag the entire time, bitching because her friends embarrass her by:

- being loud when they’re in public
- being excited by everything, even stupid things
- being afraid of everything (Dawn)
- being jealous of Laine (Claudia)
- knowing too much trivia about New York (Mary Anne)
- and essentially not having grown up in New York

So, after random blowups/fights/making up without saying I’m sorry, they wind up having a great night at the theatre and riding IN A LIMO (which is short for limousine, according to Mary Anne’s letter to Logan).

This is one of those books where things are either sophisticated or unsophisticated:

Laine=sophisticated (“Laine was beyond chic. She had chosen a short black dress, black stockings, and simple black flats. On one wrist was a single silver bangle bracelet. On her dress was one of those silver squiggle pins. Her fluffy brown hair was newly permed and perfectly cut. She looked wonderful—at least nineteen.”)

Mary Anne=unsophisticated (her party outfit looks like a costume from Little House on the Prairie, she’s too touristy)

Etc…

Definitely wanted to smack Stacey…She gets pissed at her Stoneybrook friends cause they’re not sophisticated, instead of making her NY friends be more friendly…

On a related not, I used to obsessed with those squiggle pins…I thought they were the coolest things, especially when worn on sweater dresses. Yep, I grew up in the 80s.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A Mysterious Meeting in Transylvania; or, BSC #5: Dawn and the Impossible Three

So, this is Dawn’s first BSC book, in which she helps Mary Anne redecorate, makes friends with Kristy by playing in a barn, bitches about perfectly nice weather (especially for New England) and has to solve a problem like the Barretts. Now, Mrs and Mr Barrett have just gotten a divorce, and have a nasty relationship and a shaky grasp on reality…Ma Barrett is a monumental fuck-up, and takes complete advantage of Dawn, who keeps talking about how she-Barrett looks like a model (I know, what? She’s purdy, I can’t ask her questions…); so, Dawn becomes the surrogate mom until Mr Barrett pseudo-kidnaps eldest Barrett child…

In other BSC activities, Kristy plays this game “Let’s All Come In” in which they all pretend to be the staff and guests of a fancy hotel…Now, let me say that Ms. Ann M. Martin is positively obsessed with the fact that Watson is a millionaire…she could just say he’s wealthy or well-off or even rich…but Watson is always described as a millionaire. For some reason, that totally bugs me. Anyway, there’s some Morbidda Destiny action (to whom I will devote an entire entry at some point in the near future) and MARY ANNE’S DAD GETS CONTACTS! [that’s in all caps, ‘cause Mary Anne, Dawn and Kristy totally freak] and Dawn’s mom buys red meat. Dawn doesn’t seem as militantly veggie/health food in this book—she even eats chocolate brownies.

I love that, in the early books, the exposition isn’t codified yet: no mention of California cool, Kristy doesn’t have a “uniform” yet, no overuse of the word “sophisticated” (to which I will also devote an inordinate amount of time soon), etc.

Finally, a quick word about divorce and the single baby-sitter. It never stood out to me, reading these originally, just how much divorce and remarriage there is in these books. And it’s not the end of the world; yeah, it sucks, and it creates all kinds of drama, but all the characters deal the best they can. So that’s actually kinda cool.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Mary Anne’s Surefire Alarm Systems; or, BSC #2: Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls

First, let me say that it freaks me out that they redid the cover art for the first couple books when they released the newer editions (the ones with the pictures of the members down the left side of the cover—they started these after I had stopped reading). I rely really heavily on book covers to spark my memory: plots tend to run together, but covers stand out in my mind. And the new art work is just wrong…

Now, to the book:

“Today, for instance, I’m wearing purple pants that stop just below my knees and are held up with suspenders, white tights with clocks on them, a purple-plaid shirt with a matching hat, my high-top sneakers, and lobster earrings. Clothes like these are my trademark.”

When I was younger, I totally thought this was the best outfit ever. I loved suspenders like you wouldn’t believe, even before I started the BSC. And tights with clocks? So artsy, at least to a ten-year-old.

Anyway, the book starts out with Claudia talking about what a pain school is (as usual) and how she’s totally in luv with Trevor Sandbourne (and how she thinks it’s such a romantic name)…she’s smart, she just doesn’t care...same description in every book. Well, all four girls hang out the next weekend, and they find out about the Phantom Caller, a thief who repeatedly calls the house that he’s going to rob, but he never says anything when the victims answer the phone…So, the girls start FREAKING OUT to the point that they call an emergency club meeting to make plans in case something happens while they’re sitting. They come up with the lamest code ever: instead of calling the cops themselves, they call one of the other club members and say “Have you found my red ribbon?” so the other person will know to call the cops…Whatevs. And they decide to bring the club record book to school so they can memorize where everyone will be.

So, of course, Claudia and Kristy start getting weird calls, and they think the Phantom Caller is after them. And Stacey and Mary Anne just spaz out about everything, to the point where Mary Anne sets up “burglar alarms” around Kristy’s house. Well, it turns out they’re just stupid, while boys are calling C and K to ask them to the Halloween Hop. (Ah, middle school dances at 4 in the afternoon…)

This book also introduces the conflict between Claudia and Janine and neatly wraps it up…

I’m not sure how I felt reading these the first time around, but the early books are the biggest stretches…they’re not the realistic-ish conflict that happen in some of the books (friends ditching friends, stupid fights, etc) nor the really outlandish stuff (getting lost on an island in Long Island Sound, winning the lottery, best friends’ parents getting remarried)…

Tiff's Great Idea

Okay. Let me start out by saying that I am in my mid-20s, and I have been spending waaaaay too much time in the children’s room at the local public library. Why? I have been rereading the Baby-sitters Club books that I was obsessed with when I was a tween. My mom gave all my books to my younger cousins, so I can’t read my old copies. But once the seed was planted (thanks to Jessy), I became obsessed with getting my hands on them. Hence, the local public library.

So, I decided after a few weeks of “OH MY GOD! I TOTALLY FORGOT ABOUT THE FAMOUS CITIES SKIRT!” etc, I should post my journey back to my permed days in public…I do love the public humiliation…Anyhoo, I’m not reading the series in order, but I intend to make it all the way through the series, even past the point when I stopped reading the first time around. And I will post my reaction to each book (and if I get truly ambitious, I’ll try to find the videos/other related series) for your entertainment.

This meeting of the Baby-sitters Club will come to order...