Tuesday, September 26, 2006

And his voice is starting to change, which is so cool…; or, BSC Super Special #3: Baby-sitters’ Winter Vacation.

I think this might be the worst super special. Period. There is so much in this book that made me just go WHAT?!?!?!

The gist: All of Stoneybrook Middle School (except for Logan!) are going to the Leicester Lodge in Hooksett Crossing, Vermont, for a whole week. They’re off for a week of fun winter sports and the Winter War, a competition that pits half of the school against the other half. Fun! But the weather is being a bitch, making for slippery roads. One of the SMS buses skids off the road, but no one gets hurt. One of the other groups staying at the Lodge, a group of elementary school kids, is not so lucky; their bus flips or something, and all the teachers have to go to the hospital, but all the kids are fine. So, the BSC, because apparently they don’t really want a vacation, volunteer to watch the sixteen kids for the week, with some help from the teachers…yup, they’re even bunking together…DUMBASSES!!!!!!

And of course, each girl has some event or something to deal with…

Kristy: She’s the organizer for the Winter War AND she’s her team’s captain. So, she’s all competitive and bitchy and pushy. She gets pissy when people don’t want to participate, and she gets even pissier when people mess up…She even breaks a kid’s ankle…sort of. She pretty much bullies this kid into cross country skiing, and he breaks his ankle, and she feels all kinds of guilty. But he forgives her and even asks her to dance at the dance at the end of the week.

Mary Anne: She’s apparently the nerdiest person in the history of SMS, as she’s the first person to ever volunteer to be the trip historian. But instead of working on her paper, she moons about Logan, and obsesses about all the hot bikini-ed girls in Aruba. Oh, and she tries to research the legend of the lodge ghost, but, like so much else in this book, it doesn’t really go anywhere.

Stacey: Meets a boy. And she’s in love, and he’s in love.

Claudia: She’s dumb enough to think that her 25-year-old ski instructor likes her, and she’s totally heartbroken when he introduces her to his wife and two kids…

Dawn: She’s homesick and klutzy and has a fight with Mary Anne. Boring.

Jessi: She’s organizing the talent show, and she’s afraid to participate in any of the athletic events, cause she thinks she’ll hurt herself and never dance again! Oh, and she dances at the show, and everyone applauds and she finally feels like she belongs…[wipes away tears.] Oh, and she thinks this bitchy girl from the elementary school is racist. Turns out she’s homesick and she’s bitchy and she’s called Pinky.

Mal: is an idiot. She’s attempting the whole lame-o Harriet the Spy thing again AND she’s absolutely terrified of the dance. To the point where she hopes they have to evacuate before the dance…stupid bitch.

So, thems the major plot points. Not much good clothing in this one, cause they’re wearing a lot of snow gear. However, Claud has some impressive skiing goggles…

And that’s all I can say about this one…it was dreadful. Seriously trying to forget.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

People hadn’t worn buckles that size on their shoes since…the eighteen hundreds?; or, BSC #9: The Ghost at Dawn’s House.

Ah, more missing children. And thirteen-year-olds more gullible than really dumb children. Yep, it’s about Dawn. (With a little Karen thrown in for torture, I mean to use “extreme interrogation techniques.”)

So, in this installment, one of the last books to maintain any sense of real time, our baby-sitting heroines have just a few weeks until school starts again. So, they’re all about the end of summer activities: slumber parties, hanging out in the hayloft,* baby-sitting. Oh, and searching for secret passages. Which I’ve done. And Dawn literally falls into hers, and she’s convinced someone died there. Which I’ve not done. She’s been hearing noises, and she finds some old stuff, and she’s just positive that someone was shut in there to die two hundred years ago. And that this person is now a ghost. And that this ghost is haunting her secret passageway. LAAAAAAMMMMMEEEEEEEE!

Turns out the noises are the house settling and Nicky Pike.

The plot’s pretty simple, but there’s plenty to say about this one, starting with the cover. Dawn’s outfit on the cover really could be called California casual. SHOCKING!

Not so shocking? I had about five shirts like that that I wore with my jeans pegged. (Though I think they’re going the wrong way on the cover…I’m pretty sure the passage goes down, not up.)

This book was also written back when Ms. Martin threw in real pop culture references, like the movies European Vacation [which has “A Town Called Malice” in it!], Ghostbusters, Star Wars, and Sixteen Candles, along with the perennial faves Mary Poppins and The Parent Trap. Is it wrong of me to love that Claudia wants to watch Star Wars?

I’m also pretty sure it’s the first mention of Cam Geary, foreshadowing Mr. Logan [I seriously had a crush on the boy in the cover art. I was lame-o] Bruno.

There’s all this stuff about how missing kids freak Dawn out, and how Buddy Barrett went missing that one time, and how kids really do get kidnapped. (Someone’s been watching too much “To Catch a Predator!”)

The two biggies, though: 1. Now, I know 13-year-old girls like to scare themselves, but they don’t actually believe in ghosts.

2. Will no one shut Karen up? The baby-sitters just let her tell stories to scare other kids! I find it ridiculous that no one ever really disciplines the little bitch.

My favorite example of “health food” in the book: “a salad with cottage cheese, pineapple, peaches, and coconut topping.” Nothing wrong with this in theory, but for as much as Dawn goes on about how her health food thing is soooo different, this is not that exotic or whatever…

Also, before marrying Richard, Sharon got around. “But Mom had been going out with several different men. One of them was the son of friends of my grandparents, two were from her office [BAD IDEA!!!!!], and a couple more were men she’d met at some party.” And that’s in addition to Mr. Spier.

I’m constantly baffled by 13-year-old girls looking at small children as friends. You can feel affection or whatever, but they act like they’re close friends…It borders on creepy.

I can’t think of any good Claudia outfits, but there was on hilarious thing:

”So just put his p.j.’s on him. He’s had a long day and should go to bed—“ (she glanced at Jamie, who was listening intently) “—s-o-o-n,” she spelled out.

Yep, Mrs. Newton was spelling words to Claudia, who CAN’T SPELL LIKE! And I’m pretty sure she’s spelled “soon” as “son” in the notebook a few times.

*Um, sorry to rant here, but they live in suburban Connecticut, and they MAGICALLY have bales of hay in the barn? ‘Cause, unless you have a working farm and bale it yourself, you have to buy bales of hay! And I can’t see Dawn’s scatterbrain of a mother driving way out in the middle of nowhere just to buy some bales…and how would they get it back? Would they really be able to get multiple bales of hay in their car? And, there’s not much farmin’ country in Connecticut, so where would they even get it? Not many farms, not many feed stores…

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

She’s the only person at Camp Mohawk who actually has a Mohawk; or, BSC Super Special #2: Baby-sitters’ Summer Vacation.

Ah, yes, this was pretty much my favorite super special. They all go to Camp Mohawk; Jessi and Mal are “junior CITs,” while the rest of the club, including Stacey and Logan, are CITs. That’s counselors in training, for those in the know. (Heh, my brother was a CIT at Boy Scout camp, but he got kicked out for toilet-papering the lakefront. Which I know is completely unrelated to the BSC, but I just think it’s a funny, typical “camp prank” story.) So, here’s what goes down…

Stacey has to get talked into going to camp. She’s all worried about leaving Bloomingdales. Cause she’s lame. But she gets her comeuppance, oh yes! She gets crazy sick and spends like a week in the infirmary. She has “a big mosquito bite surrounded by poison ivy, my red eyes were pinkeye…my sneezing and aches and tiredness were a cold, the disgusting thing by my mouth was impetigo [Come on Stace, don’t deny that you caught the herpes!], and all the itchiness was from more insect bites and, of course, the poison ivy. (The dyspepsia was a nervous stomach, which cleared up as soon as I found out I didn’t have Lyme disease.)” Yep, she’s got the plague. Apparently, the second you leave NYC, you catch all sorts of nasties.

Kristy lets the other CITs in her cabin give her a makeover. She actually wears makeup.

Claudia falls in LUV with a Japanese-American boy. They have lots in common, and Claud’s a smitten kitten.

Jessi and Mal don’t get along with their cabin mates, cause they act all juvenile and clingy, and they’re “special” CIT status. One of the girls in the cabin calls them “oreos,” misusing a racial slur. But, Mal and Jessi write a play for some of the younger girls to put on that “teaches” the other girls to be more accepting…LAME!

Mary Anne gets in trouble for sneaking trying to sneak around the lake that separates the boys’ and girls’ camps. Why? Cause she wants to prove that she’s cool to the other CITs, and they don’t believe Logan exists. Oh, and she decides to let the other girls pierce her ears, but they chicken out before she does.

Dawn tries to figure out the quiet girl in her cabins. Oh, and she gets a group of kids lost in the wilderness. [Um, lost in the wilderness, stuck on an island (Oh, I miss good Liz Phair!), Dawn’s got some problems with keeping kids safe. Maybe, she shouldn’t be a babysitter?]

Logan gets razzed by the boy CITs because of the lame-o love letter Mary Anne sends him. Should I transcribe it here? Why not?

Dear Logan,

I miss you so much! I am counting the days until next Wednesday. This next week will seem like a year. I think of you and want to swon swoon.Oh, to feel your arms around me at the dance! It has been too long since our last kiss.

I will be wearing the formal teepee wear, of course, and a yellow ribbon in my hair. What of you, my love? Will you wear your after-shave? If you were to bring me a yellow flower to match my ribbon, I would melt in your arms.

Love forever, kisses and hugs, your love-bunny, Mary Anne XXOO

My single favorite moment of the book? Logan’s outfit: “I put on my teepee shorts and teepee polo shirt and tied my teepee sweater casually around my shoulders.” Yup, Logan is a girl.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

He’s a real conservative type. Tortoise-shell glasses, you know what I mean; or, BSC #23: Dawn on the Coast

The short and sweet version of the plot: Dawn spends her two-week spring break (bitches! We got a week in February and a week in April, but we never got two straight weeks off!) visiting her Dad and Jeff in California. She’s so glad to be back, where everyone is blonde, the sun always shines, and everyone eats health food. So, she entertains notions of moving back, only to decide to return to the BSC. Now, for the fun stuff.

  • This book apparently takes places “about a year and half” Dawn showed up in Stoneybrook. Gotta love the magical passing of non-passing time.

  • “You can always count on Claudia to be wearing some really unusual outfit, like a white jumpsuit with a wide purple belt and purple high-top sneakers.” So, now Claud’s a gay housepainter. Unusual!

  • And this is before it was decreed from Martin-on-High that Richard and Sharon were going to get married, as one of the major reasons Dawn decides not stay in Cali is because she doesn’t want her mom to marry the Trip-Man.

  • Some of the odd things I remember from these books: all the girls yelling “No anchovies!” when ordering a pizza at Dawn’s going away slumber party; Dawn’s description of her stewardess (flight attendant, dammit!) as a Kewpie doll, and me having no clue what that was. But this is what it is:

  • Yeah, Dawn lives in Anaheim. You got a problem with her being all O.C.? Cause from now on, I’m totally picturing her as Mischa Barton with a bad bleach job. Palo City my ass.

  • Did you ever wonder why the We <3 Kids Club even bothered?

  • ”I loved the way everything in California was so easy, so free.” Has Ms. Martin ever been to Southern California? Dawn’s not from Haight Ashbury, she’s from Anaheim. Apparently, Dawn has no concept of traffic or pollution or plastic surgery or starving television stars (which did exist in the 80s, thank you Tracey Gold!). Whatever, Dawn. You and all your Cali friends look alike and like the same things and are boring me senseless.

  • I doubt that a six year old will really remember much about someone who last sat for her A YEAR AND A HALF AGO. Stupid hippie children.

  • God, even in a book that takes places on the opposite coast (aside from which, um CONNECTICUT IS ALSO THE COAST! Sure, not much by way of beaches, but it’s on the farking ocean!), we still have to suffer Karen going on about Ben Brewer haunting the third floor. Shut up, Karen.

  • Oh, yeah, the We <3 Kids Club is actually working on something cool, healthy recipes that kids can make, and Dawn turns it into “See how different it is! Healthy!”

  • Also, it cracks me up when “healthy” foods are actually “gourmet” foods. For example, Mrs. Bruen makes fish fillets baked with tomatoes and covered with cheese sauce. While not fried fast food, the dish is still covered in cheese sauce and therefore not particularly healthy. Also, it’s nothing like the barley casseroles or nut loaves or whatever Dawn normally considers health food.

  • I sincerely doubt that Dawn and her brother get along so well all the time.

  • Dawn doesn’t have Mary Anne’s number memorized. Now, I currently don’t have my best friend’s number memorized, but that’s because I only have a celly, and she’s on speed dial. However, up until I got a cell with speed dial/stopped using a land line for long distance, I had it down. And I really have a hard time believing that every time Dawn wants to call MA, she goes to her address book and looks at the first name listed under S.

  • Dawn thinks that the BSC looks like an ad for the U.N., cause it’s so diverse. I had to fight not to cross out U.N. and write Benetton in my book.

In addition to a lot of cheesiness, this book also features the best foreshadowing ever: Dawn’s dad suggests that she bring the BSC next time she visits—“The Baby-sitters Club in California? It was a great idea.”


Sunday, September 03, 2006

That hand was attached to the most Gorgeous Guy ever to walk the sands of Treasure Cay; or, BSC Super Special #1: Baby-sitters on Board.

Ah, the very first Super Special. So, the basic premise is that the Pikes win an all expenses paid trip that includes a four-day cruise through the Bahamas and three days at Disney World. They ask Stacey and Mary Anne to be mother’s helpers. Then, Watson decides to take the Brewer-Thomas brood along, too, mainly cause Kristy’s never been anywhere outside Connecticut (my first thought was: What about visiting Stacey in New York? And then I had to look in the back of the book to see which books had been published by this point, and it’s sooo confusing that time doesn’t pass, cause I can’t figure out whether or not things have already happened!) And Watson brings Claudia and Dawn along, cause he just can’t leave any baby-sitters behind! He has no consideration for all the other families in Stoneybrook. (I am constantly baffled by Watson’s willingness to drag along a slew of extra teenagers on his vacations.)

So, here are everyone’s storylines, including a few non-BSC members who are granted their own chapters…

Kristy: She makes friends with an old guy.

Mary Anne (who totally looks like Jo from the Facts of Life on the cover!): She meets the daughter of some famous singing duo, who’s a pathological liar. And Mary Anne thinks she’s a true friend until she catches her in a lie. (Mary Anne’s a sucker.)

Dawn: She falls crazy in lust with this guy (she’s in luuuv, but there barely even talk. If she were ten years older, it’d be a fuck fest), and she teaches him to not hate his stepbrothers. Oh, and he buys her a glass unicorn. How fucking sweet.

Claudia has a mystery admirer who keeps buying her gifts, and he turns out to be both the guy she’s been hanging out with and Mary Anne’s not-so-true friend’s brother.

Stacey meets a little boy who’s got a bad heart. Awwwww.

Karen’s a little liar who breaks all the rules (and bought all the souvenirs from Disney World that I used to have, like the scarf in the plastic egg).

Byron (and his brothers) find what they think is a treasure map, so they run around the cruise ship, the Bahamas and Disney World looking for gold. Turns out, it’s a schematic for a copier (a Scandanavian guy on the plane home tells them).

It pisses me off (shut up, you get worked up about this shit, too) that Karen never really gets in trouble for lying or wandering off or making shit up! She wanders off and gets a manicure and charges it to her room AND DOESN’T GET IN ANY TROUBLE!


1. Remember when little kids could go visit the cockpit? And get wings? Yeah, that was a long time ago…

2. Mary Anne’s “friend” Alexandra Carmody is sophisticated, cause she has big boobs. Or, because “she had a figure that filled out the top of the bikini nicely.” So, I must be verrrrrryyyyyy sophisticated.

3. Oh, oops. I totally forgot about Mallory. She’s all about Harriet the Spy, except for not getting caught. So, she sits around the ship/island/Disney World writing in her notebook. Things like (prepare for the block quote, Mal’s italics [sorry, my MLA training dies very very hard)

Another family goes by. The little girl drops her ice-cream cone. Cries.

A big group of people goes by. They are wearing matching T-shirts. They are very loud (the people, not the shirts). I think the people are retarded. Having fun. Lots of smiles…

Two parents and a little girl come by. The girl’s legs are in braces. She doesn’t seem to care. She is saying, “Snow White’s Adventure is the funnest ride here!”

Yup, having fun at Disney World makes you retarded. I think Mallory’s retarded.

4. Guess who wore this? “I put on my new blue-and white bikini and over that, a pink sundress with spaghertti straps at the shoulders [well, I’m glad their not around her ankles…where else would they be?] and big blue buttons down the front. Then I accessorized. I tied a pink-and-blue scarf around my waist, knotting it in the middle, added my snake bracelet and feather earrings, wound my hair on top of my head, and finally put on these white sandals with long laces that you crisscross up your legs and tie in a bow.” Jesus, how many pairs of lace-up sandals does one thirteen year old need? Especially one that lives nowhere near the tropics…

5. Sweet!!!!! Kristy and her old man play Pack-Man, Donkey Kong and Centipede! In an arcade! Sometimes I honestly miss the 80s.

6. Oh yeah, the object of Dawn’s blind lust is named Parker Harris, which Dawn thinks is funny. But it makes me think of the show Parker Lewis Can’t Lose. Remember that show?

7. Stupid fucking Karen thinks that a ghost from the Haunted House is following her and is her new friend.

8. To impress her boy, Dawn borrows and “outfit” from Claudia: “a white tank to under lavender overalls, lavender push-down socks, lavender high-top sneakers and a beaded Indian belt, which we looped droopily twice around my middle. In my hair we put lavender-and-white clips that looked like birds.” Yup, nothing says date quite like lavender overalls and a belt that doesn’t match.

9. Stupid fucking Karen pretends it’s her birthday to get attention. Lame-ass.

Yup, that’s about all…