Sunday, July 08, 2007

I'm not exactly Doctor Science; or, BSC Mystery #16: Claudia and the Clue in the Photograph

I'm back!!! Did you miss me? Lots and lots??? I had a decent conference and a great vacation, full of booze and food and soccer and music and Short Attention Span Theater. That's enough of me. What has the BSC been up to while I was away?

Well, to be honest, they have been working on one of the least likely plots I've come across since...yeah.

The cover says a lot...

One: Claud can shlub it up like the rest of us.
Two: Her "darkroom" is sparsely furnished.
Three: I don't miss side ponytails AT ALL.

As for the plot, well, the title is kind of misleading. It starts out with Claud in summer school, taking both math (cause she has to) and photography (cause she wants to). She's all about photography (as in doesn't even think about any of her other artistic talents) in this book, and she's got a darkroom in the bathroom. And Buddy Barrett really misses Dawn or something, so the club decides to figure out a project to lure Dawn back to the 'Brook. (She's on her 6 month visit to Cali at this point. I think. I'm very confused. Big surprise there.) Inspired by this book, they decide to create "A Day in the Life of Stoneybrook." So, all the sitters (except Stacey, cause she'll be New Yorking, and Logan, for some other reason) and a shit-ton of kids are going to take pictures all around Stoneybrook on a Sunday, and they'll assemble them into an album soooooo goooooood that it'll make Dawn want to come back!!!! Or something. Wait, where's the mystery? Right? Right. Well, after all this happens, the BSC hear that the bank was robbed during the time that they were shooting pictures! And Claudia was all kinds of OCD about taking 1500 rolls of film of the bank (well, one and half rolls, but who needs facts when we have hyperbole?). So, Claud studies her pictures looking for clues. And they find two suspects, blah blah blah. Then they study all the pictures taken around the bank and put them all in chronological order blah blah blah. And the pictures provide the final straw that the police need to make the vice president of the bank, Mr. Zibreski, CONFESS!!!! It's like an episode of fucking Law & Order in here! Yeah, I don't really care either.

Bullets!!! And conspiracy theories!!! Or not!!!

  • Any idea how Claudia is supposed to become a real artist if she keeps switching media?

  • "First I'd learned how to use a camera--a real camera, not the automatic kind you take snapshots with. And while I hate math, somehow I had no problem figuring out exposures and shutter speeds." One, bad grammar. Two, ooh, a "real" camera! [eyes rolling] Shut up, Claud. Three, somehow I doubt she really picked up on all the technical aspects of photography that quickly, given that she's not just bad at math, she's bad at EVERYTHING.

  • Dude, the Kishi's are loaded if they can set up a temporary darkroom for a thirteen-year-old that will probably move on to something new by the end of the summer. And chemicals and paper and film? Not cheap.

  • Janine's a research assistant for the summer, but they keep calling it a "work-study program."

  • Claudia doesn't really know what her dad does, except that it "has something to do with stocks and bonds and money."

  • Janine takes offense at the phrase "crunching numbers." I hate that she's written with absolutely zero sense of humor.

  • "Staring back at me was a medium-height Japanese-American girl with almond-shaped eyes and long, black hair held back by a pink, star-shaped barrette. She wore a silky pink tank top with a man's white shirt tied casually over it, white jeans, and flip-flops decorated with more pink stars." Wow. Wild. And kind of generic. Medium height? What does that mean? Tied casually? LAME!!!

  • I'm so fucking sick of the whole "Claud's mom wants her to read literature." Seriously, I don't fucking care.

  • "The Scarlet Pimple?" Not clever.

  • Claud took some "fashion shots of Stacey acting like a model." A born artist, that one.

  • The descriptions of developing film and prints actually sounded pretty right on, but my memory might be slightly foggy. It's been ten years since I took photography classes.

  • Oops. Janine ruins Claud's film. Is it wrong of me to take joy in that???

  • I really like using too many punctuation marks tonight.

  • Lamest premise for introducing the members of the BSC? Claud decides to take a picture of each of them as the enter the meeting, and she tries to catch their "essence." Which leads to the standard intro to each of the girls.

  • "Stacey just got this really cool pair of blue suede clogs." Are those supposed to be sophisticated? Were they ever? Well, I guess it was 1994, height of high-fashion grunge.

  • Stacey and Robert. I'll actually have to read about that one of these days.

  • "We had a big fight about that recently, but of course we made up. We always do. That's how best friends operate." Ten bucks says that the fight was resolved without anyone really apologizing or making any changes or even really talking about what's going on. Plus, if I remember correctly, 13-year-old girls are way fickle. Sorry, I'll stop now.

  • Did you know that pliĆ© is "French for, um, bend-the-knee?" Yeah, me neither.

  • Claud is planning on calling her portrait series "A Portrait of the BSC...And the subtitle would be, My Best Friends." She's among her own best friends, you know.

  • Did you know that Mrs. Barrett could be a model? Really? Cause they mention it EVERY SINGLE FUCKING TIME SHE SHOWS UP!!!! Aside from which, what does that even mean? Be specific, ghost writers!!!!

  • This book actually mentions shit from other books, like Claud's personals and giving Pow to the Pikes. [RNL-I think that "Pow to the Pikes" might be a song that bears would rock out to...Might even make a good video, if you know what I mean.]

  • "I dressed quickly, in jeans and my Hard Rock Cafe T-shirt (no high fashion today; I was planning to work hard)." Somehow, this doesn't seem to mesh with the Claud we all know and love. You know, the one who dresses up for ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING?

  • Wait, Janine has a boyfriend? Named Jerry? Huh?

  • Claud wants to "capture the essence" of the bank. Cause, she's not all there, upstairs. Dig? Just kidding. I like taking pictures of buildings, too. I just try not to describe it in such a lameass way.

  • Billy Blue. Ah, fake pop stars.

  • Wow. Claud has read her favorite Nancy Drew book, like, four times! Crazy! [Back in the day, I read my favorite BSC books, like 15 times each. I was bookish. Still am, kinda.]

  • There's this whole thing about bankers' pocket watches. Like, on fobs. Because it's the 1920s. Or something. [Hee!!! I totally have a picture of old-timey BSC in my head right now!!! And it's hilarious!!!!! For me, at least.]

  • Claud can't spell Charlotte's name. She thinks it's Sharlote. She's been sitting for her for how long now? And read about her how many times in the notebook? [shakes head sadly]

  • Jamie's OCD in the making: he "kept himself busy counting everything--cracks in the sidewalk, cars in the driveway--everything."

  • Is it really appropriate for Stacey to carry the BSC treasury around town with her?

  • Apparently, it is suspicious for a man to wear a dark suit in the summer. There were tons of suspicious men at ALA, then. And in every business and every city.

  • Aw, the BSC has a friend in the Stoneybrook Police Department. How much do you think the other officers rip on him for his little girls?

  • What on earth possesses these bitches to think that they can do a better job than the fucking police?

  • "Maybe the carriage is actually full of moneybags." I just...I...yeah.

  • So, Stoneybrook's pretty small. Yet none of them have been to Thelma's Cafe downtown? Seriously?

  • They get bored by the conversation between two men in suits, one of whom is a bank veep. What were they expecting? Talk about the latest teen pop superstar? One of them to confess?

  • "My feelings about him were more complicated than just a crush. Have you ever had a teacher who really inspired  you? A teacher who seemed to believe you were capable of doing anything you put your mind to? A teacher who encouraged you..."

    Oh, wait...That's not right...

  • "That day I'd worn one of my favorite outfits to school: a lacy white shirt with big ruffled sleeves over a deep green leotard, with short blue-jeans skirt and my favorite shoes (at least my favorites that summer): big black clunky boots." Sweetie, big black boots never go out of style. "Since I knew I was going to be in the darkroom, I threw off all my good clothes and pulled on an old pair of shorts and my ancient green Sea City T-shirt."

  • "Maybe Mr. Zibreski is the head of a big gang..." Blood or Crip? Personally, I think he's more of a Latin King.

  • Claudia, I don't think you're allowed to say "Duh." Ever.

  • I really doubt Sergeant Johnson is really going to tell the BSC that Zibreski is a suspect.

  • I have never rigged up a fake burglar alarm. Not even after my fucking apartment was robbed and my roommate was too scared to sleep there. Yet the BSC set them up ALL THE FUCKING TIME!

  • Claud explains the ATM. Yawn.

  • Mrs. Kishi uses her birthday as her PIN. Dumbass.

  • So, the pocket watch is a FAKE!!! Shannon thinks he might be hiding a microchip in it. ["The bad people put a chip in my brain..." Heh.] But it's a key!!! Wow!!

  • Um, Sergeant Johnson lets the BSC into THE INTERROGATION ROOM WITH A SUSPECT!!!!!! (Sure, he's not happy about it, but THE FUCK!!!!) THAT'S TOTALLY NOT ALLOWED! AND IT'S UNPROFESSIONAL! AND FUCKING STUPID!!! AND WHY?????????

  • Oh, and it works! He confesses in front of them! Again, the fuck?

  • Oh, and the book works. I guess. Dawn says she'll be back soon.

Done. The suck.

No idea what I'm doing next week.


Also, if you enjoy really funny shit and a lot randomness, check out the new Teen Girl Squad. "Don't you remember health class? You'll microwave the baby!"


Angie said...

Oooh! I never liked this one that much.

Margie said...

What the heck was that video? LOL.

And Janine's boyfriend came from The Mystery At Claudia's House-- the mystery being, omg Janine is acting weird, and the solution is that she has a boyfriend. Now THAT was a lame mystery.

Anonymous said...

My name is Amanda, and I live in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. I loved the BSC and Baby-Sitter's Little Sister books, and have become an avid reader of your blog. Seriously, there is nothing I would rather do when at work, than scive off and re-live my childhood! Bring on the next post I say!

Mary Ann said...

I remember this one... it is the one that actually got me hooked on the BSC, I think. Someone gave me this book for some random gift, so I read it and then I had to go back and read all the others. Maybe this is why I always liked Claudia the best, since this was the first one I read. Ahhh, the memories.

lilysela said...

welcome back! omigosh I missed these posts!

this was a terribly good post, even though this sounds like a horribly bad book!

Rebecca said...

Hi Amanda!

I live in Brisbane also! *Waves*

Also, great post.

Giselle said...

"Apparently, it is suspicious for a man to wear a dark suit in the summer. There were tons of suspicious men at ALA, then. And in every business and every city."

Oh, damn! There's about 5 men in suits walking past my apartment right this minute! Should I call the police? Or should I do it BSC-style and call my boyfriend? (Think Stacy in the Movie). Waaiittt....My BOYFRIEND's at work....AND wearing a suit...and it's summer....Does that mean that he's a bad guy, too?

I sure hope the BSC doesn't ever come to Boston for a summer vacation. Lots of suspicious men around here. I don't think they'd be able to function. ;-)

Oh, yeah, welcome back!

Lisa said...

You're back, yay! Of course we missed you ;)

I've just read Mary Anne and the Search for Tigger and the BSC insist upon "solving" that one themselves too, even though it's not a real mystery and Mary Anne thinks Tigger has carked it under some bushes somewhere. I believe the phrase "no parents and no police" came up.

They WIn at sleuthingm obviously! It must be all that Nancy Drew-ing Claud does.

peaches said...

Yay! Tiff's back!
I remember reading this one and wondering about the expense of setting up a dark room in the bathroom too. This one was totally lame because it was obvious that Claudia was only taking so many pics of the bank just to further the plot. I mean, a budding artist taking an entire roll of pics of a bank? I don't think so.
Does anyone else sense a weird lesbian vibe coming from Claud when she takes the "modeling" pics of Stacey?
So this one sucked although I do think the Mystery at Claudia's House sucked harder. There was no mystery. Janine has a boyfriend whoop di do.

MSC said...

I love love love this blog. However, I stopped reading around #39 -- so I have a very selfish request that you cover some of the earlier (admittedly harder to find) books.

I have this vague memory of a Dawn book where she was crushing on some older, Svengali guy who tried to make her over? It creeped me out at the time.

Keep up the awesomeness!

MSC said...

Okay, I see you covered "Dawn and the Older Boy" back in '05. I feel like, so lame.

But my request for older books still stands, damnit!

renee said...

Okay, the To Sir, With Love reference...the best juxtaposition of anything ever!

Anonymous said...

Welcome back, Tiff! I was so distraught while you were gone. I took to reading a lot of BSC fanfic. I find it interesting that so many people write about Dawn as a drug addict in her post high school years. Maybe something in the California Diaries led people to believe that's what she'd do? I don't know ... never read them myself.

I just started reading the Mystery books and can't figure out why they weren't included as part of the regular series. Stupid publishers trying to sucker more money out of kids! (And adults, as now I must have them all to complete the collection. Jamie Newton isn't the only OCD person around here!)

Anonymous said...

I hate when these bitches try to be the Ghostwriter team. Claudia is no Tina, and Jessi is no Jamal.
Although Jamal is Doctor Science.
--Jessy, who's too lazy to sign in to blogger.

Anonymous said...

See, I rather liked the photo montage introduction of the girls. And this one *almost* was believeable--the part about them taking the first batch of pictures to the *REAL* police and all. but no, Stoneybrook's own Nancy Drews have to go through making a goddamn flip book...argh.

Anonymous said...

I often lurk here but never comment. This is one of the most awesomely bad mysteries ever! And you're now my ABSOLUTE favorite for the "To Sir With Love" clip.

whitney said...

god. bsc. what's not to love? claudia was like my fashion icon when i was ten. i don't think i ever read this one but this makes me want to dig up my hundred old bsc books and read/cringe.

beth said...

Welcome Back!! I didn't read this one, so I have no comments relating to the book. However, I must say I need to put an APB out on some microwave popcorn....and what the hell is a robot prospector doing with children?? And chin hair??

Anonymous said...

Hey! Welcome back! I missed your blogs!

I was just wondering where you find so many of the BSC books. They are out of print now (of course) and really hard to find. Sometimes I find them at Goodwill, but not many. I was wondering if you had any suggestions.

And I also had another question. I know that you are a librarian but do you teach at a school or at a regular library?

Glad you're back!

Alison said...

You know what bugs me? As the mysteries went on, they got more and more unbelievable. In the beginning, the plots were things like a missing ring that it turned out was hidden by a cat, a mysterious cat showing up, Claudia's room getting trashed, and Mary Anne finding out she had lived with her grandparents as a baby. Then we move on to the BSC solving bank robberies, catching cat burglars, and uncovering mall-theft rings. I actually kinda preferred the earlier, silly mysteries.

Anonymous said...

Alison, I totally agree. I remember reading Kristy and the cat burglar and it was so retarded! Even when I was 12 I found it hard to believe.

Anonymous said...

Is Dawn realy allowed to transfer schools for just six months? Why am I worried about this?

Also, I found a blog that reviews old Sweet Valley High books. Not as funny, but entertaining:

andrea said...

Oh Tiff, we missed you.

This book is bad, but the one where Stacey dates the kid whose family is in the witness protection program is much, much worse. With that gem there's fake names, ransom, and photographs of the guy taking the bait... only the BSC can get away with that.

Anonymous said...

I always hated the books with Sergeant Johnson. So unrealistic and kind of creepy…I think he is a kiddie fiddler. :(

Laurie said...

Thank you SO much for this. I love your analysis of these books. I was a huge BSC fan back in the day and it's great seeing some commentary on it. I don't know if this is annoying, but I'd like to put in a request for either Stacey vs The BSC or Sea City, Here We Come. Can't wait to read your next entry!

Keri said...

Dunno about Dawn transferring schools for six months, but my adopted cousin did that every year until this past one. She'd spend six months with her mom in the States and another six months with her dad in India. No matter how they tried, she'd be missing loads of school in one place, so she did half a year at each school and got supplimentary work so that she'd be ready to switch each time. But last year, since she was starting the seventh grade, she just switched to India for her permanent schooling, since she can get a better education at the private school there, with an IB program or something.

Anyway, maybe Dawn does something like that? Except it probably doesn't matter, because it's the BSC and all.

Mostly, after reading this and other mystery reviews, I'm glad I never read the BSC books much past the 20s, especially the mysteries. I switched to Little Sister and The Saddle Club instead. Didn't require quite the same suspension of disbelief there, I suppose. (Though I never read past #21 of The Saddle Club either, so...)

colleenn said...

yay! Welcome back! Although this post makes three reviewed books in a row that I haven't read. But I never really got into the mysteries too much. I think I own maybe three of them (Beware, Dawn I know I have... and I own that one where something happens on the set of that movie Derek Masters is in... and maybe one other). I also own the mystery board game but never got really into that one either. I bet I still have it at my parents' house somewhere even though it was only played maybe like three times.

Anonymous said...

About the totally unrealistic mysteries-
I'm pretty sure there's one about Dawn, just before she moves to California again and she's baby sitting for a family. There's like two sisters living in the same house with their own kids and they get like seperate sitters for each family...and then the sisters have like to go on a treasure hunt for their inheiritance their father left them

And then I think their butler is actually their brother :S

I dunno, kinda hard to explain, but now I think about it, completely fucking stupid.

And that video was pretty funny :D

maurene said...

i can't believe the clip from "to sir with love." solidifies the awesome factor of this blog.

kate said...

I just read your entire blog in about a week (on the company dollar, of course). I just wanted to say I think you're way decent (heh!) and I'm pissed I didn't think of writing this blog first. Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

I saw a woman yesterday in true Claudia fashion! She was wearing a horrid button down shirt with a white pleated skirt that landed just above the knee with a pair of sandals. The kicker? Her hair was in a side pony tail (held by a white scrunchy of course) and her hair had been crimped! LOL

Elizabeth said...

I must have stopped reading these right after jr. high. I don't remember any of these later ones. What a giant piece of crap! But, thank you for the recap - I laughed my ass off!

And, like Amanada, I also enjoy reading these at work instead of actually doing my job hehe.

Emma said...

Welcome back! :)

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:37- Do you live in Australia? That sounds exactly like one of my brother's old teachers!

The woman could have actually looked nice, if it weren't for the fact that she had frizzy, crimped/permed hair (which she always wore in a side pony tail), extremely harsh make-up and SHOULDER PADS!!!

I don't think she realised it wasn't the 80's anymore...

stephanie said...

I am so glad you are back. So, so glad.

I suck at math and when I took photography classes in college, I still had trouble figuring out exposures and shutter speeds.

Also. Had a Hard Rock t-shirt in the 90's and it's sad that I considered it high fashion when I wore it. I guess Claudia would not have approved of me.

Megan said...

Ancient Sea City shirt? Didn't she just go there once, and THAT SUMMER?!

Welcome back, I've missed you :)

Anonymous said...

to sir, with love!!

my favorite mystery book was when stacy was a mall model and then saved the day...or something.

Juliet said...

oh the To Sir With Love clip was fantastic....that and the mental image of old timey BSC

Anonymous said...

Welcome back! Why does Claudia wear clunky black boots in the middle of summer? Sounds more like something to wear in winter. Oh, well. Love, Sexy Sadie

Lauren said...

Glad you're back!

I was reading one of the newer books from the library this past week and caught an especially glaring ghost-writer error... Kristy was at the softball field with the Kuhn family, and it said something like "Jake and Laurel were playing softball, while Mrs. Kuhn held their baby sister Patsy on her lap." Uh, I guess Patsy was technically the baby sister in that she was the youngest, but she was a year younger than Laurel. Who was six. Whatever.

I took to reading bad BSC fanfic over the past few weeks too. I don't quite understand the plethora of Byron-Jeff slash out there. Nor do I really understand why people tag entries as being "OMG rated R!!!!" when the two boys share a "meaningful glance" and nothing more.

- Lauren

Anonymous said...

Lauren, i totally agree! I do not understand JeffByron...Byron was sooo gay yes, i think we can agree on that. But Jeff?? no. There are so many things wrong with this pairing, you don't even wanna get me, anyways have you noticed that every sindle slash story is normally rated 'T'??

Anonymous said...

"I always hated the books with Sergeant Johnson. So unrealistic and kind of creepy…I think he is a kiddie fiddler. :("

Oh geez...*eye roll*

As for Patsy sitting on her mom's lap, I guess it's not that out there to think a five year old might do that, but yeah, the way it's written (her mom "held her" on her lap), it seems like the particular ghostwriter might have thought Patsy was much, much younger. Maybe.

Interesting you wrote about this one, Tiff. I have to admit I always rather liked it. I used to think that lacy shirt over green leotard outfit was so awesome. I think I tried to dress one of my Barbies in that combo...

Elizabeth said...

I have to say I thought of this blog when I got home on Wednesday and realized that I had set up The BSC movie to record. I watched the first 10 minutes before I went to watch Harry Potter and I was giggling the whole time imagining your bullet points to this theatrical masterpiece!

Elizabeth said...

I remember these books being less ridiculous when I was younger, so it's interesting to revisit them now. Excellent blog! Also, you said you saw soccer on your trip - DC United?

Tiff said...

Yep, I was at the United game where they killed the Rapids...

KaveDweller said...

About the mysteries getting more unrealistic....there is actually one (I think a Super Mystery), where a guy the BSC "caught" in an earlier episode tracks them down and starts trying to hurt them out of revenge for sending him to prison.

It is so absurd.

Anonymous said...

In regards to your post about "Stacey's Big Crush" you won't believe who has a myspace!

Ali said...

I don't understand why they still have to introduce the girls in each book. It's a series, so you assume the readers start at the beginning, and once you hit book 15 or so, it's WAY unneccessary to keep introducing them. Blah.

Glad you're back!

Haley said...

It's much, much later, but in the same vein of the mysteries getting more and more ridiculous- #28 Abby and the Mystery Baby. Abby finds a baby on her doorstep.

No really. And then she comes up with all these ridiculous theories of who the mother could be when it turns out that it was her never-heard of before aunt's kid. Who has diabetes and is in the hospital and omigawd, the ridiculousness.

Anonymous said...

... what, is diabetes the height of omg-illness in BSC-Land?!

Elizabeth said...

I was also at that DCU game (and every home game) - I'm part of the loud jumping group with the flags (Barra Brava). Have you reviewed the Super Special where they all go to California yet? That one and the one where they go on the cruise have to be two of my favorites.

Casie said...

Haha, I just found this site and I LOVE it.

I remember in 4th grade, my teacher gave everyone a random book as a Christmas present or something, and I got this one. It was possibly the highlight of that year for me :)

Raine said...

Re: the inheritance treasure hunt. What book was that?? I remember thinking that was the most ridiculous plot ever.

Anonymous said...

Did you know that pliƩ is "French for, um, bend-the-knee?" Yeah, me neither.

i knew that bitch