Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Head Over Heels

Let's do this thang. But first, have you taken the Buzzfeed "Which Sweet Valley High Character Are You" quiz? Because you should. I got Lila Fowler. SUCK IT, BITCHES.

Sweet Valley High #18: Head Over Heels

You may remember from the last book that there was mention of Bruce Patman and Regina Morrow being very cosy together. There was also the mention of Elizabeth being all concerned about it, (while berating Caroline Pearce for being a busybody, of course) and that's still on her mind at the beginning of this book. Well, that and the upcoming carnival that the school is throwing, "to raise money for handicapped children" (Cringe. Welcome to 1986.) at Fowler Memorial. Liz is the chairperson of the carnival committee, because she has a flair for organising "and this was a cause she believed in". Liz is so special, because it's not like everyone in the world would agree that raising money for disabled kids is a good idea.

But even Elizabeth Wakefield isn't quite as special as Regina Morrow. Beautiful, vivacious, raven-haired, beautiful, deaf - did I mention beautiful? - Regina. In the space of five lines, the word "perfect" is used three times in relation to her. It's amazing that Jessica hasn't already scratched her sparkling blue eyes out. But then again, Regina inspires happiness wherever she goes, and farts rainbows too. Perfect little rainbows.

It turns out that Elizabeth isn't the only one unimpressed with Bruce and Regina's rich-kid romance, though. Jessica is none too happy that Bruce is so smitten with Regina, treating her so well and fawning all over her, after he was such a dick to Jessica that time they briefly hooked up. Lila is also cranky, but that's just because she has a random vendetta against Regina, for also being rich and hot, but she reckons that Bruce and Regina might go the distance as a couple. And seeing as the lives of other kids at Sweet Valley are mere playthings to Jessica and Lila, they decide to make a bet. Jessica proclaims that they'll be broken up by the day of the carnival, Lila says no way and the loser has to write the victor's term paper. (Because betting money is "vulgar", according to Lila's daddy.)

After school, there's a carnival committee meeting with sexy Mr. Collins (did you know that he looks like Robert Redford? Because he does. 1980s Robert Redford, to be precise), where Elizabeth divides up all the carnival tasks and then everyone goes to the beach. Liz invites Mr. Collins to go with them, but he decides to actually be appropriate for once in his life and politely declines.

Not much actually happens at the beach, apart from Jessica seeing Bruce and Regina walking hand in hand, all loved up, which makes her vow to find a way to break them up. But really, the only reason I'm talking about the beach is because it's casually mentioned that both Jessica and Elizabeth slather on BABY OIL. WHILE SUNBATHING. IN CALIFORNIA. Good luck keeping those fabled peaches-and-cream complexions past the age of twenty, girls.

Regina goes for dinner at the Patman's Patmansion and it's a super stuffy affair, with five of them seated around a table big enough for fifteen and Bruce wearing a blazer and a tie. Chillin': you're doing it wrong. Bruce's mother is being really embarrassing and practically shouting questions at Regina, with mad exaggerated lip movements. She also gets weirdly competitive when it comes up that Regina's mother is the parent advisor for the carnival committee and that Mr Fowler has donated a bunch of timber for the booths, because she hates the Fowlers.

"According to Marie Patman, the Fowlers were nouveaux riches - newly rich. Not like the Patmans and Vanderhorns, who were among the first families in Sweet Valley."

Hang on, who the eff are the Vanderhorns? And why hasn't Jessica Wakefield tried to ride any of them yet?

Anyway, Regina comes home after a bit of canoodling with Bruce at Miller's Point, to find her family all excited and pouring champagne. It turns out that there's a doctor in Switzerland who might be able to restore her hearing with a year of special treatments at his hospital.

"You'll be able to hear as well as the rest of us. Concerts and birds singing and babies crying."

Who actually wants to hear babies crying? That is not the way to sell this thing, Morrows. Anyway, after her initial excitement, Regina freaks out when she realises how long it will take. You see, she's in love (sing it with me) for the verrrry firrrrst tiiiime and doesn't want to leave Bruce and all her friends behind for so long when she's just settled in and is happier than ever. So she decides she's not going to go and she's not going to tell Bruce about it either.

"If a day without Bruce feels like a year to me, what would a year without him feel like?"

I'm not very good at maths but I'm pretty sure the answer there is 365 years. There you go, Regina. You can have that one for free.

Elizabeth calls over to Regina's house to meet with Mrs Morrow and discuss their ideas for the carnival. However, Mrs Morrow isn't feeling well, because she gets stress headaches when things don't go well for Regina, due to her GUILTY SECRET. And of course, seeing as Elizabeth is the one person in town that people seem to randomly confess things to, Skye Morrow takes her chance to unload it all onto a teenager she hardly knows. It's why Elizabeth's hair is so big - it's full of secrets. And she wears the barrettes to keep them all in place.

So Skye tells Elizabeth all about her former days as a model in New York and how she took diet pills for a swimwear shoot in the early days of her pregnancy with Regina. The pills affected Regina's ear tissue and permanently damaged her hearing, so Skye blames herself for her daughter's deafness. She also tells Elizabeth all about the doctor in Switzerland, that Regina is refusing to go and asks her if she could try to change her mind about it.

Elizabeth figures that Regina hasn't told her parents that Bruce is the reason she doesn't want to go, but wonders how she can throw away such an opportunity and "felt she owed it to Regina to intervene."

"On the other hand, Elizabeth hated to interfere."

Bitch, PLEASE. You live for this shit and like nothing better than getting all up in other people's biznizz.

Aw, Regina looks cute. Bruce appears to have the exact same expression on his face as he did on the cover of Playing With Fire. He's like one of those gifs of Paris Hilton making the same face in every photo.

Meanwhile, Ken Matthews is cranky because he's running for president of the Student Centennial Committee (yeah, I don't know either) and had been running unopposed but suddenly Bruce Patman has declared his candidacy with a week to go until the election. Ken tells Jessica all about it and how Bruce is probably a shoe-in now that he's going out with Regina and is more popular than ever. Naturally, Jessica manages to come up with a way to use this information to fuck things up for Bruce and Regina and immediately begins scheming.

She decides to drop over to Regina's house, but calls beforehand, hilariously asking for Regina on the phone when her mother answers.

"Hello, is Regina there?" Elizabeth shot her a look. Jessica's cheeks turned bright red. "Oh how thoughtless of me, Mrs Morrow," she said quickly, "Of course she can't."

Oh Jessica, you beautiful, psychopathic dope.

Once she's gotten to the house, under the pretense of asking Regina and Skye to take part in a mother-daughter fashion show for the carnival, Jessica puts her plan into action. After complimenting Regina on a diamond bracelet that Bruce had given her, she casually mentions that there have been rumours going around about the two of them which suggest that Bruce is just dating her so people will vote for him in the totally not at all pointless Student Centennial Committee thing. Regina didn't know about Bruce running for the election, so she buys Jessica's lies. I really don't know why anyone believes a word that comes out of Jessica Wakefield's constantly lying mouth.

While she's on her way out, Jessica runs into Donald Essex, who's been staying with the Morrows. Donald was a patient of the Swiss doctor that Regina's parents want to send her to and he was invited to stay with them in an effort to convince Regina to give it a shot, as his hearing has been restored. Donald is super sexy of course, because only good-looking people get invited to Sweet Valley. There are definitely border patrol hotness checkpoints around that town. So Jessica flirts her pretty face off with Donald and then speeds off in the red Fiat, satisfied with her discord-sowing efforts and encounter with a random handsome dude.

Regina confronts Bruce about the election and he gets all weird about it, because he had intended it to be a surprise for Regina if he won, although I don't know how that would have worked as a surprise, seeing as it'd surely involve some manner of campaigning in the lead-up and she's deaf, not blind, dude. Regina takes his unwillingness to talk about it as proof that he's been using her, so they get into an argument that culminates with them breaking up and Regina flinging a ruby pendant at him that he had previously given her. Rich Kids of Instagram have fucking NOTHING on Sweet Valley's elite teenagers.

Elizabeth and Todd have some carnival business to discuss with Skye Morrow, so they call over to Regina's house. Sexy Donald answers the door and is all flirty and familiar with Elizabeth, thinking she's Jessica. Also, literally every time Donald turns up in the book, his sandy hair and green eyes get mentioned. He's practically a Wakefield! Anyway, for some ridiculous reason, Elizabeth is baffled by his reaction to her.

He looks as if he's seen me before, she thought. But I don't know who he is!

Christ on rollerskates Elizabeth, has it escaped your attention that you have an IDENTICAL GODDAMN TWIN? We're only reminded of it every eight seconds you know and really, this kind of thing happens all the freaking time to twins. My mother is a twin, so I know this to be true. It makes no sense at all for her not to realise what's happening here, especially since she KNOWS that Jessica had been over at the house previously. Anyway, Mrs Morrow isn't home, so Donald takes a message for her. And as they leave, Todd gets his knickers in a twist over how friendly and flirty Donald was and goes all huffy with Liz over it.

"What was all that about?" Todd demanded, following Elizabeth down the walk. "He seemed pretty friendly Liz, where'd you meet him?"

"Come on Todd", Elizabeth said lightly, getting into the car and fastening her seat belt. "I don't even know that guy!"
"Well he sure seems to know you." Todd said moodily.


Meanwhile, Regina has agreed to go to Switzerland after all, now that her and Bruce are splitsville. She tells Elizabeth about her decision and her view of what happened between her and Bruce, conveniently leaving Jessica's role out of things. Elizabeth ends up talking to Mr Collins about it, who reckons she shouldn't be so hard on Bruce and that people can change and she should keep an open mind about him. I mean, it's not like he tried to rape her when she was vulnerable and out of sorts after a motorbike accident or anything. OH WAIT.

Elizabeth and Todd eventually make up when they discover the glaringly obvious fact that Donald had mistaken her for Jessica. Well done, geniuses. It turns out that Todd is also of the opinion that Bruce has changed his ways and is genuinely miserable without Regina, so much so that he encourages Elizabeth to go to Bruce's house when he asks her over because he wants to talk to her. Sweet Valley collective amnesia. That must be what's happening here.

Elizabeth is wary at first (too bloody right) but sees that Bruce is really torn up. He breaks down crying, asking her if she has any idea why Regina broke up with him. Elizabeth takes pity on his sorry ass and explains Regina's reasons. He tells her that it was all a misunderstanding and he had wanted to keep the election stuff a secret in order to surprise Regina, etc etc. Then Liz drops the bombshell that Regina is leaving for Switzerland in a few days and that he shouldn't try to work things out with her or she'll never go.

That night, Bruce decides to write a letter for Regina, explaining everything and telling her how much he loves her. It's all very melodramatic, with lines such as:

"By the time you read this it will be too late for you to change your mind about the treatments."

He asks Elizabeth to sneak the letter into Regina's luggage, so she'll know the truth but will still go through with the procedures in Switzerland. Elizabeth obliges, because she sees that Bruce has really changed and is no longer a rapey asshole. So she drops over to Regina's house while she's packing and puts the letter into a scrapbook of photos in her suitcase.

At the carnival committee's final meeting, Elizabeth convinces everyone to vote for Bruce Patman in the centennial student rhubarb rhubarb president thing because he's such a GOOD GUY now. I can't remember what it's actually called and it's so pointless I'm not bothering to check.

Regina discovers Bruce's letter while on her flight and is all happy and crying and finds the ruby pendant in the envelope, the one that she had previously flung back at him. So that's all grand now, although so much shit goes down on a weekly basis in Sweet Valley, who knows what things will be like when she gets back in a year's time.

The day of the carnival arrives and it's a roaring success, there's food and games and people get to throw pies at Winston Egbert's face for a dollar a go. They raise a bunch of money for the hospital and Bruce wins the stupid election thing. Seriously, this might have been the most boring subplot so far. NEEDS MOAR VILLAINY. Speaking of which, seeing as Lila had technically lost the bet with Jessica, she wrote her term paper for her, but screwed Jessica over, only getting her a D. Considering how Jessica is never held accountable for her attempted life-ruining actions and tactics, this is probably as much retribution as we can expect. Oh, and now she's vowing revenge on Lila, as all good frenemies are wont to do. The end.

Notable outfit:
There wasn't nearly enough outfit descriptions in this book, so I'm giving it to Regina's Sunday morning ensemble:

"She got up and dressed quickly, putting on a pair of white cotton jeans and a striped t-shirt."

Oh hai Liz Hurley. And as a bonus, Lila also wears white trousers later on in the book. They're clearly the uniform of any self-respecting Sweet Valley rich girl.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 152
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 5
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 6
Amount of times people's eyes/faces "darkened": 4
Amount of times "beauty"/"beautiful" was used to describe Regina: 6

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Good Queen Jess

Warning: Contains lots of excitable caps lock action.

Last weekend, I skittered off to London to see Blithe Spirit on the West End. It's a very funny Noel Coward play, which happened to be starring a lady you may have heard of before and who I may have mentioned every so often in adoring tweets and whatnot, i.e. ANGELA AMAZO LANSBURY.

Luckily, my supercool friend Brenda lives in London and is a fellow Jessica Fletcher fan, so it stood to reason that we'd go to see her onstage together. Ridiculous premium seats were bought, because fuck it, IT'S JESSICA FLETCHER AND I WANT TO SEE HER EYEBALLS.

The day finally came, wonky excitable selfies were taken outside the theatre, a dinner of Fruit Pastilles, peanuts and delirious joy was had in Row H, because we weren't organised enough to have dinner before the show at 7.30. Incredulous whispers of "It's actually happening" and "We're in the same building as her RIGHT NOW" were shared.

The curtain rose. The show began. There were around fifteen minutes of sparkling dialogue, witty retorts and mentions of the soon-to-arrive Madame Arcati, who travels everywhere on her bicycle, apparently, which prompted me to happily hiss "OF COURSE SHE DOES!" at Brenda.

The doorbell rang on stage. She walked out.

SHE WAS FINALLY HERE. The place exploded in applause. Myself and Brenda almost gave her a standing ovation then and there, before she'd even said a word.

The show was absolutely brilliant, which was a pleasant bonus seeing as I would have been happy even if it was just her knitting a scarf for two and half hours. The whole cast were great but you couldn't take your eyes off Angela, who also delivered some knockout physical comedy BECAUSE SHE'S THE MOST SPECIAL LADY IN THE WORLD.

After the show (when we finally got to stand up and whoop and cheer our admiration) a beeline was made for the stage door, where a crowd had already gathered and barriers were in place. There were to be no autographs, warned the security man, (which was fair enough, seeing as she's an 88 year old lady after all and she'd be there all evening if that was the case) when she came out she was going wave to everyone and make her way to her car and that would be that.

She finally emerged from the door and the crowd went nuts. I took around twenty shockingly bad blurry photos, partly because I was so excited and also because I suddenly realised I was looking at her through my phone when she was RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME IN REAL LIFE, so I wasn't even looking at the screen for a lot of it. But I got one! And that's all I needed!


Best. Night. Ever.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Love Letters

Well well well.

Shall we see what's been going down in Sweet Valley town?


Sweet Valley High #17: Love Letters 

Our story opens with school gossip Caroline Pearce getting up the morning after the big Patman party from the end of the last book. But don’t worry and for god’s sake, stop panicking because the Wakefields haven’t been forgotten about. It’s ok. We don’t even get as far as halfway through the second page before they’re mentioned, as everyone in Sweet Valley is just living their lives in relation to Jessica and Elizabeth.

You see, we’re kicking things off with Caroline because she’s been getting all these romantic letters from a guy called Adam and has been reading them out to everyone in school, which is a frankly bizarre thing to do. But she’s been getting loads of attention from the other girls in her class, as well as her sister because of the letters. Attention which she’s been longing for as poor Caroline is super lonely and fed up of being unnoticed and unpopular. However, what no one knows is that there is no Adam and Caroline has been writing these letters to herself.

It turns out that Caroline is such a gossip because she just wants to make friends but goes about it all wrong. She tries to know what’s going on with everyone because she feels left out, although her sister Anita points out that telling stories about people is the surest way to stay left out. Apparently it’s easy for Anita though, with her good looks and her almond shaped eyes and her excellent grades at college.

At breakfast that morning, Anita is reading the paper and disinterested in Caroline as usual, until she mentions that she’s going to the beach with the Wakefields, at which point she’s all ears.

“Anita thought the Wakefields were the nicest girls in Caroline’s class. She was always pushing Caroline to get to know the twins better.” 

Even college girls have a boner for Jessica and Elizabeth.

When Caroline says that she’s going to the beach with the Wakefields, what she means is that she overheard Cara Walker offering to give Jessica a lift there and butted in to ask if she could go along too. Apparently Jessica looked “noncommittal”, but that was good enough for Caroline to decide to chance her arm and stop by the house that morning.

Jessica sees that it’s Caroline at the door and persuades Elizabeth to answer it instead and fob her off. Elizabeth thinks it’s mean, but, surprise, does it anyway and then gets annoyed when Caroline tries to convince her to come to the beach as well, because she wants to work on a play for some competition at school. Even Saint Elizabeth, the personification of honesty and fairness and sympathetic smiles and kittens in flowerpots is kind of a bitch to Caroline. Having been rejected by both twins, Caroline leaves the house all sad and accidentally finds a copy of a letter from Alice Wakefield to a design firm in San Francisco by the bin that was put out for collection. Yes, I know, tenuous at best. However, the letter reveals that Alice Wakefield is considering a major job offer which, if she accepts, would mean the twins are moving to San Francisco.


Cheered up by her newfound slice of juicy gossip, Caroline heads off to the beach in search of people to hang out with. Eventually, she spots Jessica, Lila and Cara sunbathing with their slender legs and perfect manicures. She tries desperately to think of something interesting to say to them and ends up blurting out some story about a row between Annie Whitman and Ricky Capaldo. The conversation soon turns to her mysterious boyfriend though, with Lila wanting to know when they can all meet him. Caroline quickly changes the subject and runs off to say hi to someone, but then catches Jessica doing an impression of her when she comes back. Fed up with trying to win favour with this bitch, she angrily throws the San Francisco letter in Jessica’s face. Ha! Take that, Wenchfield!

Jessica runs home distraught, as leaving Sweet Valley is “a fate too horrible to consider” and shows the letter to Elizabeth.

“A mixture of confusion, hurt and panic flashed in her blue green eyes.” 

Wakefields are fucking CHAMPIONS at emoting.

That evening, over pizza, the twins confront their parents about the potential move, but their plan to be reasonable goes out the window when Jessica starts shrieking about how unfair it is and how selfish they’re being. Ned angrily throws his napkin down on the table and sends Jessica to her room. She storms out, tossing her napkin on the table and Elizabeth follows, but she neatly folds her napkin before leaving. I’m not sure why we get so much napkin detail, but there you go. #napkin

Elizabeth has been busy writing her play, which is inspired by the romance between Victorian poets Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning, after Olivia Davidson loaned her a book of Barrett’s poetry. Apparently the play that she’s been hard at work on is “filled with letters Browning had written”, so it sounds like she essentially plagarised the entire thing. HOW NOBLE AND FAIR AND HONEST.

But she’s not the only one who’s been lifting content wholesale from the Barrett-Browning love affair, as Caroline Pearce’s love letters from Adam have also been getting the Victorian poetry treatment. She’s been borrowing books of their work from the school library, all sneaky-like so no one will find out what she’s up to and wonders what it must have been like to be Elizabeth Barrett. (Out of your box on laudanum, if Wikipedia is to be believed.)

However, Caroline kicks it up a notch to get her sister Anita’s attention and pretends to be on the phone to Adam one evening when Anita arrives home after college. The plan works and Anita asks who she was talking to, so Caroline shows her the love letters and tells her all about Adam, delighted that her sister is so interested. Anita offers to go shopping with her the next day and says she knows a place that’ll do “something terrific” with Caroline’s hair.

Caroline is thrilled, but also can’t fight the feeling that the only reason Anita and the girls in school are taking an interest in her is because of her fake boyfriend. I actually really feel for Caroline, she’s so lonely and just wants some friends and a sister who actually gives a fuck about her! Come on people!

Meanwhile, the Wakefield twins have been plottin’ and schemin’ to convince their parents that Sweet Valley is the best place to live in the world EVAR and San Francisco is full of murderers. Their grand plan is to sign their parents up for all the mailing lists about events in the town, so basically they’re spamming them with brochures, which is supposed to remind them of all the good times they’ve had in Sweet Valley. Apparently Ned and Alice don’t react like normal people do to junk mail. i.e. FUCKING JUNK MAIL BULLSHIT FILLING UP MY GODDAMN RECYCLING BIN.

Back at school, Caroline is feeling more confident with her new hurr and scoop neck t-shirt, but still manages to put her foot in it with Bill Chase when she asks how his play for the competition is going and inadvertently comes off as a prying busybody. Then Annie Whitman tears into her for spreading stories about her and Ricky Capaldo. Womp womp.

After talking to Bill about the play, Caroline thinks he might be cheating and getting help from Mr Jaworski, the drama teacher and rushes over to tell Elizabeth, who is having lunch with Todd on her high horse.

When she leaves, Todd talks about Caroline being a troublemaker and how she should stay out of other people’s business. But while he’s MID SENTENCE, Elizabeth “held up her hand, signaling for Todd to be quiet”, like she’s Cleofuckingpatra and immediately starts to wonder aloud why Bruce Patman is sitting with Regina Morrow.


Also, may I remind you that she’s the one who writes the school paper’s gossip column and LITERALLY STALKED Regina in the last book to find out why she was leaving school early instead of just backing the fuck off when she clearly didn’t want to tell anyone what she was up to. But somehow Caroline is the Sweet Valley busybody, of course.

Here's Caroline all delighted with her fake letter. But oooh watch out, Elizabeth Judgeypants Wakefield is lurking. We know it's Elizabeth because her clothes are so fucking BORING. Also, barettes.

Anyway, that evening the twins move to phase two of their plan to stay in Sweet Valley and treat their parents to a takeaway veal dinner from their favourite restaurant and lemon chiffon pie from Sweet Valley’s most spectacular bakery. Then Elizabeth announces that she wants to read her play to the family for their feedback and makes a big deal out of how the competition is the only one like it in California and how lucky she and Jessica are to go to Sweet Valley High. While saying all this she sounds like one of those insufferable radio ads where two idiots have a conversation that consists of repeating the name of a tile shop and its website over and over.

So Elizabeth reads out her dumb play and to the surprise of no one who’s been paying attention, Jessica suddenly realizes that the Robert Browning letters that Elizabeth has filled her one act play with - instead of actually writing anything original - sound verrrry familiar.

As soon as Elizabeth is done, Jessica rushes off to ring Lila and tells her that Caroline has been writing the letters to herself. Lila reckons there still is an Adam but that he’s just been plagarising his letters. Either way, the two decide to up the ante in order to find out what’s going on and demand to know when Caroline is going to see him again, telling her they’re going to throw a party in Adam’s honour at Lila’s mansion.

In between all this, Caroline digs herself even deeper into the lie and tells everyone that she’s going to visit Adam in Cold Springs for the weekend. She’s even got all her proof sorted out, as her cousin gave her a Cold Springs tshirt when she broke up with a non-imaginary guy that went to the school there and after rummaging around the Oracle office in secret, manages to get her hands on a Cold Springs school paper.

How and ever, Jessica sees Caroline out by the Las Palmas Canyon that weekend while she’s on the way back from dragging Ned Wakefield out there under false pretenses in order to remind him how nice it is out there. Sure what else would you be doing of a Saturday.

But when she and Lila pounce on Caroline back at school, Caroline brazens it out with her Cold Springs tshirt and stories about romantic dinners and hiking and picnics. Jessica evilly twirls her silky hair around her finger and points out that Elizabeth might like to hear one of Adam’s letters, seeing as she’s working on a play about them, the Barrett-Browning ones, to be precise.

The next day, Lila and Jessica get Caroline over to their table at lunch while Elizabeth is there and make her read out one of Adam’s letters. When Elizabeth realizes the letters are cogged, she keeps quiet in front of Jessica and Lila, but is furious with them for setting up Caroline like that.

“Angry sparks shooting from her blue-green eyes, Elizabeth tried to catch Jessica’s gaze.” 


When they’re alone, Caroline tearfully fesses up to Elizabeth, as she knows she can be trusted. She asks Elizabeth not to read her play at the competition as then everyone will figure out what’s been going on and she’ll be a laughing stock. Liz, however, is none too pleased.

“She’d slaved over this play and she’d been really looking forward to reading it.” 

Girl, please. You ripped off a dead poet’s letters and considering it’s a one act play, how much original dialogue actually made its way in there? Slaved me hoop. Anyway, she agrees to look into seeing if she can submit her play without reading it aloud.

Elizabeth then confronts Jessica to see what her game is with torturing Caroline, without letting her know the truth. Jessica tells her she doesn’t think there really is an Adam, but instead of confronting Caroline outright, she has decreed that Caroline needs to be publicly humiliated for trying to trick her and Lila, which is why they’re throwing the party that weekend. Jessica Wakefield ain’t nothing to fuck with. She also calls Caroline a spoiled brat, which is a bit rich considering that this whole conversation takes place with Jessica sunning herself on a lilo in the Wakefield’s pool.

Meanwhile, Caroline miserably ends up telling her sister Anita what’s going on when she asks after Adam. When she sees how lonely and unhappy Caroline is, Anita has a heart to heart with her sister where they talk through Caroline’s behaviour in school and how she needs to realise that if what she’s about to say is going to hurt anyone, then it’s not worth it. Caroline attentively takes in all of Anita’s advice and decides to change her ways, so she apologises to the people in school that she had spread rumours about and tells Elizabeth to go ahead with her play reading. Elizabeth asks if she's sure and says she doesn't want to cause any problems for Caroline.

"Caroline was amazed, and very ashamed of herself. Never in her life had she been that selfless."

There's no better way to realise what all your worst faults are than by standing in the slender blonde size-six glow of a Wakefield twin.

Back at the split-level, ranch-style, overly-hyphenated house, Ned and Alice return home after a dinner in some other favourite restaurant of theirs that the twins arranged. They then reveal that Alice isn’t taking the job offer after all and they’ve been yanking the twins’ chains for the past week because they reacted like selfish jerks when they first heard the news. It’s just as well, as surely the Wakefields leaving Sweet Valley would be akin to the ravens ditching the Tower of London.

So Elizabeth reads her play the day of the competition, to "wild applause" (ugh) and – oh shocker – she wins. Caroline congratulates her and Elizabeth decides to try to help Caroline out, as the party is the following night and she hasn’t managed to work up the nerve to confess the truth to everybody yet. Elizabeth and Todd seem to have a plan to rescue Caroline, so they meet her outside Fowler Crest (you’ve got to love it) and arrive at the party together. But not before a backhanded compliment from Todd.

“Wow”, was all Todd could say. “Is that really you?” 
Caroline smiled shyly. “Do I really look nice?” 
“Yeah. There’s something different about you tonight - and it’s not just your new dress. You’re pretty,” he said. 

Fuck you Todd.

So Caroline sweeps into the party and decides to make her announcement, but before she gets to confess that Adam is made up, she’s interrupted by a tall handsome stranger, who calls her name and apologises for being late with a hug and a kiss. It turns out that it’s a friend of Todd’s called Jerry Fisher, called in to save Caroline from having to admit the truth. Hooray!

Jerry plays the part perfectly all night, dances with Caroline, only pays attention to her and even rejects Lila Fowler’s request for a dance. Ermahgerd! However, Caroline’s relief wears off after a while when she realizes that now she’ll have to keep the deception up after the party and decides it’s better to tell the truth. So she gets up to make another announcement, confesses that she made Adam up and that the guy with her is just playing a role and runs off crying. Jerry follows her out onto the lawn, tells her how brave she is and that most people would have just kept quiet. Most people, i.e. me, because while reading all that I kept thinking “What are you doing! Fuck those smug bitches, you don’t owe them anything!”

I would not do well in Sweet Valley High. Anyway, Jerry really likes Caroline, she gets the shift for real this time and they agree to write to each other and visit when they can. Yay, pen-pal fuck buddies! The end!

Notable outfit:
"Caroline looked beautiful. She was wearing a flattering new green satin dress, and Anita had brushed her hair back with tortoiseshell combs. Her eyes looked bigger than usual, thanks to a bit of green shadow lining her lashes."

YES. Eighties Debs dress realness. (Why yes, I have been shotgunning episodes of RuPaul's Drag Race at every opportunity.)

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 150
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 10 (Blammo.)
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 5
Amount of times people blush: 11
Amount of times people cry: 7

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ready? Fight! In An Organised Fashion!

While MarioKart on the SNES was the first video game I ever played, Street Fighter II wasn't far behind. I love Street Fighter II and because of it, beat 'em ups were my absolute favourite type of game to play when I was growing up. Mortal Kombat, Tekken, Dead or Alive, Soul Blade, love, love, love, LOVE.

So when the Bear got me a collection of early 90s Street Fighter II pins as a present, I was obviously delighted. (However, stuff from the 90s being listed as "vintage" on eBay most certainly does not delight me.) And look! How cool! Right in the nostalgia!

But what to do with such a deadly set of little badass motherfuckers? It was only a few days ago that I finally realised how I could use them, in a way that was both practical AND showed them off.

I had been thinking that our kitchen needed a memo board, because I kept finding expired Tesco and Boots vouchers that would get lost in the piles of crap that kept accumulating all over the flat. So during a rather epic clear-up over the weekend, I had an idea. A stroke of goddamn genius, if I may say so myself.


One trip to Ikea later and BLAMMO! 

I'm so pleased with myself, it's actually ridiculous.

Organisation has never been so kickass.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Rags To Riches

WELL. Will we do another Sweet Valley High recap? Go on so. But first, here's a brilliant article by an ACTUAL FORMER SVH GHOSTWRITER. It's so good and it's fascinating how her own life at the time was pretty much the polar opposite to the sparkly, sunny world of the Wakefield twins. (Thanks to lovely Sinéad for reminding me of it recently!) Go read it. It's great. And it also suits this particular recap rather well, as this book was her first foray into the ridiculousness that is Sweet Valley High.

Now then. Let's GO!

Sweet Valley High #16: Rags To Riches

So, you guys, remember Roger Barret? He's super good at running, but also really poor and Lila Fowler was suddenly interested in him when everyone saw what a great athlete he was, until she found out that he had to secretly work as a janitor to pay the rent because his mother was on her own and also quite sick and he ended up going out with his hippy friend Olivia who had been there for him all this time? Yeah? Good. Well, his mother died at the end of the last book and it turned out that his father was actually Bruce Patman's deceased uncle. TWIST! Which means that Roger is now really rich and Bruce's cousin to boot. Hence the title of the book.

Since this revelation, Roger has moved into the fancy Patman mansion (Patmansion?) and his new family are throwing a welcome party in his honor in the Sweet Valley Country Club, so everyone at school is all excited. Everyone including the sun-streaked, sparkling and perfect size six Jessica Wakefield, who suddenly finds herself thinking that Roger looks pretty cute and it DEFINITELY doesn't have anything to do with his overnight millions. Definitely.

But back to Roger. He feels awkward living in the Patman's house and Bruce is being kind of a dick to him, which doesn't help matters. Nor does Mrs Patman, as she's a haughty bitch who looks at him disdainfully and does things like coolly lecturing him on how important it is that he makes a good impression while she rubs moisturiser onto her fancy face in front of her vanity mirror. She's pretty much a lady-villain from Dynasty.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth and Todd think there's something up with Regina Morrow. She's missed a few classes over the last while and Todd saw her waiting in the car park at school, looking all nervous and she ran off when he asked her if there was anything wrong. So naturally, they decide to spy on her and follow her the next time she leaves school early. The nosy-ass detectives see her meet a handsome older man downtown, who accompanies her into a tall, glamourous office building. It's a MYSTERY and also none of their goddamn business, but hey. They also run into Lila Fowler, who had a dentist appointment and seems to have spotted Regina too. Oh, and then Roger shows up with Mr Patman outside The Sports Shop, because Mr Patman is buying him a load of new running gear. That's genuinely what the shop is called. The Sports Shop.

Anyway, that weekend the Patmans are throwing a barbeque in order to get to know Roger's friends before the big country club hooha. At this stage Jessica is full on gunning for Roger, breaking out her brand new swimsuit from Foxy Mama especially for the occasion and getting her preppy on in tennis shorts and a polo shirt. Elizabeth gets worried, because:

"The last time she'd seen her twin dressed so conservatively was when she'd fallen madly in love with Bruce Patman and started buying clothes from The Boston Shop."

The Boston Shop. I'm sensing a trend here. Also, while chatting to Liz, Jessica mentions Regina and her older mystery man, so Lila has clearly been spreading rumours around about what she saw downtown.

That weekend, everyone in school descends on the Patman's place for the barbeque, which is being held beside their Olympic sized pool. Natch.

"Tables had been set up under the yellow-and-white umbrellas, where lunch would be served later on."

OH MY EFFING GOD IT'S SOUTHFORK. How long before a row breaks out and someone is shoved into the pool? Eeeee!

Jessica implements phase one of her plan to snag Roger and spends the whole time sucking up to Mrs Patman, complimenting her flowerbeds (not a euphemism), collecting empty glasses and making polite conversation with the boring adults. Mrs Patman takes the bait and makes a fuss over what a wonderful girl Jessica is and what a good couple she and Roger would make at the big upcoming party. Phase one complete. While this is going on, Olivia is all uncomfortable and fidgety because Roger is too busy playing host to hang out with her and Mrs Patman was mean to her earlier, so she feels self-conscious and sad. :(

Olivia foolishly admits to Jessica that she wishes she was more confident (no one should ever admit anything to Jessica) so of course Jessica decides to offer her advice that will ultimately get her out of the picture and off Roger's arm. This dastardly plan involves convincing Olivia to take a dessert as well as a burger when everyone is getting stuck into the fancy buffet and for some reason this embarrasses both Olivia and Roger when they sit down at a table with some other kids. I have no idea why though, I don't think I know anyone who would actually give a shit about something like that, let alone a table full of high school teenagers. WHO CARES. LET'S ALL JUST HAVE CHEESECAKE FOR DINNER.

Jessica then arranges a doubles game of tennis between her, Bruce, Roger and Olivia. Of course, with Bruce being captain of the tennis team and Jessica being a Wakefield and therefore spectacular at everything, it's the perfect opportunity to show Olivia up as not good enough to be a Patman girlfriend. Jessica arranges to meet Olivia at the mall so they can go shopping for tennis clothes guessed it...The Tennis Shop. However, Olivia decides that the starched white shorts and polo shirts aren't very her, as she's more the wraparound skirt and leather sandals type. But nevermind, they stop off at The Designer Shop (OH COME ON) to look at dresses. While all this is going on, Elizabeth is getting suspicious of her sister's sudden good will towards a smelly hippy like Olivia.

"Was is possible Jessica had something in mind other than good-natured friendship?"

YES, ELIZABETH. OF COURSE SHE FUCKING DOES. Someone hasn't been paying attention for the last fifteen books.

Watch out Roger! Jessica Wakefield is coming to GET you, with her pointy boobs and lavaliere! And wearing two shirts won't save you!

Meanwhile, in Regina Morrow's subplot, Elizabeth, Todd and half of Sweet Valley High see the handsome older dude waiting in the school car park, next to his beige Ferrari (BEIGE = OPULENCE) and when Regina hops in with him before he drives off, everyone jumps to the conclusion that they're having a sexy affair. Or at least they do when Lila Fowler starts insinuating it, due to a random vendetta she seems to have against Regina for no reason other than the fact that she's also gorgeous and rich.

Jessica arrives at the Patman's mansion for the tennis game and proceeds to make a show of Olivia by being brilliant while poor Liv flails cluelessly around the court. Jessica has carefully crafted every situation so it looks like she's helping Olivia to fit in with the Patmans, while sabotaging her at every opportunity and dropping mean little lies into their conversations, like telling her she overheard Roger wishing that Olivia cared more about monocles and boats, or whatever it is that rich people are into.

Regina asks Elizabeth to call over to her house after school because she simply HAS to talk to someone. Scandal! Although, not really, as it turns out that Regina was scouted by a modelling agency and Beige Ferrari Man is Lane Townsend, who runs the agency. She's going to be on the cover of next month's Ingenue magazine and swears Elizabeth to secrecy. You see, she doesn't want anyone to know until the issue is out, because, I dunno, B-plots don't write themselves I guess.

Jessica's dastardly scheme is all going to plan, with Olivia getting more and more insecure about her appearance and clothes with every passing day. When she shows Jessica the dress that she's been making for the fancy country club party, Jess tells her it's too informal for such a big event, rattling Olivia even further and making her wonder how she ever thought Roger would stay with her. No Olivia! You're playing right into her hands! Punch her in the boob!

Back at the Patman manor, Mrs Patman broaches the subject of who Roger is bringing to the country club party and suggests that Olivia might be too awkward a date for such an important night. Roger can't win with his mean aunt, as she thinks his track running is antisocial and his ambitions to be a doctor are no good either, as medicine is so "messy". There's just no pleasing this bitch. And she's doing haughty all wrong, a stuck up wagon like her would only love to have a doctor in the family.

Meanwhile, it's Lila Fowler's turn to follow Regina downtown to see what she's up to with her alleged fancy man. She tails her all the way into the office building, which turns out to be the Lane Townsend Agency and hears someone talk about how amazing Regina is and how great the proofs from her photoshoot look. Lila is inexplicably enraged and makes an appointment to see Lane, because:

"There must be some way to convince Mr. Townsend not to print her picture. [...] He'll take one look at me, she assured herself, and he'll tear Regina's pictures up and start from scratch."

The whole thing is very strange, as this sudden mission to destroy Regina really came out of nowhere. Maybe this is just what happens when Lila gets bored.

Olivia tells Roger that she can't go to the country club party with him because she feels so uncomfortable around his new family. They end up shouting at each other and sort of breaking up because each thinks the other doesn't understand how they're feeling and GOD PEOPLE, STOP GIVING JESSICA WHAT SHE WANTS. SRSLY.

As soon as Jessica hears about the break-up, she scampers off to Roger and talks shit about Olivia, telling him that she had gotten jealous of how rich he was now and that she was going to break their date for the country club dance so Roger would have to turn up alone and everyone would laugh at him. Which quite obviously doesn't sound in the least like anything Olivia would ever say, but for some reason people just believe every word that comes out of Jessica's perpetually lying mouth. Anyway, Roger buys it and Jessica ends up tricking him into asking her to the dance and making him think it was his idea. Operation Golddigger complete.

But back to Lila and her sudden, one-sided rivalry with Regina Morrow. She meets Lane Townsend at his office, pretending to be there to find out more about the Ingenue magazine modelling competition. However, Lane tells her that the competition was cut short a few weeks beforehand when they found Regina. And then, oh god, and then, the wonderful parting shot:

"Lila, try not to be too disappointed about the modelling job. You're a pretty girl, but you don't really have the right facial structure I'm afraid. You wouldn't like how flat your face would look in photographs."

AHAHAHA! Oh LILA. You flat-faced bitch.

So the night of the big party arrives and while Roger is looking for cufflinks, he overhears his aunt on the phone, talking about how great it is that Roger is taking Jessica to the dance instead of Olivia and mentioning that she and Jessica had a dastardly scheming chat on the day of the barbeque about making such an outcome happen. Furious, Roger calls over to the Wakefields house and for some reason wants to talk to Liz as well.

"What's going on, Roger?" Elizabeth asked, her blue-green eyes warm with concern.

Oh fuck off Liz.

Roger seems like he has some crafty plan up his sleeve, but all he actually does is tell them that he has to convince Olivia to come with him to the dance and makes a point of mentioning how close she and Jessica have been, in such a way that lets her know that he's now wise to her game. When he should really be giving her a bollocking or at the very goddamn least push her into the pool. Come ON, she's awful! Instead, he and Liz rush over to Olivia's house (I have no idea why Liz is involved in this at all to be honest, other than her love of getting unnecessarily involved in other people's biznizz) while Jessica calls up Neil Freemount to bring her to the dance at the last minute, because consequences are for plebs.

Roger apologises to Olivia for allowing himself to be manipulated by Jessica and they patch things up while Liz sits in the corner like a spare tool. Olivia agrees to go to the dance with Roger and then Elizabeth assures her that the dress she made is actually lovely and that she should wear it to the party.

Everyone arrives at the country club, which is all decked out with lace tablecloths and glass water bowls with floating candles (ah remember floating candles! They were everywhere for a while there in the nineties. I think my mam got floating candles as a birthday present from me and my brother for about four years in a row).

Then at some point during the night there's a receiving line for Roger and Olivia, which is pretty fucking bizarre, even for Sweet Valley. A receiving line! He's not the president guys, everyone calm down. The Patmans' mean and snobby friends, Mr and Mrs Ferguson arrive to be formally introduced to Roger and Olivia and when Mrs Ferguson asks why Roger isn't with "that pretty blond girl", like a cunt, the line goes quiet and Roger politely explains that Olivia is his girlfriend and there was just a misunderstanding earlier.

Mrs Patman gets sand in her vagina about the whole exchange and angrily pulls Roger aside, berating him for his "inexcusable" behavior towards whatsherface. But then Mr Patman swoops in, telling his wife to cop on to herself and that Mrs Ferguson was the one who was rude. He actually seems like a really nice guy, so I have no idea why he's married to such a weapon. So yeah, the whole SVH crew is happy at the end, except Lila because everyone is making such a big deal out of Regina's Ingenue cover, which came out that day. Sooo...yeah. The end!

Notable outfit:
There's lots of Olivia outfits in this one, to remind us of her carefree, bohemian style. But I went with this one:

"Olivia, who was wearing oversized army pants, sandals and a bright yellow t-shirt with the sleeves rolled up. Her usual bandana was twisted into a thin band around her forehead, holding her froth of brown curls out of her eyes."

It's actually not bad, although it could definitely do without the Rambo bandana and sandals. Put your damn toes away for once in your life, Olivia.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 151
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 6
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 12 (TWELVE! Fucking JACKPOT!)
Amount of times Jessica admires her own legs: 2
Amount of hair tosses: 3

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Glamour and Glitter, Fashion and Fame! And A Bunch of Dudes In Charge

As surely everyone is aware by now - or at least everyone who'd be interested in such a thing - a live-action Jem and the Holograms film is in the works. (Also, thanks everyone who sent me links to the news, I kinda love that people associate me with Jem, Sweet Valley High and zombies. Three of the Best Things Ever.)

Anway, Jem! She of the truly outrageous pastel pink hair and blingy Eighties fashion and damn catchy songs and secret double life!

Me, on hearing the news.

I've written about the wonder that is Jem here before and have been hooring my way through episodes of it on Netflix, often while tweeting my appreciation of things like ALL OF THIS AMAZING ZEBRA PRINT.

Oh, The Misfits. Never change. And your songs ARE better.

However, the more I've heard about the film, the more cautious my excitement has become. In fact, you might say that I'm downright skeptical of the whole thing. One of the reasons for this is the bro trifecta that appear to be in charge of the endeavour.

Namely, Scooter Braun (Justin Bieber's manager), Jon M. Chu (director of two Bieber documentaries, Step Up 2: The Streets, GI Joe: Retaliation and other mediocre-at-best films with colons in their titles) and Jason Blum (producer of the Paranormal Activity franchise). HMMM.

Maybe it makes a kind of commercial, tweeny-pop sense for such Bieber-associated involvement, if that's the demographic they're hoping to snag with the film, but I can't help scrunching up my face at the very notion, seeing as Bieber is essentially the Joffrey Baratheon of this decade. Even Sansa Stark said so.

And considering that the majority of the show's existing fans are women around my age who think Bieber is an entitled little shithead who would benefit hugely from a root up the hole, I know I'm not alone in my unease about the whole thing.

Secondly, the original Jem creator and writer, Christy Marx has been left out of the whole process, which is some Grade A bullshit. So not only are a bunch of dudes taking over telling the story of Jem, Hasbro have shut out the WOMAN WHO CREATED IT.

I know, Donna. I know.

Considering how female-centric Jem and the Holograms is - an all-female band with a lead singer who's also a record executive and den mother to a home full of orphaned girls, not to mention the legit awesome all-girl rival band of punky bitches - why the hell aren't there any women involved in developing the movie?

I feel you, Kimber. Jem would have to hold me back too.

Also, they're "crowd sourcing creativity" for the film, with an open call for ideas for costumes, casting, songs and even audition tapes, as confirmed in their dumb announcement video, where one of them keeps randomly firing some kind of Nerf gun for no goddamn reason. Can you tell I'm not overly fond of them?

The "if you have a cool mom, she'll definitely know what it is" bit really rankled me for some reason. I think I told the video to fuck off at that point.

Anyway, I really want to be excited about a Jem film and maybe they'll get a whole bunch of female writers on board and it won't suck and it might turn out to be a really fun film, in which case I'll gladly stand corrected. But right now I'm apprehensive as hell.

I'll leave you with a Misfits classic. Good luck getting it out of your head for the next four days.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Quelque Chose #25

One of these days, when A League Of Their Own is listed as I flick through the channels, it won't be the James Corden sports-based panel show that I keep getting tricked by, but the 1992 film with Geena Davis and Madonna that tells the story of the Rockford Peaches and the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League of the 1940s. However, I'm so used to being disappointed by the appearance of a tv studio and Freddie Flintoff that when that day comes I might end up skipping right past it.

But never mind that, look at this supercool photo of actual real-life Rockford Peach Dorothy Harrell being deadly on the baseball pitch. Her mother gave her a baseball glove and uniform when she was five years old and her grandmother nicknamed her Snookie when she was born. Snookie! But a really cool Snookie!

I love this picture. You go Snookie.

Photo via

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Promises

How the jiminy feck is it March already? My great intentions to post more are clearly going super well, so without delay, let's get stuck into book fifteen, shall we?

Sweet Valley High #15: Promises

Oh no! Tricia Martin is dying! The Wakefields are at her bedside and the very first thing we're told is that Elizabeth's huge blue-green eyes are filling with tears. Because even if you're literally on your deathbed, the Wakefields are more important than you. So Steven's poor frail girlfriend finally succumbs to leukemia in the first chapter and it's all very sad.

Or at least it would be if the ghost writer could stop telling us how DAMN SEXY the Wakefields are every four seconds, in between all of Tricia's super poignant last words.

"his handsome face" (Steven)
"the tears began to stream down her pretty face" (Elizabeth)
"hugged her to his own powerful chest" (Ned)

Goodness. Anyway, Jessica feels bad for always being such a dick about the Martins, and marvels at Tricia's bravery and serenity.

"Jessica's own day could easily be ruined by something as minor as a run in her stockings. But Tricia kept right on smiling in the face of death and showed the courage of a female Luke Skywalker."

A female Luke Skywalker. Gosh, if only there were such a thing as a heroic lady that she could have been compared to. What a pity that the film that Luke Skywalker was in had no female characters. Like, say, an equally brave sister, or something. Also, do you think the ghost writer had a bet with her friends that she could crowbar a Star Wars reference into a Sweet Valley High book? I'd like to think so.

Right before Tricia dies, when she's alone with Steven, she asks him to look after Betsy for her, as the two sisters only ever had each other and he agrees. As the Wakefields morosely make their way out of her hospital room, a drunk and distraught Betsy Martin rushes into the lobby, looking for her sister. But instead of anyone feeling particularly bad for her, what with the tragic timing of her arrival and all, Elizabeth notes that she's wearing heavy makeup (ugh! If you're not a natural beauty, then you're clearly a terrible person) and a skimpy shirt with buttons missing and Jessica mutters about how she can barely walk in a straight line.

While the twins are busy quietly pulling on their matching judgeypants, Steven explains to Betsy that she's too late to see Tricia. Daddy Wakefield then insists that she comes back to stay with them because no one can find her alcoholic dad and she shouldn't be left alone. Jessica is horrified at the notion because Betsy hangs out in shady bars like Kelly's (as did Jessica), used to run around with bad news bear Rick Andover (as did Jessica) and has hooked up with half the guys in town (HELLO JESSICA) but there's only room for one untrustworthy skank on Calico Drive, bitches.

The next day after school, Elizabeth decides to bestow the greatest gift of all upon poor misfortunate Betsy, the friendship of a Wakefield twin. She discovers that Betsy loves to draw and is actually really good at it, but tends to keep it to herself. She has also sworn to change her ways and stop drinking and doing drugs, determined to turn over a new leaf.

At Tricia's funeral, their dad is a no-show and afterwards Betsy is so upset that she tries to cave on her new promise and tells Steven to bring her to Kelly's. He refuses and tells her that she's going to stay with them for good, much to Elizabeth and Jessica's surprise/outrage.

Later that day, when the twins are back in school, Jessica tells Lila Fowler and Cara Walker that Betsy is moving into the Wakefield's split-level, ranch style house of Aryan wonder complete with swimming pool.

"How positively awful - having to share your house with such low class trash" commiserates Lila. She then goes on to utter what might be the most wonderful sentence that I've come across so far in this series.

"Why, our stable boy has more class than Betsy Martin."

BUUURN! Oh Lila, you magnificent bitch.

Jessica then goes on to be her usual selfish and sociopathic self, complaining that everyone feels so sorry for Betsy, "but what about poor me?" she whines, infuriatingly. This is literally the same day that Betsy has had to bury her sister and Jessica is actually feeling sorry for herself because of what people might say when they find out that Betsy is living in her house. Oy vey.

Lila suggests that Jessica should search Betsy's room for drugs and get her kicked out of the house, because it's not as if her sister just died and she has nowhere else to go or anything. Jessica ransacks her way through Betsy's stuff, but comes up empty. While looking through her sketchpad, Jessica finds a drawing of Steven and freaks out because that means that smelly ol' Betsy is in love with her perfect brother. AND THAT JUST WON'T DO.

Outraged, Jessica bursts into Elizabeth's room to tell her, while Elizabeth is getting ready to go for dinner with Todd, Nicholas Morrow and his sister Regina because kids in Sweet Valley act like 40 year olds for some reason.

At school, Cara Walker tells Jessica that it's all over town that something is going on between Steven and Betsy, as they're constantly together and Caroline Pearce has been spreading it around school.

"Cara, you know how Caroline can take a perfectly innocent thing and twist it around so it comes out racier than a Bo Derek movie."

Bo Derek! Hee! Amazing.

Meanwhile, in the half-baked subplot, Winston Egbert has been eating loads of pizza at school because he's in training for a world record attempt to eat seven extra large pizzas in one sitting.

Anyway, everyone goes to the Beach Disco because it's Sweet Valley and there has to be at least one dance or big party per book. The Droids are playing, of course, so Todd and Elizabeth head to the dancefloor.

"Todd spun Elizabeth around in the air, putting her down with a flourish. They made a perfect team as they danced under the flashing strobe lights, Elizabeth's smooth, graceful movements complementing Todd's more playful style."

Wow, it sounds just like me when I was sixteen and at school discos. :-|

Also, I'd like to point out here that earlier in the book, before Betsy moved in, Jessica was complaining to Elizabeth about what a hobag Betsy is and mentioned that she was seen at Miller's Point the previous week with TWO GUYS.

Then when we meet Jessica at the disco, she's coming up the steps from the beach with Aaron Dallas on one arm, Neil Freemount ("Sweet Valley High's newest heartthrob", apparently) on the other and her navy espadrilles in her hand. You see, it's not slutty when you live in a nice house and your dad is a sexy lawyer with a powerful chest.

However, her night is ruined when Steven appears with Betsy on his arm, bold as skanky brass. They run into Steven's friend from college, Jason, who tries to be nice to Betsy and takes a real interest in her and her drawing. He teaches an art class at weekends and suggests that she should come along but she's all weird and defensive and snappy because she seems to think he just wants to get into her pants. Steven calms things down and she eventually agrees to go along to the class the next day.

Unfortunately, Jason does actually fancy Betsy and asks her out after the class. She freaks out and storms off, telling Elizabeth back at the house that he's only after one thing and won't listen when Elizabeth tells her that Jason is a nice guy and probably just wants to take her for dinner and get to know her.

Elizabeth and Jessica then separately get on Steven's case a bit about how much time he's spending with Betsy. Jessica's point is basically that her reputation is being ruined and she can't stand the thought of Betsy fancying her brother, whereas Elizabeth is worried that he isn't giving himself a chance to deal with Tricia's death because he's so busy looking after her. He knows he's spending too much time with her but wants to keep his secret promise to Tricia. Poor Steven! His handsome face is all tired and miserable and everything. Womp womp.

Jessica looks perplexed by Betsy's hair and I don't blame her. I'm perplexed by Betsy's entire look here, to be honest. She looks about as wild and trashy as someone off to play polo at a country club.

Jason shows up at the house the next day because Betsy ran off without her sketchpad after the class. He then tells her and Steven about an art school in LA that's doing a talent search and the winner gets four years of free tuition and accommodation.

But when he offers to help Betsy with her application and organise her portfolio, she has another conniption and tells him to stick it up his hole. Well, not quite, but she goes on about how he was just after a night alone with her and runs off again. She's getting pretty annoying at this point. Elizabeth, Steven and Jason then plot to enter Betsy's work anyway, as they think she could win it, even if she doesn't, and Wakefields know what's best for you. Their family crest is a smug-looking knight with a superiority complex.

The night of Winston's world record attempt arrives, because that's still going on and everyone from school descends on Guido's pizza place for the big event. There are tv cameras and everything, but Winston hits a wall after six and a half pizzas and fails, so the whole B plot was basically pointless. When the Wakefields are watching the news report at home that evening, the doorbell rings, and Betsy gets up to answer. And there, standing in the door, with bloodshot eyes and unkempt clothes is her father, Jim Martin. DUN DUN DUUUUN.

But the big reveal is all for nothing, as the next chapter begins the following day, and nothing really happened with Betsy's dad, he just went away after a while. It's almost as if the ghostwriter forgot to come back to it after making it into a half-assed cliffhanger. Bad ghostwriter. Ned and Alice are concerned about Steven taking on Betsy as a responsibility and while they're all discussing it, Steven eventually tells them about his promise to Tricia.

Jessica overhears all this, as devious wenches are wont to do, and immediately hatches a plan to get rid of Betsy. This was spurred on by an earlier insult from Bruce Patman, who made fun of the fact that Betsy is living in Jessica's house. And of course, instead of just ignoring the words of a renowned fuckface like Bruce, the logical thing for Jessica to do is to go and ruin someone's life. It's like that's her default setting. Life-ruiner. So while Ned and Alice are over at a friend's house, Jessica creeps into Betsy's room and comes up behind her, silently watching her draw, like a fucking serial killer. She eventually strikes up a conversation with Betsy about how well she's doing and casually mentions that Steven is only being nice to her because of his promise to Tricia. Upset and angry, Betsy packs up her stuff and runs off. It's kind of her thing.

Steven and Jason turn up at the house because Betsy has won the art school competition, only to hear the twins explain that Betsy left and Jessica heard her making plans to meet some shady guy called Charlie. Steven and Jason head straight to all the dive bars in town, i.e. Kelly's and the Shady Lady and find Betsy siting at the bar with two dudes, one of whom is Crunch McAllister, the guy who knocked Elizabeth and Todd off a motorbike in book six.

Betsy tells Steven and Jason to get lost and starts talking about some "dynamite pot" that they've gotten their hands on. Scandalicious! But when Steven and Jason won't leave without her, Charlie starts throwing punches. Suddenly Jason calmly takes off his glasses and proceeds to beat the shit out of Charlie and Crunch, going all JCVD on their sorry asses because he's a brown belt in karate. It's actually pretty cool. Betsy then realises that he's the one for her and is suddenly "overcome by tenderness for him". Bleh. Then there's a big barbeque to celebrate Betsy going off to LA to art school and not being a tramp anymore. Who needs rehab when you've got the Wakefields! Hooray!

Notable outfit:
Jessica's beach disco outfit was a bit of a letdown, as the navy espadrilles I mentioned earlier were worn with "a pair of indigo blue cropped pants and a matching blue-striped t-shirt", which is all very understated and un-plunging of her. So I'll give this one to Elizabeth and her outfit for her old lady dinner date with Todd, Nicholas and Regina.

"Elizabeth stepped into her lavender sweater dress and fastened the row of tiny buttons that ran up the back [...] slipped into a pair of low heeled blue pumps."

Blue and lavender together Liz? Really?

"Elizabeth pinned her shoulder-length blond hair back with a navy blue comb."

No. Stop that.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 150
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 5
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 6
Amount of times Betsy storms out of the room: 4
Amount of times people blush: 15

Monday, February 03, 2014

Then A Hero Comes Along...And It's a Guy. Again.

The Incredible Hulk film was on the other night (the good one, with Edward Norton) and as I was watching it, I started to get a bit annoyed. Not because of the film itself really, but because I started thinking about other superhero reboots and how it seemed like the guys get unlimited tries at a franchise, but if a female superhero film isn't any good or doesn't make money, well, too bad, I guess people just don't like lady superheroes.

I also tried to think of films that actually did feature a female superhero, and got as far as Catwoman and Supergirl before drawing a blank. And of course, we already know that Marvel just think girls want to bone superheroes rather than be one. So, I got to wondering...

I looked up the Wikipedia page for American superhero films and did a little bit of counting on the list of live-action ones. I then sprained my ankle like a fucking genius and had a few days trapped on my couch, so I decided to make an infographic of sorts out of the counting I did, in between episodes of Murder She Wrote and 30 Rock. I didn't count any of the superhero films coming out this year, because none of them have been released yet.

So here we go!

Now, I know that the list I'm working off isn't the most exhaustive one, as it's only American films and only live-action, but it's not a bad barometer for the superhero film genre in general.

Also, there are a lot of terrible movies on the list and a lot direct-to-video stuff (The Crow: Wicked Prayer, anyone? Yeah, didn't think so), but they all still count. And the superhero films coming out this year are all about dudes, apart from X-Men: Days of Future Past, which is only mostly about dudes. Brilliant.

(I know that Wonder Woman is going to be in the Man of Steel sequel in 2016, but let's face it, that film is going to be all about Superman and Batman - oh, hello Batman...AGAIN. If they make her into a love interest I'm going to throw my shoes at the goddamn cinema screen.)

Friday, January 24, 2014

A Few Questions From The Womb Patrol

Back before Christmas, I got an email from a somewhat irate pharmacist. You see, a survey had been sent to her place of work and appeared to have been sent to chemists all over the country. Unfortunately, this wasn't the fun kind, like the old "would you rather fight a hundred duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck?" classic.

In fact, it was most decidedly anti-fun, as it was from Human Life International and you just KNOW what bags of craic anti-choice organisations like those dudes are. i.e. Not even a little bit. Anyway, it angered this particular pharmacist to the point that she got in touch with me in a bid to get more people to see what Human Life LOOK AT THE BABY International are up to these days. And I'm not one to turn down an opportunity to make fun of anti-choice tomfuckery.

There was a cover letter and testimonials enclosed along with the survey, which explained how they're trying to compile a list of chemists that don't sell "abortifacients/contraceptive products", because why just call them contraceptives when you can unnecessarily shoehorn in a word with a big juicy ABORT in it.

The letter opens with:

"We have all been shocked at recent reports of chemical warfare on children in the Middle East."

Okaay, do go on.

"However, no less shocking is the attack on human life by chemical contraceptives, morning-after pill, intra-uterine devices and other abortifacient products."

Er...but these things all prevent the possibility of getting knocked up, so how is preventing something from happening in the first place an attack, exactly? And I'm pretty sure that the fact that I'm on the pill is a lot less shocking than the slaughter of children in a horrible war. You dickbags.

Anyway, the letter claims that they CONSTANTLY get asked if they know "even one pharmacy in the country that does NOT dispense abortifacients/contraceptive products" (because that's exactly how people talk in real life) and states that many of their followers would travel long distances to go to such a haven of 1960s Ireland.

Right, because when you've got a headache all you really want to do is take a day trip to Donegal for some fucking ibuprofen just so you can avoid being upset by a Durex logo and the notion that sex can just be for fun and not relentless baby-making.

The executive director of Human Life International is our old pal Patrick Stranglewank McCrystal, just the person to head up an anti-gay, anti-vaccine, anti-anyone-having-fun-of-any-kind organisation.

One of the testimonials is from Caroline Hubert, who was a pharmacist in the UK that decided in 1994 that other people's birth control choices were suddenly her business and decided to stop supplying contraceptives for customers.

"My company accepted my position as a conviction of conscience and I continued to work at this branch for the next 10 years until I left to accommodate the needs of my own growing family of 8 children."

I have to admit, I actually snort-laughed when I read that bit. EIGHT CHILDREN? Jesus Christ woman, just because you were constantly pregnant for most of your adult life doesn't mean everyone else has to be too.

So, on one hand, I kind of hope that an overwhelming majority of chemists threw the lot in the bin on opening this particular bit of post, although on the other I'd love it if everyone just drew a massive cock on the survey page and posted that back to them. Because I'm childish like that and fuck these guys.

(Although I must admit that if they did happen to compile a list of backward-thinking chemists, I'd love to see it, just to make sure that I never ever make the mistake of inadvertently supporting a business that thinks that safe sex is a bad thing.)

Names and contact details have been removed from the letter to protect the non-crazy.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Deceptions

ALRIGHTY THEN. It's a new year and I'm going to endeavour to post more often, or at least try not to let weeks on end go by with nothing happening but tumbleweeds. So, here we go with Sweet Valley High, book 14!

Sweet Valley High #14: Deceptions

We begin at the Wakefield's house where there's a welcome back party going on for Elizabeth after the kidnapping ordeal that hasn't traumatised her even a tiny bit. She answers the door to find Nicholas Morrow there ("His face would have put a Greek god to shame") who for some reason is dumbstruck at the sight of Elizabeth, which doesn't make any sense seeing as he's already met Jessica several times and they look exactly the same. After looking at him for all of three seconds before inviting him in, Elizabeth immediately deduces that he's intelligent and compassionate, which is bollocks because she's not fucking Sherlock Holmes.

We're then given the usual rundown of how extraordinarily hot the twins are:

"Both girls were spectacular, with the all-American good looks that made them the envy of every other girl in Sweet Valley."

Those Wakefields. So relatable.

The Droids are playing in the living room and Nicholas asks Elizabeth to dance. She was on her way over to Todd but agrees, to be polite. It turns out that the song they're dancing to is about Elizabeth and the lead singer, Dana Larson, wrote it to welcome her back because no one in Sweet Valley has anything better to do than be obsessed with the goddamn Wakefields.

Nicholas follows Elizabeth around for the entire evening and at the end of the night, tells her that he's falling in love with her. No, really. He's completely serious, even though he's literally just met her. She explains that she has a boyfriend, but that doesn't dissuade him and he spends three pages pestering her and basically trying to guilt her into going out with him, telling her she's too young to be tied down with just one person, that she's just afraid, that she doesn't even know him, yet she's made a decision and OH MY GOD WHAT IS THIS GUY'S PROBLEM? NO MEANS NO, ASSHOLE.

Elizabeth hesitated. Then she asked miserably, "What about Todd?"
"What about me?"


Her eyes filled with tears. It didn't seem fair that she should be held responsible for Nicholas's happiness.

Newsflash, Liz: YOU'RE NOT.

However, she gives in to his campaign of pressure and guilt tripping and agrees to go to dinner with him, because she "didn't want to make him feel uneasy by saying no".


This guy is the worst. The actual worst. Fuck off, Nicholas Morrow. Really, though. Fuck right off. All the way off, in fact and when you think you've fucked off enough, well you haven't, so FUCK OFF SOME MORE.

After the party, Elizabeth feels super guilty, because she hasn't told Todd what's going on and she can't tell Jessica, because she declared her love for Nicholas while the twins were tidying up after everyone left and is convinced that he's into her too.

Oblivious to Nicholas's raging horn for Elizabeth, Jessica begins hatching a plan to get him properly interested in her. The Morrows are in "the computer business" you see, and Nicholas is taking a year off to learn about them so he can work with his father, so Jessica starts cosying up to poor ol' nerdy Randy Mason so he'll teach her about computers.

Also, Jessica is failing her maths classes and failing a class means getting booted off the cheerleading squad. So when she reads an article in the newspaper about kids known as "hackers", who can "plug in" to computers all over the state and change the data on them, another plan in which she can use Randy for her own ends begins to develop.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth is quietly freaking out about her dinner date with Nicholas and the fact that she still hasn't told Todd. Nicholas rings her and says he's taking her to Côte d'Or, a fancy pants restaurant an hour away from Sweet Valley, which works for Liz as that way she won't be seen by anyone from school. She then calls Enid for advice, who agrees that she HAS to go out with Nicholas, even though she doesn't actually want to because she made a promise and for some reason the option of just telling Nicholas to go fuck himself doesn't even enter the equation.

Here's the jerk now, with the wrong coloured hair, as it's described as dark in the book. Also, Liz is looking pretty fucking pleased with herself here, for someone who's supposedly all conflicted and in turmoil for the entirety of the story.

Back over in the Jessica subplot, she eventually sweet-talks and manipulates Randy into changing her maths grade on the school computer (singular) via his mad hacker skillz, crying until he reluctantly agrees to help her out. And as soon as she gets her way, literally in the next breath, she drops him and goes home. It's so harsh.

Later that night, Randy calls Jessica, telling her that she's basically ruined his life and he might be kicked out of school and will never get to become a systems programmer. He's also worried that he might go to jail and he's going to the principal's office to confess everything. However, it was Liz that picked up the phone, so she forces Jessica to take her scheming ass into the principal's office too.

Liz takes Jessica to school in the car, "driving fast but skillfully" (earlier in the book when the twins went to the mall, Elizabeth parked the car "deftly", because she only ever does things perfectly). Then, for some reason she goes into the principal's office with Jessica, while Mr. Cooper is talking to Randy and stands there for the entirety of the conversation like a spare tit. I have no idea why Cooper doesn't tell her to wait outside, seeing as the issue at hand has absolutely nothing to do with her, but hey, Wakefield mind-control powers or something, probably.

Jessica bleats on about how it wasn't a crime to change her grade, and suddenly realises that it actually might be.

"Is it?" she whispered. "It could be!" Mr. Cooper's tone sent chills racing up and down her spine.

It could be? Jesus Cooper, at least pretend like you know what you're talking about. He threatens to suspend Jessica and Randy and then Elizabeth sticks her beak in, pleading with him to give them both another chance and for some unfathomable reason (or because of the aforementioned Wakefield mind-control powers) he actually BACKS DOWN. "But only because of you, Elizabeth." What the ever loving fuck? That is no way to run a school, Cooper.

Anyway, it's Saturday night and Elizabeth has a date with Todd, but still hasn't told him that she's going out with Nicholas the following evening. She doesn't get around to it that night either and instead just decides to make sure he never finds out. Solid plan, Liz. If their relationship is as brilliant as we're supposed to believe it is, then surely she should be able to just say "here, Todd, this insufferable rich dude won't get off my back unless I go out with him once, so I'm going to go, get a free dinner out of it and then I'll call over to yours and we can talk shit about him and watch movies for the evening." Anyway, Todd will be out with his family on Sunday night for his mother's birthday, so Liz breathes a sigh of relief and thinks to herself "What could possibly go wrong now?"


Sunday evening rolls around and Elizabeth is home getting ready for her date, putting on minimal make-up "in soft, subtle tones", because of all the natural beauty and anyway, in Sweet Valley a full face of make-up is for whores. She throws on a honey coloured "natural-silk shantung dress" and I had to look up what shantung means. It turns out that it's a type of silk. So her dress has basically been described as a silk silk dress. Well done, ghostwriter.

She arrives at the restaurant to find Nicholas waiting for her, wearing slacks, a dinner jacket and...a maroon ascot. Is he going to a wedding? Anyway, they sit down and Elizabeth agrees to let Nicholas order for her, which is something I just don't understand AT ALL when you don't know the person. It makes no sense to me to hand over a decision as important as dinner, especially to some asshole who can't take no for an answer.

Anyway, they chit chat over dinner, Nicholas whines about how hard it is being rich, because snobby rich people give them a bad name. Yeah, not to mention the guys who harass a sixteen year old who has a boyfriend into going on a date with them. OH WAIT THAT'S YOU, FUCKFACE. While having dessert, Elizabeth tells him that he's a great guy (really? REALLY?) and all but she's not in love with him. Finally, Nicholas admits defeat and thanks her for giving him the chance he asked for (and not the restraining order he actually deserves).

But UH OH, WHAT'S THIS. Todd and his family are there too and on their way out and about to pass by their table. Wow, much shock, so surprise. In an impressively diabolical move, Elizabeth pretends to be Jessica when Todd recognises her and he actually falls for it. When he gets home, he feels guilty for having doubted Elizabeth and decides to call over to apologise for mixing them up. When Jessica answers the door in a towel, he immediately lobs the gob before he realises that he's got the wrong twin. Todd and Jessica are both furious when they figure out that their precious Elizabeth was on a secret date with Nicholas and Todd storms off in a rage, saying it's over between them.

Jessica confronts Elizabeth when she gets back and tells her that Todd knows what actually happened. During Jessica's tirade, Elizabeth tries to explain and says that Nicholas begged her to go out with him.

"He wanted me to get to know him. I felt I owed him that."

What outrageous bullshit! YOU DIDN'T OWE HIM SHIT, ELIZABETH. I'm actually with Jessica on this one, which is saying something. Jessica then suddenly decides that she doesn't fancy Nicholas anymore anyway so she forgives Elizabeth. Sure that's grand so.

Todd, however, is another story and the next day at school, he gives Elizabeth the brush-off. There's a big basketball game that night and Elizabeth has to cover it for the school paper. Todd ignores her before the game and proceeds to make an absolute balls of everything on the court, missing shots and generally being terrible, because he's a sad panda. Then Nicholas shows up and decides that he's going to fix everything.

At half time, he heads to the locker room to explain to Todd that he pressured Elizabeth into going out with him but nothing happened and she's still in love with Todd. This is apparently enough for Todd to do a complete 180 and decide that everything is alright again. So he wouldn't give his girlfriend a chance to give her side of the story, but this rando dude who hassled her into going on a date shows up to explain and that's all fine? Ugh. I hate everyone in this book.

Todd goes back out onto the court a changed man and wins the game against Big Mesa at the last minute, he and Elizabeth make up and everything is grand. Woo.

Also, over the course of the fourteen books so far, it's becoming clear that Jessica has an obsession with the number 137. For real. It pops up in Jessica-dialogue at least once in almost every book so far. In this one alone, she gets it in three times:

"There must be a hundred and thirty-seven people waiting to meet you.” 
“If I don’t pass, my parents will ground me for a hundred and thirty-seven years.”
“Enid Rollins is about one hundred and thirty-seven different kinds of nerd.”

It's such a weirdly random little quirk and so much a part of how Jessica speaks, that even Elizabeth drops a 137 into her impression of Jessica at Côte d'Or:

“Wait until I tell Elizabeth. Then you’ll be in trouble. About a hundred and thirty-seven different kinds.”


Notable outfit:
There wasn't much going on in terms of hilarious outfits in this one, aside from Nicholas and his ascot. At Liz's welcome home party though, Jessica has cracked out "her sexiest outfit":

"A slinky black pantsuit with a plunging neckline."

Which actually sounds nice, if a little more like something someone ten years older than her would wear.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 137
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 2
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 4
Amount of times people blush: 8
Amount of times Jessica says "Oh Randy!": 9