Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Fifty Shades of Tedious Fuckery 3 (Vol. 2)

Alright, it's that time again. I forgot to mention last time that the plan is to post one of these a week, and hopefully I won't have lost the will to live by the end of it all. Also, I won't be recapping Grey, because the thoughts of having to relive the entire series and all the boring conversations they have over and over again but from a different point of view would be some next-level form of psychological torture.

So, onwards with volume two!

(Catch up on Vol. 1 here and the first two books are here. Also, giz an aul like on Facebook there, because I know you're sound.)


Ana is quite correctly furious about the marks all over her boobs and wonders how she didn't feel him doing it to her at the time. She was blindfolded while they were fucking and claims that the reason she didn't notice was because "Mr. Orgasmic was using his fine-motor sexing skills on me", which...what the fuck kind of sentence is that? Also, bullshit, I don't care how intense the whole thing was, you would definitely notice someone sucking on your skin to the point of bruising. Repeatedly. And in case you were wondering what her subconscious and inner goddess are up to, because I know you were:

My subconscious peers over her half-moon specs and tuts disapprovingly, while my inner goddess slumbers on her chaise longue, out for the count.

Ana then tells us how much sexier she's gotten, while considering her refection. "I’ve become leaner and fitter, and my hair is glossy and well cut. My nails are manicured, my feet pedicured, my eyebrows threaded and beautifully shaped" and then immediately says she doesn't want "to think about grooming at the moment", after detailing how very well-groomed she is now. But back to being mad. She picks up a hairbrush and when Christian asks if she's ok from the other room, her subconscious "folds her arms beneath her small bosom" and Ana comes out and flings the hairbrush at him, before storming out onto the deck. Now jump overboard and swim to freedom! Go! Before he goes all Billy Zane in Dead Calm on your ass!

Instead, she tells Christian that she's mad at him, that he made his point on the beach and he has to stop trying to bring her to heel.

“Well, you won’t take your top off again,” he murmurs petulantly.

LOUD. NOISES.

I need this pointy fish to jump onboard and stab Christian through the heart. Any minute now.

Ana insists that it's a hard limit for her and pulls the neckline of her top down to show him what he's done. She wants to shout at him but stops herself.

I don’t want to push him too far. Heaven knows what he’d do.

HE WOULD MURDER YOU LIKE BILLY ZANE IN DEAD CALM, THAT'S WHAT. (I'm not even sure how well-known a reference Dead Calm is, it's just all I can think about for this whole bit.)

Christian apologises and Ana starts thinking about something that Christian's therapist Dr. Flynn said. Namely, that Christian is emotionally adolescent, as he bypassed that part of his life and focused on business instead. Which is no fucking excuse really, and if that is the case, then surely the absolute last thing he should be doing is getting married. Anyway, Ana seems to think this is reason enough to forgive him when he asks to be and then she asks if she's forgiven (UM, FOR WHAT, EXACTLY?) and they're all good again. Or you know, as good as this appalling relationship can be.

The next morning, Ana is watching Christian shave and it's time for another fucking pointless flashback, wherein Ana shaves her pussy while they're in London, because she thought Christian would like it, but she made a hames of it and missed a few bits. Christian suggests that he finishes off the job for her and Ana is horrified.

My subconscious slams down her Complete Works of Charles Dickens, leaps up from her armchair, and puts her hands on her hips.

Aww, but WHICH VOLUME?

Christian tells her he knows her body better than she does AND SHE FUCKING AGREES. AGAIN. So he gets a razor and finishes it off, followed by banging. Back to the present, and Ana decides "Hmm...it's payback time" and gets Christian to sit so she'll finish shaving his face. Ana is up to her old "hmm" tricks again in this book. More often than not, she's thinking hmm instead of it being part of her dialogue and it always looks ridiculous.

Hmm...Christian speaking fluent French wakes me.

Will I ever understand this man? Hmm - this crème brulée is delicious.

Hmm...love barefoot Christian.

The word "hmm" appears no less than 79 times in this book. 79. That's 24 times more than the last book, which clocked in at 55. SEVENTY FUCKING NINE!


So Ana finishes shaving Christian's face (instead of taking her chance, punching him in the throat and jumping overboard) and they go to a medieval hilltop village for the day, to look at galleries and buy some artwork.

Art...he wants to buy art. How can I buy art?

Try the massive amount of money you just married into. Christian says that they can pick out some pieces for their new house and mentions the architect that's doing some work on it for them.

He had to remind me of her...Gia Matteo, a friend of Elliot’s who worked on Christian’s place in Aspen. During our meetings, she’d been all over Christian like a rash.

Ah yes, and as a woman she of course wants to steal Ana's husband. They all do. Poor Ana. She's locked him down and these bitches still don't know their place. They go to the village and look at a display of photos of naked women, which makes Ana wonder whether she should let Christian take nude photos of her. They move on and Ana picks out three paintings of peppers to buy, as she is the most basic of all the bitches.

Ana has red marks on her wrists and ankles from the handcuffs, and more importantly, from Christian being a horrendously bad Dom and closing them so tightly. So they go to a fancy jewellery shop, where he buys her a €30,000 platinum cuff that hides the redness on her wrist. The other one is obscured by the "platinum Omega watch" he gave her on the first morning of the honeymoon. I can't even make fun of this part, because it just makes me so sad. He leaves visible marks on his wife and buys her expensive things that cover it. It's their abusive relationship in an epically bleak nutshell. The bleakest of nutshells. The most miserable squirrel in the world be like "Nope. That nutshell is too depressing, even for me."

On the way back in the car, he examines the marks on her ankles and feels all sad about it, but Ana insists that they don't hurt and it's just the love bites that she doesn't like. Things start to heat up in the backseat, Ana's inner goddess "looks up startled from her Jackie Collins" (there is NO NEED to drag Jackie Collins into this mess) but they get cut short when Christian gets a phonecall. There's been a fire in the server room at his office, but nobody was hurt and a fire suppression system put it out before too much damage was done. He tells the person at the other end of the line not to call the police or fire department, so clearly this is going to play out just like that last book, where a disturbed woman was roaming around with a gun, trying to kill Ana, but he didn't call the cops as that would have just solved things and removed all the needless suspense. Oh, and while he's on the phone, Ana starts to "fiddle nervously with the fifteen-thousand-euro bracelet" because EL James can't keep her story straight within three pages.

They're back on the boat and Christian has been in the study for ages, making calls to the office. Ana is bored, so she tells him she's going shopping. She has to take Taylor and one of the twins with her, and decides she wants to use the jetski to get to shore. Taylor shows her how to use it and she zips around on the water, doing two laps of the yacht.

This rocks! No wonder Christian never lets me drive.


Which. Just. I. IF HE WAS ANY ACTUAL GOOD AS A PERSON HE'D BE LIKE "BABE THIS IS SO MUCH FUN, HAVE A GO, ISN'T IT GREAT, I'M SO GLAD WE CAN SHARE IN THIS SUPERFUN ACTIVITY." I hate him so much you guys. So very very much.

Christian sees her on the jetski and is "gaping" at her, because she didn't tell him she was going on it and when she, Taylor and Gaston get to shore, Taylor tells her that Christian is "not entirely comfortable" with her being on the jetski, and he's clearly just gotten an angry phonecall from his dickhead boss about it. Ana gets into the waiting car and fires off an email to Christian. Even on their honeymoon they find a way to crowbar fucking emails into the story. I genuinely don't understand why they don't just text each other. She has said she'll get the boat back to the yacht so they're all cool there again. Ana goes to a small touristy shop and buys herself an ankle bracelet for a fiver, thinking how much more her it is than all the fancy stuff she's gotten lately and wonders again if she'll ever get used to all the sudden wealth. Which really starts to ring pretty hollow when she constantly goes out of her way to name-check all the expensive stuff she's surrounded by. It's always Bollinger champagne, a Mercedes car, her Omega watch and her "hideously expensive" bikinis.

Anyway, she wants to buy something for Christian and decides to buy him a camera. She's not sure what to get though, so she rings up José, waking him up in the middle of the night, to pester him for advice on cameras. And when he answers, understandably groggy and sleepy and is confused when she says they're staying on a boat, she sighs and thinks "I don’t need this right now" and is generally incredibly fucking inconsiderate. He helps her out anyway and she gets back on the boat, gives Christian the camera, saying it's for portraits "and the like", inferring that it's for taking naked photos of her.


However, the gift backfires and makes Christian all sad because we need some kind of drama at this point, I guess. He only ever used to take photos of the women he was with as his "insurance policy" i.e. the box of photos of his subs from the last book, and thinks he'll be objectifying Ana by taking photos of her. Even though she's asking him to. And really, NOW is the point where he starts thinking about feminism? It's all really stupid and goes on for ages and ends up with them fucking and then Ana reciting her marriage vows afterwards because something's up with Christian and he won't talk to her. He eventually tells her that the fire back in the office was arson, so between that and the helicopter sabotage from the last book, they know someone is after them and Christian is worried for Ana's safety. We know it's Jack Hyde, from the epilogue of the last book. Quick refresher: He was Ana's boss and tried to rape her. Taylor then beat the shit out of him and Christian fired him because he'd bought the company at that stage. Also, he's doing an exceedingly bad job of killing Christian thus far.

Suddenly, flashback time! I'm presuming this is the case anyway, as all of a shot, they're strolling through Versailles, which is nowhere near the south of France. The timeline in this book is incredibly exasperating. This series is annoying enough at it as, the last thing it needs is another fucking gimmick, particularly when each flashback scene could be summed up in one sentence. "We got married and banged on a plane", "We didn't sign a prenup", "Ana shaved her cooch and made a balls of it, so Christian finished it off" and in this case "We went to Versailles". THAT'S IT. All it does is provide a setting for a nightmare that Ana has in a bit.

Back on the boat, they've just had dinner and Christian has some work to do, so Ana checks her emails. Kate is online too, so Ana sends her a Skype message and they chat a bit. She didn't email! PROGRESS! I mean, anyone else would probably video chat, it being Skype and all, but look. Still progress. Kate asks about the fire, so Ana goes "I try my patented distract-tenacious-Kavanagh technique" and asks after Elliot and Ethan. Changing The Subject © Anastasia Grey.

That night, Ana has her aforementioned nightmare, in which she realises that her deepest, darkest fear would be losing Christian. That Versailles flashback definitely wasn't a massive waste of time, then.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Fifty Shades of Tedious Fuckery 3 (Vol. 1)

*steady breathing* *warms up the Caps Lock key*

Ok let's do this. Like ripping off a plaster.

(Recaps for books 1 and 2 are here.)


We begin with a prologue from the perspective of baby Christian Grey, just like the last time around and it's just as immediately fucking annoying to read. In this pointless flashback that adds absolutely nothing to the story, Christian's mother is dead on the floor while baby Christian narrates such improbable lines as "I fetch my blankie", as if an American toddler has ever said the word fetch.


Cops arrive and baby Christian is shouting "Mommy!" (the word Mommy is used 20 times within this one relatively short paragraph and I already need a drink) and suddenly adult Christian wakes up, as again, just like last time, t'was all a dream. The point of view then clumsily switches to third person and describes Christian saying "let's not fight" to Ana.

"The vows. No obeying. I can do that. We'll find a way."

Sure, here's a way, just leave that bit out at the wedding. Done. Next.

CHAPTER ONE! Christian and Ana are on honeymoon in Monaco, the sky is blue, Christian is hot, they're sunbathing on the beach.

We are staying, of course, on board a luxury motor yacht.

Of course. Because hotels are for peasants. Christian pulls Ana's sun lounger into the shade, telling her she'll get sunburned and "If you burn, I won't be able to touch you" because remember, Christian's boner is more important than Ana's well-being. Ana floats the idea of her going topless on the beach, like all the other women there and in a move that will shock absolutely no one, Christian is having none of it.

"I'm not very happy about you wearing so little right now." He leans down and whispers in my ear. "Don't push your luck."

SO SEXY. SO ROMANTIC. SO THE PREAMBLE TO BEING FUCKING MURDERED ON YOUR HONEYMOON.

Ana seems to take this as a playful challenge, rather than the bone-chilling warning sign of an abusive relationship that it is, and while Christian goes for a swim, Ana whips off her bikini top, lies on her front and dozes off in the heat.

And just when we thought we'd get away with not having to endure their wedding, boom, flashback, right in the face. Christian has just kissed his bride and one of the first things he says to his new wife is...

"Don't let anyone take that dress off but me, understand?"

DUDE. The priest and all of your respective parents are RIGHT THERE. Christian Grey is so unbearably devoid of chill. Later on, when the party is in full swing, Christian tells Ana it's time to go, because they're going to do that thing where the couple leave their wedding halfway through the night, y'know that thing that no one has done since the mid-80s, because your wedding day is supposed to be a super fun party with all your favourite people. However, they get intercepted by Christian's grandparents.

I groan inwardly...Grace's mother has found us.

It's kind of hilarious how much Ana seems to hate this woman and for literally no reason, like she has been nothing but lovely to her and doesn't even want to bone Christian, like every other woman/threat in this series and every interaction they have is just Ana thinking "UGH, this old bitch again". Eventually they get going and head to the airport and onto Christian's Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. jet and laugh about misusing company property like the rich assholes they are. There are two other women on board though, First Officer Beighley and Natalia the flight attendant, so naturally, Ana hates them both. Christian has a quick conversation with the pilot (a dude called Stephan, so at least they're not at risk of Ana scratching his eyes out for looking at Christian) and I'm only including their interaction here, because Ana sounds like such a fucking halfwit during it.

"We have the all clear. Weather is good from here to Boston."
Boston?
"Turbulence?"
"Not before Boston. There's a weather front over Shannon that might give us a rough ride."
Shannon? Ireland?
"I see. Well, I hope to sleep through it all," says Christian matter-of-factly.
Sleep?

See, Ana doesn't know where they're going on their honeymoon (of course she wasn't allowed to make any decisions), but surely it's possible for a writer to convey their protagonist piecing together clues in a way that doesn't involve them dumbly repeating what their horrible fuckturnip of a husband has just said.

Anyway, it turns out that they're going to London, Paris and the south of France, and stopping to refuel in Shannon. Even though planes stop in Shannon to fly to the US. I mean, if you can get across the Atlantic but need to stop to refuel before a bunch of little flights that take no more than an hour each, then that's just bad planning. Makes as much sense as a billionaire in his twenties that's supposed to have built an entire empire out of nothing but doesn't appear to do any actual work.

They have dinner on board followed by some airborne banging, before which Ana treats us to such timeless newlywed bride quotes as "Jeez...a bedroom." and "...the mile high club. I’ve heard about this." Insightful as ever. Throughout the whole sex scene, Christian says "mine" eight times and it's WILD creepy, particularly because we know he feels like he actually owns Ana's body.

His hands travel around to my behind.
“Mine,” he breathes as his hands spread across my backside.


Although it also makes him sound like a seagull from Finding Nemo.

Talk dirty to me.
Ana is then woken up from her flashback/memory sequence with the record scratch of Christian shouting at her. Yep, shouting at his new wife because she fell asleep and rolled over, revealing her boobs to the topless beach in France, where no one cares, except Christian. Because they're really his boobs you see, and he never signed a permission slip for them get out in the open for a while. Bad boobs!

Christian continues to be furious and then shames Ana when she protests that no one is looking.

“Trust me. They’re looking. I’m sure Taylor and the security crew are enjoying the show!” he snarls.

For fuck's sake, you would think that he'd trust his security team enough to do their jobs and not be distracted by his wife's tits, but of course Ana is the most special lady with the most special boobs ever, and the entirety of Monaco probably ground to a halt so everyone could rush over for a look.

Apparently paparazzi are also a concern, because Christian is suddenly Kate Middleton and they were besieged when news of their engagement got out. Grumpy Christian packs everything up because they're heading back to the boat, now that Ana has ruined everything by thinking she had bodily autonomy. Also, he puts on his t-shirt and then a pair of shorts over his swimming trunks and it makes him sound like such a massive fucking nerd. I mean, men's swimming trunks are, by their very nature, shorts. Idiot.

"Hey baby. Wanna fuck?"
Making their way back to the boat, Christian signals to Taylor (TAYLOR! YAAAY!) and the extra security hired for the honeymoon. Guys. Meet the French dudes that got the job:

...he signals up to Taylor and his two sidekicks, the French security officers Philippe and Gaston. Weirdly, they are identical twins.

Ohmygod this is even better than Ryan and Reynolds from the second book! Sometimes EL James's complete lack of imagination can result in actual giddy delight. "I've totally researched France for this part of the book, I mean I watched Beauty and the Beast like SEVEN TIMES!" Christian takes Ana to the boat on a jetski and the spin across the water seems to snap him out of his bad mood. When they get back on board, they have a drink and he chastises her, saying that she wouldn't want her mother and Ray to see her boobs all over the tabloids. BECAUSE SHE'S THE ONLY WOMAN IN THE WORLD TO HAVE BOOBS, YOU KNOW. Ana tries her "patented distraction technique", (because she invented distractions) by asking about who owns the boat.

“A British knight. Sir Somebody-or-Other. His great-grandfather started a grocery store. His daughter’s married to one of the Crown Princes of Europe.”

So Christian can't remember the guy's name but knows his fucking family tree? Okay cool.

The conversation turns to the fact that Ana is now super rich as well and her insisting that she'll never get used to her sudden wealth, and there's a TOTALLY SEAMLESS transition to another fucking flashback. They're all done the exact same way, with Ana remembering something that previously happened and then < DREAMY HARP MUSIC > and we're back there!

This time, it's to an argument over getting a prenup. Ana was having breakfast with Christian and his family, when Mia read out a gossip item about their engagement that finished with "Bet she’s reading one helluva prenup!", kicking off a row because Carrick thinks Christian should get one, at which point Christian actually shouts "No prenup!" at his father, like a fucking teenager. Anyway, all we actually learn here is that they didn't get a prenup. So that was totally worth our time and energy.

Back to the boat, and Christian wants to bang. He tells Ana they're going to bed and tells her not to pee beforehand.

My subconscious looks up from her book - The Complete Works of Charles Dickens, Vol. 1 - with alarm.

Really? REALLY? The Complete Works of Charles Dickens, and not just any volume, but Vol. 1? Was that detail TOTALLY NECESSARY?


Anyway, Christian tells her it's not what she thinks, god forbid they engage in any actual kink or fetish, other than vanilla sex and being tied up the odd time. He removes his trunks and shorts "in one
graceful move"
which just doesn't sound possible and produces two pairs of handcuffs. He then cuffs each wrist to an ankle so she can't move and rides her while demanding to know why she defies him, even though he already told her she's not his sub anymore, so shut up Christian. Ana has the most intense orgasm is the history of orgasms (because of her full bladder, apparently), in fact she's left sobbing after it and describes it as being ripped apart, and really, you can keep it Ana.

Afterwards, Ana gets up to go to the bathroom and gets a shock when she sees her reflection, BECAUSE CHRISTIAN HAS BITTEN HICKEYS ALL OVER HER BOOBS. HE HAS BRUISED HER TITS SO SHE WILL LEARN HER LESSON. FUCK THIS FUCKING GUY ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME WITH THIS BULLSHIT.

Me and Christian, hangin' out.

AND WE'RE GOING TO LEAVE IT HERE FOR NOW WHILE I GO FIND A WALL TO PUNCH.

BYEEE.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Hawaii Five-No

This post originally appeared on Ramp.ie a few years ago, but we recently rewatched Hard Ticket To Hawaii and it was exactly as much stupid fun as I remember, so I decided to dust off this post and stick it up here. The whole film is on YouTube, but make sure to skip past the intensely creepy introduction from director Andy Sidaris, because there's just no need for it and I wish he'd take his hand off that bikini lady's knee.


It’s so hard to decide where to begin with Hard Ticket To Hawaii. The frisbee death scene? The skateboarding assassin? The snake infected by deadly toxins from cancer-infested rats? (No, really. That description of the snake is actually a direct quote from the film.)


The credits kick things off in gleefully awful fashion, showing a bunch of moustachioed dudes moving crates around a warehouse, with the cast’s names printed out on brown paper and glued to the side of them. It’s kind of amazing. Next thing you know, an incompetent forklift driver has knocked the ominous “CONTAMINATED” sign off one crate in particular, which as it turns out, contains a GIANT MUTANT CANCER SNAKE.


The actual plot centres around two Government agents (although we don’t find out what actual agency they work for, it’s just referred to as ‘The Agency’) called Donna and Taryn, who are undercover as island-hopping pilots for a Hawaiian cargo company. I have to admit, I only got all that after reading up on it after actually seeing the film. While I was watching it, there was a fair amount of ‘Wait, are they cops or something? No, they’re pilots. Oh, hang on, what’s this agency they keep mentioning? WHO ARE THESE WOMEN AND WHY DO THEY KEEP TAKING THEIR CLOTHES OFF?’ Both actresses were 1980s Playmates, which might explain the second part of that last question, actually. The film doesn’t waste time explaining things like character background, instead it distracts you from niggly details like that with BOOBS. In one particular instance, by showing Taryn taking off her bikini top in order to take an outdoor shower under a tree, while talking to Donna. As one does.

Anyway, Donna and Taryn have to transport a newlywed couple and a regular, non-cancery snake to another island, so off they go, only UH OH THEY’VE GOT THE WRONG SNAKE! Once they’ve landed on the island and dropped off the tourist couple, they see a toy helicopter containing two small packages landing near the beach. But then two henchmen that the delivery was actually meant for suddenly appear so the girls have to fight them off. Luckily they came equipped with nunchucks and ninja stars hidden their tiny, sideboob-exposing uniforms so they make their escape with one of the packages. Once home, both Donna and Taryn strip off and get into the hot tub to have a think. They open the package to discover it contains diamonds, Donna decides to call Rowdy, a fellow agent, and they both climb back out of the hot tub. That is literally the whole scene. They get naked, sit in the hot tub, open the bag and get back out.


Also, I’d like to point out that there’s a scene where Taryn is showing Donna her new movie posters. She loves James Bond and spy movies, and there on the wall of their house, is a framed poster for Malibu Express, which she makes a particular point of. This film is the sequel to Malibu Express. Rowdy is meant to be the cousin of the main character IN Malibu Express. It’s so meta that if you think about it too much, your brain may be in danger of melting out of your ears.

After some more fights between henchmen and the girls (in which their clothes come off a bit), the snake escaping from its crate (which ended up in their garage for some reason I can’t remember) and some random scenes that are completely irrelevant to the plot, we eventually meet Rowdy and Jade, the two manly agents who are going to save the day. But as they’re on the way to meet Donna and Taryn, they are passed on the road by a man doing a handstand on a skateboard. They surmise that he’s been ‘smoking some heavy doobies’ and carry on as before. BUT then he comes after them, only this time he’s carrying a rifle and A BLOW UP SEX DOLL. FOR NO REASON.


He shoots the tyre of the jeep that the agents are driving, which inexplicably results in Jade getting a bullet in the chest. They then drive into the assassin, somehow sending him flying into the air AND BLOW HIM UP WITH A ROCKET LAUNCHER. For realz! It’s incredible! And just when you thought it couldn’t get any more ridiculous, THEY EXPLODE THE SEX DOLL TOO! We actually had to rewind this scene to watch it again, just to make sure we weren’t tripping our collective balls off the first time around.

Other things of note include a restaurant called Edy’s that the characters frequent, which has a maître d’ whose sole purpose seems to be sleazing all over anyone with tits. Not to mention dialogue like ‘if brains were birdshit your cages would be empty’ and ‘one man’s dream is another man’s lunch’ and a villain called Mr. Chang, despite the fact that he’s a white dude who looks like a low-rent Malcolm McDowell.


Anyway, things start to come to a head as the agents plan to take down the criminal boss who’s involved in the whole diamonds and drugs thing. There’s a great bit where Taryn and Donna are gathering information on the boss’s compound with a bright yellow video camera. I love it because it reminded me of that trend in the 80s and 90s where gadget companies used to bring out a yellow and supposedly waterproof version of an existing product and called it the ‘Sports’ model. Anyway, all of this leads up to the one scene that convinced me that I absolutely HAD to see this film, in which Rowdy disposes of one of the compound’s henchmen. Who is called Shades, by the way. It’s the frisbee death scene, kids. Are you ready for this?



There are around three big finales to this film, involving someone stabbing a door down instead of just kicking it in and the snake making a spectacular return to the storyline, which I won’t spoil because you just have to see it for yourself. The snake is brilliant for many reasons, one of which being that it’s quite obviously someone’s arm encased in a slimy, elaborate sock puppet.

Hard Ticket To Hawaii is completely ridiculous. The women take their clothes off at the drop of a hat, there are scenes showing a henchwoman all oiled up and posing with nunchucks for about four minutes for absolutely no reason, the supposed heroes do racist Japanese accent impressions, the dialogue is hilariously bad and outrageously sexist, the sets are wobbly and the plot is unnecessarily convoluted. But in spite of all these completely dumb things, it is also a huge amount of fun. If you enjoy terrible films, then you really, REALLY have to watch this one.

And if you’re still not convinced, then just check out the badass trailer:



Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Sweet Valley Guy

Over on my Facebook page recently, a reader (hi Chrissy!) posted a link to the website of James L. Mathewuse, the artist who created the gorgeous book covers for Sweet Valley High. I know I rip the piss out of the cover art in my recap posts, but it's done with affection, as I genuinely love these pictures. I'd frame every goddamn one of them if I could. Mathewuse created over 250 paintings for the Sweet Valley series, each one a pastel-coloured vignette of 80s teen hotness, emotion and questionable pants. His are the classic covers, and when the series started using photos of blonde models, or the Daniel twins from the TV show, they lost some of that original charm. His website is here, fyi, and it's a testament to his work that I can actually forgive the liberal use of Comic Sans all over it. Because he's the man responsible for doozies like this!

via jimmyart.com

Also, there's this excellent photo of him at work, which I absolutely adore. GIANT WAKEFIELDS!

Also via jimmyart.com
Anyway, while I was trying to find a bigger version of that great photo, something even better happened. I ended up on 80s book blog CliqueyPizza, and more specifically, on their post titled "I'VE FOUND THE REAL JESSICA AND ELIZABETH WAKEFIELD!" They had a tip-off from a commenter that an actress called Jonna Leigh Stack was the model for the pictures of the Wakefield twins and she was in some old soap series called Santa Barbara. There was a video clip of an episode showing her in action as her character Summer Blake, however the video clip in the post was no longer working. Boo. So I did a quick search for the actress in question...

...AND HOLY SWEET FUCKING LAVALIERE VALLEY LOOK AT HER.

OH
MY
GODDD

I actually can't get over her face. She's Elizabeth! She's Jessica! She's blowing my fucking mind!


I couldn't find any quotes or interviews with her that actually confirmed that she was the model for the cover art, but there really isn't any denying that face, to be fair. Jonna's iMDB page is pretty sparse, the only credits on it are for her Santa Barbara episodes (in a most un-Wakefield turn of events, she was eventually killed off) and something called Paradise Motel. She ended up going to law school and nowadays she lives in Florida, providing legal services and mediation, dabbles in photography and runs an anti-aging and skincare company. (TOFU-GLO!)

Here's a working clip from Santa Barbara, so skip to 2.20, 6.20 and 10.50 to see a real life, three dimensional Wakefield twin, walking around and talking and generally being the face of my childhood reading obsession.



Also, here are two more recent photos of lovely Jonna and her lovely face, essentially showing us what Elizabeth and Jessica would look like now.


Still cute. Good job, ladies. I mean, lady.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Nowhere To Run

I know, I KNOW. I've been neglecting my Sweet Valley progress most terribly of late, but work and things kept getting in the way. Things like organising my brother's stag because I'm best woman at his upcoming wedding and gender roles can SUCK ITTT. Anyway, let's do this thing!

Sweet Valley High #25: Nowhere To Run


Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are having lunch at school and giddy with excitement because their grandparents are coming to visit from Michigan and they haven't seen them in over a year. It's cute how enthusiastic Jessica is about it, but also seems a bit out of character for her to be that excited about grandparents, to be perfectly honest. While discussing their upcoming plans, Elizabeth "couldn't help overhearing" the conversation going on between Dana Larson and Droids drummer Emily Mayer at the next table. Girl please, I bet she almost slid right off her cafeteria chair trying to listen.

Emily's new stepmother Karen has just had a baby and things are super tense at home. Emily feels like Karen is trying to push her out so it'll just be Karen, Emily's dad and the new baby in the house, so she suddenly tells Dana all this, gets upset and runs off. Later that day, Elizabeth is proof reading her latest column for The Oracle in the office after school when sexy Mr Collins arrives.

"I'm glad you're here," Elizabeth told him. "I could use some help on the article I'm writing on the tenure system."

Yeah, because sixteen year old high school students totally give a fuck about the details of their teachers' employment contracts. Great article there, Liz.

Mr Collins tells Elizabeth that Emily Mayer wants to try out for the editorial staff on the school paper, and that he told her Liz might be able to help her, whereupon Liz reacts like Emily has shown up and pissed on her doorstep.

"Emily!" Elizabeth exclaimed. "But why does she want to work for The Oracle? She's a musician, not a journalist!"

AND IT'S NOT LIKE YOU CAN BE BOTH, JESUS EMILY GET BACK IN YOUR BOX ALREADY.

Emily shows up, but looks like she's been crying. "Elizabeth caught her breath when she saw the girl. She looked awful." Well you'd better tell her how terrible she looks Liz, seeing as that's like your favourite thing to do. For once in her life, Liz manages to reel it in and instead asks her why she's thinking about joining the paper. Emily explains that it was her stepmother's idea and asks Liz if she can confide in her, despite the fact that they don't actually know each other that well.

"I've always admired you so much," she added wistfully.

STOP ENCOURAGING HER. GAWD.

Emily explains that her stepmother, Karen, has it in for her and is trying to convince Emily's dad to send her off to boarding school. She also hates Emily's drums and won't let her practice at home because of the baby (who is named Karrie by the way, which seems like criminally lazy naming on the ghostwriter's part) and thinks that writing is a much better pursuit than music, so Emily is just trying to do whatever Karen wants her to, so she won't have an excuse to kick her out.

However, Karen is a total wagon and keeps moving the goalposts, insisting on a curfew for Emily, which means she won't be able to practice with The Droids during the week, freaks out when Emily plays her drums even though it's within the agreed time slot and lands Emily with looking after Karrie on a night that Emily has plans, because she "doesn't trust" babysitters and knows that Emily can't risk saying no and kicking off a huge row.

Meanwhile, the twins are having a lovely time hanging out with their grandparents, who are of course, the most perfect old people ever. At a family dinner, their eyes twinkle no less than three times within two pages. It must be like trying to eat beside a discoball. While all this is going on, Alice Wakefield has started to feel like she doesn't spend enough time with the girls and gets all sad when she springs last minute plans on the twins but they're already doing something with the grandparents. She comes home early to make a surprise steak dinner for everyone, but the twins are going for Chinese with Grandma and Grandpa, and Alice and Ned couldn't possibly join them because Ned doesn't like Chinese food. Like, just stick the steak in the freezer and Ned can either get the Chicken Maryland or stay at home and make his own fucking dinner. Come on, Alice.

Anyway, Emily totally fancies The Droids bass player, Dan. He's been covering for her when she can't make it to band practice because of Karen's dumb curfew, although she's been keeping her troubles at home a secret from him as she doesn't think he'd be interested in her if he knew what a mess things were. Also, Emily has always told people in school that her mother died when Emily was young, but the truth is that she left without any explanation and fucked off to Chicago. Elizabeth is the only other person that knows this, because she's so amazing that she's easier to confide in than any of Emily's actual friends. This is explicitly stated, by the way.

So, Dan has arranged to call over to Emily's house after school so he can check out the new cymbals she ordered from LA and Karen will be out of the house at a doctor's appointment with Karrie, so what could POSSIBLY go wrong? Only Karen arriving home with the baby before Emily realised and immediately screaming at her for having a boy over without her permission and totally humiliating Emily by bringing her mother into it. She tells Emily that she's turning into her mother and that she won't have her baby growing up in a house with a tramp, and all in front of Dan. Karen! You fucking bitch! She then runs off upstairs crying, like she's the victim somehow and poor Emily is left there sobbing as Dan awkwardly leaves and it's all just HORRIBLE.

A distraught Emily then calls Elizabeth at home and tries to tell her what happened but breaks down crying.

"You sound terrible Emily, why don't you come over right away and we can talk about whatever it is that happened?"

Just couldn't help herself, could she. Emily decides to walk over to the Wakefields' house and honest to god, we get an ENTIRE page of Emily thinking about how great Elizabeth is, because when your life is falling apart, the transcendent Wakefield twins are the only thing to keep you going. Emily arrives at the house and ends up telling everyone at the dinner table all about what happened. She asks if she can stay with them "for a while", which is pretty awkward, considering that she and Liz are essentially casual acquaintances. Ned says that she can stay for the night, but only if she calls her father to let him know where she is. However, when she calls her dad he's clearly taken Karen's side and won't listen to anything Emily says, demanding that she come home or else he'll put her drums out on the street. Not cool, Dad.

The absolute hack of Emily here. I mean, she looks nice and all, but she's the drummer in Sweet Valley's hottest band who are practically Jem & The Holograms, not some square tennis player who probably wears their jumper knotted around their shoulders. COP ON, EMILY.

The next day at school, Dan tries to talk to Emily, but she's acting all cold and says she's quitting The Droids and selling her drums. She asks Liz to put an ad in the school paper for her drums, at which point Liz bombards her with questions about what happened when she got home, despite the fact that Emily just said she didn't want to talk about it. Elizabeth and Dan then decide that Emily giving up music is a terrible idea, as it means so much to her, so they come up with a plan where Dan will buy the drums for safe keeping. They also keep referring to her as a kid (Elizabeth: "You poor kid!" / Dan: "That crazy kid") which is weird and pretty patronising, considering they're all the same age.

At home, Karen continues to be mad at Emily for essentially no reason and when Dan calls to say that a friend of his will buy her drums, Emily is upset that he doesn't try to talk her out of it. Her father comes to talk to her that evening and when she tells him that she sold her drums he accuses her of being a martyr and says that he had hoped the three of them could come to a reasonable solution, which is a bit fucking rich, considering that he hasn't once listened to Emily's side of the story and appears oblivious to the fact that his awful wife is Lady Tremaine-ing the living fuck out of his daughter and is the one who has pushed her to this point.

For the next while, all Emily does is go to school and babysit Karrie. One evening, Karen gives Karrie a doll with beads for eyes because she's a fucking idiot, and the baby ends up swallowing one of the beads and starts to choke. Karen freaks out and starts shaking her and won't let go, so Emily ends up having to slap Karen to make her let go of the baby and then saves Karrie's life. Emily's dad arrives in to see the baby screaming crying, Karen being hysterical and Emily about to faint and immediately accuses Emily of trying to murder the baby or something. Karen doesn't bother her hole explaining the situation or even being the tiniest bit grateful, she just stands there crying, so Emily's dad, as usual, won't listen to Emily when she starts to explain and just tells her to get out, because he's a dickhead.

Emily ends up back over at the Wakefields' place, with her money from selling her drums and a plan to head for Chicago to try to find her mother. She calls the apartment where her mother had been living the last time they were in touch, four years previously, but it turns out that her mother remarried and moved to Mexico. Grandma Wakefield then comes in and tells Emily some conveniently relevant story about how Grandpa Wakefield had a son from a previous marriage when they got together and how difficult it was for her and this random uncle of the twins who is never mentioned again in the entirety of this series to get along at first, particularly after she had Ned.

While all this is going on, Elizabeth called Emily's dad to let him know where his daughter is (Jessica calls her a rat for doing so - ha!) and he turns up at the house with Karen and Karrie in tow. Karen apologises for being a horrible cunt to Emily and begs her forgiveness, explaining that she was jealous of Emily because she and her dad were so close. Emily immediately rushes over and hugs her and the baby and all the Mayers end up in a group hug, although her dad didn't actually apologise for being a tool and accusing her of trying to hurt her sister, but everyone's happy now so I guess that's all just FINE.

Meanwhile, Alice's weird jealousy of all the time the twins are spending with their grandparents is resolved when Ned tells the twins that their mother feels left out lately, so they ask her to help them plan a going away party for Grandma and Grandpa and that fixes everything in that completely pointless subplot that went absolutely nowhere. The Mayers are invited to the party too and Elizabeth surprises Emily by having The Droids set up in the dining room with her drums and the band then plays a set because these people are all fucking ridiculous. Afterwards, Emily figures out that Dan was the one who bought her drums and she tells him he's wonderful.

The look she gave him said it all. She had a feeling the two of them were going to make some pretty special music together.

Read: boning.

Notable outfit:
There was a CRIMINAL lack out outfits in this one. Literally nothing! A blue scarf is about all we got out of it and I for one am DISAPPOINTED. Do better, ghostwriter.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 153
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 2
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 2
(TWO? How are we supposed to remember that the twins are blonde with only TWO references?)
Amount of times Karrie is referred to as "little Karrie", in case we forgot she was a baby: 19

Friday, July 03, 2015

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Super Edition: Special Christmas

First of all, I apologise for this, but...

JUST HEAR THOSE SLEIGHBELLS RINGIN' AND RING TING A LING A DING DOOOO

It's quite strange to be writing about Christmas in the middle of a heatwave, but here we are. It's Super Edition time, which means taking yet another confusing jump out of the usual Sweet Valley timeline. This particular book technically comes between Say Goodbye and Memories, despite the fact that Todd has been in Vermont for an unspecified amount of time in this one, but he was still visiting Sweet Valley (after only just moving) at the very beginning of Memories, so Special Christmas seems to slot in a little better after that one. I think. I don't even know anymore, continuity is for squares, let's just get to it!

(Also, please like my Facebook page. Because I'm not above begging.)

Sweet Valley High Super Edition: Special Christmas


It's almost Christmas in Sweet Valley and everyone is giddy and excited. Elizabeth is looking forward to seeing Todd, who's back to visit from Vermont on Friday, and Jessica is eyeing up a German exchange student called Hans who seems to have materialised out of nowhere and is convinced that he's her Secret Santa (the entire school does Secret Santa and the students all buy each other a series of little presents up until the Christmas dance (OF COURSE), where everyone is revealed). However, Lila Fowler is trying to wreck Jessica's Christmas buzz, by deciding that she wants to be Miss Christmastime this year, a title that Jessica has decided is hers after being runner-up last time. RUNNER UP?! The fuck is this?! Who could possibly have beaten Jessica Wakefield to a crown? In the very first book, she is literally described as "the most adorable, most dazzling sixteen-year-old girl imaginable". 

Anyway, the twins are in great form when they get home after school, because they're now on holidays and Steven is home and everything is awesome. That is, until Steven breaks the news that Suzanne Devlin is coming to stay with them for two weeks during the holidays and now CHRISTMAS IS RUINED.

Quick reminder, Suzanne Devlin is the daughter of one of Ned Wakefield's friends who came to stay in Sweet Valley a while back. She was hotter than every other girl in town, stole Elizabeth's lavaliere and falsely accused Mr. Collins of trying to assault her, almost costing him his job. And in Sweet Valley, all three of those crimes are equally grave.

Apparently Suzanne's father rang Ned and Alice and told them that Suzanne had "been through a great deal recently" and wanted to come out to see them all to make up for being so horrible the last time she was there and this is happening whether the twins and Steven want it to or not.

"Look," Mr. Wakefield said, "we feel terrible about imposing Suzanne on you three. But I'm afraid there isn't much we can do about it. Suzanne is intent on coming out here."

Oh, well if she's intent, then what can you do? It's not like you can just say "No, sorry, that doesn't suit, what with it being Christmas and all and really, staying for two weeks is pushing things fucking slightly, don't you think?"

In the meantime, Elizabeth has gotten anxious over her reunion with Todd, as she's not sure that they'll still have the old spark between them and feels like their relationship has become more of a friendship since he moved away. On Saturday morning, Jessica appears in the kitchen, dressed in a fugly homemade Christmas elf costume.

She was wearing kelly-green tights and green slippers with curled-up toes and bells jangling from their tips. She had made a strange little suit out of a green plastic garbage bag, cutting leg holes in the bottom and arm holes in the sides and stapling the whole thing up at the shoulders. Something - probably newspaper, from the look of it - was being used as stuffing to make her look round. Underneath the sack she wore a red long-sleeved T-shirt. There was green paint on her face.

Frankly, I'm disappointed that Jessica wasn't a pioneer of the sexy elf costume movement.

She explains that Cara Walker was supposed to be volunteering as one of Santa's elves at the mall but is sick and needs Jess to fill in for her. However, the interviews for Miss Christmastime are later that same day, but Cara assured Jessica that she'd be done elfing in plenty of time.

Unfortunately for Jessica, this was all a sneaky Lila Fowler scheme (which Cara was tricked into) to keep Jessica busy all day so she couldn't make it to the Miss Christmastime tryouts. ALL TEE ALL SHADE. At the end of her day at the mall, Jessica ends up telling Santa all about missing her chance to be Miss Christmastime and to be on the special parade float (oh yeah, there's a Christmas parade too, because why the fuck not), so he kindly offers her a spot on his one, where she'd be an elf again. Jessica accepts and immediately beings to formulate a revenge plan, which is pretty much her default status, regardless of whether revenge is actually warranted or not.

When she gets home, Jessica reveals her dastardly scheme to Elizabeth, which will involve her taking Lila's crown and dress (because Lila won, obvs) from the changing room in the civic centre on the morning of the parade and replacing them with her terrible elf costume, so Lila will have to be an elf on Santa's float, or risk revealing the dick move she pulled, and Jessica will get to be Miss Christmastime by straight-up stealing the title.

Suzanne Devlin arrives in Sweet Valley, and the twins and Steven have decided to make life difficult for her, so she'll pack up and go join her parents, who are in Saint Moritz for Christmas. This dastardly plan so far involves Jessica pretending to forget that Suzanne was coming and "short-sheeting" her bed, whatever that means. I looked it up and Google's answer was "make (a bed) as an apple-pie bed" / "give an apple-pie bed to (someone)" so that was really fucking helpful. I think it's something to do with folding the sheet so the person's legs can't get to the end of the bed or something. It doesn't appear to have anything to do with apple tarts. Americans, man.

Anyway, after the first evening, Steven has decided he's going to stop giving Suzanne a hard time, as she seems like a nice person this time around and Elizabeth is starting to have doubts about being mean to her too. Jessica isn't buying it for a second though, and reminds them of how well Suzanne had everyone fooled the last time she was in town. Todd calls Liz that night and she fills him in on Sweet Valley's newest arrival. After the phonecall, we discover that Todd actually bumped into Suzanne recently, while he was on a school ski trip.

His new friend Jerry tried to chat Suzanne up and they all went for dinner together. Todd expected Suzanne to ruin the trip, after being such a gowl previously, but she appeared to be a completely different girl this time, and actually fun to be around.

She smelled good, he found himself noticing. Not like the perfume she used to wear. No, now she smelled like soap and pine needles and fresh air...

Perfume is for skanks.

They had a talk and Suzanne apologised for her behaviour and explained that she was angry at her parents but took it out on everyone else and they have a moment where they almost kiss but don't and Todd realises that he totally fancies her now that she's all sound and smelling like a Yankee Candle. Naturally, he doesn't tell Liz any of this.

The next morning, Liz comes downstairs and sees Suzanne slipping a bottle of pills back into the pocket of her dressing gown. She's also noticeably lost some weight, so the twins are suspicious as to what's going on with her. (I say suspicious, but Jessica pretty much immediately runs around telling everyone that Suzanne is a drug addict. Jessica gonna Jessica.) Suzanne tries to properly apologise to Elizabeth about being terrible before, but they're interrupted by Jessica, who gets a delivery of daises to the house from her Secret Santa. She's convinced it's sexy German Hans, as she's already gotten a little jewellery box that plays Für Elise when opened and that's "European", so it stands to reason. (However, we already know that Hans is actually Lila Fowler's Secret Santa, because he had to ask Liz who Lila was when he drew her name.)

Todd is back and shows up at the house, but when he comes in and Suzanne sees him, she starts trembling and drops the vase with Jessica's daisies in it, smashing the lot and runs off crying. Jesus, try to be cool Suzy. Todd gets a chance to talk to Suzanne alone and they agree not to tell Liz about their meeting while skiing, but Jessica overhears their conversation and deduces that Todd and Suzanne are in love and that Suzanne is up to her old tricks, trying to steal Liz's boyfriend. Jessica kicks things up a gear with her plan to drive Suzanne away, so she enlists Aaron Dallas and Winston Egbert to be Suzanne's Secret Santas but for doing mean things instead of leaving her nice presents.

You will always know Elizabeth by her barettes and jumpers. I wonder what's in the box? More barettes, probably. Jessica looks like she's just been given a dig in the shoulder.

Liz and Todd have barely had any time alone since he got back, because he's just so goddamn popular, and they end up going to the Beach Disco, where Ken Matthews has organised a welcome home party. The Droids are playing and have even written a song especially for Todd and Elizabeth, called I'll Wait For You, because everyone's lives revolve around the Wakefields and their respective relationship statuses.

The next morning, it turns out that Aaron and Winston have sent Suzanne an anonymous ransom note that spells out SUZY DEVLIN GO HOME and Elizabeth is first on the scene.

"Suzanne, what is it? You look awful!" Elizabeth blurted out.

This bitch has a great knack for telling people who are visibly upset just how terrible they look. Suzanne ends up telling Elizabeth all about how lonely she was in New York and that her parents were never really around. She almost lets slip some manner of secret, saying "But when I found out -" before stopping herself. She's also been having dizzy spells and the twins overheard her saying she was having problems with her vision. INTRIGUE. Elizabeth forgives her and reckons that she should stay and encourages her to try to make it up to the others.

Meanwhile, Jessica has been working on a plan and gets Aaron Dallas to invite Suzanne to a pre-party at his cousin's house before the big Christmas dance (which is happening at Bruce Patman's Patmansion, despite it being a school event). He's then supposed to call her on that evening and tell her he's having car trouble and ask her to meet him at his cousin's place, but instead he'll give her the address of a creepy old haunted house on the outskirts of Sweet Valley and she'll be left there all alone and sad. It's pretty mean.

Elizabeth and Todd have been arguing and things don't seem to be the same between them anymore. Liz meets up with Enid for a bit of Christmas shopping and feels better after hanging out with her.

As always, Elizabeth felt immensely cheered, sitting across the table from her dearest friend. "One look at you, and my problems don't seem so insurmountable," Elizabeth told her warmly. 

Real nice, Liz.

It's time to put up the Christmas tree and everyone is having a nice time, but Suzanne is suddenly overcome by another dizzy spell and collapses. She's brought up to bed to lie down and the twins demand to know what's going on, while Ned and Alice nod meaningfully at each other. They finally get it out of their parents that Suzanne has issues with muscle control, which are aggravated by stress, but Ned and Alice explain that they promised Suzanne they'd keep it a secret for her, so they won't say any more than that. Elizabeth is all concerned for Suzanne now, but Jessica thinks she's faking it and just looking for attention.

The night of the big Christmas party arrives and while getting ready, Suzanne tries to call her doctor back in New York, as he sent her new medication but there were no side effects or precautions with the pills, but he's not in the office, so she leaves him a message. She takes her new pills anyway, and joins the twins, Steven and Todd downstairs for a glass of champagne. Then the planned call from Aaron Dallas comes, so Suzanne reluctantly agrees to meet him at the address he gives her. She's anxious about driving, but Jessica assures her she'll be fine and tells her to take their car. Ned and Alice have been over to see their neighbours and come home just before Suzanne's doctor calls, trying to reach her. It turns out that the new meds are super strong and Ned comes running out in a panic, because Suzanne had some champagne before leaving.

"She's on very strong medication, and a glass of wine could completely knock her out - maybe even kill her!"

Now come on. I highly doubt that any meds could cause a glass of champagne to ACTUALLY KILL YOU. But anyway. Jessica tearfully confesses her whole scheme to everyone and they take off in the car in pursuit of Suzanne.

While making her way to the address she was given, Suzanne couldn't focus on the road and ended up passing out, flipping the car on the road. Two cops on the road see the whole thing happening:

"Jesus!" the police officer in the squad car said to the officer next to him.

Mr. Policeman! LANGUAGE!

On the way to find Suzanne, everyone is furious with Jessica for pulling such a nasty trick (this isn't even the first time that Jessica's carry-on has almost killed someone), and Ned reveals that Suzanne actually has MS but didn't want anyone to know, as she wanted people to forgive her on her own merit and not out of pity.

They end up finding out that Suzanne has been taken to hospital and Jessica notices that Todd has the same look on his face as he did when Elizabeth was in a coma after their motorbike accident. She realises that he's in love with Suzanne and it wasn't a ploy on Suzanne's part at all.

Todd ends up telling Liz all about meeting Suzanne in Vermont and how nothing happened between them but that he's been feeling confused since. Elizabeth can tell that he's got feelings for Suzanne, and it turns out that she's going to be ok after all, so they all head off to the Patman's house for the party and to talk things out. Elizabeth tells Todd that she was thinking of telling him that they weren't right for each other anymore, but she still cares about him. So they remain close friends and have a friendly break-up, so Todd can be with Suzanne now. Also, Jessica discovers that her Secret Santa has been Winston Egbert all along is disgusted to find that Hans was Lila's.

The next day though, Jessica's other, non-potentially-fatal revenge plan goes off without a hitch, and she's resplendent as Miss Christmastime on the parade float, in Lila's dress and crown, while Lila is dressed like a Brussels sprout on Santa's one.

Later on, all the Wakefields go back to the hospital to see Suzanne, who's looking much better. They all make up and forgive each other and everything is cool between everyone. Then one of Suzanne's doctors comes into the room to talk about the most recent tests they've done, and explains that she actually only had a virus and not MS at all. She was suffering from a complication from mononucleosis all along and all these fancy doctors have just been treating her for a disease she never actually had. Slow clap for the doctors of the Sweet Valley High series. They greet sixteen year old girls by telling them how hot they are, prescribe "being a cheerleader" to pull a someone out of a coma and now this. Med school must only take two years in the Sweet Valley universe. Great job guys. Heroes, one and all.

Notable outfit:
We did much better on the fun outfit front this time out. We had Suzanne in "a denim skirt and red silk shirt", just throw on a pair of cowboy boots and she's away in a hack. There were also Jessica and Elizabeth's foxy outfits for the Christmas dance:

Elizabeth looked terrific in a shimmery, peach-coloured dress with spaghetti straps. And she herself was wearing her new blouse with a pair of black satin pants.

Mmm, flammable.

But Notable Outfit this time around goes to Suzanne, in a dress borrowed from Liz for the party:

The blue velvet dress she had borrowed from Elizabeth had a high neck, edged in cream-coloured lace.
A simple strand of pearls at her throat completed the look.

Elizabeth's Victorian ghost realness strikes again and I LOVE IT.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 233
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 6
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 5
Amount of times Jessica references the number 137: 2

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Actually It's About Ethics In Dinosaur Cloning

I went to see Jurassic World over the weekend. Overall it was good. I suppose. Honestly, I found it hard to totally enjoy it as a fun action film because it was so ridiculously, annoyingly, stupidly, disappointingly sexist. (Spoilers ahoy!)


Sooo, I had a lot of thoughts.

Ok, this is somewhat unrelated, but FIRST OF ALL, if you need to contact your annoying nephews to warn them that they may be about to be eaten by a rampaging dino-monster and the line is so bad that you can't hear each other when you call them, THEN SEND A FUCKING TEXT.

Anyway.

The first shot of Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire, the super efficient manager of Jurassic World, is the age-old pan upwards on the woman's body, get a good look at her there, in her fancy shoes. It's passed off as her arriving in a lift, while Chris Pratt as Owen is introduced being super cool, mid-session with his trained velociraptors, which he "imprinted" on when they were babies, because he's a werewolf from Twilight.

Claire's a cliché no-nonsense career woman with no time for stinkin' kids! She can't remember how old her nephews are and apparently this is TERRIBLE, even though most of the time I need a few minutes to remember how old *I* am.


Also, Claire somehow manages to keep her fancy high heels on while running through an actual jungle after her nephews, and perhaps most ridiculously, while being chased by a T-Rex. It was unfortunate, because the scene was such a great moment, both for her character and as a callback to Jurassic Park, using the red flare, luring the hero T-Rex out of the enclosure to take care of business, and then running ahead of it in a pair of stupid heels. It should have been a brilliant moment, but all I could think was "TAKE YOUR FUCKING SHOES OFF YOU IDIOT".

My overriding thought the whole way through, (in between the ads for Pandora, Coca Cola and Mercedes) was how much cooler and more interesting it would have been to have Chris Pratt play the uptight buzzkill, while Bryce Dallas Howard was the one fixin' bikes and implausibly training velociraptors. Basically, everything needs to be more like Mad Max: Fury Road.

Jurassic Park had Dr. Ellie Sattler, a paleobotanist and Lex Murphy, a pretty annoying kid, yes, but one who knew her way around 90s tech, two core female leads in the ensemble with some excellent scenes. (Those raptors in the kitchen were legit traumatic to watch as a child and the reflection trick that Lex pulls is still total genius.) Whereas Jurassic World just has Claire barely holding the fort for representation in her dumb shoes, being constantly condescended to. If the beginning of your franchise felt more progressive 22 years ago than this summer's blockbuster addition does, then you're doing something wrong.

There's a very definite uterus subplot too, with Claire's disinterest in kids played as a character flaw (the exchange with her sister, where she says "if I have kids" and Karen irritably corrects her with a curt "WHEN" made me fucking furious, to be quite honest) before she visibly comes around to the idea at the end of the film. Maybe it was meant to be a reference to the original where Sam Neill's Dr. Grant was conflicted over having kids at first, but it felt less like a knowing nod and more like the usual oppressive bullshit that insists women should want to bear children, otherwise they're being selfish and weird. A notion that can fuck right off.

If I were her I would have avoided those kids for seven years too, because they're awful. (Also, their parents are apparently getting divorced, a plotline which serves no purpose other than to have Judy Greer cry in pretty much ALL of her very few scenes.)

It wouldn't have killed them to throw in a brother-sister combo again. All they had to do was change up the ages and there could have been something even approaching gender balance within the main cast. Or, GOD FORBID, TWO SISTERS. GASP. It's not as if a film about sisters is one of the highest grossing releases of all time, or anything.

When they first encounter Owen, Claire has just saved his life, but the boys are all "Owen is amazing let's stick with him!" Their aunt just SHOT A PTERODACTYL IN THE FACE, but he's still the cool one. I hate these kids. And their "Your boyfriend is so badass!" line later on in the film made me want them to be eaten by a velociraptor. The little shitheads.

Now, despite all of this giving out, Jurassic World does have lots of great parts to it. It's extremely exciting to see the camera swoop in over the park that Hammond had envisaged all those years ago, and watching Rexes Indominus and Tyrannosaurus bate the heads off each other was hugely entertaining. Nick from New Girl and C.O. Fischer from Orange Is The New Black were great. Chris Pratt has buckets of charisma (despite all the goddamn mansplaining) but it's really no Jurassic Park. It was always going to be near impossible to live up to a film that we fucking loved as kids and have done for the last twenty-odd years, I mean that's a LOT of expectation and build-up. But there are so many ways it could have been better. And it could have used some Jeff Goldblum, but then again, that's true for most things.

Life finds a bae.
Anyway, I think we can all agree that the real hero of the movie was the dude that ran from the flying dinosaur attack while holding two margaritas. Good hustle, mister.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Memories

This book was a bit of a snooze, to be honest. But let's give it a crack anyway.

(Also, please come on over and like my new Facebook page! Yep. Still plugging it.)

Sweet Valley High #24: Memories


"Steven! What's wrong?"
Ned Wakefield looked up from the book he was reading as his son streaked by the master bedroom.

I'd like to think that by streaking, they mean Steven has just run past in the nip, as it would have made this book infinitely more interesting. Unfortunately there isn't a wang to be had and Steven just ran quickly to his room and this whole story is basically just about him being sad. BOOORING.

You see, Steven had the nerve to enjoy hanging out with Cara Walker at Lila's party the previous night, prompting Betsy Martin to make a huge scene, giving him a load of shit for forgetting about her dead sister Tricia. It's pretty rude of her, considering how he took it upon himself to look after her when Tricia died and cured her of her drug and alcohol problems through the sheer power of Wakefield charisma.

However, Steven decides that she's right and feels like he's betrayed Tricia's memory, vowing never to do it again, so he starts to spend loads of time hanging around with Betsy, while she tells him about the time Tricia was a robin in a school play.

Jessica continues to be mean to Betsy for being a no-good skank (i.e. doing exactly all the things that Jessica does, but is poor, therefore she's a trashy slut rather than a mischievous flirt) and is pointedly rude to her when she calls over to the house one morning to meet Steven. However, it's soon followed by a classic Alice Wakefield burn, when she asks the twins to do the washing up.

[Following a conversation about how Jessica wants to be a movie star]
"Right now, though, the only roles we're casting for are the kitchen help." She got up and brought a few plates to the counter. "Anybody want to audition?'
"I don't mind trying out." Jessica grimaced. "But don't count on my taking it up as a career."
"Honey," her mother joked, "I never count on you for anything."

ALICE! I swear, this woman is a shade-throwing QUEEN.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth continues to pine for her boyfriend Todd, who now lives in Vermont, and she keeps seeing some guy around town who looks just like him. Could it be that Todd is leading some manner of double life and might actually have an interesting secret of some sort? Of course not. This guy is Michael Sellers, the captain of the Big Mesa volleyball team, Sweet Valley High's opponents in an upcoming charity match. The twins are on the team, naturally (winning at life includes being an excellent volleyball player, despite your prowess never being mentioned once over the course of 23 books) but on the night of the event, Elizabeth sucks for the first game, as she's all flustered by Michael's presence. He even has coffee brown eyes like Todd's! GIVE THOSE EYES BACK MICHAEL, THEY'RE NOT YOURS.

Despite Liz's shaky start, the Sweet Valley team eventually draw level and end up winning, with Elizabeth hitting the winning point, (or whatever the deal is with volleyball) because god forbid someone else in that school should get a moment of glory when there's a Wakefield on the team.

There's a big dance afterwards (duh) and when the twins go home to change before it, they, along with Steve's friend Artie who dropped over, convince Steve to come with them and do something non-dead-girlfriend-related. Cara sees Steven there and decides to go over and say hello, despite the fact that he ditched her at Lila's party after Betsy Martin's outburst and never fucking apologised. And even though he's excited to see her, Steven decides that the last time they hung out gave him "so much pain" that "he wanted no part of her tonight". Steady on, Steve. So instead of even being basic-level polite to her, he's frosty and immediately walks off to talk to Betsy, who's just arrived. Cara is humiliated and it's just so fucking RUDE of him. Also, what is the deal with all these college-age kids hanging around at a school dance for sixteen year olds? Can you imagine being in first year in college and hanging around at the Junior Cert disco? You'd be SCARLET.

Cara's a pretty sailor, but what's going on with her facial expression? Also, Steven, is that a velour shirt? Because it sure looks like one.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth has been dancing with Michael, marvelling at how much he looks like her ex-boyfriend. Always a good reason to hook up with someone, said no one ever. However, Elizabeth soon realises that in terms of personality, he's nothing like her beloved Todd (in that he actually has one), as he slags off the food that Winston made and has the audacity to put his paper plate under his chair when he's done, rather than in the bin. SHAAAME.

While all this has been going on, Jessica's been scheming away as usual in her subplot, after overhearing her mother talking to Mrs. Egbert about a movie director relative coming to stay at their house and how she'll keep it a secret for her. As a result, Jessica's been prowling after Winston and has inveigled her way into doing an English project with him. She goes over to his house one afternoon so they can work on it together and while there, learns that it's Mrs. Egbert's cousin Marty that's coming to stay in a few days time.

Later that night, Steven and the twins are having pizza for dinner as Ned and Alice have gone out for the evening. The subject of Cara Walker comes up, as Steve's friend Artie is supposed to be taking her out on a date, which Steve is grumpy about despite the fact that he's been nothing but awful to her for the last while. Jessica hints that Steve and Cara should get together, but Elizabeth reckons they're not right for each other.

"I'm sorry. Cara has pulled too many nasty stunts and told too many secrets for me to think that she'd be a match for Steve."

Oh fuck right off, Liz. Mind you don't fall off that high horse. Cara has never actually done anything to her and the shit that Jessica routinely pulls is genuine villainy, whereas all Cara has ever done is be prone to a bit of gossip and has the nerve to fancy Steve. Fucking Elizabeth.

Anyway, Steve gets mad at the two of them for talking about him like he's not even there, and it escalates into an argument between the three of them, with Jessica dropping truth bombs all up in his face. She calls Steve out for being too scared of what Betsy would say if he went out with Cara, which is 100% correct and tells him he's being incredibly rude to Cara, WHICH HE TOTALLY IS.

Steven slammed his fist on the counter. "I've told you, Jess, stay out of it. I'll live my life the way I want."
"OK," Jessica said. She shrugged. "But remember Cara's got one advantage over Tricia. She's alive."

YAAAS. Epic burn Jess.

Steven runs off crying because the truth hurts, BITCH and after thinking it over, decides that he really should apologise to Cara. HEY, YA THINK? He calls her up and it turns out that she didn't go out with Artie after all, so they arrange to go for a picnic the next day. Cara offers to organise some food and Steven's just like "yeah, see you then", when the least he could do is get off his fucking hole and sort out some goddamn cheese and bread and lemonade to make up for being such an utter turd to her, particularly since the picnic was his idea.

They go to the zoo for the day and after a wander around, head to a picnic area, where Cara lays out some fried chicken, pasta salad and a chocolate cake.

"I'm impressed," Steven said as he stretched his tall frame out on the blanket. "I didn't know you were such a good cook."
"I'm not," Cara confessed. "I bought the chicken and the salad."
"Hey," Steven said, sitting up. "That's cheating."

Hey, fuck you Steven, literally all you have contributed to this picnic is the fucking BLANKET. He sucks SO BAD. Anyway, they have a nice time somehow, so progress, I guess.

At school that week, Elizabeth catches up with Cara in the hallway and tells her TO HER FACE that she didn't think she was good enough for her precious asshole brother, but now that she sees how happy Cara has made him, she approves of her. LIZ. WHAT THE HELL. It's so unbelievably rude and unnecessary and the fucking NERVE of this girl. However, Cara is overjoyed that Saint Elizabeth hath bestowed her divine blessings upon her as a lowly not blonde apartment-dweller, and thanks her instead of telling her to go fuck herself.

It's Cara's birthday that weekend, so Steven is taking her out for dinner. He tells her to pick the restaurant, so she books the Valley Inn, a charming old place outside of town. However, it's also the place where he and Tricia went for dinner before she got too sick to leave the house. Steven bravely soldiers through (what a fucking trooper) and they have a lovely dinner together. A band starts playing, so they get up to slow dance, but then they start to play Tricia's favourite song and Steven freaks out, runs off and LEAVES CARA THERE. WITHOUT A LIFT HOME. ON HER FUCKING BIRTHDAY.

And breathe.

Meanwhile, Jessica heads over to Winston's house again and meets his mother's cousin, Marty. They have all these ambiguous conversations about his work, without ever actually stating what it is he does for a living, so you can probably guess how well this is going to turn out. Jessica tells him how interested she is in his line of work, and Marty offers to show her his latest project, which is DEFINITELY a movie script, right? Right? To quote Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, (as my good friend Billy so often does) "assumption is the mother of all fuck-ups" and it turns out that the "script" is actually a strategy for waste disposal in LA, because Marty's an engineer and his brother Phil, who couldn't make it, is the famous director. Foiled again, Jessica.

After ditching Cara yet again, Steven has been moping around the house, wrecking everyone's buzz and hanging around with Betsy to do depressing stuff like look at old photos of Tricia. Elizabeth comes up with a plan to snap Steven out of it, which involves going over to Betsy Martin's house in the gross part of town.

Trash littered the sidewalk, and pieces of broken glass sparkled in the sun. This did not seem at all like the Sweet Valley Elizabeth knew and loved.

Ewwww, poor people. Elizabeth manages to survive the litter and broken glass and tells Betsy about how she was the first one to find out that Tricia had leukemia and was sworn to secrecy because Tricia was trying to push Steve away so she wouldn't be holding him back. Betsy realises she was being a massive downer for Steve and agrees to let him live his life and actually give him a chance to move on.

In order to do this, a typically stupid and convoluted plan must be hatched, which involves Steven and Cara being lured to meet each other outside the school under false pretenses and Roger Collins' six year old son Teddy cycles over to hand them a mysterious package each. Teddy Collins is like the Sweet Valley rent-a-kid for annoying schemes in these books. It turns out that the packages contain portraits of both Steve and Cara for each other, with a note from Betsy, telling Steve to embrace life or whatever. Cara tells him that if he wants to begin again, she's there for him (RUN CARA, RUN!) and they kiss and everything is great.

Steven's heart swelled with happiness, and he felt as if Tricia were smiling down on them.

Greaaaat. I bet Tricia's never going to come up again as an issue in this relationship. Nope. No siree.

Notable outfit:
UGH this book was so boring and that goes for the clothes too. Elizabeth had a side-swept ponytail at one point, and Cara puts her hair into a topknot for her ill-fated birthday dinner with Steve. That's about as exciting as it got.

Things I counted:
Number of pages:151
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 3
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 5

 
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