Wednesday, February 24, 2010

#75: Jessi's Horrible Prank

I didn't read this book as a youngin, so I wasn't colored by nostalgia during the experience. And man, it was kind of a difficult book to read. Uncomfortable. On the plus side, Jessi is a pretty enjoyable narrator here -- she's kind of goofy, getting involved in the Sixth-Grade Follies (a send-up of life at Stoneybrook Middle School created and performed by the sixth grade class) and doing impressions of Dolly Parton, Garth from Wayne's World, etc. She's got friends outside of the BSC. She's not obsessed with being the world's greatest ballerina.

On the minus side, the A plot is a doozy. The horrible prank has to do with one of their teachers, the unfortunately named Mr. Trout. This man is not cut out for teaching, to say the least. He's got no sense of how to discipline snotty pre-teens, and Jessi's classmates walk all over him. There's a scalping incident involving his toupee and a fishhook. Since you're all at the EDGES of your SEATS over this riveting plotline, I'll sum up by saying that he ends up leaving SMS and Jessi feels bad and writes him a letter and he writes back all "LOL Don't feel bad! Screw middle school, I'm going back to grad school!" and then the book ends abruptly, like maybe the ghostwriter drank one too many martinis and couldn't be bothered to come up with an ending*.

(Seriously, I don't know why Scholastic didn't contact me about these rewrites; I really get to the heart of the matter in NO TIME FLAT. I can even pull back on the swearing and netspeak if I try very hard! Like, VERY hard.)

But enough about plot. You don't come here for plot. You come here for fashion, and I need to update at least once before I go on vacation. (That's right, those of you who don't follow me on twitter or tumblr**: I'm headed to Disney World! But there's no Bahama cruise, because the boyfriend and I don't have rich stepfathers willing to shell out tons of dough for us and all of our friends.) So: fashion.

"Plus, she always puts together the coolest outfits, mostly from stuff she finds in flea markets. For example, at that meeting she was wearing '50s-style cat's-eye glasses frames***, a plastic barrette in the shape of an alligator****, a tie-dyed t-shirt, and bell-bottoms. And it looked fantastic."

As if there was a question.

Oh yeah, there's a subplot. Various sitting charges put on a show called the BSC Follies. Whatever, find the book yourself if you're that interested. I just thought some of the portrayals were worth mentioning.

"Vanessa walked out, toting a huge backpack. She had her hair pulled back and fastened by something that looked like a dog bone.

She pulled out a Milky Way bar, stuffed it in her mouth, and said 'Hi, I'm Claudia!'

'Aaaaaugh!' Claudia screamed.

. . . Next came Margot, holding a bag of carrots. 'I'm Dawn. Yummy, this is my dinner.'

. . . Vanessa/Claudia kept stuffing her face the whole way through, constantly pulling snacks out of her backpack, mumbling all her words. At one point she picked up the clock and said 'This would make a fabulous hat!'

Charlotte/Stacey sniffed disapprovingly. 'N.O.M.H. - Not On My Head!'"

God, these kids do my job better than I ever could. I should be insulted or something.

* Not that I know anything about this.

** And for the record, I am waaaay more prolific on both of those platforms than I ever will be here. Sorry, it's just the way it is. Most days, I only have 140 characters worth of funny in me. It's a sad reality.

*** Last week, B. and I were watching season three of 30 Rock when we realized the horrible yet fitting truth: Liz Lemon and I wear the EXACT SAME GLASSES. Also sometimes I wear snuggies while eating cheese by myself late at night. You can't judge me!

**** I want to go to there.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Mystery #1: Stacey and the Missing Ring

America's favorite baby-sitters are detectives, too, guys! As implausible as that may be!

So Stacey wants a diamond ring, and isn't content to wait for, you know, adulthood. She's convinced she needs a diamond birthstone ring RIGHT NOW. At age 13. And pits her mother and father against each other when Mrs. McGill 'bitch please'-es her. And the rest of the babysitters are kind of uncomfortable about it.

"'I wouldn't dare to ask my parents for a diamond ring," said Mallory [sensibly]. 'Even if it was my birthstone.'

'But it is totally gorgeous, don't you think?' I asked.

Everybody nodded, but they looked a little overwhelmed. I wished they could have been more on my side. I wanted Claud to say 'You deserve a ring like that, Stacey, and your mother's a meanie not to buy it for you.' But she didn't say that."

Oh, guuuuuurl. Of course she didn't. Claudia can't even get her parents to buy her a buttered popcorn when they go to the movies together.

Stacey's diamond-lust unfortunately corresponds with her babysitting job for a new client, a really rich client with lots of bling. You see where this is going (if you don't, refer back to the title). Ring disappears, the BSC gets less calls then usual, everyone weeps gently, Claudia none-too-stealthily searches Stacey's room for the ring, the ring turns out to have been stolen by Rich Client's Klepto-Cat, all is well, Stacey continues to be massively spoiled.

"'And by the way, I may get the birthstone ring after all,' I said. 'My mom told me last night that she and my dad talked about it, and they might go in together to get it for me for my next birthday - or for Christmas, or some other special occasion.'"

Like her next perm. God, it's nice to be Stacey, isn't it? (Okay, fine, she has diabetes. Whatever. I have Crohn's disease, you don't see ME telling you about it in detail every time I write an entry. But maybe I will from now on. From now on, every entry will have a Chapter Two, in which we talk about Kim's Great Idea for a BSC/fashion blog, and Kim's Health Woes, and the number of siblings Kim has. I can tell you're already riveted!)

Anyway. Fashion. Now with fun titles!

Charlie Gets In A Good One:
"'Mmmm,' I said. 'Somebody smells good. What is that smell?'

'Must be my new shampoo,' answered Dawn. 'It's called Wildflower Wash.' She tossed her hair, and I could smell the sweet scent again.

Charlie coughed. 'Smells more like Accident in the Perfume Factory to me,' he said."

Claudia Has A "Current Favorite Mall Outfit":
"Claud looked terrific in black leggings, red high-top sneakers, and an oversized red sweater. She was carrying a red plastic lunch box as a purse."

That is so unfair. In high school, I thought it would be funny to bring my lunch in my second-grade Barbie lunch box, and everyone just thought I was weird. I mean, I was weird. But still. Where's my kudos?

T-Shirts Are California Casual; Don't Get Between Claudia And A Pair Of Sneakers:
"Dawn loves the T-shirt store, so we spent some time in there. She tried to decide between a blue shirt with a picture of whales on it and a yellow one that said 'Go For It' in big black letters, but she finally ended up getting neither. 'I don't really need a new T-shirt right now,' she said.

'I don't really need new sneakers, either,' said Claud. 'But that's not going to stop me!' She led the way to the shoe store. Claud has the biggest sneaker collection of anyone I know, I swear. She's got red ones (two other pairs besides the ones she was wearing that day) and purple ones and black ones and white ones and polka-dotted ones. I bet she could wear a different pair of sneakers every day for a month.

'What do you think?' she asked, holding up a pair of lace-and-sequin-trimmed pink high-tops. 'Pretty cool, right?'"

Fun fact: Claudia wears a size seven.

Claudia Is Some Sort Of Bizarre Fashion Idiot Savant:
"Something was definitely up. Claud always pays a lot of attention to clothes. She can remember every outfit she's worn to school over a season, and she tries never to repeat the exact same outfit."

Did I mention that Claudia made Stacey an apology gift (you know, for accusing her of stealing and whatnot)? Yeah. "An earcuff (a very cool accessory these days) with a collection of blue stones and beads hanging from it." She is good to you, McGill. Some might say too good.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

"Oh My Lord" Said Claudia When She Saw The Horrific Font Choices

Some of you have pointed me in the direction of this Nylon blog entry, which unveils the new covers for the first few editions of the re-released BSC books. You wanted to know what I think.

Short version: I feel like this.

Long version: I think they are hideous. Heinous. Horrendously ugly. Who signed off on this? Why didn't they call me? Those images are straight off a $5.00 cd-rom of clip art released in the mid 90's. And the fonts! The FONTS, people.

I guess I should congratulate them on not using Comic Sans. Way to go, design team.

Seriously, I'm baffled at their decision to do away with the original block letter logo. If they wanted to argue that the illustrations were dated, I'd be able to nod ruefully. I'd give them that, even though I'm sure we all feel that's part of their charm. But that logo is a total classic. Do I think this cover will impact the buying decisions of, say, an 8 year old? No, of course not. But I'd be surprised if many of the original readers end up reinvesting . . . the nostalgia factor has been totally done away with. Like sparkleneelysparkle said:
"These aren't bastions of fucking literary glory. They’re books about teenage girls. and I am sad that we have to fucking SPOON FEED them to you so that they are relevant to your lives (OMG WHATS A WALKMAN????) the only thing that is cool about them is that they are a snapshot of what people read in the 80s and 90s."
You really screwed the pooch on this one, Scholastic.