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 at...you 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 History.com

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

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Goodbye to Beaut.ie

UPDATE: It's back! The site has been rescued! QUIT PLAYING GAMES WITH MY HEART, GUYS. I've decided to leave this post here anyway though, as it's the only thing I've managed to write here since November. Just change the "sorely missed" bit to "continuing to be deadly".

It's a sad day for Irish blogging, as after eight sparkling years the truly excellent Beaut.ie is hanging up its dancing shoes and handing in its lipstick. I was lucky enough to contribute to the site for the last year and a half or so and absolutely loved being part of a team of such witty and wonderful women.

I had long been a fan of the site and like many others, it inspired my former blogmate Tess and I to start up our own little corner of the internet. When Aisling invited me to become part of the Beaut.ie team back in 2012, I was so taken aback that I actually replied asking whether I had gotten her email by accident, as I had never expected to become part of such a brilliant and beloved blog. Also because I'm pretty clueless about make-up and the one thing that I can actually do is an only slightly wobbly eyeliner flick.

Thankfully I wasn't emailed in error and got to write about everything from Youth Defence being dicks, to genderised toys being a load of bollocks, to stock photo models, period dramas, stupid sexy Halloween costumes and Justin Theroux looking like there'd be a smell of bins off him. I also got to use the phrase "rampaging cockmonster" in a post, which was fun.

While I'm sad that that the site is coming to an end, it's been an absolute blast and you couldn't ask for a more supportive and genuinely lovely, fun and often hilarious bunch of commenters. Beaut.ie will be sorely missed and I want to thank Aisling for having me and wish her and the rest of the crack team of kickass ladies all the luck in the world with their continuing adventures.

Shine on, you crazy diamonds.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Kidnapped!

GUYS. I'm so sorry to have left you hanging for so long there - although seeing as there are like a hundred SVH books in the series, not to mention the University ones and the ten years later book, we can probably all agree that Elizabeth was going to be grand. However, I only realised after finishing #12 that I didn't actually have a copy of the next in the series, so eBay and the Bear came to my rescue and now we're all set for another while. Hooray!

Sweet Valley High #13: Kidnapped! 

Our story begins with a typically creepy exchange between a Wakefield twin and someone they're related to, in this case it's Jessica asking Steven to zip up her dress. Ok, well that's not too weird, you might be thinking. He was however, just out of the shower and wearing nothing but "a green towel wrapped snugly around his waist". Ohkaaaaaay.

"He bent his six foot one body over her zipper"
"Steven inspected his sister carefully"
"She really thought her brother was the most handsome guy in Sweet Valley"

WHOA THERE HORSEY. I'm telling you, Wakefields = Lannisters of Westeros Valley.

Anyway, the reason Jessica is getting all dressed up is because there's a big party being thrown by the Morrows, a fancy new super-rich family in town with a sexy eighteen year old son and a daughter the same age as the twins. Steven mentions that he's off to see Tricia that evening and Jessica manages to "hold back the distaste she'd always felt for her brother's girlfriend". What a martyr. Although we are told that "she felt she owed her brother the courtesy of silence on the issue". Christ on a bike Jess, YA THINK? I love how she makes it sound like she's doing him a massive favour by not slagging off his DYING GIRLFRIEND, rather than it being, you know, common human decency or anything.

Elizabeth is supposed to arrive home any minute so she and Jess can go to the party together, but of course she's busy being chloroformed in the back of a van. Jessica is eventually left alone in the house and gets fed up of waiting so she calls Cara Walker who picks her up on her way to the Morrows' super-mansion. While they're on the way, we learn that Jessica and Cara have an unwritten rule, Thou Shalt Not Chase After The Same Boy As Your Best Friend, which pretty much leaves Winston Egbert for Cara, so yeah, good luck with that, Walker. Although Jessica does suggest that when Tricia dies, Cara and Steven could have another go at dating. Which is pretty cold, even for noted sociopath Jessica Wakefield.

They arrive at the mansion and a tiny old butler brings them past "the dining room, the library, the billiards room" (CLUEDO, ANYONE?) to the room where the party is on. They meet Regina Morrow there, who's beautiful and statuesque and has dancing blue eyes. She speaks to Cara first, directing all her attention to her and doesn't answer Jessica when she butts in to introduce herself, or asks about her brother, Nicholas. Regina then trips on a rug, so Jessica's train of thought goes thusly:

"The stumble, the lack of response to Jessica - it was only natural to conclude that the Morrow girl was drunk."

WHICH IS HILARIOUS. Of course that's what Jessica would think, seeing as people normally grovel before her luminous blondeness and kiss her hand like she's a fucking bishop, so the only reason someone wouldn't automatically give her their FULL AND UNDIVIDED ATTENTION is if they're shitfaced. I just love her reasoning.

It turns out that Regina is actually deaf, so Jessica can rest easy, she’s still as fascinating and amazing as ever. Although she does then enquire whether Regina’s brother is also deaf, which is a pretty weird thing to ask. To her relief, he isn’t, oh and he’s model-handsome to boot, because residents of Sweet Valley must, above all else, be insanely fuckable. I bet there's a hotness checkpoint just outside the town.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth is still in the back of the van and trying to remember what happened to her. She realises that her hands are tied behind her back and that she’s gagged and blindfolded, so she panics and passes out. 

This cover is stagey and terrible, and therefore awesome. The disembodied hand! The weird position of Liz's arm and fingers! The fact that the colours she's wearing are completely wrong because the book clearly states that her work uniform has pink and white stripes on it!

After her shift at the hospital, Elizabeth was supposed to call over to Max Dellon’s house to help him out for his upcoming English test. When she doesn’t show up after a few hours he starts to worry because Elizabeth is super reliable and pretty much The Best Human Ever, so it’s not at all like her to just blow off an appointment. It eventually gets so late that he decides that something must be wrong, so he takes off on his bike towards the hospital to look for her.

Back at the party, Jessica is busy hogging Nicholas’s attention all evening and is none too impressed when Todd interrupts her charm offensive to ask whether she’s seen Elizabeth anywhere. She decides to fob him off with a lie about Elizabeth babysitting for Mr. Collins, because if she tells him that she doesn’t actually know where her sister is, she’ll have to release Nicholas from her sex-grip. Todd walks off feeling uneasy and thinking that Jessica’s story doesn’t add up.

Elizabeth wakes up again, still gagged and blindfolded only this time she’s tied to a chair. A vehicle pulls up outside and her kidnapper comes into the room, creepily undoes the plait in her hair and takes off the blindfold, at which point she realises that it’s Carl, the weird orderly from the hospital. He says he’s not going to hurt her and when he removes the gag, Elizabeth screams for help.

Since talking to Jessica, Todd has been miserably skulking around the party and eventually decides to call Mr. Collins’s house. When Roger (who looks like Robert Redford, you know) answers the phone and says that Elizabeth isn’t there, Todd tells him that there must have been a misunderstanding and hangs up. We’re told that Mr. Collins is still holding the phone after Todd hung up and hoping that Elizabeth is ok, because this book can’t stick to one point of view and has to tell us how immediately worried everyone is about Elizabeth, in case we'd forgotten how wonderful and amazing she is.

Todd is furious when he realises that Jessica was lying, so when he finds her sitting by the pool in a tiny bikini and flirting with Nicholas, he shoves her into the water, which is just brilliant. People should be shoving Jessica into pools all the time. Nicholas is about to throw him out, but when Todd makes Jessica realise that it’s half nine and Elizabeth should have arrived ages ago, she cops on and jumps out of the pool in a panic, to ring home.

Back at the house, Ned and Alice have just arrived in the door after a dinner with Alice’s new business associate, who “didn’t stop telling jokes all evening”. Which sounds tedious as fuck but they seem to have enjoyed themselves. Ned answers when Jessica calls, and when everyone realises that Elizabeth is missing, Jessica, still just in her bikini, rushes out with Todd to drive home and check the roads on the way in case Elizabeth’s car broke down. BUT WE KNOW IT DIDN’T.

Elizabeth is still tied to a chair somewhere and screaming didn’t do any good, as they’re in Carl’s manky little house in the middle of nowhere. It turns out that weird ol’ Carl is in love with her and kidnapped her so they could be together. And he loves her because she was nice to him at the hospital and helped him pick up some stuff he dropped one time. She talks him into untying her and makes a break for the door, but unfortunately for her there’s another door after that one, which is all boarded up. So Carl catches her and flings her onto the couch “eyes now bright with anger” and we’re left assuming that Elizabeth is now in big trouble.

Ned Wakefield has been ringing around, trying the hospital and Max Dellon’s house to see if anyone has seen Elizabeth. When there’s still no sign, he decides to call the police.

Max Dellon arrives at the hospital and finds Elizabeth’s car with the driver’s side door open, all her stuff inside and her scarf on the ground. When he realises that something must have happened, he gets into the car to rummage around for clues as to where she might be. But next thing you know, the cops arrive and arrest him for trying to steal the car or something.

But back to Elizabeth! Carl doesn’t hit her or anything like we were led to believe might happen, he just starts crying and reties her to the chair for the night. Also, there’s no threat of sexual violence or anything of the sort, because it seems that the girls only get almost-raped by hot guys they already know.

The next morning he makes pancakes for her, because he overheard her one day in work saying how much she likes her mother’s pancakes. But he bought frozen ones that taste terrible and he forgot to buy syrup, so they’re nothing like Mammy Wakefield’s light, fluffy pancakes, sprinkled with Aryan goodness, but Elizabeth eats them anyway because she’s starving. Afterwards, Carl heads off to work, which deflates Elizabeth’s hope that he’d stay home for the day, which she figured would arouse suspicion and lead to her eventual rescue.

The police let Max Dellon go free, but people are all suspicious of him anyway because he scowls a lot and wears spiked wristbands. Gasp! Well that kid MUST be bad news, then. The police suggest to the Wakefields that Elizabeth probably ran away, despite the fact that her bag, her car and ALL HER STUFF was left in the hospital car park. Worst. Cops. Ever.

Carl comes home from work that evening and tells Elizabeth all about his plans to leave his job and bring her away to some place in the mountains, where they’ll live together and she’ll bathe in a stream and he’s planning to leave the following night. Ruh roh!

In school on Monday, Todd confronts Max, convinced that there’s something he’s not telling them, and ends up punching him. Jessica breaks the fight up and tells Todd to cop the fuck on, in so many words, and the three of them decide to launch their own investigation and head to the hospital to see if there’s anything they can find out.

The new gang split up and each cover a different section of the hospital, to talk to anyone who was working when Elizabeth was there last. After asking at a nurse’s desk about Elizabeth, Max makes his way further down the corridor to talk to a dark, stocky orderly (spoiler alert: it’s Carl) at the same time that Jessica emerges onto the corridor.

Carl freaks out, thinking she’s Elizabeth, and runs over to her in a panic, asking what she’s doing here. You see, he never realised that Elizabeth had an identical twin, which is just really shoddy stalking, if you ask me. Go big or go home, Carl.

Anyway, Max trips up Carl before he can get to Jessica and pins him to the ground. Jessica, in fairness to her, does some quick thinking and pretends to be Elizabeth so he’ll stay calm and reveal his dastardly plan until the cops arrive. Once he gets handcuffed and taken away, he confesses everything to the police, so they all head out to rescue Elizabeth and everything is fine and she’s not even the tiniest bit traumatised, because there’s no such thing as PTSD in Sweet Valley. Grand so.

Notable outfit:
This book was severely lacking in hilarious outfits, the only amusing clothing we hear about isn't even worn. 

While Jessica is laying out clothes for Elizabeth before the big party at Regina Morrow’s house, she chooses “a long, red velour skirt”, “an off-white, high-necked blouse” and “her sister’s turquoise tank suit”. 

Whatever the hell a tank suit is.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 149
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 5
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 1
Magic twin-sense shivery feelings that something is wrong with the other sister: 2

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A to Z of Me

You may recall the Dungarvan Zombie Survival Plan that I designed for the second Brief Exchange show a while back. I posted it here, where regular readers said nice things about it and then I carried on writing silly Sweet Valley High posts, sort of forgetting about it. A few months later it went viral after being posted on Reddit, as is the way with things these days, which led to a lesson in watermarking, after seeing my uncredited work reblogged all over Tumblr and pinned all over Pinterest and popping up on Imgur, most of the time with credit to mindhaxx, whoever the fuck that is.

Anyway. There's been a third Brief Exchange show and the results have been scattered around Cork city in outdoor advertising spaces since the start of the month, to coincide with Design Week.The posters are all on the Brief Exchange website too and well worth a look, as there's some really bloody great design work going on over there.

So the brief I received for this incarnation of Brief Exchange was:

"Design a poster for something that you’d like to see on your daily route."

Which I must admit, left me stumped for quite some time. Eventually one night while lying in bed, I started mentally listing things I liked, in an effort to come up with an idea for the poster and ended up enjoying my list so much that I decided to make an A-Z of my favourite stuff.

So this is what I came up with (now with my blog name in place, not because I expect it to get anything like the reaction that the Surviving Dungarvan one did, just because I learned the hard way that posting your work online means it can go for quite a wander with no name tag):

Clickedy-click to enlarge

For a while there it looked like it was going to be a list of awesome female characters, which might actually be a fun project for another time, but for this particular alphabet I wanted a mix of things, plus I really wanted Z to be for Zombies BECAUSE I CAN'T HELP MYSELF. In fact, all three posters I've done for Brief Exchange so far have involved zombies. I might have a problem.

So these are a few of the cool lady characters that did make the cut:

I also managed to sneak another favourite lady in, via my love of a certain SNES game.

Aaand these are just two of the letter graphics that I particularly liked:

So it turns out that my favourite things are, by and large, fictional characters and specific types of food that are really bad for me.

I'm fine with that.

Also, can anyone name all the things in my list?

(Edit: Yes. Because Aislinn is deadly.)

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Handbook For The Recently Deceased

After being infatuated with Miss Argentina from Beetlejuice for YEARS, declaring in February of last year that I was going to dress up as her for Halloween, spending ages planning and making the various parts of the costume, unceremoniously fracturing my ankle two weeks before Halloween rendering me couch-ridden with a plaster cast and then waiting a WHOLE OTHER YEAR...I FINALLY DID IT!
Last weekend we hit the Rocky Horror Picture Show in The Sugar Club for their Halloween shindig, where I had an absolute ball, found a dude dressed as Beetlejuice to get a photo with (although I had to explain who I was dressed as to him - worst Beetlejuice ever), completely confused some Spanish dudes as to why I was green and what exactly made me Miss Argentina when I'd never even been there, Time Warped my turquoise face off and won Best Costume!

I was so delighted with how it all turned out. Which was a relief, considering that I'd been planning and waiting for a fucking year and eight months to do it. The body paint colour was Snazaroo's Sea Green and looked blue in some photos, green in others and bright turquoise in real life, which was kinda perfect because in stills from the film, the actual Miss Argentina character seems to alternate between blue and green depending on the shot.

It was so much fun painting myself turquoise, that even when the Bear got worried that I was going to end up dyeing my skin in the process of layering on the paint, I just shouted "I DON'T CARE! LOOK AT HOW COOL THIS IS!" I almost lost the run of myself with excitement when I finally got to the point where I could put the wig on, as that was when it all came together.

I made the red collar out of wire from a craft shop, which came already wound in two spirals, so I just took the centre point and bent it into the shape I wanted, then covered it with red tulle and glued a fuckload of sequins to it. The sash was just a big wide ribbon that I painted the letters on and the wig was borrowed from my lovely friend Lili and then pinned into a haphazard updo with a bajillion bobby pins because I have no idea how to style an updo properly.

Miss Argentina's wrists are cut, which is the dark little gag that shot right over my head as a kid, so being a sucker for detail I made those with special effects wax and a bit of fake blood.

Me on stage getting a prize and being momentarily scared that I might have to say something. These two were taken by Hector Heathwood and yoinked from the Rocky Horror Facebook page.

It was quite weird when I'd catch my reflection during the night, as I'd sort of forget that I was this crazy bright colour and more than once found myself coming away from a mirror thinking "I'm so GREEEN!"

I absolutely loved it though and didn't want to take it off at the end of the night, so before going for a shower at all hours of the morning, I went on a selfie rampage (something I NEVER do), because the last thing I wanted was to end up wishing that I'd taken more photographs of the costume.

Also, it turns out I'm terrible at taking selfies. Do I look at the camera? At my reflection? Down at the phone? Is my hand meant to look that gammy?

My wig was a little bit askew at this point though, as by then it was half past several mojitos in the morning and I didn't really notice. I never usually post photos of myself here, but then again I didn't really look like me on the night, what with the bluey skin and the wig and the fact that Billy and The Incredible Mulq didn't recognise me at first when I walked up to them in the queue outside The Sugar Club.

Also, the hamper of fun stuff that I won was pretty deadly, what with the mulled wine and prosecco and horror DVDs and chocolate. There was also a box of Milk Tray but when a Sunday hangover and gallons of tea collided, that particular box of chocolates didn't stand a chance and got kinda eaten before I could take a photo of my victory swag laid out all nice and pretty.

The only problem now is how the hell do I top this next year?