Thursday, April 21, 2016

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Taking Sides

Forget Batman V Superman, (because it's terrible) the big showdown this year (or in 1986, whatevs) is Elizabeth V Jessica! What could they possibly be squabbling over? Something ultimately pointless? Let's find out!

Sweet Valley High #31: Taking Sides

The Wakefield twins are sitting in the sunshine out on the lawn outside Sweet Valley High, with Lila Fowler and Enid Rollins, even though Jessica can't bear Enid and Elizabeth thinks Lila is a snobby wagon. In case anyone had forgotten, Jessica and Elizabeth are SPECTACULARLY beautiful, with their tumbling locks of spun-gold hair and sparkling, twinkling, glittering aquamarine eyes.

They had the kind of looks that make California girls famous around the world. 

And the kind of relatability that...nope, I got nothing.

There's a new dude in town, he's blonde and tall and handsome, his name is Jeffrey French and both Enid and Lila have the hots for his Oregon farm-boy ass. Jessica brings Lila across the lawn to introduce her to him and Enid is raging, even though she was getting all cosy with Lila's fancy cousin Christopher just two books ago, but he seems to have disappeared into the ether. Elizabeth is determined not to let Lila "walk all over poor Jeffrey" (hey, you don't know what he's into, Liz) and is going to do her damnedest to get him and Enid together.

Also, the twins have this annoying fifteen year old cousin called Jenny who's coming to stay with them for two weeks and she simply idolises Jessica. Unfortunately for Jenny, Jessica can't stand her.

Thick glasses, unkempt hair, at least ten pounds overweight, and dressed in the most unflattering fuschia sweats, Jenny was, as far as Jessica was concerned, a mess.

Oh Jessica. The most problematic of faves.

"I'm on a diet," Jenny announced cheerfully. "I've made up my mind, just looking at you two. I want to be thin, too!"


Lila overheard Aaron Dallas mentioning that he and Jeffrey will be at Casey's ice cream parlour that evening, so she gets Jessica to come with her and they're crammed into a booth with Ken Matthews, Eddie Winters (Jessica's latest crush) and Jenny, who insisted on coming too and is currently horsing into a massive banana split, so Jessica is judging her internally, and generally being awful. Eddie and Ken seem to get along with her though, and ask her about the book she took along with her, like normal, sound lads. Jeffrey and Aaron show up and they all squash into the booth so Lila can coo and purr and murmur at Jeffrey and she decides then and there to throw a pool party for the following day as a ploy to get her hooks into him. On the way home, Jenny lets slip to Jessica that Elizabeth is scheming to get Enid and Jeffrey together, so Jessica tells Jenny not to mention the pool party to Elizabeth, pretending like Lila never invites Liz to stuff and it'd only hurt her feelings, which keeps Liz and Enid out of the way.

The pool party is a smash, there's a cabana and a grill filled with sizzling hamburgers but Lila is annoyed, because Jeffrey is being all friendly and chatty with everyone there and he's not paying enough attention to her. Jessica is also failing to command the attention of Eddie Winters, as he's busy playing water volleyball and giving piggybacks to Jenny, despite the fact that Jessica is wearing a tiny bikini and aiming her hotness right at him all afternoon. The next day, Jenny inadvertently mentions the party to Elizabeth, because pretty much her only purpose in this book is to mistakenly rat each twin out to the other. Elizabeth is furious and tells Enid that she should go to the volleyball match that's on the following night and she'll make sure that Jeffrey joins her there. Eddie drops over to the house and Jessica is delighted, until Jenny inserts herself between the two of them again and keeps talking to Eddie about books and foreign films and what have you and Jessica decides that he's just a really good guy because he's just being polite in putting up with Jenny.

The next day at school, Elizabeth is sitting in the Oracle office with editor Penny Ayala, talking about how it's PTA Food Drive Week and what a great initiative it is. Hang on, why is Jenny coming to stay for two weeks when she should surely be in school herself? What's she doing all day? I'm not sure the ghostwriter thought this through. But back to Liz and Penny.

"It's hard to believe there are people in our own town who don't have enough to eat!" "I know" Penny said soberly. 

That's because you don't know any poor people. Aside from Tricia Martin, and she's dead.

Sexy ol' Roger Collins pops in and asks if one of them would mind staying on for Jeffrey French, as he's a photographer, and going to help the paper out with the supplement they're putting together for the food drive but he needs to be shown around the office. Elizabeth says she'll stay and Penny asks if she's sure.

Elizabeth laughed, making little shooing motions with her hands. "Go on, both of you!" she said lightly.

I 100% read that as "little shooting motions" the first time around and had a truly wonderful image in my head of Elizabeth doing finger guns, going "pew pew pew!" at Penny and Mr. Collins. So disappointed. Anyway, Jeffrey comes along and Elizabeth finds the way he looks at her "unnerving", but in a good way I guess? They actually get along really well and chat for ages and it's half five before Elizabeth remembers that she's supposed to be trying to set him up with Enid, so she starts going on about how wonderful Enid is and how Jeffrey should get to know her, although he's pretty obviously into Elizabeth. She tells him that she was supposed to go to the volleyball game with Enid that night and he should take her place, because she promised her mother that she'd hang out with Jenny for the evening. Jeffrey sort of noncommittally says it's a good idea and then asks if Liz wants to get a Coke with him at Casey's, but she fobs him off and can't figure why he seems disappointed. HE'S INTO YOU, DUMMY. "The kind of looks that make California girls famous around the world", remember?

Elizabeth sorta looks like she's staring right past Jessica on this cover, like her eyeline doesn't quite match up with Jessica's. No wonder Jess looks so pissed off. That and the fact that she's been been caught in a boring ass polo shirt.

However, later that night, Enid rings Liz all upset because Jeffrey never showed up and Liz finds out from Jenny (of course) that Jeffrey was at the Beach Disco with her, Jessica, Lila, Eddie, Roger and Olivia and that Lila was dancing with Jeffrey all night. Also, Jessica and Jenny are meeting Eddie on Friday night, and while Jessica is doing some leg lifts in her room (while listening to her Walkman, obvs), Jenny suggests that they go to the Plaza to see Wuthering Heights and goes on about how cute Eddie is, oblivious to Jessica's annoyance at the whole situation.

Back in school, Jeffrey comes over all chatty to Elizabeth, who's pissed off with him for going to the Beach Disco instead of the volleyball game like he never actually said he would. He explains that Lila asked him to come to the disco, and told him that Jessica was taking Jenny there to show her around, so he assumed that meant Liz would be there too. Liz is bewildered, nay FLUMMOXED by this and in the meantime, Enid is flailing around trying to think of a way to get Jeffrey to notice her, because Lila is campaigning hard and already bought him a new camera and tripod, which he won't accept. There's a charity auction coming up at school as part of the food drive, where the students bid with cans of food, so Enid cooks up a plan to get Elizabeth to convince Jeffrey to offer a date with him as an auction item and then Enid will make sure to be the highest bidder. Elizabeth agrees to the plan and gets Jeffrey on board, but feels like a dope because she reckons he thinks she's doing all this as a roundabout way to go out with him herself.

The day of the auction, Enid asks if Jessica and Lila can help to pack the food cans to be taken to City Hall when the auction is over, and Lila's like "You mean actually putting them in boxes?", because bitch please, as if Lila has ever packed in her fabulous life. They quickly make up excuses why they can't help out, which keeps them out of the way for the auction and it's actually pretty impressively sneaky of Enid. When Jeffrey's date night comes up, Caroline Pearce and some other bird called Stacie are bidding back and forth until they get to twenty five cans, when Enid steps in and bids seventy five. Way to play it cool, E.

But whatever about that, the other items up for auction are the best part of this bit. Well, two of the other items. Namely, "a voucher for a homemade dinner cooked by none other than Mr. Collins", because that man genuinely doesn't know the meaning of the word APPROPRIATE and "a candid snapshot of Bruce Patman in a bathing suit" HOLY FUCK WHAAAT. Unfortunately we don't find out who won the bidding on either of those, so we'll never know who spent a cosy underage evening with sexy Roger Collins or who publicly bought Bruce Patman wank material.

On Friday night, Jessica is being driven up the wall by Jenny on their night out with Eddie and feeling like he's ignoring her and just talking about dumb mystery novels and dumb classical music with her dumb cousin. They end up at Dairi Burger, where Jessica just sits quietly "sipping angrily at her Diet Coke" while the other two chat, (I don't know how exactly you can sip angrily, but if anyone can do it, it's Jessica Wakefield) until she sees Enid and Jeffrey out together and discovers the whole auction plan. WHO CARES, ask about the Bruce photo and the sex-dinner! PRIORITIES, JESSICA. Anyway, Enid and Jeffrey's date is going reasonably well, in that he's polite and attentive, but they're not clicking and Enid accepts that there's nothing there between them.

On Sunday there's a big beach party as the final event for the Food Drive week, although I'm not sure how a bunch of fancy teenagers hanging out at the beach trying to fuck each other helps the poor of Sweet Valley, but what do I know. Enid tries to tell Elizabeth that it's not going to happen between her and Jeffrey and they should drop it, but for some reason Liz insists that she doesn't give up and arranges for Jeffrey to take a bunch of photos of Enid for a profile about her, as she's head of the student committee for the food drive. These kids, they're all on committees and president or chairman of this and that, just chill with the bureaucracy would ye. Anyway, Elizabeth drags Jeffrey away from the dancefloor and a fuming Lila Fowler and it's really awkward when she lumps him and Enid together and runs off. Jessica then confronts Elizabeth about her scheming against her and Lila and they have it out over all the shenanigans each of them pulled. Then Enid gives out to Elizabeth for trying to force her and Jeffrey together and then Jeffrey gives out to her too for playing games with him and trying to decide who he should go out with, so everyone is mad at poor, beautiful Liz.

While she's crying all alone further down the beach, Jessica comes over and patches things up, and also makes Elizabeth realise that she totally fancies Jeffrey. She also reveals that Eddie is currently slow dancing with Jenny and he's a lost cause. Jenny is fifteen and Eddie is a senior, so that makes him around seventeen, yeah? Hm. HMM. Elizabeth and Jessica rejoin the party and Jenny tells them that Eddie is coming to Dallas to visit her after she goes home. Jenny is eating a hot dog and Elizabeth makes a comment about how being in love is meant to make you lose your appetite, but Jenny says they're just friends.

"Love is too stupid," she added licking a bit of mustard off her hand.

I am HIGHLY suspicious of this seventeen year old dude arranging to go all the way to Texas see a clearly very immature fifteen year old girl that he's "just friends" with. I'M WATCHING YOU, EDDIE WINTERS.

Anyway, Elizabeth then finds Enid and apologises to her and they make up, and then she goes and does the same with Jeffrey, only their conversation ends with a heap of smooching on the dancefloor and Elizabeth Wakefield is now OFF THE MARKET, DUDES.

Notable outfit: 
This one is notable because it sounds fucking awesome.

Elizabeth couldn't believe the way Lila was acting. First of all, she was dressed inappropriately for a picnic on the beach. Her one-piece, white jumpsuit would have been more suitable on a Hollywood set. And those gold-spangled high heels were just too much.


Things I counted:
Number of pages: 134
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 5
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 3

Amount of times people blush: 17
Amount of times Jenny's weight is brought up: 7 (Not gonna lie, it's pretty bleak.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Jealous Lies

Hi! Barcelona is super fun and pretty! But perhaps more importantly, GET A LOAD OF THIS SHINY ASS BOMBER JACKET. I can actually feel those stretchy, striped cuffs on my wrists.

Sweet Valley High #30: Jealous Lies

The Wakefields are having breakfast in their lovely, tastefully decorated split-level home, and by the time we've gotten to page five Alice's eyes have been twinkling, Ned's have been crinkling and Elizabeth has been winking, so we're off to a great start already. Steven is coming home soon for a whole week and Alice wants to plan something "really special" for his visit, even though he's always coming home, but whatever. Also, the fancy Pi Beta Alpha sorority that the twins are members of is having some important meeting to discuss new pledges and I still don't understand why a high school has a sorority. The meeting is happening at Lila Fowler's house, as she's the pledge chairman. Man, I don't know, let's just go with this whole thing. At the meeting, Sandra Bacon is sitting towards the back, thinking about how average and unmemorable she is, compared to her bff Jean West, who is gorgeous, plays the flute, is a fabulous dancer, a great cheerleader, an A student, a great cook and never wears jeans. However, Jean isn't in PBA, and Sandy wants to keep it that way, as it's the one thing she has that Jean doesn't, but everyone expects her to nominate Jean when her turn comes so she can't back out. Sandy needs to chill the fuck out, she's a cheerleader and in this stupid posh sorority so she's obviously cute and skinny, considering the emotional torture that very group put Robin Wilson through when she wanted to join back when she was chubby.

A quick aside about how much these girls' names bother me. I love some nice crispy bacon, like any sane person, but Sandy Bacon sounds like there's all bits of gritty sand on my lovely rashers and now I can't eat them. Jean West just makes me think of John West, i.e. the tuna and I don't like fish, so these two dumb names just immediately make me think of ruined rashers and smelly cans of tuna and those two things are just upsetting. It's making me want to refer to Sandy as Crispy Bacon instead and I'm just not going to use Jean's full name ever.

So. Crispy nominates Jean as expected, and now has to be her sponsor, to get her through the pledge period. The following day, the two of them are chatting in the school swimming pool between practising water ballet routines, because OMG OF COURSE Sweet Valley High has a synchronised swimming class! Yes! Crispy reassures Jean that she'll ace whatever challenge the pledges have to do, which is a big lie because Crispy is already plotting against her friend. The pledges all have to bring an assigned dude to a party, and Crispy is trying to think of someone who'll turn Jean down, which is a tall order, considering how totally wonderful she is at everything. However, while at lunch with Elizabeth and Winston Egbert, Winston mentions that he ran into Tom McKay that morning and he was really glum because he tried to talk to Jean and was given the brush off. "He was good and mad, to tell you the truth." How dare Jean not give him her full and undivided attention when he starts up a conversation, uninvited! Like, fuck this guy. Maybe she was busy dude, put your pants back on. In any case, Crispy sees this as a perfect opportunity to throw an obstacle in Jean's way, and suggests to Lila that she be assigned to bring Tom as her date to a party at Cara's.

The last girl he'd gone with was Jessica Wakefield, and a few people joked that she had turned him off the female sex forever, having strung him along until someone better came along.

Ha! Although at the end of that particular book, Tom was hooking up with Sexy Patsy Webber, who seems to have disappeared from the face of Sweet Valley. Jessica probably murdered her.

Lila suggests to Jean that she should watch some tennis match that Tom is playing and then talk to him afterwards and tell him how brilliant he is. She then ruins Crispy's sabotage plan by wingwomaning Jean into inviting Tom as her date to Cara's party, and Jean tells Crispy that she's actually really starting to like Tom after properly talking to him.

Back over at the Wakefield house, Steven is home and the family are having dinner together. Once Jessica is done admiring her hot brother ("she couldn't help thinking how good Steven looked"), he announces that he's planning to leave college and go working on a cruise ship called the Bellefleur, owned by his roommate's father. Ned and Alice freak out and Steven storms off, so Elizabeth suggests that they try reverse psychology on him and act like they're all on board (I'm sorry) with the idea. They were going to throw a totally pointless surprise party for him while he was home so now they're going to make it a bon voyage party instead and Ned reckons that dropping out will lose its appeal if they don't put up any opposition. Okay, sure.

Meanwhile, Crispy is plotting again and drops into The Tennis Shop, where Tom works, under the pretence of buying tennis shoes for her mother. She then drops some not so subtle hints that he's been invited to the party that night as a task for Jean and then runs off crying guilty, salty tears. Tom had started to really like Jean, so he's pretty stung by it all and decides he's not going to let her make a fool of him. Jean is getting ready for the party and looking forward to seeing Tom, but over an hour after he was supposed to pick her up, he calls her and says he's not feeling well but he'll be over soon. Then at around ten, at which point the party is in full swing and poor Jean is still hanging around a home waiting, he calls again and says he's in hospital with food poisoning. So she heads off to the party alone and super late and is the only pledge who has failed in her task. Crispy then sells her out in front of the rest of the sorority and suggests that she should check Tom's story out and call the hospital. Of course, he's not there and then everyone knows that she's been stood up and made to look like an asshole. Jean tells the sorority girls that she's going to get revenge on him by acting like she believed his story, making him start to care about about her, getting him to come to the school dance on Friday as her date, and then, because it'll be the day of her and Dana's birthday, they'll start the dancing and she'll invite some other guy to dance, making HIM look like the asshole. Jessica loves the plan, obviously, and Lila and Cara agree that it'll be her substitute task, but then Crispy pipes up and says it's not fair to break the rules for Jean, so the two friends end up having a row.

♪ Look at meee/I'm Sandy B/dressed up like a Pink Ladyyy

While the row is going on, Steven is talking to Cara, who has been prepped by Jessica to be cool with his cruise ship decision. When he told her about it first she was really upset, and now that she's acting like she's fine with it and that they should go their separate ways because long distance relationships don't work, Steven gets all huffy and storms off. He does that a lot in this book. The next day, Jessica brings him a bunch of brochures about the Far East and goes on about all the great presents he'll be able to buy her on his travels. Ned and Alice have also been playing along, and Ned landed him with a heap of paperwork to sort out health insurance policies and stuff for when he leaves college. Steven tells Jessica that he and Cara are breaking up and Jessica quite rightly points out that he just dropped this bombshell on Cara and expected her to wait around for eight or nine months at a time before she'd see him, without even talking it through with her first. The ridiculous plan seems to be working though, as Steve is starting to question his decision to go.

Jean is feeling sad about her row with Crispy. She only wanted to join the sorority in the first place because she felt like the two of them were drifting apart and she wanted to spend more time with her friend. In the meantime, she gets started on her revenge plan for Tom and calls over to his house with a bag of get well soon presents, laying on the fake concern and generally being super nice to him. Tom is totally caught off guard and figures that she must really like him and they arrange to have lunch at school the next day. While at school, Crispy begs Jean for forgiveness, but instead of just coming clean about her weird jealousy, she says that she only did what she did because she's afraid the other girls will accuse her of favouritism and says that she's been put under loads of pressure from the other members since nominating Jean, and then they make up.

At lunch, Tom surprises Jean with a picnic and she acts like she loves it, even though she's kinda being a lil bitch about it. "This guy is off his rocker, Jean thought with disgust as she sat down." Even though she apparently hates picnics, she has a nice time talking to Tom about their respective brothers and even momentarily forgets that's she's supposed to be exacting revenge on him. That evening he wants to take her somewhere he thinks she'll love and surprises her with a trip to some amusement park at Clinton Falls, wherever that that is. He's really starting to care for Jean but he's slightly worried that they're too different and she's too sophisticated for him. However, Jean is afraid of heights and apparently hates this surprise even more than the picnic, but he takes her on the Ferris wheel and holds her hand and the view is so amazing at the top and she realises this is so special to him that they start shifting. Also, he pays an entrance fee to get into the park and then has to buy tickets for the Ferris wheel once they're in, and I have to say Tom, this special park of yours is a fucking rip-off.

Back at school, Elizabeth is at a lunch table with Cara, Jessica, Lila and Jean, and Lila goes through Jean's plan for Tom at the school dance, which is all news to Elizabeth.

She frowned at Jean, thinking that it hardly seemed fair to get back at Tom in front of the whole school. But she wouldn't have dreamed of saying anything in front of all the other girls. Besides, she didn't know Jean well enough to intrude.

As if that stopped her literally every other time she's stuck her oar into other people's business uninvited.

In any case, Jean is feeling bad about her plan for Tom and doesn't think she can go through with it because she really likes him now. They're hanging out in the back garden of his house and he confesses that he didn't really have food poisoning and she admits that she was bringing him to Cara's party as part of her pledge task and that she feels awful about it. When she asks why he stood her up, Tom tells her that Crispy had called into the shop and dropped a bunch of hints about the task and Jean realises that Crispy has been plotting against her all this time.

In school, Elizabeth is proofreading her Eyes and Ears column in the student lounge, when Crispy bursts in, looking upset because she thought the room would be empty. She sits down and Elizabeth mentions that Jean's revenge plan is a bit lousy, whereupon Crispy bursts into tears and says it's not Jean's fault and runs off. There's literally no point to this bit whatsoever, it's just an attempt to crowbar Elizabeth into a story line that doesn't involve her. Crispy ends up in Mr. Collins' classroom and confesses that she's done something terrible to someone she cares about, so he tells her that she either has to come clean and apologise or hope the other person doesn't find out.

Outside of class he was a great listener - and a wonderful shoulder to cry on.

Shoulder to cry on, lap to sit on, potayto potahto.

Steve tries to talk to Ned and Alice about whether he should take the cruise ship job or not and gets all huffy when they tell him it's his decision to make. So he's mad when they don't want him to go and he's mad when they're being supportive. He then calls Cara to talk it over with her and she's still pretending to be all breezy and also says it's up to him, so Steve gets all upset and decides to stay in college after all, thinking that none of them care about him anyway.

The night of the school dance rolls around and because it's on Friday the Thirteenth, it's got a spooky theme and everyone is wearing black.

Black crepe paper and forbidding-looking moons festooned the walls; papier-mâché black cats perched on the table where the punch was being served, and eerie music was playing. Students had to pass under a big ladder to enter the gym and the decoration theme of unlucky objects was carried out everywhere.

I have to say, I'm 100% into this theme and execution. Bravo, dance committee. 

Jean arrives with Tom and has decided that she's not going to go through with her plan after all, because she really likes him (despite the fact that she's hated every surprise he's organised for her thus far) so she's resigned herself to not getting into the sorority, sadly thinking that Crispy will get what she wanted after all. Dana and Jean are called forward to choose their dancing partners, Jean calls out Tom's name, and the sorority bitches are all really cross. They start giving out about Jean, saying she was leading them on and that she should be dropped from the pledge list for good. Crispy gets all upset and comes to her defence, saying that it was all her fault and that she was sabotaging Jean's efforts all along because she was jealous and to kick her out instead and let Jean join. While all this is going on, Jean's dance has ended and she's overheard the whole confession. The girls tearfully make up and the sorority decides to accept Jean and also to let Crispy stay because she's been punished enough. Also, Tom and Jean are in love now and everything is awesome. 

The following night is the surprise party for Steve at the Wakefield house. He comes into the room with Cara, everyone jumps out and there's a big bon voyage banner, so he announces that he's actually not going now. The twins are all excited and flip the banner over, so it says "Welcome Home, Steve!" instead and reveal that they'd all been yanking his chain the whole time, because it had to be his decision, YES WE KNOW, JESUS.

Notable outfit: 
Tragically, the amazing (and suuuper flammable-looking) sorority bomber jackets aren't actually mentioned in the book at all, otherwise it would obviously be all about them here. Instead, when Jean calls over to Tom's with the care package for his fake food poisoning, she dresses in an outfit that she thinks he'll like, i.e. cute, simple and outdoorsy. 

She had taken special pains getting dressed, finally selecting a pair of linen walking shorts and a Fair Isle cotton sweater.

I looked up Fair Isle jumpers and they're actually pretty nice, but boy do linen walking shorts sound terrible.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 135
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 4
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 1 (ONE? Not nearly good enough. I could have FORGOTTEN they were blonde, for GOD'S SAKE.) 

Amount of times Steve storms out of a room: 3

Friday, April 01, 2016

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Bitter Rivals

Hello hello hello! It all went a bit tumbleweedy there, as I've sorta got a bit of real life job uncertainty going on with the last while, so during my down time I'd really taken to doing a lot of sitting around feeling anxious, as well getting into Jane The Virgin on Netflix, because my god that show is adorable and funny and full of lovely sorbet colours and attractive people. So due to the overriding feeling recently being quite upside-down-smiley-face-emoji I wasn't really in the form for blogging. (Also, I'm legging it to Barcelona for a few days next week, so I most likely won't get a post up then either.)

However, some questions needs answering and WILL ELIZABETH BE FORCED TO CHOOSE BETWEEN AMY AND ENID? is most definitely one of them. So let's find out.

Sweet Valley High #29: Bitter Rivals

The book begins, as so many of them do, with the Wakefield twins just hanging out by the pool and being devastatingly sexy. This time Enid Rollins is with them and the topic of conversation is the exciting news that Elizabeth's childhood friend Amy Sutton is moving back to Sweet Valley. Enid is worried that Amy mightn't like her and Jessica quietly wonders how it'll all pan out, because "when you're as big a wimp as Enid Rollins, why look forward to meeting someone vivacious and fun?" It's gas how much Jessica hates Enid, when she has been nothing but nice to her, even after Jessica completely screwed her over in the second book for absolutely no good reason.

At school, people are excited about Amy's arrival too, although Lila Fowler remembers her as being "clumsy and tomboyish" so she's not that pushed really. In any case, Lila's cousin Christopher is coming to town too and according to her he's "the world's most fabulous man" (slightly weird, but ok Lila) so she's throwing a big fancy dress party in his honour.

In the meantime, Jessica and Cara have started writing a dating advice column under the name of Miss Lovelorn for The Oracle. Once their first column is written and off to the printer, Jessica tells Cara that she's desperately in love with Jay McGuire, a six foot blonde dude with green eyes in her French class. The only problem is that Jay is going out with Denise Hadley, a redheaded knockout who's a year older than him, so Jessica decides to use their column to "get a message" to Jay, i.e. scheme to break up his relationship somehow. That's So Jessica.

On Saturday morning, Elizabeth is heading out to meet Enid at the beach when the telephone rings. It's Amy, and the Suttons have moved into their new house a day early so they're already in Sweet Valley. Elizabeth races over in the red Fiat Spider to see her right away and they reunite and hug and tell each other how beautiful they've each become. (For real.) Elizabeth invites Amy to stay the night at her house so they can catch up properly, and they're on the way back over when Elizabeth suddenly realises it's half eleven and she was supposed to meet Enid an hour ago. Thinking she might have just gone back home, Elizabeth calls Enid's house but there's no answer, so instead of just driving out to the beach and inviting her back to the house instead, she just does...fuck all.

She thought about getting in the car and running over to the beach to see if Enid was still there, but it seemed unfair to Amy. Enid will understand, she told herself, not feeling entirely sure she was right but not certain what else to do about it, either.

This is such a dick move, Elizabeth.

The twins and Amy have a blast talking and giggling all evening and Jessica and Amy get on even better than before, particularly when Amy tells them all about this guy called John Norton that she was seeing back in Connecticut. Elizabeth thinks that Amy is a little "boy-crazy", because all sixteen year olds should be in super serious long term relationships, I guess, but Jessica gets her and thinks she's the craic. The following day, Elizabeth decides that brunch at the Pancake House with Amy and Enid will be the perfect way to introduce the two girls, so she calls Enid to beg forgiveness for standing her up at the beach. Enid relents and agrees to meet them for pancakes. Amy wears a black jumpsuit to brunch, looks super glam and only orders a grapefruit and black coffee, declaring that she absolutely hates herself if she weighs "a single ounce over one-hundred and ten pounds" and kinda sounds like an absolute dose. Although to be fair, Enid isn't exactly setting the place on fire with her sparkling conversation skills and all she does at first is flatly say "sounds like you two had a lot of fun" while Amy and Liz reminisce. Enid thinks Amy is a total airhead but keeps it to herself and also reckons that Amy isn't exactly enamoured with her either. They're both tough going in their own way.

At school, Amy is a hit and is surrounded by people all day long, but she and Jessica are getting along so well, it's Jessica that's been showing her around and introducing her to people and Elizabeth is feeling a little bit jealous. She thinks Jessica is wasting Amy's time by going on about the sorority and cheerleading and gossip about boys, despite the fact that it's pretty clear that Amy is more interested in all of that than getting a tour of the Oracle offices. Liz thinks it's all "trivial" and she could really do with lightening up and being less judgy, I mean you're sixteen, trivial shit is where it's at. In the words of Eddie Murphy, have a Coke and a smile and shut the fuck up. Anyway, Elizabeth and Enid had been planning a weekend ski trip to Lake Tahoe with Enid's aunt Nancy who has a cabin there. They've already rescheduled it because it was originally going to be the weekend that Amy was moving back to town, so they settle on going the weekend of Lila's big party, because that works best for Nancy and Liz doesn't mind missing it. Enid asks Liz if she wants to invite Amy, but she only suggests it to be sound, as Liz hasn't copped that Amy and Enid haven't exactly hit it off and Liz is all excited and oblivious and this is surely all going to work out without any hitches whatsoever.

Meanwhile, the Miss Lovelorn column has printed two letters that week, one from a junior whose girlfriend is a senior and apparently really bossy and one from a senior with a younger boyfriend who's sick of her friends teasing her about it. How VERY convenient. Miss Lovelorn's advice to them both is to cut their losses and find someone their own age because she's definitely impartial and hasn't made the whole thing up in order to cause trouble between an actual couple who are happy together. Who does Jay McGuire even think he is, having a girlfriend when Jessica Wakefield wants to dry hump him in his car up at Miller's Point, as is her GOD GIVEN RIGHT. Get with the programme, Jay. Everyone at school assumes the letters are from Jay and Denise and Jessica even spots the two of them sitting together in the cafeteria looking miserable, so it's all going to plan.

Elizabeth catches up with Amy, who was supposed to meet her for lunch but forgot, and asks her if she wants to come skiing with her and Enid the following weekend, and Amy says yes but isn't the appropriate level of excited for Liz's liking and then dashes off when she sees Jessica and Cara, because they're taking her to check out cheer practice. Elizabeth is disappointed that Amy likes cheerleading and doesn't want to come with her to see the Oracle office (probably because that sounds REALLY FUCKING BORING, Liz. Just as well you're so much fun at parties. OH WAIT.) and wondering if she's doing something wrong.

She vowed then and there to improve her attitude, to be kinder and more generous with her friend. She was convinced if things were less than she'd expected, it must be her own fault.


Girls. We need to talk about these pants. I mean, did teenagers ever actually wear them? They look like something your rich middle-aged neighbour wore on holidays to Florida in 1987.
The following week on the way into school in the car, Jessica reveals that Amy is trying out for the cheer squad. "Elizabeth tightened her grip on the wheel", as if she's just found out Amy is boning Mr. Collins but then decides to come along to watch the tryouts and support Amy and makes it sound like the most magnanimous decision anyone has ever made. Amy nails the tryout routine and is announced as the squad's newest member. Elizabeth congratulates her and tells her that she's going to the mall to get ski gloves with Enid and asks if she wants her to pick up an extra pair for her. Amy sort of glazes over (which is ridiculous because when Elizabeth Wakefield is talking to you, you better PAY ATTENTION) and says yes before dashing off again, leaving Elizabeth feeling sort of downhearted about the trip.

Elizabeth meets Enid at The Ski Shop (seriously, just TRY to come up with a shop name, guys. Any name. Also, is there really a market for a shop dedicated entirely to ski stuff in a town where it literally never rains?) and they pick up gloves after laughing at a middle-aged couple struggling with a bunch of packages. Dicks. Elizabeth is meeting Amy at the Dairi Burger later that day, Enid almost comes too, but bails when she hears that Amy will be there, because she has her sussed as a vain bitch who's only using Elizabeth. When Elizabeth pulls up outside the diner, Amy jumps into the car, complaining that she's been waiting ages and asks for a lift home instead. Back at Amy's, she insists on giving Liz a makeover and piles a heap of makeup all over her beautiful, flawless, peaches-and-cream complexion like some kind of fucking vandal and talks about that guy John Norton and cheerleading the whole time. When Liz gives her the ski gloves and Amy realises that the ski trip is the coming weekend and will mean missing Lila's party, she tries to get out of it and asks if they can move it to the next weekend instead. Liz gets mad at her and Amy starts crying, so Liz says she'll talk to Enid about it, even though she's already feeling like she'd prefer if it was just her and Enid going.

As expected, Enid is unhappy about it and suggests that the two of them just go, but Liz feels like that'll finish off all that's left of the relationship that she and Amy seem to have left, even though Amy pretty clearly couldn't give a fuck about the whole thing, so it ends up being a bit frosty between Liz and Enid as it's not fair on Enid's cool aunt Nancy to ask her to reschedule again.

Meanwhile, Jessica sees Jay having lunch alone, so she casually drops into the seat across from him and finds out that things aren't going well between him and Denise. Jessica spring into action and suggests that they go get a burger on Friday night, to which Jay agrees. They go for dinner and to the cinema, and Jessica suggests the Sweet Valley equivalent of Netflix and chill, i.e. that they head up to Miller's Point to talk. However, when they get up there, Jay doesn't actually want to make out, so like a totally rational person, Jessica tells him that Denise is seeing someone behind his back and boom, they get down to business.

While Jessica is out, deceiving her way into getting the shift, Elizabeth is sitting at home after being stood up by Amy again. They were supposed to go see an old film at the cinema and it was Amy's idea, in an effort to make up for her not showing up for their last two lunch dates. Elizabeth starts to realise that Amy's actually kind of a geebag when she suddenly turns up at the door, all apologies and with some story about how her mother roped her into helping out with a last-minute dinner party, and Elizabeth isn't sure what to think anymore. Allow me. She's a geebag and you're a judgmental asshole.

The night of Lila's awesome party arrives and Elizabeth is going dressed as a skier in the gear that she was supposed to wear that weekend at Lake Tahoe (lame), while Jessica is dressed as Cleopatra (excellent). Elizabeth and Enid were supposed to drive to the party together, but when Amy needs a lift too, Enid says she'll make her own way there. Amy is dressed as a ballerina and has decided that she's in love with Lila's cousin Christopher, even though she's never actually met him before and she's kind of being a pain in the hoop about the whole thing. Steven Wakefield is there too, with Cara Walker and they've come as Raggedy Ann and Andy, Winston Egbert is in a plaid swimming togs and flippers, and Lila, glorious, wonderful Lila, is in costume as Lady Diana because FUCKING YASS QUEEEN. LILA YOU MAGNIFICENT BITCH.

Privately Elizabeth thought Jessica's costume was the most outstanding. [...] Lila, who had come as the Princess of Wales didn't look half as good, Elizabeth decided. 

You shut your fucking mouth, Liz.

Enid turns up and she's come dressed in ski gear too, so her and Elizabeth are as unimaginative as each other, they're perfect together. Lila grabs a microphone and introduces the crowd to her cousin Christopher, who is smokin' hot, six foot two and blonde with dazzling blue eyes. Lila tries to drag him over to meet Amy, but he makes a beeline for boring ol' Enid, because it turns out that they went to some sailing camp together a few years ago and are getting along like a house on fire. Jessica's date for the party is Jay, but he storms off when he sees Denise turning up with another dude on her arm. Amy is furious at Enid for taking up all of Christopher's attention, when he was apparently "reserved" for her (Lila's words) and butts in asking him to dance while he's on the floor with Enid. He humours her and goes right back to Enid afterwards, so Amy corners Enid later on in the night and we find out that she's threatened Enid before. She tells her to back off and that she can't steal Christopher like she was trying to steal Liz from her, she tells her she makes her sick and generally acts like a Grade A cunt. Enid tells her she's not going to make a scene because she cares about Elizabeth and Amy stomps off. Christopher is supposed to be bringing Enid home, but Amy finagles her way into getting him to bring her instead and slags off Enid in front of Liz and everyone is upset and angry.

Elizabeth is feeling super miserable the next day and neither Enid or Amy are at home when she tries to call them, so she confides in her mother about what's been going on. Alice points out that Amy has been super manipulative, that maybe Enid was keeping her distance to spare Elizabeth's feelings and that Amy was most likely treating Enid quite differently when Liz wasn't around and that Enid wasn't saying anything out of loyalty to Liz. Alice isn't like a regular mom, she's a cool mom. People think she's Elizabeth and Jessica's older sister, you know. Elizabeth drives over to Enid's house and they talk it all out and make up and Amy can do one.

Back to Jessica's scheme, and things haven't quite panned out the way she'd hoped they would. You see, Jay and Denise both ended up writing to Miss Lovelorn, explaining that they'd each had a big fight and misunderstanding with their other halves and want to get back together. Jessica thought she'd swiped the offending letters from the office before the weekend, but she took the wrong ones home, and they ended up being printed after all, so Jay and Denise each saw how the other was feeling and have gotten back together. And Jessica's lie about Denise cheating on Jay doesn't seem to come up at all or have any repercussions for her, because consequences are for peasants.

Notable outfit:
This one goes out to Jessica's Cleopatra costume, mostly because we got absolutely no details whatsoever about Lila's Diana outfit.

She was going to wear a white sheet, wound around her to make a long skirt, and a gold bandeau top that revealed her tan midriff and shoulders. With dark eye makeup and some exotic jewelry, Jessica knew she would look absolutely stunning.

She had even put glitter on her shoulders so they gleamed!

I love that Jessica pulled off a Cleopatra costume without even bothering with doing the hair right. Blonde Cleopatra ftw.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 138
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 10
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 4
Amount of times someone bites their lip: 16 (It's practically getting into Ana Steele territory there, take it easy, kids)

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Alone In The Crowd

Ok, I know that the last book was pretty much a snoozefest, but this one not only picks things up, it picks them up and has Jessica Wakefield emotionally torture them while she repeatedly tosses her glossy hair over her shoulder. What I'm saying is, it's much better craic.

Sweet Valley High #28: Alone In The Crowd

It's lunchtime in Sweet Valley High and the Wakefield twins, Lila Fowler, Cara Walker, Enid Rollins and Winston Egbert are all sitting together in the cafeteria, which seems unlikely really, seeing as Jessica can't bear Enid, Elizabeth thinks Lila is a snob and let's face it, Winston is probably an absolute dose to be around for any length of time. The cheerleaders need to fundraise for new uniforms and Jessica has been struck by inspiration, declaring to the table that they should have a rocking chair relay, where each squad member takes turns in a rocking chair and gets people to sponsor them for every half hour they rock while a big party goes on around them. It'll be called the Rock Around The Clock relay, Jessica's going to get the Droids to play and then she dashes off to check with the office about using the gym. Elizabeth sees her sister almost crashing into tall, quiet Lynne Henry on her way out.

Recently Elizabeth had been noticing the tall, reclusive junior and wondering what she was like.

So it's only a matter of time before Elizabeth overhears or discovers something she shouldn't have and dangles it over Lynne's head until she confides in her. Tricking people into telling her their secrets is kind of Elizabeth's thing.

Meanwhile, poor ol' Lynne is just trying to get through the day. She feels lonely and awkward and during class she daydreams about playing her guitar and writing songs. Lunchtime sucks in particular because she feels really self conscious eating alone, but no one ever talks to her and she feels like a nobody. :((((((

Then, just when I'm about to declare the students of Sweet Valley High to be Total Dicks, Guy Chesney, the keyboard player from The Droids strikes up a conversation with Lynne while she's walking home from the bus stop. She finds it really easy to talk to him and they chat about music and liking Linda Ronstadt and when Lynne reaches her house, Guy says that it was good talking to her, so Lynne is delighted. At home, it's just Lynne and her super glam mother, as her father died when she was three. Her mother Jade is a stone cold fox and runs a beauty spa called the Silver Door. She often urges Lynne to try contacts as her thick glasses hide her lovely eyes and when she suggests that Lynne comes to the spa with her on Saturday so some lady called Rhoda can do something with her hair, Lynne takes it the wrong way and says she knows she's "no beauty" and to leave her alone.

The next morning, she runs into Guy again while walking to school, they chat the whole way there and I get that Guy is supposed to come off like a super sound lad, but oh my god:

He was so forthright, so eager to talk about himself and his feelings.

Best of all he didn't press her or ask her questions.

She hated being put on the spot. But Guy didn't ask her anything, yet he listened carefully to everything she had to say.

WOWEE! A guy who just wants to talk about himself and doesn't ask her anything ever? Uh, jackpot? Anyway, next thing you know, Jessica Wakefield comes barreling into their conversation (which is either Guy talking or Lynne telling him how great he is) and beeps at them from the twins' red Fiat Spider. Her blonde hair is glinting in the sunlight and Lynne thinks she looks like a movie star and is in awe of her hotness and confidence. Jessica has been looking for Guy in her efforts to organise the band for the big dance and fundraising event and tells him to hop in, totally ignoring Lynne. RUDE, JESSICA. He asks Lynne if she minds and tells her they'll talk again after school. By the way, Jessica flips her hair twice between getting their attention and pulling away with a "silvery peal of laughter", while various bits of her are "shimmering" and "sparkling" in the sunlight, like some kind of demented mermaid.

On Friday afternoon, there's a juniors softball game at Secca Lake (sponsored by Mr. Collins and Mr. Jaworski, whatever that means), so everyone heads out to either play on the team or doss around in the sun by the water. Elizabeth notices Guy talking to Lynne ("Lynne appeared to be listening attentively") and realises that she hardly recognised her at first because Lynne was smiling.

With a smile on her face and a sparkle in her eye, Lynne Henry was actually almost pretty!

ACTUALLY ALMOST PRETTY. My GOODNESS Elizabeth. Throw the girl a fucking bone, why don't you. At the lake, Guy hangs out with Lynne, who keeps internally beating herself up over almost everything she says and thinks he'll laugh at her if she tells him that she plays guitar and writes songs, as well as giving lessons at the Music Center. I like how we're continuing the Sweet Valley trend of giving places the most unimaginative names possible. (Previous excellent examples were The Designer Shop, The Sports Shop and The Tennis Shop.) Before the softball game gets underway, Dana Larson announces that The Droids are holding a song competition and the winner's song will be performed at their next gig. Lynne is super excited and decides to submit a song, but she's going to do it anonymously, what with her crushingly low self-esteem and all.

In the meantime, Lynne's mam is worried about her daughter and tries to get her to open up as it's painfully obvious how lonely and miserable Lynne is but she won't talk to her about how she's feeling and instead throws herself into working on her new song for the competition. It's called On the Outside Looking In, it's about Guy and it's emo as HELL.

Lynne is actually much cuter than Elizabeth on this cover. I mean, her glasses are veering slightly into Deirdre Barlow territory but that's a foxy hipster right there. The absolute bang of condescension off Liz though. Christ.

Jessica meets up with all the cheerleaders at Helen Bradley's house ("She's got a rocking chair, and we have to practice." What.) but arrives to find out that Helen's family are moving to LA and takes it personally that the cheer squad will be down by one member.

She was thinking that she was the one who had to suffer most when they had auditioned Annie Whitman, but she didn't dare mention it, not with Annie right in the room. The poor girl had tried to commit suicide when she hadn't made the squad. Everyone had gone almost crazy with fear and worry. Finally they expanded the squad and let her on. The last thing Jessica wanted was to go through something like that again.

Well maybe this time don't bully the girls who are trying out to the point that they TRY TO KILL THEMSELVES. JESSICA.

On Wednesday morning, Lynne tries to sneak into The Oracle office without being seen, so she can submit the cassette with her song on it, but Elizabeth is coming out when she opens the door. Lynne lies and says she got the wrong room and scurries off around the corner until Elizabeth is gone, so she can drop in the tape unseen. A few days later, The Droids play all the tapes for a crowd out on the lawn and everyone is stunned by Lynne's downer of a song. Hers is one of the "richest, throatiest, most gorgeous voices they had ever heard" and Guy is suddenly desperate to find the girl who wrote this amazing song. He and Lynne walk home from school again and he tells her all about the spectacular song they found and plays it for her on his Walkman. Guy gushes about how great this mystery girl is and says that playing backup for her would be like playing with Linda Ronstadt. Lynne decides that he expects the girl to be a knockout like Linda too and figures that he'd only be disappointed if he found out it was actually just plain ol' her. (Full disclosure, I had to look up Linda Ronstadt because they kept banging on about her in this book and HOLY SHIT that girl was beautiful. Like a Seventies Katy Perry and giving me serious fringe envy to boot.)

Everyone at school wants to know who the mystery singer-songwriter girl is and at the Beach Disco, Guy asks Elizabeth if she has any idea who she is, because she's such a good reporter. But Liz has no leads and feels terrible for Guy, as she reckons he's after falling in love. While everyone is at the disco, Lynne is at home with the place to herself and fed up with feeling shitty about her appearance, so she takes a bath, plucks her eyebrows and tries on a jumpsuit that her mother bought for her but was never worn. I actually remember reading this particular book as a young wan and my two prevailing memories of it are thinking, "Rhoda? What kind of name is that?" and being baffled by the idea of a jumpsuit. I asked my mam to explain what this exotic American piece of clothing was, but came away even more confused because my only frame of reference for an all-in-one trousers and top combo were the overalls that people wore for painting, or the flourescent yellow ones my parents wore on Civil Defence exercises and neither of those were particularly glamorous. Anyway, Mrs. Henry comes home unexpectedly and sees Lynne with her makeshift makeover and Lynne bursts into tears, thinking she looks stupid. Jade hugs her and tells her she looks wonderful. Lynne wants to go to the Silver Door after all because she's tired of being such a mess and her mam says of course but also reassures her that looks aren't everything. "What matters is feeling good about yourself - really good about yourself." Jade is sound.

On Saturday morning, Elizabeth heads to the Music Centre (I can't stick with the American spelling, it looks weird) to buy a Billie Holiday record. While she's dawdling around afterwards, what does she hear? Only the voice of the mystery girl, giving a lesson to a kid, so of course she barges in to see who it is and interrupts the class. Lynne pleads with her not to tell anyone and when Liz tells her that The Droids are freaking out and want the writer to perform the song with them, it only strengthens her resolve, because she's too scared to perform in public. Elizabeth figures out that Lynne is super into Guy Chesney and that the song is about him, and Lynne explains that he's expecting a hottie like Linda Ronstadt to be behind the song and that she'll only disappoint him. Elizabeth thinks Lynne isn't giving herself a chance but promises to keep her secret.

It's the night of the Rock Around The Clock relay and the event is a huge success. Most of the kids have come dressed in Fifties style outfits (Jessica is wearing a skirt with a poodle on it! Elizabeth has come dressed in black calf-length slacks and a sleeveless white blouse like a total fucking buzzkill), the Droids are playing and the place is hopping. The band end up playing Lynne's song and Elizabeth talks to Guy afterwards, who's going out of his mind wondering who wrote it. Elizabeth tells him he's got to stop looking for her and tells him the girl doesn't want to be found out, because she's really shy. Well done keeping that secret, Liz. Guy keeps asking questions and Elizabeth tells him that this girl thinks everyone's expecting Linda Ronstadt or something. Guy immediately realises who the girl is, but Elizabeth can't figure out how. While all this is going on, Lynne herself is in the next town at the Silver Door with her mother and ends up telling her all about the song and Guy and they end up bonding during her makeover and it's all quite lovely really.

On Monday morning, Guy meets Lynne on the way to school and tells her she looks terrific. (She's wearing contacts and "sleek black jeans, a white t-shirt and a crayon-bright cotton vest" instead of her usual ill-fitting jeans and baggy jumpers.) He tells her that The Droids are announcing the winner of the song competition, that Outside Looking In has won and that the mystery has been solved. Lynne's like "wuh?" and Guy explains that his father's friend is a police sketch artist, so he described the singer to him as he pictures her and the drawing is going to be on a flyer that'll be distributed all over school. This is all just so unnecessary. Lynne feels terrible that Guy is hung up on an imaginary girl, but then at lunchtime, everyone in the cafeteria is congratulating her and telling her she's deadly. Lynne is all confused until she sees the flyer with the song printed on it, along with a drawing of her face. Guy appears, begs her to sing for them and drags her in front of a microphone that's in the cafeteria for some reason. This is the New Lynne Henry now though, the one in eyeshadow and espadrilles, so she sings in front of everyone while Guy plays along on guitar and she gets a massive round of applause. Then Guy brings her out to the deserted patio and shifts the face off her. Everything is solved by a blowdry and new clothes, hooray!

Notable outfit:
It's got to be Lynne's jumpsuit, mostly because I have such strong memories of being bamboozled by the idea of it.

At last she chose a cotton jumpsuit in a bright royal blue print. 
She layered the jumpsuit over a t-shirt, tied a sash around her waist and and even found a pair of her mother's earrings that didn't look half bad. 

Outrageous. Truly truly truly outrageous.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 136
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 5
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 3
Amount of times Linda Ronstadt's name is mentioned: 11

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Algorithm Of The Night

GUYS! Guess what! It's a guest post! My excellent friend Tess (who graciously endured the Fifty Shades film in the cinema with me) has something to get off her chest. She's been navigating the murky waters of the Dublin dating scene over the past few years and she has had it up to HERE. My girl is tired of being messed around and as such, has written this report from the trenches. Strap yourselves in.

Hundreds...nay, thousands...nay, millions of words have been written, typed and scrawled about dating. I think the general feeling amongst the masses is this:

It. Is. A. Fucking. Mine. Field.

And I for one am ready to hand in my blast helmet and protection vest.

I have spent countless hours and days with my friends talking about the scene in Dublin. They think I'm cynical and too picky, but I just can’t be arsed with the games and the bullshit anymore. I don't want to just give out my number to the first guy who asks for it, or offer it up to just anyone online. I have gotten random texts from dudes months after we parted ways, looking for casual hook up sex, (more on that later) but for now take it that I have a bullshit filter and I haven’t got the the time or energy to waste on ‘casual dating’ or ‘casual sex’. And since when is sex actually casual? Especially one night stands. For me, these have only led me into a month of torment and prayer, waiting for that ‘oh thank fuck, I’m not preggers’ relief only the appearance of your period brings. No matter how safe I am, that is the only way I will truly believe that I haven’t been impregnated by last night's mistake. He could have doubled up and I could be on the pill and have gone through the absolute mortification of going into the local pharmacy (yet again) to get Plan B, it is only until the red shows that I will fully believe it!

Am I alone in this?

Anyway, I digress. Every now and then I’ll whip out Tinder and swipe right a few times and get matched with someone, hurray! But then I'm met with radio silence. Seriously lads, whats the fucking point if you're not going to bother your arse engaging? Ok, I guess I could be the one to start the conversation and I do sometimes, but seriously do I have to do it every time?

Now I get what Tinder is, I know it’s superficial, I know it’s based on looks alone, I know all of this. I’m under no illusion that Mr. Right is waiting for me through an algorithm. But there is that part of me that thinks maybe this time it will be different. And every now and then you have a chat with someone who actually comes across well, you have a good bit of banter with them, and you think "Ok this is promising, let's do this, let's meet up, go on a date and hey you never know." Maybe this time he won’t turn out to be the creep who follows me into the pub and sits at the bar alone sipping a pint without saying hello. The guy who just sits there thinking he’s well hidden from view and stares over at me and then when he’s called out on his antics, uses the fact that he had a few pints down him as an acceptable excuse for doing this. (In case you haven't guessed, this happened to me.) Anyone see that episode of Master of None where the girl gets followed home? Well this creep at the bar was my version of that!

So back to the date, you decide to go on it, the first one in like six months and you think all the things you think before a first date. i.e. "God I hope he’s not a creep and he is the actually person in the pictures and doesn’t catfish me or murder me and bring me to the Wicklow mountains" you know, the normal things. You get to the bar or cafe and he’s late (they are always late), eventually he shows up and this is when your gut tells you yay or nay! But instead, you get something in-between, 'cause fuck it you're 34 and you’re tired. So anyway you call off your pre-arranged emergency phone call and think grand I’ll go through with the date. You get on well with the guy, he seems a nice enough chap, you talk for a few hours and it all goes really rather swimmingly.

It is at this point where I decide to give him my number and do the let's meet up again thing. We do meet again and we have sex this time and, well, this is where it all starts to fall apart. During the act he decides that it would be a good idea to...ah... choke me. Now I’m no prude, I’ll give anything a go at least once but the choking thing has never appealed to me. Ever. I squirm out of his hold and we continue, he flips me over, the charmer, and then decides to pull my hair. Not a gentle stroke that’s maybe a little too rough, oh no. He grabs a fistful and yanks it like a fucking horse's rein. Now it is at this point where I start to think “Hang on a second buddy, is this it? Is this your gameplay? Is this what you think a girl wants in bed?” And ladies, if that’s your thing then fine, I have absolutely no issue with it, IF it's your thing. And correct me if I’m wrong, but when it comes to that kind of kink in bed isn’t the polite thing to ask if it’s ok? Wait, scratch that, definitely ASK me if it’s ok!

Anyway, what’s sparked this rant about dating in Dublin and my frustrations, was a message I received last Friday from a dickhead I dated for half a second last October. We went on one date, it was fine, I mean he didn’t set my loins a-burning but he seemed grand, we met one more time and I slept with him but after that I decided I didn’t want to proceed with anything and told him so. He accepted graciously and we left it at “sure give me call sometime”, not thinking he would. However, on Friday morning this happened…

On what planet is ever ok to talk to another human being like that? To just dismiss them as a person and see them entirely as an object? To not make any effort whatsoever? To make me feel like all I am is a pair of tits, an arse and a vagina and to think that I would turn around and say "yeah sure, why the fuck not!" I’ll tell you why not, because I’m more than the sum of my parts. I have something to offer someone, more than a cheap shag. I have brains, a good job, amazing friends and I’m a fucking laugh. So no, dickheads of the world, I will not succumb to your bullshit proposals of “sexy fun time.” (What is he, twelve? What adult talks like that?) If you want me, find me. I’m done making the effort. I’ve been doing it for the last four years and I can’t be bothered with ye anymore.

An artist's impression of Tess right now. via

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Lovestruck

Every time I read the title of this book, my brain immediately goes to that Madness song from 1999 and fills in the rest with "...I've faaaallen for a lampost". Anyone else? No?


Sweet Valley High #27: Lovestruck

Elizabeth Wakefield is trying to relax in the sun by the pool in the back garden on yet another perfect Sweet Valley day, much like how the last book began. However, Jessica won't shut up about all the work she has to do for the centennial celebration picnic that she's organising. This centennial thing has been going on since literally NINE BOOKS AGO when there was a really boring subplot about Bruce Patman getting voted president of the student committee for it. Jessica talks Elizabeth into helping her out by manning the kissing booth (Christ) and writing the copy for the posters.

"I mean a centennial only comes along once every hundred years."

That's right, Jessica. Very good.

There's also a big exhibition high school football game as part of the celebrations, but apparently Sweet Valley won't have a chance against Palisades (lousy Palisades, the Shelbyville to Sweet Valley's Springfield, the Eagleton to their Pawnee. Actually Sweet Valley is probably the Eagleton in this scenario) if Ken Matthews can't play. He's failing English you see, and the kids that play football have to keep their grades up in order to stay on the team, so no pressure Ken, but if you don't ace the next assignment then Sweet Valley will lose the game and in that case they might as well burn the whole place down and start over because Sweet Valley is NOT A LOSER TOWN.

The twins know about Ken's troubles because Bruce Patman told them about it for some reason, so Elizabeth calls Ken and offers to help him out with the short story he has to write for Mr. Collins. Ken is slightly annoyed at first, and asks where she heard about all this, to which Elizabeth replies "that doesn't matter", because it's none of your damn business how the Wakefields go about inserting themselves into your life. Ultimately, Ken is delighted with Elizabeth's offer to help him out and he's going to drop by the house that evening. We then switch to Ken's point of view as he's tying his shoelaces in the locker room after football practice. He's thinking about the meeting from two weeks before where his football coach and Mr. Collins went through his grades from the last while and came to the conclusion that he'll have to pass the next English assignment or he's off the team. Also, most inappropriately...

Bruce Patman was also there, and that seemed a little strange until Ken remembered that Bruce was the student president of the centennial committee.

Nope, it's definitely strange Ken. I kinda love how all the authority figures in this school haven't the faintest idea what they're at. "Let's have a classmate unnecessarily present while we go through your grades and detail how badly you're doing in English! It won't be humiliating at all and it's definitely integral to his role as student centennial committee president, because that's A Real Thing."

On his way out of school, Ken runs into his new girlfriend Suzanne Hanlon, who Elizabeth thinks is snobby, so I guess we're supposed to hate her. Everyone thinks they're a mismatched couple, because Suzanne likes classical music and can tell French dialects apart, whereas Ken likes the Rolling Stones and plays football, but she makes Ken happy, so everyone else can jog on. Suzanne invites Ken over for dinner that night to meet her parents. He hasn't told her about his failing grade and last ditch attempt to pass, because she's too fancy to understand it all and agrees to come to dinner later.

Ken drops over to the Wakefield house and Jessica immediately ropes him into being the boy half of the kissing booth for the picnic after the big game. He and Elizabeth then chat about his upcoming assignment, which is a short story, and how he's having trouble with it. Elizabeth suggests reading some good short stories for inspiration on how to structure one properly and then gives him a loan of one that she wrote, along with her notes and the outline and makes a big deal about it because she's never shown it to anyone before and she's trusting him with it now, like it's the One Ring.

Later that evening, Ken drives to Suzanne's mansion up on the hills where all the rich families live, mistakes the butler for her dad when he answers the door and generally has an evening of feeling awkward and out of place, particularly when Mr. Hanlon goes on a rant about how schools should spend more time on drama and arts rather than sport and producing "more stupid athletes." Ouch. This makes Ken sad and he starts to wonder if he's just a dumb jock, until Suzanne reassures him after dinner. He goes home and tries to make a start on his short story, but keeps faffing around, his typewriter is too loud, so he switches it off and then it's too quiet, he's got maths homework to do as well, so he does that first and then it's half ten at night. Suzanne calls him and invites him to the cinema with her friends the following night to see the Ingmar Bergman film The Seventh Seal and reacts in disbelief when he says he's never seen it and I'm starting to like her a lot less now. Ken's English homework is due in two days time though, so if he doesn't get it done right now then he'll have to do it the following night instead of going to the cinema. He knows all this but says yes anyway. Dammit Ken. Then he falls asleep at his desk and wakes up the next morning, knowing it's due the next day and he's still got nothing. DAMMIT KEN.

At school, Suzanne invites him to dinner with her mates before the cinema, but that will only leave him with an hour and a half between school and meeting everyone to get his short story written.

Ken knew he should say no, but as he looked at Suzanne's smile, he knew he couldn't.

SERIOUSLY, KEN. Oh and then it turns out that football practice is going to run late that evening in order to nail down their new plays for the game, so this whole day is going tits up pretty quickly for him. He goes to the film that night and thinks it's really boring, but all Suzanne's friends love it and talk about it afterwards like it's the best thing since Battleship (I seriously love Battleship, you guys. I may have to distill my stupid love of that stupid film into a blog post at some point). Anyway, her friends are terrible and make Ken feel like a dick for thinking that Ingrid Bergman was in the film.

Ken could see the utter distaste in the condescending look Mark gave him. "Don't worry Ken," he said. "People make that mistake all the time. The two of them look so much alike."

Fuck you, Mark.

Suzanne reassures Ken afterwards again, and says that her friends aren't any smarter than he is, they've just seen more "truly great" films than he has and that in a few months time he'll be familiar with all of Bergman's films. However, Ken would rather spend an evening stepping barefoot on upturned plugs than watch another Bergman film and it's becoming clear that Suzanne is more interested in changing Ken than in trying to do any of the things that he likes. Either way, Ken is back at home and now it's two in the morning and he's still trying to write his short story. Elizabeth's one is amazing of course, and Ken thinks about how easily writing comes to her and how she hasn't shown this particular story to anybody else. It's called The New Kid and is about a guy who moves from New York to Sweet Valley and it's all about how brilliant the town is. Ugh. After a quick bit of inner turmoil, he does what we've seen coming from the moment Liz handed it over and retypes the title page with his name on it, thinking that no one will ever know, because only Mr. Collins is going to see it.

The next morning, Ken runs into Liz in the school car park and she asks how his story turned out. Ken gets all weird with her and is about to come clean because he "just couldn't betray Elizabeth" but then Jessica bursts in between them to give out about Lila Fowler, who is going off to New York and leaving Jessica to organise the picnic alone, so Ken goes through with the plan and feels terrible about it. That evening there's a poetry event that Suzanne has put together for the centennial and Elizabeth is reading something at it. Everyone else's poem sucks, of course:

The girl sat down, and the audience, led by Suzanne, burst into applause. Elizabeth began to giggle. She knew how much the poem must have meant to the girl, but it just seemed silly. 

It would appear that those perfect Wakefield parents forgot to teach their perfect daughter any fucking manners. Elizabeth gets up and reads a poem about her mam and of course everyone wets themselves over how totally amazing it is and she finishes to a round of "full and sincere" applause because everyone else all night was just getting pity applause. She chats to Ken afterwards and he gets all squirrelly again when she mentions how relieved he must be to have handed in his story at school, so she starts to suspect that something might be up with him.

I love that the rich-girl uniform of Sweet Valley is floofy hair and old lady pearls. O-P-U-L-E-N-C-E. And look at Ken there. So conflicted and hyandsome.

A few days later, Elizabeth is in the school newspaper office finishing off her column for the centenary edition of The Oracle when Jessica bursts in (she does a lot of bursting into places in this story. I think it's her main mode of transport in this book) and she's in a state because the posters from the picnic have come back from the printers with the wrong date on them, because she was looking at the wrong month when placing the order so now she has to tipp-ex out the date and write in the correct one on a big heap of posters. This is not interesting enough for a subplot Jessica. More life-ruining next time, please.

Suddenly the editor, Penny Ayala, comes running into the office, declaring that she's got the perfect addition to the upcoming issue, a totally amazing short story that Ken Matthews has written! It turns out that Ken hasn't actually submitted it though, Mr. Collins just brought it in and handed it over to The Oracle staff without asking him first and now Penny has made copies for everyone to read in the staff meeting they're about to have. NOT COOL MR. COLLINS. Jesus, what is with these adults. Elizabeth reads the piece and realises Ken has stolen her story and tries to talk the staff out of publishing it at the meeting with some lame excuse about how they don't publish fiction, because she doesn't want to drop Ken in it without speaking to him first. Of course, the staff are hell bent on printing the story because it's "perfect", they're "awestruck", it's the most special and wonderful thing ever written (all of which functions as vicarious praise for Elizabeth's astounding writing skillz).

Elizabeth waits outside the boy's locker room to confront Ken, who then emerges lookin' all sexy.

His hair was wet and uncombed, and his shirt was hanging out of his pants. He looked as if he had just finished his shower.


A tenacious writer and truth-seeker like Elizabeth isn't swayed by hot quarterbacks though and asks him what the hell he's playing at, in a matter of words. Ken is duly ashamed and apologises to Elizabeth, explaining the pressure he's under and how he couldn't face what would have happened if he'd failed the assignment, that he was planning to come clean to Mr. Collins after the game and offer to write a new story. Elizabeth then informs him of the story's upcoming appearance in The Oracle and Ken's total despair at this news makes her feel sorry for him. He resolves to sort it out himself somehow and heads off with his handsome face "set in determination". Suddenly he's ambushed by Suzanne who's heard about his story and tells him how proud of him she is and starts babbling about how he could win some writer's competition where the prize is to go to a seminar in Yale and if he gives up football he'll have more time to focus on writing instead. All poor Ken gets to say during the whole conversation is "Suzanne-", "Yale?", "Drop football?" and a glum "Yeah" before she runs off all excited.

That evening, Ken goes home and sits in front of his typewriter. Suzanne calls him up and invites him to a centennial exhibit at the library, but he tells her he's got work to do and can't come and she immediately gets all mean and snappy and slams the phone down, pretty much making her an insta-villain. Ken gets on with typing as a story forms itself in his head and he ends up with five pages of a short story, all his own work. On Monday morning he catches Elizabeth on her way to the printers with the finalised edition of the paper and persuades her to swap out the stolen story with the new one he hands to her. She reads it and agrees and when the paper comes out, all anyone is talking about is Ken Matthews, because his story explains everything that happened and now rumours are flying that he's going to be kicked out of school.

Ken is summoned to the principal's office, where Coach Schulz and Mr. Collins are also waiting for him. (Bruce Patman must have been busy.) Ken explains everything and Principal Cooper tells him that normally he'd be given a failing grade in English and suspended for three days, but these are "extenuating circumstances" (i.e. we've got a game to win and rules don't apply to football players, which is definitely something that's never gone horrifically, appallingly wrong) and they're all super impressed with his honesty and bravery and the replacement story was so well-written that Mr. Collins is going to give it a C, even though it deserves an A, but it means he can still play in the exhibition match against Palisades. Yay. He runs into Suzanne afterwards, who gives him shit, saying he humiliated her and that she never wants to speak to him again. Ken is sad until he meets the rest of the football team and they all think he's great, so that cheers him up.

It's the day of the game and the centennial picnic and Jessica is in yet another crisis because she forgot to call back and confirm all the food with the caterers, so there's nothing to eat at the picnic now. After declaring that she's going to leave town and that it's the biggest disaster since the Titanic, (surprised she didn't throw her usual "137 kinds of.." into her outburst here, really) Jessica calms down, works out that she's got five hours to figure something out and decides that SHE'LL be the caterer. Elizabeth and Enid are at the game and it looks like it's going to be a tie between Sweet Valley and Palisades. Then there's a few pages of football, football, football, Ken does a thing and wins and everyone is delighted. There's a huge crowd around him to congratulate him and Suzanne turns up, asking him to forgive her and they kiss. Then she immediately starts bossing him around again and tells him to hurry up and change so they can go to some history lecture at the library and meet her terrible friends afterwards for dinner. Ken's like "eh, nope, I'm going to the picnic" and Suzanne tells him to grow up, that he doesn't really want to go. Ken tells her he's going and realises that he was never really in love with her after all and that she must not have been either because she kept trying to change him.

"You see, Suzanne, history lectures bore me, art films bore me, your friends bore me, and if you want to know the truth, I guess you bore me too."

DAMN, KEN. So that's that anyway. The picnic is in full swing, the decorations look great, The Droids are playing on the bandstand, because duh, and Elizabeth takes a break from the cold sore station, I mean kissing booth, where she "must have kissed a hundred and fifty guys this afternoon". In the meantime, the food at the picnic turns out to be peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and loads of crisps and Jessica has been hiding in the bushes because she thinks everyone is mad at her over it. Bruce comes over and finds her while she's talking to Elizabeth and pulls her up on stage. Jessica still thinks she's in trouble but Bruce makes an announcement that Jessica's cost-cutting measures for the food means that more money was raised for charity and isn't she brilliant for thinking of that, yay everything is great!

Notable outfit:
Thank GOD for Dana Larson, is all I'll say.

Dana Larson, the lead singer was wearing a red parachute-silk jumpsuit and prancing around the stage in a near frenzy.


Things I counted:
Number of pages: 160
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 1 (Shoddy.)
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 3
Number of Suzanne's mates with excellent names: 1 (His name was ALLAN PARTRIDGE!)

Thursday, February 11, 2016

I Dream Of Geena

If superhero movies twenty years ago were the massive industry that they are now, Geena Davis could have been a 1990s Captain Marvel or Batwoman. She's a six foot babe with cheekbones for days, does her own stunts and could punch a hole through a wall. However, despite the lack of superpowered crimefighting in her past roles, she's kind of a feminist superhero already.

I recently watched Cutthroat Island for the first time and it was a fucking HOOT. It's got excellent stunts! Solid action set-pieces! Morgan the lady pirate whose signature move is threatening to stab dudes in the dick! A hammy villain called Dawg chewing up all the scenery! Two gorgeous pirate galleons blasting the shit out of each other on the high seas! Admittedly this is coming from someone who watched Battleship three times last year and thoroughly enjoyed herself on every occasion, but all those points still stand. It ends and begins with Morgan post and pre boning a guy on her terms! There's one brief and particularly terrible bit of green screen, but all it really does is serve to highlight just how real and CGI-free all the terrific explosions and sets getting smashed up were. There's no Andy Serkis running around covered in ping pong balls here.

Apparently Michael Douglas turned down the role of William Shaw because the part was smaller than Geena Davis's, like, welcome to Women's Hollywood Since Forever, buddy. It's unfair that the film's legacy is that of sinking of the pirate movie genre until Jack Sparrow stumbled onto screens, because it's a lot more enjoyable than some of the thunderously mediocre Pirates of the Caribbean sequels. And what's more, it gets routinely described as one of the biggest box office failures ever and the reason why Geena Davis's career faltered shortly afterwards, but if you look up the list of flops and their estimated losses on Wikipedia, it's far enough down the list to have not one, but TWO Ryan Reynolds films ahead of it and, well, he's just a lovable scamp rather than box office poison, right? Hollywood double standards can do one.

In further fun, fast-paced feminist roles, The Long Kiss Goodnight is an excellent action film starring our girl as Samantha Caine, an amnesiac housewife who undergoes one of the greatest movie makeovers of all time as her former personality, that of CIA assassin Charly Baltimore begins to reassert itself. She goes from unthreatening nice suburban lady curls to platinum razor bob, Claudia Winkleman levels of eyeliner and top notch murder skills. She knocks a guy out with a lemon meringue pie, for fuck's sake! It's amazing! Plus she gives Samuel L Jackson's character some well deserved shit when he catcalls a woman out jogging and minding her own goddamn business. I only just re-watched it shortly before Christmas and I already want to watch it again.

And I can't possibly talk about Geena Davis without mentioning A League of Their Own. Loved it as a child, love it now, hate James Corden's stupid fucking sports panel show for using the name and never being the film when I see it on TV listings. Which is ALL THE TIME. The Rockford Peaches are #squadgoals levels of sisterhood, supporting each other, sneaking out to go dancing and shift soldiers and an excellent fancy dress costume to boot. THERE'S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL!

Aside from her feminist sport/action/pirate films, (and Thelma & Louise and Beetlejuice) Geena Davis also established an institute dedicated to highlighting the lack of female representation in films and television and is one of a handful of women to ever portray a female American president in her role in Commander in Chief.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is, can we just put Geena Davis in charge of Hollywood? Yeah?