Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Out Of Control

The other night, while looking through the bookshelves for something to read in bed, I came upon a Sweet Valley High book that I had recently bought while charity shop shopping. It was number 35 in the series, Out Of Control was the title and I thought to myself, "why yes, I'll have some of that". What followed was an immediate nostalgia buzz. The opening line was about Elizabeth Wakefield brushing her blonde hair, with the following pages repeatedly beating me over the head with the fact that she and her twin had the most amazing blue-green eyes OF ALL TIME.

I had already posted about the genetically superior Wakefields here, back when I first heard that Diablo Cody was writing a Sweet Valley High film and then I included Crazy Margo in my list of favourite lady villains here, but I wanted to write about them again. All those long denim-clad legs and peaches-and-cream complexions and insane storylines are just TOO DELIGHTFUL. Which is why I decided to track down as many books from the series as I can and review each one as I read them. They won't be in sequence, as I'll just be picking up whatever I can find, but hopefully that won't matter all too much.

So without further ado, here is the first installment of a shiny new series: Sweet Valley High Revisited!

Sweet Valley High #35: Out Of Control

We are introduced to the Wakefield twins in the usual style and assured of their golden blonde hair, dazzling blue-green eyes and matching lavaliere necklaces. I had to look up what exactly a lavaliere is and it would appear that it's just a fancy way of saying pendant necklace. (Thanks for making that unnecessarily confusing, Francine.) So once we've established what a pair of rides Elizabeth and Jessica are, it transpires that Jessica has decided to get involved in selling Tofu-Glo, a line of natural health and beauty products made from soybeans, which is IN NO WAY a scam.

Elizabeth drives to the school to watch her boyfriend Jeffrey at football training (well, soccer, if we're going to be all American about it) and "deftly" pulls the car into a parking space. I love how they felt the need to say how brilliant she is at parking, for not only are the Wakefields amazing at life, their spatial awareness is SECOND TO NONE.

Anyway, Jeffrey's teammate and best friend Aaron has been super cranky lately and keeps shouting at people for like, no reason and even though Elizabeth KNOWS that this is because his parents are splitting up, she moans about how much time Jeffrey spends with him and can't seem to get her head around why he's still friends with him. Eh, maybe because his best mate is having a really hard time at home, you insensitive wagon. She's also really mean to Aaron's girlfriend Heather, dismissing her as a vain, shallow twit based solely on the fact that she dresses well (too well for Elizabeth - "wasn't it a little elaborate for the Valley cinema?") and wants to be a fashion designer. Elizabeth is in no position to snark on what Heather wears. Just look at the state of her pants on the book cover.

Exhibit A.
Are those even pants? Either way that is one HIGH ASS waistband, woman.

Oh, and Heather has the nerve to try to be friends with Elizabeth, which seems to piss her right off. Doesn't she realise that it's up to The Glorious Wakefields to decide if you're worthy to be their friend, not the other way around? FOOLISH HUMAN. Elizabeth then proceeds to take the piss out of Heather behind her back by doing a cruel impression of her at Jessica's Tofu-Glo party, when all Heather has ever done is have the cheek to be nice to her. I have to say, for the twin that's meant to be the sound one, Elizabeth is a right little geebag in this book.

Continuing in this bitchy vein, Elizabeth then writes an article about Aaron punching a teammate on the pitch during training, explaining how he's going to be booted off the team if he has another outburst. She half-assedly debates whether or not she should publish it, as it'll make Jeffrey and Aaron really mad at her, (Aaron already has enough to be dealing with what with his parents' divorce and all, not that she gives a chocolate covered fuck) but she has some notion that she's a totally hardcore journalist, honour-bound to report the facts and not actually a teenager writing a gossip column for her school newspaper. As expected, Jeffrey and Aaron are pissed off with her and when she and Jeffrey have a big row, she blames Aaron for it! For real! She held him entirely to blame for causing this argument. What the actual FUCK, Elizabeth? However, Heather thinks it might be what Aaron needed to get him to cop on to himself. Elizabeth then realises that Heather is actually really creative and sweet, which is what everyone else who wasn't a judgemental asshole already knew.

To reassure herself that she did the right thing, Elizabeth consults her favourite teacher/school paper's advisor, Mr. Collins. They have a brief exchange where his eyes seem to twinkle an inordinate amount and he playfully says "Oh please! Never call me that!" when she refers to him as an authority figure. Dude, you're a teacher. Cop the fuck on. Also, he winks at her when she's leaving. It's all pretty inappropriate. I got the feeling that if they ever got freaky together she'd probably call him Daddy mid-fuck. Shudder.

In the meantime/story that nobody really cares about, Jessica has sold her Tofu-Glo tat to half the town, who are now demanding their money back seeing as the products are a load of shite and were meant to be kept refrigerated.

ANYWAY. Elizabeth and Jeffrey kiss and make up, but then it all kicks off when they run into Aaron and Heather. Aaron demands an apology from Elizabeth for writing her stupid article, Jeffrey tells him he's acting like a spoiled brat, everyone gets a bit het up and Aaron decks him and runs off crying. Of course, punching his mate now means that Aaron is off the football team. Oh no! There's a big game coming up and everything! Heather talks him into seeing the school's guidance counseller, while Elizabeth lords it over Jeffrey that she was right all along. "Do you believe me now?" Elizabeth asked, her voice gentle. There was no satisfaction in being proven right. Get ta fuck, Liz! You're only loving it! What's the weather like up on that high horse of yours?

So everybody makes up with each other and Aaron goes off to Mrs. Green, the counsellor. They have a chat and when he asks her if she thinks he has an emotional problem, she LAUGHS IN HIS FACE. Where the hell does this high school get their staff from? If they're not creeping on sixteen year old girls, they're taking the piss out of troubled young fellas. Anyway, after she's laughed at him, they straighten the whole thing out and he gets to stay on the football team. Sweet Valley win their big match, Aaron's rage problems seem to have dissolved entirely and everybody's friends again. Yay!

Oh, and Jessica ended up stuck with all that Tofu-Glo crap, in debt and having to pay for it all to be taken away to the dump. BUT it turns out that the twins' dad Ned conveniently made some enquiries and discovered that there's a big lawsuit going on against the company and all the suckers that bought into the scheme are getting settlements, so she gets all her money back plus damages and doesn't have to learn any life lessons. Double yay!

Notable outfit:
Seeing as Heather was the fashionable one who made her own clothes, this is her moment.

The dress, of pale peach cotton, fell gracefully from a dropped waist. A collar made of dozens of overlapping "petals" in white and pink added a lovely flowerlike quality to the otherwise simple design.

Erm, yes. Lovely.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 154
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 4
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 6
Amount of times Elizabeth shakes her head: 13
Appearances of the words "eyes" or "eye": 75

Friday, January 20, 2012

Crabapple Sauce

It appears that I have a new girl crush. Although this one is also an art crush, which multiplies things considerably. Molly Crabapple is a New York illustrator, fine artist and total badass. She created the alternative drawing salon Dr. Sketchy's Anti Art School, an inspired mash-up of cabaret performances and life drawing which has gone worldwide (including Dublin - I really need to get to one of these nights, quick smart) and her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Marvel comics.

She's also a great big ride.

Her style of illustration is like a great big whimsical Victoriana steampunk sandwich filled with French Rococo decadence, intricate curls, smirking lips, creeping tentacles, corseted waists and stripey stockings. It's beautiful, breathtaking, saucy and smart. I want to eat it.

It's just outstandingly gorgeous. All of it. Just when I thought I couldn't love her work any more, I came upon portraits she has done of four of my favourite women of all time, three of which were part of her Saints and Sinners project (where she sketched 66 notorious figures from history).


Look! It's Tura Satana, Luisa Casati, Lola Montez and Kiki de Montparnasse! ALL of whom I've written about at some point or other. I got very excited when I saw these. There's also an amazing sketch series of the Faces of Occupy Wall Street on her site. Everything on it is worth checking out, in fact. It's all solid gold.

There are even Molly Crabapple iPhone covers, with these two being my favourites. I think I'd be too terrified to actually use them though (if I ever got my hands on one), for fear that it'd get as scratched and chipped as my current Hello Kitty one. I'd be too afraid to ever get drunk in case I dropped it. The horror!

She's seven kinds of deadly. I've become such a fangirl. New favourite lady.

All images from

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Silent Night

Last night, the Bear and I finally got around to seeing the much hyped silent film The Artist. Dangerously enough, I was expecting to love it from the get-go and luckily it didn't disappoint. When I wasn't busy stuffing popcorn and Minstrels into my gob as quietly as I could manage, I was enthralled by the music, the amazing dog, leading lady Peppy Miller's dazzling smile, and the tremendous expressions of the monochrome epitome of a dashing matinee idol, George Valentin.

The handsome bastard.

Bérénice Bejo is outrageously endearing as Peppy, the star on the rise in Hollywoodland, as she swiftly adapts to talkies and sparkles her way to the top. Predictably enough, the wardrobe of a vivacious 1920s ingénue is utterly gorgeous.

I loved that the story revolves around the introduction of sound and the impact it had on the careers of various stars, as I've always found that era of Hollywood history particularly fascinating. I would have written a post specifically about it after seeing The Artist, only I already did one last year. So if, like me, you find it all terribly interesting, it can be found here, for (what I hope will be) your reading pleasure.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Quelque Chose #16

"20 year-old South African stripteaser Kathy Keeton (1939–1997), performs at London’s Embassy Club… while her mother, who moved to London “to keep an eye on her daughter” sits in the audience, sewing G-strings for her daughter. c. 1960."


(via bhof)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Me and the Future Mrs Jones

While watching (and being deafened by - it was so LOUD, whatever was going on with the speakers) Raiders of the Lost Ark in the IFI at the weekend, I found myself thinking what a great character Marion Ravenwood is. A hard-drinking, no-nonsense bartender in a dodgy Nepalese watering hole, defiant in the face of creepy Nazis and handy with a frying pan.

She's pretty much the exact opposite of the shrill, shrieking, painful waste of a female character that is Willie Scott in Temple of Doom. (Don't even get me started on Shortround. The Scrappy Doo to Indiana's Scooby.)

But back to lovely Marion. During the buildup to the big chase scene in Cairo, I found myself enamoured with yet ANOTHER pair of harem style pants. For someone who decided long ago that they were stupid, here I am writing about them again, mere weeks after I was all agog at Lady Sybil's blue Jasmine outfit. Although to be fair, neither of these have that ridiculous dropped crotch/full nappy effect. So if Sybil was blue Jasmine, that makes Marion red Jasmine, but without the unpleasant Jafar's sex slave part.

I was so entranced by her red pants that I noticed a great bit in one of the fight scenes where Indiana is being all manly and fighty and just a big ride in general, Marion is over to the right of the screen just repeatedly bashing a villain over the head with a tin box. The scene goes on for quite a bit, with all the action focused on Indiana's scrap and all the while Marion is there in the background resolutely whacking this guy over and over for the duration of the whole scene.

Smashy smashy.

Something I also noticed was during the scene where she's being held captive in a tent and Belloq unties her so she can eat. It seems that Pirates of the Caribbean completely rips off that entire sequence when Barbossa eats with Elizabeth Swann. Both women are given new frocks to put on, both women humour their captors by playing along and eating dinner with them, while surreptitiously hiding a knife, which both women then use to threaten the bad guy and attempt escape only to be immediately foiled. HMMM.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Coming To A Doctor's Waiting Room Near YOU!

I get excited about lots of things. Like the fact that I'm going to see Raiders of the Lost Ark on Sunday in the IFI, or when they have Wispas in stock at the coffee dock in work. But right now I'm REALLY excited that I've been featured in this week's issue of Woman's Way, as they have most kindly decided to include me in their 12 New Faces for 2012 article.

Look! There I am!

In case anyone was wondering, the post about Obama is here and the mermaids one can be found here. I'm happy dancing in my chair right now. Woo!

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Shinier Than Your Average Bear

After eating my way through Christmas at home and drinking my way through New Year's Eve in a windswept cottage in the wilds of Joyce Country, it's back to Dublin, back to work and back to bleary-eyed early mornings where I'm counting down to the soonest time I can sleep in. I have to say though, Christmas was wonderfully good to me this year. By Christmas I mean the Bear and by good to me I mean gave me a present that has since become my most favourite thing ever.

Once I had pulled the wrapping paper off, I was left with this tin box. This gorgeous tin tea box, which had been beautifully decorated with typewritten quotes and cutout images of bears.

Completely puzzled as to what it could possibly contain, I opened it to reveal...


A motherfucking BEAR, no less! It transpired that my crafty, brilliant boy had employed the services of our astonishingly talented friend Mirjam, a superhero silversmith who designed and handcrafted this ring as a jaw-dropping custom made piece.

I die! (Inset photo by Mirjam Schiller. The big legend.)

It's huge, it's heavy, it's utterly amazing. I LOVE IT TO PIECES.