Saturday, March 31, 2012

Veronica's Closet

As you're all probably well aware by now, unless you're allergic to the internet and pop culture news in general, Anchorman is to return for a sequel eight years (EIGHT YEARS! That's an entire small person ago! How did that happen?) after its release. Some are a bit nervous about the news, as sequels as good as their predecessor are a rare thing indeed. But the fact that there's been such a gap since it first came out makes me cautiously optimistic, as hurried sequels tend to be mediocre at best.

So anyway, after hearing the news I decided to write a post about the driven and unflappable Veronica Corningstone, anchorwoman extraordinaire, possessor of the most breathtaking heinie in all of Sandiago and a kickass wardrobe to boot.

She first sashays into Ron Burgundy's life at the news team's pool party, practically glowing in a knockout white ensemble and soft Veronica Lake curls, an unattainable mystery woman who swiftly bats away Ron's declaration of wanting to be on her.

As she finds herself in a constant battle with the boys club of the newsroom, she deals with their clumsy advances and attempts to sabotage her by rising above them and the cloud of Sex Panther fumes with poise and generally being brilliant at what she does.

Of course, her professionalism falters slightly when she tricks Ron into telling San Diego to go fuck itself. But that bit is totally amazing AND he called her a smelly pirate hooker, so yay Veronica! What remains unwavering throughout though are her super sharp suits and deadly scarves.

I'm definitely looking forward to the sequel, being a big fan of the first one, but also to see if they're going to keep the news team in the seventies or bring them into the eighties, and if so, what Veronica's take on a shoulder-padded power suit will be.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Playing With Fire

While it may not look like it, this post was very nearly a disaster of the unmitigated variety. I had just gotten stuck into book three of the series in ebook format and all was going to plan. There was a dance contest at the school (of course), Lila was wearing a yellow dress that "looked like it had been ripped right from the pages of In Style" (In Style? Ok, maybe it's been around since the Eighties, thought I), however, there seemed to be a suspicious lack of hilarious outfits but then we got to the school band playing onstage and shit got real, because these guys were called Valley of Death. VALLEY OF DEATH? Stall the fucking BALL, who the hell are these jokers?

Next thing I know, it's being explained that the dance competition used to be totally lame but "since all the crazy reality TV dance competitions started popping up, it had become one of the most popular events of the year". Reality TV? In the Eighties? I BLOODY WELL THINK NOT.

It turns out I was reading a 2008 rewrite. I would have flung it across the room in disgust, only I was reading it on my iPad and that probably wouldn't be the best idea ever. Let me tell you, the town of Sweet Valley in 2008 is a frightening and unfamiliar place. For one thing, Bruce no longer drives his black Porsche, he now has a Cadillac. Are Porsches not cool enough anymore or something? Dairi Burger has mutated into Casa del Sol, a burritos and nachos Mexican restaurant. What the hell was wrong with burgers? People still eat burgers, you rewriting jerks! As I've already pointed out, The Droids are now called Valley of Death. Ugh. WORST. NAME. EVER. As if that wasn't bad enough, it describes drummer Emily Mayer's outfit thusly: "Her dark hair was combed into her face and her eyes were rimmed with black kohl liner. She was wearing a faded black t-shirt with a red peace sign on the front and baggy shorts with combat boots." You IDIOTS! The Droids dress like Jem and The Holograms, not like My Chemical Romance rejects! For shame, ghost writing lady. FOR. SHAME.

Anyway, the day was eventually saved by eBay and my slightly panicked snapping up of the first six books of the series. So here we go, the untainted, unspoiled, un-mobile-phones-being-awkwardly-shoehorned-in-at-every-opportunity version of book the third.

Sweet Valley High #3: Playing With Fire

So, big dance contest hoo-ha. It seems that the very fabric of Sweet Valley High would be under serious threat if there wasn't a dance of some sort held at least once a week. Thanks to Elizabeth's dastardly revenge plot at the end of the second book, Jessica has to attend the dance with nerdy Winston Egbert, as they're the reigning king and queen of something or other. Jessica is all huffy because she wants to dance with the minted and handsome Bruce Patman and Winston keeps stepping on her foot. We're also introduced to Robin Wilson, who has the audacity to want to be friends with Jessica and who, by the sound of it, is the only fat person in all of Sweet Valley. The way the book describes her is actually so cruel and unnecessary, practically every mention of her has some reference to her size - "the overweight girl", "running as fast as her plump legs could carry her", "the pudgy girl standing before her" - Jesus, alright Francine, we get it, you hate fat people. Way to fuck with preteen reader body issues. Anyway, Bruce eventually swoops in and rescues Jessica from Winston's left-footedness with his nifty dance moves, lifting her high in the air and spinning her over his shoulders because it seems that they're actually Johnny Castle and Baby. Naturally, they win and Jessica ditches Winston to go off to Ken's house party with Bruce, after Elizabeth does the requisite bit of nagging her to be careful.

At the party, when the group all go for a splash in the lake, Jessica and Bruce swim away from the rest to grind against each other like dogs in heat. They're having a watery shift when suddenly Jessica realises that Bruce has UNTIED HER BIKINI TOP. They're up to their shoulders in water and all but still, it's totally SAUCY you guys. The book even says the word breasts! Can you HANDLE the SCANDAL? THIS is why these books were barred from certain households in the early Nineties. Jessica begins to back off a bit, so Bruce essentially calls her a prick tease and even though Jessica wants to slow things down a notch, they sneak off to the woods together because logic is for losers.

Elizabeth comes over all Helen Lovejoy, clutches her pearls and follows them into the trees to save Jessica from having sexy fun with the handsome boy she likes. She reminds me here of the Joan Rivers-voiced lady version of C-3PO in Spaceballs and her Virgin Alarm. Jessica tells Elizabeth to fuck away off and stays out all night with Bruce like the horny teenager she is.

The next morning, Elizabeth is moping over breakfast while Ned and Alice give us a little insight into their seemingly perfect relationship. Alice reads in the paper that George Fowler is expanding his business so she decides to show him her interior design portfolio, seeing as that's her job and all. It turns out that Ned has heard that the job is going to some big firm in San Francisco and never mentioned it to her because it didn't seem important. "She was unhappy with her husband's lack of interest in her work, but she had no desire to make an issue of it on this bright, clear Sunday morning." And it seems that she never gets the desire to call Ned out on his disinterested bullshit, because that's the last we ever hear of it. Fuck you, Ned Wakefield!

In the meantime, aka Subplot-land, The Droids are all excited because a record company rep came to their gig at the dance competition (he wore red leather pants. RED LEATHER PANTS) and said he's going to be their manager and make them famous.

Jessica starts spending all her time according to what Bruce wants to do, skips classes to indulge in a spot of frottage on school grounds, collects dry cleaning for him and stops going to cheerleading practice because he thinks cheerleading is stupid. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but according to every piece of pop culture ever, high school boys are all about the cheerleaders, no? Well, not in Bruce's case anyway. He's also going around the school saying he gets whatever he wants, when he wants it from Jessica because she's a total hobag. Meanwhile, Jessica acts like a simpering doormat to keep Bruce happy, because he seems to like his women braindead. She's all excited about playing tennis with him, but he gets really annoyed that she's better at it than he is, so she throws the match to keep him sweet. By sweet I mean mentally abusive. She also changes the way she dresses, going on a shopping spree for the most boring clothes ever. A matching brown wool blazer and skirt and two oxford shirts, to be precise. I actually missed the diabolical sociopathic Jessica at this stage. I mean, yeah she was out of her devious mind most of the time, but at least she wouldn't ever let an Eighties douchebag cliché order her around.

He's even got a jumper over his shoulders, which is the universal symbol of smug twats worldwide. He also has Jessica in some manner of choke hold, but hey, who doesn't enjoy a little light choking now and again?

For some reason, Jessica makes plans with Robin (who is fat by the way) to give her a makeover (because she's so fat and all) but blows her off because Bruce whistles for her so she comes running. Elizabeth invites Robin out to a Droids gig that's been organised by their fancy red pants wearing manager. They go along with Todd and Winston, but the club is a dive and hardly anyone shows up. Everyone has a miserable time and it turns out that Mr. Red Pants actually just wanted to get into lead singer Dana Larson's sparkly and/or velvet pants and never had any intention of making The Droids a nationwide success. It seems like a lot of effort for a grown man to go to just to get the ride off a high school student, but whatever.

Boring New Jessica eventually comes to her senses on the night of Bruce's birthday party. He ignores her for the entire shindig, dancing with every girl at the party except her. The party then moves to Guido's for some pizza, but after making a call at the payphone, (in the stupid new version, his mobile goes off and his ringtone is This is Why I'm Hot. Barf.) Bruce announces to Jessica that he has to go because his grandmother has suddenly been struck down by a mystery illness. Elizabeth smells a rat and offers to take Jessica home and with Todd's help, bundles her off into his crap Datsun. They drive around for a bit and Elizabeth pretends that she's left her keys at the pizza place so they have to go back. When Jessica sees that Bruce's car is still there, she comes in too, only to find that Bruce has been joined by some random redheaded hottie. Jessica finally snaps out of her Stepford stupor, throws a pizza slice in Bruce's face and dumps a soda over his head, causing him to topple backwards into the restaurant's indoor fountain. Revenge, Wakefield style. He emotionally abused her, made her change her whole personality and fucked her around the entire time, but it's ok now because he's got cheese on his shirt and he got wet. Yeah. Although I am actually glad that the deranged psycho Jessica is back. Yay!

Notable outfit:
"Dressed in a bright blue, skin-hugging mini-dress and matching tights, Jessica was an eye-catching sight."

I'm sure that anyone who went to a school dance dressed as Smurfette would be an eye-catching sight.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 149
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 2 (Disappointing.)
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 3 (Disappointing x2)
References to Robin Wilson being fat: 11
References to Jessica being "starry-eyed" over Bruce: 3

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Paddy's Day In Polaroids

Alternating between cider and Lemsip for my snuffly cold in the name of powering through for our national holiday. The Bear humming Sleigh Ride and putting Christmas songs in my head. "Stop that!" "But I don't know any Patrick's Day songs!" "Sure you do! Dóchas linn Naomh Pádraig, something something Éireann..." "Paa rum-pa-pum-pum!" "No!" Hanging out of a marvellous first floor Dame Street window (same one as last year) to roar "GO WILDCATS!" and the like at the American high school marching bands. An unfortunate clarinet player from one of said bands stopping and getting sick on a Garda's shiny black shoes. Natural Confectionery Company Snakes and Shamrocks jellies. Getting overly excited by the bubbles emanating from Spraoi's steampunk ship float. The Bear and I hungrily horsing pizza into ourselves after a hard day's parade watching and rugby disappointment. Collapsing on the couch and falling apart by around half seven, because powering through when you're not altogether well takes it out of a girl.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Back To School

I can't remember what I was looking for online when I came upon these images. Whatever it was, it ended up being quickly sidelined, as all my attention had now shifted to this shiny new distraction. The distraction in question being the concept art for Gotham High, an abandoned idea for a Batman cartoon set in high school. Artists Jeff and Celeste published the images on their blog last year, explaining that they were asked to develop the idea, which was based on a drawing they had previously sent to DC Comics. The project never got off the ground, but they came up with some rather deadly images for it.

I love me some Harley Quinn (when she's done properly, that is), so I got quite excited when I saw the kick ass poster above, which was the original drawing and starting point for the idea. The rest of the Gotham High artwork shows a teenage Bruce Wayne and Barbara Gordon surrounded by the usual array of Gotham rogues very nicely rendered as high school students.

Click to enlarge. Do it!

The online reaction to the idea was mostly that of Batfans getting all cross and shouting about what a terrible idea it was and how glad they were that it'll never get made. Which seemed a bit harsh. Their biggest problem with it was that it ignores the history of so many of the characters, but seeing as comic universe back stories are always evolving and being rewritten to suit different demands, I think we should all just calm the fuck down and put our pants back on. The show isn't going to be made, so these just offer a fun new spin on established characters in the Batman canon.

Barbara Gordon (Batgirl) is the cute, bespectacled girl next door, Bruce is all handsome and mysterious, Scarecrow is an indie hipster type and Selina Kyle (Catwoman - yay!) is the femme fatale troublemaker. OBVIOUSLY. 

I quite like the look that was given to Catwoman. I'm always in favour of purple hair though - as if I needed another reason to love her - and the leopard print skirt is a nice touch to her bad girl outfit.

The Joker appears pretty much the same as he does in the poster, but Harley is toned down a notch, with no facepaint or side-torso to be seen. She still looks great though, her expression is equal parts endearing and mental. Pamela Isley (Poison Ivy) is a hot green-skinned goth chick, Bane is a wrestler jock and Mr. Freeze is a baldy cool guy.

I wouldn't have thought that being a cheerleader would quite fit with the goth girl role that Poison Ivy was cast in, but I do love this picture of her and Harley Quinn as black-clad cheer squad members. Catwoman is obviously too cool to be a cheerleader. She's probably around the back of those tiered bleachers smoking a fag. I do actually think this could have been a great cartoon, like X Men: Evolution, but more fun. There are more images over on the Jeff and Celeste site and I suggest you have a look at them, because they're brilliant.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Secrets

Between scrambling for second hand copies on eBay and acquiring downloaded pdfs, it appears that I'm managing to get my hands on the first ten or so Sweet Valley High books. Which means that there'll actually be some manner of sequence to this series, temporarily at least. Yay! And with that, onwards to book two!

Sweet Valley High #2: Secrets

It would seem that after suffocating us at the beginning of book one with the "all-American" (what does that even mean?) genetic supremacy of the Wakefield twins, they decided to lay off ever so slightly this time around. Jessica is only referred to as "bewitching" twice, after all. The story kicks off with Jessica desperately hoping she'll be crowned Queen of the Fall Dance, even though there was already a school dance about ten minutes ago. Also, she's totally in love with Bruce Patman because he's rich and hot and drives a Porsche and those are the most important things in life after all.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth and Enid are making cookies in Casa Wakefield (it's a Spanish tiled kitchen, you know) and Enid is all on edge about her boyfriend Ronnie finding out about her TERRIBLE SECRET. Dramatic! Two years earlier, Enid lost the run of herself entirely and started hanging around with a BAD CROWD. She got involved with a ne'er-do-well called George and they did a load of drugs and drinking, culminating in them going joyriding in George's car (is it joyriding if it's your own car?) "stoned out of their minds" (so...they were driving at around six miles an hour then?) and knocking down a little boy, breaking his arm, the hooligans. George was shipped off to boarding school and Enid straightened her life out, becoming the boring sidekick we now know and tolerate.

While she's telling Elizabeth all of this, her thoughts segue into a description about how gorgeous Liz is, lest we forget that even when the story doesn't actually concern them, we should in fact be talking about the Wakefields. So Enid still keeps in touch with George and she's scared of telling Ronnie because he'll freak the fuck out, due to him being a possessive dickhead who gives her shit for talking to anyone male about anything ever. She shows one of his letters to Elizabeth and then they suddenly have a lame pillow fight where neither one of them notices one of the letters falling onto the bedroom floor. THANKS, FREDDIE FORESHADOWING.

Elizabeth's shocked expression = sex doll face. I'm sorry. Also, lavaliere necklaces! Yay!

At school, Jessica is busy being furious that her sister has the cheek to be friends with someone as boring and nerdy as Enid, and at one point even says "what if someone thought it was me hanging out with Enid?" Just to hammer the point home that Jessica is a terrible person and all. She's also got her knickers in a twist over Enid because she's somehow her competition for the Fall Dance Queen thing and Ronnie is head of the dance committee and Jessica seems to think everyone is as mental and devious as she is. I'm not quite sure what the deal is with Enid being her competition though. If pop culture has taught me anything (and it has), it's that the popular, bitchy girls are the ones that get nominated for these things. So surely Jessica's friends or the other sorority girls would have been more likely? If I was Lila Fowler I'd be all kinds of pissed off about it. So anyway, Jessica finds one of George's letters in Elizabeth's room (I DID NOT see that coming) and obviously does the most psychotic thing possible, leaving a copy of it in Ronnie's locker in an attempt to ruin Enid's life over a temporary and ultimately meaningless title.

Anyway, as expected, Ronnie breaks up with Enid, but not before getting all grabby in the car and being generally awful to her. While he's berating her about George, she covers her face with her hands while crying, so he "pried them away, forcing her to look at him. His fingers bit into her wrists, cutting off the circulation". What the HELL Ronnie!? Let go of her, you horrible fuckbag! Maybe Jessica was actually doing her a favour, in her own skewed, sociopathic way.

Over in sub-plot land, there's a rumour circulating around the school that foxy French teacher Miss Dalton is screwing Ken Matthews, one of her students. The rumour was started by Lila, because Miss Dalton is actually dating Lila's father so she's jealous due to her raging case of daddy issues. It all comes to a head when someone leaves a message on the classroom blackboard that reads: IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT A FRENCH KISS IS, ASK KEN MATTHEWS. Which is so pathetic I'm amazed that the teacher herself didn't break her hole laughing at how lame it is. Instead she runs off crying and doesn't show up in school for a while.

Anyway, seeing as Elizabeth was the only person that knew about George, she gets the blame and Enid stops talking to her, which confuses Elizabeth no end. She confides in Jessica, who tells her that she's better off without Enid and then dashes off to a party at Lila Fowler's house to eyefuck Bruce Patman. How and ever, it turns out that Bruce is busy hanging out at a college party and apparently bringing a nineteen year old bird to the upcoming dance. I can't speak for anyone else, but when I was nineteen, I'd have been MORTO if I was going out with a sixteen year old boy. Anyway, when Jessica hears all this and realises that she wore her ribbed burgundy sweater dress (hot!) for nothing, she talks Ronnie into taking her to the dance, presumably so he'll swing the votes for Queen in her favour and with Bruce being a shoe-in for King, they'll totally hook up for lots of fun sexytimes. PROBLEM. SOLVED.

At school on Monday morning, Jessica tells Elizabeth that she'll talk to Enid in an effort to fix their friendship. Of course, seeing as Jessica is FUCKING INSANE, all she does is pretty much tell Enid that it WAS Elizabeth who ratted her out to Ronnie and then proceeds to twist the knife by telling her that Ronnie's being going around calling her a dirty whore since the breakup. Later that day, after hearing them on the phone, Elizabeth asks Jessica why she's going to the dance with Ronnie, so she passes it off as an attempt to get him back together with Enid. Oh, and this exchange all takes place while Elizabeth is doing her homework, which happens to be a paper on Julius Caesar. HEAVY HANDED METAPHOR ALERT, BITCHES.

The day of the big dance, the twins are instructed to clean their rooms and while doing so, Elizabeth discovers George's letter to Enid. Using her mad Jessica Fletcher skillz, she finally deducts that it was her unhinged sister that told Ronnie about George. Of course, instead of confronting her like a normal person, Elizabeth begins to plot her revenge. Seeing as the last book established her unique brand of crap vengeance, she's probably just planning to hide Jessica's hairbrush or something.

In the meantime, newly-single Enid has decided to stop feeling sorry for herself and go to the dance even though she no longer has a date. While she's getting ready, the doorbell rings and who should appear, only George all dressed up in a fancy blazer and slacks. He heard she was now single and conveniently, he's now a great big ride and is taking her to the dance so they shift the faces off each other. While her Mam is still there from what I can gather. Anyway, yay Enid!

At the dance, Enid apologises to Elizabeth and they make up. Elizabeth then spreads a rumour that Jessica is hot for nerdball Winston Egbert, the other nominee for Fall Dance King, so Jessica gets crowned Queen and to her horror, Winston is announced as King, and not Bruce like she expected. That's it. Elizabeth strikes again. Retaliation is definitely not her strong point. Oh and Miss Dalton turns up at the dance, has a bop with fellow hot teacher Mr. Collins and everyone just gets on with their lives with no need for an investigation into the salacious and potentially career-destroying rumour that was buzzing around. Yay sexy Miss Dalton!

Notable outfit:
"Tonight she was decked out in tight black velvet jeans, a pair of sparkly pink leg warmers and a purple satin blouse." 

Dana Larson, you glorious glam rock creature. NEVER CHANGE.

Special mention must go to Jessica and the trashiest swimsuit of all time, though:

"She wished she was at the beach instead, soaking up the rays in the bronze, wet-look, one piece she'd bought the week before at Foxy Mama."

A wet-look swimsuit. Jessica, you total GENIUS.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 176
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 4
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 6
Eye colour mentions in general: 18
Mentions of the word "tears": 25

Monday, March 05, 2012

Sweet Valley Haul

Due to my current massive Sweet Valley High obsession and the discovery that almost every Dublin library copy of anything to do with The Glorious Wakefields was either worn out at some point in the nineties or checked out and NEVER RETURNED (shame on you, Dublin pre-teens from the nineties) I've taken to scouring charity shops for second hand Sweet Valley wonderfulness. I've actually been surprisingly lucky so far.

After two trips around various charity shops, I managed to snag the above books. Elizabeth's Secret Diary, which surely promises all manner of illicit thoughts but is most likely concerned with Elizabeth simpering over Todd. The Chateau d'Amour Collection, which is a three-books-in-one affair detailing Liz and Jessica's adventures as au pairs in the south of France for A ROYAL FAMILY. How ridiculously marvellous! There's also Big For Christmas, a rather battered Special Edition Sweet Valley Twins book which I almost didn't get, but decided to make an exception when I realised that the plot is actually that of Big or 13 Going On 30, starring the Wakefields. Seriously, it's about them wishing they were older and then waking up one Christmas morning to find that THEY'VE MAGICALLY GROWN UP. Francine, you are just the gift that keeps on giving, girlfriend. The recaps for these are going to be SO MUCH FUN.

As if I hadn't already struck it lucky with the above gems, I also happened upon a copy of Sweet Valley Confidential, the book that came out last year, set ten years after the old series.

But it wasn't just any copy. Oh no, my pretties, it was much more exciting than that. (For me anyway.) You see this was a proof copy and wasn't technically supposed to be sold at all. The cover is light blue with purple text, whereas the completed and actually for sale version has a pink cover with red text, or the totally different red cover, like these ones:

So the copy I currently own is SUPER COOL AND RARE and doesn't even have a dedication in place yet. I haven't read it yet, as I intend to do a bit more catching up on the SVH series and will save it until I run out of old books to read and review. It's going to be AMAZING.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Hey Girl

After completely forgetting to watch New Girl when it started on Channel 4 a few weeks ago, the Bear and I acquired all the episodes so far and happily ate them them all up over the course of a few evenings. It's no Community, but it's fun and cute and endearing, much like Jess, the new girl in question, played by indie hipster dreamgirl Zooey Deschanel.

Admittedly you have to get past the fact that everyone seems happy to pretend that Jess isn't actually ridiculously beautiful, but once you do, it's quite an enjoyable show. Although Schmidt gets most of the best lines and his bizarre, celebratory habit of rolling around on the floor and randomly jumping off things while shouting "Parkour!" totally cracks me up.

Another aspect that I like is the predictably gorgeous, liberally striped, polka-dotted and fun wardrobe that Jess has. I want everything she wears. And her magnificent hair too, please. I also totally dig the fact that she practically lives in flat shoes, as I own all of two pairs of (relatively low) heels and and for the most part, couldn't be fucked with the hassle of wearing them.

While I was doing a search for New Girl, a Sweet Valley Twins book called The New Girl kept popping up. Given my current Sweet Valley obsession, I immediately decided that I had to make this happen: