Thursday, December 20, 2012

Meet Ireland's Womb Patrol

Now that the Government has finally decided to, y'know, not let women die and actually legislate for the X Case already - a step in the right direction, but still a very very small one - the anti-choicers are clutching their pearls, Photoshopping festive hats onto ultrasound scans and incorrectly using semi-colons with wanton abandon.

There's also an anti-choice ad doing the rounds online as a reaction to the Government getting the hell on with things that were meant to happen twenty fucking years ago. It turns out to be something of an endurance test as I only lasted forty seconds the first time I tried to watch it, having been scared off by the appearance of John Waters and his unwavering concern for my uterus. It's actually impossible to watch it and not burst out laughing, especially when Bernadette Smyth makes her appearance.

Oh Bernadette. With this giant furry hat you are really spoiling us. Also, YOU'RE INDOORS. YOU DO NOT REQUIRE A FLUFFY HAT. Perhaps the flowery wallpaper has tricked her into thinking she's in a meadow and maybe that's why she sounds like she's about to start crying.

The video progresses like the grimmest game of Guess Who you've ever played in your life, with Kathy Sinnott, David Quinn and Caroline Simons popping up one after the other and lying their asses off.

I'm not sure if there's a single truthful sentence in the entire thing. Here are some of the highlights:

Firstly, we have Kathy Sinnott wringing her hands while inexplicably standing in a manky, muddy field, without a coat or even a scarf on. You'd think Bernadette would at least give her a loan of her hat. According to Kathy:

"Referendum after referendum has demonstrated the pro-life position of the Irish people."

Er, no actually. Referendum after referendum has seen the Irish people support legislation for abortion in cases where the mother's life is at risk. You know, like reasonable people who don't hate women.

Caroline Simons then chimes in with some alarming meteorological news.

"In recent times, there has literally been a tsunami hitting Ireland."


But it's ok! Here's John Waters to explain everything!

"A tsunami of a culture of death." 

Oh. I see. Although surely a "culture of death" is one where we let mothers die, instead of allowing them a life saving medical procedure, but hey whatever.

The Caroline and John double act also give us this:

Caroline: "Savita Halappanavar, who died of septicaemia following a miscarraige."

Immediately followed by:  

John: "We won't know exactly what happened to Savita, until we hear from the the various inquiries."

Hey John, just ask Caroline! It seems like she knows all about it. She must have been in the room at the time with Savita and Praveen and no one noticed.

Next up, it's aspiring rapper Ide Nic Mhathuna, or Ide Nic Mhathunaz as she's known on the hip-hop circuit. There's not one, but two typos in her little caption, as Youth Defence is spelled the American way instead of the way it's spelled on their own goddamn website.

We also have Patrick McCrystal running away with the trophy for Creepiest Man IN THE WORLD. (As well as abortions, he also hates vaccines, contraception and gay people. Sound.) I realise that his expression in that screenshot is a bit unsettling, but no matter how hard I tried to find one, there literally wasn't a moment where he didn't look like he was seconds away from a strangle-wank. Just try to listen to how he says "perfect storm" without shuddering. He also provides us with the best line of the video:

"This battle can only be won if we are on our knees."

It's like the worst house party ever. And Kathy Sinnott standing in a field in Cork.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Dear Sister

Ok, so you know how every Sweet Valley High book is brilliant in its own way, but there are some that are just that bit more amazing and ridiculously fun than the others? Well, this is one of them. It might as well be called Dear Jackpot.

Sweet Valley High #7: Dear Sister

So, the book opens with Elizabeth still in hospital, in a coma and Jessica at her bedside pleading with her to wake up. In case we've forgotten, we're immediately reminded how goddamn hot the twins are, as page one informs us that they're "gloriously attractive". Thanks guys. By the time we've gotten halfway through page two (HALFWAY), one or the other has been described as "beautiful", "vibrant", "lively", "vivacious" and a "fresh, youthful beauty". It's actually sort of impressive how much they've crammed in there. Anyway, Jessica is startled by a hand on her shoulder, but it's ok! It's just the most inappropriate doctor IN THE WORLD.

"Miss Wakefield?"
"I could see the resemblance. You're both beautiful."

That's right, this doctor greets sixteen year olds by telling them how hot they are. He's Elizabeth's neurosurgeon and his conversation with Jessica is just solid fucking gold. They have a chat about Elizabeth's condition, Jessica gets a bit upset about the whole thing and over the course of their conversation he does the following hilariously overfamiliar things, considering he's JUST MET HER:

"The man stooped so his face was on a level with hers."

"She felt strong hands on her shoulders, shaking her gently but insistently."

"Suddenly Dr. Edwards's hands were cupping her face, forcing her to look up."

Fucking hell, put your pants back on, Doc. 

Anyway, Elizabeth wakes up from her coma and starts acting like a spoiled little bitch. She immediately demands a makeover, gets in a huff over her hospital gown not being sexy enough and flirts her arse off with the doctors, all while being really dismissive and mean to Todd. She basically turns into Jessica. When she gets out of hospital and returns home, Todd comes by to see her but she instructs Jessica to fob him off and tell him she's too tired for visitors. Jessica pulls Todd into the kitchen and lies to him, saying that Elizabeth can't have any visitors until she goes back to school and reassures him that once she's back in class everything will go back to normal. It's one of my favourite parts of this book.

"You know how much she likes school. She'll probably have all the work made up and a dozen stories written for The Oracle before I finish that one stupid book report on Moby Dick. I mean, Todd, who really cares about whales?" Jessica asked in annoyance.

Todd did, but he let the comment slide by.

Awwww! TODDDDD! He CARES about WHALES you guys. I love that line so goddamn much.

So, Elizabeth returns to school and Jessica drives them there, parking the car "with her usual flourish". I don't know how exactly parking with a flourish works (other than Ace Ventura barrell-rolling his safari jeep into the car park in When Nature Calls, obviously. LLLIKE A GLOVE), but clearly it's something else that the Wakefields are amazing at.

All week at school, people keep confusing Elizabeth for Jessica and when the twins are meant to get the house ready for a pool party they're throwing at the weekend, Elizabeth lands Jessica with all the work as she flits around the mall. While Jessica is sorting out the food for the party, she starts talking to herself in a slightly alarming manner.

"Listen, Jessica Wakefield," she lectured herself, "haven't you ever ducked out on work and left Elizabeth to do it?"

"Now, don't start creating a humungous, imaginary crisis over nothing," she cautioned herself aloud.

"Stop it," Jessica commanded herself. "If you don't make that dip, the kids will have to eat powdered soup mix." She giggled and kept working.

She's like one of those demented bitches off Sunset Beach.

The party is a hit and everyone has a great time, except for Jessica, because Elizabeth is hogging the limelight and for Todd, because Elizabeth is practically rubbing herself all over Ken Matthews like a cat in heat. When Jessica gets suckered into cleaning up after the party alone, it begins to dawn on her that Elizabeth has actually turned into Jessica, prompting an existential crisis of sorts. "If she's Jessica, she agonised, then who am I?"

Over the next week or so, Liz begins to do badly at school as she's too busy being on the phone to random boys to do any studying. Ned and Alice then announce at dinner that the Percys - whoever the fuck they are - are going to a computer conference in Europe (fancy!) and the Wakefields are looking after their twin twelve year old girls while they're away.

"The twins were fragile, dark-haired girls with large brown eyes set in small solemn faces. They were wearing identical gray jumpers, and long-sleeved white blouses, and they were clutching identical black flute cases."

Well don't they sound just a tad familiar.

Oh hai there.

As soon as the Percy twins arrive, Ned and Alice fuck off to "an evening of bridge", which I hope is code for something else, otherwise they're the most boring people IN THE WORLD. Jessica has a date with Danny Stauffer that night though, so while she's planning to skip out on babysitting and leave Liz looking after the twins, Liz beats her to it and is making her exit while Jessica is still on the phone to Danny, leaving Jessica with no option but to bring the girls on her date with him at the drive-in.

Back at school, Elizabeth keeps blowing Enid off and takes a sudden interest in the lame sorority the twins are in, prompting Jessica to talk to herself some more. Enid comes over, wondering who the hell Jessica is talking to, and asks her if Liz is mad at her.

"Not that I know of." Jessica wondered why she didn't tell Enid the truth. Elizabeth didn't want to have anything to do with her. Jessica would have enjoyed telling her to get lost a month ago. For some reason, she felt sympathy for Enid now.

I love how normal human emotions don't compute with Jessica.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth is swanning around school failing everything, hitting on everyone's boyfriend, and sweet-talking Winston Egbert into doing her homework for her. Gasp! When she's late handing in her Eyes and Ears column, Mr. Collins asks how she is. Cue hilarity.

"Everybody asks me that," she snapped. "Elizabeth, I hope you know that I'm a friend, not only a teacher and an adviser. And friends don't dish out a lot of applesauce to each other."

Oh Mr. Collins. You crazy motherfucker. I actually had to look up the word applesauce online, as I've never in my life heard it used in any context other than sauce made of apples. Turns out it's slang from THE TWENTIES. THE TWENTIES, MR. COLLINS. He probably thinks journalists wear hats with a little card stuck in it that reads "PRESS" and that the talkies will never catch on.

We then find out that since Elizabeth has been giving Todd the brush off, he's lost his mad skillz on the basketball court and that his nickname is "Whizzer" Wilkins. Amazing. This book just DOES NOT let up. Anyway, Todd's coach then has a talk with him about Liz, because every staff member at this school is completely over-involved in their students lives.

Elizabeth proceeds to get fired from the school paper for writing a bitchy item to split Ken Matthews up from his girlfriend (Mr. Collins says "applesauce" again! I LOVE IT!) and then zips around town driving Max Dellon's motorbike, much to Jessica's horror. Ned and Alice, after agreeing to take care of someone else's kids for a while, appear to have decided to never be around when they actually need them and land Jessica with driving the girls to a flute audition at the weekend. Jessica has a date at the beach with Danny though, so she ends up being caught speeding on her way back from the audition and when she does get to the beach, she sees Danny with his arm around some tramp in a white bikini. Angry and frustrated - with the creepy twins in the back seat - she then backs into another car and cries her face off.

Jessica haz a sad. And terrible taste in picture frames.

A few days later, Lila Fowler is throwing a party at her house, but not just any old party, a combination of a costume party and a "pick-up party", which apparently means a license to whore your way through the night. "Everybody came single and picked up whomever they could." The Wakefields go to the party dressed as - wait for it - MATADORS. Excellent. Elizabeth ends up leaving the party with Bruce Patman, who can't believe his luck that he's getting to feel up the twin who usually hates him, and plies her with wine down at the beach. Jessica sends SuperTodd after them, he punches Bruce and takes drunk Liz home.

Ned and Alice eventually find out about Jessica's speeding ticket and the dent in the car, but the Percy twins come to the rescue and lie for Jessica, saving her ass. When Jessica apologises to the twins for shouting at them all the time, they say it's fine and that they've never had so much fun.

"Boy, going to a real drive-in! With making out and everything."

Jessica dry-humped Danny at the drive-in with two twelve year olds in the backseat. She's a class act. AND AN OLD TIMEY GANGSTER! Just like Bruce in Power Play!

"Listen, you two," Jessica said, "cool it, see? You weren't supposed to be there."

I'm beginning to wonder if there's a wormhole to 1920s Sweet Valley somewhere in the town.

Todd's surfer friend Bill Chase, who has apparently been "half in love" with Elizabeth for ages, asks her out to some beach club dance on Saturday night, which she agrees to while being all sexy-like and just stopping short of licking his face. Later that day though, she also arranges to go on a date with Bruce at his family's beach house.

When Bill turns up at Casa Wakefield, Liz is already gone. So Jessica decides that her newly-trampy sister shouldn't get to have all the fun, and in a return to her gloriously sociopathic old self, she pretends to be Liz and goes on the date with Bill, just to fuck with his head because he turned her down when she asked him some dance ages ago. Meanwhile, Elizabeth is at the beach house having her boobs groped by Bruce, who appears to be seconds away from date-raping her. He leaves her alone in a bedroom while he gets more wine from downstairs, but Liz slips and whacks her head off a table. Suddenly she has no idea where she is and can't remember anything after the hospital.

When Bruce comes back, Elizabeth tries to leave, but he blocks the doorway and pretty much says she's not going anywhere until he gets the ride. He grabs her and forces her to kiss him and suddenly he turns into old timey gangster Bruce again! Yesss!

Roughly he seized her wrists, and she was helpless. "I've got real strong hands Liz," he said. "From tennis, see?"

Anyway, Liz bites him when he kisses her again and runs out onto the beach, into the arms of Todd who just happened to be moping around outside. He quickly cops that Liz is back to her old boring self and she's all delighted to see him now. Then he shifts the face off her with "a deep, long kiss that she wished would last forever." Hooray!

Notable outfit:
There was so much other amazing stuff happening in this book, like applesauce, that there weren't really any particularly brilliant outfits being described. Apart from the matador costumes. Although when Jessica decided to trick Bill by dressing as Elizabeth, she did so in the following:

"She was wearing Elizabeth's flowered peasant skirt and ruffled blouse."


Things I counted:
Number of pages: 150
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 6
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 8
Amount of times the twins are called "beautiful": 12

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Heads Will Roll

There's this song that's been stuck in my head since I heard it. Thankfully this isn't like the times when you get a Harvey Norman jingle or a One Direction song stuck in your head and you start to lose the will to live. It's quite the opposite, I'm more than happy to have this song lodged in my brain. In fact, I think I've forgotten the words to one of the verses of Jump Around, in order to make room for it. The fact that I'm ok with that speaks volumes about how good it is.

If this typeface was a person I'd shift the face off it and make it a lasagna for dinner.

The song in question is Queen Herod Will Find You, by Queen Herod. As awesome as the name is, the story of the song is pretty much exactly the sort of thing I love.

"This tells the story of Queen Herod, a giant, murderous witch who lives in an isolated castle in the forest. She gathers the children from their homes and eats them. But does she eat them because she's lonely, or is she lonely because she eats them?"

Oooh! And look at the beautiful, creepy video!

Queen Herod is the lovely, jangly, bitey alter ego of Dublin artist and musician Holly Pereira. Her debut EP can be listened to here (it's really very good, I highly recommend you listen) and is being launched in Whelans on the 13th December.

Queen Herod is on Facebook too. You'd better go say hello, because she WILL find you, you know.