Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Kidnapped!

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

Sweet Valley High #13: Kidnapped! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whatever the hell a tank suit is.

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

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A to Z of Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clickedy-click to enlarge

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

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

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

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

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

I'm fine with that.

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

(Edit: Yes. Because Aislinn is deadly.)

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Handbook For The Recently Deceased

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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