Friday, June 14, 2013

Ill Communication

A few weeks ago, my awesome friend Trace Dogg got married to his lovely girlfriend. In the run-up to the wedding, I had an idea for a card that I could make for him, and got VERY excited about it. You see, Trace Dogg is a huge Beastie Boys fan (his Root Down rendition is a thing of beauty) and I had the perfect line from a Beasties song that would totally work for a Happy Wedding Day card.

"I’m a newlywed, not a divorcĂ© / And everything I do is funky like Lee Dorsey".

I hadn't ever really noticed the line before (it's from Sure Shot), until I saw someone point it out in the comments in an excellent 7 Reasons To Love the Beastie Boys article that Anna Carey wrote for The Anti Room about two years ago. I thought it was a cool line and filed it away in my brain with random bits of songs that I know, along with the Animaniacs Nations of the World song. I can get as far as Guam.

Anyway, Trace Dogg + wedding + Beastie Boys = Sure Shot.

Obviously.

So I made this:


I was pretty pleased with myself. Especially when I could see him knowing exactly what the reference was before he'd finished reading it. It was also a fun way of finding out who else at the wedding was a Beasties fan, as for the most part the card was met with polite puzzlement, but Trace Dogg liked it and that's all that mattered.

And because it's fucking tune and a half, here it is. Mimed by Muppets!


Turn that motherfucker up.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Wrong Kind of Girl

Well hello there. I know it's been terribly quiet around here of late, but work and real life and trying to read as much of A Storm of Swords as I possibly can has all been getting in the way, you see. As well as being traumatised by the Red Wedding episode of Game of Thrones. Actually, wouldn't Jessica Wakefield make an amazing Lannister?

Anyway, onwards to the next book!

Sweet Valley High #10: Wrong Kind of Girl
 

Ok, the first thing you need to know is that this book gets off to an amazing start. It's a first line that deserves to be up there with "Call me Ishmael", or "It is a truth universally acknowledged.." STRAP YO'SELVES IN, FOLKS.

As she looked over the list of girls who had signed up to try out for the cheerleading squad, Jessica Wakefield purred like a satisfied cat.

Miaow! We're immediately off to a great start. Excellent work, ghost writer. Anyway, Jessica is all aroused because seventy three girls have signed up, so we can only assume that there must be like a bajillion students in that school. There are two spots open, because Cara Walker and awesome bitch Lila Fowler were booted off the team for turning on the sprinklers during a rival squad's performance. Because soaking wet cheerleaders means a ruined routine. Yeah. Sounds legit.

So Jessica has essentially promised Cara that her old place on the squad is guaranteed, but suddenly the sight of Annie Whitman's name on the list serves as a massive bonerkiller for Jess. And why is that?

You know what they call her. Easy Annie! She's been with every guy at school.

Well now. There's the pot calling the kettle a whore. Jessica is furious that Annie has the nerve to sign up and reckons that her trampy reputation will give the whole squad a bad name. Which is hilarious, because LOOK IN THE MIRROR YOU CRAZY BITCH.

Apparently, being a cheerleader means keeping your grades up and Elizabeth has been tutoring Annie after school. While consoling her after a test that didn't go well, Annie confesses to Elizabeth that she sometimes feels worthless.

"What?" Elizabeth said, truly surprised. "You? Why, Annie, you're just about the most beautiful girl in Sweet Valley High."

You're RIGHT, Elizabeth! Beauty DOES equal worth! EXCELLENT MESSAGE.

Elizabeth calls over to Annie's house after school to help her with maths and learns about what a hard life Annie has had. Her mother had her when she was sixteen, her father left when she was two and threw her down a flight of stairs when she was ten. While Elizabeth is being told all of this, she thinks about how amazing and perfect and good-looking (really) her own parents are and it's impossible not to imagine her with a smug grin on her face while she does so.

Meanwhile, Jessica is coaching Cara through all the new moves and cheers that she'll need to know for the try-outs and there's a really odd bit where Steven Wakefield appears in front of them, doesn't really hear them when they both say hello and then hurries back into the house. So he just wandered out into the garden, stood in front of his sister and her friend and then fucked off back inside. It turns out that he's just heard the news that his girlfriend's dad is in jail for drink driving, but it's still quite a weird little scene.

The day of the try-outs arrives and Annie is brilliant, but Jessica tries to stop her from making it to the last twenty five because she's a cheertator (if you know what I'm talking about, then we should totally be friends) and freaks out at Elizabeth for saying in her gossip column that Annie is one of the favourites for the squad.

There's a Beach Disco a few nights later and pretty much everyone from school is there. A band called The Surfers' Waves are playing (not the Droids? The fuck, guys?) and Annie enrages Jessica by turning up with Bruce Patman. Suddenly there's a dance contest, because the denizens of Sweet Valley appear to living in the musical Grease. It ends up being a draw between Jessica and her date and Annie and Bruce, which Jessica takes a personal affront and is furious that Annie seems to think that she's "as good" as her. Silly Annie! Doesn't she know that The Glorious Wakefields are the pinnacle of hot sixteen year old girls the world over and should NEVER be challenged? Clearly not.

Jessica and Elizabeth have a row over Jessica being a cunt to Annie for no good reason, and things get worse when Jessica discovers that Elizabeth is the one helping Annie to pass all her maths tests and keep her grades up. It's the day of the cheerleading semi-finals, and Annie is amazing again, with the whole gym applauding her. Jessica has been telling the rest of the squad how unsuitable Annie would be every day since the first round of try-outs and is aghast to find that they've dared to defy her and all voted for her to be in the final eight.

It's no surprise that everyone did vote for her though, the way her routine is described. "Out she dashed, creating an immediate electric excitement in everybody watching." "Zest and perfection", "she was quite simply a sensation." Oh and she "blushed prettily" at the end when the crowd burst into applause. That's the other thing about Annie, literally every time she appears in the book, we're informed of how gorgeous she is. We've already had "Annie tossed her lovely head", "the gloom returned to her pretty face", and "a becoming blush rose in Annie Whitman's cheeks" and we're only halfway through the book. We get more hotness reminders for her than we do for the Wakefield twins combined. Actually, no wonder Jessica hates her. She's stealing all her sexy thunder!

Annie's progress through the cheerleading rounds is boosting her self confidence, and she tells Elizabeth that the reson she hooks up with so many dudes is because she needed the attention and felt empty inside. Poor Annie has no idea that half the school calls her Easy Annie and thinks she's a tramp. Seriously, is that school working under some kind of mass delusion about Jessica, as if she HASN'T dry humped half the dudes in Sweet Valley? Or is a girl only a tramp if she lives with her single mother in an apartment, rather than a split level ranch house with hot parents? HMMM.

Jessica and her lavaliere being all smug and blonde while plotting Annie's downfall. Rumour has it that Courteney Cox was the model used for Annie Whitman. She's the absolute head off tampon ad-era Courteney. See?
Anyway, Jessica goes full on Regina George and rigs the voting process by mind fucking one of the other cheerleaders, Helen Bradley, into keeping Annie off the squad. Meanwhile, Annie has noticed that the cheer squad's manager Ricky Capaldo fancies her, and she's starting to feel the same way. I should say that Ricky is a student too, which seems a bit odd, but I guess it's better that way as otherwise it'd be an adult wanting to bone a fifteen year old girl, which would be hella creepy.

Then, ooh THEN, we get an amazing scene so melodramatic it'd make Linda Gray's eyes water. Elizabeth is over at Todd's house, watching an old movie with him. Her mind keeps wandering to the Jessica-Annie dilemma so she unwittingly lets out a sigh, which causes Todd to jump up and demand to know if she's in love with someone else. Because she sighed. He's TOTALLY serious, it's hilarious.

He asks her this while looking away from her, so there's even an impassioned "Todd, please look at me!" thrown in, before he calms the fuck down and puts his big boy pants on. He asks her what's been on her mind and guesses that it's something to with Jessica being a duplicitous, cruel wench (in so many words) which causes Elizabeth to get all angry and defensive. Todd's ma then comes into the room, and Todd says "Mom, we're having a discussion", without looking at her. The fucking brat! Imagine your mammy letting you talk to her like that! Not a hope, lads. She actually leaves the room without so much as a HINT of a wooden spoon in Todd's direction and he and Liz make up, of course. YAWWWN. Someone should have ended up in a swimming pool. Go big or go home, Francine.

The day of the cheerleading finals arrives and Annie is spectacular as usual, which results in a stand off between Jessica and the rest of the squad, who want to vote Annie in. Jessica demands that they vote in Sandra, a girl who fell during her routine. When the rest of the cheerleaders won't back down, Jessica gives them an ultimatum and says she'll leave if they allow Annie in, the power mad harpy. Apparently she's the "heart and soul of the team", so as usual she gets her way. Ugh. STOP HUMOURING HER.

When Annie finds out that she didn't make the cut, she's distraught and cries on Ricky until he tells her that it was Jessica who screwed her over and did so because she thought Annie's reputation would
taint the whole squad. When Annie doesn't show up for the next three days of school, Ricky goes to Elizabeth, begging her to talk Jessica into letting Annie on the squad. Jessica doesn't budge and the next Monday, Elizabeth gets a call from Ricky, telling her that Annie tried to kill herself. Elizabeth rushes to the hospital, dragging Jessica with her, who at least had the decency to protest and say that Annie wouldn't want her there.

They find Ricky in the waiting room, and Jessica, suddenly realising that being a horrendous bitch can actually have consequences, bursts into tears, sobbing about how it's all her fault, and making it all about her. The doctor eventually comes to Annie's mother and tells her that her daughter appears to have "no will to live". Dun dun DUUUUN. Jessica blurts the whole story out to the doctor to let them know why Annie overdosed on pills and the doctor, FOR SERIOUS, prescribes....letting Annie be a cheerleader. Amazing. Jessica stays up all night at Annie's bedside, telling her that there was a mix-up and she's on the squad after all. Annie eventually comes to and her first words are "Where are you? Please...Jess." Oh get ta fuck.

Annie wakes up and later that day, the twins and Ricky bring in her cheerleading uniform and tell her to go to the window. The cheer squad are outside and shout "Get well Annie!" and then everyone is happy and a fifteen year old girl's depression and suicide attempt are all forgotten about. Because cheerleading. Yay.

Notable outfit:
Amid not-too-remarkable dresses with thigh-high slits (Annie), black and red striped tops (Jessica) and a total lack of Dana Larson, I'm giving this one to Elizabeth's bit of man candy.

Todd looked especially handsome that night in his gray cords and burgundy shirt.

Good for you Toddington.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 137
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 3
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 3
Amount of times Annie is called pretty/beautiful/lovely: 12

 
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