Friday, January 24, 2014

A Few Questions From The Womb Patrol

Back before Christmas, I got an email from a somewhat irate pharmacist. You see, a survey had been sent to her place of work and appeared to have been sent to chemists all over the country. Unfortunately, this wasn't the fun kind, like the old "would you rather fight a hundred duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck?" classic.

In fact, it was most decidedly anti-fun, as it was from Human Life International and you just KNOW what bags of craic anti-choice organisations like those dudes are. i.e. Not even a little bit. Anyway, it angered this particular pharmacist to the point that she got in touch with me in a bid to get more people to see what Human Life LOOK AT THE BABY International are up to these days. And I'm not one to turn down an opportunity to make fun of anti-choice tomfuckery.

There was a cover letter and testimonials enclosed along with the survey, which explained how they're trying to compile a list of chemists that don't sell "abortifacients/contraceptive products", because why just call them contraceptives when you can unnecessarily shoehorn in a word with a big juicy ABORT in it.


The letter opens with:

"We have all been shocked at recent reports of chemical warfare on children in the Middle East."

Okaay, do go on.

 
"However, no less shocking is the attack on human life by chemical contraceptives, morning-after pill, intra-uterine devices and other abortifacient products."

Er...but these things all prevent the possibility of getting knocked up, so how is preventing something from happening in the first place an attack, exactly? And I'm pretty sure that the fact that I'm on the pill is a lot less shocking than the slaughter of children in a horrible war. You dickbags.

Anyway, the letter claims that they CONSTANTLY get asked if they know "even one pharmacy in the country that does NOT dispense abortifacients/contraceptive products" (because that's exactly how people talk in real life) and states that many of their followers would travel long distances to go to such a haven of 1960s Ireland.

Right, because when you've got a headache all you really want to do is take a day trip to Donegal for some fucking ibuprofen just so you can avoid being upset by a Durex logo and the notion that sex can just be for fun and not relentless baby-making.


The executive director of Human Life International is our old pal Patrick Stranglewank McCrystal, just the person to head up an anti-gay, anti-vaccine, anti-anyone-having-fun-of-any-kind organisation.


One of the testimonials is from Caroline Hubert, who was a pharmacist in the UK that decided in 1994 that other people's birth control choices were suddenly her business and decided to stop supplying contraceptives for customers.

"My company accepted my position as a conviction of conscience and I continued to work at this branch for the next 10 years until I left to accommodate the needs of my own growing family of 8 children."

I have to admit, I actually snort-laughed when I read that bit. EIGHT CHILDREN? Jesus Christ woman, just because you were constantly pregnant for most of your adult life doesn't mean everyone else has to be too.


So, on one hand, I kind of hope that an overwhelming majority of chemists threw the lot in the bin on opening this particular bit of post, although on the other I'd love it if everyone just drew a massive cock on the survey page and posted that back to them. Because I'm childish like that and fuck these guys.

 
(Although I must admit that if they did happen to compile a list of backward-thinking chemists, I'd love to see it, just to make sure that I never ever make the mistake of inadvertently supporting a business that thinks that safe sex is a bad thing.)

Names and contact details have been removed from the letter to protect the non-crazy.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Deceptions

ALRIGHTY THEN. It's a new year and I'm going to endeavour to post more often, or at least try not to let weeks on end go by with nothing happening but tumbleweeds. So, here we go with Sweet Valley High, book 14!

Sweet Valley High #14: Deceptions


We begin at the Wakefield's house where there's a welcome back party going on for Elizabeth after the kidnapping ordeal that hasn't traumatised her even a tiny bit. She answers the door to find Nicholas Morrow there ("His face would have put a Greek god to shame") who for some reason is dumbstruck at the sight of Elizabeth, which doesn't make any sense seeing as he's already met Jessica several times and they look exactly the same. After looking at him for all of three seconds before inviting him in, Elizabeth immediately deduces that he's intelligent and compassionate, which is bollocks because she's not fucking Sherlock Holmes.

We're then given the usual rundown of how extraordinarily hot the twins are:

"Both girls were spectacular, with the all-American good looks that made them the envy of every other girl in Sweet Valley."

Those Wakefields. So relatable.

The Droids are playing in the living room and Nicholas asks Elizabeth to dance. She was on her way over to Todd but agrees, to be polite. It turns out that the song they're dancing to is about Elizabeth and the lead singer, Dana Larson, wrote it to welcome her back because no one in Sweet Valley has anything better to do than be obsessed with the goddamn Wakefields.

Nicholas follows Elizabeth around for the entire evening and at the end of the night, tells her that he's falling in love with her. No, really. He's completely serious, even though he's literally just met her. She explains that she has a boyfriend, but that doesn't dissuade him and he spends three pages pestering her and basically trying to guilt her into going out with him, telling her she's too young to be tied down with just one person, that she's just afraid, that she doesn't even know him, yet she's made a decision and OH MY GOD WHAT IS THIS GUY'S PROBLEM? NO MEANS NO, ASSHOLE.

Elizabeth hesitated. Then she asked miserably, "What about Todd?"
"What about me?"

JESUS CHRIST, WHAT ABOUT YOU NICHOLAS, YOU PETULANT DICKHEAD? STEP AWAY FROM THE SIXTEEN YEAR OLD.

Her eyes filled with tears. It didn't seem fair that she should be held responsible for Nicholas's happiness.

Newsflash, Liz: YOU'RE NOT.

However, she gives in to his campaign of pressure and guilt tripping and agrees to go to dinner with him, because she "didn't want to make him feel uneasy by saying no".

AGHH. HIS BONER IS NOT YOUR PROBLEM, LIZ.

This guy is the worst. The actual worst. Fuck off, Nicholas Morrow. Really, though. Fuck right off. All the way off, in fact and when you think you've fucked off enough, well you haven't, so FUCK OFF SOME MORE.

After the party, Elizabeth feels super guilty, because she hasn't told Todd what's going on and she can't tell Jessica, because she declared her love for Nicholas while the twins were tidying up after everyone left and is convinced that he's into her too.

Oblivious to Nicholas's raging horn for Elizabeth, Jessica begins hatching a plan to get him properly interested in her. The Morrows are in "the computer business" you see, and Nicholas is taking a year off to learn about them so he can work with his father, so Jessica starts cosying up to poor ol' nerdy Randy Mason so he'll teach her about computers.

Also, Jessica is failing her maths classes and failing a class means getting booted off the cheerleading squad. So when she reads an article in the newspaper about kids known as "hackers", who can "plug in" to computers all over the state and change the data on them, another plan in which she can use Randy for her own ends begins to develop.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth is quietly freaking out about her dinner date with Nicholas and the fact that she still hasn't told Todd. Nicholas rings her and says he's taking her to Côte d'Or, a fancy pants restaurant an hour away from Sweet Valley, which works for Liz as that way she won't be seen by anyone from school. She then calls Enid for advice, who agrees that she HAS to go out with Nicholas, even though she doesn't actually want to because she made a promise and for some reason the option of just telling Nicholas to go fuck himself doesn't even enter the equation.

Here's the jerk now, with the wrong coloured hair, as it's described as dark in the book. Also, Liz is looking pretty fucking pleased with herself here, for someone who's supposedly all conflicted and in turmoil for the entirety of the story.

Back over in the Jessica subplot, she eventually sweet-talks and manipulates Randy into changing her maths grade on the school computer (singular) via his mad hacker skillz, crying until he reluctantly agrees to help her out. And as soon as she gets her way, literally in the next breath, she drops him and goes home. It's so harsh.

Later that night, Randy calls Jessica, telling her that she's basically ruined his life and he might be kicked out of school and will never get to become a systems programmer. He's also worried that he might go to jail and he's going to the principal's office to confess everything. However, it was Liz that picked up the phone, so she forces Jessica to take her scheming ass into the principal's office too.

Liz takes Jessica to school in the car, "driving fast but skillfully" (earlier in the book when the twins went to the mall, Elizabeth parked the car "deftly", because she only ever does things perfectly). Then, for some reason she goes into the principal's office with Jessica, while Mr. Cooper is talking to Randy and stands there for the entirety of the conversation like a spare tit. I have no idea why Cooper doesn't tell her to wait outside, seeing as the issue at hand has absolutely nothing to do with her, but hey, Wakefield mind-control powers or something, probably.

Jessica bleats on about how it wasn't a crime to change her grade, and suddenly realises that it actually might be.

"Is it?" she whispered. "It could be!" Mr. Cooper's tone sent chills racing up and down her spine.

It could be? Jesus Cooper, at least pretend like you know what you're talking about. He threatens to suspend Jessica and Randy and then Elizabeth sticks her beak in, pleading with him to give them both another chance and for some unfathomable reason (or because of the aforementioned Wakefield mind-control powers) he actually BACKS DOWN. "But only because of you, Elizabeth." What the ever loving fuck? That is no way to run a school, Cooper.

Anyway, it's Saturday night and Elizabeth has a date with Todd, but still hasn't told him that she's going out with Nicholas the following evening. She doesn't get around to it that night either and instead just decides to make sure he never finds out. Solid plan, Liz. If their relationship is as brilliant as we're supposed to believe it is, then surely she should be able to just say "here, Todd, this insufferable rich dude won't get off my back unless I go out with him once, so I'm going to go, get a free dinner out of it and then I'll call over to yours and we can talk shit about him and watch movies for the evening." Anyway, Todd will be out with his family on Sunday night for his mother's birthday, so Liz breathes a sigh of relief and thinks to herself "What could possibly go wrong now?"

HEY, I WONDER WHERE THEY'RE GOING FOR THE BIRTHDAY DINNER? I BET IT'S SOMEWHERE FANCY.

Sunday evening rolls around and Elizabeth is home getting ready for her date, putting on minimal make-up "in soft, subtle tones", because of all the natural beauty and anyway, in Sweet Valley a full face of make-up is for whores. She throws on a honey coloured "natural-silk shantung dress" and I had to look up what shantung means. It turns out that it's a type of silk. So her dress has basically been described as a silk silk dress. Well done, ghostwriter.

She arrives at the restaurant to find Nicholas waiting for her, wearing slacks, a dinner jacket and...a maroon ascot. Is he going to a wedding? Anyway, they sit down and Elizabeth agrees to let Nicholas order for her, which is something I just don't understand AT ALL when you don't know the person. It makes no sense to me to hand over a decision as important as dinner, especially to some asshole who can't take no for an answer.

Anyway, they chit chat over dinner, Nicholas whines about how hard it is being rich, because snobby rich people give them a bad name. Yeah, not to mention the guys who harass a sixteen year old who has a boyfriend into going on a date with them. OH WAIT THAT'S YOU, FUCKFACE. While having dessert, Elizabeth tells him that he's a great guy (really? REALLY?) and all but she's not in love with him. Finally, Nicholas admits defeat and thanks her for giving him the chance he asked for (and not the restraining order he actually deserves).

But UH OH, WHAT'S THIS. Todd and his family are there too and on their way out and about to pass by their table. Wow, much shock, so surprise. In an impressively diabolical move, Elizabeth pretends to be Jessica when Todd recognises her and he actually falls for it. When he gets home, he feels guilty for having doubted Elizabeth and decides to call over to apologise for mixing them up. When Jessica answers the door in a towel, he immediately lobs the gob before he realises that he's got the wrong twin. Todd and Jessica are both furious when they figure out that their precious Elizabeth was on a secret date with Nicholas and Todd storms off in a rage, saying it's over between them.

Jessica confronts Elizabeth when she gets back and tells her that Todd knows what actually happened. During Jessica's tirade, Elizabeth tries to explain and says that Nicholas begged her to go out with him.

"He wanted me to get to know him. I felt I owed him that."

What outrageous bullshit! YOU DIDN'T OWE HIM SHIT, ELIZABETH. I'm actually with Jessica on this one, which is saying something. Jessica then suddenly decides that she doesn't fancy Nicholas anymore anyway so she forgives Elizabeth. Sure that's grand so.

Todd, however, is another story and the next day at school, he gives Elizabeth the brush-off. There's a big basketball game that night and Elizabeth has to cover it for the school paper. Todd ignores her before the game and proceeds to make an absolute balls of everything on the court, missing shots and generally being terrible, because he's a sad panda. Then Nicholas shows up and decides that he's going to fix everything.

At half time, he heads to the locker room to explain to Todd that he pressured Elizabeth into going out with him but nothing happened and she's still in love with Todd. This is apparently enough for Todd to do a complete 180 and decide that everything is alright again. So he wouldn't give his girlfriend a chance to give her side of the story, but this rando dude who hassled her into going on a date shows up to explain and that's all fine? Ugh. I hate everyone in this book.

Todd goes back out onto the court a changed man and wins the game against Big Mesa at the last minute, he and Elizabeth make up and everything is grand. Woo.

Also, over the course of the fourteen books so far, it's becoming clear that Jessica has an obsession with the number 137. For real. It pops up in Jessica-dialogue at least once in almost every book so far. In this one alone, she gets it in three times:

"There must be a hundred and thirty-seven people waiting to meet you.” 
“If I don’t pass, my parents will ground me for a hundred and thirty-seven years.”
“Enid Rollins is about one hundred and thirty-seven different kinds of nerd.”

It's such a weirdly random little quirk and so much a part of how Jessica speaks, that even Elizabeth drops a 137 into her impression of Jessica at Côte d'Or:

“Wait until I tell Elizabeth. Then you’ll be in trouble. About a hundred and thirty-seven different kinds.”

SO WEIRD.

Notable outfit:
There wasn't much going on in terms of hilarious outfits in this one, aside from Nicholas and his ascot. At Liz's welcome home party though, Jessica has cracked out "her sexiest outfit":

"A slinky black pantsuit with a plunging neckline."

Which actually sounds nice, if a little more like something someone ten years older than her would wear.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 137
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 2
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 4
Amount of times people blush: 8
Amount of times Jessica says "Oh Randy!": 9

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Goodbye to Beaut.ie

UPDATE: It's back! The site has been rescued! QUIT PLAYING GAMES WITH MY HEART, GUYS. I've decided to leave this post here anyway though, as it's the only thing I've managed to write here since November. Just change the "sorely missed" bit to "continuing to be deadly".

It's a sad day for Irish blogging, as after eight sparkling years the truly excellent Beaut.ie is hanging up its dancing shoes and handing in its lipstick. I was lucky enough to contribute to the site for the last year and a half or so and absolutely loved being part of a team of such witty and wonderful women.


I had long been a fan of the site and like many others, it inspired my former blogmate Tess and I to start up our own little corner of the internet. When Aisling invited me to become part of the Beaut.ie team back in 2012, I was so taken aback that I actually replied asking whether I had gotten her email by accident, as I had never expected to become part of such a brilliant and beloved blog. Also because I'm pretty clueless about make-up and the one thing that I can actually do is an only slightly wobbly eyeliner flick.

Thankfully I wasn't emailed in error and got to write about everything from Youth Defence being dicks, to genderised toys being a load of bollocks, to stock photo models, period dramas, stupid sexy Halloween costumes and Justin Theroux looking like there'd be a smell of bins off him. I also got to use the phrase "rampaging cockmonster" in a post, which was fun.

While I'm sad that that the site is coming to an end, it's been an absolute blast and you couldn't ask for a more supportive and genuinely lovely, fun and often hilarious bunch of commenters. Beaut.ie will be sorely missed and I want to thank Aisling for having me and wish her and the rest of the crack team of kickass ladies all the luck in the world with their continuing adventures.

Shine on, you crazy diamonds.

 
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