Monday, April 6, 2015

BSC TV Series Episode # 3: Stacey’s Big Break

Memory Reaction

I actually saw this episode when I was a kid, so I thought I’d do this memory section again.

I remember Stacey making a big deal out of how she had to wear shorts outside when modeling.  And that first the rest of the BSC thinks she was wearing them inside, and got all impressed when they found out otherwise.  It was winter, obviously.  I also remember how Stacey clicks her tongue to give Charlotte confidence or something when she’s in a play.  I thought it was really sweet at the time.

Revisited Reaction
The girls are putting on a play with the kids they sit for, because, why not? It’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and the BSC thinks Charlotte’s perfect for the part, despite her ridiculous stage fright.  Stacey says Charlotte trusts her and will do it if she asks.  Nice manipulation of a kid, Stacey.  She tells Charlotte they'll have a special signal that should help Charlotte not be scared when she hears it.  This special signal’s just Stacey clicking her tongue, so I don’t know how secret it is.  But Charlotte’s eight, so whatever.  

Anyway, it's also a big week for Stacey elsewhere, because she gets spotted by some kind of modelling agent who wants her to meet with a photographer.  That turns into a test shoot, and then some actual modelling gigs.  She even gets to be the local store’s representative in some "New Faces Competition."  And she wins! Of course, this comes with a price, and that’s that Stacey misses a bunch of Snow White rehearsals.  Charlotte’s not happy about this and says she can't do it without her. The other sitters try to help, but Charlotte won’t tell them about the secret magic tongue clicking thing.  But eventually she does agree to let Dawn help her learn her lines.  Then Stacey’s all annoyed that Dawn’s taking her place.

Stacey’s sure she can go to the performance, but winning the contest has led to more jobs, including an opportunity to be in a commercial and go on a trip to Hollywood.  But Stacey finds out she'll have to miss the Snow White performance.  She quits the modelling and shows up at the play just in time to see Charlotte freezing on stage (and by stage, I mean someone's living room).  She clicks her tongue and Charlotte remembers her line and all’s well.  Stacey says she's okay walking away from modelling because anyone can do that, but not just anyone can be in the BSC.  Which is kind of cliquey if you think about it.

  • There’s a mention of the Little Miss Stoneybrook pageant and how Charlotte totally flamed out during her performance.  And yet, the girls still think it’s a good idea to cast her as the lead in the play.  Just because she looks the part? They must have a bunch of dark-haired girls who would love to do it.  Why force Charlotte to do something she doesn’t want to do?
  • When Stacey gets a sitting job for Charlotte, Stacey’s all, “great, she’s my favorite.”  As if the other girls in the room didn’t already know Charlotte was her favorite.
  • There’s a line about Stacey liking Bill Cosby, which I think is actually good continuity with the books.  I remember one where she and Becca are watching The Cosby Show.  I have no other comment on Bill Cosby…. 
  • Kristy says how she would hate modeling, because she even hated to pose for pictures at her mom’s wedding.  But I remember her being surprisingly excited about getting to dress up for that wedding.  I know that’s not the same as posing for pictures, but still.
  • Stacey spends ages deciding what to wear for the first meeting with the photographer, and then we see her getting her picture taken in it.  Wouldn’t they give her something to wear? I can see picking out a nice outfit because she wants to make an impression, I just think they’d have her change for the photos, even if it’s a test.
  • It’s a cute scene, but I can’t believe Stacey would ask the other BSC members what to wear.  She’s Ms. Fashionista, would she really need to ask Mallory or Kristy how she looked?  I can only see that happening if she ignored their advice.
  • There’s a young boy who refuses to wear tights in the play, but I can’t figure out who he’s supposed to be.  It’s bothering me.
  • When Stacey walks into the Snow White performance, it sort of seems like Charlotte’s first scene, because you’d think that’s when stage freight would start.  Except it’s the scene where Snow White wakes up at the dwarves’ house.  So did she perform fine at the beginning and then just lose it?
  • Jackie Rodowski’s supposed to be one year younger than Charlotte, but the actor looks a lot older to me.
  • Surprisingly absent in all this is Mrs. McGill.  Stacey goes to the test shoot and all her jobs by herself.  Her only supporter at the contest is the BSC. And even when she quits she’s alone.  Wouldn’t there be contracts and stuff a parent was needed for?
  • There’s a scene where the BSC’s eating at a pizza place, and Charlotte comes in with her mom.  Stacey walks over, has this whole conversation with Charlotte and Dr. Johanssan doesn’t even acknowledge her.  It’s kind of funny, actually.  We do hear Stacey saying good-bye to her, but I guess that actress wasn’t allowed to talk or something, because she doesn’t say it back or even smile at her.
  • I wouldn’t expect the BSC’s play to be in some big theater, but it’s literally in someone’s living room.  Stacey shouldn’t have needed to click her tongue, Charlotte would have just seen her.  And I don’t think I see any parents in the audience for this play, which seems odd.  Do they have a maximum number of adults they can hire?
  • Kristy plays Prince Charming in the play.  In case you are curious.
  • The woman who seems to be Stacey’s agent seems to work for Bellairs (that department store in Stoneybrook).  Because she picks Stacey to be the store’s representative in the contest.  Then she also seems to be hosting the contest, which seems like an unfair bias.  But maybe I misunderstood and it was a contest to pick the face for the store?

Friday, March 20, 2015

BSC TV Series Episode 2: Dawn and the Haunted House

The title of this episode’s kind of misleading.  It’s called Dawn and the Haunted House but is really about Dawn thinking some old woman’s a witch.   Witches are not the same as ghosts, and ghosts are who haunt things.  It starts with the girls are on their bikes, we see them go past a house that Mrs. Slade, this older woman, lives.  Dawn thinks she’s a witch because….she’s old, I guess?  Gives off a creepy vibe? It’s not really elaborated on. 

The girls get a sitting job for a new client thatlives next-door to Mrs. Slade.  Dawn and Stacey both go on the first job, because apparently on the TV show they send two sitters for 3 kids. While sitting, the little boy that lives there says he thinks Mrs. Slade’s creepy.  Stacey and Dawn take this as some kind of evidence or something.  Then they see a “weird” rock garden in the woods behind her house and think it’s an animal graveyard or something.

Meanwhile, Claudia failed a test at school and her parents are insisting she buckle down and get better, otherwise she’ll have to quit the BSC.  She doesn’t tell the rest of the club.  But her parents to get her a tutor to help.  We don’t  hear who the tutor is, but it is obviously going to turn out to be Mrs. Slade.

At the second job at the Slade’s, Mary Anne sand Stacey see Claudia inside Mrs. Slade’s house.  They think she’s been kidnapped or something, so they come up with a plan to “save” her.  Stacey calls Mrs. Slade to say she saw a hurt dog outside, and Mrs. Slade goes to look for it, since animals are her thing.  Then the rest of the club goes into her house to get Claudia.  Claud’s all, “guys, she’s my tutor. She’s really nice.”  Then Dawn and everyone else feels guilty and they go to find Mrs. Slade so she doesn’t spend all night looking for the imaginary hurt dog.  They apologize and Claudia kind of insults them when telling Mrs. Slade they thought she was a witch.  And Claudia aces her science test so she gets to stay in the club. 

  • These girls use “KL5” in the poster they put up for the BSC.  Isn’t that a bit….dated?
  • For the record the full number is KL5-3231.
  • It occurred to me that it’s kind of creepy for 13-year-olds to just go to the house of someone they never met to baby-sit.  It could be some pervert who just wants to lure young girls to their house.  Perverts must have had some way of finding young girls before the Internet.  If I had kids I wouldn’t let them sit for people I didn’t know.
  • When biking at the beginning, Kristy says they shouldn’t do it because it’s creepy.  They should have given Mary Anne that line, Kristy was never one to get creeped out easily.
  • Claud’s house is white with blue shutters.  That isn’t how I pictured it.
  • At the BSC meeting the girls ask Claudia how she did on her test, and she’s all, “yeah, I did fine.” Then two minutes later someone notices she looks upset and asks if she’s sick.  Seriously, girls, learn to pick up some cues.  She was obviously lying about being sick.  Maybe the script called for Claudia to be a better liar than the actress could pull off.
  • For some reason I had thought this episode was about Dawn’s secret passage, and that she found old letters in it.  I don’t know if I am thinking of another episode, or if I made it up.
  • Someone really studied their BSC history in this episode.  Someone asks if Mal ever had the chicken pox (I guess the kid she’s sitting for had them), and she points out she had them twice.
  • The new clients want two sitters because they have a baby and two little kids but so did the Perkins and the Papadakises.  They never needed two sitters.  It’s obviously because they wanted the girls to be able to talk to each other (they can’t have an inner monologue like in the books), but they should come up with a better excuse.
  • If the Kishi’s hate junk food why do they have a full cookie jar in their kitchen?
  • Another piece of continuity with the books….Mrs. Kishi mentions she talked to Mr. Kingbridge at school, which was definitely the name of the Vice Principal in the books.
  • These writers are even good with continuity on the show. They talk about the treasury being low because they just spent money on kid kits, which they totally did in the last episode.  But in that episode, they had a surplus, so they should be even now, unless they overspent.
  • The girls are buying supplies for a sleepover, which includes flashlights and candles to make it “spooky.” Okay, that’s weird enough.  (Not the wanting spookiness, but wasting money on flashlights when your parents must have them at home). But then we have Stacey say she loves hardware stores.  Which just seems so counter to everything we know about her.
  • When Dawn’s talking about Mrs. Slade being creepy, she mentions a shovel.  I guess she thinks she uses the shovel to dig her pet cemetery? I don’t know, but when Claudia suggests it’s for gardening, Dawn calls her dumb.  Dawn does not come off very well in this episode.
  • It seems like anytime Claudia got a tutor or spent extra time studying, she did well on tests.  Not to sound all parent-y but she should have just done that all the time.  Don’t just stop using a tutor after one test.
  • Is it me, or is this episode practically the same plot as the first Little Sister book?

Monday, February 23, 2015

BSC TV Series Episode # 1: Mary Anne and the Brunettes

I only saw some of the TV episodes/videos as a kid and this wasn't one of them.  But from what I can recall, they were usually original plots that seemed like they could have taken place in a book.   But this first episode has a plot that seemed similar to a combination of books, but with the characters acting less likable.  

This girl at school, Marcy, who’s basically Cokie with a different name, is into Logan even though he and Mary Anne are already dating.  Marcy flirts with Logan in the store and says they should go to a party together.  Logan doesn’t say yes, but he doesn’t really give a firm no either, so Marcy thinks she has a chance.  Kristy witnesses this and tells Mary Anne to watch out and talk to Logan.  Mary Anne says she trusts Logan and doesn’t need to ask him.

Marcy continues to flirt with Logan and taunt Mary Anne about it, and Mary Anne keeps telling the BSC girls she trusts him.  They finally talk her into talking to him, and she practices doing this in the mirror, but thinks that she sounds dumb (and she’s right).   The next day they’re at a fair at school and Logan asks Mary Anne about details for a baby-sitting job they were supposed to be doing together that afternoon.  Mary Anne’s all, “If you’d rather go to the party that’s fine with me.” And Logan’s all, “WTF?” and totally doesn’t know how to answer her.  Then inside the fair, Marcy makes some snarky comment to Mary Anne about how Logan’s a good kisser.  Mary Anne throws a pie in her face, it’s kind of awesome. She just happened to have a pie in her hand because there was some kind of pie throwing booth.

Later Mary Anne’s sitting for the Rodowsky’s (at the job Logan was supposed to help with) and he shows up.  Mary Anne’s kind of rude to him, but when he asks what’s wrong she says nothing, instead of asking if he really kissed Marcy.  So Logan leaves, but then Jackie talks some sense into her.  That’s right the “Walking Disaster” talks sense into Mary Anne.  Maybe because he’s played by Little Pete he has more wisdom?

Anyway, I guess Mary Anne goes to find him to talk about it (after Mrs. Rodowsky is home), and while she’s doing that Logan comes back to look for her.  But they ultimately find each other and talk and work things out.  Meanwhile, Kristy and Marcy argue at the party and Kristy ends up squirting Marcy with a hose.  Then Kristy and the other girls go to look for Mary Anne to tell her Logan’s a jerk, but find her already made up with Logan who has proven himself to not be a jerk afterall.  So all is well.

  • I really like that when they show a BSC meeting, all the girls are sitting exactly how they are described in the books.  Kristy’s in the director’s chair, Stacey’s backwards in the desk chair, Mary Anne, Stacey, and Claudia are on the bed, and poor Jessi and Mallory are on the floor.  Here we see Jessi and Mal on big pillows on the floor, which is not how I pictured it.   But still, it’s really accurate.
  • At the beginning of the episode we get a little introduction to the girls by hearing Kristy talk about a crazy sitting job they’ve had recently.  Mallory’s job involved sitting for someone named Christopher, and I honestly can’t think of any kid they sat for that was ever named Christopher.  The other names mentioned are all very specifically people from the books.
  • Kristy’s intro has her being surprised to find out she had to watch a pig.  Literally, a pig.  But I don’t buy that because after the first book where she accidentally had to watch dogs, didn’t she always insist on getting lots of information from the parents?
  • Mary Anne’s super-wimpy in this episode.  In the books she was always shy but not really wimpy.  And she usually didn’t have an issue telling people why she was angry, but I guess that was more with the girls than Logan.  It did take her an entire book to break up with him.
  • Mary Anne’s also weirdly passive aggressive, I wouldn’t have blamed Logan if he dumped her.  She says she doesn’t want to ask Logan about Marcy, but then acts all snippy with him and says he should go to the party if he wants.  When Logan asks what’s wrong she won’t even tell him.  Sigh. 13-year-olds.
  • While Mary Anne’s wimpy and passive aggressive, Logan still shouldn’t let other girls be so flirty with him.
  • The party Marcy wants Logan to be her date for is a costume party.  She and her friends dress as hippies and the BSC dresses as football players.  I can see Kristy dressing like a football player, but not the rest of the girls.  Especially not Claudia and Stacey.  Claudia would dress like children’s book characters as part of her daily routine, there’s no way she would wear a costume as mundane as a football player.
  • It’s very convenient that Mary Anne happened to have a pie in her hand when Marcy taunted her.  I have never been that lucky.  But this also brings me to a very important lesson, which is never insult a person who’s holding a weapon (or something that could get used as a weapon).
  • Speaking of that, there are two incidents of physical attacks in this episode that happen on school property.  Mary Anne throwing the pie and Kristy using the hose.  In re-reading some childhood books as an adult I have seen lots of incidents where the main characters actually do pretty crappy things to the so-called villains.  Marcy was a bitch, and it’s fun seeing her get comeuppance, but objectively, the attacks seem kind of over the top, and I’m sure if they happened in real life both girls would get in trouble. God, I’m getting old.
  • For a TV show, I think the casting here is generally pretty good.  Most people look how I pictured them.  However, it really bothers me that the girl who plays Mary Anne is so tall.  I think she’s one of the tallest of the girls on the show, which is just not right.  She otherwise does seem to look like I pictured Mary Anne.  But I don’t get why they couldn’t find someone who looked similar and was shorter.  It’s the first episode so it’s not like the cast a short girl and she grew.  And I can’t believe this girl was so much better as an actor than everyone else who auditioned.  She’s not bad, but she’s nothing fantastic either.
  • Also, the girl who plays Claudia doesn’t look at all Asian.  I know there’s not just one way to look Asian, but the way Claudia’s described in the books, it is as looking pretty traditional Japanese-American.
  • Logan also says he was only doing a science project with Marcy and never said he was into her.  But he could have been less hesitant.  And he said he never agreed to go.  So that means either he just never answered her at all and/or Marcy’s just delusional.
  • Marcy has two mean girl underlings, and all three have brown hair.  Hence the stupid title of this episode.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

“I’m not very good at guy things”……..California Diaries # 15: Ducky Diary Three

It’s summer and Ducky’s spending his time working at Sunny’s dad’s bookstore and hanging out with Sunny.  They’re getting along well, but Ducky starts to think Sunny’s acting weird/different.  He can’t figure it out, but then Brandan (Amalia’s boyfriend) asks him if they’re dating. Ducky laughs it off, but then realizes that maybe that explains these looks Sunny has been giving him.  Sunny asks Ducky to go to the movies, and says they shouldn’t invite anyone else.  At the end of the evening, Sunny kisses him, and Ducky completely freezes.  Sunny goes home and Ducky freaks out for the rest of the book. 

It turns out that it was Ducky’s first kiss, and while he really likes Sunny as a friend, he just wasn’t into kissing her.  Sunny tries to act like it was no big deal, but Ducky can tell she’s hurt and things get a little weird between them.  Ducky tries talking to his brother and then Brandan about the situation and they’re both like, “if you aren’t attracted to her don’t force it,” but Ducky still feels really guilty about it.  He talks to Dawn too, who says it’s too bad, but that she thinks Sunny will get over it and they’ll be friends again.

Eventually Ducky does talk to Sunny and she tells him she wishes she could unkiss him because she hates how he looks scared every time he looks at her now.  Ducky says he was just worried about hurting her feelings and he thinks they’re meant to be best friends.  And it looks like Sunny’s okay with that and they’re on track to get back to how things were.

Meanwhile Maggie has been having a rough time because of her mom’s drinking.  Her dad’s out of town for work, and one night Maggie calls Ducky late and asks him to come pick her up.  So, Ducky does and when he gets there he hears Mrs. Blume screaming and smashing things inside, and so he takes Maggie and her little brother back to his place.  The next day Maggie calls her dad and insists he come deal with things.  He actually does, and arranges an intervention for Mrs. Blume, which ends with her going to rehab.  Now her mother’s issues are one thing I don’t blame Maggie for complaining about, so I guess it’s nice that progress was made.  But I’m sure Maggie will find something new to complain about that’s annoying.

The book ends with Ducky having an end of summer party at his place with the girls and Brandan and they all seem really happy.  So, I guess that’s a nice way to end the series.

  • Ducky says how it’s weird that he’s a 16-year-old boy who likes shopping.  He mentions how he didn’t intend to go shopping, just hang out at the mall, but Sunny dragged him into stores.  But isn’t hanging out at the mall basically shopping anyway?
  • Ducky thinks there’s no right way to answer the question, “Do I look fat?”  I’m pretty sure there’s always a right way to answer that. “No.” Always say, “No, you don’t look fat.”  I’m sure women ask plenty of questions with no good answer, but asking about fatness isn’t one of them.
  • Brandan and Ducky seem to be developing a friendship, which is nice because Ducky was previously upset about losing his childhood male friends, one who turned into a douche and one who tried to kill himself (and who’s still off in whatever hospital he went to in Ducky’s last book). 
  • When having lunch with Brandan, Ducky thinks they should be talking about sports (because that’s what guys do), so he asks about the WNBA.  It makes me wonder if he knew he was asking about a womens’ league because it seems like a weird thing to talk about when trying to be manly.  But luckily Brandan’s not into sports either.
  • Sunny apparently dreams of finding a retro bowling shirt with her name on it.   That’s a sad dream.  I guess it must be annoying to have a rare name and never be able to find stuff like that, but as someone with a very common name, it’s also annoying to always need to include your last name as an identifier.
  • Sunny does find a retro gym shirt, but the name on it says “Elaine.” She wears it anyway.  I’m not sure what a “gym shirt” is but I’m guessing it’s ugly.
  • Ducky wonders if his brother Ted went to school to be an obnoxious big brother.  I’m pretty sure that obnoxiousness is just an ingrained trait of being an older brother.  Ted’s a lot nicer than my brother ever was.
  • Maggie and her brother Zeke don’t understand why their father’s always away and think they should matter more than his movies.  But I have to say, I never got the sense that Mr. Blume was an absentee father, more that he always wanted his kids to do exactly what he wanted. 
  • But speaking of actual absentee parents, Ducky’s parents are still off somewhere for work and haven’t been around for months. They still call a lot, and once mention that they’re thinking of a cooking class vacation.  Now, I don’t mean to judge, but if I had a job that kept me away from my family for 11 months of the year, I might use my vacation to see my kids.  I mean, I don’t have kids so I can’t be sure, but I like to think I’d be a decent person like that.
  • Ducky and Brandan’s friendship means we get a bit of an update on the Amalia/Brandan relationship.  Amalia has been distant since Brandan got back from camp, and he’s worried about it.  It turns out to be because she thinks he’s too good for her, and Ducky helps her see that isn’t the case, and things seem to get better for them.
  • I really wish this wasn’t the last book, because I’d really like to hear Sunny’s side of the story about her kiss with Ducky.
  • There’s surprisingly little Dawn in this book, considering it’s the last one and she was the person who started the spinoff.  At the beginning she’s back in Stoneybrook, but she returns pretty early in the story.  There’s only one really decent scene with her and that’s when she’s talking to Ducky about Sunny. But I’d like to have heard more of her perspective on things too.
So….this is the last California Diaries book, and I was planning on ending my reviews, mainly because I have no time anymore.  But it just doesn’t feel right, so I am going to try and recap the BSC TV series.  I think it will actually be more fun because I watched most of those episodes back when I was a kid, so I’ll be able to go back to doing memory reactions versus current reactions.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

“I forgot who I was on that Friday outside the cineplex”…..California Diaries # 14: Amalia Diary Three

It’s approaching the end of the school year and Amalia’s feeling a bit pressured.  She’s trying to study for finals, thinking about a summer job, and is working with her sister to plan a surprise anniversary party for their parents.   She also has the painful job of being Maggie’s friend, and having to listen to her complain about her poor little rich girl life.  Maggie spends a lot of time at Amalia’s house to get away from her fighting parents, and it starts to get on Amalia’s nerves.

Amalia’s out on a date with this guy Brandan, whom she met in her last book.  After the movie they are waiting outside for Amalia’s sister to pick them up.  The sister’s late, and the theater’s locking up for the night, when Brandan runs back in to use the bathroom.  The usher offers to let Amalia wait inside, but she says she’ll wait out front.  It’s late so not many people are around when a group of teenage girls walk up and start making racist comments to Amalia for being Latina.  They start pushing her around and one girl actually spits in her face before the usher comes outside and breaks things up.  Then Brandan comes back and her sister shows up and they hear what happens.  Everyone is appropriately concerned.

Anyway, Amalia deals with this for the rest of the book.  She doesn’t want to call the police even though others encourage her.  But she is pretty miserable for awhile.  Her sister tells her about a similar event that happened to her before they moved to Palo Alto and how she regrets not telling anyone about it at the time.  This helps Amalia see that she still has her dignity and that no one can take that from her. She even sees one of the girls who attacked her on the beach one day, and is fine with it and continues enjoying her day.

Amalia and Maggie also get into a fight because Maggie’s father offered both girls summer jobs working on some movie set and Maggie thinks this is just awful of him.  Amalia’s all “WTF, I’d take that job” and it leads to a bigger fight.  But they make up at the end.  However, Amalia acknowledges that they still have some differences that they don’t understand about each other.  Mainly that Maggie thinks her rich white girl problems are worse than any stress Amalia will ever deal with.

At the end, Amalia does well enough on her finals, cements her relationship with Brandan, and has a great time at her parents’ anniversary party.

  • Amalia has the worst luck.  First she dates an abusive guy then she gets beat up and spit on by a bunch of racist girls?  I think she ranks right below Sunny in terms of problems the people in this series deal with.
  • Brandan’s going to camp for most of the summer, in Massachusetts.  He grew up in NJ and has gone to the camp every year and is going to be a CIT.  For some reason I was hoping they would reveal the name of the camp was Camp Mohawk (even though I can’t remember what state that was in).
  • I forgot that Amalia’s diaries have all these annoying cartoon-y drawing to illustrate things that are happening instead of just writing everything.  They are more annoying than Maggie’s “poetry” because with those poems, you can skip them and still get the story.  But Amalia’s cartoons explain key events.  And she kind of sucks as an artist.
  • I mentioned this in the book where he was introduced, but Brandan’s from Short Hills, NJ, which is like two towns over from where I grew up.  That makes me smile for some reason. 
  • It’s a plot device to make Maggie and Amalia fight, but I kind of can’t believe that a movie producer would just hire 13-year-old girls to work on set.  There are strict laws about child actors, so why would they want to hire more kids? Especially when they can use college students as “interns” to get totally free labor.
  • So right after the incident with the racist girls Amalia’s annoyed with Brandan for taking so long inside and leaving her alone.  But afterwards she’s surprised to hear Brandan has been blaming himself for what happened.  I guess the initial reaction was just her first irrational thought and later she’s seeing it more objectively?
  • The story Amalia’s sister tells about what happened to her isn’t nearly as bad as what happened to Amalia.  It was really just that the sister’s ex-boyfriend was joking around with some other girls about how he was on “vacation from white girls” until she moved.  Which is a really crappy thing to say, but it’s not physical or anything.
  • I can’t believe Maggie has the nerve to tell a girl who got hit by random girls on the street she doesn’t have problems as bad as an eating disorder and a dysfunctional family.  I wouldn’t even call Maggie’s family that dysfunctional.
  • Maggie insists that her limo driver always pick her up around the corner from school so she doesn’t have to get seen being rich.  As though everyone in that school doesn’t already know who her dad is.
  • There’s also a subplot about how Sunny and Ducky are planning a going away party for Dawn (who’s going back to Stoneybrook for the summer).  But their surprise plans keep getting leaked to Dawn before they can carry them out.  In the end they just kidnap her and take her to the beach.
  • At the beginning of the book they are talking about the party as a going away thing, but at the end Amalia starts talking about Dawn’s birthday present.  So, that’s a weird continuity mistake I think.  Like they forgot what they were doing by the end of the book (or like two different people wrote it).
  • Amalia’s annoyed because her English teacher tells her that their final exam’s going to be essay questions selected at random from everything they did that year.  And Amalia doesn’t like that it means she has to know everything.  I guess I’m old, because I just thought that was the whole point of a final.
  • I guess Maggie has been making progress with her therapist because after finals she thinks she aced all of them, rather than assuming she failed only to get a 98 like she used to do.  But I still wish there wasn’t so much Maggie in all of Amalia’s books.
  • Amalia’s nervous about failing her tests and having to repeat 8th grade. I guess she’s new to this never aging thing in the BSC-verse.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

“How can I complain about anything when I have so much”….California Diaries # 13: Maggie Diary Three

Maggie has the most annoying problems ever.  Her father’s producing a new movie, a teen romance starring the hottest teen heartthrob of the moment, Tyler Kendall.  He makes Maggie go to some party with the cast of the movie where she’s surprised to find she actually likes Tyler.  He invites her to come visit the movie set, and then to have dinner with him.  Some paparazzi takes a picture of them so all her friends and others at school keep trying to talk to her about him. 

At the party where she met Tyler, her father told people on the crew that Maggie was a musician and gave a tape of her band to his assistant director.  She loves it and decides to use Maggie’s band in the film in a scene where the main characters are dancing/hanging out/falling in love.  Maggie also gets to have all her friends be extras in that scene.  Then she acts all annoyed that people at school keep talking to her like it’s a big deal to be in a movie.   She figures it will be a really short scene and people shouldn’t be excited about it. 

Anyway, Maggie angsts about dating a movie star because she can’t tell if he really likes her and doesn’t like that reporters are following Tyler around.  She also doesn’t like seeing Tyler and his costar act like they’re in love for the movie, even though she knows they’re just acting.  Later, Maggie has some party and he shows up really late because filming went long and she’s annoyed about that.  But she decides she really does like Tyler and that he isn’t a typical shallow movie star.
  • Maggie’s father gives her a “Handy palm” computer, which I guess is the BSC version of a Palm Pilot.  She all embarrassed at the idea of taking it to school and using it in front of her friends.  What an awful problem to have.  Seriously, she has such a rough life.
  • We also see Maggie angst because that Justin guy she used tolike is dating someone else.  That could actually be a relatable problem, but she annoys me so much in the rest of the book I don’t care.
  • Maggie gets embarrassed because she’s the only one of her friends who can afford to shop at some expensive store.  But she was the one that brought up going there and she’s totally cool with the salesperson catering to her after she realizes who she is and how much money Maggie’s mother spends there.
  • The first time Maggie visits Tyler on set, his manager thinks she’s a fan and tries to keep her from Tyler, so she says who her father is.  Then she says she’s never name-dropped him like that before.  Even though earlier she was perfectly fine with Sunny telling the salesperson at the expensive store who she was.
  • I like Maggie’s therapist.  Early on she tells Maggie that liking a movie star doesn’t make a person shallow and that movie stars aren’t necessarily bad.  Maggie doesn’t seem to believe her though.
  • Maggie’s band playing in the movie means we also get to hear her be all nervous about how she’s a crappy singer despite how often people say how great she is.
  • Maggie’s mother tells her she’s crazy to date any Hollywood person, and Maggie whines about her being an alcoholic.  Okay, I’ll give her that an alcoholic mother’s a legitimate problem.
  • But don’t complain about the advice when Maggie herself would normally say the same thing.
  • Jill’s one of the people at school super-excited about Tyler, so Maggie’s nice and includes her as an extra in the movie.
  • At Maggie’s party she gets out ice cream bars and everyone’s super into eating them.  Even Dawn and Sunny.  I guess we really are supposed to forget that they were all into health food before?
  • Maggie decides she’s all in with Tyler after she learns he wants to be a veterinarian someday.  Because I guess the fact that he doesn’t want to be an actor forever makes him a better person?  Maggie’s pretty judgmental like that.
  • Does anyone watch the show Scorpion? It’s about this super-genius that helps solve crimes/help the government with stuff.  I mention it because in the show’s weekly intro, the main character says how his IQ is 197, the 4th highest ever recorded.  Every time I hear it, I think how Janine Kishi’s IQ was 196, so does that make her the 5th highest ever recorded? If so, why do people think it’s so great she takes community college classes? The Scorpion guy was hacking into NASA at age 11.  Maybe that’s what Janine was secretly doing on her computer all the time?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

“I guess I’ll just have to take things as they come”…..California Diaries # 12: Sunny Diary Three

This book’s kind of a downer, as I expected.  Sunny’s mom’s dying. We know this, because her cancer has been discussed in every single book in the diaries series, but now she’s days away from death.  Sunny, her dad, and her Aunt Morgan (her mom’s sister) are sitting in the house with her mom just waiting for the death to finally happen.  A bunch of people come by to say their good-byes and everyone keeps crying.  Sunny gets annoyed that people keep showing up when she just wants to be left alone with her grief.

It’s actually pretty well-written and I feel for Sunny.  I may have teared up at one point.  She writes a lot of details about how her mom’s doing and alternates between doing that and writing about how she must be a horrible person for not handling all this better.   She’s a mess, but I find her sympathetic.  There’s not a whole lot to snark about when the entire book’s a chronicle of someone’s death.

Anyway before she dies, Mrs. Winslow says her good-byes to Sunny and gives her the journals she kept for years as a teen/adult.  She tells Sunny and her dad to take care of each other, and tells Dawn and Sunny (who are now friends again) to take care of each other.  There’s lots of crying. Afterwards, Sunny really just wants to be left alone or with her friends.  She calls Dawn, Ducky, Maggie, and Amalia her “cocoon” because she thinks they’re protecting her.  A few days after the funeral Sunny, Mr. Winslow, Aunt Morgan, and Dawn go to the beach where the Winslows got married and spread Mrs. Winslow’s ashes.  Sunny starts going back to school and actually trying to catch up on the work she’s been blowing off for 12 books.  She still writes about how much she misses her mom though, cause that kind of angst doesn’t go away easily.

  • Since Sunny’s home during the day she watches some trashy talk show about people in a situation where a woman is married to her ex-husband’s brother.  Sounds like fun. I remember being home sick as a teenager and watching trashy talk shows. 
  • Sunny and Ducky do make up for their fight from the concertin the last book.  Sunny says she didn’t mean what she said and was just trying to convince Ducky to drive them home.  She apologizes and Ducky accepts, and then he shows up a lot to be there for Sunny.
  • I think there are a couple pages missing from the book I have.  It’s hard to tell because these books are annoying and don’t have page numbers, but there is a jump in the action. One page ends with Mr. Winslow asking Sunny to pick out flower arrangements for the funeral and the next one starts with Sunny in the middle of a conversation with Carol about how it’s okay if she wants to be alone sometimes. 
  • After Mrs. Winslow dies, Dawn, Ducky, Maggie, and Amalia are all at Sunny’s house.  Sunny wonders when the last time the five of them were together outside of school.  She thinks it was when they met Ducky at that party. But that means they’ve never all been together as a group outside of school? Some friendship. (Although, I’m pretty sure that isn’t really the case, because I think they were all together at some other party in an earlier book).
  • Sunny also refers to the night they met Ducky as being “months ago,” but since that was in the fall and we have gone through a summer, two Christmases and are now in March, it should be a year-and-a-half ago. 
  • Sunny worries that she’s missed so much school this year she’ll have to repeat 8th grade.  She hasn’t seemed worried the other 10 times she’s had to go through 8th grade, why does it matter now?
  • Dawn and Sunny remember a time when they were little and Mrs. Winslow took them downtown where they left pennies face-up for people to find and have good luck.  My first thought was that I would never even bother bending down to pick up a penny.  My second thought was that it seems nice, but also a little cliché to make Mrs. Winslow this wonderfully giving person.
  • We get a Jill mention.  She apparently saw Sunny at school and asked if she misses her mom.  Which… a really dumb question for someone who’s mom just died.  I thought these girls were too hard on Jill before, but maybe I was wrong.
  • Sunny reads her mother’s journals.  Some interesting facts about Mrs. Winslow:
    • She dressed up as a hippie for Halloween.  I’m pretty sure she was a hippie so this seems like a lame costume.  It’s like when I was a little kid and my father told me he was dressing up as “a dad” for Halloween.
    • She had some big fight with her parents about something in high school and Sunny’s not really sure what.
    • She was a cheerleader in high school and in the Young Republicans.  This surprises Sunny, but we later find out that was just to please her parents.
    • Her parents pretty much disowned her when she decided to go to UCLA instead of Townsend for college.  She didn’t talk to her sister for years either, but those two made up in time for Mrs. Winslow’s wedding.  She never made up with Sunny’s grandparents because they died in a car crash before Sunny was born.
  • I’m surprised Dawn went along when they spread the ashes. It seemed like it was a family only thing, and I would have felt weird intruding on something like that for one of my friends.  But Sunny does seem to want her around for comfort, so I guess it makes sense.
  • Sunny’s surprised to learn that her father proposed to her mother, she didn’t think they were that traditional.  But, someone has to propose. What did she think they just woke up one day and got married without thinking about it?
  • Sunny decides she will never go back and read the journal pages from this time period.  She was going to get a whole new book, but decided it would waste too much paper.