Wednesday, October 23, 2013

“Claudia and Alan Gray? Is she crazy?”……BSC FF # 7: Claudia Gets Her Guy

So, this starts right after Stacey and Jeremy break up.  Actually, it starts at the same time, with Claudia baby-sitting while all her friends are at Mr. Zizmore’s good-bye party.  The next morning Mary Anne tells Claud the news, and she’s nervous/excited about what this means for her and Jeremy.  However, the next morning, Jeremy totally ignores her in the hall.  This goes on for days, so she finally decides to make a move herself and invite him to the upcoming dance.  She’s scared to do it in person, so she writes him a note and slips it in his locker.
The only problem is, she had typed the note so she could spell check it, then rewrote it by hand.  But spell-checker couldn’t figure out what she meant by “Jaramy,” so she addresses it with “To a good friend.”  (For the record, Microsoft Word does suggest Jeremy as a correction for that).  But spell check may not have been so advanced back then.  Anyway, Claudia accidently puts this note in the wrong locker.  And since she used that neutral greeting, the person who gets it thinks it’s intended for him.  That person?  Alan Gray.
Claudia’s horrified when she realizes Alan has the letter, but she doesn’t realize he thinks it’s for him.  She thinks he’s going to tell the whole school she likes Jeremy. But he actually tells her how the note’s the nicest thing anyone has ever written to him and that he knows he can be a pain, but he liked that she saw the real him.  AND he tells her how much he’s always liked her. So, he wants to go to the dance and Claudia feels like she can’t turn him down. 
After that, Kristy keeps telling Claudia she’s crazy, and Stacey keeps asking about Jeremy.  But Alan’s being super sweet – he asks what color corsage to get, he brings flowers to her in school, he leaves all sorts of other gifts for her, he brings a tablecloth and candle in so they can have a “romantic lunch” at school, etc.  Claudia tells him she meant they should go as friends, but Alan says he knows but thinks they could be more in the future.
Anyway, Jeremy hears that Claudia’s going with Alan and gets all upset.  Even though he spent days avoiding her.  Claudia tells him she really wanted to go with him, but says she can’t not go with Alan now.  At the dance, Jeremy cuts in to dance with her.  While dancing, Claudia realizes that she really isn’t that into him after all.  She’s just not feeling it and keeps thinking how she wishes she were still dancing with Alan.  So, Claudia and Jeremy briefly talk about how they weren’t meant to be a couple and will stay just friends, and Claudia goes back to dancing with Alan.
While all this is going on, Claudia and Stacey continue to mend their friendship.  Early on, Claudia says she can’t talk about Jeremy with her.  But eventually, she decides that if they are going to be friends they need to be able to do that, and she and Stacey talk all about it.  They both apologize for the things they said.  Stacey even tells her Jeremy’s feelings for her were part of the reason behind their break up.  Anyway, by the end things are all good with them.

  • On Sunday morning, Mr. Kishi’s making blueberry pancakes for breakfast and Claudia asks for 5 pancakes.  Now….I know pancakes aren’t totally junk food, but that’s not exactly a healthy balanced breakfast, especially once you load them with syrup.  What’s up with her parents only wanting her to eat healthy foods, but serving a huge stack of pancakes?
  • Also, these books were always showing the parents cooking big breakfasts for their kids on weekend mornings (pancakes, omelets, etc.)  Was I deprived as a kid?  That was a pretty rare occurrence in my house, if we were lucky it was frozen waffles that we toasted ourselves (and added ice cream to if it was before my parents woke up).  But I wasn’t served anything, especially not when I was in middle school.
  • The day after Claudia finds out about Jeremy and Stacey splitting up, she decides she needs to look really good and spends ages picking out her outfit.  Janine actually picks out the final outfit – a blouse she made out of a kimono that belonged to Mimi and a skirt, with a black chopstick in her hair.  I don’t really have anything bad to say about that, but we don’t really get much detail. 
  • When Mary Anne told Claudia about the break up, she forgot the part about Ethan and Toby being at the party.  That…..seems like an important detail.
  • Claudia actually starts her letter to Jeremy several times.  She spells his name differently each time – Jermy, Jermery, Jerymy, Jermie, and Jaramy.  Spell check knows I mean Jeremy for every single iteration.  At least in Word.  Blogger only knows about half of them.
  • I know Claudia’s a crappy speller, but you’d think she’d have learned the name of the guy she’s been obsessing over for months.
  • Seriously, Jeremy’s kind of annoying.  When he was with Stacey he would stop and chat with Claudia in the halls all the time.  But he’s newly single and suddenly can barely wave before turning and walking away?  He was never presented as shy and he knows how Claudia feels about him, so what’s the problem?   And then he’s mad at her?  Even after she explains the note was meant for him?  I mean, what did he expect when he stopped talking to her?
  • So, after Claud realizes she put the letter in the wrong locker, Kristy suggests that they get Cary Retlin to open the locker and take the letter back.  Since apparently Cary can get into anyone’s locker.  Of course, by the time they do this the letter’s gone.  But Cary does figure out that the letter wasn’t meant for Alan and threatens to tell him.  But Claudia tells him she doesn’t want to hurt Alan.
  • I think Cary does eventually tell Alan about the letter, while Claudia’s dancing with Jeremy at the dance.  But, I guess he gets over it when Claudia comes by and says she really wants to be dancing with him.
  • Kristy keeps going on about how awful Alan is.  Are we supposed to forget that Kristy went out with him?  Several times actually.  That doesn’t mean she can’t dislike him, but maybe she should mention that or something.
  • I can’t believe they got away with a “romantic” lunch at school.  When I was in school we weren’t allowed to be in classrooms if no teacher was there.  It was a liability thing. And we certainly wouldn’t have been able to light a candle.
  • Cary’s actually a pretty smart guy to figure out what’s going on.  I think most boys that age would be clueless.
  • Claudia’s dance outfit: “a short retro dress [she’d] found in a thrift shop.  It had white trim and white heart-shaped buttons…..[she] also wore clunky black shows with a stacked heel and a square toe.  [She] had a wristful of hot-pink bangles.”  Again….not really anything bad to say.  Either she’s getting saner or I am losing brain cells from reading books that are meant for 8-year-olds.
  • Janine (of all people) tells Claudia and Alan they look good together.  But then she clarifies that she meant his red shirt went good with her pink dress.  But since pink and red kinda clash I’m going to take that is confirmation Janine still doesn’t get fashion and her earlier suggestion was a fluke.
  • Claudia’s still friends with Erica Blumberg, who apparently has been fighting with her parents because she wants to find her biological parents.  She even was looking at websites about it, but hasn’t done anything because she doesn’t want to go behind her parents back.  I wonder if this will lead anywhere.  Although, I can’t imagine too much can happen with it since she’s not a main character.
  • So, Claudia and Alan seems kind of random....but I can see sort of see it.  We are always seeing Alan at his most annoying because that's when he's been relevant, but it makes sense that he can be sweet too.  I'm not sure if it will last though, he'll be sure to regress at some point.
  • There’s this annoying subplot where Claudia and Erica volunteer to help recent immigrants to the US learn English and about living in the US.  We get like three whole chapters devoted to it, but it felt like more.   And the woman Claudia’s helping has little kids, so we have to hear about them too.  And there’s even an acknowledgement in the dedication that mentions some organization that I guess is a real life version of where Claudia was volunteering.  I didn’t look it up because I really don’t care.
  • Not that it’s not good to help other people or anything.

Friday, October 11, 2013

“I’ve never had trouble finding a boy who liked me”……BSC FF # 6: Stacey and the Boyfriend Trap

This book starts on New Year’s Eve.  Stacey’s in NYC with her dad and makes a resolution to be a better friend.  So, she calls Ethan, since they said when they broke up they said they wanted to be friends but haven’t stayed in touch.  Ethan mentions he may be going to some art exhibit at the Stoneybrook Museum, and suggests Stacey go with him as a friend.  Stacey says sure, just let her know when it’s definite.
When she gets home she finds a letter from Toby (from Sea City) saying he’s traveling with his family to look at colleges for his brother and will be near Stoneybrook.  He wants to stop by to see Stacey.  She’s unsure what to do, since he was kind of a jerk the last couple of times she saw him, but he was her first kiss so I guess she’s sentimental or something.
The next day at school, Stacey finds out that her favorite teacher, Mr. Zizmore, is moving to Texas because his wife got a job working for NASA.  Stacey’s sad he’s leaving, so when Pete Black approaches her to suggest they plan a going away party, she’s happy to help out.  She also reminds us that she and Pete used to date back in 7th grade (since this book’s all about the boys Stacey used to date). They end up talking to the principal about the party, who says students should join the staff party he was planning and asks if she and Pete can organize any student involvement.  On the way out they run into Wes, that student teacher that Stacey had a crush on.  He’s interviewing to replace Mr. Zizmore, and Stacey invites him to the party.
Then Robert talks to her and says he wants to help with the party too, as long as she’s okay with it.  Stacey says okay.  Then Kristy says that Sam loved Mr. Zizmore when he was in middle school and wants to help with the party too.  Again, Stacey agrees. She also asks Jeremy (her current boyfriend) to help, but he feels weird about it since he never had Mr. Zizmore.  This is one of many things that makes Stacey think something’s off with Jeremy.  Cause what 13-year-old wouldn’t want to plan a party for a teacher he never had? They also have different reactions to some movie they went to.  What serious problems those two have.  And okay, she also doesn’t like him hanging out with Claudia so much.  That one may be a more reasonable complaint.
Meanwhile, Stacey emails Toby.  Apparently, the BSC lives in a world with email now.  She doesn’t say whether he can visit her or not at first, but they start talking and she eventually agrees to it.  Then she realizes he’ll be visiting the same day as the party and has a mini-freak-out, but her mother tells her to just tell Toby that she can only see him in the day. Which she does. 
When the day comes, Toby proves to still be kind of a jerk.  He asks her to confirm how obvious it is that he works out. And kind of pressures her to kiss him. Right when Toby’s family’s supposed to pick him up, the doorbell rings and it’s Ethan.  He came up for that art exhibit, but I guess decided to surprise Stacey and he wants to hang out until the art thing starts. Then Toby’s dad calls and says he got delayed because the brother got a “last minute interview” at Yale and they can’t pick Toby up until later.  Stacey asks her mom to entertain the boys while she goes to the party, and her mom actually agrees, but the guys decided they want to just go to the party with Stacey (which is at the school).
The party goes well, and Mr. Zizmore’s all surprised and honored and all that.  But the more interesting stuff that happens: Jeremy sees Stacey with Ethan and Toby and decides she has more in common with them then he does and they break up.  He also admits he may be into Claudia. Stacey’s barely upset about it.  Toby leaves and Stacey gives him a quick kiss good-bye but knows she won’t stay in touch.   Ethan comes back after his art exhibit and he and Stacey have a nice moment and make plans to see each other again.  And Wes got the teaching job.
Oh, and Stacey asks Claudia to help decorate for the party since she’s an artist, and they sort of make up. There’s no big discussion, Stacey just says how she misses being friends and Claud says she does too, and they smile at each other.  We don’t see a huge amount of interaction after that, so who knows if it will last.

  • So, the total ex-boyfriend list is: Pete, Toby, Sam, Robert, and Ethan.  That’s not counting Wes, since he was a crush, not a boyfriend.  I think the only guys not mentioned are that guy she met in Super Special 3 and the guy she went on one date with right when she met Robert. 
  • Stacey begs her dad to go to Times Square on New Year’s Eve.  The most ridiculous part’s this is at 6:00 at night and her dad says he doesn’t want to stand out there for six hours.  Stacey says they’ll go to dinner first, which they do, and Stacey mentions getting there an hour before the ball drops.  And yet not only do they manage to get fairly close, Stacey gets interviewed by a TV reporter.  That everyone she knows sees.  Of course.
  • Now I’ve never gone to Time Square on New Year’s Eve.  But I know a lot of people who have and said it was a completely miserable experience.  You have to get there hours before midnight to even get within site of the ball, and once you get there you can’t leave, can’t go buy food, can’t walk around, can’t use a bathroom, anything.  And when I say hours I don’t mean 2-3, I mean 10-12.  You just stand there all day.  So, Stacey’s little adventure was annoyingly unrealistic.
  • Even if they’re friends, it’s kind of ballsy of Ethan to show up at Stacey’s house un-announced when he knows she has a boyfriend. 
  • Stacey’s first thought for a New Year’s resolution was to pick better colored clothes.  But she decides she’s not that shallow.  At least she acknowledges it.
  • I have a hard time believing Stacey would agree to let Toby come see her.  She gave Mallory such a hard time for wanting to go out with him, and kept saying how he couldn’t have changed, but as soon as he gives HER attention, she changes her mind.  It’s not like she’s hard up for a guy’s attention.
  • Stacey tells us when she and Ethan “go out for coffee” they don’t actually drink coffee cause they’re too young.  Which I kind of like, because in a past book where she talked about them going for coffee I complained about her being too young for that.  If this wasn’t written 13 years ago, I could pretend I influenced the ghostwriters.
  • In this book Stacey says that she and Claudia still sit at the same lunch table they always sat at, but this contradicts what Claudia said in her last book.  Maybe it changed since then?
  • Stacey never told her mom about Toby.  I guess it makes sense she wouldn’t have at the time, but since the divorce Stacey and her mom are supposedly close, and they talk about boys sometimes, so I’m surprised she wouldn’t have mentioned a guy in Sea City.
  • It’s kind of random that Stacey and Claudia just make up with almost no preamble. Stacey just says she misses being friends and Claudia’s all, “me too!”  And…it’s over just like that?  An apology didn’t really work before.  Granted, it was a really, really, crappy apology, but this was too.
  • Toby’s email address is “tobythegreat” – that should tell Stacey everything she needs to know.
  • When Mr. Zizmore says he’s moving to Houston, Pete makes a “Houston we have a problem” joke.  As always, it feels super weird to see pop-culture references to things that happened after I stopped reading the books.
  • Stacey says that Wes substituted for Mr. Zizmore after student teaching.  I don’t remember this at all.
  • Wasn’t Stacey really embarrassed about what happened with Wes?  Why is she excited at him coming back as a teacher?  And why is the teacher who knows this girl had a crush on him giving her his email address.  It’s so she can let him know the party details, but it’s also a little inappropriate, right?
  • Pete’s talking to Stacey about Wes and says he didn’t think he was “such a hot teacher.” And I was like, well most 13-year-old guys wouldn’t call another guy good looking. But then I realized he just meant Wes was a bad teacher, not that he wasn’t good looking.
  • When Stacey polls her friends, Kristy says she shouldn’t let Toby visit and Mary Anne says she should.  I’m very surprised about that from Mary Anne.  But maybe she was nostalgic for Alex or something.  Who, BTW, does get mentioned.  Toby says he also broke up with his girlfriend and that he and Mary Anne could have a chance.  If you know, they lived in the same state.
  • Stacey and Pete get called to the office (about the party planning).  They call Pete as “Peter,” which makes me wonder why they don’t call Stacey “Anastasia.”  It’s her full name, so that’s what should be on school paperwork and all that.  If they don’t use a nickname for Pete, why do they do it for her?
  • Stacey wonders if it’s normal to have so many ex-boyfriends at 13.  No.  It is not.  But to be fair, most people aren’t 13 for like ten years.   Most of her relationships lasted a while.
  • The first time they mention baby-sitting’s on page 74.  And we just hear how Norman and Sarah Hill went to bed early so Stacey had time to herself.  What’s interesting is I didn’t even think about sitting until then either.
  • The principal tells Stacey and Pete one of them should give a speech.  Pete tells Stacey to do it since he can’t talk in front of people.  Isn’t he like….the president of the 8th grade?
  • Toby refers to his parents as “the rents” and Stacey has no idea what he means.  He also talks about using “the cellular.” And refers to a computer as “the emailer.”  Did people ever use those terms?  Like, in real life?
  • The party’s after Mr. Zizmore’s last day, on a Saturday night.  And it’s a surprise.  So you would have thought they’d have a say goodbye scene on this last day of teaching.  If I was a teacher and no one did anything on my last day, I’d be kind of insulted. 
  • Actually, the whole party’s weird if you ask me.  It’s great that they want to do something for the guy, but I would expect to do it in class or something.  Or right after school if old students (like Sam) are showing up. 
  • When Stacey says her friend Toby’s visiting, Jeremy assumes he’s a girl.  Isn’t it mainly a guy’s name?  Stacey doesn’t correct him, but it’s not like he can complain either way, considering all the time he spends with Claudia.
  • Would Toby’s parents really just drop Toby off at Stacey’s house for a few hours and not even want to come in to meet her mom/make sure it’s okay?  Toby was a mother’s helper in Sea City too, right?  So I don’t think his parents even met her.  And they just leave him there?
  • Toby’s kind of obnoxious when he meets Ethan, saying how he and Stacey had a “summer vacation thing.”  Stacey’s much more impressed that Ethan just tells Toby he knows Stacey from the city.  She’s easy to impress.
  • Jeremy thinks Stacey has more in common with the other guys he was seeing her with, which means Ethan and Toby.  But I don’t think she has anything in common with Toby, and the only thing she has in common with Ethan’s NYC.
  • I kind of love that Mr. Zizmore is leaving because his wife is smart enough to get a job at NASA. 
  • So it’s sort of implied that Stacey and Ethan will get back together.  The girl could really afford taking some time to herself.