Archive | April 2014


We missed doing a kid review of a book last week–I was busy putting Elanor’s new bookcase together.  The old one fell apart, and the stacks of books on the floor weren’t exactly the decorating statement I wanted to make.   After putting together the bookcase, I lovingly arranged the bookcase, sorting books to keep all the Mo Willems together, all the fairy tales, and so forth.

We all know how this story ends, so I decided to record that one brief shining moment that Elanor’s bedroom bookcase was well organized for posterity.


Four days later, that brief shining moment has ended.  As we all knew it would.

Snarking Nostalgic: The Baby-sitters Club #2 Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls

This week we’re going back to Stoneybrook!  Pull out your hidden junk food and pretend it’s Monday, Wednesday or Friday at 5:30 pm.

Screen Shot 2014-04-24 at 3.28.20 PMClaudia and the Phantom Phone Calls

by Ann M. Martin (not ghostwritten)

Published October 1986

Kirsten Dunst’s first job was modeling for the little blonde girl on this cover.  She says “I was a child actress/model.  I did it strictly for the money.” Given her enthusiasm, I’m guessing she has the cover framed and illuminated in the middle of her living room.


Claudia wishes she could be in her room reading a mystery and eating candy, or dreaming about Trevor Sandbourne, or painting.  But no, she had to do her Math homework because her parents are facists.

At least Mimi is the one helping her and not Janine the NERD.

Mom has no accent (neither does my father, who also came to the United States as a small child) but Mimi has this pleasant, rolling accent that reminds me of a ship at sea.  And she is polite, polite, polite never speaking a harsh word.

Cultural sensitivity wasn’t really a thing in the 80’s, huh?

Mimi helps her with her homework, and sits for Claudia’s painting . They chat about the mystery book Claudia is reading and Halloween.

Claudia asks Mimi why she and Janine aren’t besties.  Mimi tells her that it’s because she’s a bitch who avoids and complains about her sister–except Mimi’s polite polite polite about it.  But that someday they’ll be friends.

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 10.47.08 PMI wouldn’t hold my breath.

Claudia calls Stacey.  Claudia is all swoony over Trevor, the poet.  Stacey is still gaga for Sam Thomas (Kristy’s older brother).   Boys are sooooooo dreamy.

The next day at schools the girls have a three page discussion about a boy named Alan Gray.  They go on at length about a trick Kristy played on him and how now he feels the need to bother her all the time.  So they’ll be hooking up by the end of the book.

Mary Anne is “flipping through the Stoneybrook News.”  Because seventh graders casually read the newspaper when hanging out with their pals.  She shrieks, and drops the paper.  OHMIGOD you guys–Phantom Phone Caller On Rampage In Mercer!  Mercer is the closest town to Stoneybrook!

“Well it’s still 20 miles away,” I said

Wait, what?   Are they surrounded by 20 miles of virgin forest?  It’s Stoneybrook, CT, not Storybrooke, Maine, FFS.

The Phantom Phone Caller calls the house to see if anyone answers.  If not, he goes and steals their jewelry.  He apparently doesn’t take anything else, so your diamond encrusted chairs are safe, millionaires.

Claudia gasps because a few nights ago, the phone rang and no one was on the line!

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 11.04.11 PMHe wants your handcuff earrings and key necklace, Claud


The girls decide that the best way to handle a suspicious situation is to stack cans in front of the door or window on the inside, so you’ll know if he’s entered the house

Then there is the elaborate phone message system

  • If you think he’s in the house CALL ANOTHER BABYSITTER and say “have you found my red ribbon?”
  • The other sitter will say “No, the blue one.”
  • If you know he’s in the house and your are in danger say “Now I’m in for it”
  • If you’re not sure there’s trouble say “That’s okay”


Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 11.19.28 PMBEST.  PLAN.  EVER.


We can’t get too hung up on this whole Phantom Phone Caller/Home Invasion thing–The Halloween Hop is coming up.  Claudia wants Trevor to ask her.  But–sigh–he doesn’t even know she’s alive.  “Faithfully” by Journey swells in the background.

Chapter 5 is all about a sitting job at the Newton’s, but there’s no entry.  I don’t know why I care, but I do, and I thought you should all know.  Everything is going okay until Claudia sees lights going on and off in the house!  The phone rings, but stops before she can answer it!  Then there are footsteps!  Claud peeks through a convenient hole in the fence and looks straight into another eye!  OHMIGOD IT’S THE PHAN—Kristy.  It’s just Kristy.  Kristy was looking for them, and the lights going on and off were all her, going through the Newton’s house looking for Claud and Jamie.

Not to bash your ribbon strategy, ladies….but maybe you should add lock the front door to your list of burglar management strategies?

Another night Claud is babysitting at the Marshall’s.  She creeps herself out and calls Stacey.  They’re talking about the Halloween Hop and boys when…

I definitely heard footsteps in the garage.  “Stacey, Stacey,” I said urgently.  “Have you found my b-I mean, did you see my–Have you found my…my…”

“Your red ribbon?” whispered Stacey.

“Yes!” I gasped.

“Yes, I did.  I mean, no, I found–I…”

“Did you find my blue—Oh, no, Stacey, someone’s at the garage door.  I can hear the knob rattling!”

“I’m going to call the police.”

“Claudia?” called a deep voice.

It was all I could do not to shriek.  “He called my name!” I yelped to Stacey

“Claudia,” said the voice again, “we’ve misplaced the house keys.  Can you let us in, please?”

That red ribbon plan doesn’t seem to work well under pressure.  Also, between two adults who presumably used a car to go somewhere (since Stoneybrook is surrounded by 20 miles of forest), why don’t they have a house key?

GASP!  Just as Claudia is about to leave, the phone rings, but when Mrs. Marshall answers, there’s no one there!  Does Claudia mention The Phantom Phone Caller?  Of course not.

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 11.30.30 PMAt least this guy had the courtesy to talk to you before he committed a crime….

Kristy babysits Karen and Andrew.  Karen has new theories about Morbidda Destiny and her spooky spells.  At bedtime she insists Kristy read her new book “The Witch Next Door.”

Watson, I’m going to judge you for this.  If you’re trying to convince Karen that Mrs. Porter isn’t a witch, buying her a book called “The Witch Next Door,” isn’t going to help matters.

Watson’s house is huge (still waiting for the first time they call it a mansion), and Kristy is jumpy.  She gets a hang up call and then calls Claudia…but doesn’t even think about using the ribbon code.  She doesn’t remember it.  Ladies and gentlemen, your Founder and President.

Then there’s a tapping at the door!  IT’S MORBIDDA DESTINY!!!!!  Or, you know, Mrs. Porter, who is returning Boo Boo after the cat was eating a mouse on her porch.  Although Boo Boo’s so vicious that Mary Anne was explicitly warned not to touch him, he’s obediently sitting in Mrs. Porters arms.  Guys, Karen is on to something.  Mrs. Porter is a witch.

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 11.44.16 PM

“He bothers me just by living!  Alan Gray is so horrible whenever he’s around me, that he’s all I can think about.” —- Kristy

Stacey suggests that Kristy ask her hot older brother Sam for help with this whole Phantom Phone Caller thing.  Kristy retorts that she’d never ask him for help.  He’s girl-crazy!  I mean, my god, last week he took some green-tipped hair, lace gloves with the tips cut off Freshman to the movies!  It’s just not a BSC book without Kristy being thoughtless.

Stacey starts to cry because didn’t Sam like her? (Remember how he called Stacey a “foxy chick” and she called him a gorgeous hunk?)  Stacey, this is only the first of a zillion older men you’ll have your heart broken by.  Get used it to it.

Claudia moans that the dance is only four days away and Trevor hasn’t asked her to go.

“I think you should talk to him,” said Kristy.

“I think you should ask him to the dance,” said Stacey.

I gasped.  “No way!  This isn’t the Sadie Hawkins dance.  I can’t ask a boy to go with me.”

“In New York we did it all the time.”

“Well, this isn’t New York, this is little Stoneybrook.  And I am not asking Trevor Sandbourne to the Halloween Hop.

Stacey should take her own advice and ask Sam out.

Claudia should remember that second wave feminism brought about women CEO’s, astronauts, and the ability to ask a boy to a non-Sadie Hawkins dance.

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 12.04.46 AMMary Anne pouts as she’s reminded, yet again, that she doesn’t live in NEW YORK CITY.

Shit just got real, people.  The Kishi’s neighbors the Goldmans were just robbed!  Goldman because Martin was being ironic years before hipsters discovered irony.

Shocker, Mary Anne is suspended from baby-sitting.  Given that the robbery was right across the street, I’m surprised Mary Anne is allowed to go to school without her dad.

That night–in yet another babysitting job without an entry at the start of the chapter–Kristy and Claudia babysit for Jamie and his hellion cousins.  Same M.O. as book 1–the parents leave, and the cousins go nuts.  Kristy, being Kristy, puts two fingers in her mouth and gives an ear piercing whistle, which puts an end to the shenanigans.

Suddenly things get scary…not one, not two, but three phone calls without someone on the other end of the line.  Several bangs as trashcans are knocked over.  A shadow runs away from the house!

The girls thankfully skip the ribbon nonsense and call the police.  The cops show up and go looking for the intruder, and show up minutes later with Alan Gray.  Kristy has a lot to say about this.

“Alan Gray, you darn, sneaking rotten–“


“Alan, you are a rat!” she exploded.

They find out that every call without a person on the other end of the line at one of Kristy’s sitting jobs was Alan.  He knew where she was because he kept peeking at the BSC notebook.

“Son,” said Officer Stanton in a more kindly voice, “what did you want to ask her?”

….(he mumbles, baby sitting charges tell him to speak up…

“I wanted to know if you’d go to the Halloween Hop with me.”

If I were Kristy, my eyeballs would have fallen out of my head about then.  But Kristy just said, “Oh gosh is that all?  Of course I’ll go with you….Thanks.”

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 12.20.44 AMAlan Gray knows how to woo a woman

After the sitting job, Claudia is in her room eating junk food (because of course) when Janine knocks on her door.  She saw the police cruiser on her way home.  Claudia is touched by her concern, and they talk.  Janine hides candy, too!  Bonding moment!  I’m sure that this will make it all worthwhile when the Kishis have to have their home fogged to kill the ant infestation.

The next day at school, Claudia is approached by Trevor, who has gathered up his courage and asks her to the Halloween Hop.  He was behind all of the calls when Claudia was sitting because Alan told him where Claudia would be.  Martin wasn’t getting paid enough to give him a different plot.

Claudia, much like Kristy, is completely unfazed by the whole stalking thing.  She happily agrees to go to the dance with him.  I feel the urge to stage an intervention and explain healthy and unhealthy relationships to all four of them.

The Halloween Hop was terrific.  Now I know we’re in a fictional universe–no middle school dance is ever terrific.  Ever.

Claudia got an 86 on her math test!  Her parents are so proud that they skip explaining that a B is an Asian F.

The Phantom Phone Caller was found trying to rob a mansion in that town 20 miles away (10 books more and it would’ve been in Watson’s neighborhood).

Life is great.  Several babysitters have earned in the neighborhood of 15 dollars over two weeks worth of baby sitting, and they clink their diet sodas together.

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 12.31.26 AMTo attend the Alan Gray/Trevor Sandbourne School of Seduction call 555-2934

Advanced courses taught by Edward Cullen

Next Week–Sweet Valley High #4-Power Play (aka that one where the fat girl becomes thin and popular–I have a lot of FEELINGS about that book).

When is a spoiler a spoiler?

I suppose I should say here that because I’m talking about spoilers, I may unintentionally spoil something for you? (Book/movie spoilers revealed/discussed–Game of Thrones Book/Season 3, Walking Dead, The Sixth Sense, Harry Potter 6, Downton Abbey Season 3)

About a week ago the internet lost its collective mind over a Game of Thrones episode that ended with King Joffrey’s death.  People who saw it immediately started talking, blogging, and creating memes.  People who hadn’t seen the episode were furious about posted spoilers. 

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 9.43.22 PMStephen King’s spoiler tweet and reaction to those upset with him

Is it really a spoiler if there’s a book?  Is there a statute of limitations on spoilers?  Is it even possible to avoid spoilers, given social media?  How do we follow Wheaton’s Law (“Don’t be a dick”) regarding potential spoilers?  I began to think about these questions and asked on Facebook and Twitter to get other’s opinions.

Is it really a spoiler if there’s a book?

I’m of two minds about this.  I’m generally a firm “read the book first” type of person, although I’ve broken that rule.  I didn’t read the Walking Dead comics before I saw the show and became interested in doing so; I’m not a comic kind of person anymore.  I didn’t read World War Z until after I saw the movie and my friends all started screaming about how the movie was a travesty and I had to read the book.  On the other hand, my husband and I are both avoiding Game of Thrones because we haven’t read the books and we feel like we shouldn’t watch it until we do.

My friend Rosemary pointed out that “You should cut people a break on book vs. tv/movies.  I’m never going to read the GoT books, so the show is new to me, even though the books have been out for a while, so don’t spoil it for me.”  I think she makes a valid point. Is the attitude of “you should’ve just read the damn books” just plain rude? I’m not going to be a jerk about it.  I feel bad if I spoil a twist someone didn’t know about because they didn’t read the book.

Stephanie has a more gentle take on this book v show war.  “If watching the show is your first introduction to the books, nothing is a spoiler. It’s just catching up to everybody else.

Of course the tv show/movie isn’t ever going to be 100% faithful, so in spoiling, you may be spoiling something that isn’t in the books.  The Daryl character on Walking Dead, isn’t in the comics and the show has departed and often toned down the comic’s storylines (the Governor is nowhere near as sadistic in the tv show–he doesn’t rape Michonne for one).  So there is often a divide–essentially creating two works with the same name which may or may not reflect one another.

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 9.56.41 PMfound in a google search, credited to icanhazcheesburger in the photo

Is there a statute of limitation on a spoiler?

There was consensus that there’s definitely a statue of limitations on a spoiler and that some people take it way too far.

Jennie said “I went to a class at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival last summer and we were seeing Cymbeline, a very complicated play… But the instructor wouldn’t tell us any of the plot points because she didn’t want to “spoil” anything. Certainly Shakespeare has exceeded the statute of limitations on spoiler alerts…”  But there’s a difference between just over 400 years ago and a book that’s only been out a few years.

 Vinitha says “I rarely read books the year they are released – would prefer a *spoiler alert* warning if you plan to spill the beans.”

We also agreed that at this point The Sixth Sense (1999) has been out long enough not to consider the twist ending that Bruce Willis’ character has been dead all this time a spoiler.  Or that Dumbledore’s death (book 2005, movie 2009) shouldn’t need a spoiler alert.  However, no one was brave enough to name a number as to how many years a twist needs a spoiler alert.  Joffrey’s death is in book 3 of the Game of Thrones series, published in 2000 but the scene everyone is so upset about wasn’t shown until April 2014 on the show, so the 14 year difference doesn’t seem to apply.  Maybe both the book and media have to have been out for X years?

There’s also the unintentional spoiler.  Certain tv shows come out earlier in some countries than others–the UK gets something like a six month head start on Downtown Abbey, for one.  So when my UK friends started freaking on twitter about about Sybil and Matthew’s deaths in Season 3, I found out long before the season had even begun in the US.  Finding it out in advance didn’t really lessen the emotional impact of those death scenes for me, as an invested viewer.  But I would rather not have found out–so I think it’s still a spoiler when other major markets haven’t had the chance to see/read it yet.

While I don’t worry about the Sixth Sense or HP spoilers with someone my age, I’m also going to be careful about what I reveal to Elanor and Rhi.  I know that she hasn’t had the exposure to either, and at some point in the future I want them to see/read them respectively and have the full impact of the shock.  So there may be reason to justify a double standard based on the age of who you’re talking to.  Goodreads has a box you can tick off if there are spoilers in your review, no matter how old the book is depending on how you feel about the statute of limitations.

Of course, then there’s the Romeo and Juliet clause.  My friend Amy points out “Hell, Shakespeare himself “spoiled” Romeo and Juliet in the 6th line of the prologue.”  You can’t get mad at someone for spoiling a book that gives away its spoiler first.

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 9.58.46 PMsource

Is it possible to avoid spoilers, given social media?

Consensus is no, not realistically.

People should get over it or stay away from people and the internet until they see/read whatever it is,” says my friend April. 

“The whole book/movie spoiler debate is silly.  I have a hard enough time avoiding spoilers for Miami Dolphins (American Football–ed.) games for 24 hours,” muttered my husband when asked.  He does a complete facebook/twitter/google +/news site blackout so that the games aren’t ruined for him.  I did a complete media blackout when waiting for the How I Met Your Mother series finale, and threatened the friendship of anyone who ruined it for me, only to have it disappoint me in many ways (not Neil Patrick Harris….NEVER Neil Patrick Harris).

“Keeping ANYthing under wraps in the social media age is an accomplishment all by itself!” Stephanie has a point. Paula notes that “News sites post within minutes of the episode airing.”  It’s not just books or television.  I often get news from twitter first and then have it validated by traditional media later.

“I feel the need to talk about my various shows, but always do it in the comments of a post clearly labeled as a spoiler.”  Rosemary notes. I appreciate
these fb posts of hers, which say something to the effect of “let’s talk about the most recent episode of show x in the comments.”  It’s a good way to talk about potential spoilers without putting said spoilers out into the world.  You can’t control what other people do, but you can choose how you handle spoilers on the internet.

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 10.34.11 PMOf course, not every spoiler on the internet is true… (source)

What do you guys think?  What are your opinions on spoilers?  Do you follow Wheaton’s Law or are you the person going around ruining it for everyone else?

Snarking Nostalgic: Six Months to Live by Lurlene McDaniel

BSC fans–don’t worry, there will be more BSC snark (Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls is next week).  Due to the wealth of terribly written tween/teen books from the time period, though, I’m going to alternate in other books.  Let’s not spare Sweet Valley High, Christopher Pike, or other books that deserve a snarky review.

This week? Six Months to Live by Lurlene McDaniel (at Amy’s suggestion).  If you worried that every moment of fatigue and every unexplained bruise meant you had cancer, you’ve read this book and/or the rest of Lurlene’s oevre.

I’ve decided to try to do single entry snark instead of a chapter by chapter retell.  Please give feedback in comments.

 six months to live coverSix Months to Live by Lurlene McDaniel

Originally published 1985

Our book opens with a doctor telling Dawn Rochelle she has cancer.  Oh, good–let’s not bother with establishing characters or trying to make us interested in them, and get right to what we’re here for–Dawn has cancer.  Cue parental shock, including

“We thought it was just the flu,” her father gasped.

I may not be the parent of a child who has/had cancer, but I am a parent.  And anyone who wants to run tests on my kid explains what the tests are and what they’re looking for first.  Are her parents dumb, or in denial?

A kid!  That’s what I am, Dawn thought.  She was a kid, just two months over her thirteenth birthday…a seventh grader…cheerleader for Adams Junior High…daughter of Pete and Meggie Rochelle…kid sister of Rob Rochelle…super fan of Michael Jackson…collector of teddy bears…a resident of Columbus, Ohio…and now, a victim of cancer

This tells you all you need to know about what kind of ride we’re strapping in for.  This is exactly how 13 year old children talk.  Unless they’re from THE SOUTH–but we’ll get there later.  If you want a drinking game to get through this book (or any McDaniel book)–and you might–take a shot every time a child uses weirdly out of date language.  I feel like Lurlene was about as hip to teenage culture in the 1980’s as I am to the teen culture of 2014.

Dawn has to go to the hospital RIGHT NOW.  This afternoon.  Her pediatrician who apparently sent blood samples to the lab without consulting anyone (HIPPA violation!) has also “made arrangements” for her to get admitted right away.  He is drunk with power.  Her parents are speechless, and Dawn is asking all the questions, which is totally how my children’s doctor’s appointments go.

Suddenly, she felt like a white rat trapped in science experiment…caught in a maze of mind-boggling proportions…a maze with no exit…a rat with no future.

I’m not editing the quotes.  The ellipses are as written.  Drinking Game #2-Take a shot every time you see one.

Dawn’s father wants a second opinion, in a startling show of parental involvement.  Her mom pooh-poohs this, saying they’ll get lots of opinions at the hospital.  I don’t think her mom understands how hospitals work.

Dawn sits and is emo, wondering what she’ll tell people.  Kid, you’re not Stacey McGill, and cancer is a lot harder to hide than diabetes.

Then this happens

Rob…Dawn pictured her brother.  He was so big and broad across his shoulders—

Dawn, don’t make me invoke The Flowers in the Attic Law.

They get to the hospital and the nurse tells her that she has a roommate, Sandy, who’s “a real doll,” and that “everybody likes her.”  Dawn is has angst about the idea of a roommate because how dare the cancer floor of the hospital be full of cancerous kids.

The oncologists visit the room and introduce themselves to the family.  Pages of explanation about cancer.  I’m betting this is why so much of Lurlene’s fanbase were hypochondriacs.  The oncologist then tells her she can be an outpatient, and she then spends roughly 50+% of the book (more or less) in the hospital.  For all that her descriptions of how cancer and chemo work seem pretty correct (minus advances in tech over the past 20 years) Lurlene’s understanding of “outpatient” could use some work.

“Dr. Sinclair,” Dawn’s mom asked quietly.  “What if we decide to skip all this therapy and just take Dawn home?”

The blue-eyed doctor surveyed her and said “That would be very unwise, Mrs. Rochelle.  Untreated, ninety percent of all leukemia victims die within the year.”

Guys, I don’t want to ruin the moment of supreme parental stupidity, but raise your hand if you can smell the foreshadowing.

Dawn tells us that “Dr. Sinclair hates cancer.”  Unlike all those other oncologists who just love them some cancer?

She brushed her long, auburn hair and tied it up in a pony tail.  “So,” she told her reflection, “in a few weeks I may be bald.”  It bothered her a lot.  It had taken her years to grow her hair past her shoulders.

If I taught a literature course, I could use this book as an example of what heavy handed foreshadowing looks like.


The mysterious Sandy comes back from chemo sick, pale, and sleeping.  We’ll meet her and her hillbilly accent bright and early tomorrow morning.

The girls become insta-friends in the a.m.  Dawn comments on how Sandy looked like shit the night before.

“I know.  The first time, my daddy got so upset that he almost took me out of the hospital that night!” Sandy said.  She gave a smile of remembrance and said, “My daddy’s like that.  Cant’ stand to see anythin’ hurtin’ his little girl.”

So this is the first book in a five book series about Dawn Rochelle.  Unless the rest of the books are about Dawn’s ghost haunting her sexy sexy older brother, I’m guessing she makes it out alive.  Anyone want to place odds on Sandy?

Also–if you need to get drunk really fast because this book is getting painful try Drinking Game #3 –do shots the second anyone from WV ends a word with in’.  You’ll be unconscious within pages.

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 10.17.26 PMI’m pretty sure this is what Lurlene was picturin.’  If you cross the line into WV, the redneck fairy smacks you on the head and takes away your “ing”s.

A “psychotherapist” breaks up all the bonding to teach them how to do “Imaging.”  Dawn pictures an army of teddy bears fighting her cancer.  Sandy is skeptical, which I interpret as a decrease in Sandy’s odds of makin’ it out of this book alive.

Dawn then asks if she can pray for God to take the cancer away as well.  Which, fine, except I’ve done my homework on McDaniel and let me warn you she’s got a hard on for The Bible and Traditional Gender Roles.  That Sandy doesn’t ask about prayin’ or pray with Dawn is just another big red flag.  Why was I shocked that she dies when I was a kid?

Dawn’s friends come and visit her and it’s awkward, which seems pretty true to life.  There’s actually a great exchange between Dawn and Sandy after (if you can overlook the stilted language and the hick accent) about how regular people just don’t get it.  My elder daughter was quite sick when she was a baby, and after she got out of the hospital, we joined a mom/baby group.  It was all kinds of awkward and uncomfortable whenever her illness was the elephant in the room.

Just as the emo music swells, the topic of boys comes up.

Sandy has been kissed by a boy (seriously, Sandy, why not paint a target on yourself?) and that it was “real sweet, like he meant it.”  I’m glad that Sandy understands that he meant it because I’m an erotica author and I have no clue what that means.  Is that code for tongue?  That he took you to the county fair first?  That he got a hard on?  WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?  Now when my husband kisses me, I wonder how I’ll know if he means it?

Dawn wishes that Jake had kissed her because he probably won’t when he sees her and that no one will ever want to kiss her.  To which I reply—five book series.

Dawn and Sandy go through all the medical stuff together (because everyone in the cancer ward has a roomie whose cancer is identical in every way to theirs?).  Dawn meets Sandy’s parents, and realizes that “Mr. Chandler was very angry about Sandy being so sick.”  Unlike those parents who do the cancer dance with the cancer loving oncologists that populate the rest of the oncology floor?  Dawn is DUMB, people.  I wish she was the one who was going to die in this book.  Anyway, back to Sandy’s dad, who looked into cancer clinics in Europe and Mexico instead of sendin’ her to Columbus, OH.  As a kid I thought he was actually looking into cancer clinics.  Now that I’m 35, I know that’s just code for “hospices.”

Violation #2 of The Flowers in the Attic Rule

“You’d give me your bone marrow?” Dawn asked Rob shyly once they were alone.

“Absolutely!” Rob said, chucking her on her chin.  “I gave you the chicken pox, didn’t I?  I can spare bone marrow for you, too.”

“Thanks,” was all she could whisper.  She felt deep gratitude for the love he was showing her.  Rob…so big and strong…and healthy.

Rob is big and strong and healthy, guys.  See, Lurlene?  No use of ellipses!  It CAN be done!

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 10.48.07 PMRob Rochelle as described by Lurlene

Fun times in the hospital ensue.  Arts and crafts.  Popcorn fights!  And then to despoil the beauty of those times, Dawn loses her first lump of hair.

Sandy is losing her hair, too.  Sandy’s hair was waitin’ for Dawn’s to fall, so they could shed together.  Lurlene has a hair fetish, guys–we get a description of Sandy’s hair and all the hair paraphernalia Sandy owns.  Dawn’s mom shows up with a beautician friend who cuts their hair and brings along a bunch of wigs for the girls to play with before they each pick one.

Then comes the portion of the book devoted to cancer treatments and all the ways it despoils Dawn (and Sandy’s) poor bodies.  Remission feels a million miles away.  Everything will be emo awful forever, guys.  The spends pages giving us excruciating detail of everything poor Dawn goes through, and then tells us that Sandy suffered the same agonies (literally–pages of Dawn, one sentence on Sandy).  Thanks for clearin’ that up, Lurlene–I was startin’ to think Sandy might have the fun kind of cancer.

Just when it can’t get any more melodramatic, Dawn gets a fever.  But not a fever…a FEVER.  The ICU kind of fever, and she’s rushed away.  People kind of float in and out, and then Lurlene tells us about a drugged out dream Dawn has while high, where her favorite teddy bear comes to rescue her.  Then she’s better, so the bear was a metaphor?  Except just before she wakes up, he turned into the boy she wanted to kiss, so Dawn is a closeted furry?  I…just…don’t…know…what…Lurlene….means.

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 11.05.59 PM

Aw, Sandy drew Dawn a picture of her Imagin’ picture–a teddy bear army defeatin’ cancer.  The girls are so happy to be reunited.

“And we’re going to celebrate with a reunion every year after we go into remission.  So start planning on it!”

I wouldn’t, if I were you.

Sandy Chandler and Dawn Rochelle toasted each other and their futures with styrofoam cups filled with warm pop while the hospital routine settled in around them.

Lurlene likes to refer to her characters by first and last name.  At least half the time Dawn is referred to as Dawn Rochelle.  Which is oddly formal.  There was a boy I went to middle school with whose name was Chris Rodney and we all called him that, but I don’t think that’s common.  It took re-skimming the book for me to realize that Rochelle wasn’t part of her first name.

Guys, Sandy is in remission and she’s goin’ home!  Yay!  Dawn is upset, but at least the letters from Sandy start to arrive a page or so later.  Sandy tells Dawn that her parents are treatin’ her like she’s made of glass.  I get that, and I think it’s pretty normal, although it probably does suck from the kid’s perspective.  The boy that kissed her like he meant it doesn’t seem to mean it anymore and avoids her.  Lurlene is actually painting a realistic picture!  I’m sure that will give way to melodrama soon.

The Psychotherapist (I think?  maybe a nurse?  I don’t care about the main characters, much less the secondary ones) tells Dawn she should go to cancer camp that summer.  Which is the cue for,  two pages later, Dawn’s cancer to go into remission.

As Dawn drove home with her parents, she understood how Rip Van Winkle must have felt when he’d awakened form his years of long sleep

Yes.  Highly accurate.  When Ellie was in the hospital, we lived there.  When we left with her, it was almost a month later, and everything had gone from Halloween to Christmas.  It was freaky.  Except for Dawn it went from April to mid-July.  It’s also strange how her friends act like nothing has happened, which upsets Dawn (although she also doesn’t want to be treated differently).  Her friend’s petty shit feels petty to her, and she doesn’t know how to pretend that it isn’t petty.

The psychotherapist sends a cancer camp brochure to Dawn, who considers tossing it.  Dawn decides to go, but only if Sandy can.

We’re off to cancer camp!  Apparently the camp was only for Ohio residents, but the oncologist had gotten Sandy special permission to go.  The girl’s hair is growing back magically fast because Lurlene wants to talk about hair again.

Camp has an opening ceremony with “Indians” wearing “buckskin and feathers of an ancient Ohio tribe” canoeing to the shore and then “with a cry and whoop” light the fire.  They have this ceremony to “pay tribute to them (Native Americans).”

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 10.01.20 PMI’m going to leave this here for you Lurlene…

Cancer camp is just wonderful….awesome…great….  There are these two gorgeous boys who like Sandy and Dawn and it’s perfect how Sandy and Dawn are each crazy for the boy that Lurlene has assigned them.  You know they’re having a great time because there are so! many! exclamation! points!  Until we learn that Mike-who is assigned to Sandy-is missing a leg.  Good thing the girl who is surviving this book got the intact boy, right Lurlene?

Let’s not dwell on that because Cancer Camp is FUN!  Let’s have a zany antic where the four of them go to the director’s cabin in the middle of the night and pelt him with water balloons, steal his boxes, embroider them elaborately with flowers, and run them up a flag pole all in the same night.  Those kids are so wacky!  My favorite part is when one of the boys screams “bonsai!” as he throws his water balloon.  I’m pretty sure he didn’t mean the elaborately trimmed little tree.  I can’t actually find a reference to the actual slang term from the 80’s to get a correct spelling of the slang term meant.  But that typo was the funniest part of the escapade for me in what otherwise felt like a retread of a prank that would’ve felt at home in the Haley Mills version of “Parent Trap.”  Also-Sandy must be amazeballs good at embroiderin’ to have done the kind of detail described in just one night, too.

The night before the end of camp

Pedro Mendez performed a break dancing routine that caused everyone to howl with delight.

The ethnic person did an ethnic thing for the amusement of the white people!  Lurlene has never had a non-white friend.  Just write white people, Lurlene.  It’s so much better that way than this racist crap.  Not that your white people are going to win any awards for well rounded portrayals.

Camp ends

“D-do you think we’ll all be here next year?” she asked, scanning the faces that had grown so familiar to her during the last two weeks.

That whole racist moment with the “Indians” at the start of camp?  There was also a bit about mixing last year’s opening fire ashes with this years, including all the ones for kids who died.  Dawn is DUMB and Lurlene is HITTING you with the FORESHADOWING stick at this point.  BEATING you with it.  NO.  Sandy is going to die because you have a five book series, Dawn.

Back home and back to school.  OH NOES! Sandy is out of remission.

You should see my poor daddy!  He’s a basket case.  He’s talked to Dr. Sinclair a couple of times, and Dr. Sinclair wants us to come back to Columbus right away.  He says that we might have to think about a bone marrow transplant.  Boy!  Did that set my daddy off!

Now he’s talking about taking me to some clinic in Mexico.

Raise your hands if you think Sandy is headin’ to the warm Mexican embrace of hospice care.  YUP.  Not long after there’s another letter from Sandy post marked from Mexico.

There’s no chemotherapy either, just lots of fresh food, vitamins and sunshine.

All of which have a 100% success rate of sendin’ leukemia into remission, unlike bone marrow transplants which accomplish NOTHIN’.

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 11.08.23 PMOr you could’ve just drank this, Sandy.  Equally helpful–sunshine, fruits and vitamins!

Then we get the third and final letter from Sandy

I’m not scared of what might happen to me.  At least I don’t hurt all the time.  That pleases my daddy ’cause he can’t stand to see me hurting.

Firstly, I’m shocked that the hillbilly fairy allows you to use -ing in your writing.  Secondly I wouldn’t be happy that I’m dying and that my daddy is happy that I’m not hurting–I’d be screaming and fighting to get a real motherfucking hospital.  Thirdly, I googled end stage cancer and according to a cancer website, end stage cancer hurts like a bitch, which is why they drug you in hospice care.  Unless those “vitamins” have a serious dose of morphine, or are crystal meth or something, I call bullshit.  Then again, why bring reality into the gorgeous sunset picture of a girl submitting to her father’s wishes and going to be with God when she didn’t have to?

Seconds after Dawn reads the letter she gets a telegram telling her that Sandy’s dead.  HOORAY!  The book is almost over.  Sad.  That’s just so sad.

Sandy’s parents send Dawn a box of Sandy’s stuff.  Hair combs (because hair fetish), a popcorn necklace from the super fun cancer floor arts and crafts days, Sandy’s ashes from camp, Sandy’s diary (which sadly doesn’t include any entries about “my idiot dad is sentencing me to death!” but does include Mike’s picture in an entry talking about how she wants to do more than kiss him next summer, the slut), and a page from the bible with that insipid “to everything there is a season” verse all marked up.

Dawn pondered the page for a long while.  It was true.  Sandy’s “season” was over.  She’d gone home to God.  The thought brought Dawn great comfort and made her more determined than ever to live her own “season” to its fullest.  She shut the box and put it away on the shelf.

In the remaining three or so pages we see that Dawn is living her “season”–back in cheer leading and Jake (aka healthy boy) likes her!  Hooray!

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 10.38.21 PMI don’t have cancer anymore!

Remember how I touched on Lurlene being a certain flavor of Christian?  Yeah.  We need to talk about that before I can end the post.  You know how I knew Sandy was going to die apart from the “it’s a five books series” thing?  Sandy doesn’t ask about prayin.’  She has already made out with a guy and doubles that before the book is over.  She even admits that she’s goin’ to go further next year durin’ cancer camp.  Her mom over-ruled her dad, so you know that’s going to come back and bite the family on the ass.  But when she lets go and lets God, she gets to die and teach Dawn a Very Important Lesson because it’s too late for her.  There are books where she does this with a far heavier hand, according to this Lurlene McDaniels snark blog (go read it, it’s hilarious), but this just PISSED ME OFF.

At some point in the future I will buy a physical Lurlene McDaniels book so I can have the pleasure of throwing it at the wall every time she does this–a mom who is a Bad Mom because she works outside the home, where sex has consequences, and god has a plan for those who are good.  Because ugh, moralizing.

The only way I can bring myself to read the rest of this series is if you guys promise me that she dies at the end of book five.

Let me know how you liked this format for Snarking Nostalgic!

Next week–Claudia and the Phantom Phone calls.

Book Review: Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 3.46.36 PMCharlotte’s Web by E.B. White

5/5 stars

Ellie likes read alouds–she likes picture books, and she’ll sit in for her sister’s board books.  But over the past year and a half, we’ve slowly started to introduce chapter books into the read aloud repertoire.  This past week we finished “Charlotte’s Web.”

First I’ll let Elanor talk to you about the book.  This is a longer video than the past two have been, and I provided more scaffolding.  Given the length and complexity of the book, Ellie needed support.

In reading chapter books to Elanor, I’ve had the opportunity to look back at my childhood.  Some books like Fantastic Mr. Fox are much scarier, others are badly written (see my snarking nostalgia column), and some books–like Beezus and Ramona–are just boring.

Charlotte’s Web is sadder.  So. Much. Sadder. than I remembered it being.  Reading it as an adult, and knowing what’s coming makes you so much more alert to nuance.  More than once, I felt choked up or found myself blinking back tears.  Prepare yourself accordingly.

As a child, I don’t know that I appreciated the richness of the language that White uses throughout the book. Words like salutations, injustice, and languishing are a welcome change.  You won’t find overuse of the word “said” as you do in other children’s literature.  It is a joy to read.

I remember appreciating that he didn’t dumb the book’s vocabulary down just because kids were going to read it–or the subject matter.

Wilbur’s life is in danger from the first chapter, and the reader knows that Wilbur may actually end up on someone’s plate.  Few expect Charlotte to die.  I’m relatively sure that this is the first book I read in which I lost a beloved character.  Some kids will need preparation–others may surprise you.  I was a bit concerned about reading it aloud to Elanor–she’s a really sensitive little girl–but she was fine while I was tearing up during Charlotte’s death scene.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to show Ellie the animated and live action versions of Charlotte’s Web so that she can give you her opinion about which she liked best.  I’ll introduce the idea of faithful adaptation so that she can evaluated if they are faithful.  I don’t really remember if the cartoon is terribly faithful, but I do remember loving the music.  I’ve never seen the live version so I have no idea what I’m in for.

I think five is about as young an age where this is a good real aloud.  The upper limit of the age depends on the purpose for which you’re reading it.  This is a book that belongs on any bookcase, whether you have children or not.

Book Review: Cast Member Confidential by Chris Mitchell

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 9.51.36 PMCast Member Confidential: A Disneyfied Memoir by Chris Mitchell

Rating 3/5 stars for the casual reader

1/5 for those Disney fans who don’t want to sully the brand

5/5 for those who enjoy the peek behind the mask

Last week when I reviewed Spinning Disney’s World, I promised that we’d get to the memoir with sex on property, hijinks and a very different view of life under The Mouse from Ridgeway’s rarefied PR office.  This is a memoir that will give you that peek. There are a few others, but this was the most enjoyable.

Just as the reader has to keep in mind that Ridgeway was intent on keeping both the man and the brand Snow White (sorry, I had to), it is worth noting that Mitchell defines himself as anti-establishment.  At times he tries a bit too hard to convince us of that fact.  To his credit, Mitchell seems far more aware of his bias than Ridgeway, and he does make fairly self aware statements throughout the book to that effect.

One of the things that made Spinning Disney’s World such a tough review was the lack of a narrative.  Mitchell does us the favor of both giving us a sequential narrative, and one with a central theme.  After his mother’s cancer diagnosis (and his parent’s attempt to hide it from him–he finds out from his older brother) he effectively decides to run away to Disney and hide in the magic, playing Peter Pan/Lost Boy in the Magic Kingdom.

Nobody has every died at Disney World (again, no page #’s, so I’ll cite percentages throughout the review–2%)

Mitchell uses this piece of Disney lore as a framing device at both the opening and close of the book.  At the start of the book, he’s told that bit of lore by Nick Elliot–Former X Games Champion turned skateboarding monkey on the Tarzan float in a WDW parade.  (I’ll address that bit of lore at the end of the review)

The narrative shifts to Mitchell’s personal life a short time later–within a very short period of time he is fired from his job, his girlfriend dumps him for a friend, and his brother tells him that their mother has cancer but that he can’t tell her that he knows.  Mitchell’s reaction to all of this is to run away to Disney World to put his professional sports photography skills to use….as one of those guys taking pictures of families with Disney Characters.

“Your job will be to work with the characters.  You’ll take pictures of Minnie and Mickey and Winne the Pooh and Tigger and anybody else our beloved guests wish to meet.  And you’ll try to capture a moment on their faces that doesn’t look like desperate misery, and then you’ll sell the photos back to them at a very reasonable price” (said to Mitchell by his Boss Orville 7%)

Mitchell begins his time at Disney trying to find “The Magic.”  He submits to a haircut approved by “The Disney Look” employee handbook.  He removes piercings.  He shaves.  He tucks in his uniform shirt, and leaves the chain wallet and sunglasses at home (or at least in his employee locker).  He learns to identify Cast Members by their uniforms (photographers like himself wear Khaki uniforms in the Animal Kingdom, for example).  He learns the “Seven Guest Service Guidelines,” such as “(4) If you sense that a guest is a having a less-than-Magical moment, provide immediate recovery any way you can.”

The Never Never Land that Mitchell was seeking when he ran away to Disney does seem to exist.  Or, at least, it is possible to exist in a Disney bubble.  Rather than debate the 2000 election, Cast Members were arguing  passionately over whether Maria in “The Sound of Music” or Mary in “Mary Poppins” was Julie Andrew’s greatest role. (22%)

However, he still doesn’t get off to the best start.  He likes to make snarky comments, only to realize too late that (at this point in the book) the people he’s making them to, and the context in which he’s making them get an icy reception.  You shouldn’t really crack jokes about Mickey getting “a call from his Hollywood agent who just cast him in a movie with Jessica Rabbit” to someone who uses phrases like “oh my ears and whiskers” as part of their everyday conversation.(10%)  Don’t tell a woman who took a job as Pocahontas after finding out she can’t have kids as a way to be a special part of kid’s lives  that “Children are idiots.” (11%)  Even when you just saw someone kick Mickey as hard as they can, you don’t ask that person if they’re okay by their “real” name (21%)

Eventually though, he begins to integrate, then gets a bit too comfortable.  Backsliding begins with snacking on property (38%).  Temptation comes knocking when he begins to do “out of character” photography–Goofy blowing a smoke ring (39%), Mickey picking Minnie’s Nose (39%), Chip and Dale in a 69 (42%) until Mickey Flashing Tit gets the girl in question fired–the tit in question has a very individual tattoo.(73%) .  He has sex on property with a girl who plays Chip on a bunch of boxes of Disney t-shirts backstage at Epcot (41%).

Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 12.34.18 AMA sample of “out of character” photography (found via google/reddit)

Mitchell’s world is populated by characters as colorful as any dreamed up by Disney, although they are hardly what Walt had in mind.

  • Brady is a character actor–Mike Wazowski, Pooh and Roger Rabbit.  Offstage, he’s a bit of a sociopath.  Eventually Brady will rope Mitchell into kidnapping a dog (30%) and taking “medication” to Cuba (81%).  But first, Brady will give Mitchell his first peek into the dark side of working for Disney–an after hours party at an apartment complexes (referred to as ‘the Disney ghetto”) owned by Disney where cast members live.  The party as described by Mitchell is one party Alice in Wonderland esque drug fantasy and one part orgy drenched in alcohol.  (15%)  Brady also becomes Mitchell’s tour guide and translator in the backstage rules and workings of the parks.
  • Johnny works in PR.  A NASCAR and beer enthusiast, Mitchell answers an ad on a cast member bulletin board to become his roommate. (22%)  He’s also a chickenhawk–an older gay man who loves a different younger man every week. (38%)  By the end of the book, he’s trying to become the next Lou Pearlman by creating his own gay-themed Boy band called “Boy Banned” (86%).
  • When Mitchell first meets Calico (50%) she is playing Ariel.  Orville (his boss) tries to warn Mitchell off of her, but he doesn’t listen.  At first there’s no discernable reason why.  She seems like a sweet vegetarian who cries over her Wish kids and wants to be a wedding planner.  Then she starts speaking in a British accent, eating meat and missing dates when she’s cast as Cruella DeVille. (80%)  She lies to Mitchell, claiming she’s been diagnosed with cancer.  He overcompensates, doing for her what his mom won’t let him do as he’s not even supposed to know about his mother’s diagnosis. This all culminates in Mitchell catching her cheating on him with another cast member, telling her sexual partner “You’re a miserable, naughty little puppy!” in her fake British acent.  (93%)

Rather than evoke “true patriot” or “great man” Walt Disney narrative used by Ridgeway, Mitchell says that Walt was–

A product of Midwest values and Industrial Revolution savvy, he learned how to make money the old-fashioned way: from children. (24%)

If you are looking for behind the scenes dirt, there’s plenty dished

  • I used to think that characters were immune to the smells of the outisde world, but, in fact, it was exactly the opposite.  Any scent that drifted into the head stayed i the head: cigarette smoke, perfume, garlic breath.  Passing gas inside a costume was to be avoided at all costs.  The stench was trapped inside the body untilt he character bent down to hug a child, then blew out the only opening in the suit–the mouth.  Within a week, I’d lost count of the number of times I heard a child turn to his parents and say, ‘Eew, Pluto has doggie breath!'” (25%)
  • Cast Members sitting around coming up with Disney themed porn titles (34%)
  • Sex on Property (mentioned starting at 40% and then throughout the book from there)  I used to work at the Boston Tea Party Ship and Museum in Boston in the late 90’s and it seemed that everyone hooked up somewhere on property at least once.  I never had sex on property–but I did know every inch of space that the cameras didn’t see.  Do I think a ton of 20 something Disney employees are going to hook up on property?  Abso-fucking-lutely–pun intended.

Just as Mitchell begins his memoir with the rumor that no one has ever died on property, at the 91% mark, he sees an older employee’s heart give out.  He’s reprimanded for ruining people’s “magical experience” on property because kids saw Mitchell administer CPR.  He gets into a massive fight with his manager and quits/is fired.  After attending the funeral of his fellow cast member, Mitchell is having brunch with  two fellow employees and the following conversation happens.

“….I found this amazing, magical place where nobody ever dies, like the Bermuda Triangle, only in a good way, and I actually started to believe that I could settle down here.  I honestly thought I had it in me to be a lifer.” (Mitchell)

Marco looked at me, puzzled.  “What are you talking about?  People die at Disney World all the time.”

I shook my head.  “There’s never been a death at Disney World.  Even Walter.  The paper reported he died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.”

Marco and Orville exchanged a look.  Orville took a deep breath before he spoke.  “Nobody’s ever been pronounced dead on Disney property because that’s Disney’s policy.  If somebody passes away at one of the parks, the body gets loaded into the alpha unit and pronounced dead in transit.”….”Hey, don’t look so sad.  I didn’t mean to upset you.”

In reality, I wasn’t at all that surprised.  Somewhere in the back of my mind, I think I knew that was the case the whole time. What really threw me was my apparently innate talent to deceive myself into believing the most absurd fantasies: that I could escape reality in an amusement park, that I could continue to live a life unexamined. …. I ran away from my mom when she needed my support the most.  I was a shallow, self-centered bastard. (95%)

Mitchell drives back to California, shedding his Disney self as he goes–changing his ring tone, re-inserting his labret piercing, and so forth.  He finds out his mom is now in remission.  The book fades to black with the family watching, and him falling asleep to Disney’s Peter Pan. (100%)

Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 12.48.48 AM

Makes for a cohesive, tight, and convenient narrative, doesn’t it?  Boy loses girl and job, finds out Mom is sick, and runs away to Disney World.  Boy loses job and girl friend,  runs back to CA, and mom is well.  The “no one dies on property” rumor is ash is just one more piece of Disney misdirection to bookend the narrative.  All very slick.  Too slick for me, as a critical reader, to take at face value.

Let’s start with that whole “no on ever dies on property” rumor.  According to snopes, it is false.  But does that mean that situations like the one described don’t happen?  Probably not–it wouldn’t shock me that in general the policy is to have the person declared DOA at the hospital, but it isn’t true that it never happens.

Like Ridgeway, Mitchell takes his artistic license too far at times in a way that calls everything into question.  Do I buy that the greeter died on property but got a DOA at the hospital–maybe.  Do I buy that Calico was a bit method?  Sure.  The extent to which Mitchell describes, though?  Especially given the perfection of the timing for everything to fall apart at the precisely correct moment?  Smacks of artistic license.  It’s all a bit too perfectly timed in an After School Special  “Very Important Lesson” kind of way.

Exactly how much exaggeration is going on?  How much of an axe does Mitchell have to grind?  Hard to know.

Both of the Disney books are skewed.  Mitchell is the E True Hollywood Story to Ridgeway’s Travel Channel documentary, so to speak.  When put head to head, which you’ll like better is up for grabs depending on what kind of mood you’re in.

The Baby-sitters Club–Where are they now? Part 1

Once it became clear how many of us are nostalgic over the BSC, the “Where are they Now Conversation” was inevitable.  Pooja began it during a lively Whatsapp conversation that ended up lasting a half hour.  I then asked my Facebook friendslist and ended up with one of the longest threads I’ve ever achieved on fb.  There were so many ideas about where the BSC would be today that I’m saving some for another one of these posts!

Each “Where are they now” answer is credited to the brilliant woman who came up with it.


BSC Kristy WTF faceKristy Thomas

  • High maintenance soccer mom with a very devoted, quiet husband (Ange)
  • VVery slightly nicer Sue Sylvester after she realizes she actually hates kids. It allows her to combine her love of sports with a vendetta to repay ALL children for the years she spent as president if the BSC. She now disavows that she had anything to do with creating the club, maintaining it was all Mary Anne’s idea. (Me)
  • Comes out during her first year year at Sarah Lawrence.  She and her gender queer partner now raise sheep in Eugene, OR. (Pooja)

 Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 11.21.16 PMClaudia Kishi

  • NYC, part time barista and assistant at a ceramic painting store, trying to do “art” on the side, living with like six other people in bed-stuy (Johanna)
  • PPerformance artist.  Topic; Janine.  She plays bass in a hipster Greenpoint band called– ironically of course–Tiger Mom. (Pooja)
  • Studies really hard.  Attends NYU Stern school of Management and then Harvard Business. Becomes an analyst on Wall Street. When Occupy Wall Street happens, tries to convince everyone that this has been a twenty year long performance piece called Claudia Kishi, Corporate Clone ©  No one believes her.  (Me)
  • Fashion designer with a small boutique shop in town, but her main customers are teenage girls who always mistake the place for a thrift shop. (Paula)

 Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 11.27.17 PMStacey McGill

  • Failed model, string of husbands (Johanna)
  • After her latest divorce, is attempting a GOOP-like website (Amy)


Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 11.30.37 PMMary Anne Spier

  • Sits in Times Square, staring at the lights and saying “I can’t believe I’m in New York City!” Stacey brings MA food and makes her wash/change every few days, on her way to work uptown. (Ange)
  • Stepford wife (Pooja)
  • So devastated by the break up with Logan that she decides to go on a backpacking trip through Europe and meets a handsome Italian man. With her support and marketing expertise, they create an Olive Oil Empire becoming one of the richest couples in the world. Maryann rarely speaks to anyone anymore including Dawn (Paula)


Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 11.33.46 PMDawn Schafer

  • Living in a co-op growing and selling organic produce and clothes. (Ange)
  • Has a YouTube channel where she posts videos on how to live a California lifestyle (Amy)
  • Shocks everyone when she falls for a rancher and promptly starts eating steak. She is often heard to say “why didn’t you guys TELL me how good this tastes?” (Me)


Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 11.36.32 PMMallory Pike

  • Owns several cats and moonlights as a mystery writer when she’s not looking for a job (Amy)
  • Runs five blogs and is attempting to monetize them. She is an au pair for a family in Fairfield, CT. (Ange)
  • Leaves the Mormon faith, and blogs her angst.  Also has an angsty tumblr (Pooja)
  • An Open Letter to Ann M. Martin from Mallory Pike (not only the letter, but the comments are gold)  Best quote from the letter ““I’m writing this note on a computer that’s encrusted with real diamonds. Claudia and Stacey never made earrings out of those, now did they? No. I didn’t think so.”


Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 11.38.50 PMJessi Ramsey


  • Ballet teacher. (Amy)
  • Drama teacher at a school for the deaf. (Ange)
  • Moves to Paris for a bit. Modern day Josephine Baker (Pooja)
  • Stopped dancing after a photographer told her she could be a model. The modeling career never took off and she has taken over as a teacher in her old ballet school. (Paula)


Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 11.40.47 PMLogan Bruno

  • Logan runs a honky-tonk bar in upstate New York. (Ange)
  • Moves back to Louisville, bless his heart (Pooja)
  • Breaks up with Mary Ann after they graduate high school and aces his way through college and med school eventually becoming a fertility specialist (he’s trying to help Kristy get pregnant right now!). (Paula)

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 11.42.23 PMBart Taylor

  • Lives in Stoneybrook after returning to his parents’ place after college. He was a wannabe jock, never making any teams but being snarky and jealous of all of them. (Ange)
  • Heart broken.  He didn’t see it coming. (Pooja) [ ed… It–Kristy coming out]


Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 11.44.48 PMKristy can’t be the only one who comes out later in life. Who else is on that list? (Pooja)

  • I don’t think it’s coming out in Kristy’s case– was she ever IN? (Amy)
  • Claudia is bi, but only because being straight is so bougie. (Me)
  • “If anyone else were bi it would be weird, but on Claudia the label looked cool. Because of her creamy perfect exotic Japanese skin.” (Amy)
  • Margo comes out, as does David Michael. (Amy)
  • Stacey came out in college. Typical Smithie? (Ange)
  • Jamie Newton came out in third grade. He and Andrew eventually got married and foster shih tzu rescue puppies. (Ange)


Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 11.46.32 PMDeep philosophical question-which babysitter(s) slept with Logan in high school (or later) and why? (Me)

  • Stacey in a slutty prom dress rubbing up against the newly single Logan while Mary Anne stays at home listening to emo after their epic breakup fight. (Viveka)
  • Kristy did, to test whether she was straight or not. (She was, then went around through most of college with a major, hidden crush on him.) (Ange)


Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 11.48.29 PMPaula has a detailed storyline about Mallory becoming a madam that deserves its own subsection here

Mallory started stripping “to pay for law school” and realizes there is money to be made in this kind of business. She and few girls from the club band together to start a high class escort service. After graduating and passing the bar she meets and marries a judge. He decides he should run for political office and uses Mal’s girls to gain secrets and blackmail material over potential political foes.

Dawn who now goes by Sasha, and Clare and MargoDawn is still a vegetarian and sells supplements as a cover for her income from being a call girlClaire and Margo work part-time for a catering company.

The triplets don’t know. But Adam suspects something after he saw a bank statement on Margo and Claire’s coffee table, that was stapled to a cancelled check from Congressman Powell.  Byron and Jordon are personal trainers who run a small gym. They actually share many of the same clients with their sisters, unbeknownst to them!


Want to share your opinions?  Leave them in comments, or email me at bequietmommysreading at gmail.

All the pictures of the BSC members highlighted today (sorry Abby–we outgrew the series before you showed up) are from the TV show or the movie.