You’ve got to make your own kind of music, sing your own special song

Is making fun of Olivia's receding hairline too easy?

Olivia’s an artist. Did you know that? She’s super artsy dresser too. And she’s an original. And she usually has paint splattered on her clothes. Because she’s an artist.
But for real you guys. Olivia has a studio in the garage that her parents set up for her. Which is pretty cool. Even the Kishis didn’t do that for Claudia. Also, why is it that the free spirits are always artists? I’m a mid-level manager in higher education administration, and I consider myself a free spirit. Aren’t I? Where’s my book? Liv is starting to experiment with Abstract Expressionism. You guys, I took 4 art history courses in college so I’m so the expert on this stuff.

Which, way to go ghost writers, for looking in an encyclopedia (that’s the written version of Wikipedia for those of you born after 1986) for things to include for her artwork. She’s trying to experiment with stuff but is nervous that other people won’t get it. Which, I’m just sayin’, is a valid concern, because I am sure in Sweet Valley, people’s houses are filled with pre-Raphaellite Ophelias and Van Goh’s “Starry Night”.

Olivia is also taking classes at the local college and meets fellow artist James. They never actually attend any classes, but that is where they meet. James, oh James. James is totally that douchebag artist who lives for nothing but his art. And lives in squalor because he loves his ART! Olivia has a total girlboner for James, but James is more interested in fondling his charcoal brushes than Olivia’s peasant skirts.

James shows Olivia his shiity artist loft, with his super high ceilings, concrete floors and cupboard of ramen noodles. James is SUCH the archetypal hipster in that he lives in a loft in a seedy part of town to gain “cred” while simultaneously gentrifying the area, and then acting all holier-than-though about it. Olivia gets her hemp underwear in a bunch because she is starting to think that she may not be making a lot of money as an artist and is she willing to give up everything to be a slave to her art like James? Surprisingly, James doesn’t make a move. James reminds me of Miles from Work of Art on Bravo, who is a total douche. (Are you watching that? It’s similar to Project Runway, except instead of Heidi’s German accent, we get China Chow’s Brooklyn accent and just as much crazy personalities).

Oh, James, that good looking guy that you just keep hanging on to every word and get excited to see him even if he treats you like shit every time but you think this is the time he will realize how awesome you are and you hate yourself for coming back for more because you consider yourself a total feminist and this isn’t you but you are just mesmerized by his skinny build and his tats and his ability to talk about deep things even though he can’t do simple things like do his dishes or his laundry and oh my god he is such an asshole but oh my god he is really hot. Not like I have experience with anyone like that or anything….

Coincidentally, because it helps the plot along, Olivia’s cousin Emily shows up for a visit because she wants to look at colleges in California. Emily is a professional college-applier, and it is all she talks about and thinks about. SERIOUSLY, WHY DOES E VERY CHARACTER HAVE ONE DIMENSIONAL IDENTITIES? Why can’t she like art AND college? Like parties AND be on the school newspaper. Ugh. ALSO, if Emily is really into getting into good schools, shouldn’t she be someone who is occupied with grades and extra-curriculars because that helps college? Her only activity is actually applying to colleges. A color coordinated Filofax organizing brochures and applications doesn’t impress the Ivies. I don’t get how this shit gets written.

Olivia doesn’t really like Emily and vice versa. Emily comes with Olivia to meet James and although she acts like a giant tool and annoyed that they taqlk about art, James’ douchey artist in peril charms works on Emily. So much that she borrows some of Olivia’s clothes and goes to see James on her own, trying to convince him that she is artier than he thinks. I don’t know folks, I just report what I read.

Olivia decides to quit art to be more practical and gets a job at her mother’s department store and starts hanging out with the owner’s son, who actually buys clothes for her. Emily reports to James that Olivia has given up art, and James suddenly realizes that Olivia probably won’t fall for his douchebag artist persona ANYMORE, and finally admits that he loves her. Olivia realizes that she should continue with art, because it’s what she loves! Besides, as we all know, she won’t live past high school anyway, so might as well makes some splatter drawings! Yes, I went there. Plus, her mother was an artist and gave up on her dream, and now she’s a measly manager at a dept store, and she doesn’t want Olivia to make a mistake. Yay, all is resolved! Who’s up for a triple bacon cheeseburger and lard fries at the DB?

Of course, it wouldn’t be an SV book if we didn’t include the inhaling and exhaling of the Wakefield twins. Because it is Christmastime again, they also gets jobs at Simpson’s Department Store. Liz does such a good job she gets medals for department store working, and Jessica is all set on nailing the son of the owner. She has never met him, but is convinced that once they meet he will ask her out- of course not even stopping to consider if she will like him, but he does have money and status, of course. The intense fixation on this just feeds into Jessica’s diagnosis of a Socipathic Narcassist, and is not at all charming, which I am sure the writers thought they were doing. So her plotline is the wacky hijinks that happen as she tries to be in the same place with him. Imagine her surprise when the guy chooses Olivia over her. Zing!

Oh yes. Important to mention that this is the book where Olivia wears a record in her hair. Prompting Lila to snark: “She thinks this is Greenwhich Village or something”. Oh, to remember the time when Greenwhich Village was actually Greenwhich Village. New Yorkers, are you with me?

Mean People Suck.

[Cover from The Closet]

So, Enid’s grandmother movies in with Enid and her mom and…

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Yea really, it’s that bad. There’s a reason that this was one of the first books I found but put off reading it. Grandma Rollins, who throughout the book is referred to as Mrs. Langeven, which really annoyed me, moves in after her husband dies, and proceeds to act like a manipulative self-centered wench. Enid feels bad and drops plans with her friends and her boyfriend Hugh to spend with her co-dependent grandmother. Gram, ehm, excuse me, Mrs. Langevin, sees the error of her ways after one outburst from Enid and decides to move back to Chicago. Case closed. The end. Whatever, I don’t even need to go into detail. (Although props to Ms. L for saying that Liz seems bossy.)

The subplot is infuriating. Susan Stewart’s famous director father (wow, she’s mentioned again?) has too much time on his hands, I guess, and sponsors a documentary film making contest. The Scooby gang decides to enter and make a documentary about…what else…. A DOCUMENTARY ABOUT THE TOWN OF SWEET VALLEY. We.get.it. You love it, it’s wonderful. Of course, Jessica is the host, and of course what’s featured is the beach and all the students of SVH. Of course, there’s no mention of the poor shitty area where Betsy Martin lives and where the Good Friends cult house is, or the Shady Lady. During one taping, Winston Egbert comes out of a joke shop (yes, in Sweet Valley it is possible for a joke shop to thrive) wearing an arrow through his head and follows Jessica around and stands behind her in the shots. Omg, he is HILARioius! He should be a comedian! They have a world premiere at the Wakefield’s split-level house, but then…the winner is never announced? This writing is so sloppy.

What I want to talk about is the very weird friendship between Liz and Enid. I know people have joked that they are lesbionic for each other, but I’m not really referring to that. Best friends in high school, no matter what “type” you are, share private jokes and laugh a lot. I mean, at any age, that’s what a best friend is. They just don’t do that. Enid’s whole world revolves around Liz, and doesn’t really have any other friends. They go to craft fairs and play recorders together. Whenever Enid is upset I half expect Liz to run over, whip out a boob, and start nursing Enid. Check out this exchange.

Elizabeth and Enid found an empty table [at the Dairi Burger] across the room and sat down gracefully. “You stay here,” Enid suggested, instantly rising to her feet, “and I’ll go get us some sodas. It’s so crowded today we’d probably lose the table if we both went. ” Elizabeth grinned up at her friend. “Ok- make it my usual, bartender. ” “One root beer, coming up!” With a salute, Enid turned and picked her way across the popular after-school hangout.

Shut up. Just shut up.

In other news, please read my column in the Oakland Examiner.

If book covers could talk: #61 Boy Trouble

Elizabeth: Oh Patty[pat, pat] I’m so sorry that you are black.

Patty: That’s ok- wait, WHAT? That’s not why I’m upset. Why would you say that?

Elizabeth: well, you know…uh…. I mean, you’re not blue eyed and blond-haired. Isn’t that what your trouble is all about?

Patty: [SIGH] GEESH! Don’t you know this useless and uneventful book was created for the sole purpose of the creators to say that they did have positive black characters? And to say that they even HAVE black characters? So after this book they can go back to you crazy bitches going to dances and being chased by serial killers and feel okay about themselves.

Elizabeth: Oh, yea! That makes sense. So that’s why I am conveniently doing student profiles for The Oracle and I picked you to write it on, so I can conveniently be part of the plot even though this book is really about you.

Patty: Yea, so anyway, do you want to hear about my boy trouble?

E: Yes, wait. Let me get into position. My hand should go riiiiigghhhht here. Ok.

P: So, my boyfriend is supposed to come home last weekend, but my sister came home and announced she is getting married. So I called my boyfriend Jim to see if he could come home another weekend and he got mad and we had a big fight. So then I was at the movies the next night and saw him with some girl and then I got mad. And then my sister got all bridezilla on me and I yelled at her and then she was mad at me. It was all a big mess but it all worked out in the end.

E: Really? No dance was involved? No serial killers? No cults, vampires, or cheerleading competitions?

P: Um, no.

E: Wow, I can’t believe that was it! And you got a whole book out of it? Soooo, what does this have to do with you being black?

P: Dammit Liz! Nothing! The authors wanted to show that black people are just like white people and have the same petty issues! In fact, we ourselves don’t even seem to realize we are black!

E: Yea, but it did mention your “pretty dark eyes” and “dark hair” and called you a “pretty black girl” every other paragraph.

P: I know, but I don’t write the thing.

E: True…uh, I guess I gotta go, Mr. Collins called me and asked me to wash his car for him, and he asked me to wear a white t-shirt, and I gotta swing by home to get it. This was a great interview! I’m so glad we will finally have a picture of a black person in The Oracle! Btw, I love your pearls. Very country club.

P: Yea, love your barrettes, I guess. I am really unsure why our breasts have disappeared.

Elizabeth: Kay, bye! Here’s my card, call me if you need to talk.

Patty: Good riddance. I REALLY need to ask my parents if we can move.

Do you give a crap about Dana Larson’s home life?

Yea, me neither. But this one will give you a glimpse into her boring suburban upbringing.

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Sally Larson grew up in foster homes and without a nuclear family, so therefore she is a sad, pathetic sack of shit. She is going to come live with her aunt and cousins, who is Dana Larson, lead singer of the Droids. Dana is totally stoked to have a project, and Sally has no personality of her own so she is thrilled to live with the glamorous Dana. Dana tried to make her over but Sally’s not into it. Dana’s bro Jeremy acts like a total asshole to Sally because his parents made him move his room to the attic so Sally can have it. So he treats her like shit. Sally decides she can’t go out with his friend because then Jeremy would hate her more. Still with me? Yea, I can barely keep my eyes open.

Sally decides she may want to work for The Oracle, and also because she gets to be around the awesome, beautiful Liz Wakefield. Liz has multiple orgasms when she finds out Sally is a former foster child needing some guidance. However, Sally is pissed that Sally is doing stuff other than worshipping her, and she doesn’t want to make Sally mad, so…this is the epic tragic struggle…she has to say no to Liz when Liz asks her to hang out with her at the mall! Oh my god, it’s just like Schindler’s List.

So then Dana starts resenting Sally because Sally tries to be extra helpful around the house and it makes Dana look bad for being a lazy shit. Finally Sally and Jeremy Mark are driving home from somewhere and Jeremy picks up two hitchhikers who threaten Jeremey to let them take the girls to Kelly’s with them. Sally is all “I’ll take one for the team and be kidnapped and raped, and allow Dana to go free. You know, because she’s just been so friendly to me” so she lets the guys take her to the bar. Dana and Jeremy go get Mark and there is a big rumble at the bar, and Dana and Jeremy realize that they love Sally and don’t want to send her away.

But….good news! The Larsons decide they are going to adopt Sally. Here’s my question: WHY DID THEY WAIT SO LONG? The poor girl was shuffled from foster home to foster home and she had living, well-off relatives that were known? I call bullshit on whatever caseworker Sally had.

Oh, and we can’t have a non-Wakefield plot, so this is the book that introduced Prince Albert the dog. Jessica sneaks the puppy in the house and they hide it from their parents while they try to convince Nalice they want a puppy. And then one day during a walk they lose the puppy. However, one day, Ned comes home from the pound with a puppy and fuck wouldncha know it’s Prince Albert. So the twins never get in trouble for keeping the dog and losing him! It’s such an Ingalls family moment.

Some really choice quotes in this one.

“Sally looked quickly in the direction her aunt indicated, almost expecting to see the same girl she had played with when they were kids. But standing in another doorway was a tall, leggy blond, whose pretty features were crowned by an outrageous hairstyle. She was wearing skin-tight, black stirrup pants and a gold lame dinner jacket, sleeves pushed up, over a black and white checkered shirt.” Whoa. It’s like she’s a backup singer on the Genesis tour.

“Elizabeth looked so earnest, so sypathetic, Sally thought. More than anything else right now, she desperately needed someone to confide in, someone she could count on as a friend. And Elizabeth Wakefield seemed to fit the part perfectly.” Watch out Sally! She practices that look in the mirror every night!

“Elizabeth nodded, thoughtfully rubbing her chin. “Uh-huh, I think she really needs some friends.” “Elizabeth Wakefield to the rescue!” Enid teased, raising her hand in the air. “Fear not, all you sad, lonely people! Elizabeth will save you!”” Hah, Enid grew some balls.

Family Secrets: a play in no acts

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Ned: Well family, gather ’round! I have an announcement. Your cousin is coming to live with us. Her parents are divorced, so you know that means she is on the fast track to whoresville. Her mother is getting remarried too, that trollup.

Alice: Oh Ned, that’s horrible.

Ned: I know! That’s why I’m having Kelly come stay with us for a while. It’s up to us to show her what a perfect family looks like. It’s the Charles Ingalls thing to do.

Jessica: Omg! The three of us look alike. We should go to school dressed as triplets. That would be sooooo rad.

Liz and Kelly: ‘kay!

—-

[Everyone crowds around the twins and Kelly and oohs and ahhhs for a good twenty minutes.]

Chrome Dome: [over the loudspeaker] Attention students! Classes are canceled this morning so you can all meet the new Wakefield.

At the Dairi Burger

Kelly: My Daddy is so wonderful! He is gonna by my a horsie! My Daddy! Goo goo ga ga!

Nicholas: You’re hot. I am going to take you to the Country Club Costume dance.

Kelly: Da da?

Kirk Anderson: Hey hottie! Let’s go dry hump somewhere.

Kelly: Ga ga?

—-

Miller’s point

Kirk: Hey baby, how are you doin’

Kelly: Did I tell you my Daddy gave me a ribbon for my hair?

Kirk: Mmmmm hmmmmm

Kelly: Wait, stop! I only let my Daddy touch me there!

—-

Alice: Kelly, your Mom’s on the phone!

Kelly: No! I hate her! She’s getting remarried! I want to live with my Dad in Sweet Valley!

Elizabeth: Now Kelly, parents are an important part of our lives. You should forgive your mother. Parents are our future. It would behoove you to converse with your matriarchal partner.

Epilogue, spoken by Greek Chorus:

Well, folks, that is the legend of the girl who has Daddy issues. Cousin Kelly finally remembered an incident in which her father threw plates around the house and that is why her father left her, which she was suppressing and secretly hating her mother for. And that’s why she was attracted to asshole Kirk, because he reminder her of her violent father. And so goes the fable of Sweet Valley, do not attempt to sleep with men who are like your father.

Ok seriously? Kelly sucks. And has some serious problems and talks about her father all the time. And I think she is kind of developmentally challenged.

Her father also cheated on her mother and Liz is all “that’s the WORST thing anyobe can ever do”….Um, have you READ your own diary?

Also, the three girls dress as the see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil for the biig costume party. And Kelly goes as “See No Evil”?! Get it? She can’s see the evil that is right in front of her? Omg! Do you SEE the symbolism? SOOOO DEEEEP!

Alice doesn’t live here anymore, or #25 Nowhere to Run

The ghostwriter of this one FAILS AT LIFE.

I know it is like crying wolf when I keep saying that “this is the worst SVH book ever” but maybe this one is it. The ghostwriter not only failed basic literature classes, but also was either raised in Antarctica or inside a plastic bubble because no one in reality ever acts like this. It’s like an unfunny episode of Full House.

I can barely write about it. But, the cover already tells us several things:
1. Emily is a brunette, and is therefore not as good as a Wakefield.
2. Liz is concerned for her, so you know that Emily’s life must be complete shit.
3. Neither of these teens have breasts.
4. Liz’s barettes do not match her outfit exactly, so she probably woke up late and was in a hurry.

Here we go. Emily Mayer, who is the drummer of the droids, grew up with her father after her mother left them when Emily was a kid. Because SVH is all up in useless gossip, she is ashamed that her mother left and told everyone that she died. Mr. Emily just married a heinous bitch named Karen who just had a baby named Karrie. Yes, that’s her name. Karen bosses Emily around and makes her babysit all the time and always blames her for everything and is basically acts like the stepmother from hell. Mr. Emily is a complete pushover and does not notice any of this and tells Emily to be nicer to Karen, because Karen is having a rough time. It seems like Karen even hates her own baby, but that’s another issue. Karen forces Emily to quit the drums and it all comes to a head when Em and her crush/The Droids bassist are practicing in Emily’s basement and Karen comes down and yells at Emily. Now, it can be embarassing when your parents yell at you in front of your friends, but for Emily it’s like the sign of the apocolypse.

Of course, she runs to Liz for help. She doesn’t even know Liz, but of course she “hears” that Liz is good at helping people with their problems. I’ll bet it’s because Liz hangs up fucking flyers in the bathroom with the little tear-off tabs with her home number. Karen is with Karrie when the baby starts choking and Emily performs the Hemlich maneuver (I guess she was paying attention to the poster in the high school cafeteria) and saves the baby. Mr. Emily comes home and sees the situation and thinks Emily hurt the baby and Karen does nothing to defend her. What the fuck? This just went from family drama to Law and Order. Emily plans on running away but finally Karen and Pa come and beg her to stay and Karen admits she doesn’t know how to raise her own child and she is sorry and Mr. Emily sees the error of his ways. Oh yea, and Emily sold her drums earlier but her crush Dan bought them from her to eventually give back to her and of course they get together at the end. Because how else would you know that the book was ending if there wasn’t a new couple formed?

Elsewhere, Ned’s parents, Grandma Wakefield and Grandpa Wakefield, are visiting from Michigan. And yes, the twins and Steven call them “Grandpa Wakefield” and “Grandma Wakefield” so there’s that. Like they want to be sure to note that they are actually Ned’s parents. [Were they mentioned in the Wakefield Legacy?] Jessica is enthralled with them and talks of nothing else. At first I was thinking, wow, Jessica is actually respectful of her elders, but it’s actually because she is jealous of the other kids who get to see their grandparents often. Leave it to Jess to make it about herself. They do crazy shit like go hot air ballooning and eat Chinese food with the twins. We get some passages from Alice’s point of view, and she starts to feel like a bad mother because the twins would rather spent time with their G-parents than her. First of all, they are visiting for like a week, so what the fuck Alice, just let them spend time together. Second of all, you JUST NOW REALIZE that you are a bad mother? How about the fact that one of your daughters is the biggest cocktease in the county? Or the other one is a condescending asshole? Ugh. Why even bring up this plot? Ned tells the twins this and what is their solution? They plan to throw the g-parents a going away party and ask their Mom to help them out. That automatically makes Alice feel better. Not only do the twins solve everyone else’s problems, but they also have a special power over adults.

Of course, Emily runs straight to the Wakefields after she runs away and of course, Grandma Wakefield forces her on her bosom and demands she talk to them. And then the Mayers come over to grovel towards Emily there so the Wakefields can look on smugly. Charles and Caroline Ingalls pulled this shit all the time.

What’s the moral of the story? If you don’t have a hetero-nuclear family, you are shit out of luck. And babies choke sometimes. Oh, and parents, you should always bend over and take it from your kids. I think the kids are taking lessons from the Stephanie Green school of controlling your parents.

Grade: F