from the blog of Claire Middleton

Cover Courtesy of The Closet

My first day at Sweet Valley High. Really? Really? This is a high school? I was enrolled in only three classes, French, English and History. The rest is lunch. Ugh. I am so sad that I transferred. The whole school seems to revolve around these obnoxious blond twins. One came up to me and wanted me to join some stupid sorority. I guess they have a quota for brunettes. Another one keeps bugging me for an interview and she keeps asking me all these personal questions and seems mad when I flinch away when she tries to put her hand on my shoulder.

I’ve realized what can make this school more bearable: I’ll join the football team. It’s the only thing I like and it seems like in this school everyone has a one-dimensional personality trait. I’ll be “the tomboy.” Plus, it seems that this high school has had every cliche possible except for the “girl tries to join the boy’s sports team.”

Hubba hubba! I met this guy Ken Matthews who is also trying out as quarterback for the team. He’s got a great ass and is total himbo, two things I love in a guy. He’s totally into me but he has this annoying girlfriend Terri, who apparently has his dick on a leash. She seems to get mad whenever we hang out, so I’ll just do it some more. Word on the street is that Ken was blind for a while and Terri led him around the halls and he figured he may as well hit that. I actually heard her wailing, “I wish Ken was still blind!” I think being here is punishment for that brief time when I gained five pounds.

Ok, not cool you guys. Someone found out that my brother died of cancer and he was the one who made me love football. The slutty Wakefield twin did a cheer that mentioned him during the tryouts. If that was not bad enough, once I went running off the field, the annoying Wakefield twin ran after me trying to comfort me. What the fuck is this place?

Ken got quarterback, I’m second string, and Terri got Ken back. Joke’s on her, I gave him an tug job behind the bleachers after school today. He sobbed during it. Weird. It’s amazing how all problems here wrap up by Friday afternoon, just in time for a dance. Well, at least now people will leave me alone, and I can just show up for random parties or talent shows and the like.

dirtbike rallies: all the rage in Sweet Valley

[Cover from The Closet]

Was there a ghostwriter strike that we didn’t know about? Was anyone ever doing quality control when these things were released? I can’t even…ugh. I’ll have to organize my thoughts in a list or else it will be a bunch of random cursing and jumble.

  • Michael Harris is quite the winner. As you may (or not) remember, he was in a secret relationship with Maria Santelli, was controlling and mean and forced Maria to become his child bride. She dumped him for Winston Egbert, and lucky Michael he’s found love with April Dawson. And guess what? He’s a controlling asshole and doesn’t want to do anything fun with April and guilts her into practicing for dirt bike rallies 24 hours a day. When she confronts him on it, he belittles her. Of course, April’s of the “he yells at me because he cares” variety, so it’s okay. He’s intense, y’all.
  • Yes, April is a dirtbike racer. Of course, she rides a pink bike. Just to remind us that she has a vagina.
  • Speaking of vagina, those jeans are riding up hers.
  • April Dawson suddenly popped out of nowhere, and doesn’t seem to have any friends other than Michael. Oh, and the Wakefield twins. Because if you are not friends with them the Sweet Valley chamber of commerce makes you move away. This gal sure is lucky. Just when she needs someone to talk to, Liz pops out of nowhere! Just when she needs a friend to go shopping with, Jessica is there!
  • And don’t even get me started…the cover and title HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE STORY.  Somewhere, James feels betrayed. And no one bothered to fix that? April is not caught between two guys in a love triangle. Michael and Artie Western used to be bffs but Michael challenged him to a race but almost kills him and they are fighting. April agrees to be Artie’s partner in the dirt bike relay and Michael gets mad and challenges him to a duel…ON DIRT BIKES. Artie ends up in the hospital and they make up and April forgives Michael for being a violent, controlling freak. He’s intense, y’all.
  • This is also the book where Jessica meets Sam Woodruff, at a dirtbike rally where she is cheering on her suddenly new bff, April. Sam actually seems pretty nice and has a personality. Too bad he’ll be roadkill in about 20 books.
  • Jessica is scared that her parents will be angry that she is dating a guy on a dirt bike since the coma debacle with Liz (at least there’s continuity). But they are magically ok with it. They brush it off as “yea, so your sister had a bad accident and was in a coma and for a while turned into a nympho, but we’ll let this one slide.” Good parenting, Nalice.
  • You thought we were free and clear of Liz and Todd’s salty and sweet french fry and milkshake kisses? No such luck. They decide to do an “Anything you can do, I can do better” number and challenge each other to do tasks typical of the opposit gender, to show that being a guy/girl is so hard! Way to break gender role stereotypes. Liz makes Todd bake cookies and knit something and Todd makes Liz build a shelf and change a tire. Hilarity ensues. Vomit escapes my mouth.
  • Is it just me or are the guys on the cover kind of hung? Also, Jean Tuxedo seems to be looking at April’s hair and thinking “dayum, could you have more bangs?”

So dull it doesn’t even get a title.

[Photo from The Closet]

So Kristin Thompson is training to be a pro-tennis player and feels all this pressure because her father- oh you know what, I can’t even. It’s just so stupid and useless and this character is never heard from again. Did Francine get some pressure because tennis players were underrepresented in the series?

I’m not even going to mention the fact that Elizabeth is arranging a Big Sister mentorship program (fucking of course) and forces Kristin to mentor a young girl who loves tennis, and when the girl makes Kristin realize she is a winner no matteer what, Kristin thanks LIZ profusely for helping her change her life. Barf gag barf.

Preppy jock douchebags have feeings too!

Whoever mentioned that a non-SVH book would be a good palate-cleanser between SVH books is totally right. I’ve been home sick for the past few days and yesterday I read 3 SVHs in a row, and it does have an affect on one’s psyche. So excuse me if I express more rage that snark on this one.

So much hate, so little time. I am not even sure where to start. Should it be on Liz’s all knowing meddling? Her bitchy attitude towards Heather Sanford? The way that everything wraps up so neatly? The COVER? Yea, ok, let’s start there.

Jeffrey looks pretty bangeable there, albeit looking about 32 and like a Ken doll. The other preppy douche is Aaron Dallas, someone we always hear about but don’t really know about. Well, now we get to get inside his head. Oh, and the best for last– Liz, Liz Liz.  Nevermind the matching pink barrettes. We’ll leave those alone. But those elastic-waist chinos with the shirt tucked in. Well, that just writes itself. Her outfit is identical to the one I wore on the first day of second grade. That my mother bought me at Sears.

Aaron’s parents are getting divorced which makes him so MAD inside! He’s so MAD! Why is everyone making him so MAD! Meanwhile, he’s losing his temper and beating everyone up on the soccer field.

And now, the reasons that Liz is a fucking beast in this book.

1. She knows Aaron is Jeffrey’s bff, yet shit talks about him to Jeffrey and tries to tell Jeffrey that he needs to be mad at Aaron and doesn’t support him when he tries to defend Aaron. I think Jeffrey secretly hates Liz, because he gets annoyed with her but with silent annoyance. I love it.

2. Elizabeth acts all annoyed and holier-than-thou with Aaron’s new girlfriend Heather Sanford and gets all put out when Heather tries to befriend her. Because all Heather cares about “are silly things like clothes.” Uh, Liz, because you don’t know ANYONE like that. At a party, Elizabeth makes fun of Heather and does an impression of her speaking babytalk to Aaron. Oh like you NEVER said stupid shit to Todd. HATE.LIZ.SO.MUCH.

3. Liz is covering a soccer game for the Oracle (John Pfeiffer is too busy date raping to write it, I guess) and in the game Aaron hits another player, which will get him kicked off the team if anyone finds out. Because Liz HAS A DUTY AS A REPORTER, she reports it so the school finds out. Jeffrey gets pissed at her, she uses the whole “journalists have an obligation to be objective!” excuse. Jeffrey needs to dump her ass. And she makes Jeffrey defend her to Aaron! HATE HATE HATE!

So anyway, there’s this big intervention moment with Aaron, and they convince him to see the school guidance counselor. After a 10 minute session, all is solved and Aaron is skipping around the school apologizing to everyone he has ever wronged. Crisis solved! Liz and Jeffrey kiss! World peace happens!

So here’s the part that made it all fine for me. Liz and her boring friends are sitting in the stands at the game, and they all ask Liz to do her impression of Heather doing her babytalk. Liz feels a little bad, but the rest of the group does it, and Heather overhears and comes over and does her own impression of Liz. “What did E.W. say that made A.D. so mad?…And they say J.F. avenged his ladylove with stern words. A bout of ferocious fisticuffs followed.” Ok, it could have been more clever, but Heather was totally calling Liz out as a self-absorbed writer snob. So, Heather Sanford kicks ass. Also, she’s totally into clothes because she loves fashion design and sews all her won clothes, and gives Aaron tough love about dealing with his shit. And Liz realizes this too late, and instead of Heather telling her to fuck off, they become friends. Because no one can resist being friends with a Wakefield.

Meanwhile, Jessica tries to sell Tofu-Glo products, but they suck and she forgets to refrigerate them and she cries over her foiled business plan. Elizabeth voice overs, if Jessica did try to sell health and beauty products, she had to be successful because she was so healthy and beautiful, a walking advertisement. VOMIT! And because no Wakefield can ever fail, Ned finds out through his lawyer networking that the company lost a lawsuit, so Jessica would get all her money back. A little failing couldn’t hurt these twins.

[Enid, watching the soccer game with Liz:] “Jeffrey really looks great, Liz. I don’t know how you always manage to get the cutest guy around, but you do.” “Oh you poor thing,” Elizabeth said, teasing her. Remember, you had your chance.” GAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!

[Jessica has a party to sell the Tofu-Glo to her friends]. Lois Waller, a shy, overweight girl, raised her hand timidly. “Is the dietary supplement part of a diet plan?” Oh, of course the chubby girl is afraid of a diet plan, because it would get in the way of stuffing candy bars in her mouth all day. Fuck you, ghost writers.

[Liz, making Aaron and Jeffrey’s problems all about her, goes to Mr. Collins for advice.] He chuckled. “Liz, why are we having this conversation?” his eyes twinkled again, and Elizabeth grinned. “Maybe I need a little positive reinforcement from an authority figure. “Oh please! Never call me that!” Mr. Collins, I’m gonna go ahead and stop you there, and say that you probably should call youself that more often than you do.

I may as well continue by Liz-fueld rage with today’s poll.

The Bloods and the Crips have nothing on SVH and Palisades; or In Love With the Enemy, #120

As I was reading every word of this, I felt like this book was written to be ridiculed. Like the ghostwriters were giving me a big wink with every inane pararaph. Yes, I know this was written in 1998, but let’s just pretend that they came into the future and knew I would one day be embarking on this project. Also, this convinced me that the ghostwriters were about 67 years old, from another country, or raised in a cave by wolves because their depictions of teenagers and high school is so fucking off-base.

Oh my god. Head spinning. So much to cover. So, the book opens at the big Palisades v. SVH football game. (Isn’t every one of their games the big game?) and Jessica is leading the cheerleaders in a super-amazing, awesome routine. Ready for this? It’s a rap routine and Amy puts on a backwards baseball cap and they point their fingers at the audience like “rappers”. WTF???? So bad I cringed when I read that. I think Heather stole this routine from the East Compton Clovers.

Well, Greg McMullen, a Palisades player, knocks Ken over and he gets all huffy about it. Isn’t that what football is? Get over yourself, pretty boy. After the game Greg and his neanderthalls rough Ken up in the parking lot.

Meanwhile, Jessica and her witches are at the beach during a surf competition, and the winner of the contest gets a trip to Hawaii and a tv interview. So Jessica decides she has to win the trip and be on tv, so SHE DECIDES SHE WILL WIN THE SURF CONTEST. Lucky we have Lila who reminds Jessica that she is a stupid egomaniac. Rosie Shaw, the top female surger totally overhears this and laughs at Jess. I like this Rosie. Can we get a spin-off series please?

So Jess gets up at five every day to try surfing. Luckily, a hunk from the beach is there to help her and of course falls for her instantly. His name is Christian Gorman. He could be Jewish, no? Except for the first name. Of course.

h, backtrack a little. At the aformentioned game, Liz and Enid meet Marla and Caitlin, who are the editors for the Palisades newspaper. They decide they need to out-nerd each other and collaborate on an event that will foster teamwork between the schools. So they wrack their brains and come up with….I’ll let you guess what the event is…haven’t figured it out yet?…. a DANCE. Because they NEVER have the idea to do that. And, it must be a Friday coming up. Also, don’t they need permission from the school? Of course not, when Chrome Dome bends over and takes it in the ass whenever a Wakefield wants something. I’ll bet Mr. Collins will be there.

Meanwhile,the two schools start to prank each other, which includes stringing toilet paper all over Ken’s lawn, spray-painting the foo0tball field, and other hardcore gangsta stuff. It reminded me of the East-West Coast rap wars.

Bruce, Ronnie Edwards, Ken, Todd and others go really hardcore and show up in school wearing jean jackets and sunglasses. WATCH OUT! They may start…breaking out in song! To save money, I am surprised Bruce didn’t pull out his Club X leather jackets. Also, I wonder if they are also wearing jeans? Because that would be horrifying, a jean jacket with jeans, which I call a jean tuxedo. It’s a big no-no.

Liz is all pissy that Todd is involved and that Todd is thinking for himself, and Jess actually doesn’t care what Ken is doing because she is ducking face with her mysterious surf teacher. He doesn’t tell her anything about himself and that unbalance of power in the relationship only makes Jess want him more. They exchange I love you’s after two days together.

So the rumor is that a big throwdown is going to happen at the upcoming dance, which is now a masquerade ball and will take place at an abandoned warehouse. This sounds more like a rave to me…where are the glowsticks? Also, who is funding this? Liz and Enid and Caitlin and Marla consider cancelling it, but it turns out the rumble will happen anyway, so they figure it is better to have people around. I don’t even know why Enid is involved, it just seems she is doing it because Liz is. Enid needs to go back to crystal meth, she was way more interesting then.

So the dance happens and the SVH gang heads out back to start the rumble with the Palisades guys, who are in leather jackets and sunglasses. They start to fight and it like West Side Story, although more like the the Gap commercials than the real thing. Ken goes down and Jessica runs out to see….that the gang leader is none other than Christian Gorman! Gasp! Then she passes out for some reason. Cliffhanger!!!!

Grade: A+ for being a complete parody of itself.

At the dance Bruce tells Jessica she looks like a bruise because she is wearing blue and black. Love that Bruce.

Liz and Enid meet Caitline and Marla over brunch at a swanky place. Now, I brunched all the time when I lived in NY, but what teenagers do this? Liz is a fucking grandma.